Every time we get into the car, without fail, Elle asks that I sing this cheery Christmas tune. We have to sing it together – I am never exempt.
“Then one froggy Christmas Eve,” she bellows from the backseat. Even though it’s the 105th time she’s sung that line, blissfully unaware that “froggy” is not, presumably, the weather condition Rudolph and his team were dealing with on that infamous Christmas Eve, it still makes me smile. I like the thought of frogs falling from the sky like snowflakes, causing visibility problems for ole Saint Nick. But I am getting tired of singing about Rudolph and his red nose – froggy eves notwithstanding.
I must fib in order to be released from Elle’s Christmas carol-singing servitude. “I need to rest my voice,” I say. Sometimes I just want to say, or sing, nothing. But young children don’t understand this.
“Did it wake up yet?” she asks from her little throne in the backseat, two minutes later.
“Did what wake up?” I am thinking about meetings and deadlines, bills, and when I might be able to exercise.
“Your voice,” she urges. Elle is still thinking about Rudolph.
Now I am thinking about how annoying Christmas songs are. Especially in February.
Keeping pace with a 3 year old can be mentally exhausting. Add to that a fast-crawling rug-rat – one whose twiggy little fingers, when unmonitored, pluck the tiniest specks of rubbish from the carpet and stick them into her mouth – and I feel downright bowled over by my kids much of the time. Like this morning. One is yelling for a tissue while the other is prowling for choking hazards. I ignore the urgent tissue requests to pry from the fist of my eight-month old the lid of a long-lost tube of Chapstick.
Now the other one is eating boogers. I get around to handing her the tissue, but not before I tell her that’s gross and so she proceeds to wipe the finger in question down her shirt. I don’t feel like walking back downstairs for another one, so I get to work cleaning snot off my child’s clothing.
Meanwhile, the little one is dipping a teething ring into the dog bowl. And then putting the teething ring into her mouth.
I just want to eat my gosh-darned toast. Is that so much to ask?!
When my mornings go like this, it’s no wonder that I feel crushed by 9 a.m. Usually that’s right around the time that Elle embarks upon a Rudolph-singing marathon. From which I am never exempt.
I just want to drive the car. In silence. Is that so much to ask?!
I could just ignore her. Tell her my voice is broken, perhaps. Turn the car around, go back home and vacuum all the crap off the carpet. Throw all choking hazards away while I’m at it. Finish my toast.
“Mommy? Just one more time.”
I spy my 3-year-old in the backseat. Her pink sparkly tennis shoes drum the back of my seat as she waits. The baby strains against the straps of her car seat to look at her sister and her flashing pink shoes. These are my kids. This is my life. I love them so much in this snapshot of a moment that it hurts.
“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,” I begin. We sing it three more times. Which seems like a lot for a single morning in February, but some part of me knows that these Rudolph-singing marathons won’t last forever. Emme will start walking and her fingers won’t be so twiggy anymore. Elle will wear more sensible shoes and will want to listen to her iPod.
“Then one froggy Christmas Eve…” I always make sure to sing that line with extra enthusiasm. Because someday she’ll figure out that there weren’t actually frogs causing problems for Santa’s crew. And when that happens, some part of me will probably long for the days when Elle sang about froggy Christmas Eves and Emme ate tiny scraps of paper off the carpet.