Last Thursday started like this:
Please note that the maniacal laughter is not mine. It is my dear friend who does not have cats and does not witness such vicious antics on a regular basis. I have to say, I was a bit surprised by Mabel, though. She is only about 6 months old and she had to drag that dang squirrel through 2 cat doors to have her way with it in the comfort of the warm house.
My day didn’t really begin with squirrel killing. My weekdays start with getting my 3 older children to 3 different schools. Simple enough. We know the drill. But today my surly 16 year old decided to miss his ride. That means we have to stop what we are doing and go out into the sub-zero temperatures and transport our darling.
No biggie. Deep breath. Its all good. My husband is home this morning, so it simplifies matters. He goes out into the cold and pulls the car out of the garage. The same garage my son hit last night going 45 mph (or so it seemed) as he attempted to pull the car in for the first time.
I turn my attention back to the two remaining school-aged children. Kelly decides he is late for school and I cannot convince him otherwise. He gets ready and heads out the door. We are having an extreme cold snap and it is -5 degrees without the windchill. He starts heading down the street.
Problem is, Kelly takes the bus. It picks him up right in front of the house. I’m not sure where the hell this child is going. Having a teenager with Down Syndrome is always full of adventure. Sometimes it truly is like having an alien living with us. What is this person thinking? Is he really going to try to walk to school? I yell to him, hoping I don’t wake the neighbors. He stops, but only because one of our other cats (we have 3) crosses the road to greet him…Phew, Mittens saves the day.
I shift back to Grethe who has to be at school in 5 minutes. Luckily, we live next door, but we still struggle to be there on time. So much fun to be had in the mornings! It is hard to pull away. And this morning Grethe adds a twist: she tells me at 7:56 about the latest teasing episode. Two girls from her class have been giving her a hard time all year. It’s typical, catty 10 year old girl crap, and I usually make light of it, but its been going on consistently for months and Mama Bear is getting tired of it. Another deep breath and I tell her to be kind to her friends, even when it is hard.
What I am thinking at the moment is “WTF is that little brat’s problem? She’s just jealous of you because you are so cute and nice! Tell Miss Nasty to shut her yap”. I hope she listens to my verbal advice, not what I am emanating from my pores, and becomes a better person than her mother. I ignore my internal conflict and usher my child out the door.
Kelly is still with the kitty as his bus pulls up. This is the short bus and it is mayhem in there. If we put this scene in a movie, no one would believe it, it would be too over the top. The bus driver, William, has crazy, wiry hair that sticks up straight from his head. He hollers a cheery, “Hi Kelly!” as he swings open the door. The noise coming from the bus is extreme. Kids are yelling, one is running down the aisle and one is whooping while swinging his coat over his head. William is unfazed. Kelly is too. I have asked him before if he wants me to drive him instead of taking the bus. He emphatically says, “Bus!”. If he is happy, who am I to rock the boat?
Now here’s where things can get a bit stressful. The red lights of the bus flash on our busy street and traffic stops both ways. Kelly takes his time getting on the bus. Once on the bus, he s-l-o-w-l-y selects the perfect seat. Then he carefully removes his backpack and places it just so. He has to unravel the seat belt, but wait! he can’t do the seat belt with his gloves on… Cars are lined up for what seems miles because William has not turned off his flashers. I used to take Kelly onto the bus to expedite the process, but he will no longer allow me to do that. Like a coward, I now hide from inside my house and watch the show from afar. Earlier this week, a car actually ran out of gas idling behind the bus. I asked Kelly’s afternoon bus driver if having all those people waiting ever felt stressful to her (the same long procedure happens at the end of the day, with the addition of goodbye hugs). She just waved her hand in the air and said, “Nah, people are in too much of a hurry anyway. It’s good for all of us to learn to wait.” No wonder Kelly wants to take his bus.
When they finally all leave and my twins are happily playing, I am desperate to just sit and drink a cup of coffee. I get a few blissful sips into it, while enjoying a visit from my friend, when the squirrel arrives. I make my laughing friend help me dispose of the corpse. Then in comes a text from my highschooler explaining some very poor grades on two of his finals.
Oh, for god’s sake.
My 16 year old is doing damage control. He knows this is unacceptable because he has been mailing it in: doing the bare minimum to stay afloat. I have no problem with a couple of shitty grades if he he giving it his all, but this kid is not giving it his all. He’s doing just enough and then watching shows on his iphone and playing video games-all supplied by his loving parents. Granted, we made him get a job to pay for the phone and he buys the games with his own money, but we allowed all of it into our home. We are ultimately the ones responsible as long as he lives in this house. Damn. This parenting gig is a lot of work.
I decide not to answer the text. Leave him hanging. I call Jeb and we decide to meet for lunch to discuss our strategy.
Most days I love my job. It is always very full and after 19 years of running a busy house, I’ve pretty much got it down. It is certainly not all work. Usually, I get to do something fun like this:
But this cold snap has thrown me. My morning routine is off. I’m not about to go running at 5:30 in the morning when the windchill is 16 below. I know my brother in Alaska would probably tell me to suck it up, but we just aren’t used to these crazy temperatures in NH. 16 above zero, fine, I’m out the door. But 16 below? I ain’t going nowhere.
So I’m feeling it. Physically and emotionally. The house is a mess and the kids are a tad stir crazy too. So we invite a friend over and pretend to be pirates.
I get to sit by and soak up 5 year old phrases like,”Who wants to get shotten?!” or “I’m wearing my hat backwards, so I’m a dude” and “My ship can fly over the world”. Delightful.
All is calm, so I turn to my computer. I find this message waiting on Facebook: