The Old Days

The other day, Elder received his first paycheck in the mail.

“So, I just go to the bank and tell them . . . I have a check?”

I directed him to the items in the back of his unused checkbook.

He flipped through the rectangular sheets. “Why are there so many checks and so few deposit slips?”

Then when I pointed to the space to list the cash he wanted back, he said, “Why would I want cash back? I have a debit card.”

Every now and then . . .

I feel really old.




Poor Man’s Therapy

“You know,” Younger mused while we drove to an appointment. “I’ve decided I’m the second most mature person in our family.”

I cast him a sidelong glance. “I’m assuming I’m the one you consider the most mature?”

“Well, yeah.” He gave me a puzzled look. “Have you not met the rest of us?”

Uhmm, yes.

Yes, I have.

Why do you think I write?

Because it’s cheaper than therapy.

And alcohol.

No Good Plan

Monday was Elder’s first day at his new job.

So, you can imagine the panic as, emerging from the shower, I heard the back door slam and Elder yell, “Mom! Mom! I need your car keys. My car won’t start. Mom!”

So, in my bathrobe, I rushed down the stairs, hurdling over the dogs on the landing to hit the next seven steps. “Here,” I told him, tossing him the keys.

“I have no guess what happened,” he muttered, walking towards the door.

“Well, I have a guess,” I told his back.

Because he has a habit of sitting in his car for half an hour after reaching home, listening to his radio with the dome light on. Then forgetting to turn the light off when he finally retreats into the house. And his dad has warned him and warned him.

But as he slipped through the door, I had bigger issues than an we-told-you-so moment. He was taking my car and leaving me with his dead battery. And I had a class in four hours.

Now, I happen to know that the instructor is an understanding, easygoing type.

Because I am actually the instructor.

Which makes it a little more important that I actually arrive at class.

Besides, I had plans. Big plans to finish grading essays and to prepare for class discussion. And the internet at the house was down. So, I had accomplished nothing.


And now I had no way to escape my house to accomplish something.


“Uhmmm,” I hedged in a phone call to my husband. “You need an excuse to leave work early?”

But apparently, we have a battery charger in our very own garage. So, I learned, in almost triple digit heat, how to charge a car battery.

My husband walked me through every step.



“You’ll need to find the extension cord on the shelves in the garage,” he told me. “And plug the extension cord into the outlet.”

And I would have been sarcastic but he quickly followed with, “The last thing you will do is plug the charger into the extension cord.”

I glanced down at the charger already humming in my hands. “Last thing, huh?”

“Yeah, because that will turn the charger on. You’ll hear it hum.”

“Hum, huh?” I murmured, unplugging the charger from the extension cord. “Interesting.”

But I managed to start the car without killing myself.

So, here is what I learned: don’t make plans.

Plans are just an invitation for life to mess with you.

I don’t need to offer no invitations.

I’ll just let life be rude and drop in on me.

Mom Knows Best

Today, Elder had a job interview.

Before leaving, he walked into my bedroom dressed in his new shirt and slacks. “Look okay?” he asked.

“You need to tuck in your shirt,” I told him.

“I think it looks better out.”

“But you need to tuck it in. They will expect you to tuck in your shirt. It looks better.”

“I think it looks better out.”

“You need to tuck it in. I’ve been in the store. All the employees wear their shirts tucked in.”

“I think it looks better out. How often do you go into the store?”

“All the time. And when you walk in there, you will see the employees in their red shirts, with the store name on their chest, and their shirts tucked in.”

“I think it looks better out.”

“Elder, they made you tuck in your baseball jersey. Why did anyone care that someone might see your pockets? It was for presentation. You need to tuck in your shirt.”

“I didn’t mind in baseball.”

I miss the days when he just agreed with me because I was Mom, because Mom was a pretty smart lady.

I lost those days about eighteen years ago.

When he was two.

He did tuck in his shirt.

“Right before I go in the store,” he compromised.

So, that’s a win.


And I count every single win.

I’m up to one, now.

Life Without Parole

Sunday is my — I always have to do the subtraction in my head, which is never a great idea — twenty-third anniversary.

In one of my classes today, as we were introducing ourselves, I admitted — after doing math in my head in public, which I usually avoid — to the number of years.

“Wow,” one student breathed. “You must have married young.”

Yeah, I was like twelve.

Except I was actually almost twenty-one.

So, we were young, but we didn’t know we were young. I have studied Elder, amazed that in less than a year he will be the age I was when I married. And I silently threaten to shake the sense back into him if he even considers marriage until whatever age I decide he is adult enough to be adulting.

Yet, twenty-three years after exchanging vows, and my husband and I have survived. And we understand that twenty-three years is really just the start.

I mean, at this point, some prison sentences for murder are shorter than our marriage.

Not to imply that I’ve considered murder as a legitimate option.

Because that would just be wrong.

According to society.

Besides, I kind of like him most of the time.

So, we will live and love and cry and yell and forgive and laugh for another day . . . another month . . . another year.

Life without parole.