Monday, February 14, 2011

Just make the music stop.

This is a tale of good intentions gone bad. Very bad.

Months ago, I had heard about a wonderful little program offered at our local home improvement store where children can come with their parents on a given Saturday and build something from wood - a train, a car, a basketball hoop. This particular weekend, the craft of choice was a Valentine's music box.


Yeah, that's what I thought.

Until I naively scurried into the store with three children, thinking one parent could pull this off.


Each child is now armed with a bag of wooden pieces, a hammer, and the tiniest nails known to man.

We try to find a place amidst the swarm of children to spread out and build our masterpieces. But the crates that line the aisle are much too high for small children, so every tiny tot is plopped on top of them. Not exactly conducive to workspace.

I eye a low shelf near the floor and guide my children toward it. It's an appropriate height for them, but I'm cramping up as I try to stay in a squat position.

At any rate, we rip open our bags and are ready to get started. I grab the instructions and am immediately confused. I begin to feel a tinge of panic.

Child #1 is already demanding to know what to do first.

I tell her to wait while I read the instructions...after all, we'll want to do this right.

Child #2 is wiggling with anticipation, trying to convince me to just hand  him the bag, that he knows what to do.

Right. You know what to do. Without reading any instructions. You are certainly a MAN in training, aren't you?!

Child #3 is simply happy to bang on everything in sight with his new pint-sized hammer.

I pound in the first nail and hand it over to Child #2 to finish.

Ditto for Child #3.

Child #1 is livid that she gets no attention.

An employee comes by and asks if we need help.

Glorious! I thank her and request that she help Child #1.

At some point said employee departs and Child #1 is whining.

Meanwhile, nails are in the wrong places, wood is split, and Child #3 has wandered into the shelving unit, bonking his head repeatedly on the lumber above.

Child #1 bellows.

I glare at her and through clenched teeth I bark, "There are THREE of you and ONE of me!"

I receive a disapproving look from another mother nearby.

Yes. I am failing at motherhood at this moment. Thank you for pointing that out, ma'am.

I go back to trying to construct three music boxes simultaneously. It is a losing battle.

I look up to see a father and his giddy son set up shop next to us. Literally within minutes the boy is happily holding up his perfectly designed music box.

I am annoyed.

Because I look down and see three boxes - none of which were put together properly. Child #3's is still virtually in pieces. Child #2's has a lid that doesn't close. Child #1....well, she was kind of on her own, so it's a shambles. Another employee comes by and gives her a brand new kit to take home. Yeah, it was that bad.

I hang my head and fight back the tears. I really wanted to watch the excitement in their eyes as they built something beautiful with their own hands. I really wanted to pat myself on the back for broadening their horizons, challenging them while at the same time cheering them toward a sense of accomplishment.

Instead, we walked out with three heaps of junk. Because Mom was outnumbered and frazzled.

As we march back to our vehicle, I vow never to return. But my children insist on going again.

I can't imagine why! They enjoy seeing their mother at her worst?

And as if the guilt I felt wasn't enough, I am now enclosed in a car with three incomplete music boxes. Which means all three are playing the music - and cannot be shut off. And the music is horrifying.

It sounds like the dramatic underscore of a scene in a Lifetime Original Movie. It plays over and over.

It is haunting me - I am certain I hear it say, "You - are - a - bad - mother - You - are - a - bad - mother..."

I just want it to stop. 

We're headed home and Child #1 says, "Mom, can we go to McDonald's?"

Without even an ounce of hesitation, I shout, "YES!" and crank the wheel toward the golden arches that will redeem me.

So sure, three mangled music boxes may have proved I am an unfit mother. But three Happy Meals certainly turned things around!

Later that day their father managed to salvage the pathetic music boxes and patiently helped our children finish constructing them the correct way.

I was grateful that joy returned to their faces, but I'm still not a fan of that horrifying tune. It's such a harsh reminder of my ineptitude, and I simply don't want to star in a Lifetime Original Movie. Let's face it, it never bodes well for the mother figure in those shows.

The next building project is in two weeks. They're supposed to make race cars.

I'll send their father.

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