The other day, my daughter ran into my room wearing a long black cape and her brother’s skeleton halloween mask.
She said, “I’m a cat burglar!”
Then she grabbed the fluffy sleeping cat off of my bed, tucked him under her arm, and ran out of the room.
My kids went back to school this week. This time of the year is very stressful for me. Not only is there the expense of buying new clothes, backpacks, and supplies, but there’s also the emotional hold of letting go of my children a little more.
Each school year means they have grown up and away just a little bit.
My daughter started the third grade and she’s still only seven years old until Monday. She’s the youngest in her class and the youngest in our family. My only daughter. The one who takes my kisses, peels them off her face, puts imaginary glue on the back, and sticks them back on her cheeks to keep them forever.
My third son is a walking brain, always thinking and continually questioning the world around him. He’s already determining what his science project will be and tickled that his teacher always gets all of the “smart kids”.
My second son sailed through gifted classes and now finds himself taking advanced placement classes as he enters high school as a freshman. He’s also over 6 ft tall and as cute as he can be with long dark hair and big brown eyes. He’s preparing to play football knowing that it’s a pass to play situation where if he isn’t passing his classes, he can’t play football. This is going to be a tough year for him, but he’s ready for the challenge. As long as some girl doesn’t side track him, I think he will do just fine.
Finally, my oldest son is finishing up his college classes and I hope he will be able to find a job out in the real world.
I watch the kids grow up measured by a calendar based on new clothes, pencils, and teachers. A school year paused by a summer break where kids can just be kids before they leave again to return to the educational institution and remind me how fast they are growing up.
My oldest child is technically an adult. He isn’t the kind of adult who is legally old enough to drink or gamble, but he is old enough to vote.
This adult lives in my house because technically, he’s still a kid too. MY kid. This man-child doesn’t have a job, but he does go to mechanics school at night. He also doesn’t drive because neither my husband nor I will let him near our vehicles. This “adult” has issues with responsibility. Come to think of it, I know a lot of thirty-something adults who have problems with responsibility.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. My son, my child, my spoiled rotten brat. He isn’t allowed to drive our cars. There’s actually a car sitting in the driveway and we told him if he got a job and paid for the gas and the insurance, the 95 T-bird would be at his disposal. He’s never driven it. Not once. The tags on it expired last year. I didn’t bother renewing them.
Where was I? Oh that’s right. I remember. So, four days a week, as soon as I walk in the door from work, my husband leaves to drive our young adult son to school. Every night at 11:00, I am in the parking lot waiting to pick my son up and bring him home. Sometimes I don’t fall asleep until after one in the morning.
There are two alarm clocks in my bedroom. The first one goes off at an ungodly 4:30 am to wake up my husband who has to be at work at 6 am and the second alarm goes off at 6 am so I can get my tired ass to work by 8 am. Both alarm clocks wake me up. We both push the snooze button as long as we can. I’ve learned to sleep in 9-minute increments.
Back to my son. Before summer vacation started, I would wake up the three younger children and get them all ready for school before I went off to work and the oldest child (adult) stayed in bed until after we’d all left.
Now the younger kids are out of school and summer vacation has begun! The older two are responsible for watching the younger two. Let the good times roll!
Except, I called home at eleven in the morning a couple of days ago and discovered that the older two children were sleeping. I gave the younger children permission to beat the hell out of the doors until their brothers woke up.
I have no idea why the adult in my house was irritated when I spoke to him on his cell phone that I pay for. Employer’s are supposed to be calling that phone, not girls. No potential employer has called that phone. Ever.
I was on the phone at work, speaking with my grouchy, irritable, spoiled rotten son of a… um me. Uh. yeah.
Anyway, While talking to my son, he complained to me that he was tired.
HE was tired.
I had a moment of inspiration while I was sitting there with a pile of work threatening to collapse and bury me. The light bulb over my head zapped then lit up with a blinding realization as I spoke to my adult child on the cell phone I pay for. And I KNOW he was lying on my living room couch, staring at my big screen tv, eating the last brownie that I was saving and complaining about how tired he was.
I get him from school. We ride home together. We enter the house at the same time of night. I drag my tired ass to bed and he stays awake. I drag my tired ass out of the bed and he stays asleep.
So I’m a little slow sometimes. It’s because I’m SO DAMN TIRED.
But.. I got it now. Guess what, kid. Son of mine. You’re about to be tired too, because your ass is getting up every morning when your dad’s alarm goes off.
Okay, maybe not when the alarm goes off, but once dad stops pushing the snooze button and actually gets out of the bed, you’re getting up, too. You better be awake when I stumble out of the bedroom on my way to the coffee pot. If you aren’t, you can kiss that cell phone goodbye.
Tell me how tired you are then. Welcome to adulthood, Son!
The week simply started bad. Sunday evening, we were putting away laundry and preparing for another week of school and work, when my daughter looks at her pile of clothes and says, “I can’t breathe.” She’d had a cough at night for a few days, but she hadn’t complained at all and she was very active during the day. I had already planned to call her doctor for a checkup if the cough didn’t go away, but my plans changed as I asked more questions.
Does your throat hurt? Does your chest hurt? What about your ears? Nose? Tongue?Eyes? What about your big toe? How’s it doing these days?
She said her chest was scratchy, her throat hurt kinda, and her ear hurt if she stuck her finger in it. The big toe, thankfully, was fine. This is the same kid who came to me over a year ago and said, “Mom, my tongue hurts.” I looked at it with a flashlight to discover that it wasn’t her tongue, but her tonsils that hurt. They were the size of grapes. That resulted in a trip to the emergency room. She hadn’t complained about it at all before that.
While I was taking her temperature, her nine year old brother coughed. I said, “Oh no you don’t. I know that as soon as I get her healthy again, you’re going to end up at urgent care with the same bug. That’s it, you’re going, too.”
Instead of going to work on Monday morning, I waited four hours with a very sick little girl, and a threatening to be sick little boy at urgent care. I never understood why it’s called urgent care since nothing there is ever done urgently.
With a diagnosis of bronchitis for each child as well as a double ear infection for my daughter, we left urgent care to go to the pharmacy and fill five prescriptions. I then packed my little sicklies back in the car and I drove to work to trade kids for work. Luckily, or unluckily some days, we work at the same place. So, I unpacked the kids from my truck straight into my husband’s car, he took them home and I worked the rest of the day.
Husband stayed home Tuesday and I stayed home Wednesday with the kids. Thursday, everyone went to school and work like usual except that I was totally buried in work just from missing one and a half days.
Monday night through Thursday night, my husband takes our oldest son to his night classes at 6 and I pick the kid up at 11. In other words, I literally sleep about 5 hours a night. Throw in a couple of coughing kids and I’m lucky to get 3 hours of good sleep.
Friday was the last day of school and included me racing from work to an eighth grade graduation for son number two.
Saturday, they’re all hanging out in the pool and I’m exhausted.
Finally, on Sunday evening I start feeling human again. Then, my daughter coughed. I told her if she started feeling bad at all, she had to tell me right away so I could take her back to the Dr because I didn’t want her to get pneumonia. She and my youngest son both listened with rapt attention as I explained how I barely survived a bout of pneumonia as a child.
It started with my grandfather falling asleep on the lakefront. My 7 year old brother and my 5 year old self were swimming in the lake at the time. Except, I couldn’t swim so maybe wading is a better term.
We were wading in the lake. Actually, I was just walking in the water until the surface dropped off. Then I was under the water and sinking like a stone.
My brother thought I was kidding. I could see him through the murky water. At least until everything went black. When I came to, vomiting up most of the lake, some teenager had pulled me out, someone had roused my grandfather, and my brother was completely awed. “I thought you were dead! Man, that was cool!”
Soon after this mishap, I got sick, except my mom didn’t believe I was sick. She thought I was faking to get out of going to school.
Do kindergartners do that? Really?
When I stopped getting enough oxygen and I became lethargic and unresponsive, my mother finally decided it was time for me to see a doctor. The diagnosis? Walking pneumonia. The doctor told my mother I was very close to death and it’s a good thing she didn’t wait a minute longer.
When I finished telling my children this story, my son said, “Wow Mom, you saved millions of people.”
Understandably confused, I frowned and said, “How did my nearly dying save anyone?”
“Because,” he replied, “you have four kids, and we could each have four kids, and they all have four kids. That will be millions of people!”
I looked to my daughter for help.
She stared back at me innocent and wide-eyed and said, “Did you live?”
I woke up this morning with a tattoo. It’s a fluid , graceful horse head sitting delicately on my right ankle. It’s lovely.
It wasn’t there when I went to bed and I don’t remember going out and getting drunk. If I did go out and get drunk, I would remember some of it – wouldn’t I?
I stumbled out of my room blurry-eyed and headed for the coffee pot. At least my new body art didn’t hurt. Or maybe I was really really drunk. As caffeine coursed through my blood, I became aware of giggling coming from the living room.
There sat my eight year old son and seven year old daughter.
Or at least I think it was them.
It was hard to tell through the tattoos covering them from head to foot, but the giggles sounded familiar. My husband reclined on the couch, his right arm tattooed clear down to the hand holding the remote. I guess I should consider myself lucky that only my foot and ankle were accessible to the tatoo bandits giggling on the living room floor.
When they saw me watching, the little tribal covered beings chased after me , each with a sponge in one hand and slips of plastic coated paper gripped in the other. I barely escaped into my bathroom with my coffee before the sponge slapped wetly against the door and the giggling fiends went in search of another victim.
I think I heard a cat yowl.
Should I tell them I don’t have any rubbing alcohol to remove their decorations?
No more sleeping in for me if it means my husband has to take the kids to the store with him. Who knows what they will come home with next.
Knowing my luck, my husband will decide to let them play doctor and I will wake up strapped to the bed by bandages. And with my luck, the tattooed cat will be in there with me.