If two people in this town were to be involved in an odd freak grocery store accident… well. Of course it would be Caden-8yr and me.
We were minding our own business, as innocent victims often are. Standing by, watching without judgment as Ethan-12yr ordered a slab of brisket with two sides of mashed potatoes and deciding to focus on the positive that he said, “thank you” without being prompted to the man who put together his order. Caden-8yr was behind me, and as there were two men pushing a GIANT and heavily laden wheeled cart of stuff our way, I reached behind and instinctively swished him behind me.
Because he’s Caden-8yr. I didn’t want him to get run over. He was in the path. OF COURSE that’s a concern.
One of the men had his back to me, and was pulling the big dolly thing, one of them was facing me, and for some reason, they SLAMMED into my grocery cart and then the handle of my cart SLAMMED squarely into my rib cage, and my left elbow SLAMMED into Caden-8yr’s stomach. The force pushed me back a few stumbling steps, and something smashed into an ankle, and it’s still very strange that I did not end up on my butt.
The wind was knocked out of me.
I did what any good southern woman with social anxiety issues would do, and plastered on a smile, checked on Caden-8yr who was pretty much fine, and fiercely waved off those two men who were quite horrified at what they’d done. I reminded myself that not being able to breathe is probably just an illusion in those situations and I’d be fine. I was immediately glad that had not happened to my mother, who also shops there.
We stopped at the sushi counter. The sushi guy was frantically offering to make me something special, and he never does that and I don’t know if he was bored or if it was his reaction to seeing what had happened. Or if he’d seen that at all. No idea. I couldn’t talk or think anyway. I grabbed something and moved on. At some point, the boys realized that for whatever reason that made no sense to them, I would smile faintly and nod when they asked if they could have something.
I never do that.
I am not fun in the grocery store.
Today was different.
The two men who started the Whole Big Stupid Mess kept accidentally – or not – bumping into me, figuratively, and asking me if I was all right. Apparently i told them I was okay, but I really am not sure at what point air returned, much less the ability to say anything.
I did make small talk with the cashier. And the sacker.
And then we got in the car and as soon as I was alone with my three boys, I LOST IT.
Tears and Snot.
Six shocked eyes, three wide open mouths. No clue what had happened to their mother. Ethan-12yr manned up and held my hand and asked what was wrong.
“THAT. REALLY. HURT.” It was much worse than any punch to the stomach, ever. It was BAD. And only now was I acknowledging it.
There was a long pause of confused silence. Then three little voices wondering why if it hurt that bad was I crying NOW.
“It’s like when you get hurt in baseball. Do you act like it hurts when you’re on the field?”
They all agreed that you don’t. They thought about it. But they didn’t really get why that mattered since…. um…. I wasn’t playing baseball.
“If I had cried in there, with all those strangers, we never would have gotten the grocery shopping done. They would have wanted me to go to the manager’s office and fill out paperwork and agree never to sue them and everyone would have seen me cry and made a big fuss and I just wanted to get the groceries and go home and not have anyone pay any attention at all because i don’t want to sue but they probably wouldn’t believe me.”
This was finally accepted. For the time being.
We drove home. I cried the whole way. I couldn’t breathe right. i still can’t, but it’s really not a big deal. Nothing is broken – just bruised some ribs.
The real problem came after dinner and Caden-8yr decided I needed to be confronted. As only he can.
“Why did you lie to those men THREE different times when they asked if you were okay? You have NEVER lied in front of me before, and you did tonight THREE times.”
HELP ME, JESUS.
It was a LONG conversation. He was not satisfied that I told him and his brothers the truth the second we were alone. That did not “un-do” the lies. The THREE lies.
He was not satisfied that my reason was to get out of there.
I told him I understood how – particularly at this point in his life – he’s very concerned with honesty and integrity and really knowing someone well and how offended he was at realizing I wasn’t being honest with those men. I genuinely respect and like his approach to addressing concerns regarding character and told him as much. I pointed out that this is the single area I find MOST difficult to be honest about. If there is an injury or an illness, I am ALWAYS going to say “i’m fine” whether I am or not for a very long time, even if it isn’t strictly honest, just because I WANT that to be the truth and I am not yet willing to deal with reality. And that – THANK YOU SO MUCH, CHILD – is not honest. And I need to address it. Because that makes me a Grocery Store Liar. And now I know.
Meanwhile, Seth-6yr had started referring to me as “Kind Mother.” This was the tipoff that I was agreeing to EVERY single thing they asked for, without any filtering whatsoever.
“Thank you for letting me watch tv while I eat dinner AND eat ice cream, Kind Mother.”
“Kind Mother? Can I have more, please?”
“How are you feeling, Kind Mother?”
So. After that, I somehow snapped out of it and caught on. I kiboshed the Kind Mother act that had been slammed into me by force with a shopping cart, and Seth-6yr was mildly disappointed after that when I became reacquainted with the phrase, “uh? NO.” But he did sincerely feel bad for me and offer me $1.39 for my pain and suffering. Not that he used that phrase. But that’s what he meant. And he was serious about my accepting it. Ethan-12yr stayed away from me for awhile.
That’s about how they are. Ethan-12yr will be supportive in a crisis, and then disappear because DANG, UNCOMFORTABLE. Caden-8yr will analyze, interrogate, and talk you to death in a crisis. And Seth-6yr will exploit your weaknesses, charm you, and somehow still be full of genuine sympathy and unique gestures of concern. For much of this, I was bracing myself on the kitchen island, leaning over in such a way that minimized the pain.
Then Caden-8yr geared up for round two, narrowed his eyes at me and asked, “how often do you read your Bible, anyway?”
I really wish Seth-6yr would wander through the kitchen right about now and teach his brother the phrase, “Kind Mother.” But… NO.
I invited him to sit with me on the couch while I defended my spirituality and Bible reading habits. I told him what I had been reading today and was able to give multiple scripture references that satisfied his sudden suspicions that perhaps I was just a giant lying heathen crap mother. Apart from the family devotional stuff with each of them, YES, Caden-8yr, I do read and study and pray and now more than ever, but come ON but you know that.
No, I didn’t say that.
It went on. And then on. And now they’re asleep and I hope they stay that way because we live outside of the city limits and everyone is out here shooting off fireworks and it’s loud. It’ll happen every night until mid-July. Drives me nuts. And the dogs, too.
The HONEST truth is I am really not fine. My ribs are probably quite bruised but not broken. I can’t breathe too deeply or laugh without it hurting. The kids need to hug me differently and the cat needs to stay away from his usual snuggling all over the Kind Mother thing that he does. I have no interest in holding a grudge against my grocery store, legal or otherwise. Accidents happen.
There. That wasn’t so bad.
Thank you, Caden-8yr.
Another sign that you’re irritable might be if you get really mad at the same homeless man. I generally do not give money to homeless. But I will toss out protein bars if I have them, water if it’s hot, and quick silent prayers. And when I’m irritable, ‘toss out protein bars’ can totally mean, “smack that guy HARD” with a protein bar.
I haven’t done it lately.
He sits on the corner of the freeway where I u-turn to go to the kids’ school. He started flinching when he saw me. AND SO YOU SHOULD, BUDDY.
But he gets on my nerves. A LOT. And it’s probably irrational, I know. But he looks PERFECTLY able and willing to be far more productive than he is (in my own seriously nosy assessment based on not much), and with a shower – a LONG shower – he might even be kinda cute.
But that’s not why i can’t stand him. Although I’m really not terribly accepting of cute men- or men at all, really. Homeless or otherwise. I think this is a perfectly fine place for me to be, though.
He holds a sign (that makes no offer or claim to seek work, and as long as I’m being all judge-y, THAT sign irks me too) and BEHIND the sign?
Seriously. HE TEXTS.
I don’t know who or what he’s texting. Obviously. But as I u-turn around him, my vantage point is perfectly clear and he is a regular texter and that gets on my nerves like… like flies. I stopped throwing protein bars. Which he probably appreciated, actually.
I have not stopped praying for him when I drive by, but that irritates me too, because THEN i have to pray about my crappy attitude too. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I KNOW IT”S NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
But I just very much think that homeless people should not be texting, and their cardboard signs should sincerely offer their interest in working.
I’ve tried to make up a story that makes me drive by and think, “aw. that’s sweet. he’s texting.”
But maybe there IS such a story. And maybe it IS true.
MAYBE this man is texting his mama as he sits there. Maybe she gave him the phone and asked him to please do that so she wouldn’t worry about him, and he does it because he wants to HONOR her, or something like that.
That would be nice.
(Nope. I’m not buying it. i tried.)
Sidenote: good for YOU, Katie Holmes. He was WEIRD.
There was a particularly hormonally charged point in every pregnancy in which I became very aware of my irritability. The tip off was that I wanted to start calling those phone numbers on the backs of trucks – the ones that say “How is my Driving?”
I wanted to call those 800 numbers and report exact license plates and discuss at length how terrible the driving was. ALL THE TIME.
I am having a (non-pregnant) stage of irritability. I became aware of it yesterday when I became enraged at the flies in the house.
It’s West Texas. There are flies in the house every summer. I am laid back about flies. I might kill them with Windex, or I might just tell myself that their lifespan is 14 days and I’ll wait em out. I can be patient.
Correction: I COULD be patient. Before. Not necessarily now.
Yesterday I was chasing down the flies. A can of Raid flea spray in one hand, and a bottle of windex in another. I was turning on lights, luring them into rooms, and then running in and shutting the door behind me, locking it, and YELLING with LARGE AMOUNTS OF ACTUAL ANGER at the flies that I would kill them. And then I did. Over and over.
The boys have been angst-y. Not kind to one another. Seth-6yr is afraid I’m going to die an early death and then stresses about who will take care of him.
We had a meeting.
I discussed my deranged approach to flies and suggested that perhaps I was really bothered about something else and that was just a good way of expressing it, but maybe if i deal with the REAL issue then the flies can reproduce and irritate us and live the full 14 days in peace in our home.
And maybe the boys could discuss their real issues and then they could stop being awful to each other as well.
But I kept getting sidetracked because TWICE a fly had the nerve to zoom through our meeting and the boys witnessed my insanity and Seth-6yr nearly got Raid on him because, MOVE CHILD, I HAVE A FLY TO KILL AND YOU’RE IN MY WAY.
Ethan-12yr mumbled something about the flies would be having nightmares about me.
We all discussed our Real Issues. I was upset that we were all figuring out the “new normal” when I never thought we’d need to do that. I thought we had all signed up for a wonderful, committed, intact, Christ centered, faithful, two parent marriage that was kinda ALWAYS supposed to work through good and bad, better or worse. And it wasn’t that. But THAT is what I signed up for. And THAT is what it should have been. And the fallout from it not being that makes me want to terrorize flying insects and SCREAM. And then I think I’m probably extra bothered that Mike and Kim-18yr are on a 9 day cruise that started in Spain and went who knows where else because I sure didn’t ask. Not that i wanted to be on that trip. I don’t. I didn’t. It’s not that.
Seth-6yr came into my closet yesterday morning and said, “mmmm! What’s that smell? It smells good!”
And oddly, yes. Raid flea spray in the purple can has a very pleasing scent. It’s leftover from last year when the entire house had a revolting flea infestation and it took me FOREVER to eradicate them. It’s effective on flies. So the whole house smells of Raid.
Ah, the Raid scented home.
the heat index was 112 today when the boys and i decided to stop – mid road trip – and hang out at a zoo for a few hours.
one hundred and TWELVE.
we ate snow cones and put pink lemonade ice cubes down our shirts. even though that would make us sticky for the rest of the road trip.
the zoo idea was a good decision, even with the temperature.
the ice cubes were a good decision, even with the icky stickiness.
the snow cones were a good decision, even though i generally object to their existence.
i’m only blogging because i put my pillow through the wash by mistake and it isn’t quite dry yet. i cannot possibly go to bed without it. i cannot possibly go to bed with a damp pillow, either.
and so here we are.
there’s also a large spider in the bathroom. as long as i’m telling you the fascinating details of my life right this second instead of sleeping.
since the spider slaying boys were asleep already, i sprayed the spider with oxyclean laundry stain fighter stuff.
and it’s waaaaay tougher on stains than it is on large spiders.
there’s a very large spider, with a slight limp (thanks, oxyclean), who has crawled into the basket of clean towels in the bathroom now.
that terrifies me.
i’ll wash the whole thing tomorrow and hope i don’t see it.
better yet, i’ll ask one of the boys to do it.
mmmm. am. so. tired.
there’s also a fly. here. in the bedroom.
i wish the spider felt well enough to eat the fly. but it probably doesn’t.
i messed with the food chain, there, and this is the consequence.
when it’s 112 in various parts of the state, the bugs come INSIDE.
and that’s just not right, either.
Caden-8yr is yelling, loudly to be heard. Not right this second. Just, in general. He’s frustrated. He has opinions and emotions and the conviction that all that should MATTER and he deserves to be heard just as much as anyone else, and he is forcing the issue.
I’m kinda proud.
Re-directing, when he does it in ways that aren’t quite safe or appropriate, but glad to hear him speaking up for himself. It’s better than the alternative. The ‘hmm. this person doesn’t want to hear anything that is mine… so i’ll just keep it to myself forever because i seem to not matter enough to have a voice….’ approach.
I’m working on speaking up and being heard, too. Not in the same way Caden-8yr is. THANK GOD. Last week, Caden-8yr didn’t feel he was being taken seriously about his stated hair preferences and he had a Britney Spears meltdown moment and got Mike’s electric clippers and shaved the sides of his head.
It looks dreadful. Mike had to buzz it all off in order to ‘fix’ it. It looked like a very short mullet.
We had a long discussion about safety, hair preferences, communication, and appropriate non-mullet-y means of self expression.
But i do appreciate where he’s coming from. A lot. I think he got Mike’s attention. And everyone else’s.
This morning I awoke to Caden-8yr yelling, at the top of his lungs, “DO! NOT! KEEP! BRAGGING! ABOUT! HOW! GOOD! YOU! ARE!!! I! HAVE! ASKED! YOU! NICELY! TO! STOP! THREEEEEEEEEEEE! TIMES!”
I called to him and when he appeared in my bedroom door, he expected some sort of negative reaction. I laughed at him. I asked if he was frustrated. I kissed him and hugged him and told him to try it again with respect, then come to me for backup if he needed me.
A few minutes later, he hauled Ethan-12yr into the room and politely requested that the bragging cease. Ethan-12yr politely responded and apologized and the two of them returned to the living room. And that was the end of it.
Mothering, before getting out of bed. But i LOVE it. I really do. Still as honored as ever that this is my life and these are my kids and their issues and I get to talk them through it with whatever measly amount of positive influence I have before 7 am and a diet coke on a Thursday.
Then I got dressed and hostessed a “laundry party” in the living room. I think that’s the kind of crap you can only get away with once, so I made it GOOD. We all sorted and folded and put away until EVERY piece of fabric was clean and put away. I don’t ever do the kids’ laundry. I talk them through when and how, but I do not wash, dry, sort, fold, or put away their laundry. They SO need to know how to do that themselves, and it might as well be now.
I had an interesting epiphany yesterday. Interesting to ME. Lemme clarify that. (And watch out, those of you who do not share my faith, because my Holy Roller Wheels are coming out. I can feel it.) I was driving back from the doctor’s office in the next town (two boys, two different minor ear/sinus infections. neither one is affecting anyone’s sleep, neither one is contagious, and neither one is really a big deal but could be if untreated so YEA as far as that crap goes, I’ll take it if I have to and be glad.)
Back to the epiphany. Sometimes people don’t actually WANT the forgiveness they ask you for. You can actually dig deep and in an “only God can do that through me because MAN that was AWFUL of you but YES I can really do this with/through God” style TOTALLY and completely forgive…. and it not be enough. SOMETIMES… the person doesn’t want that precious divine gift at all. With the acceptance of that kind of forgiveness would come repentance – or the other way around actually – and… maybe that’s not really where they wanted to go in the first place. Not REALLY. What would be better would be if you just go back to when you didn’t know the terrible things that needed the forgiveness in the first place. Back when my image was exactly how I wanted it. Could you just “un-know” that, please? WHAT? You can’t? But THAT is what is needed. THAT. And only THAT. Because you can’t THINK that. You can’t KNOW that. You can’t TALK about that. You can’t FEEL that way. You can’t… KNOW. And if you do… this won’t work. THAT is the problem, if you know this. I need a clean slate. Only with people who do not know what you know. You must not think/feel/say/do anything that indicates you actually KNOW that truth.
The forgiveness of it all was SUCH a better deal… but not received and recognized and taken. What God had behind one door was a GREAT and truly amazing deal. But the choice was for something so much less. Behind someone else’s door.
It’s all so very sad. It didn’t have to be that way.
But that being said, it is always worthwhile to forgive, God-style, in a huge way that can only be done with His grace at work going right through you. Even if it isn’t genuinely wanted or accepted… it’s required.
I could go back and hyperlink scriptures throughout that but Caden-8yr is yelling his head off in the backyard and I can hear it from here and it’s making me SMILE. I think he needs me to go back him up. And calm down the wide-eyed brothers who don’t know what to do about this new dynamic. And I should tell them that what Caden-8yr knows and speaks is worthwhile. What he’s saying and thinking and feeling is all needing to be heard and he has no patience for being ignored any longer and it’s making him so frustrated he has to SCREAM since he can’t rip his hair out.
Maybe while I’m out there, I’ll sunscreen his cute little bald head.
Mom called and said she wanted to “be spontaneous.”
It was Friday. I had a weekend planned of solitude, yardwork, and painting projects. I said it couldn’t possibly be before Sunday. I had every minute of Saturday planned.
She said she wanted to see “Rock of Ages.”
Hmm. That’s…. weird. But it’s only a movie and not time consuming and well – as far as ‘spontaneous’ goes, this is low end. We can do that. I mean, EW, WHAT? We don’t like ANYONE in that movie…? But yeah… okay.
THAT was my thought process. It was FLAWED. I SEE THAT NOW. The next time Mom says she wants to do something spontaneous that involves me, there will be a LOT of questions asked and research done. (the last time that I wanted to do something spontaneous, we ended up at a Willie Nelson concert for 11 hours and I ended up in VERY bad shape and forever after firmly against the legalization of certain substances, so I should probably give her a break.)
Mom does not read movie reviews. I think that’s because she doesn’t want to be “influenced.” I also do not read movie reviews. (Because I do not want to be someone who reads movie reviews.) And if just ONE of us were different about that, we could have had a very different evening last night.
Basically – and this is JUST me, I know – I really HATE musicals. I always have. As a young kid I remember telling my sister and mom that I think they’re “embarrassing.” They tried to tell me I was using that word incorrectly. BUT I WASN’T. I genuinely get very embarrassed whenever someone bursts into song in a musical. EVERY TIME. I cringe. I feel overwhelmingly, irrationally sorry for them about the life choices they made that led them to that moment. I want to look away and not see it. I’m exceptionally uncomfortable with the entire musical genre. I’m really probably more comfortable with stripping as a genre than musicals. Not that either one is great, but musicals in my opinion, are worse.
Rock of Ages is in that genre. (It qualifies for a few others, in my opinion, but that’s another post I won’t write)
The opening scene has the blonde girl bursting into song on a bus ride. And then the people on the bus, one by one, start singing. Every time someone bursts into song, I’m shocked. Embarrassed. Did NOT see that coming, oh my GOSH, STOPIT PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP. So it was a LONG movie for me. It just KEPT happening.
By the end of the first song – the opening credits are STILL rolling – and I’m hiding behind my mother, slid down into my seat, stomach aching from silent laughing, CRYING, horrified, snotting, embarrassed to pieces. Mom is holding my hand, just like she did when I was four years old and very afraid of drive-through car washes.
No one else in the theatre shared that reaction. I know. Because when I got it together and sat up, I looked around. EVERYONE ELSE WAS FINE WITH THIS. It was BIZARRE to me. Didn’t they SEE that?!
That sequence of events repeated itself countless times.
But that, by comparison, was the OKAY part.
The movie was GRODY. I mean, I cannot UNSEE that nastiness. I wish I could. It was disgusting. I left and felt horrifically dirty. Like I needed a long shower. And a toothbrush. With bleach. And a lot of prayer and soft pajamas with little fluffy sheep and a million Bible verses embroidered on them. (I don’t actually own a pair of those.) ICK. Don’t see that movie. It gave me a disgusting dream I will not EVEN get into, but EWWW.
Mom was equally grossed out. She said that we should probably not tell anyone we actually saw that. And i was all, “TOO LATE, MOM!” At dinner before the movie, we ran into a friend from church and Mom told her what we were seeing. Then I told her I was getting divorced. Her reaction to the movie choice showed more horror than the reaction to the divorce news. We left, pondering how surprising that was. And then halfway through the movie, I leaned over and said, “KELLY’S REACTION TOTALLY MAKES SENSE NOW, RIGHT?!”
And it did.
Rock of Ages: worse than divorce.
For years I’ve been harboring a piano.
It’s the one i grew up playing, along with LaLa. She enjoyed it. I detested it. But I was the daughter who mostly stayed in one state, and the custody of the piano was always mine. I’ve longed for it to disappear. Go back to LaLa, where it would be appreciated. Mike longed for it to go there too, and offered his piano moving services. But then LaLa would move again, and it was never the right time.
Until now, when LaLa has finally settled down and intends to stay put for once, and we’re all very glad. LaLa hired professional piano movers and, after 12 years of piano harboring, I am officially piano-less today. Yesterday, really. But this is my first FULL piano-less day. I woke up and the piano was GONE. It was beautiful.
One piano mover rather enjoyed my colorful approach to painting everything in sight in the house and was particularly fascinated with an aqua and purple drybrushed empty barnwood picture frame. It’s extremely large. So was the piano mover who loved it. He wanted to know the story. There’s no story. I bought it for six dollars at a thrift store and slapped paint on it in a very messy way and hung it on the wall (over a messily painted turquoise table i adore) until I could figure out what to do with it. No talent. No investment. No story. Just an empty frame. But he decided to equate me to his daughter, who once used a projector to guide her in painting an exquisite Eiffel Tower that was used as a backdrop for something at their church for Valentine’s Day.
I did not tell him that I would never do such a thing, even if i had the talent, which I do not. i did not snort at the mention of Valentine’s Day. I just smiled and complimented his daughter’s ingenuity, and the smile was genuine because he was on his way OUT THE DOOR WITH THE PIANO, praise GOD.
After he left, I stared at the empty, piano-less space. I took pictures of the empty space. I decided something NEAR the empty space needed to be painted. Blue, I think. A medium, almost navy, but more-interesting-than-navy blue.
I’ll get to that this weekend.
I cleaned out my stuff from the piano bench. My stuff ended up being odds and ends from children’s art projects and a small, plastic pink teddy bear shaped box that held my collection of teeth. Yes. My teeth. From childhood.
I don’t know why I started saving them in that pink teddy bear box, or why I kept it in the piano bench, but that’s where it’s always been. Yesterday I walked into the kitchen and there were three horrified little boys crouch in a group. (I think they were my three boys. who knows. They are so difficult to recognize.) Two boys were openmouthed and silent and wide eyed.
Caden-8yr looked just as panicked as his brothers, but he was the one who could form words. He said, “WE SPILLED THE TEETH. We are very sorry. VERY.”
They were all crouched on the ceramic tile, not moving, surrounded by my tiny childhood teeth which were scattered everywhere. And they were clearly afraid. It was QUITE a scene. Sort of grotesque, as some of the little teeth had old blood visible.
I kept a straight face long enough to say, “Well put them back in the pink teddy bear already. That’s where they go.” And then I went in the bathroom, shut the door, and laughed at them. A lot.
I texted LaLa about this last night, and told her I just never knew when the right time was to throw them away. She diplomatically asked, “And do you know now?”
And… no. I do not.
They’ve been in the piano forever, and now the piano is gone. I could throw them out… but I really like how they immobilized three boys so effectively… I’d hate to throw away such power.
But they really are kind of gross.
Maybe I know someone with a piano bench I could put them in for safe keeping.
The kid in the pictures with the sunglasses and the neutral expression on the camp website who was wearing clothes that were not packed by me for Caden-8yr….? The kid whose photos I analyzed for body language asking me to come get him in case he was upset…? THAT KID?
Was not my kid.
Which explains why he was wearing clothes that I did not pack.
MY little blond cutie got off the bus, came right to me, and did not say hello. He said, “ethancalledmeajerkonthebus.” And later the rest of it came out. Ethan-12yr had told everyone on the bus that the smell they were experiencing was probably emanating from Caden-8yr’s backside. Caden-8yr SWEARS he was not “the source.” It hurt him GREATLY for this to be claimed.
I have no idea why. I mean, ANY time I’ve been in a moving vehicle with the child, he is proudly THE SOURCE and will gladly claim credit for any smells all on his own. But whatever, today was different.
I talked to Ethan-12yr. Ethan-12yr had not been kind at all to Caden-8yr this week, and he was full of divorce angst while at camp and taking it out on his little brother. If i had been studying the RIGHT CHILD in online photographs, I mighta KNOWN somehow.
(if you’re new here, I have serious issues recognizing people. even the ‘i birthed that one’ kinds of people. it’s INCONVENIENT.)
I got them home and tried to talk them into getting clean. But we were derailed by their extreme unresolved conflicts and exhaustion and angst and at some point i looked at Caden-8yr and asked why he was dressed for swimming. He had ridden 10 hours on a bus in THAT? Swim shorts and a swim shirt?
He said, “grandmother said we’d go swimming when we got back.”
“yeah, that’s not what she meant. So. No underwear?”
“Well. No. No underwear. But I did bring a change of clothes on the bus just in case that, you know, felt weird. But it didn’t. I was REAL comfortable on the bus without underwear.”
That statement just hung in the air between us. I considered addressing the whole “If you’re on a bus for ten hours with a bunch of CHURCH GIRLS AND BOYS then the implied dress code is always WEAR A PAIR.”
But then I just let it go, shook my head, and figured I’d maybe discuss it another time.
Then he told me he had a bug bite on his buttcrack and i LOST IT.
YOU DON’T GO TO CHURCH CAMP AND COME BACK SAYING BUTTCRACK! WE DON”T SAY THAT?!
“Um…. well. We do at camp, Mom. But yeah… here we say, ‘I have a bug bite on my buh-TAAAAHHHHHX-crack.’”
He waited a moment and then asked, “Is that REALLY better?”
I refused to answer. Instead i hugged him, kissed him, and wondered why these little guys came back talking about bus farts and buttcracks and no underwear and HELLO? Talk to me about spiritual growth instead, BOYS. I’d like to hear about Jesus instead, and please spare me the update on your crack. Is that too much to ask?
Yes. It’s 1:30 am. And I’m awake because it was really bothering me that I couldn’t find the pictures online TONIGHT of the kid I thought was Caden-8yr. I scoured hundreds of pictures for HOURS tonight, looking for the kid in the gray tshirt with blue writing and oversized sunglasses. I wanted to see that child, and study his face. I needed to FIX my facial recognition issue with this and get it right. It was AWFUL when Caden-8yr got in the car tonight and I was like, “SO… buddy? You were wearing big sunglasses and someone else’s clothes?” And he said, “No? No mom. Not me. That was someone else. I only wore my clothes and i never wore sunglasses.”
He didn’t think it was weird that I didn’t recognize him. He’s used to me by now. I felt TERRIBLE. So I searched for those pictures. FOREVER. WHICH IS WHY I AM STILL UP, AND CAPSLOCKING ALL OVER THE PLACE WHEN I SHOULD BE SLEEPING.
AND THEN I FOUND THE PICTURE.
I remembered they weren’t online at ALL, they were pictures that a nice lady from camp had texted me. It was Ethan-12 yr, a kid I REALLY don’t know, and the kid in the sunglasses.
I studied. I scrutinized. I looked at mouth shape, toes, sandals, shorts, golf tshirt from somewhere local, big sunglasses. I couldn’t be sure.
So I woke up Caden-8yr. I went in there with my phone, turned on the light, took off his satin sleep mask (YES. he sleeps in a satin sleep mask. So does Seth-6yr. It’s weird.) and held my phone in front of his face and asked him to identify the child on the right. It took him FOREVER to wake up and tell me that yes it was him.
“And whose clothes are you wearing?”
He whimpered and moaned and pulled his sleep mask back on and said, “I don’t know, Mommy. I don’t know! I’m tired!”
Caden-8yr does not often call me ‘mommy.’ I loved it.
And I feel completely vindicated on this and HAD to tell you. RIGHT NOW.
The weird kid in the sunglasses is mine. ALL MINE. He’s currently traded in for a satin sleep mask. SAME KID.
I’d know him anywhere.
(8:45 pm the next night)
This morning Caden-8yr had no memory of my waking him up and showing him a picture. He asked to see it. I said yes, but forgot. Until tonight.
I showed him the picture. Ethan-12yr, some kid I REALLY don’t know, and the Caden-8yr kid.
He looked at it, shook his head, and said, “that isn’t me.”
I was sure he was kidding.
“Nope. That’s a kid named Colby. He’s in Ethan-12yr’s grade. His family joined church this morning as a new family. I think he has green eyes, and he looks NOTHING like me. But Mom? Really? Didn’t you see the sandals? I don’t have sandals like that.”
THAT”S NOT WHAT YOU SAID AT 1:30 THIS MORNING. I DO NOT BELIEVE IT. WHERE IS ETHAN-12YR? I NEED ETHAN-12YR.
Ethan-12yr looked at the picture. I asked him to tell me who was in it. He named himself, someone else whose name I forgot, and Colby.
I’m REALLY annoyed about the entire thing. Unreasonably, completely, irrationally, IRKED. And I’d like Colby to stop walking around posing for pictures as if he’s Caden-8yr. That would be REAL NICE.
note: do NOT ask caden-8yr to pick anyone out of a line up at 1:30 am. not even himself.
also of note: do NOT ask ME to pick anyone out of a line up at any time of day. not even my own children.
REALLY notable: I wish i hadn’t blogged this. I am terribly embarrassed. I do not predict any future updates on the Who’s Your Baby post, I think we’re finally done now.
the divorce thing. it’s moving forward as of yesterday, although not officially. (yes, that totally made sense to ME.) i’m thrilled. and drained. and i will not be discussing it. even though i want to discuss EVERYTHING, i will not, just for the sanity of everyone involved. it’s hard enough on everyone without the additional stress that liveblogging the intricacies of the dissolution of a marriage could potentially bring.
that decision wasn’t requested. or advised. just… announced. just now. and there we go.
in other non-divorce news,
i got a voicemail from caden-8yr from camp today. he wasn’t screaming for his mommy. he was calling about money. interestingly. but the funds mike sent were just in a weird place and the whole thing was resolved. but you know, they let him near a phone and he did not beg for me to retrieve him, so YEA.
in all the pics i’ve seen of him, he’s wearing clothes that are not his. i know. i packed him. and these are some other boy child’s clothes. also, he wears a pair of oversized cheap sunglasses i’ve never seen and a neutral expression on his face. or maybe i just can’t see his face behind the sunglasses. but he isn’t trying to send me messages to come get him, with odd and dramatic body language, so there’s that.
i’m thinking he’s fine.
his baseball coach called and asked if he really, really had to miss his tournament. they really, REALLY need him at first base since he actually catches the ball… if there’s any… possible… way? I said pretty much no. But that was a nice offer. Caden-8yr returns from camp exactly at game time after a 10 hr bus ride. he probably can’t catch a ball at 1st base under those conditions. but maybe.
never know. i didn’t offer seth-6yr, who also plays first base. in his last game, seth-6yr hit a single and three all the way to the fence type home runs, including a grand slam in which he almost passed the runner in front of him on his way to home base. he’s fast. and he has figured out batting.
in camp photos, ethan-12yr looks animated, happy, and in familiar clothing. this is far more than i expected. he’s also mostly clean looking. it’s a combination that makes me REALLY want to hug him and kiss his little face.
one of them, PRAISE JESUS, actually WROTE ME A LETTER. but did not sign his name. seth-6yr analyzed the handwriting and declared it to be caden-8yr. I agreed.
but it was the first time either of us has analyzed handwriting, and we could be wrong.
Did I disappear? It felt as if I did.
My phone stopped working (only at home) so I replaced it and then left town without syncing it and then I went somewhere lovely without cell reception and that combined with the lost data on my cell phone created a technological black hole, but in a really good way.
Holycousin and I mowed 10 acres. My stepmom cooked. And cooked. And cooked. And my dad fixed a tractor AND my little craigslist table and we painted a sweet jenny lind bed off white, and then chalk paint blue and distressed the seven thousand spindles and it’s SO CUTE now. Holycousin and I saw a fantastic singer songwriter type and also did not fall for the come ons of the brown eyed cute opening act. (It wasn’t even tempting. Did I make that sound tempting? SO NOT. Don’t touch us, buddy. And we DID notice you were the one who couldn’t sing. We are just too polite to say so.)
Seth-6yr was with Mike. And then a night with my mom. And the other two were off to camp, which was a WHOLE OTHER THING ALL TOGETHER OH. MY. GOSH. CADEN-8YR IT’S A WONDER I SURVIVED YOUR BREAKDOWN.
Caden-8yr. He is incredibly dramatic. And he can be super, super tough. Fantastically funny and smart. And he has the largest, sweetest, genuinely beautiful heart of gold. Strangers come up to me to tell me that. Regularly. He’s an amazing kid.
It was his first year for camp. Last year he was supposed to go to a little 2 night camp nearby, but then he got a raging ear infection and I think he busted his head open on the dining room table playing Nerf Wars AS ONLY HE CAN and had to get glued back together on Independence Day and it was a mess and he didn’t go to camp.
So it wasn’t PLANNED that his very first time to camp was WAY STINKIN far away and for a whole week. That was not the plan. And yet that’s what happened.
I covered the important stuff early and often.
The Important Stuff:
WRITE YOUR MOMMY. She will hold it against you FOREVER if you don’t, just ask ETHAN-12YR IF YOU DON”T BELIEVE HER.
Also, sunscreen, bug spray, don’t get lost, and be respectful, and be kind to everyone.
I packed them. It took me four hours. They were labeled, organized, prepared, overprepared, prayed over, adored, hugged, kissed, and reminded to write. The night before I gave them to Mike, Caden-8yr LOST IT.
I know you’re wondering.
It was NOT MY FAULT.
He just saw all the bags, the supplies, the mountains of clothing, the lists, the sharpies, the meetings, and… well. He cracked. He sat in my lap like a scared chihuahua and I held him. He bawled. For an hour. AN HOUR. He was afraid he’d wander off and get lost. (you won’t.) He was afraid he’d be miserable and stuck there. (i’ll come get you.) That’ll take too long. (I’ll send PawPaw, he lives closer). I won’t know how to act or what to say and I AM AFRAAAAAAAAID. (he has social anxiety issues. okay. that one is SO my fault.)
He sat in my lap and clung to my neck. He snotted all over me. He trembled and gasped and I prayed and hugged and made Ethan-12yr promise to take care of him in every possible way imaginable and I promised to email the nice lady who would be going with him about every single concern as soon as he went to bed.
The next morning he came over to me, hugged me really tightly, and thanked me. In a serious little voice he said, “You have prepared me very well for camp. Thank you.”
He meant it. But still. It sounded as if he were about to go to war.
When he’s dramatic and over the top – which is often – it’s beyond obnoxious. But when he’s dramatic and over the top and SINCERE – like his breakdown and his gratitude – well, that’s just heartbreaking.
Last I heard, he was perfectly fine at camp. As expected. It was just a journey to GET to that.
(I’m not over that journey yet.)