Firefighters Rush, Scurry

This morning my video camera caught my pajama-clad children playing a wonderful firefighter game. Sophie was riding Ben’s firetruck back and forth across the house and Bella and Ben and Anthony were all accompanying her in a wild band. Ben and Bella were also pretending to be firefighters while Bella was reciting from a little rhyming board book about firefighters that we last got from the library months ago. (Incidentally, all my kids refer to them as “firefighters” not “firemen” as we did when I was a kid.)

Because you might not be able to catch all the dialogue, I thought I’d try my hand at a little transcription:

The video begins in medias res with Bella explaining to me that since she gave up driving (she gave up playing with cars and trucks for Lent and I guess that includes driving the firetruck) instead she is telling the story of all the actions. Then she begins to narrate, “Sirens screeches, wee-ah, woooo. Pumper truck comes zooming through.” Ben joins in with his own wee-ah, weee-ah, weee-ah. Bella continues, “Firefighter starts to shout: ‘There may be people to get out!’”  As Sophie enters the room Bella is saying, “Bring them down on solid ground.” Bella interrupts her recitation to tell me that she can’t remember all of the story. As she gazes at herself in the mirror she continues, “Hooray, hooray, watchers cheer. Pumper truck is waiting near.” Then Sophie sprays the fire. Then Bella calls an end, “It’s ok, fire’s out. Only ashes swirl about,” and the crew turns to return to their lair in the laundry room. Sophie following very slowly on the fire truck announces that there is no fire to put out as she arrived back in the laundry room. Bella munches on her apple and announces that Spot gets a special treat and the firefighters relax until… clang, clang, clang.”

And now this is properly where the whole thing begins. In the laundry room, which is the firehouse. All crouching next to the dryer. And sure enough, we begin again. The book Bella is reciting from loops. It ends with the firefighters resting and giving Spot a treat and then the bell clangs. If you turn back to the beginning, it fits perfectly as the “firefighters rush, scurry. Down the pole, slide hurry.” Then Bella and Ben slide down the broken lamp post, which is handily standing in for the fire pole. Sophie rides the firetruck back to the bedroom, the others all leading the way, stopping to munch on some apples in the kitchen because I haven’t yet fed them breakfast. I love that Bella and Ben both serve Sophie an apple slice when she starts to whine, “I want an apple.”

Bella tries to convince Sophie to use the beads as another hose but when Sophie is disinterested Bella decides to wear them about her own neck. As Anthony screams at Sophie for blocking his path Bella chants, “Firefighter starts to shout: ‘There may be people to get out!’” Again Bella continues, “Hooray, hooray, watchers cheer. Pumper truck is waiting near.” The next bit is “Swing the hatchet, hit the door,” then Bella forgets the rest of the page. (She remembers it as we are watching the video so she can help me transcribe and recites what should have been there.)

Even though Bella is apologetic about not remembering the whole book, she has enough of it down pat to give a great sense of drama to the endeavor, prancing about in her nightgown and reciting. She directs Sophie and Ben in spraying to put out the fire and in rescuing the people who are stuck. Then the fire is out, “Only ashes swirl about,” and back to the fire station everyone goes with Sophie on the firetruck trailing behind, calling, “No, no, don’t go without me! Wait! Wait!” But she turns to explain to me that, “The firetruck is vrooming to the firehouse.” Then she continues on, “Hey! Hey, wait for me!”  Once they are all back in the firestation, they have their little rest and then begin again in a seemingly endless cycle.

I love how Anthony is right there in the thick of it, sometimes almost bowled over, sometimes having to watch as Sophie almost runs over his toes; but always joyful to be a part of the pack now that he can run along with them. I love that Ben is actively imagining now too—even if he does tend to take a secondary role if both his sisters are playing. He often pretends to be a firefighter even when his sisters are not playing the game. Sometimes he even instigates imaginative play with the others, getting Sophie or Bella to ride on a train he’s made of boxes, for example.

Eventually, of course, they do tire of putting out fires and somehow they become an aid station helping people in the midst of a hurricane. Or is it an earthquake? They are getting everyone out of their homes and then putting everyone on a big boat with supplies to ride out the storm. The blocks box has been carted to the bedroom so that the blocks can become provisions for all of their refugees. (Who are from Japan and New Zealand, Bella informs me.)

Then a truck pulls up next door to cut down some tree branches and mulch them and all the kids must rush to get dressed and go out in the front to watch. Poor Anthony is desolate at having to stay inside because he’s not yet allowed out front unsupervised. Then he discovers that Ben’s fleet of trucks in the fireplace is unguarded and he happily settles at the fireplace to push them around.

Just a tiny slice of our morning. It’s what makes me smile and what I cling to when squabbles arise and tempers flare.

Ironically, my cinnamon apples burned while I was taking this video. Two entire apples ruined with burnt taste because I was too caught up in capturing the moment. Oh the sacrifices a mommy blogger makes!

9 Responses to Firefighters Rush, Scurry

  1. Alicia March 27, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    I used to loathe when people told me “this, too, will pass” but felt less alone when others told me they went through it too.  At least I knew they survived. 

    And though, I’ve never had to deal with multiple children waking up like in your post, I’ve felt some of your frustrations.  My grumble fest to God used to consist of, “I know this won’t last forever, but if You could give me a round-about end point, THAT WOULD BE FABULOUS!”  To my knowledge, He never sent me date to look forward too.  I often wonder if maybe it was me…. and could I phrased it for a more definite response next time.  smile 

    Hang in there.  I bet you’re doing much better then you think, because at least you haven’t given up trying.

  2. Suzanne March 27, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Thanks for this. I am relieved that I’m not the only one who sometimes loses it after yet another night waking.  I only have one two year old, and that is enough for me in terms of night wakings.  She has never slept through the night and I haven’t slept more than three consecutive hours since she was born. I don’t know how you can do it.  Just commiserating.

  3. Karen March 27, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    Oh, Melanie, what a cross you have been given to bear!  When my third was a baby he had to eat every two hours, and kept that up for a looong time. He would wake at the weirdest hours even as a toddler, moaning and crying for seemingly no reason.  he didn’t calm down until we moved him into his brothers’ room, and still sometimes he will wake with a night terror.

    Back when we had our second child, my husband and I figured out that he and I have vastly different circadian rhythyms.  If you wake me between 11 pm and 4 am, I will be groggy but calm and functional, if very tired.  I can take care of a baby without grumbling.  BUT if you wake my husband up before 4 or 5 am, he is almost clinically psychotic.  While he doesn’t mind taking care of the random vomiting fest, if he tries to do baby duty between 11 pm and 4 am regularly, he goes insane.

    However, if you wake ME between 4 am and 7 am, I. Do. Not. Like. It. At. All.  And I will resent it all day.  And I may curse.  However, my husband can get out of bed at 4 or 5 am, willing if tired, and tend a baby with much less resentment than I. 

    So we made a deal; any wakings between our bedtime and 4 am. I would take, and he would take any wakings between 4 am and 8 am.  This was a lifesaver.  Not only did I get to sleep in a bit, but if I did take the the baby or other child at 3, I knew I’d get to go back to sleep and sleep until 8.  Likewise, my husband could easily go back to sleep while I tended the baby, happy to stay in bed then.

    I don’t know if it would work for you. Maybe Dom has the same circadian rhythym as you do, and I know since you’re nursing it’s quite different. 

    I agree, it’s the randomness that gets one, the not knowing when or by whom you’ll be woken up. 

    Hang in there!  It is so hard sometimes, I know.  I will keep you in my prayers.

  4. Jessica March 27, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    Oh, Melanie, I had to smile when you said you got angry at Sophie for interrupting your prayers. That has happened to me more than once, and then, afterward, I realize how absurd it is. My youngest is 3 and still comes into our bed at night and some nights I practically want to push her out.

    I think that being a mother of many and being an introvert is one of the hardest things. We so crave our personal space and it is invaded from morning until night. When we can’t even be alone to sleep, it takes it’s toll. And dying to self gets exhausting. I have been known to yell at my children, “Will you just stop touching me!”

    I wish I had a better answer. I recently found out I’m pregnant with #8 and I was not happy. I yelled at God and told him this was a bad idea. I have enough on my plate and I didn’t want to be one of those mothers with a baby at my daughter’s high school graduation. And yesterday—the Annunciation—when I told these same children who have listened to there mother lose her temper many, many times in the past 16 years that we were going to have a new baby, they squealed with happiness. And God said, “See, it’s not so bad.”

    His grace is sufficient. It’s just so easy to get in the way of it.
    Huge and prayers.

  5. Daria M Sockey March 27, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    I really, really, really sympathize. Had a few of these family illness sleep deprivation marathons back in the day. Recently had one weekend of it while they all had stomach virus, but since I didn’t get it, I really can’t complain about doing the clean up and making them ginger tea. Melanie, hope everyone is better tomorrow.

  6. In Need of Grace March 27, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I SOOOOO could relate to your post. That is how it was for an entire year with Daughter. She had undiagnosed food allergies and life was horrible. It was terrible. I really have few good memories of her infancy. And I feel guilty saying that. However, keep in mind, sleep deprivation IS a form of torture. Add hormone fluctuations and the constant needs of others. Have mercy on yourself.
    My therapist always tells me, “if someone told you the exact same thing that just came out of your own mouth, what would you say to them?” Most of us are MUCH more compassionate towards others than we are ourselves. Having said all of that, I tend to choose myself over others all the time (or so I feel) and I too have concluded that this woman is indeed in need of a Savior.

  7. Melanie Bettinelli March 28, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Thanks, everyone.

    Alicia, Yes, it is a great consolation when others tell you that they’ve been through it too.

    Suzanne, My sympathy. Two years is a very long time to go without a good night’s sleep!

    Karen, That’s really interesting about the circadian rhythms. I’ve never really paid attention to what times are worst/better for me. Sometimes I think it’s more about where in my sleep cycle I am than what time it is. But almost clinically psychotic definitely sounds familiar. I feel so totally out of control sometimes.

    Jessica, Yes, I do think being an introvert and a mother of many is a specific kind of cross. And oh I do love those, ‘See, it’s not so bad’ moments. And I like that about getting out of the way of grace.

    Daria, Thank you. Everyone does seem to be feeling a bit better. Still had a wake up every two hours, though. Ben and Sophie each only woke once and it was super easy to just put them back down on the couch and the rocking chair in the living room. Then Anthony woke twice. But all together that’s enough to make for bad sleep, isn’t it?

    In Need of Grace, Oh yes, that’s another rant to God: Don’t you know this would be torture if I deliberately did it to another person? Why are you torturing me? Don’t you know I NEED sleep in order to be a decent human being?! I keep wondering how long I’m going to be able to do this. It has been a very long streak of bad. I’m still waiting for my answers; but I do at least have confidence that He will answer me somehow, sometime.

  8. Eileen March 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Melanie, I actually cried reading this post.    Sleep deprivation is torturous.    I feel I’ve been so fortunate these last few years as my two youngest children have slept like champs.  Probably the only indulgence I allow myself is to keep my children in Pull-Ups until well after their 6th birthdays because I do not want to be wakened up even a few times a year with a nighttime accident if I can avoid it.  I sometimes feel like the money I spend on Pull-Ups could be better spent, but I’ve now read this post and I remember why I began that practice in the first place.  I too snap at my children when I am tired.

  9. Marcie in Canada March 30, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I hear ya 100%  My baby has been up sooooo many times in the last few weeks.  She’s #6 and my husband has worked midnights since our oldest was 2 weeks old (she’s now almost 12).  Even when he’s home on weekends he wears earplugs so he doesn’t hear anything:)  Nighttime can be rough, and it’s glad to hear that somebody else has rants that they aren’t too proud to admit in the morning.  I find myself questioning God lately.  I see my SIL, with both her kids a little older, enjoying being at home by herself all day, cleaning her house, taking “holidays”, and I think, “Lord, we are doing your will, we are open to life, why is this so hard and unenjoyable sometimes?”  Then I pull up a chair to one of my favourite blogs, and read some good wisdom from fellow Catholic Moms.  Thanks Melanie for helping me to put it all in perspective.

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