It’s been a few years since I left you to solo parent, so here are a few things to remember while I’m away for the weekend.
Boogie wipes are not an acceptable alternative to bathing.
The children require food more than once a day.
If SuperTween’s outfit causes you to raise an eyebrow, make her change clothes. She can wear whatever she wants when she goes to college.
If you allow SuperTween to watch regular tv, she will text 800 numbers to your phone. “It does all kinds of cool stuff, Mom.” Turn the tv off and send her outside to play.
Whenever the children come inside after playing outside, send them back out to collect the clothing that they forgot.
If you hear the dog’s tags clanging on the water bowl, the bowl is empty. Fill the bowl. With water.
The dogs/cats require food daily. Feed them.
Confiscate electronics at bedtime.
The youngest children singing after bedtime is cute, but they are the opposite of cute if they don’t get a good night’s sleep. Do not try to wait them out. You will fall asleep long before they stop singing. Ask them to sing inside their heads.
If you do laundry, please do not run the washer with only one item in it. It is a waste of water, electricity and detergent. The laundry is already sorted in baskets beside the washer. Fill the machine.
A few special reminders just for you:
1. No ladders. Remember the mangled ladder and the frightened neighbors?
2. No power tools. Remember the finger?
3. Do not buy paint. Remember the infant poop yellow?
4. Do not paint. Remember the bedroom closet?
5. No new projects. Don’t ‘six degrees’ a new project to an existing project either.
When in doubt, call me first. I will be in Nashville, not another country.
*** “I’m on the driveway. Get out here. Hurry.”
**** <- runs outside in bare feet and a bathrobe ->
“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
“Can’t you hear it?”
“Hear what? Is it the raccoons?”
“Shhh. Listen. The frogs have returned.”
*My phone doesn’t ring, but for a little while at least, it’s a universally understood code for a phone that wants to be answered.
** I wasn’t answering rudely. My phone doesn’t ring because I have unique tones based on the caller. When the Doctor Who theme starts playing, I know it’s Doug on the phone.
*** The same location where he attempted to remove a finger with a table saw.
**** We have two large German Shepherds. Walking barefoot in our yard is a very bad idea.
In a single moment, I felt child-like joy, sheer terror, and complete stupidity. I love the frogs, but I’m a doofus to constantly assume Doug has injured himself.
I like holidays. They are picnics on the journey of life. Some picnics are full of fun. Other picnics are reflective. Every so often, a bear steals your basket of food and the picnic is just something you’re happy to survive. Valentine’s Day is a quick snack and toss the frisbee picnic.
I walked in the Boy Scout merchandise store with one goal in mind, Doug’s gift for Valentine’s Day. As I usually do, I meandered and picked out more than I intended. When I arrived at the register, I plopped my pile of olive colored items on the counter. Unlike most stores that silently ring your purchases, the Boy Scout store employees try to be helpful and make sure that you are getting the right equipment.
“Ohhh honey, these are the knee socks. You want the crew socks instead.”
“No. I came in to buy the knee socks. The other stuff is impulse.”
“You want the knee socks for your husband?”
“I have always told him how much I think that grown men in shorts and knee socks is dorky. I also told him that if he went off the deep end with scouting, he would have to wear the dork socks. Well, he has crossed over to the dark side. He has three different scout meetings this week and camping or activities absolutely every weekend.”
“Oh, he crossed to the dark side and set up camp there. Knee socks it is.”
The weekend before Christmas, I asked everyone to help me scrub a layer of dust and dog hair off of everything in the house. Let me be more specific. My exact words were, “I need everyone to help clean the house this weekend. We have company coming over and there is dog hair and dust everywhere.”
Apparently, what they heard was, ‘Mom wants something done around here.’ Their application of this interpretation was to spend the December weekend putting out grass seed and aerating our very large lot.
The aerating machine completely covered the yard in giant dirt plugs. The short bus dog believed those dirt plugs were snacks from the cat and spent an entire day trying to eat all the dirt plugs. I don’t know if the dog forgot that it tasted like dirt after each and every bite or if she was eternally optimistic that the next one would taste like something other than dirt. I only know that I am a sympathetic puker and the mere thought of the dog barfing up mud puddles made my stomach hurt.
A few days later, it was the evening before Doug’s parents arrived and I repeated my request for help with the cleaning. Let be more specific. I said, “Please help me scrub the floors.” I have no idea what anyone actually heard. Their response was to completely empty the bathroom contents all over the living room floor and start working on the floor trim that has been ignored since last January. They weren’t making the bathroom sink functional. They were putting a row of tile on the walls.
It’s impossible to get upset with well-intentioned efforts, but if eye-rolling created muscles, I would be able to see the craters on the moon without a telescope.
Once upon a time, Doug declared that he could build Amy a playhouse in a single weekend. Since Doug is a perfectionist/artisan, that project continues more than a year later. Sunday afternoon, while Doug fretted over making the perfect cuts in a tiny scrap of red cedar, I said “be careful” and wandered off to work on the never-ending laundry pile. I almost made it in the front door when I heard the scream.
I sent boy teen in the house to get a hand towel. Boy teen, who regularly experiences Chevy Chase movie quality nosebleeds, retrieved a white washcloth. Hugging the increasingly red washcloth and a bag of ice, fake calm Doug hopped in the van shrieking at me to drive while a 6-y-o wept crocodile tears because, “Daddy has blood on his face. He’s got red on him!” An expressionless 9-y-o sat in the front window like a statue.
I drove to the ER while calling Aspie Caveman on the phone to alert him that he needed to leave the basement and help his youngest siblings. “Why? Did something happen?” The second I hung up the phone, the patient began a monologue critiquing and directing my driving. “Get in the other lane. Don’t take that road. Turn here. Why are you such a slow driver?” Clearly, I was enjoying our first moments alone in days so much that I didn’t care about the blood his shirt was absorbing to create the worst tye-dye design ever.
Once in the ER, Doug’s brain switched to entertainer mode He concocted about three jokes out of the current situation and repeated them to every kind soul who inquired about his splattered and splashed bloody clothing ensemble. After running out of social media distractions and waiting room audience, he returned to the check-in desk to ask the exact same questions he asked them when we arrived. A nurse behind the desk glanced at the bag of melted ice and the finger that was no longer obscured. “Do you really think there’s a fingertip to sew back on that finger?” Doug missed the comment completely, but it was my cue to distract him from peeking at his mangled finger.
A friend called to check on Doug. “I stopped by the house to check on the children. Tommy said it couldn’t have been that bad since Doug unplugged the table saw before leaving for the hospital.” I called the house to check on the children. Boy teen was making the pancakes and sausage that he cooks on every Boy Scout camping trip. The 9-y-o spent the entire three hours we were gone drawing pictures of herself crying with the occasional Dad picture thrown in just for portfolio diversity. The 6-y-o forgot everything about the incident the minute his older brothers turned on Megamind.
Once we made it beyond the waiting room, the evening became a flurry of activity focused on adding insult to Doug’s injury. It started with the first nurse’s, “There’s nothing left to sew.” This was followed by a shot in the arm, a shot in the hip and three shots in the injured finger. There was some aggressive blotting to clean up the messed up finger during which I seriously contemplated vomiting. An x-ray resulted in, “Well, it’s broken, but the broken piece of bone must have been scooped right out of there by the table saw.” A phone call to the hand surgeon resulted in poking and peeking in the puncture wound to study the damaged finger bone. Somewhere in this violent assault on Doug’s body, Doug stopped joking and started to look like he might take an unwanted nap. He could have been trying not to vomit. Either would have been a perfectly acceptable response to the situation.
Doug perked up when the nurse bandaged his finger in some kind of sock condom, but only because the nurse applied the tape unevenly. We barely escaped the room without a major Monk incident. As soon as we made it to the car, Doug started sounding like himself again. “Why didn’t I have the video camera on the driveway? This would have made great footage.”
It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the 9-y-o was making videos with my phone at the time of the injury. I watched her video while every muscle in my body tensed up in fear of what might be on the video. What I didn’t prepare myself for, was the 9-y-o’s voice reacting to it.
How Doug shops for anything at the hardware-ish store:
1. Visually survey all possible options.
2. Pick up and touch each option.
3. Use app to read reviews of each option.
4. Interview two store employees about each option.
5. Use another app to price check each option.
6. Think of an alternative technique involving completely different materials.
7. Repeat steps 1 – 6 with alternative technique’s materials.
8. Decide original method is preferrable.
9. Return to studying original options.
10. Choose item.
11. Question your choice the entire ride home.
12. Use item and rejoice.
How Doug shops for clothing:
1. Walk to nearest store employee.
2. Point to a mannequin.
3. Say, “I’ll take that outfit.”
4. Pay for clothing.
“How do they ship ladybugs?”
“Frozen, I think.”
“Cryogenic aphid management system?”
“No. High tech pest control.”
“I dont think you can get more low tech than ladybugs. Especially if they are frozen and dead.”