Or, alternately titled, “Fondues and Fondon’ts”
After Caden-7yr’s last basketball game of the season, Mike and I went our separate ways. He went home with the boys and I went to the grocery store. When I got there, a radio station van was parked outside blasting music and inviting people to come to the store. It looked crowded. I put it in reverse and went to a similar store in the middle of town. No radio station van sat outside. I thought this store looked less crowded, less hectic, fewer promotional thingies. Better.
But I walked in, and it was Wedding Weekend. This is when the grocery store advertises they can do Everything For A Wedding and Reception, from flowers to food to cake to who knows what else. Really cheesy music played. To my right, where the grocery carts usually are, stood a fake bride and groom. By fake, I mean, real people, but like fifteen year old real people. People not old enough to marry, but old enough to pretend to be a bride and groom because no Real Grownups wanted this gig. The fake groom had fake, glued-on facial hair. It was a sad sight.
I thought of Michele, and kept my face neutral. (I know that only makes sense to Michele. It’s ok. But it’s what I thought, and did, and why, and I thought Michele might be interested in knowing her effectiveness.) Michele, this took effort. But I did it anyway, for YOU, girl.
Even though I was probably at the wrong grocery store, again, I stayed and endured the music and shopped. I was almost finished. I had a few more aisles to go. And the strangest thing happened. I smelled chocolate and it thoroughly disoriented me. I wasn’t near the chocolate aisles, so it didn’t make sense. It was chocolate-y… so it was a pleasant smell… but i was also aware that this was not a high quality chocolate. Not even close. Busy self-congratulating for this astute observation, I turned and kept walking slowly, wondering where it was coming from and looking behind me… while walking forward… and then I found it.
Oh, yeah, I found it.
Specifically, my right boob found it. At the end of an aisle, on a tall table, sat a chocolate fountain.
The whole stupid, ugly chocolate fountain thingy moved just slightly as I walked into it, but didn’t fall. And thank you, sweet Jesus, for THAT blessing. There were people around, but not standing around dipping food (or anything else) in the chocolate flow.
Is that what people do? Do people have weddings and put these things out and then people, like, communally dip food items? In the name of holy matrimony, is that what is happening out there? Because I don’t go to many weddings, and that was my first (and hopefully, only) run-in with a chocolate fountain, and I find it completely overrated and confusing. Not that you’re supposed to smoosh your chest into it, I know that much, but still. I don’t get it. If you do, please explain. Are they for dipping, or just for looks? Because this one wasn’t pretty. Honestly, it looked like poo.
So I made some sort of gasp-y sound, realized it wasn’t going to fall, and no one was so close that I needed to have a conversation about this lovely little incident and so OFF. I. GO. I had one conspicuous, glistening brown spot slightly larger than a tennis ball, and lots of other small, splashy spots that were hardly noticeable.
I was halfway down the next aisle, telling myself that it would be really silly to be thoroughly embarrassed over this, because what? Kels, you’ve been clumsy your whole life and this is nothin’ new! And also? Remember? What do we always say, babe? No one is ever looking at you, so don’t worry. Everyone is caught up in THEM, not YOU, and that’s always how it is. This was the self-talk. Good, right? Way positive on the self-talk! No self-condemnation. All was sunny and sweet.
There is a Key Exception to the “no one is noticing you, get over yourself rule,” and this Key Exception takes immediate effect when you encase your right breast in poor quality chocolate in the middle of a crowded grocery store on a Saturday afternoon.
THEN, people are not caught up in themselves at all – they are caught up in YOU. And specifically, body parts that are normally not worth a second glance, suddenly are.
fyi, y’all. That’s the exception. And now we know.
People stared. There were double-takes. I FELT them. A woman in a faded denim shirt looked at my face, then my still-wet, milk chocolate-y spot, then at my face, and had an expression on her face that reminded me immediately of my cousin. It’s exactly the questioning look my cousin would have given me.
“Um… it’s chocolate.”
Y’all. That is inadequate. If you’re going to offer an explanation to a stranger next to the peanut butter selection, THAT is not enough. I get that now.
“Yes….” she said.
“There’s a chocolate fountain on the next aisle. Watch out. It kinda, um, sneaks up on you.” And without further eye contact, I wiggled out of my black, fleecy hoodie and wadded it into a ball. Which I should have done immediately, except I’m always freezing cold in grocery stores and I was not yet aware of the Exception to the Rule, and it just hadn’t occurred to me yet to take the thing off. I was busy being all positive.
I came home and threw the black, fleecy hoodie into the washing machine. I must have had a weird look on my face, because Mike asked me what was wrong. He did not seem at all surprised or interested by my answer. Which is fine; he was probably being polite. I went outside to get groceries and when I came back, he said he’d been really clumsy and dropped and broken two different items I’d just gotten at the store. (Not like him.) “What? I just told you I got too friendly with a large chocolate fountain, and you’re the clumsy one? Okay, cool.”
But we can do without barbeque sauce and the pimentos I mighta thrown into the chicken spaghetti. There was no way I was going back to that store. Not on Wedding Weekend. There will be no double dipping for me.
I’m sooo done.
I’m cleaning out my closet, and have made the following discoveries:
* Ponchos from when LaLa and our mom and I went to see Willie Nelson last summer. (Ow, it still hurts to think about.)
* When I was a size 6, I bought a LOT of gorgeous, colorful dresses.
* Stocking stuffers I bought two years ago that, obviously, never stuffed anyone’s stocking. Nothing exciting, though, so no guilt there. (What? Your mama deprived you of a fold-up purple hairbrush with penguins?)
* It’s time to stop buying sweaters. I do that – buy sweaters – when I’m cold. I’m always cold. Imagine the sweater collection. No, don’t. It’s not like it even helps, since it’s almost always on online purchase.
*It’s time to stop buying black dresses. And charcoal gray dresses. Unlike the cute colorful dresses that don’t fit, these are what I wear when I go somewhere where I don’t want to be noticed or talked to. Apparently my size 6 self was more social. There’s not a black or gray one in the group.
*Oh! SHUT UP! I just remembered. I was happily on antidepressants then. No wonder I wore pink.
* I loved my prozac days. Really. Yum…. let’s just be wistful for a moment.
* No, I’m not depressed, but that one line is probably inspiring my mom to gently broach the subject anyway. (I’m fine, Mom. All’s well. Thanks anyway and I love you.)
* Superman scrapbooking stickers. I think my pink clad, size 6, contentedly medicated self pretended to scrapbook so that I could go into the bedroom and lock the door and make a mess with paper and glue in such a way that was CLEARLY not baby/toddler friendly and really it was more about alone time than bits of paper or Superman stickers. Why didn’t I just say I wanted to be alone, Superman? I have no idea.
* stacks of pages and partial manuscripts with plots and characters I’d long since forgotten writing. Lemme tell you, after a brief scan there is a very good reason some of those were never finished and forgotten in a closet for years.
* a book about the changes of adolescence I’d bought years ago and forgotten to give Ethan-10yr. He’s home sick, and was horrified when I presented it to him and gave a little mom spiel and ended with the obligatory, cheerful, “Any questions at all, you come ask me, please!” Every once in awhile I give him these talks and books, and in return he always gives me the same terrified look that says, “please go away and shhhh.” A couple years ago, I broke the No Nag rule for this subject and made Mike do it once and the results of his effort still crack me up. (if you click and read that, you might wonder if I ever asked Mike to do it again. And the answer is no.)
* a card from LaLa that references our shared Snort Like Pigs laugh. (We only do this together, and it’s completely involuntary. Like hiccups. Sometimes there are those, too.)
* tiny baby things I couldn’t, and still can’t, bear to part with.
* ugly swimwear. What was I thinking?
* cardigans in every color, size, and print. This group is separate from the Bought When I Was Cold Sweater Hoarding Collection.
* Too many shoes. (But y’all already knew that. )
* A detailed picture of a saddle that Kim-16yr drew for me years ago, in her horse phase.
* a darling bra with all the tags still attached in a size that would be really nice but will never happen again. Sigh.
* a note to myself that said, “there isn’t enough conflict. boring. add tension.” (I hope that was about something I’d written.)
* Two balloons I’d stuffed in the way back of my closet, when Caden-7yr and Seth-5yr were fighting over them a few months ago. They were still there, inflated and misshapen but still rather large. When I took them to the bathroom to pop them and throw them away, I stabbed at them with scissors. There wasn’t a loud pop, but a super slow whoosh of air right in my face and a slow deflation. I wondered whose stale, months-old breath that was, that had just whooshed all over me. I have no idea. Gross.
* Everything John Eldredge ever wrote.
* $23. I’ve always left money in purses and bags so that when I have the unfortunately boring task of cleaning a closet or drawer, I will have a nice surprise. I’ve always done this. My mother once told me it was Voluntary Alzheimer’s. I like that, but I prefer to think of it as Rewarding Future Good Behavior.
I’m only halfway through. The Endless Cardie Collection must be folded and relocated to a newly vacated space. The shoes must be corralled. More discoveries, and funds, must be found.
There’s a classic writing exercise which entails writing something – anything – quickly, and then immediately destroying it. You can’t erase anything, or mark anything out. This is to be repeated daily for several weeks.
For those who don’t think they can write anything of value, it’s freeing. No one will ever see it. There is no pressure of any kind. Eventually what happens is you stop wanting to destroy your words, and recognize their worth. It’s also helpful for getting really creative – because you can be far more “out there” than you’ve ever been and again, no pressure. No audience. It will never be discovered in a drawer years from now. It will be gone forever, in five minutes.
Maybe you aren’t the sort of person who has to constantly whisper permission to yourself to think, say, do, BE whatever it is you’re unsure of. (And how nice that must be for you! Teach me!) For me… that’s a constant mental dynamic. Sometimes it’s big stuff (to me), but mostly it’s not.
Example: This morning I caught sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror and gasped and stared.
Y’all. That is NEVER good.
I looked like my late Aunt Frances. I had my hair up in one of those towel/turban thingies that are supposed to help dry your hair faster. And, sidenote, please do not fall for that. It’s a TOWEL. An unflattering, headwrappy towel thing that takes no more drying time off your usual routine than a normal towel. So there I am, and I remember my Aunt Frances wore silky turban things sometimes at night before bed for reasons I never understood. She was wonderful. Smart, fun, always smiling and laughing, joking, and the woman really knew how to love, and she loved my sister and I dearly. We loved her dearly in return. She died when we were pretty young.
I’d completely forgotten about the turban things she wore. Until today. And I remember that as a little girl I always wanted to know WHY she wore them, since they were about the butt-ugliest accessory ever, and even then I knew Aunt Frances was pretty stylish. I was too shy to ask. So I stared myself down, in all my unfortunate turbanned glory, and decided it was absolutely fine to wear something so hideous and to even do so in an odd tribute to my dear late Aunt Frances. It’s a look that will scare or mystify another generation of children in this family, and that too, is all right. This generation will not be too shy to loudly condemn the thing, though, and for that I’m grateful. (but they sometimes wear underwear on their heads, so they really don’t have much room for complaint.)
These are tiny, completely inconsequential matters that require conscious permission.
Yesterday I wrote, with the full knowledge that afterwards I would immediately destroy the pages. I needed the permission to write it all out but without the possibility of an audience. I pulled out all the thoughts I normally try not to entertain and entertained. The deepest, darkest thoughts that are constantly being shoved down and pushed away were invited to the party.
Some of them were surprisingly not that bad, once they finally saw the light of day. Interesting how that can work. After fully defining and articulating some of the things I’d been so hard at work denying… they seemed rather insignificant and hardly worth all that expended effort.
I was relieved of so much pressure I’d needlessly put on myself to be/think/act/talk a certain way. And those written words were the unspoken proof that I was failing at something I should never have undertaken in the first place.
I prayed over some of it, laughed over some of it, and cried over a lot of it. And then I ripped it up and threw it away in the trashcan next to the bed.
And then I got it out of the trashcan next to the bed, put it in a plastic bag, and took it to a dumpster across town like it was a dead body.
In a good way.
Seth-5yr got into the car after school with dramatically bloodied knuckles. He looked like he’d been in quite the preschool fight. He shrugged and said, “I meant to punch ‘umthing ‘oft, but I missed and punched ‘umthing metal at Fun Fitness today.”
These things should not make me proud. But they do.
“I’m sorry, babe. I’ve done that, too. Hurts, huh?”
He only shrugged again in answer, but said, “Show me!”
I held up my fist, which looks perfectly unbloody and very mom-like today. (That’s a bit depressing.)
“Oh. You didn’t punch today? Show me the next time you do dat and I will kiss it.”
That child is sweeeeet. He had a long brown line across one cheek from his chocolate pudding that looked exactly as if he had a lone cat whisker. I smiled, thinking how that cheerful looking whisker had been there all afternoon.
Then Caden-7yr got in the car, with a large lump on the top of his head from where someone beat him with a water bottle. Not that I knew this. He didn’t even mention it until much later when he was talking to my mom. He freaked out later when Seth-5yr licked him. But the large lump on the head from a water bottle beating at school was not worth mentioning. And that’s Caden-7yr for you.
Ethan-10yr’s teacher walked him to the car and explained that he’d had a serious headache all afternoon. He looked all pathetic and squinty-eyed, as if the sunlight was bothering him. Then he launched into a request for tennis balls and dry ice that I still don’t understand, but will probably grant anyway, in the name of science.
It’s always surprising to hear about their day at school and see the injuries or stains that serve as visual aids for the daily report. Sometimes they’ll ask me about my day, but not usually. Today I would have told them I met an old friend for coffee and as soon as we got to our table she stopped me and picked white lint off my left butt cheek. I was wearing black capris, and the white lint was particularly noticeable. The boys would have laughed in disbelief if I’d explained that a true friend will stop you in your tracks in a coffee shop and de-lint your backside if necessary. When you’re a grownup-female sort.
And when you’re a preschool-boy sort, your true friends do not point out or object to the long, elegant chocolate pudding cat whisker arching across your left cheek all afternoon. And why should they? It was delicious looking, and delightfully graceful.
Just now the de-whiskered Seth-5yr just came to kiss me goodnight and he noticed the matching, bloody cuts we have on our left elbows. He re-enacted – in slow motion – the way he got his cut. There was rolling and tumbling and tripping and falling through a pretend doorway.
When I told him I didn’t remember how I got mine, he nodded and said, “Well. You are yike dat.”
*the very first, sunny-yellow crocus bloomed. it thrilled me.
*the dog spilled a large amount of water on me. I was on the floor by the fire with homework and he was interested. Gotta love the strong, silent dog type who’s into Law and Society.
*i took a class at the gym with my mom. (who can say that?! I love that we live close enough, finally, to do things like that.)
*i accidentally signed up to make a whole lot of chicken spaghetti for a teacher thing. i thought i was volunteering to do something I can actually do well. Like, buy plates and napkins. I rock at that. But no. My chicken spaghetti isn’t bad… but it’s the Kids Will Eat Version. And not the Teacher Version. Will have to look into the key differences. And touch chicken.
*Am considering the details of a baby shower. Sure, I’m anti-social but if you have a baby I will get over it for one single day and throw you the most gorgeous baby shower ever.
*Once I thought that it’d be easier to hire caterers. And it probably woulda been, and the food was REALLY good…. but then the caterers fought with each other in the kitchen in front of everyone and i never did that again. Not all caterers would fight in front of the guests. I know. And these probably only did it that one little time… but still. I think I’ll be making a lot of food.
*I almost NEVER fight with myself in the kitchen in such a way that people would notice.
*That’s one of my better qualities. It would be a very good start to a catering career. If I could cook.
*The textbook the dog soaked is drying in front of the fire, pages fanned out in crinkly wavy disorder.
*I’m going to go visit my crocus on the way to the mailbox…
* my kids’ faces are free of face paint. they’re so CUTE today.
(I hope y’all had a lovely day as well.)
This afternoon I sat on the floor of the Kid Area at the gym and huddled with the boys. There was a pressing conversation to be had, and it could NOT wait until we got home.
They were completely bewildered that I nicely sat them down and said, “Please do not discuss your scabs with me, anymore.” I’d reached my breaking point on the issue. Right there in the gym. It had to be said. I cannot TAKE anymore scab talk with three clumsy-like-me, and thus always-scabby boys. I’m DONE.
Why is that so important to them?! Progress, color, activity of each scab is included in these consultations I want no part of. Scientists studying volcanic pre-eruption signals don’t analyze as fully as these boys. Do I really have to demonstrate my maternal love and affection by a daily close examination of each scab on each child? Because if not, I hereby quit that part. And even so, I already trial-quit, and I’m hoping it works. They each have 2 brothers who will probably fill in for me. I’m SO over Scab Inspection as a bonding activity. Here’s a bandaid, let’s read instead.
Tonight was Gym Member Appreciation night. Which means someone painted the boys’ faces, but I’m not sure what else it meant. The boys picked what they wanted from a book and sat down and when their faces were done… I realized I should have been more pushy and controlling and less, “whooo hooo, someone else is on duty, and my kids HAVE to be still so I think I’ll just stand here and space out.”
Ethan-10yr looked darling. He was transformed into a cheetah.
Caden-7yr and Seth-5yr apparently chose to be painted like the freakiest, scariest demon looking things in the lady’s book. Lovely. They looked like beautiful – if scabby – angels when they sat down in that chair, and they looked AWFUL when they got out of the chair. Not that I really care… but they were creepy. They were red and black and were Darth Mal…(?) Whatever that is. Never seen Star Wars, so not sure. But he was a Bad Guy, and that I’m WAY sure of.
So I shoulda said, “Get your faces painted, but you have to be a bunny or a poodle, ‘kay, honey?” That overly controlling measure would have ensured a peaceful ride home right? Because it turns out that if you paint 2/3 of your available children like scary hellions, guess what? They ACT like it. And they make me catch my breath when I glimpse them in the rearview mirror.
I scrubbed their little faces after dinner and mentioned that face paint was actually makeup, and so the makeup remover I was using was perfect for the job of returning their normal and angelic faces. Caden-7yr looked sick to his stomach and vowed he would never wear face paint again and he’d had no idea it was makeup and why didn’t I tell him that before, and Oh. My. Gosh. MOM?!
He’s a bit dramatic.
I didn’t tell him that his dad wears makeup when he makes TV appearances.
But he wouldn’t have believed me anyway.
The last time I filled in for the 2 year old Sunday School class, I thought I’d die. In the first ten minutes in the classroom, I was sweating more than in the first 10 minutes of any of my favorite exercise classes.
There were 11 that day, and they all needed to “try” to potty at least seventeen times each in my assigned 90 minutes. I had at least one child on my hip at all times, and sometimes two, often to prevent toddler uprisings or uproarious sink splashing. Four little girls wore floor length dresses with tights and two little boys wore belts and none of this could be managed alone in the bathroom, of course. There was a whole lotta management going on, and not a lot of ‘let’s talk about Jesus’ going on.
So today I was SO happy to find I only had three 2 year olds. And zero floor length dresses with tights, and zero belts. Awesome. That 2 yr old class needs a dress code policy restricting parents from making their kids look cute in impractical ways.
Today one little angel faced blonde girl had a runny nose. I constantly chased her with a tissue, and this prompted an adorable little dark haired boy to proudly say, “I do not have crusties!” And then he would check the rest of our noses also, and declare us clean and clear as well. “YOU do not have crusties.” And, “SHE does not have crusties.” About the little angel faced blonde child who did, he would inspect and then give me a knowing look, but decline to announce a less than favorable report about her nose.
That kind of tactfulness cannot be taught at age 2. This child has a rare gift: the spiritual gift of tact.
I don’t have tact.
Instead, I have two speeds: 1) perfectly aloof, shy silence which often looks quite snotty, and 2) let me tell you everything whether you care or not.
The first of those is in effect almost always, and the second one is almost entirely limited to you guys. I’ve been thinking a lot about self-expression, and the lack thereof. And I’ve decided I’m messing it up. Tact would be good. Tact is deciding that your opinion on something would not be edifying and should be kept to oneself for varying reasons, or expressed very carefully.
Often what I do instead is the mental equivalent of “shhhh, don’t even think that! That is wrong because of x, y, and z.” And when one talks to onself like that constantly… the end result is you have NO idea what you really think about anything because you’re constantly shhing yourself.
It’s bad enough to be constantly shhed by other people who find your thoughts or opinions to be inconvenient or unnecessary. (Because then you just stop sharing anything.) But it’s much worse to realize that before anyone else ever gets the chance, you’ve silenced yourself anyway.
The irony is I really have a deep appreciation for candor. Or, in light of all of this, maybe I don’t and I always just thought that I did. Such an appreciation seems unlikely, if I can’t even be candid within my own head.
I was doing errands last night and thinking what it would be like to REALLY just say it ALL. To first think it ALL, in its entirety, and then to SAY it. If I weren’t hung up on squashing every thought and feeling I “shouldn’t” be having, and wasn’t concerned with all of the things that we of course have to consider – like other people’s feelings, backgrounds, biases, boundaries, etc… what would that sort of honesty and unguardedness sound like?
Or, dialing it back, not to say it, but just to let myself think it all. The good, the bad, the awful, the ugly, the whatever. What would it sound like if I actually let myself think whatever I wanted and listened to myself without shhing at the first sign of a ‘wrong’ thought? Having a voice that at least I would respect and listen to…? Why should that seem so radical?
Maybe y’all let yourselves think, feel, and have opinions and just know how to tactfully share or keep them to yourselves. I hope you do!
Psalm 139 comes to mind, where David is saying “search my heart, O God” and basically pull out all the yucky stuff. For years I’ve prayed along similar lines, but mine is less David and more like, ‘And shhh, don’t tell me of the grossness you find, please.’ This reminds me of the way I used to be able to change a poo diaper in such a way that I never had to actually see the poo. (That might sound impossible, but I had superhero diapering skills you cannot even comprehend, y’all.) Sure, you knew the gross was there. But let’s clean it up without dwelling on it or acknowledging it, ‘kay God? Same thing.
Some really wrong and ugly crap will undoubtedly be there – that’s why I’m always mentally shutting myself up. But maybe it would be better to just think it, acknowledge it, and THEN deal with it if necessary without all the self condemnation. Is that possible? I’ve only done it just this one way for as long as I can remember.
But maybe it wouldn’t all be awful. Or maybe it would.
And if so, I should probably find out.
The Stupid Roman Empire Research Paper? It got an ‘A.’ And, even more strangely, it got a callback. My professor emailed and asked if she could use it for an example for future classes, since she didn’t currently have one and she liked it.
I agreed she could have it, but oh MAN do I feel sorry for her future students. We didn’t have an example of a paper that she thought was appropriate or what she’d “like” and were not restricted on choosing a topic at all. So while I coulda picked something – anything – fascinating, for no reason at all that I can fathom I ended up with how lead poisoning and socio agrarian issues definitely led to the Big Bad Fall of the Empire, and pointed out a whole lotta boring reasons why Christianity was not to blame at all and has gotten a bad rap by two notable pagan historians.
That paragraph bored your teeth out, right? Those poor students are going to see that paper as an example and freak right on out that they might be expected to aspire to similar subject matter. Pity.
In other non-news, it’s spring. YAY! Yesterday it was in the 80s. Last week, it had still been really cold and I went and did all the stuff in my flowerbeds I’d been afraid to do because of The Snake Sighting Of The Autumn. But I figured it was still asleep, assuming that all snakes hibernate and had not awakened and don’t tell me otherwise, please. So I cleared up all the flowerbeds and found ALL KINDS of pretty green bulb foliage shooting up.
This is the cliched sight that makes me smile every spring. Big huge smiles as I pull into or out of the driveway and see where there are about to be hundreds of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, daylilies, and irises. Not in that order. I can hardly wait.
Oh…! Why didn’t I write that stupid paper about THAT? Bulbs, flowers, plants and stuff I research anyway in my spare time just because I like it? That would have made so much more sense.
If I’d known she was going to use that paper, I coulda inserted a secret message to future students, nervous about their own research papers.
Write about lip gloss instead! I wish I had!
Or, Flowers are more interesting, donchathink?
Or just a little pep talk, Your paper will be LOADS more interesting than this! You can DO IT!
Or even, Shhh, the secret is I’m actually a WRITER so it had to sound good- this is a totally unfair example for her to give you. You’ll be fine.
Anyway. One more weekend before starting new classes. I’m off to read books that are not textbooks and to continue ignoring the laundry.
Someone has to do it, and I joyfully volunteer.
If you’re about to eat dinner, skip this. It could be as disgusting as the Sick Dog post, depending entirely on your views of meat.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried to renew my carnivorous ways without much success. Okay, without ANY success. But. I might be getting there. Finally. Sorta.
I’ve been keeping my modest sucess quiet because the last time I tried to reacquaint with Meatland it was a horrific disaster. Horrific Disaster: decide that meat is the way to go, and then get a beef nacho salad from a Taco Bueno drive thru because in high school, there were good memories of those with your sister. Stomach cramps for days, since the stomach did not get the full benefit of how that was supposed to be sentimental. And? GROSS.
So now… about once a week I try fish. And if I don’t actually think about how I’m eating the muscles of dead aquatic animals, I can sometimes ingest a few ounces. No shellfish – I was always allergic to that. And all bets are off if there is any visible fishy SKIN ohmygoshgag, or worse, a bone. Bones say, “oh, hello there! Nice to meet you. I am a friendly token representative of the skeleton from the dead animal corpse thingy on your plate.”
And then I stop eating.
Sushi should be… worse, right? But it isn’t. For some reason. It’s hard to get good sushi in West Texas, y’all. REAL difficult. But today I had sashimi tuna and salmon and as long as Mike kept talking businessy stuff and I wasn’t thinking about the Alive and Swimming Origin of the Food too much, it was good. Doable. Edible.
This could work.
Cows and chickens pose another interesting mental roadblock. I may never get past it. You know what it is…? And, lemme just say, I know this doesn’t make any sense. It’s that they walk around and get dirtier than you’d picture fish getting. RIGHT?! And also? They make noises. They moo and cluck, and for some reason that matters.
I do not mind at all the idea of humans eating meat. That’s what it’s there for, go for it, I’m not THAT kind of vegetarian. (If I’m one at all, after lunch today.) The imagined dirt on the animal feet and and the sound effects get me.
The last time you were hanging out with a toddler and saying, “what does a cow say?” and “what does a chicken say?” I am betting you never said, “what does a fish say?”
I don’t know why that matters. But it does.
A few weeks ago I called Mike and asked him if he had happened to accidentally twinkle on the bathroom wall.
He said no.
But, then, was he REALLY going to say yes? Of course not. So I assured him it was absolutely fine if just this one time he had, but I really really needed to KNOW because it wasn’t the dog, the cat, and the kids weren’t home and maybe I needed to see if we were having water heater troubles.
“I’m REALLY sure I didn’t do that. Really!? Did I PEE ON A WALL?”
“Fine! Thanks! I’ll just go check the water heater.” We hung up. Mike had been home to pack, and was off to the airport. I went out to the garage that is on the other side of the bathroom.
I oh-so expertly looked at the water heaters. They looked fine. Well, as fine as they ever do, which is actually never fine around here. We’ve lived here 7 years and have had 4 all brand new water heaters die. I think the usual life expectancy of a water heater in this part of the country is 7-9 years. But not in this house. We go through em like water.
I went back in the house and forgot about the whole thing. Mike went out and in and out of town and forgot about the whole thing. Or, possibly, decided discussing it with me was not really something he was interested in considering how his toileting skills had been called into question.
The water heaters ‘work together’ somehow, so it’s actually kinda hard to know when one of them stops working. There’s not a sudden absence of hot water. It’s more subtle than that.
I wasn’t looking for ‘subtle’ signs of water heater failure. I’d already half decided it was probably Mike after all (sorry, Mike) and then forgotten the whole thing as soon as I inspected for leaks and found none.
But a week went by, and there was snow, and it was crazy-cold. I take an absurd number of almost boiling baths anyway, year round. Triple the usual number in times of inclement weather. If I’m not in front of the fireplace, I am self-braising in the bathroom.
So even with Mike gone again, there was a lot more hot water usage going on. One evening the kids came in, one by one, from playing in the snow. I sent them off, one by one, for a warm bath before dinner.
The water temperature is set so that it doesn’t get too hot on the kids’ side of the house. More boiling resources for me and none of the danger for them. So there’s no reason not to send a kid off to start his own bath. Even the littlest kid.
But a few minutes later, the littlest kid came out hopping on bright red feet and crying even though he normally won’t cry and he was BURNED. It was awful. I wrapped his little body in a towel and held him while he cried. Kissed his head and apologized and wondered what could have happened. When he stopped crying, I went to the bath and tried to recreate what had happened. But couldn’t.
Then Caden-6yr came in. He asked what happened to his brother, and I told him and asked him to be very careful. I didn’t think it could happen again – I had tried and couldn’t get the water to get that hot, after all. A few minutes later he came out hopping on bright red feet and crying and he was BURNED. And it was MORE awful because that’s some Seriously Good Mothering right there. I wrapped his little body in a towel and held him while he cried. Kissed, apologized, wondered what was up.
Ethan-10yr came in. I gave him a very serious rundown of the mysterious foot burning water issue and asked him to start the water off much colder than usual and be careful just in case. He was off to another bathroom though, and I thought we were safe. As if that makes any sense. Plumbing = connected.
How many children can one mother burn before she LEARNS?
Well. That depends.
How many children are in the home?
Then three is the correct answer!
So. That is how our most recent water heater died: by casting reasonable doubt on a man’s aim, by burning six childlike feet, and causing a lifetime of guilt to one mother who did not read the ‘not all that subtle’ signs that perhaps, you know, there was a big time problem.
The kids’ six feet are all fine.
I have no idea how the water heater going on strike and breaking can override temperature settings or why there was a small puddle a week before. This water heater broke all the rules, went all nutso and went out in a vengeful blaze of water heater glory.