Colin passed us both in the kitchen this morning, on his way out the back door. He had wet hair, no shoes and was carrying a clear, plastic cup with something in it. We watched him grab a shovel out of the shed and start working at something in a corner of the yard, his back to us.
“What’s he doing?”
“Probably collecting something for his tanks. Rocks? I don’t know.” Mike went back to his computer.
Colin returned the shovel back to the shed and came back in.
“One of my fish died.”
“Oh honey. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, I could see it had dropsy last night. I knew it probably wouldn’t live.”
Dropsy, he explained, makes a fish’s scales stick out like a pine cone, instead of lay flat. It’s also an indicator of liver failure.
“I guess I never thought about fish having livers,” I said.
“I knew fish have eyebrows, but not livers,” Mike said.*
I didn’t know about the eyebrow thing, either. Clearly I haven’t been keeping up.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a baby shower before.”
This was Mike’s confession to me as we were walking up to the door to our friends’ home, Saturday afternoon.
Had I realized this earlier, I would have though of some way to punk him. Maybe made up some fake baby shower etiquette to share with him in the car. But, right then, on the spot like that, I couldn’t think of the right thing to say that would freak him out just enough for us to laugh about it later, but not enough for him to bolt. These things take some finesse and the look on his face had me worried.
So I just shrugged.
“There’ll probably be mimosas.”
The mom-to-be greeted us with a huge smile, wearing a flattering, floral print dress. Back when I was that far along with either of my pregnancies, you’d likely find me in a baggy pair of overalls that gave me the profile of Uncle Jesse on Dukes of Hazard. On alternate days I’d switch between one of the two knit tops that still fit. On dressier days, I might wear shoes. I could go on like that for a couple weeks.
Before you get into this, I just need to let you know this post started out different than it ended up.
That actually happens more often than you might think.
This is how it should go: I come up with some theme and then write a catchy lead, which flows into a full story, and there’s maybe a twist in there – could be funny or touching or shocking, with or without foul language – and things tidily come around at the end, which points back to the lead, and everything’s all wrapped up tight, like a 30 minute episode of Friends that you’ll forget by next week.
Or tomorrow. I don’t know how exciting your life is. Maybe you forget by mid morning.
I think it would really be nice to have some notice when a panic attack is due.
Like something on my calendar, so I’d know, for example, that at precisely 4am Mountain Time this coming Tuesday I would wake up wondering how much longer we were going to put off replacing the broken microwave, followed by my letting brain wander down various other rabbit holes that have to do with what is otherwise broken or incomplete in my life.
I might try to get to bed a little earlier if I knew I had that 4am thing looming. Maybe decide to actually get up then, instead of laying there, staring into space. I could do some laundry or something. You know, multitask.
A friend of mine wondered on social media recently whether she was of an age to start feeling like a “grown up,” and whether the fact she doesn’t most of the time has something to do with not having kids.
“Does having children make you feel more adult?” She asked.
I’m guessing my friend also had one of these unscheduled appointments, recently.
The other day I entered my son’s bedroom on some errand or another, and realized something important. It had to do with the olfactory impact of enclosing an adolescent and his Axe body spray in a small space with a fish tank and an only halfway clean lizard terrarium.
I realized my gag reflex has returned.
I’m not sure why this surprises me, but it does and I’m kind of sad. I used to have an iron stomach when it came to unpleasantness. But my once desensitized sniffer must have been part of a latent superpower that surfaces when I need it most; like back in the day when I’d decide whether a toddler needed a change by putting his diapered butt right up to my face. When this superpower is fully engaged, I can scrape dried poo off my shirtsleeve with the aplomb of a Ludlum CIA operative pitching a Molotov cocktail at a Russian mafia stronghold and then taking a slow-motion saunter toward the camera with a wink and a hair flip.
I have to tell you, that thought made me do a Google search for something like this:
But then I stumbled upon this … and it made my day.
(and, well, let’s be honest, it probably more accurately resembles me leaving the scene of an explosion).
“Don’t you just get more and more excited as it gets closer to Christmas?”
This was the start of a conversation over scrambled eggs yesterday, December-the-very-first, with our exchange student, Anna. Since I don’t talk much before 8 am, my only reply was to stare at her over my coffee mug, contemplating her sobriety.
Then I thought about the relationship I have the holidays, and how likely it is I’m gonna let this girl way down sometime in the coming weeks.
I haven’t any excuse for this hostility. It’s not that Christmas is a particularly dark time of year for me. I don’t get seasonal depression. There’s no trauma in my past. I’m just one of those people who really doesn’t go in for schmaltz. Or shopping. Or crafts, clutter, or empty calories for that matter (except beer, that is. And I do kinda dig spiked eggnog). I’m mostly just lazy. And a cynic. And schmaltz is way less funny than cynicism.
A little research and a consultation with our own kid who’s currently living among Anna’s people, confirmed that Danes do Christmas like they mean it, and Anna appears to be keeping pace with her homeboys. Before December was even upon us, she’d been to two tree-lighting ceremonies and a couple holiday concerts, and had a stack of homemade Christmas cards ready to send. The girl is ready for the holiday.
I got into a little argument on Facebook recently.
Someone said (and I’m paraphrasing here):
Oh, it’s so sad. A child was hit in a crosswalk this morning on his way to school. Please be careful everyone.
Then another person, whom I’m just going to call the “Douche Bag of the Day” responded (again … paraphrasing):
Ahem, not to seem insensitive, but who is really at fault here? Shouldn’t kids watch where they’re going? And shouldn’t parents blah ditty blah, hell-in-a-hand-basket, when-I-was-a-kid blah blah?
Again, you know, paraphrasing.
And I saw red, because some kid that very morning was rushed to the hospital as his bike lay crumpled on the sidewalk and a whole bunch of other kids and probably a crossing guard were doomed to relive the exact moment over and over again in their heads for a number of days if not weeks.
And some parent was pacing in a room with outdated magazines wondering if she should call all the relatives and feeling like she was going to throw up at the same time her throat was constricting and so jumpy that if someone tapped her on the shoulder right then they’d have to peel her off the ceiling.
And here’s this Facebook commenter positing on the state of parenting and kids today and wondering who was at fault?
I rather think this has worked to our children’s advantage, requiring them to become savvy to all kinds of helpful stuff, like how to find the fire extinguisher, or the expiration date on a gallon of milk. It’s kind of like we planned it, but in reality this is what happens when your MO is expending the least energy possible while keeping people alive.
If you’re like me, you look at the word “hygge” and think it’s a remix of something Will Smith wrote when he was still Fresh Prince-ish kind of cool and then you have an ear worm that is really not my fault because you should get your head out of the 90s.
If that sounds like really aggressive way to launch a subject, it’s because I’ve got “Na na na na na na na nana” going through my head, so … sorry.
Earlier this week, I was lying in bed, at o’dark something-or-other, trying to clear my head.
“You’re awake aren’t you?” Mike said.
Yup. We haven’t been getting a lot of sleep around here.
We went out to the living room and Jack was there, on the couch with a quilt, scrolling through his phone. He’d been up all night cleaning and sorting, and now his room was too empty to sleep in.
Today, he took his 50 lb. suitcase, a file of instructions and itineraries, 200 potato pins, and a book about his life in Idaho we’d made for him to show his host families while he’s on exchange, and boarded a plane. We’ll next see him again in person in eleven months.
People have been asking us how we’re dealing with his departure, and for the most part I’ve been Scarlett O’Hara-ing the whole thing, saying that I’d think about that tomorrow.
Well, today is “tomorrow,” and I’m still not actually sure what I’m thinking.