Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I broke the boy after five days.

Friday, I had to work, so Rocky decided this would be the day. He, ahem, forgot his lunch at home, taking the chance that his dad wouldn't notice and I wouldn't have time to take the lunch to the school, thus giving himself the opportunity to avail himself of a hot lunch.

He underestimated me. I called the school immediately and informed them that I didn't want him to miss out on a nutritious meal, so I was bringing him the lunch, and only charging 44 cents a mile. I took the lunch into the office, and the one woman who works there gets him. I told her, "I normally would be coming in my bunny slippers and bathrobe, but I am on my way to work, so I won't get to embarrass him this time."

"Oh, that's okay," she said. "I have no problem embarrassing him."

She did. She told him sweetly, "Tell your mom I love her slippers."

Rocky is now working on earning back his privileges. And there is soup in the freezer just in case we need it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Rocky has finally gone too far. Much like the dog who wants to sit on the sofa--gradually, stealthily, sneaking into the room, eventually landing on the cushions, remaining so still that no one notices--Rocky has stealthily, carefully been phasing out all responsibilities.

First, he has been "forgetting" to take out the trash. I will eventually take the can out of the cupboard and stand guard over it while he blunders around for shoes and a coat, which of course he cannot find, as they are wherever he has dropped them. I have actually dragged him out of bed at 11:59 p.m. to complete the chore, but that is extra aggravation for me, as Nash, who gets hysterical at just about everything, thinks it is morning and time to EAT and barks for a good two hours or so until EG goes in and bellows at him. Nash then subsides to a deep "errrrrr, errrrrrr, errrrrrrrrr" for another thirty minutes until he gives up. By then it is 2:30, and inevitably someone has to go to the bathroom, which sets Nash's dysfunctional alarm off again.

No wonder I go to sleep at traffic lights.

Second, Rocky's other job is to clean up after the dogs in the yard. Over the last month or two, he has been slowly neglecting first one, then two, then all the messes, last Sunday going out in the yard and staring off into space rather like Stevie Wonder, completely ignoring his job. Nita went out and--ahem--helpfully told him that he needed to address this job, and he said, "I have no place to put them." What? Like the garbage is suddenly not accessible?

Then the continuing saga of "find church clothes." Saturday EG told Rocky to find church clothes. Were they appropriate for the weather? Yes. Were they in good shape? Yes. Were they free of holes and stains? Yes. Did they fit? Oh, yes.

Sunday afternoon I told Rocky to get church clothes. He said he had them and that his dad had him get things together the day before. I revisited all the above questions and added two more: Did you pick something which I have designated as a church shirt for winter? Yes. And will I be happy at your choice? Oh, yes.


Thirty minutes before Mass, after ten minutes of blundering about in his room, he comes out in a school shirt from two years ago, one which is stained and torn. I scolded him and sent him back for something APPROPRIATE. He returns in an old white dress shirt, one missing buttons and which is at least two sizes too small. "What happened to the four shirts I bought you to wear to church?" I shriek.

"Oh, they're in there," he replied, "right in my closet."

"Then. Get. One." I said through clenched teeth, causing the dog look at me in alarm and decamp to the kitchen.

"Yes, mom," he went into his room and blundered around for five more minutes. I finally said, "If you don't come out here dressed in fifteen seconds, I will dress you."

Fourteen and a half seconds later, he came out of his room, finally appropriately dressed. Off to Mass, which is likely a good thing, Rocky going out the door into the fifteen degree weather without a coat. We followed and locked the door. "Oh," he says, halfway up the road. "I need my coat."

"Too late," EG snapped.

"And my gloves." We ignore him. He sighs and proceeds to verbalize his teeth chattering, much like a cartoon character. We ignore him. He sighs louder. We ignore him. He gives up.

After Mass, I sit Rocky down and ask him what is going on. "I don't like doing chores," he says.

"Oh, I like doing laundry and cooking and cleaning?"

"Maybe not, but you have to do those things."

I ask, "Why do I have to do those things and you don't have to do any chores?"

"Because I don't want to."

Well, neither do I. So I made a big pot of chicken soup with vegetables and black-eyed peas on Monday morning before work and informed Rocky that was what he was going to be eating three meals a day, as I didn't WANT to be cooking for him. Rocky apparently thought that, the faster he ate the soup, the faster this would be over, so he devoured most of the pot that day.

No problem. After I served the soup for breakfast, I came home with ten pounds of chicken on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday I asked him, "How is this going? Are you ready to talk about chores?"


"Well, I don't want to right now, so maybe Thursday we can talk."

In the meantime, he can enjoy the soup. Or not.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

People of WalMart

I was out running errands, and I had several odd, unrelated things to get: plastic native Americans for a diorama, construction paper, coffee creamer, caulk, a cucumber, and toothpaste, so I decided to go into Super WalMart.

I normally don't like shopping in Supercenters, which is odd for a person who managed one of the first superstores, a Kmart with groceries on one side and the regular discount offerings on the other. However, I was not in the mood to mess around with stopping at three or four stores, so in I went.

At the checkout, I had a panic attack. Panic attacks are not something new to me, and I know that I can ride them out and am not having a heart attack after all, and this is not the first time I had a panic attack at the registers. Kind of ironic, considering I am spending money.

What intrigues me is that I am not the only woman my age who is having these episodes in stores. I wonder what it is--the number of choices, the lighting, the noise and stimulation, or even those carousels for bagging? Dear God, am I getting so old that I can't process?

One of my male co-workers recently referred me to the website, and when I told him I was aware of it (and a bit frightened by it), he accused me of holding out on him. Fortunately, I do not suspect I will end up on there (a very good reason for those panic attacks, I'm sure you'd agree, as my company on the site would be a bit odd).

Now that I think about it, maybe it's the company in the store which causes me issues. Website notwithstanding, I won't be going back in there again too soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

History repeats itself

Tonight I am going to sit at the bedside of a dying person, providing support for his family as they wait for the inevitable.

I am always so honored to be asked to do this, to be permitted to be present during this most private of times.

What is interesting is that I many times will read the obituary of the person, getting to know a little about them after the fact, and I will think, "Oh, I wish I had known this person before."

Last time I drove to a vigil, it was late at night, snowing lightly, with a large, nearly full moon shining through the clouds. The car was quiet and peaceful, and I remembered my great grandmother on my father's side. She was a midwife, and she cured many illnesses with herbs and home remedies, many times going out in the night to assist with the sick and dying. I am sure it was a calling for her, as well, a mission if you will, and I felt a connection to her as a traveled in the silvery light.

And I wished that I had been able to know her then.

Everybody just go away

I spent years living alone, marrying in my middle thirties after having finally getting tired of too much peace and quiet.

I can be at home when the kids are here, or when they are gone because I have flexible hours at work, and I work one day from home. But that means that there is not much of a separation between the two at times.

Plus, the children were at home all break, and EG took time off to be home, and I was not alone for one minute except when I bailed water from the laundry tub to the washer, and even then people would follow me down and stand at the other end of the room and attempt to talk to me.

Exasperated, I would yell over the water sounds, "I can't HEAR you. Can it wait until I get back upstairs?" Of course, the speaker would simply increase the volume, usually enough for me to hear something like, "I'm nogig to ughbehnk, hen then too-erk."

I would nod and go back to bailing. Whatever. The speaker wasn't waving his arms, and I didn't see blood or hear bodies falling, so I wasn't going to worry that much.

Of course, the stress of the week, including going back to work for one day and frantically meeting two deadlines, delayed because others were involved in parts of the projects, caused me a lot of stress, which I ignored but eventually acknowledged by having a panic attack in the hardware department of a superstore, and then to come home with a migraine.

When my father fell and broke his ankle, in an open fracture with exposed bones, he was asked to describe, on a scale of one to ten, the level of pain he was experiencing. "A four?" he said. "A five?" The doctor just blinked at me.

"He has a high tolerance for pain," I explained. "When he had appendicitis, he drove himself to the hospital."

"It's a four," Dad said, nodding.

"Evidently," the doctor replied, shaking his head.

What I am discovering is that I, too, tolerate pain well. I suffered "not feeling well" for all of Thursday and most of Friday, with the kids home for a snow day. When I don't feel well, I withdraw, which causes everyone to push and pull at me. Finally, Friday afternoon, I realized I had a migraine, and took medication. Within an hour, I felt so much better. Duh.

So today, EG, bless his heart, took the older two to early church, leaving Nita home with me. Nita and I relaxed her hair, which is never a pleasant experience, and then she talked to me for over an hour. She finally went upstairs, where it sounds like she is tap dancing on the hardwood floor over my head. I'm sure EG meant well, but I need peace and quiet, and I am not getting it that way.

Maybe next time he can stay home and relax Nita's hair, and I will go to church.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tough Audience

I have been thinking about the people who settled this part of the United States, coming here and spending the winters in small cabins, fighting the cold and snow, and most likely being hungry.

Today is the last day of my break, and I have to mush out of here to buy groceries. I will not have to delve into the stockpile of food which we put away in August, hoping we have enough for the winter and eat what I find. I will not have to wait for EG to go out and hunt something, killing some small woodland creature so we can eat. I will not have to send Rocky out to cut wood (and most likely cut his leg off in the process) so we will be warm.

Instead, I will take my heated Honda minivan to the supermarket, driving on plowed roads, choose things which appeal to me, and pay for them with the swipe of a credit card.

Here in northeast Ohio, we have two types, okay, three types of weather people. We have the one who should have retired years ago but is a weather icon here, who tells us warm and fuzzy stories related to the weather, a human interest addition to the weather. We have those who are like, "Okay, here is what the weather is doing, but you live in the snowbelt, so what do you expect." And then we have the "we're gonna die" contingent, those who frantically describe the two inches of snow we got overnight, forecasting another inch like it is the end of civilization as we know it, a frozen Pompeii if you will. These are the same people who interrupt the regular programming to tell us about the tornado warning in Pennsylvania, zooming in the radar to tell us which areas, down to which streets, are affected. What I don't get are why these people are watching television if the tornado is that close--if things are that dangerous, shouldn't they be in the basement, huddling together in case the storm takes them out?

We have one meteorologist who is quite handsome, but even the kids can't take him seriously. First, he hosts a program called Academic Challenge. The program pits teams from local high schools against one another with questions about math, literature, art, and science. The kids like to watch it because they know the answers to many of the questions. However, the new hobby here is detecting how many words the host will mispronounce. Last week, we found three words which he butchered, Methuselah being one of them, and terrestrial being another. Granted, these are not easy words like cat, but still...

However, this meteorologist lost his credibility with my kids after they viewed him on Academic Challenge. They figure he isn't so smart, which carries over to his weather forecasts. It can be January in Ohio, and the meteorologist will predict snow, and my kids snort skeptically, as if he had predicted a hurricane. Even when he's right, the kids view it as a fluke.

And maybe that is why people are watching the weather instead of heading to shelter.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to the grind

This morning we got up to a large amount of snow, with more coming. EG went out and dug out the driveway, while Kiki got up and got ready for school.

Rocky got up second, wandered around the living room, and then went into the bathroom to get ready for school. While we have an issue with a temperamental septic system, and I admire frugality with water, I simply do not understand how a boy can wash up for school without soap, water, or a washcloth and towel. Therefore, he and I had a lesson on how to wash your body for school, aka The Use of Soap and Water--Together.

Which leads me to wonder--just when do boys make that transition to men? Do they? Or is the teenage or pre-teenage boy hygiene he has now the same as he will have when he is older? Or will it change when he meets a girl--or an entire school filled with them? Either way, I guess there is an up side. If he discovers girls, he will clean up, but if he stays stinky, the girls won't want to be with him, which prevents worrying about all that entails: dating, pregnancy, and general hormone driven goofiness.

Maybe I'll hide his deodorant.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Burning out the old

One thing which I neglected to mention was that, on December 31, I took the calendar out on the back stoop and took a match to it, a symbolic ridding myself of this past year.

I told my sister about it, and she said she just might do the same thing herself.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

I have watched at least five minutes of New Year's Rockin' Eve for the last $& years or so. Every year, I know fewer and fewer of the musical guests, a sure sign that I am getting older. And so are the musical guests I would know.

Last night, EG turned from PBS to ABC at about 11:55. Kiki had gone to bed with a headache whose other symptoms were whining about it, and Nita had fallen asleep sitting up on the sofa. Jennifer Lopez was on the show--I knew her, but Rocky didn't. She was jumping up and down for some reason, wearing what was apparently a fur coat, which caused some discussion in our living room. Then Dick Clark appeared to count down the end of the year.

It made me sad to see Dick Clark--I burst into tears as he did the 10-9-8, especially since he got a little mixed up on the numbers, something which I can't blame him for doing. Somehow Dick was a catalyst as I remembered how difficult this year was for so many I knew, and I sobbed my way into 2010, holding on to EG in the middle of the living room.

Sometimes it is better to end traditions, to start new ones before the old ones wear out. Next new year's eve, I think I'll try for something fresh and different, something which gives me joy.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this new year--I wish something good for each of us