One day, when Austin was the baby and I was having a bad afternoon with him, my mother used an old-fashioned expression that made me laugh. The arsenic hour.
She explained that the arsenic hour usually falls in the late afternoon -- sometime between 4 and 7 p.m. and is almost always before dinner -- when the kid (or kids) are wired and/or hungry and/or over-stimulated and can be annoying as hell. In other words, a perfect cocktail to drive any mother crazy.
The expression, she said, was one her mother used to use, and the part that made me laugh was when my mom said she was never sure if the arsenic hour meant the kids were so crazy you wanted to feed them arsenic or you wanted to take it yourself.
As I've been learning these past few months, having one baby is easy compared to having a baby and a two-year-old. With one baby, no matter how fussy he was being, I could still manage to get things done and retain my sanity. (Or at least, that's how my memory recalls events of two years ago.) Some days, retaining my sanity with two kids is not that easy.
My arsenic hour comes around 6 p.m.
This is the time that I'm usually trying to get dinner started as Ryan tends to get home between 6:30 and 7 and we almost always eat around the table as a family.
Preparing dinner means always having a 'helper' as Austin is going through a stage right now where he has to be involved in everything. (And I mean EVERYTHING. I can't go to bathroom some days without him wanting to come in with me and flush the toilet for me.) So, whatever I'm making in the kitchen, he has to get up on his stool and start 'helping'. Sometimes he spins the lettuce for me; sometimes he puts the pre-chopped vegetables in the salad bowl for me; sometimes he helps me grate cheese; but most of the time he grabs a wooden spoon and pretends to use it like a knife.
This means banging it on the counter over and over again.
This is usually around the time that he starts talking louder -- because he needs to be heard over the sound of the banging -- and Alex, who is playing on the floor, decides it's time to be picked up.
Here's a typical image for you: Austin banging away on the counter with a wooden spoon yelling, and me chopping vegetables or cooking something on the stove holding a baby on my left hip.
Cooking like this sure brings multi-tasking to a whole new level. And I finally, truly understand, the arsenic hour expression.