6:45 a.m. The kids are out of bed. Alex’s bed needs changing from night wetting. Cleanup #1. He gets through his morning chores in 20 minutes instead of an hour.
7:30 a.m. Julianna spontaneously puts her hands together when Alex and I are praying grace. The day is looking good.
7:45-8:15 a.m. We look for Alex’s missing Spiderman mask—the one I made for his Halloween costume. The one he’s supposed to put back on the computer desk after every wearing. (Up side to this down side: we cleaned up a bunch of the house trying to find it!)
9a.m. OT. Alex and I cut a jack-o-lantern and make pumpkin muffins for the evening’s festivities.
10a.m. I start sweeping floors in preparation for an overdue mopping. Julianna starts up the stairs. Alex goes after her and throws her back down. Yes, I said “throw.” Fortunately she was only on the third step. Alex loses his movies for two days and when he asks me to turn on his “good guys music” CD, I refuse.
10:15 a.m. Alex is pushing Julianna “because she’s bothering me.” I tell him to go downstairs. He won’t because he has a playhouse on the couch. I tell him to use the tent in the basement. He says it’s not set up. I go downstairs and set it up. Alex plays while I mop floors, with the promise that when I’m done we’ll have a picnic in the woods.
10:35a.m. Julianna tries to turn over my mop bucket. I put her downstairs with Alex. The usual pandemonium ensues. It sounds friendly, so I keep working.
10:55 a.m. By the time I finish the upstairs bathrooms, the pandemonium has become unfriendly: Julianna wailing, not the kind that stops after five seconds but the kind that goes on and on. Over top of it, Alex is roaring at her. Over and over and over. As if he’s trying to make her cry. I shout down the stairs but they can’t hear me. I run down and find Alex in the tent with Julianna, terrorizing her. I remove her and scold him, then take her upstairs to start making peanut butter sandwiches for the picnic.
11:05 a.m. Alex comes upstairs. Julianna, who is a glutton for punishment, goes over to him. He picks her up and plops her on the couch, then starts crawling on the couch and standing on the back, pretending to be Superman. Julianna watches but mostly whines. Alex tells me she’s crying, and it’s not his fault. I tell him I know, she’s just tired and hungry, and I’m trying to get the picnic ready. I tell him to go get his socks so we can go have our picnic. He continues to play Superman. After I say it for the third time, he body slams Julianna. I yell at him to get upstairs and get his socks, then try to comfort Julianna, who settles back into whining.
11:10a.m. Alex comes running to the head of the stairs protesting, between sobs, that he has no white socks, only black socks. (This is because every time we come in the house he strips off his socks, and when it’s time to leave again, he pulls out a new pair. The white clothes basket is half full, and every pair of his socks is in it.) I tell him that he’ll have to wear black socks this morning. He throws a fit, crying like it’s the end of the world. Julianna, who can’t stand to hear Alex cry, cries harder than ever. Deep breaths do not help relieve my stress. I tell Alex to stop crying right now, or we just won’t go on our picnic. In response, he screams, cries, and hurls himself on the floor. Julianna steps up her cries in sympathy. I count backwards from 5. He doesn’t stop crying. Fine, I say, the picnic is off. Screams. Blood-curdling, hear them across the neighborhood screams. Go to your room until you can stop crying, I tell him. After some more screaming and power struggles, I go flying up the stairs to force the issue. By now I’m screaming.
11:55 a.m. I calm down, Alex has calmed down, I go upstairs to talk to him. Julianna is settled in her booster chair with a tray full of food. Alex and I talk. His tantrum was so bad that he wet his pants. Cleanup #2 for the day. I start another load of laundry and we go downstairs for lunch. Julianna is whining, having thrown every bit of her food on the floor. I lose my temper again.
12:45p.m. The kids go down for naps without resistance. They’re conked out immediately. I’m so tired, I can’t concentrate on writing, and I feel like crap about myself. I nap on the swing, I make halfhearted stabs at novel edits, I eat. (Yeah, that’s a good idea.)
3:45p.m. Having let them sleep far too long, I go upstairs to get the kids up for snack. Alex has wet the bed. Cleanup #3 for the day. Another load of laundry. We have a power struggle over snack, but I stay calm and get him to eat his steak and veggies (knowing he won’t get much good to eat that night.).
4:30-4:45 p.m. We enjoy the swing for a while and go inside to get ready for trick-or-treating.
5:20 Christian arrives home. With one to hold and one to spray, we manage to dye Julianna’s hair pink-orange for Raggedy Ann, only getting about 5 spots on her skin. Even though the dye dries before we put her clothes on, her brand new white turtleneck turns pink. So does Christian’s Mizzou jacket. Her hair looks like…well, at least it looks cute from a distance.
5:40-7:45 p.m., respite from the nightmare. We trick-or-treat with neighbors, we go to a party.
7:50 p.m., back at home: Alex calls me into the bathroom with urine running down his leg, even though it’s less than 2 hours since his last bathroom visit. Cleanup #4 for the day involves the bathroom mat, dripping socks, dripping underwear, wet Spiderman costume and wet floor (which, mind you, I just mopped 6 hours ago). I blow up again. Christian banishes me upstairs to wash Julianna’s hair.
7:55 p.m. I start undressing Julianna and discover that her shoe is missing—the one with the $200 “jump start” insert in it. Christian runs a block and a half to try to see if it fell on the street, but can’t find it.
8:05 p.m. I wash Julianna’s hair twice. She’s mad at me and screaming (literally) when I wet her head down, not to mention after two rinses. The tub has a big, Cat-In-The-Hat greasy pink ring around it, and when I lay her down on her bath towel, the towel turns pink. I tell Christian, who scolds me for not using a dark towel instead of a light one. I blow up again.
8:30 p.m. With Julianna in bed, I go upstairs to try to soak the various pink-tinged items and make Alex’s bed. He wants me to stay with him. I’ve had more than enough of him for one day, so I make Daddy put him to bed.
8:40 p.m. The neighbor comes over with Julianna’s missing shoe. One check in the plus column.
9:00 p.m. We turn on The Return of the King. The best thing that can be said for the day is that it’s over.