Night To Remember

August 26, 2014

My daughter left for a week in Disney World with the Boys and Girls Clubs at three o’clock this morning. My son and I spent hours discussing, debating, fighting over a trip to the woods tonight to celebrate the end of summer. Long story short, I won. No trip to the woods but he was allowed to stay out until 10.

Long, long story short, I lost. After about three minutes of due diligence I discovered him on his way to, you guessed it, the woods. He threw his phone in the car, swore he wouldn’t take a walk to the forest, (shades of Little Red anyone?) and took off in the direction of the Square. Two hours passed. I had his phone. I’d put it on the charger, and heard no texts, no snapchats; it was silent as my phone. And that is really, really silent because Katy was in Disney world.

So I went out to look for him. I walked around the Square, I walked around the Circle, I headed over to Cunningham Woods, following the footsteps of about 5000 teenagers with much “cooler parents” than me. I took the shortcut behind the old barn, I heard voices, all different voices, girl voices, and man voices, punk voices, and rap voices, freshman boys with changing voices, and freshmen girl voices I recognized, in between drags on their cigarettes. No son.

I headed back in the car. Three minutes after I drove away, I was pulled over. My lights weren’t on. I told the officer the tale of the son and the horribly strict, uncool mom, and he told me go home and drink some tea.

I went home for tea, probably not tea, maybe seltzer, most likely aspirin and tap water, and was greeted by a the sounds of one or two dogs next door- barking, shrieking, wailing . There was a dog beneath the porch of the abandoned house next door. Barking, shrieking, wailing. They didn’t sound like any dogs I knew.  Did someone make a trip to the shelter this afternoon and decide the poor thing should spend the night outside?

I pulled out my phone and stepped beyond my back door to investigate. It’s a new phone, I hadn’t downloaded the flashlight app. We don’t own any flashlights, haven’t bought one since we discovered we could buy the app for free.

Walking toward me, ablaze in light from his high beams and his very own flashlight, the kind with batteries, a police officer,  (a different police officer from the one I met 20 minutes before.)

“Someone called in, is that your dog out there? The neighbors think they hear your dog next door, makin all kinds of noise.”

The officer, me and the Flashlight went over to investigate. It took time, the officer was even more cautious than me, but yes, that was Sophie, who had someone gotten her leash (from our earlier dog walk in search of Colin) all tangled up in a skunk’s tail. I guess dogs sound different when they are in the throes of battle and stench.

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, or felt like I really didn’t have a choice because after all, a cop was waiting for me to get the damn dog back in the house, and this cop probably had better things to deal with, like the party at the quarry with 5 thousand kids all belonging to incredibly cool parents, kids who weren’t doing anything more than exchanging snapchats and discussing who had who for home room, a couple of whom might need rides home from some of our finest. Because their really cool parents were already sleeping. Or at their very own party-

By the time I was calm enough to approach her, the skunk had died, choked by Sophie’s leash, or by the mighty Sophie herself. Sophie is sleeping soundly now, and our house does’t smell like wet dog anymore. It smells like dead skunk.

Colin just got home. He’s outside inspecting the dead skunk. I really, really hope the damn skunk is dead. A trip to the ER with an angry injured teenager might be a little too much excitement for one person to handle.

When he gets back inside, we can discuss the war. The war between Sophie and the Skunk. Not our nasty brief skirmish.

What I learned from tonight? I really really need to renew my license, and to take off the Sweet Bloodthirsty One’s leash as soon as we get home.

There’s probably more, but I want to go watch tv with my son and pretend we are both about two years younger. The Simpson’s marathon is still on, so after an hour or, we might not be pretending anymore. He might share the quilt, and might let him wear Dad’s slippers.

My feet are cold. They are still stuck inside the long, brown, polka dotted boots I wear for shoveling. The socks are a little wet, and the jeans I tucked inside the boots are also a little wet.  This explains why my feet are cold, but not why I’m still wearing the damn boots.

It is the tail end of another “snow event”. In other words, it’s still snowing. In about twenty minutes, I will head back outside in my quest to clear a path along our thirty feet of sidewalk. It snowed a lot, two feet I think, so the walls of white along the path are about three feet high. I am proud to be the one that built those walls of snow, me and my shovel make a helluva team.

Colin and Katy started their snow day out in the kitchen, making pancakes. Katy is nine, Colin is twelve. This was their first attempt at creating a breakfast that didn’t come out of a box or a bag of bread. I chose to stay out of the kitchen,  I stayed on the sofa and listened to the process.  

“I don’t know Colin, do you really think we should add two eggs? The box says to add one.”  “Katy, what did you DO with the spatula?” “Why do you think I did something to the spatula. I don’t even know where mom keeps the spatula, I don’t even know what COLOR the spatula is… Sophie!!!! Put that down!!!”

For about 2 minutes I listen to both of my children chase Sophie the Wonder Pup, as she flies around our dining room, spatula firmly planted between her jaws. Then I hear- “Sophie… treats.” Katy is using her sweetest voice, the one that promises wonderful, wonderful delectable morsels. I almost got up to go see what she offered.

About ten minutes after the spatula was recovered by my daughter’s feminine wiles, and some old slices of turkey, the first batch was done. Colin called out “Orders up.” Katy stood at the refrigerator and asked me- “What’s your poison?” meaning did I want milk or orange juice. When did my kids begin to talk like short order cooks or bartenders? Why didn’t they bug me to make french toast?

 Most snow days, we tackle the driveway and the sidewalks together. We argue over who gets which shovel, and wears the gloves that don’t match. We throw snow balls, and there comes a time where I have to institute a cease fire because one hits Katy to hard in the head.

But today, I felt like I could handle the job on my own. While I listened to them make breakfast, watched them serve breakfast, marveled at them cleaning up after breakfast… it occurred to me that maybe they deserved a break. And maybe I needed a few minutes outside by myself to get used to the idea that Colin and Katy are growing up.

The driveway is done. The sidewalk and the stairs up to our house are clear. I’m a gym rat, and I like the fact that I am strong enough to do all this work, to shift mountains of snow from one spot to another, without pause.

But I saved the other side, the sidewalk on Franklin. I have laid out our collective mittens, found a few extra shovels, and we are going to finish it up together. There will be snow balls thrown, and endless negotiations about who gets which shovel, and whether we should clear in front of the neighbors house. And if we still like each other when we are done, and can still feel our toes, I’m thinking this snow is the right kind for building a snow man.

I’ll see what they think. I am hopeful that they are still young enough to be bribed with hot chocolate, especially if I still have my stash of the right kind of marshmellows.

How do you like it?

September 17, 2012

Sophie, the pup, prefers water from the toilet. Bijoux and Mamma, the cats, love to sip from glasses left on the table intended for humans. I’ve never seen Whitey the bird drink, all I know is she likes her H2O clean. (Which explains why that is the one spot in her cage she hasn’t used as a toilet.) Sammy the Turtle uses his water dish as a means of escape, he likes baths more than beverages.

Colin and Katy like their water delivered to them, five minutes past bed time. And it must be cold. Most nights they don’t get it, but they seem to be thriving.

I like to gulp water right from a gallon jug, 20 drinks and I’m done for a while. Sheldon likes cubes so he’s in charge of refilling the trays.

It’s funny. We all get thirsty. And each of us have entirely different ways of quenching that thirst. For the most part (excluding Colin and Katy’s demands, I mean, every single night, 5 minutes after I have tuck them in,) each preference is indulged.

I’m not heading for a metaphor, I’m sleepy. I’m not going to break into song about how lucky I am to be an American. I can’t sing, not much rhymes with water and it wouldn’t go over well with the top 40 demographic.

I just wanted to note- water is important. Scientists say so. So does the school nurse, and the trainers at my gym.

So turn off the tap when you brush, leaving it on isn’t going to clean the sink. Don’t flush just because you went into the bathroom to reapply lipstick. If you have to take a bath, share it with someone you love, or someone who smells so bad it is interfering with your quality of life.

My family and I thank you.