October 10 was our eighteenth anniversary. Dave and I didn’t go big this year: we made a reservation at a restaurant we’d been wanting to try. He had a lovely vase of flowers delivered to our table…. and okay fine I bought him a pack of performance socks BUT HE WANTED THEM I SWEAR. We had dinner, our waiter brought us shots and dessert on the house, and it was lovely.
Just as lovely was what I saw upon coming home from work that day. The kids had the day off. This was on the front door:
How much do you love that they cleaned the glass for me?
I walked in to find this Happy Anniversary sign in the entryway:
I didn’t ask them how they hung this. I don’t want to know.
And then, on the kitchen table, I discovered that they had gone online, chosen a place for us to eat, picked out our meals….. and then they all went in together to pay for it:
Me: ….Did you put alcohol in these drinks?
Cam: …..Did you want us to or not want us to?
How sweet is this? The thought they put into this entire presentation, right? I mean, the fact that they printed and framed a photo of their parents made my black, cold heart grow three sizes.
We of course did not allow them to pay for our dinner. We did, however, hug them to death. They are literally the best three kids on the face of the earth.
This warm and golden memory is currently the only thing keeping me here at the kitchen table right now, thirty minutes past my bedtime, while I help Cam finish up his French presentation. Just saying.
So. Okay. As we all know, I am not necessarily crafty. It’s not that I can’t- it’s more like the activity of crafting makes me want to die. This is my Halloween nightmare: at every turn, I am required to freaking craft something.
Exhibit A: Gabby wants to wear a Day of the Dead costume. We already bought the outfit itself– but as you know, the centerpiece of a DOTD costume is the elaborately painted face. Which I can do…. except that Gabby has chosen several different looks and is happily planning on our trying them all out in advance before settling on one. I…… do not feel like doing that.
Exhibit B: Addie J has decided to be a jellyfish. A JELLYFISH. This sort of reminds me of the year that the girls wanted to be a goldfinch and a flamingo. Except that a jellyfish needs to light up, so, you know: more complicated. Because I am very, very smart, I have already enlisted my mom to help me with this situation. Stay tuned.
Exhibit C: I am one of Addie J’s room parents. I would love to just show up and referee the pumpkin relay races, am I right? –But no: there’s a planning meeting (which I got out of attending because it’s my anniversary) and everyone who doesn’t attend the meeting is required to send in craft and game ideas.
Just typing that sentence makes me want to go lie down.
So anyway: from what I can tell, I am going to spend this weekend, and next weekend (and possibly the following weekend, I don’t even really know how much October is left) painting Gabby’s face repeatedly, and hot gluing sparkly shit to giant rolls of bubble wrap, and I think also building some kind of ring toss game? (Hopefully if I buy the ring toss game shit, put it all on the dining room table, and circle it hopelessly for thirty minutes or so, it will inspire Dave to take over. That’s my plan.) This, of course, in addition to lacrosse tournaments and dance practice and tae kwon do board breaking contests.
In conclusion: I live in a world of nonstop glamour and excitement.
All three kids went through a time in their lives when they were constantly forgetting things: their homework at school. Their water bottles at practice. We would be headed to dance and Gabby would say, “…Oh. I don’t have my shoes.” Your shoes? We are going to an activity you cannot complete without your shoes, and you forgot them? Probably, the most egregious example would be the time Cam forgot his cleats for a lacrosse tournament. Which was three hours away. And he realized this at the hotel, at about 11:30pm, with his first game at 7:30 the next morning. Let me repeat: Cam had no shoes to wear for his lacrosse tournament.
That was a big one.
My mom has told me before that kids are just forgetful at this age. She raised five children to be responsible, productive adults– we’re all happily married, no divorces, gainfully employed, property owners– so I tend to put a lot of stock in her opinion. And I try, very hard, to be patient when my kids forget things. Here’s a brief rundown of just a few of the things the kids forgot this week:
- About ten minutes before I was leaving for yoga, I learned that Gabby borrowed my yoga mat and left it in Dave’s car. Dave (and his car) were about thirty minutes away at the time.
- Addie J forgot her lunch. So far this week she forgot it on Monday (but I ran it out to the car before she left), she forgot it on Tuesday (by the time we discovered it, her lunch period was over), and she forgot it today (but Dave put it in her bag while she was searching for her jacket).
- Addie J also forgot her jacket somewhere. That jacket which she fell in love with, and which she begged me for, and could not live without, just TWO WEEKS AGO. That jacket is gone.
- Cam: “Oh Mom: can you swing by and drop off a copy of my driver’s permit? I need it by today.”
- ME: Did you Lysol your bag like I asked you to do? KID: …..I’ll do it now.
Et cetera, ad infinitum.
Mom tells me I need to be patient. She reminds me how I left my purse everywhere at this age. So I work on my patience.
Via text just now: “Hey Mom: I forgot my poster that I made last night. If you don’t have time to bring it to school it’s okay.”
JULIE: How did today go?
GABBY: We’re still doing archery in gym, and I set the record for most arrows lost in one day.
JULIE: Way to reach for the stars, kid.
Mom, I’m kind of an Edgar Allen Poe situation in that I’m a little bit crazy, I’m not everyone’s flavor– but no one can deny that I’m really good at what I do. -Gabby
We had a whirlwind illness fly through the house this week. It was crazy: on Sunday we went to a birthday party (this becomes important later). Monday all was well all day. I went to 8pm yoga and spent some time chatting with my former yoga enemy, who is now my fellow Head of the Class and new yoga friend. (That’s right: mission accomplished on the yoga class front. I am the Head of the Class, damn it.) Anyway, I got home a little before 10pm and everything was fine.
10:10 Cam is heard throwing up in the upstairs bathroom.
10:20 Gabby is heard throwing up in her room.
10:30 Cam is heard throwing up in a basin in his room. I go into his room, since Dave is busy helping Gabby. As I’m standing there I suddenly realize that I, too, am going to be sick. I run to my bathroom and join in the festivities.
Repeat every 20 minutes or so, all night long, until 5:30am.
Poor Davey. He and Addie J were the only ones who weren’t sick, and Addie slept through the whole ordeal- Dave was the one getting up to take care of the kids, asking me if I needed anything, emptying basins, he even ran the carpet shampooer in Gabby’s room at some point in the wee hours. There was absolutely nothing I could do to help him- I was either actively vomiting, or lying down and trying not to die. After being up with the three of us essentially all night, he was up at 6:15 to get Addie off to school and head to a morning meeting. (He didn’t even complain or even really talk about it later, which in my self-centered opinion is even more impressive. And he’s been feeding us all soup from Panera for the past two days. As far as I’m concerned he is currently wearing a halo.)
So on Tuesday, Cam and Gabz and I stayed home. We all dragged our carcasses downstairs around 11am, sprawled variously in the living room, and tried to watch a movie. We were really hot and briefly discussed going to the basement to watch down there, but the thought of the stairs was too much– so instead I cranked down the AC (note that the journey to and from the thermostat was arduous and long, and when I got back, Cam and Gabz thanked me profusely for making the trip. This is how we were: every time one of us got up and did something, the other two were like, “I know how hard that was, thank you SO MUCH”). We fell asleep during the movie and woke up to Dave, coming home with soup around 1pm; we tried to eat it but the act of eating proved too difficult. We crawled back upstairs, leaving everything on the table, and went back to sleep. Around 7pm (?? It was a long and dreamlike day) I woke up and slowly made my way downstairs like I was 103 years old, so that I could say hello to Addie at least once. After a few minutes, Addie had to help me back up the stairs, one at a time, so that I could go back to bed. (The other two, smarter than I am, never even tried to go back downstairs.)
This is how our Tuesday went. Wednesday was better but not by that much; this morning I am showered and dressed for work for the first time since Monday but Cam is still in bed, trying to figure out if he can go to school. Only Gabby, who has always possessed the most superhuman immune system I’ve ever seen, is completely fine.
And what was it? I mean: that’s what I would like to know. We have identified Sunday’s party as Ground Zero, because several other people at that party later got sick as well. It was not food poisoning, though: all five of us plus my mom went to the party and only 3 of us got sick. In addition, I didn’t eat anything at the party anyway and I got spectacularly sick. I don’t know if I have ever taken off two days in a row since I started working, unless a newborn was involved. I am hoping and praying that Dave and Addie, and my mom, stay well– because as Cam said at one point on Tuesday: “That was the worst night ever in this house.”
(Update: poor Cammy is staying home again today. This is just the worst.)
Fifteen years ago, I was living in the city with my husband and my brand-new baby. My sister called me early in the morning and told me to put on the news. I still remember the shock of watching the towers fall, unable to wrap my mind around it, unable to grasp it.
This morning I drove my daughter to dance- a daughter who has never lived in a world where there weren’t terrorists at the airport, cowards with shrapnel-filled bombs at races, lone wolves with knives on the streets. NPR was interviewing the CEO of a company which was headquartered at One World Trade Center, and which lost over 600 people on 9/11. The CEO escaped harm because it was his son’s first day of kindergarten, so he was going into the office late that day.
The interview was fascinating; this was clearly a strong and determined man. With calm and clarity, he described approaching the site as his driver cried. Without hesitation, he talked about grabbing people away from the doors of One World Trade Center as they came out. He described diving under a car to escape the suffocating black cloud that descended when Two World Trade Center collapsed. He recounted a conference call that took place late the evening of 9/11, in which he asked his remaining employees to decide to honor their colleagues in one of two ways. There would be about 20 funerals to attend each day for about a month; he told them it would shutter their doors permanently to do so but he was willing. He gave them a second option, to honor their colleagues by going back to work. “When they made their choice,” the CEO reported with pride, “the company was saved.”
The interviewer then asked him about his brother, who worked at the company and who was killed in the attack. The CEO briskly explained that his brother called their sister in the aftermath of the plane strike. The CEO reported that his brother told her that he was going to die, and he wanted her to know how much he loved her and their whole family.
I think that’s what he said anyway; as he started to explain this part of his story, he broke down in fresh grief. Fifteen years later, driving home from the dance studio on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I could still hear his shock and loss. “I’m sorry,” he said through his tears. The interviewer whispered, “It’s okay.” Then there was a pause, in which I could hear each of them taking deep, shaky breaths.
I left a voicemail for a gentleman yesterday. When he called back, he began with, “You know, you spoke very quickly in your voicemail. You need to slow down when you leave messages for people, young lady. It’s important.” …That’s right: before discussing our business, this gentleman told me that the speed of my speaking cadence should better align with his preferences. Then he reminded me very helpfully that voicemails are important. Right after he established his superiority by calling me “young lady.”
Any males out there get mansplained over the phone yesterday?
I didn’t think so.
JULIE: Good night.
KID: Mom- before I go to bed, there are two things I want to talk to you about.
KID: Number one: I have questions about faith versus science, and I’m not sure what I believe or even how to believe in both at the same time? ….And number two: I am thinking about wearing makeup to school tomorrow.
KID: You can just focus on one of those for now if you want.
- Last night I got TWO, not one but TWO, “You got its” from the yoga instructor. To be fair: Amy wasn’t there today to be his favorite beloved– but a teacher’s pet wannabe will take any edge she can get. (Also: as a result of my extra-hard work last night, this morning I can actually hardly move. Totally worth it.)
- Yesterday I found a confused-looking bee in the house, crawling over the window. “Oh- there’s a bee in the house,” I said. “Burn it down,” Gabby replied.
- Yesterday I spent the day updating course websites. That kind of updating- where you’re changing calendar dates and editing links– is just soul-crushing for me. The most boring and tedious job ever.
- Also, apparently all the classroom computers are being updated to Windows 10, because absolutely no one wants that and so I.T. is doing it. (Dave: It’s just a gateway. Me: Shut up, Dave.)
- This next several weeks is filled with First Day of School pics on Facebook. I freaking love these. I love everything about first day pics- I love the ones where the parents are being obnoxiously happy that their kids are going back to school; I love the ones where the date is written in chalk on a little chalkboard (do people buy little chalkboards just for this purpose, and just keep them at their house all year in a special place? –Probably next to Elf on a Shelf, which is why this tradition is not for me); I love when the kids are willing and I really love when they’re unwilling. There is something so sweet and fun about the first day and I can’t get enough.
- Cam came home from his first day and exclusively reported on which of his friends were in which of his classes– which as everyone knows is the only important thing about high school.
- At this point, I’m just avoiding the terrible, all my muscles hurt, what-did-you-do-last-night run I have to take this morning. I’m going to go do that, I guess… unless anyone wants to post more pics for me? I’ll wait here a bit longer. Just in case.