OPINION: Too Hot to Handle

photo: Shutterstock

I used to think having three kids was like having two kids, more or less, maybe with a little more work and a little less sleep and, let’s face it, a lot less money. How hard could it be to go from two to three because (and maybe I’m glossing over things here) two kids, in retrospect, was a little like having a couple of Basset Hounds … you know, generally obedient, mostly well-behaved, prone to couch napping. Great breed.

But three kids? Having three kids, as it turns out, is like being charged with a pack of wild, churlish chihuahuas, the kind who rarely come when you call them and are more prone to couch chewing than napping, the kind also apparently that are not so easily wrangled on a Saturday morning.

I was standing in the kitchen, Chihuahua #3 nipping at my ankles, while I microwaved what I soon realized was not my coffee but my phone. (I’ll tell you that Samsung A21 is just too hot to handle these days!)

I messaged the girls, burning my fingers slightly in the process. I was tired of walking up and down the stairs. (Dear Future Condo, please have an elevator.)

“Car. Leaving. 5.”

I should have ended with, “never,” because that was probably more accurate. I know other people do it, other mothers, they say ‘five’ and they mean five. But ‘five’ in this house, on a good day, is more like ’50,’ and leaving in the vicinity of “on time” with all our fingers and phones intact sometimes feels like a birthright pilgrimage just to get from the kitchen to the driveway.

We were running late (again). I was nuking electronic devices (again). Good thing it was only 10 seconds and then came Chihuahua #1, lumbering under the weight of so many parcels, the term pack animal was starting to take on a whole new meaning.

“Are you moving in with Grandma? What’s with all the luggage?” My chihuahuas, they don’t travel lightly, or quietly.

Chihuahua #2 entered stage left, launching into a compellingly succinct, yet predictably irritating elevator pitch for riding shotgun while I desperately tried to maneuver Junior into his car seat. Why is it always that someone needs something right at that moment, right at that exact second when he’s arching his back, doing that very tricky twist and flip maneuver? Why, when I just almost have those buckles snapped, does someone need me right then?

You know, I don’t think with three kids there is ever a time when someone isn’t upset about something, when someone isn’t running back into the house to retrieve something they forgot or misplaced. We can never just get in the car and go.

But this time it was me, and boy did that Samsung have it coming.

“Where’s my phone?”

But no one was listening, noise-canceling headphones being those wonderful things that they are, and Chihuahua #2 singing “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse at the top of her (very powerful) lungs.

I prayed on my burnt fingers this wasn’t a sign of things to come but suddenly, full bags of clothing, coffee cups, my purse and its entire contents were being shown the door, quite literally, I’m sure causing passersby to question whether eviction was imminent or if our driveway was just another victim to my midlife crisis. But still, no Samsung.

I tried retracing my steps but panic mode isn’t exactly compatible with the practical/logical feature. I tried calling it but ‘Sam’ was all ‘sung’ out or more likely on mute, so that didn’t help.

I tried appealing to the kids: “Mommy’s losing her shit and we can’t go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s until one of you recalls where I put that blessed device.”

“Did you try the microwave?” Chihuahua #1 chimed in.

If you’re a parent, you know all too well there are times when you just have to make some hard choices in life. The baby was screaming. The neighbors were getting a free show and our driveway was starting to look like some sort of vehicular exorcism.

“I guess we’ll have to leave without it,” I announced, feeling brave, heroic, and slightly idiotic in the moment.

I understand now why people stay home (and single). By the time we leave, I don’t even want to go anymore – especially when a trip to my parents feels like moving to Alaska, especially with three chihuahuas in tow instead of two, especially when I drive an hour and a half, listening to a screaming toddler, realizing I left my coffee in the microwave and my phone right there on the dashboard the entire time.

I tell both girls they can’t have any kids until they’re like 40. I need a long break between mothering and grandmothering. “Just get a dog instead,” I say, “like a Basset Hound.”

“Aren’t they hunting dogs?” Chihuahua #1 asks.

I nod offhandedly.

“Maybe you should get one ” she responds. “You can train it to find your phone.”

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.