The triumphant crow of my two-year-old in the back seat of the van would be adorable if I hadn't heard this joke a thousand times. ~ in the past hour alone.
"Knock, knock." She starts again. I sigh and glance at the dashboard clock. Just ten more minutes and we'll be home.
"Who's there?" Her brother, nowhere near as bored with this joke or his sister, answers with a grin.
"MOOOO!!! Gotcha!" He beats her to the punch and they both giggle raucously. My head is pounding. Again.
"Knock, knock." I should really just be happy they're not picking on each other.
"Interrupting MOM!" I shout in annoyance and growl, "Knock it off. Both of you! No more knock, knock jokes!"
As I glance in the rearview mirror at them to see if they plan to obey me, I experience a twinge of guilt at the shock and hurt I see on their faces.
"I'm sorry," I backpedal. "Mommy has a headache. Can you please try to be quiet for the rest of the trip home?"
The excuse is worn out to them. Mommy always has a headache. It's a permanent part of my personality, just like the angry outbursts. Still, they try to comply.
I want so badly to tell them I'm wrong ~ and I do ~ often. But it changes nothing. Tomorrow will be the same. More pounding head and noisy children being yelled at.
I don't mean to. It comes out before I know what I'm saying, and I'm helpless to stop it. People think I'm awful.
I think I'm awful.
I pull into the driveway and unload my children. It's time for naps.
Finally, after minutes which seem like hours of screaming and crying ~ both them and me, we're snuggled in bed. Together. Because that's what we need.
And just as I'm drifting off to sleep, feeling like maybe the nap might stop the knocking in my skull for just a little, I hear it downstairs.
"Interrupting cow!" I mutter as I extricate myself from between my two snoring children.
And, just to taunt me, it's as repetitive as the banter in the car.