Words To Live By

image: wildsoundmovies.com

#5 came home from school last week holding an ice pack to his eye.

I asked him what happened and he told me about some game they were playing where the boys were zombies and the girls were trying to keep them away, and he got kicked in the eye because zombies couldn’t go up on the blacktop. Apparently, zombies only crawl on the ground in this game.

He wanted to know if he was going to have a black eye. He isn’t incredibly brave and sounded frightened about it. I took a look and couldn’t lie.

“Yes, ” I said. “I think so.”

“Cool!” He said. “Black eyes make you look tough.”

He was bummed when, in fact, it didn’t become a black eye. A few days later he came into our room and said this:

“I have new words to live by. You know how I got kicked in the eye? Well, we were outside because we did good. We worked hard and got extra recess. So now I say, sometimes hard work pays off, and sometimes it comes back and kicks you in the face.”

What words do you live by?



This picture sums up last week.

I hereby apologize for all of the times in the past that I have misused the term “pulled muscle”.  Any “pulled muscle” I referred to before was actually me being a weenie.

I pulled my calf muscle on Sunday night. It felt like my muscle became a rope pulling taut, jumping off the bone, then radiating nails and razor blades throughout my leg. The pain was a mere shade less than the night time calf cramps I get if I work out, the ones that have me screaming profanities before I’m fully conscious. I couldn’t walk at all for twenty-four hours. How did I pull it, you ask? Yoga? Running? Kickboxing?

I leaned over my bed and picked up some papers for recycling.

This seems like a good time to mention, I’ve been reading a lot of female authors from the 19th century lately and there are quite a few of them who manifested what surely were psychosomatic illnesses and ailments that thereby allowed them to slip out of household tasks and write. Huh.

So I pulled my calf. Then we got more snow.

Winter Recess is an evil creation that I’ve heard of only in this part of the country. It’s a week long break from school around the third week of February and CC is always in production for it, leaving me and the kids trapped in the house together during the day. We wanted to escape. Shoveling was completely out of the question for me because of the leg, so the kids had to do the driveway and dig out the van. Thankfully, it’s my left calf, so I could drive.

We went to Target and spent two hours and several hundred dollars. Bras, socks, underwear, school supplies. I bought myself my birthday present from CC (it was on sale and he won’t have time to get me anything anyway). Everybody got a treat. I used the cart as a walker. It was remarkably effective.

We stopped for Subway on the way home. Kids are not efficient getting out of a car. There were bags to move, drinks to find cup holders for, candy I had to remind them to leave in the van. I had to unlock it once because #3 forgot something. Even so, they were about nine times faster than me, gimping along. Then there was the snow to contend with. I mentally flipped off the parking meter because I wasn’t going back in the van for change.

As we were walking in, #3 pointed out a handwritten sign on the door, “No Credit Card Today, Cash Only,” and she said, “Is that a problem?” and of course it was, because any time I get any actual cash, one of the six other people in my house needs it for something. So we all went out and got back in the van. Moved bags, retrieved drinks, fastened seatbelts, resumed eating candy. I started the car.

#2: What are we gonna do? Can we road trip to another Subway? Or are we gonna take the easy way out?” (I still wish I had any idea what that meant.)

Me: Umm, I guess I’ll just go to the bank.

#3: Wait, I have cash!

Me: How much?

#2: Well, between the two of us we have, like $70.

Jesus. Turn car off. Seatbelts, bags, drinks, candy, forget change for meter again, snow. . .

I always panic a little at Subway. Every time we go, I make at least one of the kids come in with me. I panic about getting the orders wrong. I also panic at the thought of other customers coming in when we’re in the middle of a six-or-seven-sandwich order. I hate holding up the line. Of course, this day, a guy walked in before they’d even finished our first sandwich. Then another guy walked in. I apologized as we left. I’m pretty sure it was now forty-five minutes since we’d first pulled up in front.

Me, to #2: So I owe you $30.

#2: Except I owe you $15 for the makeup at Target.

Me: Okay, so I owe you $15. Wait, except I already owed you that $15 you owe me for the makeup for babysitting, so… (brain starts to hurt)

#2: What we’ll do is take that money and add it on to the other money. . .

Me: We need a sheet.

#2: Yeah.

Me: We need a ledger.

#5: What’s a ledger?

Me: It’s a sheet.

#5: (silence, trying to figure out why I need bedsheets to pay them their allowances)

#2: Can I just state for the record that I love this family?

Can I just state for the record how much it means to me that the above statement came from our fifteen-year-old Chief Dark Cloud? Some mothers treasure first words, first steps; I missed all that. I treasure every moment a teenager doesn’t hate me.


Soon after we got the kids, it became clear to me that #3 had full-on middle child syndrome.

When she wasn’t posing, she always had something that needed medical attention. She would say things like, “My bellybutton hurts!” or ask for a bandaid for a pinprick that could not be seen with the naked eye.

At first, when the kids were coughing or sneezing or had a tummy ache, I’d take them to the doctor right away. Every time. Then I learned: I hate our pediatrician.

We ended up with this pediatrician because when CC was married before, they lived in the area with #1 and took her there. It’s a network of doctors with a large practice that has won all sorts of awards despite the fact that the experience of going to see them is akin to sticking needles in your eyes, then blinking. Rapidly, several times in succession.

You can never actually reach anyone in the office by phone- everything is done through answering services and messages. I’ve never seen the same doctor twice. It takes forever to get an appointment. It’s far away. Everytime you go in they make you fill out all the paperwork again. “Just to make sure nothing’s changed,” they say. I’m talking health history, people, from infancy. In other words, all the stuff I wasn’t there for and know nothing about. I always hand it back to them blank and say CC will fill it out the next time.

#3 had been complaining of a cough for some time. Let’s say two weeks. If you knew her like I did, and heard the pathetic little cough coming out of her, you might also be inclined to think, like I did, that she was faking. Nobody coughs like that in real life.

Then I got a cough. Which I ignored until I could no longer speak. I went to a clinic, because it’s easy. Bronchitis, they said. So I figured I should finally take #3 to the pediatrician.

I informed her doctor of my bronchitis. As she was listening to #3’s lungs, she said “Oh, mommy shared,” meaning me, and I didn’t correct her, because I couldn’t speak without coughing. “Pneumonia,” she said of #3.

Jesus. How did anybody ever think it was okay for me to be entrusted with these children?

We left and I went to fill her prescriptions. There was something the doctor needed to tell me, so they called. Her mom. Thinking they were calling me. Believing that we were one in the same. Which set off a whole other chain of events I’d rather not think about.

You can’t escape Karma. We both had antibiotics and #3 bounced back in about five days. Mine proved to be some vile, resistant bacteria which laid me up for four solid weeks, fever every day between 101-104 degrees, and the cough lingered for six months. I still believe to this day that it served me right.