Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Joy and a Chore

This week was a rigorous whirlwind of activities which included, but were not limited to, ripping out and dragging away poopy old carpet, keeping little feet from stepping on exposed tack strips, and climbing over all the furniture which was moved to the kitchen.

Getting new carpet is a dream come true, even as it is a nightmare.

While we watched for the bus the other morning and I kept Jack from menacing the myriad tools which littered the floor, the carpet installer watched Jack with curiosity. He spoke to Jack respectfully and asked me where he went to school. After Jack left, the carpet man went to his truck and then handed me a laminated obituary of a lovely woman with special needs who had passed away a couple of years ago in her early fifties.

“That’s my little sister,” he said. And I began to read.

The summary of this woman’s life was clearly written by someone who knew her well, and loved everything about her. Some of my favorite points: she loved Big Red gum, Pepsi, going out to dinner, singing duets with her brother (our carpet guy), and shopping at the dollar store. She had more friends than anyone else in her family, was greeted with fondness by practically everyone, and always had to have two dollars in her purse at any given time.

This woman, her likes and her personality, gleamed from the laminated newsprint. I didn’t even know her, but I already liked her.

Later that morning, Truman and I took a walk. He enjoyed the scenery and I pondered the carpet man’s sister and her humble list of simple pleasures.

We passed Henry’s school where the sixth-graders were wrapping up recess. I tried to casually pick my kid out of the sea of navy and red polo shirts, just wanting a peek of my eldest in his element. Just before I rounded the bend in the path, half of the sixth grade spotted and recognized me, yelling, “Hi Henry’s mom!” Henry gave me a wave and a “Hi Mom!”

I decided that that moment was worthy of a laminated obituary. My simple pleasure: being known as my kid’s mom, by a happy crowd of sixth graders.

Before the walk and my celebrity moment by the school, when I finished reading that obituary I thanked the carpet man for sharing it with me and handed it back to him. He said, “You know, you understand. She was a joy…….and a chore.”

I solemnly nodded my agreement at this person who, in one brief sentence, encapsulated so perfectly the nature of life with a special family member.

Sensible Shoes

Tonight I did the grocery shopping, along with the rest of suburbia. I meandered around the big box, following my stream-of-consciousness list, composed randomly over the past week whenever we ran out of something.

I used to make my shopping lists according to the layout of the grocery store. I also used to shop in heels. I seriously used to wake up über early on Saturday mornings, put on some fashionably uncomfortable high-heeled boots, and hit the store so I could get the shopping done without little children in tow.

Remembering this made me want to wrap my arm around Younger Me and gently say, “Why don’t you dial it down a bit, sis. It’s okay to untwist those knickers.”

At what point does one stop pre-planning her grocery store inter-aisle route? When does one decide to stop wearing pumps while trudging around buying diapers and bananas? When do you say to yourself, “To heck with it. Groceries are not worth sacrificing sleep, or my arches?”

I suppose it happens the closer one gets to forty, or maybe the farther one gets from twenty. Perhaps it’s after a bunch of kids have pounded the need (or stamina) for high-heeled boots out of your system.

There comes a day when comfy shoes matter, like a whole lot. They matter more than what complete strangers think of your fashion sense or your footwear. They matter because the groceries aren’t going to purchase themselves, and cleaning up after people requires sensible footwear.

When I returned tonight from the swarming grocery store, I cleaned up the remains of a Code Brown and a lake of urine next to the potty (Me, to Jack: Whyyyyyyyy???!!!).

I also carried a too-tired five-year-old in from playing outside, moved laundry, and put away all those groceries, which is why it’s purple Nikes for me these days.

Dutch Jeff

I’ve been filling out school forms and registration forms in copious amounts recently. A common question on all these official documents asks what the child’s preferred name is, as opposed to his or her given name. All this form-completing got me thinking about the names we call our boys when we aren’t calling them by their actual names.

The birth of a nickname often follows a roundabout, nonsensical path, at least it does in my family. While the evolution of a pet name isn’t always logical, to a family member it makes heaps of sense. It has a story, or at least years of shared living to inspire it’s use.

We call my sons:

H, Mr. Higgins, Hdawg;

Jacky, Jacky Jackerton, Jackmandu, Jackadoodledoo, Jackers crackers, Jack the digger;

Chachi, Chachismo; and…

Baby (you get lazy when you get to the end)

A few points of interest I noticed when mulling our list of nicknames:

1. The mostly nonverbal child has the most pet names. This is probably because he can’t tell us to be quiet and call him by his actual name. He just goes with it. And we just keep adding affectionate nicknames.

2. Our youngest may go to kindergarten someday thinking his real name is Baby. It’s all we ever call him. He responds to it better than to his real name. He points to his reflection and sweetly peeps, “Baby!”

3. The nicknames really have a way of accurately reflecting the personality of the boy. I mean seriously, Hdawg and Chachismo belong to two of the sassiest boys ever. They own those nicknames.

I don’t really have a nickname. The diminutive of my name is Meg, but people rarely call me that. I honestly wouldn’t mind if they did, because to me it sounds like the name of a quirky, strident, opinionated old woman, who has crazy bad hair and bakes decadent desserts in her messy, inviting kitchen. I could embrace Meg.

Jeff was called Jefe in high school Spanish, and it stuck for awhile. His parents still occasionally call him Jeffer, but his pet name of choice is one of his own invention, which is Dutch. The irony is that nobody has ever actually called him Dutch. He gave it to himself because he likes the way it sounds. He thinks it makes him seem….what? Rural? Crotchety? Good-natured old guy? I don’t really know, and I don’t think he cares that the only person who refers to him as Dutch is, well, him.

He tells me he will put it in quotation marks between his first and last names in his obituary. I tell him that I’m not sure an obit is the best venue for introducing one’s new nickname.

But I guess at that point, why not?

When the Wind Rustles the Cottonwood Leaves

I haven’t been in the mood to blog this long weekend. I just didn’t want to relive the events of these past several days by writing about them.

I didn’t want to write about Jack powdering the garage and all it’s contents with a full can of Comet.

I wasn’t up for a retelling of ten days during which my children were stricken with various diseases.

I really just couldn’t get into the tale of the firefighters racing to our house to tell us the overpowering smell was actually not natural gas, but one of Jack’s old vacuums that had internally combusted.

I did not wish to discuss the child who roamed the house last night between 2:00-5:30 AM; or the fact that he eventually fell asleep, while I could not.

I had little desire to recount the story of the cursed “permanent” ear tube which fell out of Jack’s permanently sickly left ear, which foretells yet another ear tube surgery in coming days.

In no way did I want to write the details of my close relation who has been sick, and hospitalized, and is still recovering post-surgery.

So instead I turned my mind to something else.

I thought about my friend Lindsay, who asked sincere questions about my life over sandwiches and then listened to me. Then she asked more questions, and kept listening.

I considered my dear neighbor, Chris, who handed me a box containing a homemade meal and a note which read in part, “Thank you for bringing a fire truck to our street so my children could sit in it and get a sticker.”

I reflected on my husband, who cleaned the entire basement (an awful task), before loading up the boys for an outing to the mountains, giving me an afternoon apart.

I noticed that when the wind rustles the leaves of the Cottonwoods outside my window, peace and satisfaction simultaneously wash over me.

I thought with pleasure of my Charlie, who pushed through his mammoth anxiety and boarded the bus to kindergarten with such bravery.

I anticipated Halloween and fall weather; also November, and pumpkin pie, and glorious Turkey feasts, and the birthdays of my eldest and youngest.

I reflected on the darling neighbor kids who play happily for hours in our cul-de-sac with my kids, and who like them the way they are, in spite of their issues.

I decided to focus on the gooey warm chocolate chip cookies which graced my oven and my lips this evening.

It was much better this way, you see, once I decided to be thankful.