A Penny Saved

The other day, Younger and my husband joined me in the cleaning of the house. Because Younger wanted a video game and the only way I agreed to take him to buy a video game was in a trade — his effort for my driver’s license.

His dad, on the other hand, is just an easy mark.

But as I rushed down the stairs in one of my many trips between floors, I stumbled to an awkward halt on the bottom stop.

My husband, one hand automatically and rhythmically and blindly pushing a mop over the hardwood floor, glanced up from the video he was watching on the phone in his other hand. “What?” As I blinked at him, trying to find my words, he added, a bit defensively, “I’m mopping.”

“Yes, you are,” I agreed, nodding my head. “You are mopping. Yes, you are.”

And I turned into the hallway without finding any additional words. Because help is, well, help, even if it is cheap help.

And I guess I can’t say he wasn’t worth the money.

Well, I could say it.

But I  won’t.

Time and Again

Well, Younger is officially a senior.

When my children were younger, other parents warned, “Enjoy them now. They’ll be grown before you know.”

Then when I agreed to enjoy the boys while they were young, other parents would give me that smile — a smile that was not quite condescending, perhaps a little nostalgic, maybe even regretful, always knowing. And I know when the boys were little, some days seemed longer than forever and bedtime was really the only goal of the day.

But anyone finding a five-year-old where a toddler used to stand a blink ago cannot remain blissfully ignorant of the passage of time.

So, I always knew my boys would only be little for a very short time. I would close my eyes and try to imprint into my heart the feel of their arms around my neck, the softness of their breath in my ear, the absolute trust in the relaxing of their bodies against mine.

I wrote their stories so I wouldn’t forget those everyday little moments that get lost in the past.

A long time ago, not so long ago, Younger and I used to snuggle on the sofa and watch Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. When we lived in an apartment, I took him with me to the laundromat, and we did puzzles while our clothes spun in a washing machine.  Every week, we would do our grocery shopping, and we settled at Applebee’s for lunch where he got macaroni and cheese and a balloon.

Every year before school started, I would take him back to Applebee’s for his “last supper” and spoil him with dessert.

We have one more last supper, I guess.

I always understood that time was slipping by me too quickly. I just never figured out any possible maneuver that slowed it down — wishing, arguing, throwing tantrums, begging. Time can ignore all attempts at manipulation.

Even greedy fingers can’t grasp the sand in an hourglass.

So, Younger is a senior.

And, somehow, still my baby.

Liar, Liar

My phone tracks my steps. Which is supposedly a nice little program. Except I rarely actually carry my phone on me.

So, now, I have these arguments with my phone —

“Two hundred and fourteen steps? No, you took 214 steps. I spent eight hours cleaning and organizing the basement. You spent eight hours on the ping pong table. And you kept dinging at me that you were dying. Dying!! On a ping pong table! I was the one trying to drag a three wheeler with four flat tires!”

Inevitably, Younger ends up eying me with concern. “You okay, Mom?”

“I’m fine.”

My phone is a liar.

But I’m fine.

Two hundred and fourteen steps?

Thbbbbllllllllttttttt.

 

Earlier this week, we had to take Thirteen and Seven to the veterinarian, and all the men in my house made sure the two knew exactly who they should blame for the upcoming invasion of their manhood.

“Whatever happens tomorrow,” my husband murmured to them as he scratched their ears, “blame Mom.”

“I told her not to,” Younger sympathized with them, as he stroked their backs. “I’m sorry. She wouldn’t listen.”

So the two cats had to spend the night trapped in the bedroom with my husband and me and without food and water. So to keep them from sprinting for water as soon as they escaped the bedroom, I had Younger position himself outside the door.

“You ready,” I asked, bending to scoop Seven into my arms.

“Yep,” Younger said from his side of the door.

I wrapped my fingers around the door handle. “You sure?”

“Yep,” Younger repeated, brimming with confidence.

I opened the door, immediately having to wrap both arms around Seven who was wriggling frantically in my hold. But I still caught sight of the black streak hitting the stairs at about thirty miles an hour. And Younger, reacting a few seconds too late, straightening to his feet to hit the stairs at about two miles an hour.

“You had one job, Younger,” I told him as we urged the reluctant cats into the carriers. “One job.”

“Mom,” he told me, shaking his head. “I was crouched down, ready for a grounder. That cat bounced at the wrong time.”

And my morning was not yet over because I still had to answer the office manager’s simple question of “And what are the names of your fur kids?”

“Well, one is Seven.”

Her pen paused as she peered upward at me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Like the number.”

She filled in the name and moved to the second round of paperwork. “And the other one?”

“Uhmm, Thirteen.” And with her second look, I added, defensively, “I have math kids.”

We look like a normal family.

I think.

Sigh.

 

 

If You Insist

The other day, my husband could not find his cell phone. Mine was upstairs, so hearing Younger turn off the shower in the bathroom, he hollered, “Hey, Younger, you got your phone in there?”

A pause. “Yeah?”

“Can you call my phone so I can find it?”

Another pause. “You mind if I dry off first?”

“No,” I told him, rolling my eyes. “We actually need you to run around the house stark naked and wet while calling the phone.”

An even longer pause. “Ooooh-kaaa-aaay. If you insist.”

Ahem.

We didn’t.

What Have We Learned Today

I am in the middle of grading first and second drafts of final essays and am not finding my family amusing at all, so I thought I would share an old story from 2005 when Younger first started his educational career . . .

Last year, at our conference with Elder’s teacher, she announced, “I have learned so much.”  But with Younger we heard stories such as when his kindergarten teacher explained that the principal would take the Good Citizen to McDonald’s, Younger told her, “Now, when you said that about McDonald’s, you re-ee-eally got my attention.”

And when another kid was apparently poking him relentlessly with a pencil, Younger announced, “Now, I’ve asked him nicely to quit, but if he don’t quit pretty quick, it ain’t gonna be so nice.”

We pray that all of his teachers will have a sense of humor.

And a lot of patience.

In the Army, Now

Today, I thought I would share a story from around 2005 when Younger would have been in kindergarten . . .

Apparently, for some unknown reason, the school personnel asked the children if their fathers were in the military, which did not appear to faze Younger in the slightest. Apparently, his dad passed Younger’s test for Army material.  But then the school asked about their mothers.

“And, Mom,” Younger told me, shaking his head and snickering.  “I just couldn’t quite even imagine it.”

My husband thinks Younger’s a real riot.