Witching Hours


It seemed like a good idea at the time, to turn my 7 year old loose with a butcher knife.

I’d been to Gilcrease Orchard earlier today and brought home three pumpkins.  Sounds like a simple thing, doesn’t it?  To carve three pumpkins with three children?

Maybe if my 5th grader hadn’t had three hours of homework.  One assignment was to make a bar graph on the computer to display data she’d collected for a science experiment.  (You can whip that out, right Mom?)  Oh yeah, daughter, I make bar graphs in Excel all the time.  So while I’m nursing a break dancing baby and trying to watch Youtube tutorials on how to label the axes on the bar graph, the kids continue to beg to start on those pumpkins. They take them in the backyard to “show to their friends”.  I hear the neighbor boy, who is hanging over the cinder block wall screaming and my kids laughing.  Whaaat is happening back there?

Jemma, my five year old, has dropped her pumpkin from an undisclosed height, splitting it.  And Evan has gone all Norman Bates with a butcher knife on his pumpkin, leaving it fit for a crime scene, not my front porch.  Did I actually tell him to go ahead and carve his pumpkin??  Am I psycho?

The concessions I make between the hours of 3pm and 7pm are sometimes baffling.

Like, if I survive those hours with a meal prepared, homework done and my voice not raising above she-witch decibels, I feel like I need a fat medal.  And a sticker to put on my van.  Something along the lines of “My kids are fed and educated every night between the hours of 3 and 7”.  Ragnar stickers?  Marathon stickers?  Mama, please.  Feed and educate four kids between the hours of 3 and 7.  That’s a true test of endurance.


I told Jemma to put a show on for the crying baby so I could get dinner going.  (A new recipe of course, on a night when my husband was gone and pumpkins are dying and science experiments are barking orders at me.) I’m just asking for punishment, sometimes.

In the fringe of my consciousness, I think I hear The Hunchback of Notre Dame on.  Something whispers to me, “Isn’t that a super creepy Disney show?”  Like so creepy it’s the only Disney movie that never made it to DVD?  Like all the imagineers later said, “Yeah.  Never mind.  Our bad.”  My whispering suspicion was confirmed when I see Jemma holding up her Elmo plush toy to Luke and making Elmo sing, “FIRE! HELL FIRE!” In a creepy five year- old girl Elmo voice. (Smack my forehead.)

Truth:  It’s a lawless zoo up in here. It’s not that I don’t try.  My kids are good and they follow rules.  It’s just the laws of nature I have no control over.  And four tired, hungry, hyper kids between the hours of 3 and 7 follow the laws of nature, which closely resemble chaos theory.  It’s like popping a bag of microwave popcorn and asking the kernels to please pop one second apart and line up by size and saltiness.  Nope.  They pop how they pop.  They eat stuff off of the floor, and they violate pumpkins and they fight and cry and sing in creepy Elmo Satan voices to sad babies.  Freaking chaos.

After things simmered down a bit, I fed them warped Ikea bowls of new recipe food, finished up the last 17 problems of algebra and duct taped a pumpkin back together.  No, I won’t be instagramming this year’s jack-o-lanterns.  Especially since they are still all stringy inside and are barfing seeds out their noses.

But I hope my kids had fun.  I hope they remember the jokes we told while we tried to carve the hardest pumpkin I’ve ever seen.  I was grunting and sweating and Evan kept telling me to imagine the lines super long at Walmart…that should give me the wrath necessary to cut through that impenetrable pumpkin skin!  I hope Afton goes to school proud of her science bar graph.  I hope they know I love them and these afternoon hours, though undeniably trying, are the hours that at this time in my life, are making me the mom and the woman I am.  And I hope baby Luke doesn’t dream of devil Elmo tonight.


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