Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is it just me?

Or does anyone else have days like this?

This morning I got up at 6:45, which is sleeping in to the point of decadence. We let the dogs out, made coffee, and got up my son, who is 13. He hasn't been doing his math homework this week, so we parked him at the kitchen table wtih his algebra book and told him he had to do 12 problems before breakfast. He stared at his reflection in the window for 20 minutes, apparently having discussions with girls in his head, judging by his side glances and smiles. Kiki, who is 14, got up and staggered to the table, making herself a bowl of cereal. Rocky whizzed through the math problems and asked, "Can I eat now?" I looked at the problems. All were incorrect--apparently, he wrote just anything so he could be done. I sent him back to the book. He stared at his reflection some more.

Kiki brought the squirt bottle which we use to chase the cats off the counter to me and said, "It has a leak." I said, "Empty it into the sink and throw it away." She put it on the counter, where is oozed all over the newspapers stacked there, sticking them to the countertop. Rocky brought the book to me. He had retraced all the original incorrect answers. I threw the paper out, gave him a fresh sheet, and sent him back to the table, where he dug his pencil into the cover of his math book.

The dog saw the cat, chased him under the sofa, got her shoulders wedged behind a sofa leg, and yapped stupidly. Nita took the now empty squirt bottle, refilled it, squirted the cat so he went upstairs, untangled the dog, and set the bottle in the middle of the kitchen table, where it leaked all over the wood top, soaked my cell phone, and dripped onto the floor. Rocky sat there and clinically watched the water soak his math paper, never saying a word. He then carved some answers into the soggy paper. The dog lapped the water off the floor. I told Rocky, "Get me a towel." He ran around until he found a roll of paper towels which the dog had shredded sometime during the night, gathered up the little pieces, and flung them all over the table. "A towel," I repeated. "A TOWEL!" He handed me my phone. "Your cell phone????"

"Go in the bathroom and get a towel," I said slowly, through clenched teeth. Rocky opened the door. The dog ran in and drank out of the toilet. "Yuk," so said, and chased the dog back out, shutting the door, so grossed out that he, of course, didn't bring a towel. Kiki said, "You forgot the towel."

"What?" Rocky asked. Nita interjected, "You forgot the towel. Are you a dummy?"

"Don't call each other 'dummy'," I said.

Rocky said, "Mind your own business."

Nita started sobbing. "Leave me alone. Everyone hates me; I want a new family."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Kiki said. "I don't see why you're talking about this now. We haven't liked you for a long time." Nita wailed dramatically. I sent both girls to sit at the table.

I found a towel on my own, mopped up the mess and sat back down to cold coffee. Rocky handed me the math paper and said, "I got them all right this time, but the paper is wet, so you can't tell."

"Nice try," I told him. I took a huge gulp of the cold coffee. Nita watched me. I had a second gulp.

Nita said, "The dog drank out of your cup when you were cleaning up the table." Ack. I turned around to find Penny standing at my shoulder, wagging happily, apparently thinking the next step would be a trip to Starbucks. "Take her out and tie her so I don't kill her, please," I said to Kiki.

"Why me," she hollered. "I didn't ask to be the oldest. You just had me to take care of the younger two. And you got the dog to torture me. It's not fair. Slavery is illegal, you know."

I said, "That's right. Once we had the other two, we went back and had you so you could take care of them." She missed the sarcasm and dragged the dog out the door, sniffing about the injustice of our employment system here, muttering about socialism and Lenin. Once outside, the dog changed her mind and raced to come back in, knocking Kiki into the wall of the porch. "Penny, you idiot," Kiki shrieked.

By then, I had been up for 45 minutes. Is it just me? Do the rest of you have nice serene lives like I imagine and somehow my coping skills are horribly limited? In the crapshoot of life, did I get the more challenging children and pets? Anybody?

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