Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I left work a few minutes early to be home in time to either take Clementine to her soccer practice or stay home with the boys and start dinner. Unlike the boys, Clementine has practice from 6:00 to 7:00 (the boys are 5:00 to 6:00), so there is little time to dawdle after practice if we want the kids in bed on time. It's practice - dinner - baths - and bed. bang - bang - bang.

When I walked in the door at 5:40, Clementine was still downstairs watching TV. Elise was in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher. "Is Clementine ready to go?" I called as I walked in the door, Leave-It-to-Beaver style.

Elise uttered an expletive from around the corner and said she lost track of time. She chalked it up to a "parenting fail".

"No fail," I told her. Seriously. I'm just happy we are all still breathing and are civil to one another most days with all the craziness going on in her lives. Believe me, there were zero expectations that Clementine would have her shin guards and socks on and waiting for me by the door, bouncing a soccer ball off her knees. Though that would have been nice.

Instead, I attempted to hurriedly wrestle shin guards around her ankles when she finally made it upstairs. I have never played soccer, so had no idea what I was doing. I'm also awful at doing Clementine's hair. I know I should learn at some point, but I never had a sister (that's my excuse, anyway), so never learned to braid hair or make a pony-tail. When Elise goes out of town or isn't around to help get Clem ready, you can tell, because her hair is never done and she walks around looking like Janis Joplin, bedraggled and disheveled.

Clem did make it to soccer, but Elise ended up taking her. I ran to the store to buy penne for dinner, leaving Sam and Peter home alone for five minutes. We recently bought a new iPad after our old iPad jumped off my bedside table on to the hard wood floor, dislodging some visual processor and turning everything pink. You can text from the new iPad, so Sam sent text messages to me while I was at the store.

He asked me to bring in the old iPad from the car, but I explained to him I didn't have the car; Mom did.

"Dang it," he texted.

It's a little jarring the first time you text back and forth with your son as though he suddenly reaches a new level of maturity in recognizing that the person on the other side of this exchange of digital waves has cognitive powers and volition you always knew were there, but somehow became more real, made tangible because he was able to shape his cognition and will into independent electronic messages.

And in that written "Dang it" I could hear Sam in my head, just like you can't read any Morgan Freeman quote without imaging his voice in your head reading it to you.

Elise had made kale pesto. I boiled penne and cut up some cherry tomatoes to put on top, and we sat down and ate. Most families have -- I think -- more or less assigned seats at the dinner table. But evolving feuds have us playing musical chairs most nights. Last night, Peter did not want to sit next to Clementine, but did want to sit next to me, but Sam was not willing to move his chair....really. There are only so many different ways you can sit five people around a four-sided table. We've exhausted pretty much all of them, Last night, I found myself with the rare privilege of sitting at the head of the table, a distinction usually reserved for Elise.

We don't have a lot of real hard and fast rules in our house. That being said, I really wish the kids would ask to be excused before bolting from the table. They never do, and are often on the other side of the room before I notice their flight and ask them, rhetorically, "Have you asked to be excused?" Which is kind of ridiculous to ask, because -- duh -- I know they haven't and more often or not they reply, "No," then just continue doing whatever it was that was so important they had to get up in the middle of dinner to do.

Peter ate three pieces of French bread, then ran for the couch before I could wrangle him back to the table. "I have something important to tell you," I told them.

"What?" Peter asked disgruntled.

"Nanny is sick."

Their three blank faces looked back at me. Elise began to tear up at the other end of the table.

I think it is hard to describe to children an idea that is on a spectrum. There are varying degrees of illness, and the children have been sick before. It almost seems as though it would be easier to tell them something binary. Though I've read differing accounts from parenting websites on that score.

"She's in the hospital."

They were silent. A few moments later, Peter -- seemingly unphased -- moved back to the couch, curled his knees up to his chest and stuck his butt up in the air, and went back to reading.

"Do you have any questions?" Elise prompted.

"What is she sick with?" Sam, sitting next to me, asked.


"Is she going to be okay?"

"I don't know." 

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