Pillow Forts and Melt Downs

pillow_fortThis has been a truly tough winter for my oldest son. He has suffered the oppression of being stuck with Mom (eye roll) everyday including a rough three-day holiday power outage. The poor kid had more play dates cancelled due to stupidly cold sub-zero temperatures. His favorite cat, Stella died. And to top all of that, his little brother started doing cute stuff like babbling his first word, and rolling over, and generally causing every single adult in the room to gush. Poor kid.

Not being a total dud of a Mom, I decided that my child needed a serious day of fun. Since we were stuck at home for yet another silly winter weather related misfortune, it fell to me to make our house something of an adventure land. So, I did what any Mom with two chairs, a set of embarrassingly old sheets, and a bag of chocolate chips would do: I built a pillow fort.

The fort, nicknamed Club Kid, cost us nine pillows and three blankets. The child was beyond excited to be using his flashlight during the day to flip through his books while he stuffed his little face with chocolate chips. His dog laid next to him quietly begging for snacks and behind-the-ear scratches. For about thirteen minutes it was really nice. Like a Rockwell painting kind of nice.

And then an avalanche of complaints and whining burst through the thin sheets. The sound was shrill and annoying. The kid clearly needed a nap. Perhaps the chocolate chips were a foolish idea.

Having small children tethered to me during a harshly cold Maine winter is both a blessing and a cursed level of hell. On the one hand I have the great privilege of watching my children turn into little marvelous people. On the other hand, I am the first target in the war of Cranky Child Versus Everything. I am not the kind of person who handles confrontation very well to begin with. A cranky four year-old is enough to make me want to jump ship some days. Or hide under my covers. Or beg my husband for a lobotomy. And so I resort to distraction so to throw my child off the grumpy track and headed back toward a pleasant demeanor.

This winter has taught me some valuable Mom lessons:

  • There is no shame in letting the house turn into total chaos as long as the inhabitants are all happy.
  • Eating breakfast food for dinner, wearing pajamas all day, and singing the same song repeatedly – for more than an hour, does not a Nut House make. If it helps the time pass without fuss and fluster then by all means…let it fly.
  • TV is not always bad. Even if the thing is on all day despite the best intentions.
  • Letting the child pummel me with snowballs totally passes for Gestalt Therapy.
  • Glow sticks in a nighttime bath are pretty cool when the bath occupant is four. Or thirty-four.
  • The power of sayingYes to a small person’s simplest demands and grandest ideas can sometimes shift the reality of a home into something truly spectacular.

I have not figured out the secret to preventing meltdowns. Believe me, if I did then I would blog about it all the livelong day. But I have figured out some smaller and probably more important things that have certainly made life around this house a bit less frantic and a tad more tolerable…until spring, anyhow. And then all bets are off.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.