My friend Molly used to say how I seemed to have an unflappable amount of patience (especially when teaching German to our friend Brittney--who was a much better German student than she gave herself credit for). Last week however, my patience ran out.
And now, a chronicle of all the times I lost my patience throughout the week:
I awoke Monday morning tired from my weekend and a little more than annoyed that after 11 months, five days a week Boy still hadn't mastered our morning routine and every morning I have to get on him to brush his teeth, stop playing with those toys, make his bed and get dressed. It isn't just once I remind him, it is a series of reminders (some might call it nagging) from about 7:45 until they get on the bus at 8:18. I could feel my patience draining away and, as it looks right now, never to return. Monday morning The Mother said she had a lot of work so I would need to be home for after school. I was a little peeved because I had planned to do work for this semi-internship thing that I have here but she said she'd be home in the middle of piano lessons at four so it would just be a few minutes. I almost lost it with Boy when he started to tear up because I wouldn't scoop out his kiwi for him. (Yes you read that correctly.) I was thinking, "There are about 12 million things to cry about: world hungry, child sex slaves, child soldiers, unnecessary wars, the fact that Arizona has basically legalized racism/discrimination... But kiwis? Are you for real? Four comes and goes, as does five, six, seven when The Mother and Father return at 8:15 as I'm reading to the kids and putting them to bed. "Sorry we ran a little late."
Tuesday morning was more of the same. Tuesday afternoon my French teacher now takes Girl and her son to swimming so I just pick her up at 5:30 and then drop Boy off at his swim lessons. Boy and I had to do some of his French homework (I literally have to sit next to him to get him to focus). Later, when he said he could conjugate the verbs on his own, I busied myself setting the table/making dinner/et cetera when he comes downstairs and asks me if he should be conjugating the verb in the idicatif or the subjonctif. I turned to Boy and said, "Have you learned the subjontif yet?" And he said no and then I asked if he had the Bescherelle book (which conjugates just about every French verb in existence) and something he was forbidden (by his teacher) to use during these exercises. He said it's in my room in the drawer. I walk into his room and it is lying open on his desk. I was furious that he has just blatantly lied to my face and when I told his parents later they weren't as furious as I had hoped... Tuesday afternoon The Mother calls and says she's going to be stuck at the office for a while but The Father should be home soon. During dinner The Father calls and says he'll be home later and "I hope you didn't have any plans." Super. As Boy and Girl are going to bed Boy starts to snivel and cry because "I haven't seen my mom since this morning." I turn on my kind, loving super-nanny powers and calmly say, "Boy, I haven't seen my parents since Christmas. They live on a different continent. You were fine 10 seconds ago when you were reading. I. Don't. Want. To. Hear. It." And then I left the room. The Parents got home around 10 pm.
Wednesday morning was okay. Boy took the bus home and skipped French and I had to take him to meet his dad for a doctor's appointment. I left my keys in the house thinking I'd just use the car key's house key when I realized that I left them in the car. With the dad. So I had to sit outside my house for two hours waiting for them to get home, I could see my keys mocking me from the counter. Later I was talking about some of my friends' jobs here and he said, "So did you have any difficulty/problems advising the next au pair on our family?" What was I supposed to do, say, "It was a struggle to keep from saying everything I wanted." I did tell him that I told her that there would be some days when she didn't like it (at all) and those days she was welcome to give me a call. He looked at me in disbelief and said, "Really? You didn't like it sometimes?" (A kudos to my acting ability I suppose.) TMoTB when I recounted the story to her said, "Are you kidding? If they get frustrated with their kids after 20 minutes how do they expect you to do it?" Couldn't have said it better myself.
Thursday afternoon The Mother was on a business trip so I was there after school. This was the fastest I have ever yelled at the kids. They get off the bus, come to the door and "ding-dong," ring the bell. Then I hear, "dingdongdingdongdingdongdingdongdingdongdingdong." Halfway through I just scream "STOP!!!!!!!!!!" I hadn't even let them in the door and already I had screamed, a new record. I asked why on earth they rang the doorbell so many times and they said they couldn't hear me coming. I replied they couldn't hear me because they rang the bell so many times. Boy and I did some more homework (only after he spilled juice all over his power point presentation and the mail and just said, "Jill" and pointed to it), I made dinner, gave them baths (note to The Family: nine is too old for me to be giving him a bath!) and was again reading to them when The Father got home at 8:15. I bolted out of the house to meet my friends for drinks and to regain some sanity.
Friday morning was the same as the other mornings. Girl had a kindergarten production of "Stone Soup" that I couldn't attend because I had TB but The Father was going to but still asked if I could be there after school because he had to run a few errands (errands for his sailing equipment, I had already done the grocery shopping the day before). The kids arrive home at 3:45 and that is what time I arrive home with the bus. Of course, my bus was late (by Swiss standards) so I arrived at 3:48. The door was open so I burst in, after running like a bat out of hell from my stop, to find both kids inside (stuff strewn about, not neatly put away like with me) and The Father lying on the couch, eyes closed. Sweaty and out of breath I say sorry and he says, "Good thing I was here. I took Girl home from her show and it was a good thing for when Boy got home." Now see The Mother told me earlier in the year that if ever she or I is running late the kids know to wait outside and that one of us will be there momentarily. The Father seemed bothered by it but I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of groveling. He kept bringing it up to Boy saying things like, "Boy, do you know what to do if no one is home?" and other passive aggressive things of that nature. He finally came into Boy's room (where we were working on German homework) and said, "Jill I know it was only a couple minutes today, but I really need you to be here when they get home after school." I looked at him and said, "I'm sorry and it won't happen again." And as The Father is walking out of Boy's room Boy says, (kid you not) "This is the second time this has happened." I swear the look on my face started out incredulous, went to shock and then finally rested upon Satanic-rage. I responded (sorry, I couldn't not) "This is the second time in ELEVEN MONTHS I have been late." (Wanted to add your parents were late THREE times this week.) I was inwardly seething and counted down the hours until I would be headed out of town with my friends. The Father then offered to drive me to the train station because he was heading out to pick up Chinese food for dinner. I was waiting for him when he called up the stairs, "Okay guys when I get back I want you to be in your p.j.s. I have my phone if you need me and I'll be home in about a half hour." HE WAS LEAVING THEM HOME ALONE. After I had been chastised for a three minute delay in broad daylight he was leaving them alone in the evening for a half hour. Are you [expletive] kidding me?
And so the countdown begins.