Is There Anything Better Than Caffeine?

Those of you who know me know that I’m inherently lazy. If it were up to me, being a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM to you industry enthusiasts) would mean lying around all day watching CNN and eating dark chocolate. But instead, we have a ninja training regimen to adhere to. And PBS cartoons to watch. And groceries to buy. And toilet bowls to clean. And meals to prepare – you know, meals that won’t be eaten by my apparently anorexic sons.


So, I drink coffee to keep up with this grueling agenda.


And there are some incidents and scenarios I find funnier after I’ve had my morning coffee. In fact, I’m a “morning person” anyway, with lots of energy and an accompanying good mood, so throw in some endorphins after a workout and a shot or two of caffeine, and these incidents become hysterical.


But in the afternoon…oh, the afternoon…when my energy fades, my buzz evaporates, and I’m running on fumes, these same things are no longer funny. No, not funny at all. And by evening, I’m tanking so low that I could be sitting next to Amy Schumer herself at an improv festival and not crack a smile.


Fortunately for Nate and Sam, they’re usually in bed at this point and don’t have to endure my sinking mood. They get me in the morning, when I’m my freshest, my happiest, and this is when they get to experiment with humor.


Here are things that crack me up in the morning yet irritate me later in the day…


The amount of money I spend in the dollar section at Target. I’ll glance at my receipt as we stroll outta that place and smirk, proud of the new minion water bottle we found or The Cat in The Hat tote bag. Finally! Nate can lug all his “guys” up and down the stairs in one trip with such a bag! This will solve all our problems and we’ll all die happy. But later…later, when I’m tripping over the toy detritus, no longer shiny and bright, but faded with chipped or missing parts… I’m annoyed, frustrated with my impulsive spending and careless, destructive sons.


Sam, sitting in a pile of dirt in the driveway, slowly scooping up dirt and dumping it onto his head. This happened just before lunch the other day, so not only was the last drop of coffee leaking into my urine stream, but I also had low blood sugar – mood: rock bottom! But somehow, through the grace of God, I found a way not to think about it through my own point of view. Instead, I put it into the context of his life. Was this task on his to-do list that day? “Let’s see…eat breakfast, poop in diaper, play at playground, accompany Mom to grocery store, excavate driveway, dump dirt on head, have lunch, finish NY Times crossword…”


Winning arguments against Nate. Well, ok, this is subjective. My rationale is usually fool-proof. I’m literate, he’s not. I have a larger realm of experience to his three and a half years and I’ve been formally educated well beyond a two-day-a-week preschool program. I have a more sophisticated sense of humor and an awareness of most pop culture references, despite my advanced age. Plus, I eat almonds, salmon, and blueberries – brain food. Sorry, Nate, you’re just outmatched. So, in the morning, I get a kick – and maybe even a little rush – out of laying the smack down on his silly, illogical, and false arguments: “No, Nate, you actually do have to wear a shirt when we go to Barnes and Noble. And no, you can’t bring your ninja weapons. In fact, Missouri law stipulates that…” But in the afternoon, “Fine, Nate, whatever, you’re right. Kansas City is not on planet Earth. You win. Again.”


Sam calls Thomas the Tank Engine “Tommy.” Suddenly, this proper blue, British make-believe train designed to teach children to be “really useful,” punctual, and compassionate, becomes an old-time mobster in a pin-stripe suit. Or a jovial half-pint with a baseball cap sitting askew on his head and dirt staining his sweaty cheeks. Sam’s pal, Tommy.


Actually, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is – this never gets old to me.


Being “in character.” I groan as I just think about this one. It happens every day and there seems to be no end in sight. When the coffee is still fresh in my system, I say, “Sure, Nate! I’d love to play Turtles with you! And yes, I’ll do the voices of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, April, and Splinter.” Or “Ok! I’ll be the Joker and you be Batman. Please chase me around the house all morning and feel free to smack me in the face and tie me up, just as the real Batman would surely do to Joker.” But if I inflect my voice incorrectly or use a word that my designated character would never use, I should be prepared for some griping. “No, Mom! Mikey doesn’t say it like that!” Forgive me, oh holy lord of the fictional, animated, ninja reptiles.


And just when I really do think that I’m going to crash and won’t survive the evening, something gets me back. Something re-energizes me, and I power through. Sometimes it’s a handful of dark chocolate – thank you, God, for such a creation.


But usually, it’s a hug from Sam. Or doing jumping jacks with Nate – I have better form than he does, obviously. And the past few days, it’s been watching them both on the video monitor in Sam’s room.


When we hear Sam wake from his nap, Nate gets excited! A brother reunion! Someone to play with! And even though thirty minutes later, one will be making the other cry, Nate scrambles up the steps to Sam’s room a little bit faster than usual, and from the kitchen, I can hear Sam cry out with a smile, “Nate!” Nate then climbs into the crib, they hug, and Nate proceeds to show Sam how to climb out. There are some precious moments there, great sources of energy for me – energy to help me endure the bickering, the hungry, whiny demands for dinner, and the overtired battle for more bedtime stories. Sibling love: better than caffeine.