Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brother is 8, about to turn 9. Since he learned to ride his bike, we have given him more freedom to ride down the street about half a dozen houses to where he has two friends right across the street from each other. Their names are Camden and Marcus. Today we got lots and lots of snow and made a special trip to the store for galoshes and gloves. As soon as we got home, Brother was itching to throw on the new galoshes and have a rip-roarin' snowball fight with his buddies. He caught me heaving in groceries and girls and pelted me in the back of the head with "Hey, Mom, can I go to Camden's to play?" Knowing he'd been waiting anxiously all day, and it was already 3:30, I said yes and he said he was going to walk instead of ride his bike. I turned and looked at him. "Okay, but you have to be very careful," I warned, feeling uneasy about his decision. And he, of course, assured me he would.

Later I am in the house with the girls when I hear a knock on the door. I figure it is probably Brother and Camden coming in for hot chocolate or a Playstation break. When I answer it, I see Camden...alone. "Can Brother play?" he asks.

My heart stops and feels as though it will never beat again. "I thought he was with you," I said, already reaching for my shoes. He shook his head. I look at the clock and realize Brother has been gone an hour and has not been where he was supposed to be. "Camden," I reach for the phone. "What is Marcus' number?" "I don't know," he answers, "but I'll run down there and see if he's there." I begin to gather the girls, not bothering with coats, and somehow end up with my purse and car keys, though I don't remember grabbing them. My head is going to very dark places and I see and hear things in my mind on which I can't bear to dwell. My boy...I let him walk.

God, please...please.

I take the girls outside and look down the street. I look for his bike which could be down the street at Tommy's or Tabitha's, but they are not even home. Sister wants to stop and make a snow angel, but I yell at her to get in the van and though I don't want to scare her I can't think of what she is saying to me even though I hear her voice. I automatically buckle up Baby in her car seat but do not wait for Sister to buckle before I back out of the driveway. If he isn't at Marcus' house, where do I go next? What do I do? What will my husband say?

I park the van in front of Marcus' house and see Camden's bike in the drive in front of the gate. I run to the front door and knock. Camden answers the door. "Is he here?" I ask.

He nods his head "yes".

I grab the door frame to keep from collapsing on their front porch. Camden's mom is on the treadmill and calls for me to come in. Brother meets me and that face, with the freckles and the eyelashes and the missing teeth - that face I worried would be lost to me forever - and he knows immediately what kind of trouble he is in. "Get your things and get in the van," I said quietly. He apologizes and tells me he was going to call me but he forgot. "Get your things," I repeat. He is gathering his things nervously and Marcus' mom tries to calm me by showing me their new puppies. I try to be social but I finally just have to say, "I'm sorry. I can't do this...I'm shaking..." and she understands and gives me a smile as we leave.

Brother continues to talk and try to apologize and explain and make excuses but it is caught between my desire to scream at him and take him in my arms. Just before I open the door, I turn to him and my tears will be silent no longer. "YOU DIDN'T CALL ME! I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE YOU WERE!" I choke. He stares at me, his own gorgeous blue eyes welling up. "Don't cry, Mom," he pleads. And here we stand. It is though he sees through me to this love I have for him, so dangerous and intense, and he is wounded that he wounded me. In return, I try not to cry in order to keep from upsetting him more and I silently open the van door for him to get in.

He continues to cry and apolgize the entire 45 seconds home and even into the house. I do not respond except to tell him to sit at the kitchen table. I get the girls settled and go to the kitchen, still trembling. He tries to talk. "No talking," I say. "Just listen."

"But, Mom..."

"NO TALKING! JUST LISTEN!" He is quiet but is breathing heavily and loudly and I finally realize he is having an asthma attack. I hand him his inhaler. I sit across the table from him and wait for his breathing to regulate. Then I begin the emotional lecture. How do I impress upon him how dangerous this world is without scaring him to death? Morever, how do I handle this conversation without beating him?

In the end, he got up and came to me - came. to. me. - and hugged me and I grabbed him, thanking God all the time that I could feel his hair tickle my nose and smell his sweatshirt damp with snow.

And he didn't pull away.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Do you ever find things like this in your laundry? Do you ever ponder ponder what on earth happened to it?

Then do you fold it neatly and tuck it right back in with the others?

I did.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Music Appreciation

When teaching Music Appreciation at the Superhouse, we are sure to expose our children to all the classics: The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen, Toto, Lynard Skynard and ZZ Top. On this particular evening, Hubby had put on "Sweet Home Alabama" and our kids released their inner rock stars.

Is there anything more adorable than a toddler in a pink tutu playing air guitar?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tell me, parents, is the Christmas honeymoon over? Are your children wandering around bored with the umpteen million presents they received - nay, BEGGED FOR - for the holidays? Has the very gift for which they would have sold their souls lost its luster and lay forgotten at the bottom of the toy box?

Well, have I got a tip for you.

Tell your children to clean their rooms.

My kids can be walking around, underfoot, telling me they're bored and pining for something to do. I send them to their rooms to clean and, lo and behold, when I check in on their progress, every toy in their room has seemed to magically hold their attention in a way it never has before. The toys that had only minutes before seemed completely unattractive are now endlessly fun and beguiling. They will literally be transfixed for hours.

Of course the room never gets clean, and it does, of course, reinforce negative behavior, but it's great for a moment's peace.

Hey, I never said I was a GOOD mom.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Voice of Reason

You remember when I bought my new washer/dryer combo, don't you? It was June...maybe July. Ok, it was August. Click here for a refresher. That was about five months ago. But now I am beginning to lose faith in my dynamic duo. About a month ago, maybe two - Ok, it was October - the bleach and fabric softener dispensers stopped working in my washer. Fortunately the repairman came out, ordered the part and fixed within a week free of charge. I say "fortunately" because it was fixed and it was free of charge. However, a family of five cannot go a week without a washing machine and come out unscathed. So, "fortunately" we managed.

This morning, with an hour to go before I must leave for class, I realize I have nothing clean to wear. Lucky for me I have this beautiful state-of-the-art washer and dryer with speed cycles on them, so this is certainly not a problem for a supermom such as I. I throw my needed load in the wash and deposit last night's load of whites in the dryer. I start them up and proceed to the shower. But when my load in the washer is finished, I notice my whites in the dryer are not. In fact, the whites are still quite wet and the power on the dryer is completely off.

What the...?

I poke the "power" button several times successively, thinking a good, hard poke will show it who's boss and scare it into starting. But apparently, I'm not that scary. I remove the lint filter, thinking somehow it was full and tripped a magic safety switch that will keep us all from a dying a horrible, fiery, lint-related death. But no, the lint filter is clean. I send Hubby out to see if we flipped a breaker somewhere, though that has never happened before. Alas, no luck.

So, what does a supermom do when she has Algebra class and no clothes?


Yeah, like that thought didn't cross my mind.

Being the dedicated student I am, I dug out a pair of sweatpants from the dirty clothes and decided there were no noticeable spots and threw them on. I deserve an "A" for that alone.

Hubby got the lucky task of calling GE. As I was packing up my book bag, I got to hear the conversation. Keep in mind that my husband has a nice, deep, smooth voice. He should have been in broadcasting. All the while, he kept a nice, even tone, never raising his voice once. Not even a tinge of sarcasm. This is how the conversation went:

Hubby: Yes, I have a dryer that is not receiving power. (pause) Yes, I checked the breaker. (pause) I don't know, it won't even come on. (pause) Well, we've had it less than six months and had to have the washer repaired a few months ago. I thought it was a fluke, but now I'm beginning to wonder. (pause) Next Monday, the 21st? No, that is not acceptable. (pause) Yes, ma'am, I understand. I would like a repairman immediately. (pause) I spent (insert dollar amount here) on this washer and dryer and have had two problems inside of six months. I want someone out here immediately or I will be a customer service problem until I receive satisfaction. (pause) Between 8 and 5 tomorrow? That would be great. Thank you.


I love that man.