Close Enough

For the last few nights, my niece has stayed at our house.

Thankfully, she is now old enough to arrange her own hair. Having only boys and lacking any interest in spending time on my curls, beyond what is necessary to look somewhat civilized, I never quite knew what I was supposed to do with her long, straight, dark hair. I would shrug, she would shrug, and we would settle for “combed” as an acceptable style.

So I was relieved when she grabbed a hair dryer and styled her own hair.

But she still requires us to feed her.

So, on Tuesday  night, after picking her and Younger up from school, we visited the grocery story to gather ingredients for tacos. Unfortunately, I had forgotten I didn’t have any grape juice, which I tend to stock when I know I have her or my nephew for a meal. So, when my husband called on his way home from work and asked if he needed to grab anything, I asked him to stop at a convenience store for an individual-sized carton of grape juice.

He came home with grape soda.

Apparently, they didn’t have grape juice.

He thought he was close enough.

My niece did, too.

And her parents, well, we won’t ask them, now, will we?


A Bad Day

How do you know you’re having a bad day?

At 11:00, I went to Steak and Shake. Because I hadn’t yet had breakfast. Because I wanted a fountain Cherry Coke. And, well, because.

Sometimes, because is the only reason that matters.

When the man handed the small bag through the window, I thanked him, having already drank half my Cherry Coke. But then as I started to pull away, he hollered, waving his hands frantically.

Of course, I hit my brakes, looking around me for the reason of his sudden alarm.

He had given me the wrong sack.

And I knew my day was on the upswing.

Because I hadn’t left the restaurant without my food. And I, most likely, by accident, had been given a hamburger. And I don’t like hamburgers, but I like returning to a restaurant even less.

And the guy behind me in line hadn’t plowed into my tailgate when I hit my brakes.

And that’s when you know you’re having a bad day — when nothing happening is the best part of your waking hours.

Maybe tomorrow nothing will happen all day.

If we can all only be so lucky.

The Terrorizing of the Brownie

Since Younger hasn’t provided the necessary entertainment, I thought I would share an old story from 2001. And for the record, we never did see the Brownie or her cookies again. . .

The other day, a Girl Scout knocked on our door, delivering our cookies. So, I asked her to step inside for a moment while I retrieved my checkbook. While my back was turned, Elder proceeded to terrorize the Brownie.

“I have two Marios,” he announced. “One for my Gameboy and one for my Nintendo – my gray Nintendo. It’s in my bedroom. Do you have a Mario? Do you want to play my Mario? See if you push this button you can make him jump. I’m under the ground. My Daddy can kill the things with the spikes. But there’s fire too and the fire jumps and goes whoosh…”

“Elder,” I tried to intervene. “She’s not here about your games.”

“Then why’s she here?”

“She brought us some cookies.”

“Why’d’ya bring us cookies? See my Gameboy is yellow. And the game goes back here. I have a Pokemon game, too. It’s over there. Somewhere. What’s your name?”

By this time, I had rounded the sofa again, checkbook in hand, only to find the girl plastered to our door in the classic pose of a B movie heroine. Somewhat amused and a little horrified, I offered her a reassuring smile, before concentrating on writing the check.

“Kristan,” she whispered, answering Elder’s question.

“My name’s Elder. How many are you? How many are you?”

“Nine,” she whispered.

“I’m four,” Elder told her then pointed to Younger, who was also crowding into our small foyer. “And he’s one.”

“Here you go.” Leaning over the boys, I gave her the check. “Thanks.”

Inching her way across the door, she tugged on the knob then slid through the tiny opening into the night. Alone, his captive audience having escaped, Elder turned to me and asked, “Is she coming back sometime to play?”

“I doubt it, Elder.”

Actually, I imagine Kristan, the Brownie, who is nine years old, will most likely be giving our house a very wide berth at all points in the future.



Leave Me Not

A long time ago, when we first moved into our house, Younger was five years old, not in kindergarten yet. So, I would take Elder to the end of our drive and wave him onto the bus then I would return to finish preparing myself and Younger for our day.

But then one morning, having given up on my hair, I bounced down the stairs only to halt abruptly on the landing at the sight and sound of my little blonde boy huddled on the bottom step, his narrow shoulders heaving on sobs.

“What’s wrong?” I cried, rushing down the remaining stairs to his side. “What happened?”

“Mom?” He looked at me with eyes swimming in tears. “I thought you left me.”

And he broke my heart.

For him.

For every little boy whose Mom has actually left him.

And I gathered him into my arms until he felt safe again.

I never wrote that story. Because some things you don’t really want to remember.

But yesterday, Younger and I stopped by the house on our way from his school to his grandparents, and while I was upstairs, I heard, “Mom?”

In a familiar questioning voice.

A little deeper. Or a lot deeper.

But the same voice.

And even though he is sixteen, I was immediately on the stairs, saying, “I’m here.”

Because some things you don’t really want to remember.

But you never get to forget.