Nobody Better, Vol. 2

You can set yourself up for disappointment.  You can believe you’re bracing yourself to soften the sting of the hit you’re expecting. Preparing yourself to be let down, or thinking you are prepared for things not to work out, and actually being disappointed however, are two distinct states of mind. I set myself up for it having written this note to my kids as I jetted off this weekend:

My friends, Bek and Nikki, arranged to metaphorically kidnap me. OK, it’s not really kidnapping if you’re in the know ahead of it, but work with me here. To extend my birthday celebration (not that I need reminding of my age. . .) they ninjaed me with a concert ticket and arranged air transportation for me to Toronto Saturday for Barenaked Ladies’ final show of the Canada150 tour.  It was gonna be awesome, they agreed, a conclusion it took me slightly longer to reach.

I felt then and still terribly undeserving.  I mentioned a few posts ago that it took a couple days to shush the voices in my head telling me I didn’t deserve it or feel comfortable accepting it.  From the day they sprung the news until Saturday afternoon, I told myself it would be no big deal if it didn’t work out, if I ended up missing the show.  I’m totally OK, the broken record kept skipping inside my head–it’d be OK if it doesn’t work out.  Really. I’m not even supposed to be there.

I, and I shit you not about this, was the first person in the TSA line at Mitchell International Saturday morning.  3:46 was when I queued up, quite surprised to learn that my airport was not a 24-hour airport.  Aren’t they all??  Nope.  Turns out, our airport is international, but not major league, so I was in the front of the line because I am (mostly) good at following directions (get to the airport a couple hours early for domestic flights), and I was off to rendezvous with my friends in Detroit en route to Toronto.  Goofy with sleep deprivation, there’s me flipping my pink Chuck Taylors in the TSA-approved screening bin, removing the quart-sized Ziploc bag stuffed to the gills with condition critical hair styling products, breezing through the x-ray machine, I made it to my gate with more time than I dreamed I’d have.  Oh, did I mention it was snowing?

Missed Connections

To make this part of the long story short, Delta Airlines had other plans for me Saturday; my originating flight from MKE was delayed nearly 90 minutes, some legit snow-related–people, I am 100% pro-de-icing and pro- not dying mid-air–but the lag was mostly not weather-related.  We finally lifted off about ten minutes before my connecting flight WITH MY FRIENDS ON IT in Detroit was to take wing, and completely uncharacteristic of me, I was the picture of zen.  Upon landing in Detroit, I could see the plane I was supposed to have boarded.  Hey Wendy!  You won the lottery! You can’t spend it!

Wordlessly, I wandered over to the re-booking queue, where I waited another 90 minutes.  Resigned to play whatever hand Delta dealt, I was a rock while some other passengers crumbled around me–tears, wails, angry yells, cursing.  Some passengers were profoundly upset, and I felt for them, wondering what they were missing.  Me?  Aloof.  Hopeful yet resigned at once.  I was totally OK. My friend Chantal was already in Toronto, and she kept me company as I pored over options: a train which would get me there at 9:51 PM.  Nope.  Another airline which would run between $748-1128.  Nope.  A small regional airport.  Nope.  I couldn’t get anywhere to get to a place that could get me there on time.  The best Delta could offer was a standby seat to somewhere that would maybe get me to another standby seat maybe to land at YYZ at 8:51.  Nope.

Still quiet, and still OK:  “Can I just go back to Milwaukee?”

That one they could arrange, two standbys and one confirmed 8:00 PM seat later.   As I waited, hoping to be called for my first standby, I got a text from Sugar, another of BNL’s finest fans.  The snow had turned her off from driving to TO by herself, but if she could pick me up, maybe we could make it together.  I stewed on it for a minute, because again–Nobody Better than my fellow fan friends–but soon realized that I no longer held a ticket home.  Once I rebooked back to MKE, they cancelled the rest of my ticket.  Maybe I could have re-rebooked, but I wasn’t too keen on trust at this point.  Delta had kicked me in the shins already.

My “lucky” number came up, and I, along with about eight other standby passengers were granted access back across Lake Michigan.  Yep, the quotes around “lucky” are totally fakey quotes because this merry band of interlopers sat on the runway for two hours.  Two hours we sat until at last, the pilot announced that our engine problem was “incompatible with flight.”  Ooooh, how I do love a creative turn of semantics!  Incompatible with flight indeed!  Back to the gate we 127 were sent (and yes, I know it was 127 because when you sit at the gate area long enough, you are bound to pick up some random stats about your aircraft), but quickly over to another plane we were rushed.  They actually had a plane with the same seating configuration, so all we had to do was haul our collective Team Delta Flight 2300 ass from Gate 53 down to Gate 4.

All was not lost, and I was still totally OK.  I ended up sitting next to a woman who reminded me a great deal of one of my high school friends.  I asked her if by any chance she happened to hail from my hometown; she did.  The lovely woman window seat to mine on the aisle was the older sister of a high school friend of mine, whose daughter also happened to have gone to high school with my niece.  Small world and all that!  She works at the hospital across the street from one of my schools, small world and all that!  I’m now completely up to date on post-Waterford High goings-on, and passed what could have been a torturous afternoon in pleasant company.  Neither of us reached our destination, but we reached peace with our waylaid plans. I even spied a sparrow hiding in the terminal. Poor, lost soul. Ain’t nobody getting a flight outta DTW Saturday, not even a true winged creature.

Home

Thirteen hours after arriving at Mitchell International, I returned again.  My husband and Number One son were waiting there to bring me home (Nobody Better) and while I was gone a matter of hours, their faces were as welcome a surprise as if I’d been gone a week.

I was still OK about not being in Toronto for the show, because I was home, and I never was supposed to be north of the border anyway.

But then the Facebook posts and pictures started pouring in.  All of the sudden, the trip I wasn’t going on, the concert I’d convinced myself I didn’t really feel I had a right to attend, and the day’s long airport chaos settled. I did want to be there.  It did matter.  I wasn’t totally OK not being part of it.  I was elated for my friends–it wasn’t that I was jealous of them being there. It was that I wanted to be celebrating alongside them.

They got to live the plans they laid for themselves originally.  The plan went off precisely as it was meant to: without me.  I spent about three minutes sniffling over it, right after the girls called me to make sure I was home safely.  They were worried about me.  Nobody Better kind of friends.

Deck The Halls

Because I missed the boat (or plane for you literal types), I found myself with an unexpected measure of time Sunday afternoon.  The pity party long passed, I busied myself with Christmas tree trimming.

I got home from work today to discover my idiot dog had removed thirteen ornaments from the tree.  I counted and located twelve, but can be left to no other conclusion:  Caleb ate the baby Jesus.  I am not exactly religious, but I’m sure that this is not a good sign.  I am so mad at him for his vandalism, but his snack stirred up a little laughter.  Because I am a horrible person.  With wonderful, equally inappropriate friends.  Nobody Better, you guys.

Advertisements

Nobody Better, Vol. 1

I initiated this post with me starring in the role of dorky, wide-eyed middle school girl, squealing with delight that my best friend is coming to visit me this weekend.  Nobody Better is the title of my new favorite song which was love at fourth listen, and though it hasn’t supplanted the tune that brought me greater than gravity, its quirky off-beats and harmonies sing to me.  Anyway, I was going to write about the anticipatory tidal wave I’m riding this week.  My BFF is the best.  Nobody Better.

Then my blog friend at My Dang Blog, legit Canadian, went and nominated me for a Liebster Award.  She published a book this week!  Like for reals published a hold-it-in-your-hands (and/or electronic reader probably) book!  The Liebster award is awarded by bloggers to new-ish, small-ish blogs they deem worthy of attention and readership.  I was nominated and accepted in March 2016, and it meant a good deal to me then. It means even more to me now, but do the rules allow me to accept?  Google returns several iterations of the truth, so we’re gonna play real fast and loose on the rules here.

I revisited my first acceptance post, and realized I haven’t kept up-to-date on a few of the blogs I recommended then, and some publish only rarely, if at all.  Blogging isn’t difficult exactly, for me it’s a complete labor of love, but it’s work.  The work is enjoyable, so much so that it isn’t work at all, but the creativity part–having something worthwhile to say and giving it voice?  I liken writing to shouting into a void–you don’t always know you’re heard.  For me, that’s OK.  Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy getting positive strokes, but my purpose isn’t notoriety.  My purpose has morphed since its genesis, to be sure.  Crying all the time about my son’s MD diagnosis became pretty one-note.  My point?  It’s easy to abandon blogging, and I miss some of those stories.  Can you miss what never happened?  I miss the idea of what could have happened had their stories continued.

A metric ton of life has dropped on me since I began to write.  I appreciate the kind words and backing of My Dang Blog, along with that of another real writer, @seanpcarlin, whose unfailing encouragement moves me. I appreciate every kind word; that you take the time to read and often leave a comment is a gift I’ll never be able to repay. Nobody Better, guys. Thank you.

The award comes with an assignment. To answer a set of questions the nominator poses, and to pay it forward.  I’m going to score a 50% on my execution here.  And I used to be such a good student.

Questions and Answers

1) Why do you write?  Initially I began writing because my older son, then age eleven, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.  I was incapable of any meaningful speech and dissolved into tears every hour on the hour.  I found that I could write the horrible words more easily than I could speak them.  When anyone newly found out about his status or asked how he was doing, I could say, “Here, read this,” with a steadier voice. Now, obviously, I write for the awards.  NO!  Now I write because I like telling stories, and it’s rare that one gets the opportunity to share stories with an audience in real life.  I love making people laugh or reflect or wonder, and sometimes I’m able to do that through my little endeavor here. Writing is still cheaper than therapy, so on my dark days, writing grabs me by the back of my shirt and pulls me safely ashore.
2) Which of your own blog posts should people read if they want to really know you?  I once believed I’d remember every word I’d ever published.  I once believed in the Tooth Fairy too, so yeah. . .  My first blog Thanksgiving is a post I remember well. I felt like I’d found my voice, and that voice sounded more balanced than it had during the preceding months.   Give me five minutes, and I’ll recall ten I think fit more aptly here. 

3) Best hybrid animal and why?  The dogotter.  Because dogs are awesome and otters are adorable.  And also because otters are awesome and dogs are adorable.  Have you ever seen a despondent otter?  Exactly.

1280px-sea-otter-morro-bay_13
4) Flowers or chocolate?  I underappreciate flowers as a gift; chocolate rides the fence of “Do you sincerely believe I will enjoy these or are you sabotaging my weight loss maintenance again?” Ack. Flowers.  They’re beautiful.  And mostly guilt-free.
5) What was your favourite childhood toy?  (See, My Dang Blogger is Canadian and uses the “u,” and I’m pretend moving to Canada, so I’m keeping it). I was given a third- or fourth-hand Magnus Chord Organ in elementary school, and I played it til my fingers bled.  The Barbie Camper was a kickass sa-weeeeet second place finisher here.
6) What is one thing about your life that you would change?  I’d choose for my kid not to have a progressive neuromuscular disease.  That would be super.  I’m not a hostage to regret, but there are two major life choices I sometimes wish I’d done (or still do) differently:  When anyone I know moves their residence to a faraway location, I wish I’d had the nerve to have done that at least once in my life.  At times, I wish I had worked professionally for another entity than a public school district.  I wanted to be a deejay when I was in college, but the idea of job instability crushed my dream.  No, that’s not true.  I wanted to be a deejay, but I was always a “good girl,” a dutiful, loyal student and employee who was predictable, reliable, and got good grades. We are who we are.  Apparently we are not deejays.
7) Who is your favourite writer?  An impossible question to answer. Jenny Lawson, @thebloggess, is my favorite blogger.  I tend to obsess over books (Jane Eyre, The Shadow of the Wind, Wonder) more than authors.  Having said that, I tend to read popular fiction detective/lawyer series, so I have some favourites, but no cheese stands alone.
8) Are you crafty? (Either ‘cunning’ or ‘able to make crafts’) NOT AT ALL ABLE TO MAKE CRAFTS.  Yes, I’m shouting. Not sly either. I’m the openest open book ever written.  My brilliant coworker Christine once mentioned how I’m quite skilled at making people come around to agree with my point of view, so maybe I am a wee bit crafty at that.
9) What movie do you like to watch over and over? Why?  There are a few. Should I be embarrassed to admit The Hangover may hold the top spot?  At least 45 lines from The Hangover have wended their way into our everyday family parlance.  It’s so inappropriate and frat boy immature. And hilarious.
10) What makes you laugh? Everything makes me laugh. I’m wildly inappropriate (see #9 above).   I am not exaggerating when I say I snort from laughter at least four to five times per day.  Ask my coworkers.  I love a good highbrow spin as much as I love fart jokes.  Good timing, tone, and sass are a total turn-on.

You Might Also Like

My Dang Blog. Come for the laughs. Stay for the lunacy.

Sean Carlin. A writer writing about writing. His taste in music? Sublime.

Random Writings on the Bathroom Wall. Little blasts of fun.

Almost Unsalvageable. Gabe Burkhart is the best househusbandologist ever.

Rose Wolfe. Not your typical painter.

Jackie, the Baseball Bloggess. Because baseball! Not just box scores.

I’m Not Good At Following Directions And Also My Best Friend Is Going To Be Here In Less Than 24 Hours So I Have To Finish

What are YOU reading?  Really, what are you reading?  I want to know.  Maybe you’re reading one of the blogs I mentioned above or one I nominated for the Liebster a few years ago (I’m looking at you Psychomother and Disabilty, Dating & Determination).  Cool!  Maybe you’re reading a novel you can’t put down.  Tell me about it.

Because I’m not sure I can formally accept again, and I’m sleepy and bad at rules, I’m going to say this:  Thank you.  Thank you for thinking enough of me to include me here, and for all of you who remind me that I make a sound when I holler.  There’s Nobody Better than you.  Nobody.

So, Uh, Thanks

The cranberries are sugared up and boiled down into a compote, green beans layered with cream of mushroom soup and whatever the hell French’s does with onions, and the turkey’s stuffed. The aroma of the single biggest shopping day of the year wafts through the kitchen. Truth be told, my only culinary contribution for this year’s feast is one pumpkin pie.  I don’t even like pumpkin pie.  My kitchen wizardry is woefully underutilized this year. I feel incomplete, inadequate.

The real reason we collectively eat ourselves into a food coma, drunk on tryptophan and/or a nice Beaujolais or Gamay? The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys!! NO, silly, it’s Thanksgiving!  Happy Thanksgiving, America. And that would be a Happy Thursday to the rest of my friends around the globe.

If you’re my friend on any of the social media outlets or hey, if we actually get to speak to one another in the real world, you see I am pretty consistent in my expressions of gratitude.  I’m good at dishing it out, but I’m great at deflecting any expression of thanks directed back my way.  Why is it that gestures of thanks from others take such effort to accept?

I am grateful for what I am and what I have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.  –Henry David Thoreau

Me too.  Nice job outta you, Thoreau, you beat me to it. I’d like to be reverent, but because I am a juvenile masquerading as a middle aged woman, this is what comes to mind any time I hear Thoreau’s name bandied about–

47306425-9d91-43f7-88b7-157f84f6cb30_1-6c29dcb7e93f2f62d4b6bea1f32c1b8b

Image from Wal-Mart. I don’t shop there, but I do appreciate having found this image on their webpage.

Henry David Catch! Baaaaahh!! Hi, I’m 12.  But I’m a grateful 12, and like Thoreau, I find happiness and gratitude in things great and small each day.  I’m happy that I make it to work every day after driving along Capitol Drive, the nearest I ever want to get to driving on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, here in the central city.  It’s disheartening to see how motorists have so little regard for life–mine AND their own–that they drive like something out of an action film, or maybe what’s depicted in Grand Theft Auto (I’ve never played the game, so I’m postulating here).  I’m glad I arrive at work not dead every day is the point.  I’m happy for tulips in the spring.  I’m happy my children are achieving academically.  I’m happy for Kopps Frozen Custard sundae of the month.  I’m happy my dog thinks antibiotics and pain meds are treats–he will chomp down and ingest whole tablets and even sit in order to receive them.  Good boy, Caleb!

But of course there’s more than the little things to be happy about.  I’d be remiss in not sharing some of my favorite turkey day thankful main dishes, so here goes: a few things I’m thankful for this Thursday.  My Thanksgiving not-list is neither perfect nor pretty, and come on, you know me. . .  it’s certainly not symmetrical.  But it’s sincere.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, or Happy Thursday if you’re not from ’round these parts.

  1. My best friend is flying from LA to Milwaukee IN DECEMBER to see me. She loves me enough (or is off-kilter enough?) to leave sunny SoCal in December, and all I have to do is loan her one of my winter coats.  You guys, my best friend is gonna be here next week!!
  2. My Barenaked Ladies besties love me enough to spring a ninja concert trip on me.  Nikki and Bek arranged a ticket and transportation to the December 9 Toronto gig I was absolutely not attending. The girls announced their scheme after the purchase was made so I couldn’t say no.  To be perfectly honest, I said nothing for a day or two. I am so undeserving of this kind of over-the-top generosity, so I sat mute.  I’m not very good at people being nice to me, so I was reluctant to come around to my “yes.”  I should try to get better at people being nice to me.
  3. Hey, speaking of Barenaked Ladies (who, me?) my coworkers, hale and hearty souls, are making it a team effort for the June BNL show in Milwaukee. “We don’t need to sit in the front with you, but let’s make a night of it!” They’re choosing to spend time with me when they don’t even have to. Of course, once the band hits the first note, I won’t turn around again until it’s time to leave, but we will be together in spirit. Well, they will be together, and I’ll be by myself, zoned out a bit closer to the stage. Christine will be the one silently dying in embarrassment for me while I sing & dance my butt off, but that’s cool.
  4. I’m thankful my husband who, not a huge BNL fan himself, gives me space for my unbridled, giddy glee when a new album is released, and shares some measure of excitement when I call him on the phone, all choked up shouting, “YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS SONG!! ED USES WESTLEY AND BUTTERCUP IN THE LYRICS!!!!”  If you don’t know the reference, Westley and Buttercup are the star-crossed, nothing-can-separate-true-love lovers from The Princess Bride, which happens to be the first movie Tom and I watched together at a time in my life I needed more than anything to believe in true love.
  5. I’m thankful my husband leaves me little notes like this one he wrote Saturday morning before departing for work.  I know, “you guys are so cute we wanna barf.” We get that a lot, but aren’t Westley and Buttercup what we’re all shooting for? You + Me Vs The World, baby.
  6. Got Weirs on my right and Wolfgrams to the left. Looking forward to a long weekend, spending time with almost every branch of fruit or nut of my extended family tree at some point.
  7. I’m thankful to the point of speechlessness that I have an all-star supporting cast of luminaries whose generosity helped me raise over $5000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 2017.
  8. I’m grateful for my friends, a cast of characters you wish you were your friends too. This year I offer special thanks to P.J. She killed it with her own shoulder rehab a couple years back, and within hours of reading about my injury, delivered a box of implements and tools designed to simplify life in the kitchen. And also wine, because wine! I opened that gift tonight, enjoying it in the spirit of thanks for her support and concern.
  9. I’m relieved that my friend Matt who was nearly killed in his home last spring, is safe and sound, and that two of his attackers have been sentenced.  You can hear Matt’s story about the sentencing here.  In related news, I’m glad his physical scars are continuing to heal as well.
  10. I’m fortunate to have a boss who says and means family first. This credo is especially important when your child has a disease that requires ongoing management and intermittent therapy appointments.
  11. I’m happy that a song can catch me on the precipice of the abyss and pull me back.
  12. I’m grateful I can read, write, and reason.
  13. And that you’re here reading.  Really.  THIS is my greatest wonder of the last several years: I write. You read.  There are so many ways to pass one’s precious time, and you’re here reading my words.  It means the world.
  14. I’m happy that I have enough.  I’ve never known hunger, and I’ve never had to worry about finding a safe place to sleep.  I’ve worked in the inner city for twenty-seven years, and finally I’m forced to acknowledge that I am struggling with the sequelae of urban poverty. The lack of basic needs being met, the language, hollering, the physical harm, the violence perpetrated–inflicted!–upon the city’s smallest people–it’s too much.  I’m increasingly less well able to handle a preschooler tell me, ‘F-off, white bitch! I ain’t gotta listen to you.”
  15. I’m happy that my children have enough. We do not live like royalty, but I can say that when mine were preschoolers, the worst I feared escaping their lips were “toot” and “fart.” Watch this. You won’t regret having spent the twenty-four seconds here, even with the poor quality videography. And yeah, to this day, the minute he gets home, he tosses off just the one sock.

https://youtu.be/YLgbJJS8ltY
For what are you thankful, dear readers? What wraps your heart up with contentedness the way this video of my no-longer-babies does for me?  Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.  Can I make you a leftovers plate to take home?

Pomp, Circumstance, The Cone Of Shame & A Rubber Chicken

I Graduated!

Wednesday was my last session of physical therapy.  Over the last six weeks, I’ve increased strength and range of motion in my left arm.  I can lift a one pound weight thirty times on two distinct angles!  Go, me!  There was neither cap nor gown, nor was there cake to celebrate the occasion, but there was a hug and the acknowledgement of hard work having paid off.  I have a plan for the future, though much to my chagrin, the plan involves pretty much continuing exactly what I have been forced to do doing all along in therapy: developing and maintaining strength for life.  The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s tagline is for strength, independence, and life.  That parallel I mentioned in my previous blog post?  Maybe it is clearer than I first thought.

I liked it better when I was younger and body parts just didn’t randomly break one day, but we don’t get to pick our injuries, and I’ve yet to guzzle from the fountain of youth.  I can somewhat pick what muscles atrophy though, and for now I pick no atrophy.   For the second time since beginning PT, I became ensnared in my tank top yesterday, so let’s not call me cured, OK?  I literally couldn’t get out of my own damn shirt. But I’ll keep working.  It’s worth the work.  And also, you can’t wear the same tank top day in, day out.  People would talk.

The Cone of Shame

Because 2017 is the Year of Insane Medical Bills, even the family dog horned in on the action.  My Caleb, he of fast, furry, four-legged fame, was bitten by another dog at the dog park last weekend.  Three visits to the vet and $450 later, he has been stitched up.  His wound began small, but as he tended to it (read: licked it relentlessly), it became infected, enlarged, and eventually required surgical repair.  Poor guy.  His demeanor and sweet, sweet squishy face is bereft of even the slightest whisper of joy since his cut ‘n cone experience.

There didn’t seem to be any pointed attack per se, my husband witnessed no snarling or aggressive behavior, just the joyful abandon of Caleb and three other shepherd-y friends tearing it up at the dog park.  Adding insult to an existing insult to injury is the addition of a tee shirt to protect the open wound.  My dog, whose AKC name could well be Spaghetti Spine Caleb to honor his agility, was able to reach and work at those stitches EVEN wearing a cone of shame.  So now he sports the cone of shame, the tee shirt of dejection, AND the duct tape of utter despair.  Yep.  We have to duct tape the shirt around his middle to keep the wound clean.  He sports quite an outfit.  My friend Veronica captured it perfectly:  Pobrecito.

You know what forces you to admit to yourself and the world that you really love your dog?  Pending surgery!  I promised on this goofnut’s adoption day I’d take care of him for better or for worse.  I’m the meanie who took him to the scary place for surgery, and my husband was the hero to pick him up and return him home.  Story of my life.  Probably every mom’s life.

At Last, Cake

My younger son turns twelve next week.  Sure, he already dwarfs half the American adult male population at the ripe old age of eleven, but birthday number twelve is a biggie to him.  My baby is the sweetest soul I know.  He is hands-down the biggest slob I know too, but that is a subject for another day.  He has eight friends sleeping over at our house tonight, and the cacaphony is deafening.  I am trying not to be the mom who’s a total drag, but I swear to the stars, if they don’t take the volume down, I’m going to flip my shit in a minute here.  I am already super excited for tomorrow around noon when I will finally drift off to sleep, and these are nice boys!  Earlier this week, one of our city’s most promising hall-roaming kindergarteners told me he wanted to, and I quote, “eat my booty.”  I ignored him the first seven times, but finally at #8, I pointed my phone at him, asking “Do you want me to video you and send it to your mama?”  Not such a nice boy, that one.  Probs not the optimal professional response from me either, but they don’t teach you in graduate school how to “appropriately” handle being sexually harrassed by a five-year-old.  Wait, I was talking about nice kids.

My son’s friends are solid, decent kids, and though they’re thunderously, ear-splittingly loud tonight, and I’m having an absolute FIT this very minute, they’re good kids. (Minus the one who just shot my kid in the scrotum at close range with a Nerf gun just now, and I swear on my front row tickets, I am NOT making this up).  One of his friend’s moms told me that the rumor was that tonight’s gala would be the “party of the century.”  It’s so lit!  It’s so spooki! Huh?

img_5640

Chicken Down! Chicken Down! Well, where do you keep your party chicken?

I’m seeing a whole new side of my “sweet baby” tonight.  The middle schooler is strong in that one.  He has a whole life outside baseball, outside football, outside our home.  He has a social life and secret language, using phrases and singing songs I’ve not heard before.  It’s what you want for your kids, right?  That they discover their place in the world, pave their own way?  Who knew the road would be so secretive, but loud? Or messy?  Maybe during this orbit around the sun, you’ll learn not to put your clothes on backwards–check the collar on that shirt.  #facepalm

img_5636

Happy almost birthday, my baby. I love you like crazy!

Happy birthday, my (not at all) little one.  You’re good and kind.  You’re hilarious.  You’re smart and you work hard.  You’re a good teammate, a “freight train so nice he don’t want to hurt nobody.”  Your first grade teacher said that your first grade classmates didn’t want just to be your friend, they wanted to be you.  People have said nice things about you, but this compliment stands the test of time.  I’m lucky to be your mom, so while it’s your birthday next week, celebrating you is my gift.  You may not understand that now, but someday you will, you ninnercrommie!

Dimples

At my physical therapy appointment Monday, my therapeutic “performance” using a Bodyblade was so spectacularly underwhelming, my therapist laughed so hard she admitted to almost peeing her pants.  She stated this not in a mean, unprofessional way, no.  But my willingness to laugh at my uncoordination and describe my frighteningly jiggly triceps in vivid detail laid her out.

bb_super6_large_cd07f907-38e4-48a2-b3e5-8be416366733_1024x1024

NOT ME.  NOT EVEN CLOSE to how I looked holding a Bodyblade.  This photo comes from Bodyblade.com who, on their worst day ever, wouldn’t call on me for an endorsement.

I’m funny and I can easily laugh at myself, particularly when I can beat someone to the punch of urine-inducing laughter at my expense, so my poor therapist and I spent 20 minutes of therapy time laughing so hard I had to stop and begin anew every forty or so seconds.  When I snorted, she had to walk away, and we both wound up nearly in tears.  My cheeks hurt from this protracted period of laughter, which really should count as physical therapy, right?  I think it’s fair to say that given my Bodyblade “skills,” my rotator cuff rehab is going less well than I’d hoped.

Atrophy

I’m winding down Tuesday evening, erasing the day’s face of makeup, clamping my retainer in, when I notice a divot in my left shoulder. Can you imagine my surprise to find a 2-inch dent in my shoulder?  I mean it  when I say, “What the fresh hell is happening to me?”  Google wasn’t super helpful and turned up answers to questions about the negative impact a muscle dimple can have bikini modeling contests.  Um, no.

My Wednesday PT visit confirmed my divot, “Yep, you have a big dimple there.”  The dent/divot is apparently caused by the building of one muscle or group of muscles and atrophy of another.  The rotator cuff injury, and the accompanying lack of use of those muscles combined with the atrophied due to underuse has left me hollowed out. I have muscle atrophy.  I have atrophied.  Thanks to MD, atrophy is a medical term with which I have more than a passing glance of familiarity.   On the upside?  PART of me is killing it!  The front part of me is so buff now that the posterior segment of that muscle group looks is lame.  So that’s good??  Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

Asymmetry

I don’t care about the chink in my armor.  I don’t care one note that my shoulders are uneven in appearance, I really don’t.  It’s not like I’m vying for the title in the Miss Shoulder USA pageant title or anything.  It’s strange though to witness, and observe such a distinct and  marked difference in my physical appearance.

The exercises I’m assigned are to be performed unilaterally for the most part.  My left is the injured, now dimpled, shoulder.  The execution of these exercises though causes pain in other parts of my body–the muscles called upon to stand and deliver need a rather large supporting cast of muscles.  Everything hurts.  Asymmetcially.

The Parallel

I wish my big kid could come to therapy with me.  I wish he could watch me sweat and fail, grunt and laugh, and get back up again. What I wish most–that he would see me fail and keep trying.  Because really?  That’s the heart of the matter here: the keep trying.   Even when it’s demanding.  Or embarrassing.  Physical therapy is grueling, but, and I say this with fingers crossed. . .  the end result will be worth the pain (and the laughs).  The results should be worth how hard it is.  I want him to want to work hard and see how hard work is returned as strength.

But my son is fourteen, and I know I often transfer my adult worldview to his adolescent being; I wish he could see things through my eyes, I guess is more accurate.   He CAN come to therapy with me, but will he take away these parent-imposed life lessons with him?  I’m sure not.  I want him to care as much as I do about his muscle disease, but of course I don’t at all want him to care or worry like I do.  He shouldn’t have to.  But his DNA tells us he doesn’t get to pick.  Maybe I’m looking less at a parallel and sounding like more of a paradox.

Dinner Date

We reached a collective milestone last weekend:  neither my husband nor I were able to read the restaurant menu at dinner.  We each had our contact lenses in, and sure, the restaurant’s “intimate lighting” was moody and all, but it also precluded our actually reading the menu.  Monday morning I discovered an additional $20 in ambiance: I misread the bill, so I tipped on what I thought was an $84 tab, when it was only $64.  I wasn’t even remotely knocked out by our service, but whatever, she scored big time with an over 50% tip.  Karma, yo.  Nothing like a little in-your-face you’re-getting-old reminder to help a guy (and his wife) celebrate his birthday! Happy birthday, Tom.

We don’t get much time (take much time??) to ourselves these days. Parenting at this stage involves a good deal of transportation and a substantial outlay of money, and not just in the I waaaaaay over-tipped kind of way.  Time between the kids’ activities is spent nearly unconscious in front of some or another screen, grocery shopping or preparing meals. I do a lot of laundry, but too little housework and reading. And much too little time gets spent reinvesting in the relationship at the core of its ensuing madness: the marriage.

So to celebrate another spin around the sun, my husband and I went out for a grown-ups only dinner.   And you know what we didn’t talk about?  We didn’t talk about this–this was the line to get into the city’s top high school’s first night of open house last week.  This was the line 20 minutes before the doors even opened, I mean what the heck?  Is this General Admission for a Barenaked Ladies concert or something?

We also didn’t talk about this–we didn’t talk about football.  We didn’t even talk about baseball!  We didn’t even talk about the MDA Summer Camp Reunion that he and our big kid attended earlier that afternoon.

We talked about this–currently our favorite tree in our yard.  Normally we dislike it, truth be told, because it sports serious botanic attitude about sprouting wherever it feels like sowing its seed in the “lawn.” (Our yard sucks).  But for this week, this one glorious autumnal week, its colors are breathtaking.  #nofilter

We talked about what we were reading, and how we wished we read more and more often.

We talked about my friends metaphorically taking me hostage, and forcing me on an international flight to meet up with them for about 30 hours in Toronto for one crazy overnight.

We talked about next year’s family road trip.  Apparently it’s going to be baseball-themed.  Shut up!  Baseball? No way!

We talked about tennis and his aching back and the chiropractic care he’d sought.

We talked about my flirtation with yoga, my distressed rotator cuff and the physical therapy I’m working through.

We talked about 2017’s medical bills.  Jaysus.

We talked about work, but not in a negative, horribly crabby way, but what challenged us and what we still enjoyed in our careers.

We talked about retirement.  *gulp*

We talked about moving, maybe finding a town a little less insane for high school entrance criteria and with a little more to offer for athletics.  We DO have two children, after all.  And then we talked about needing a home with a first floor bedroom, just in case. . .  Because when you’re me, you never don’t think about MD and maybe your son living with you when he’s an adult.  And when you’re parents, even when you’re away from your kids, you still talk about them a little bit. But then we also talked about what we liked about living in the city.  This view from the lakefront, for example.

img_5501

We talked about thinking that at “our age” we’d have more, but that we don’t.  But even without more, we have enough.  Besides love, we still even like each other a lot.  I talk too much and he listens too little, but it works.  We laugh like newlyweds, and in an era of too little happiness for people in our financial stratosphere, we still find humor in nearly every situation.  We still overspend on dinner once in awhile, and spend time talking about what made us two before we were four.  We’re OK.  Minus the not being able to see after the Early Bird Specials dinner hours, maybe even better than OK.

The Rainmaker

Remember the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s book The Rainmaker?  In the film, Matt Damon plays a straight outta law school fresh-face assigned to work with a couple, characterized as a bunch of rural yokels, whose son has leukemia.  Big Insurance Company, Great Benefit, refuses to cover the claims, and refers to dying Donny Ray’s parents as, “stupid, stupid, stupid.”  They even put that in writing.

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I am no dummy.  With the fire of a thousand suns, I loathe being treated like a sucker.  I’ve abandoned all hope for customer service assuaging any dissatisfaction I may have.  My customer “service” experiences time and time again have taught me that the service element is quite dead. Call it what you like, and pretend having a statement about your service mission legitimizes the bullshit you’re shoveling onto my plate; by and large, customer service, with Elvis, has left the building.

You may recall that my son had what I understood to be an MRI of his brain completed last July.  Imagine my dismay to receive a bill from the service provider indicating I still owed them $1,197 for that procedure because my insurance company denied payment.  I formulate informed questions based on whatever clarity I have in a given situation, and I’m a public educator, so I don’t have a ton of “extra money.”  Prior to the procedure I called my insurance provider, and Ron, Great Benefit’s jolly representative, told me it would be covered.  This conversation occurred in June.

Employees working in a call center

I sought resolution today, but lacked the fortitude to speak directly with “customer service”–this I knew like I know my name.  I’d hoped that contacting them from work–you know, where there are other people who sorta expect me to behave like a professional and not an enraged lunatic–would prevent any random acts of violence toward property and possibly inhibit a barrage of profanity heard from here to Mumbai.  Swearing rarely gets you what you want in the “service” world.  And yeah, I’m way overusing the quotes today, but you see the whys and wherefores, right?  Instead, I took to my keyboard and drove the Representative Chat Autobahn.  Note: I had to edit a wee bit–obviously my insurer isn’t Great Benefit.  Although like the fictitious literary corporation, my exchange left me feeling a bit unreal.  Also, the parenthetical comments were communicated only in my twisted little head. 

Yolonda B. has entered the session.
Yolonda B.: Hi, thank you for contacting Great Benefit Insurance! My name is Yolonda and I will be glad to assist you today! Please note that if you are inactive in the chat session, you will automatically be disconnected. Staying active will help us answer any questions you have more efficiently. How can I help you today?
WENDY WEIR: We received a large bill from one of my son’s providers. I am curious why so little of the procedure was covered. Is it the family max has yet to be reached?
Yolonda B.: I am very sorry to hear that you received a large bill. I can definitely review the claim for you and determine where these charges came from. Who is this claim for? (You’re not sorry, so stop trying to ingratiate yourself.)
WENDY WEIR: Number 1 Son, from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Yolonda B.: Thank you! Can you also confirm your son’s date of birth?
WENDY WEIR: Big kid’s date of birth
Yolonda B.: Thank you again! Do you also have permission to speak on his behalf today?
WENDY WEIR: I do. (Some days I feel like the child wouldn’t brush his teeth unless I freakin’ reminded him to, so YEAH, until he’s covering his own insurance premiums, I’m allowed to speak on his behalf.)
Yolonda B.: Thank you so much. What is the date of service that this bill is for?
WENDY WEIR: July 3
Yolonda B.: Alright I was able to find the claims for that date of service, what is the total amount that you are getting billed?
WENDY WEIR: I don’t have it in front of me, but it is near $1000
Yolonda B.: Alright I am showing that there is one claim that has processed with your benefits and is showing a patient responsibility of, $502.87. There is also another claim for another service that your son had done for $605.50 that is listed as patient responsibility due to this procedure needing to be approved before it was done. Did you give written permission before this service was received that you would be responsible for the cost?
WENDY WEIR: I called Great Benefit before the procedure to ask if it was covered, and was told it was. Given that, I’m sure I signed off on that consent. You can imagine how displeased I am now to read your last question, as I am sure now that I will be stuck with the balance.
Yolonda B.: I am terrible sorry to hear this Terry. In order for these charges to be considered the provider can submit scientific evidence that shows this service is safe and effective for your son’s condition. (it’s terribly sorry; terribly is an adverb modifying an adjective describing your fake emotional state.)
WENDY WEIR: My name is Wendy, not Terry. (I know you have 20 chats going on at once, but drop the “you’re my friend and you can tell because I am using your first name bullshit.”  You’re busted.  Fucking pay attention to your customers.)
Yolonda B.: Sorry about that Wendy. (So glad I called you out on that Yolonda.)
WENDY WEIR: My son has muscular dystrophy. I am 100% certain we would not pursue an MRI of his brain otherwise. No one chooses MD or MRIs just for fun.
Yolonda B.: This provider did not bill in for an MRI, so that could have been where the miscommunication happened. (Miscommunication my jiggly, middle-aged ass!)
Yolonda B.: The billed in for a Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.
WENDY WEIR: Well, I don’t hold a doctor of medicine degree, so am unfamiliar with the nuances between those procedures. Great Benefit doesn’t cover spectroscopy then?
Yolonda B.: Your son’s doctor can submit scientific evidence that shows this service is safe and effective for your son’s condition. That is correct, this procedure needs to have a prior authorization before its done, it is currently listed as a procedure that require review based on the information that the provider would have. (And I would know this how??)
WENDY WEIR: Thank you for that last bit of information. I will contact his neurologist. I would like a copy of this transcript so I can refer to it when I contact them. How can I get a copy of this?
Yolonda B.: Unfortunately there is no way to print transcripts at this time, however I can give you a reference number for our conversation. Otherwise you can try to highlight the conversation, hit Ctrl +c and then hit Ctrl +V into a separate document.
WENDY WEIR: I’ll take that reference number please. Thank you.
Yolonda B.: Of course, that reference number is blahblahblahblahblah. Again, I am terribly sorry that I could not deliver better news about this claim today Wendy. (Maybe you’re a little sheepish that you screwed up my name, but I don’t for a microsecond believe you’re sorry, and not a trace of terribly sorry.)
Yolonda B.: Aside from this claim information, was there any other questions for me today?
WENDY WEIR: No. Good bye. (F-ers.  OK, that one I voiced aloud.)
Yolonda B.: I hope you have a great rest of your day. Thank you for using Chat. (Yeah, the rest of my day is gonna be just dandy, thanks to the outcome of this keen chat, thanks)
Yolonda B.: Goodbye Wendy.
Yolonda B. has exited the session.
You are the only user left in the session (There is some kind of metaphor here, but my brain is too exhausted to flesh it out.)

So where does this leave me?  Just like The Rainmaker’s Donny Ray’s poor mom: Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.

I contacted my son’s neurology clinic, hoping they can aid my navigation of Great Benefit’s Sea of Semantic Smoke and Mirrors. Between this and the return of The Walking Dead, I don’t know how much more my heart can take in twenty-four hours.  Wish me luck, good people!

Golden

It’s my big kid’s golden birthday. He’s fourteen on the 14th.  He hung on to life on the inside nine days longer than expected, that giant baby did. I was a house, no, I was an estate by the time he decided to make his way. He was worth every second of that extra nine days’ wait. Happy birthday, my son.

You’ve had quite a run here these last few weeks. In no other place I know, eighth grade students face the immense pressure of getting into a “good” high school.  You vie for “golden tickets” for open houses at the “good” schools, complete online applications, audition, request letters of recommendation, draft essays, and wait in a block-long line to get a space for the formal test.  I don’t recall having done this much groundwork for university matriculation, and I got a really sweet scholarship. The pressures you and your classmates face should be found only in a dystopian work of fiction.  Growing up anywhere else in the world, you’d go to the school nearest your home in the city you live.

You admitted nerves, but you conquered them with persistence. You felt unprepared, but you proved that showing up is half the battle.  I’m proud of you.

Now you wait.  Letters of acceptance arrive in December, and our family’s future hinges on what you read in that mailing.  (Friends, if you’re reading this thinking I’m chock full o’ my usual hyperbole, know that in this case I speak the level truth.) Number 1 and Number 2 choices are solid–I know you’ve got the heart of Husky, but you could be a General too, and that would be OK.   But you were under-impressed by the Owls, and choices four and five simply aren’t choices.  One and two mean we stay; any other return means we go.  We move to another city.  That’s OK.  We’re prepared to do whatever we need to do for you and your brother.

There are days I don’t know what I want to see revealed in that acceptance letter (OK, I WANT choice #1).  I’ve never in my adult live envisioned living outside the city, but would the ‘burbs really be so bad?  Not bad, but not me.  Not us.  Maybe they’ll fit perfectly.  Maybe not.

Wait, this is about you, YOU my boy.  It’s your birthday.  I’ve wondered what to get you, what kind of material gift to give you.  You give away very little, but you let me in on a little secret Monday, and I feel though it’s your birthday,  I received a little becoming-a-mom-day gift from you, and you don’t even know it.

I nag on ya for spending all this time staring at your phone, earbuds ever-present to the point of appearing surgically implanted.  You’re a YouTube zombie–you don’t even hear me when I yell at the top of my lungs for you (and I’m no delicate little flower), and no matter how many times I crab at ya for blasting your music too loud, you don’t seem to heed the lesson.  Neither did I.  Which explains a lot about why my hearing thresholds are what they are today, and though I wish to serve as your cautionary tale, I’ve come to realize that you do have a little bit of your mom’s heart beating inside your own.

Eighth grade me was not skinny or popular or beautiful.  It shouldn’t matter when you’re fourteen, but it does.  I was not confident.  Or cool.  I was hiding inside my room in the dark, trying to figure out just what the hell I was. I was first chair in band.  I was the middle school salutatorian.  I was reliable and dependable. I was the fastest girl sprinter in my middle school. I was everybody’s friend, which was freaking awesome. I got to do a lot, I guess, but I didn’t believe any of that at the time.  I felt never good enough.  I mistrusted every accomplishment as dumb luck, and deflected any positive comment cast my way.

Middle school is a labyrinth of all the unkindest cuts, and I bled.  Wound care was administered in my headphones.  Music was my solace.  LOUD music, the bass thumping so loud that the headphones quite literally bounced off my head.  So loud you could sing along from downstairs.  Lying on my bedroom floor, wrecking the shit out of my hearing despite your grandparents’ strongest protestations, I found me.

And I think maybe you have found yourself.  You’re finding yourself anyway.

I learned this week that all your time isn’t in fact spent watching banal, inane YouTubers riffing video games or opening Pokemon cards.  You’re listening.  You’re picking songs I loved when I was your age when the ancient version of your earbuds (my headphones) were eternally attached around my head.  You love the band Rush.  You hear Subdivisions and interpret the music video for me.  You sing all the right words, just like I do.  You pull meaning from those song lyrics, and maybe the view is a little middle schoolish, but that’s OK because you’re a middle schooler–you’re not supposed to feel like you’re applying for college this year–you’re fourteen.  You get why the guitar solo in Limelight rocks so hard.  You mention that Geddy Lee’s bass inspires you, and until this week, I’d never heard you utter the word inspire.

You used to write, can you recall?  You created notebooks upon notebooks of beginnings.  Your author’s dreams were grandiose, you had designs on writing the next great American (elementary school) novel.  You began hundreds of tales, characters based not-so-loosely on yourself and your friends, and other literary characters you enjoyed.  You haven’t created a great body of work in a while, but now you want to create music.  You wanna make some noise, learn bass lines and play along with your new really old favorite songs.  Guess what you’re getting for your birthday, kid?  Four strings.  Rock. And also roll.

“Dude, we gotta start a band!”


Your birthday fills me with longing–your sweet baby cheeks, your feather light tufts of blonde hair, the corners of your blue eyes, now green, turned up when you smiled. Things were quite simple then–little kids, little problems. . .   Your MD, my “management” of your diagnosis that is, is what made me carve out this outlet, my little creative writing .com of the internet.  However desperately I wish I hadn’t felt that pull to write, I am thankful for this outlet.  What a weird thing to say thank you for.  Thank you, my boy.  Happy Golden Birthday.   Get on that bass and rock, kid. 

Wife And Mom

I want my own wife and/or mom.

Let me clarify. I am happily married, quite happily, so I am not actually shopping around for a different or additional spouse.  For me, one is not the loneliest number as it relates to the number of individuals to whom a person can be wed; it’s perfect for monogamists.  I already have a mom, but she lives four hours away, and in retirement has much better shit to do than babysit her half-century old daughter.  No.  What I really want is someone to manage my life–the calendar and remembering shit parts–the way I must, as the default setting, the wife and mom, for my family’s goings-on.  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!

I threw a complete fit last night when, upon arriving at #2’s football practice, he realized he’d left his practice jersey at home.  Through some miracle, he did manage to find and attach all seven pads in his practice pants.  I say miracle, because it’s happened that he has been temporarily unable to locate all seven, and forced to attend practice sans full equipment.  Football is NOT the game you want your kid to tough it out through.  Anyway, we arrive last night only to realize he’s missing his blue mesh jersey.  Naturally I have to go home to retrieve it.  Now we live minutes from the practice field, but the idea of having to remedy his forgetfulness made me flip my pony-tailed lid.

Slamming the car door (super mature), I immediately ring up my husband to ask if he sees the jersey laying around the kitchen  bitch about the grave injustices done to mothers, THIS mother in particular, but all women, because why not? I was on a tear.  “Why do I always have to be the one to fix everything?” I whined, and dropped an f-bomb for probably every tenth of a mile between practice and home.  When I pull up to our abode, I’m full-on toddler:  “Why am I the only one who knows anything about anything that goes on in this family?  Why can’t anyone else find their way to the calendar?  Or find anything?? Why can’t this child remember his uniform? He practices three days a week!  Jaysus.  Why can’t he pick up his shit and put it away??  Why does no one from the team know what time the game is on Saturday? Why do I have to take #1 to the high school placement test Thursday?  Why do you not even know #1 has his placement test Thursday??  whywhywhywhywhywhy. . .

“Just once!” I continued railing from the curb, “I would love for someone to say, ‘Hey, Wendy, did you remember to grab your lunch?’ or ‘Hey, Mom, don’t forget to pack your exercise gear for physical therapy’ or “Don’t forget to call Donna to get your lunch date on the calendar.’  But THAT will never happen.  Never.  No one would get anywhere and no bill would ever get paid, NOT ONE, if I didn’t take care of all this shit.”

I’m pretty sure the neighbors were all backing up real slow like, like you would, if well, if you were witness to this.  Pretty sure my tirade was entertaining for some.  A total confirmation for others.  And I’d like to think if there was one other mom among the throng (there was no throng), she’d have been all, “YEAH! You get ’em girl, moms unite!!!'” Because moms know exactly what I’m ranting about, don’t you, moms?

I returned to the practice field with a smile on my face and my idiot dog on his leash. “You’re lucky I love ya so much, punk” I whispered into that sweet boy’s face mask, tossing his jersey at him.

I never react properly. I’ve mentioned that time and again here, and if past behavior is any indicator of future performance, I am so screwed. I’m gonna try to limit my verbal tantrums (well, the ones in the front yard anyway). I mean, it’s not gonna help (past behavior being an indicator of future performance and all. . . My roommates ain’t a’ gonna get any better at making appointments, finding stuff. . . ).

I needed the outlet was all. I was, still am, upset over the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Now there is a litany of legitimate whywhywhywhywhywhywhy none of us can begin to touch.  I was, in my inappropriate way, mourning Tom Petty’s passing.  Not an excuse for my rant, but kindling for the spark, as they say.

There’s enough ugly in the world right now. I want to be on the side of right, the side where if I left this world for Tom Petty’s great wide open tomorrow, that same imaginary throng of people would say that while I lived I was good. That I did good.  I’d want my kid to remember that I went home to get the jersey for him, so that he wouldn’t feel like an underequipped yutz out there.  I’d want my kid to remember that while we drove to his high school entrance exam (no pressure kid, but if you don’t get into your top two choices, we’re probably moving), instead of saying that which I obviously will not say, I let him choose songs and ever-so-calmly reassured him, “Do your best kid.  You’re one of the brightest kids I know, and I’ll never ask anything more than your best effort.”  I’d want my husband to remember that he told me he doesn’t at all believe I need anti-anxiety meds, that I am hilarious and he wouldn’t want to change one single thing about me.

PS–Just for fun, we agreed that my husband would remind me on my way out this morning to bring along my gym bag of clothes for physical therapy.  He said he would.  When I got home after PT, he grinned at me, maybe a little sheepishly, and said, “I didn’t remind you to bring your stuff this morning, did I?”  No, no, you didn’t.

But I made it there anyway.  Of course I did–I’m the mom.

Instrument of Torture

What do you see here?  

Most of you see a manual can opener. That is what I saw until an hour or so ago, nothing but my crusty old, hand-crank can opener. 

For my son, this isn’t a can opener–it’s an instrument of frustration. I had my kid help with dinner after piano lessons tonight. Ace parent that I am, I responded with “tough shit” when my kid whined about having to empty the dishwasher ALL BY HIMSELF. And then, just to rub kosher salt–you know, the really granular, sharp salt shards–I made him open a can of baked beans.  Not because I enjoy torturing my child, but I wasn’t asking the kid to scrub the toilet with his own toothbrush or *gasp!* not watch YouTube or anything. He leads a life of relative leisure.  Dishes aren’t Everest, you guys. 

Now before you crucify my side dish selections, know that the big one just returned from piano and the little one won’t be home from football practice until 8:15. We’re playing dinner real fast and loose these days, so adding a can of chemically-enhanced legumes to the brats completes what is known as a balanced meal, y’all. Just because I used the S-word earlier doesn’t mean I’m a total parent failure. 

The point of this entire story is that every so often I, the mother of one very tall teenager, catch a glimpse into that tall teenager’s future. Except that future is now. Right now. Today. He doesn’t have the grip strength to manipulate a can opener. He achieved a modicum of success, but opening 2/3 of a can, and not a contiguous 2/3 of the can’s circumference, isn’t really success now, is it?

Some days his struggles are more clear than others.  Damn, I hate MD.