Friday, December 19, 2008

My brain, she is turning to mush

I've mentioned my strategy when the boys are home? It's kind of like rest-stepping in hiking, or conserving oxygen the way an amphibian does underwater. If they find something that occupies them I do no chores. I drop everything so I can look at the book or article I was trying to read, or do a little journaling in the bit of time that I'll be undisturbed. I reserve the stuff I 'must' do for when I'm 'disturbed'.

They've been home a lot:

Thanksgiving; kids off for a week from school.

Gary in Asia first 2 full weeks in December.

Snowfall starts on Gary's first day home; suspense each day as I wait to see what the school district will do. The boys cheer on the snow and I pray it doesn't shut down the schools.

Monday, schools closed.

Tues, west-side schools closed, Scott's open.

Wed, all district schools closed.

Thurs, west-side schools closed, Scott's open. Hard freeze forecast.

This morning:

Woke today to news all public schools were closed.

8:00 Boys rise, overjoyed. (any school morning they would want to sleep far longer).

8:30 Phone call from MIL to say she wasn't feeling well and could we postpone dinner at her house on Saturday? If only the message had been so succinct. It took a ten minute story about a week of diarrhea and featured every single protracted discussion with the advice nurse. (I'm imagining the call center when her number comes up on caller ID: "It's Her again..." "oh no, it's your turn now.") She filled me in on all the details including descriptions of 'consistencies'. I kept my tone respectfully sympathetic as I reassured her that we can postpone our get-together until our return from Calif. I tell her I hope she feels better.

9:00 Demon drumming from below

9:01 Scott wants to know when we're leaving to get his Lego (reward for staying focused and behaved at school). I explain to him that we may not be able to go today because Gary took the AWD Subaru and left us with the front-wheel-drive van. Immediate heartbreak. Demands that I "jack up the tires". Patient monologues about icy roads and cars in ditches do not penetrate his disappointment. Call Gary to see what roads were like on his way down to work this morning. Says driving down the hill is do-able, even without 4wd: "Just keep it in second gear and slow down through the s-curves by the creek". No one is on the road, he says.

Unsure whether I will work up the motivation to try, I decline to make promises, infuriating Scott further. Finally I send him downstairs to be with Connor because I can't endure his whining any longer. Fortunately he goes.

The ensuing quiet is now available to be exploited, but for an indeterminate amount of time. I find my deep thoughts have gone into hiding the way a cat will dive under a bed when it hears children at the door. So I sweep a living room floor which is littered with Christmas tree needles instead. Mull options:

Which is worse? A dicey drive on questionable roads (at least the chains for the van have instructions!), or the unrelieved company of two restless and fractious boys? I decide to chance it with the car. There are two birthday parties tomorrow that need gifts anyway, and the cat's low on food.

There's also no gas in the van. Thanks Gary. There's no gas on this hill either, for about 10 miles.

As we drive down the hill the road goes from slushy to wet. We're heading to a perfect 90 degree T intersection where we will turn south to go to shopping center city where all the big chain stores live. Narrow country road, and I'm just about to turn left onto 185th when I hear sirens and see the big engine coming straight up the hill toward us. As I was already in the intersection and there are ditches on each side of the road--no shoulder to pull onto--I decide to jettison the turn and move across the intersection instead and squeeze over as far as I can on the right without sliding into that culvert. Once the firetruck passes I'm left with some awkward maneuvers on a road that suddenly has traffic in order to resume our route.

Once we're down in big-box city we wait for 3 light changes to get in to the complex of stores. I park and then go on hyper-alert to prevent Scott's accidental suicide. He has no concept of self-preservation, even at 7, and so I have to be vigilant for us both. He is given to stopping in unfortunate places to contemplate something on his shirt and I am continually moving him along: "Keep walking, Scott; we need to walk, Scott; let's head for the store, Scott..."

So I'm exhausted when we reach the automatic doors of the store and Connor asks if it's "always like this every Friday". I explain it is "like this" because this is the last Friday before Christmas. ( I'd hoped the snow would keep everyone home.) "Like this" means further vigilance on my part because Scott is oblivious to the trajectories of others and has an uncanny knack for getting in people's way and then stopping. "Like this" is sidestepping shopping carts and looking around people who are standing in front of the display that holds the items we're considering. "Like this" is saying "excuse me" over and over and dodging people. As we walk to the cashiers I tell Connor that of all places to be at this moment in time, this is the place I least want to be. He asks me where I'd rather be and I say, "Just about anywhere." He said, "Like where?" and I respond, "Walking barefoot across a bed of hot coals." He smiles and says, "That's funny. ...Do you know the meditation they do to walk across?" I say no, and he says, "Then you'd rather have 4 degree burns on your feet? You're exaggerating!" I explain hyperbole as the device for conveying strong feelings.

Connor will have some money left over after he buys his cd and he says he wants to get himself and Scott a soda and some candy. I think he means at the little restaurant in the store after we've checked out; just then I see the express line is open. I dive for it. We pay for our things and we're through the line when Connor says, "Now we have to go back and get the candy and soda!" I realize he hadn't meant going to the cafeteria. "Oh, no. We're not going back in there." Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place and it's just not going to happen that we go through another check stand unimpeded. For two sodas and candies I'm totally unwilling to risk it. Grumbling as we walk out to the car; calmed when I tell him he can get the junk food when we buy gas.

Once home I go out to get the mail. While removing my boots and getting into slippers Scott apologizes to me for having thrown my Christmas stocking behind the Christmas tree in a fit of pique when he'd thought I wasn't going to take him to the store. He tells me he went back and got it and rehung it. I tell him I accept his apology (I hadn't noticed it was missing).

A few moments later I notice a lot of dirt and tree needles on the floor where I'd swept earlier. Realize he probably drug all that out when he went retrieved the stocking.

So right now he's happily assembling his Lego and downstairs the demon drums have begun to sound. Connor bought himself an AC/DC cd so he could learn the drum parts. He's already been up here as I write wanting me to come and see. So it looks like a good time to get up and do laundry, and sweep up the dirt from under the tree.

Damn, he's actually playing those drums pretty well!


Mrs. Spit said...

Oh, I have been thinking about you all week. Wondering how you were, and if you were still alive and functioning.

Glad you are at least alive, if a bit mushy. . .

Lori said...

You make me laugh, in spite of your misfortune. Esp your MIL conversation.

But I got pretty steamed about the near-empty gas tank. That is a BIG trigger for me. My DH has been known to borrow my car for a weekend of skiing (while I'm home with the kids) and return it to me empty. But I don't know it until I'm on my way to take them to school.


excavator said...

Thanks, Mrs. Spit. Yeah, I wouldn't say I'm functioning well. Functioning well would be having some enthusiasm for this holiday, to support my boys' enthusiasm.

Yeah, Lori, a low gas tank is triggering for me too. In fairness to him, maybe he thought he would be taking the van next day so I could have the Subaru to get Scott to school. When school was cancelled, he took the Sub. Which I had filled with gas.