Roll of the moody dice

It’s not really quite possible to describe the “typical” amount of chaos that just hangs in the air at our house. I suppose that if you are neighbors, you probably hear it quite regularly. I suppose that if you really wanted to experience it, you’d offer to babysit all five boys by yourself for the day for free (haven’t found that person yet). Or if you’re brave enough, you would stop by for a couple hours….get a hefty dose….and tell yourself, “Wow, I am so lucky to live alone/only have one kid/only have two kids/(fill in the blank!)”

We’re not really loud and chaotic all the time, though. Generally, after 9:00 pm, you could actually give us a call and maybe hear just one little squeaky voice in the background. You could also stop by around midnight when I’m up working in the office….and it’s pretty quiet right now. Super Tall Guy will come stumbling down the steps any minute to be tucked in again and The Little Guy is slated to need someone to “cover me” around 3:00 am and again at 4:30 and then likely at 5:42….or he could be up for good at that time.

But in these few, entirely delectable quiet moments of the night (when I’m energized by Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz…mixed with Chocolate Therapy delight….a combination I just discovered yesterday and is guaranteed to add a few pounds to my slowed-metabolism midriff), in these ephemeral glimpses of peace….

Hmmm….seems like I should be able to think of something profound to write about. Huh.

Ah, yes – brain reconnecting now…

The thing about these quiet moments is that they absolutely never happen when the boys’ eyes are open. Even if you put on the most engrossing movie possible, you’ll only get 138 seconds of stillness before The Little Guy loses attention and moves on to beeping the walkie-talkie followed by the predictable, responsive barks of “Quit that!!” “Be quiet!” “I can’t hear!” “MOOOOOOM!!!”

The other day I thought about this constant flurry of activity and how the escalations and dips really vary depending on so many things and a great deal on the personalities and quirks and behaviors and current moods of each boy. (Oh….it’s 11:21 pm…and there’s The Little Guy whispering, “Mommy…I want you to cover me.”  Must go tuck….Will be back….)

The days are a game of chance….a roll of the dice. Five dice constantly being shaken. If the mood is good (a number 1 or 2), those 1-3 boys escape up to the toy room, drag out the bins of train tracks and set up an elaborate system in the tiny hallway at the top of the stairs and demand that no one remove it or trip over it trying to go downstairs.


If a 5 or a 6 is thrown, the sour angry pesky rage kicks back at a brother who accidentally brushed passed. The seething narrow eyes find their prey and deviously trip the happy 1 or 2 bouncing down the stairs seeking someone to admire the train track at the top.


It’s almost impossible to predict from one moment to the next. How will these dice get along? When will the next shake-and-roll jostle the current interaction patterns? How much can we the parents control this chaos?


A couple weeks ago, I took my boys to a friend’s house for the Fourth of July. We stayed up for the community fireworks and the “family” fireworks party at the grandmother’s house afterwards. We played hard the next morning and returned to Pittsburgh happy, yet exhausted (moods teetering, dice weighted heavily).  My sister took her boys to spend the night at another friend’s house and they got home a few hours before us. The moment we walked in, the battle lines were drawn. The brothers chose family sides. A constant exchange of verbal and physical attacks ensued followed by an occasional retreat and regroup. It didn’t take long before adult-intervention was clearly needed to separate the spinning dice.


(By the way, we’re not even going to add the variable here of our new little completely unpredictable, nonverbal canine pal….who can get all the dice wound up and running squealing around the indoor Victorian home track!)

So….my job as a parent is to monitor the current playing field. Re-shake when necessary. Remove a couple dice if needed. Tip an angry 5 to a more content 3 range.

And when all else fails…..cheat.