I turned in my laptop and badge to work today -- my contract is done!
The boys went to winter camp at the CDC for today, but Katrina's preschool is closed, so I had her to myself all day. I took her to work to turn in my laptop, which she was enthusiastic about. "Are we going to your work job??" she asked several times. She was surprisingly quiet and calm in the office, including while I chatted with (now former) coworkers, some of whom had heard stories of her outrageous tantrums. Her peaceful demeanor made me sound like a real exaggerator. The skepticism that this darling tiny little girl could be such a tyrant was palpable.
It was a really, really nice day with her alone, so different than when the boys are with us too. Though I have to dig a little to find patience for the toddler-life (taking 5 minutes to get in or out of the car, persuading and making up games to get her to get ready to go, waiting while she insists on finishing a puzzle, handling yet another floor tantrum at Starbucks), it's much easier to find that patience when it's just me and her. The boys require a whole different type of patience and handling, and I just can't find both kinds in me at the same time.
Even though I know this about her, I was again taken by how very, very well she plays on her own. She goes upstairs and plays in the boys' room for hours -- I even (sort of) got to take a nap, until a balloon got stuck and she asked for help with it.
Normally this maternal inattention would be accompanied by a pang of guilt -- nowadays parents are expected to "stimulate" and "develop" children at all hours -- but in Katrina's case, she so rarely gets non-stimulated downtime at home that I gave her all the space she needed today -- guilt-free. Her brothers give her plenty of stimulation. Unfettered concentrated time to play without being interrupted or distracted, and without having her hair pulled or toys taken, is a golden prize. She sings and chats to herself the whole time. Sometimes I turn down the radio just to listen to her expressive little voice happily yammering away.
All good things must come to an end though, and it was with regret that I went to retrieve her monster brothers. They wasted no time in resuming their latest running game, in which they tear around the house full-speed, usually colliding at some barrier. Today that game had a brief break when Julian was in the lead and tried to make a break for it through a dark hallway to the sitting-room door. That was closed. He ran face-first into the door, leaving sweat marks on it, and was knocked to the ground. He was shocked into wailing loudly for about 10 minutes, but then he and Gabriel were right back at it.
Gabriel was so out of control, shouting and slamming doors, that I eventually had to send him to his room for a cooloff. When I first told him to go up, he stood on the steps defiantly and looked at me icily and retorted "NO!" I was furious and stalked toward him, glaring into his eyes, put my face up to his and said, "YOU MAY NOT SAY NO!" But he stood his ground as I approached, not intimidated. Practicality won out and he backed off and went upstairs -- I am still bigger than he is after all. For now.
Tomorrow starts 2 weeks with all three of them at home...I think I'll be looking forward to school starting again! But today's good memory of listening to Katrina singing happily will carry me through.