So by 7 a.m. I (and by "I," I mean "Tim, while I huddled on the couch muttering 'I'm going to throw up, I'm going to throw up' and Mary yelled down the hall 'you want a bucket or somethin' to throw up in?!'") had worked out a passable solution to the problem but that was far too early a start to an already busy day. We wound up spending most of it in the car and while my kids are pretty good on road trips, there's only so much you can ask of the under-five set.
By mid day we had covered every possible topic of conversation. Talking to Mary is like reaching blind into a bag of Magnetic Poetry tiles: the discussion is completely random and changes at a moment's notice. She told me about her dreams. She told me about her doll's dreams. She told me about her castle in Africa where I could have my very own pet lion. She asked about road signs and truck signs and asked what zombies ate. She asked what a brain was. She connected the dots and looked at me in abject horror. We had a long, meandering discussion about real vs. pretend. Again. And again.
By 2:45 Anna was a monster. That's not a euphemism. She was literally pretending to be a monster (a blue one) and communicating mostly in growls, complete with "monster faces." I picked up my sheet music (like a genius, I had left it at my voice lessons the night before and oh yeah, I have rehearsal tonight. Way to go) and realized the kids were on the brink. So I started in on the random conversation.
"Look at that mailbox!" I cried. "It looks like a truck!"
"It does look like a truck," Mary said in wonderment. Anna stared. She paused. She made eye contact in the rear view mirror.
"Can I play with it?" At this point the mailbox was several blocks behind us and still, you know, a mailbox stuck in the ground.
"Erm, no," I said.
"But me love it!" Sensing a meltdown on the horizon, I switched topics.
"Butthat'sokay because we're going to OPEN GYM!" I exclaimed.
"Yay!" Anna cried. "Gym!"
"Yay!" Mary yelled at the top. of. her. lungs. "GYM! WE'RE GOING TO OPEN GYM!" Lily remained quiet. Anna eyed Mary.
"No you're not" she said in a quiet, deadpan voice. Mary looked at me in the rear view mirror, deciding whether this was worthy of a freak out. I smiled and made my best 'isn't your baby sister so silly?' face. Anna grew impatient with the lack of reaction.
"No. You're. Not. Only me. Only me, only me, only me..." and on and on until Mary couldn't take it anymore. She started singing in a high pitched voice.
"Iiiiiiiii'm going to Gyyyyyyyyymmmmmmm..."
"No you're not." Mary went up an octave.
"Iiiiiiiiii'm going to Gyyyyyymmmmmm."
"No. You're. Not."
"Iiiiiiiiii'm-" at this point only dogs can hear her, "goiiiinnnnng....." After several iterations, Anna realized she was not telekinetic and could not bend the car to her will or, alternately, teleport her sisters out of it so she alone could attend open gym. And she started to scream. Mary and I ignored her. Lily slept on. Anna quieted down.
Mary started full out tweaking.
"So I can go to open Gym, Anna?"
"Mary," I said, my eyes feeling far too heavy. "Stop. Anna. Stop. Just stop."
"You gonna boss me, Anna?"
"Yep." It would get quiet, then one of them would start up. I just kept staring right ahead. At this point, forgoing open gym would be more of a punishment to myself. As we got nearer, the girls reconciled silently. They looked for the building, got happy together when they saw it, hugged each other, and after we got our shoes off, Mary ran off to play "Tangled" on the equipment and Anna grabbed a ball and ran around, making her pretend faces.
Well, even monsters need to play.