Saturday, March 28, 2009


Last night, the kids and their dad played at the restaurant. This morning, Rocky is getting ready to go to boy scout camp to build a shelter and spend the night sleeping in it. I am taking a sheet of plastic for him to throw on top in case of emergency.

Rocky's packing consists of a series of questions: "Mom, what happened to my mess kit?" It's right where you left it (which may or may not be where it is SUPPOSED to be...). "Mom, do we have extra toothpaste?" "Mom..."

It also consists of a running commentary of what he is doing, kind of a Howard Cosell of packing. "Now I need to get my gloves. I am packing my gloves. Where are my hoodies. Here they are. Socks. Socks. Socks. Socks are packed."

He brought his suitcase into the kitchen and put it down behind me. "Uh, no," he said. "I don't need to take a panty ho with me."

"A what!?!!?" I swear sometimes my hearing is going.

"A panty ho."

"Panty ho?"


I look across the table at his dad. "Panty ho," he nods.

"Spell it," I tell him.

So he does.

I am speechless. EG says, "Panty ho. One of a pair of panty hose."

"Oh, you mean a STOCKING."

He nods. "Panty ho, one; panty hose, two."

I don't know what bothers me most: that Rocky came up with the term or that his dad corroborated the defintion, rather like a dialect of manspeak.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Two of the three kids are grounded--one for not turning in homework for weeks on end and consequently getting a D in English, of all things, and one for raising snotty to a true art form. Consequently, I am grounded, too. It isn't all that awful, as I always have something which I could be doing around here. The truly annoying part is that Kiki started out at two weeks of grounding and managed to negotiate it up to three weeks and six days because she couldn't stop her mouth. "I will NOT be grounded for two weeks and three days," she shouted at me.

"Fine. You are now grounded for two weeks and four days."

"Oh, no, you don't. You can't do this to me. I have rights, and you won't violate them. You will NOT ground me for two weeks and four days."

"Kiki, do you really want to go there? You know what I'm going to do..."

"Ha. YOU don't know what you're doing. You're just being mean. Go ahead--go ahead and ground me for two weeks and five days. See if I care. You're going to ground me for two weeks and five days anyway, so just get it over with."

"Okay. Two weeks and five days."

"What!?!?!!! How could you?! You have a lot of nerve. No one else's mom would be so mean."

"Kiki. Stop. Think about what you are saying. You are negotiating yourself into a bad place. You've been through this before, and you know I will keep going. Take a breath and get ahold of yourself."

She pauses. She takes a deep breath. Then she glares at me and her voice comes from deep in her chest. I half expect her head to rotate 360 degrees. And what she says is highly reminiscent of Linda Blair in The Exorcist and ends with her telling me to "Go ahead. Ground me for some MORE time."

So, for both of us, it is going to be a long month. However, I did notice that she is much more civil and compliant. For now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I went to see my mother last night. When I was young, if she saw me for the first time in a while, she would say, "Whose kid are you?"

Yesterday, I dropped Rocky off at Boy Scouts and decided to drop in before I ran errands. I walked up to her and said, "Whose kid are you?"

"I don't have any kids," she intoned, scowling.

Whenever I go to see her, I have to figure out where she is in her reality and go from there. Some days she knows me and wants news of the kids, but those times are fewer and fewer. Other times she knows she knows me but not my exact identity--I am her sister, sometimes a nice lady who visits. And some days she is merely polite, as if I am one of a long string of visitors from hospice or an employee of the nursing home.

Last night, she was cranky. It appears that someone had been in the wing and stolen all their belongings and she didn't even have a bed. When she gets fixated like this, it is hard to distract her.

She had a tremor. Last time she had one of these, I noticed it stopped after she had something to drink, so I offered her a beverage. Since she drinks thickened liquids, the choice was limited, and the nurse gave me some thickened cranberry juice. Mom had a few sips and tried to put the cup down on a nonexistent table. I took it from her. A few minutes later, I offered it again. "I don't like it," she told me. So I offered her some tea. While the tea was cooling, I chatted with A, a lady who has her own reality and makes these wonderful random comments.

A asked me if I had seen her glasses. I told her no, and she informed me it had been four weeks since someone had taken them to be fixed, and she paid in advance.

"That has to be maddening," I said.

"You married him?" A raised her voice in alarm.

"Yep. And I sure won't do THAT again," I told her.

"Well, I don't blame you. I have been known to do that several times myself," she replied. I laughed, and so did my mom.

Mom said, "They have backpacks, and they carry our belongings in them, and we don't see them do it."

"Ah," I said.

A snorted. "I have decided that I need an ice cream cone."

"Sounds good to me," I told her.

Mom said, sipping her thick tea, "All our stuff was out on the sidewalk." I informed her that it was not out there, it was in her room, and I knew this for a fact because I had looked in there and checked it out.

"Charlotte," A said to me, "check on that baby."

"Yes, ma'am."

"All our stuff." Mom glared at me. "Gone." I took her down the hall and showed her the room, still intact. "Hmmpf," she said, unimpressed. I suspect she thought "they" knew we were coming and quickly put everything back so we didn't catch on. I asked her if she'd like to watch an old movie, finding John Wayne on Turner Classic. "That's fine for the men," she growled. "But they have taken everything."

I stood up. "I have to go get toilet paper," I said. I figured this was pretty much an inarguable point. "I love you, Mom," I said, kissing her on the cheek. "All our things," she whispered. "They took them."

Now I wonder if she was talking about something other than her furniture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Coming up for air

I am currently working on my Ph.D. online. This, along, with the job, three kids (two who embezzle) and their activities and lessons, a house, a mother in hospice, and a marriage, has kept me busy, to say the least, since the first part of January.

I am blessed that I write easily and well, and I love research and love to do classwork. The online venue gives me flexibility in WHEN I do my work and WHERE I do my work, but I do miss the social aspects of being in grad school.

As part of the educational experience, our university has three colloquia during the program, where learners go off to a hotel and are immersed for five days in coursework and networking with one another. I was so energized from the experience--to be surrounded by so many intelligent and intellectual and focused individuals was such a grand experience. Plus, I ate food cooked by someone else and had a maid come in and make my bed each day, and during my down time I actually got caught up on and even worked ahead on my coursework, motivated by the wonderful minds which surrounded me.

Anyway, Friday was the end of my first semester, and the next does not start until April. I turned in all my coursework on Thursday morning, celebrating my early completion of my work. At work on Thursday, I graded and recorded all my class's work. I was caught up. Thursday night, I got in bed and started to fret. I had nothing to complete--nothing to be concerned about. This really worried me: how can I have nothing to worry about...I should worry about SOMETHING.

Like a drowning person coming up for air, I am gasping in relief. But at the same time, I start thinking there should be sharks.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Kiting checks

I make it a point to pack a full and nutritious lunch for each of my children, including a snack. They take it from there. I know that kids trade lunches, and I know some things hit the trash, and yes, some food comes back home, but I still make the effort to keep the kids healthy and full.

However, this week, Rocky and Nita took their lunch battle to an all-time low. I went to Rocky's school conference last night, and the teachers mentioned how STARVED he is right before lunch and how he so politely asks every day if he can go buy a bag of chips from the cafeteria and while that is not a standard procedure, they sure didn't mind if I didn't mind.

Wait a minute--he's buying chips from the cafeteria? The same kid who had two sandwiches, beef jerky, yogurt, raisins, pretzels, peanuts, and carrots in his lunch BOUGHT chips because he's so daggone hungry?

Uh, no.

So I enlightened he teachers that, one, he is not to be carrying money, ever, as there is that little issue about stealing. Two, he is not to buy anything at school, ever, as he has little impulse control and blows his cash. And, three, I watch what he eats because of the additives.

Oh. They apologized and promised to watch him better.

So I came home and cross-examined Rocky, who then admitted that he had been taking money to school and had been lying about it.

So he's on blackout all weekend.

Then, today, EG calls me because Nita turned in a check for a hot lunch today. The check was from our account, yes, and it was pretty much filled out correctly, yes, but she had signed it with her own name.

Plus, she had followed the directions sent home each month by the cafeteria managers. These clearly state that you should write in the amount of money on the check. So, where the check says, "In the amount of...", Nita clearly and carefully printed, "money."

This reminded me of when Rocky's first grade teacher sent home a note about an infraction, one which required a parent's signature. He had neatly written "Mom Lastname" in his best imitation of cursive.