I really liked being a teacher. I mean, I really, really liked it. As in, I loved the hell out of being in charge of a group of ten year olds.
I loved helping them to grow and learn in the most important ways.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I was pushed out of teaching by a cranky old guy who resented my ideas. You know that I miss teaching every single day.
I loved those kids. I really, truly did.
Even when they were making me CRAZY because they couldn’t manage to find a way to compromise with their classmates.
Oh, holy headache. I remember long, long, long, long classroom meetings where I repeatedly told two groups of kids, “Yes, you can find a way to compromise.”
I worked so hard to show them that if Team A gave up the idea of football at every recess, Team B might respond by saying they would accept football every day for those who wanted to play.
There were days when I felt like all I did was repeat the idea that ‘If you get one thing that you want, the other guys can get one thing that they want.”
I remember sitting at my deks, waiting for the two groups to come to some compromise.
I remember telling the kids, “If you can compromise, we can go outside to play. If you keep arguing we will miss our recess.”
We did miss a couple of recess breaks. We did. I clearly remember the absolute shock of both sides of the classroom argument as they realized that EVERYONE LOSES when nobody can compromise and come to agreement.
I thought it was wonderful when my ten year old charges understood that compromise was the only way to have the whole community move forward. I was so so proud of those children when they came to that incredibly powerful realization.
So you can see why I wish that Congress and the Executive could be brought under the control of a really good fifth grade teacher.
Until then? I am completely disgusted with every single person in Congress and the Executive Branch who draws a paycheck out of my tax payments.
I would be absolutely delighted if a fifth grade class could address the government shutdown in its morning meeting.
Before I begin this post, let me assure you that marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. Entirely legal. Got it? Nonni here ain’t heading for the slammer. Not anytime soon, anyway.
So here’s the story.
It all started a couple of years ago. My adult sons were home for Christmas. I had been telling them (as in, complaining and moaning non-stop) about my various aches and pains and terrible insomnia. “I haven’t slept in weeks,” I groaned. The kids knew I had tried everything from SleepyTime Tea to Ambien in search of decent sleep.
Because they love me, and because they no doubt wanted to shut me up, the boys made a suggestion. “Mom,” they said, “Come smoke a bowl of weed with us.”
I knew that my kids smoked marijuana, but I had been adamant that it not be done in the house. I didn’t like it, even when it stopped being a crime. It just made me uncomfortable.
I mean, I had tried a joint or two back in the day, but it just made me giggly and stupid. I preferred a couple of glasses of wine. And the stuff available now was nothing like what we used to have. It had none of the alluring Indian incense smell that I remembered from the 70s. This stuff was more reminiscent of an angry skunk. I wanted to no part of it in my house.
But I was desperate, I tell ya, just desperate. After hosting various holiday crowds, I found myself in the middle of a fibromyalgia flare and every inch of me hurt except my hair.
So I gave it a try. Two puffs on the boy’s magic peace pipe, and off I went to bed. I remember reading under the covers and thinking “This stuff is useless. I don’t feel a thing.” I closed my book and turned on my side.
The next thing I knew, the sun was in my eyes.
It was like a freakin’ miracle.
I had become a convert.
For a while I smoked marijuana to help me sleep, but I didn’t like the taste or the burning in my throat. Sometimes it gave me asthma. I moved on to using a vape device, but didn’t love that, either.
Finally, through the incredible generosity of some friends, I found the delight of cannabis butter. Mmm-mmm good!
Weed butter. This miracle cure is a simple concoction of marijuana and real butter. Every night now, I put a tiny bit into hot water, mix in a little turmeric and cinnamon, sip it and drift off to peaceful sleep. The aches and pains subside. I wake up feeling rested.
This old dog has learned a whole new trick!!!
Here’s where it gets dicey, though.
Nonni doesn’t exactly have a lot of contacts in the world of weed. I don’t want to depend on the generosity of friends who are too kind to charge me for my medicine.
(Plus, those friends are away for the winter, so…….)
I asked my boys to get me some weed for Christmas. They did! In fact, they gave me enough to last me probably two years (people their age go through it quite a bit faster than I do….). I took a little bit and made my fist batch of butter.
Oh, boy! I was excited! I carefully followed the recipe that I found on-line, after reading all about the process. I even took notes.
Everything was fine as the butter and weed simmered on the stove. The house smelled more like a bakery than a skunk den, so I figure it was fine.
Until the unmistakeable smell of burning popcorn seeped into my consciousness and I jumped out of my chair. I rushed to the stove, where I saw that my mixture had faded from creamy yellow to a dull brown. The butter had begun to burn, which accounted for the popcorn smell. I quickly pulled it off the stove, and hoped it wasn’t ruined.
I strained it and cooled it until bedtime.
Then I took a tiny bit in my usual cup of hot water. I sat down to watch a movie with my husband.
An hour later I felt like I’d been slammed with a dose of morphine mixed with vodka. Holy headspins!!!
I managed to brush my teeth and fall into bed, but I couldn’t read because my eyeballs were rolling around in my head like marbles. My mouth was so dry I thought I’d choke on my tongue.
My night went like this: Roll to the side, sip water, roll back, experience the thrill of riding a giant rollercoaster. Stay still, taste the entire Sahara in my mouth, roll over for water, take a sip. Now experience the delights of riding out a hurricane in a rowboat.
I learned a few more things last night.
One: all marijuana is NOT the same.
Two: it’s really really hard to get the right dose.
Three: Even riding a roller coaster in a hurricane is better than staying awake all night.
Now if only I could get the marbles to stop rolling….
One of the reasons why I’ve always loved being with children is that they are so honest. They don’t play emotional games. They tell you what they think.
I loved that in my classroom, because I learned pretty quickly that if I just listened, I could let them guide me toward a happier, more cooperative classroom.
As a Mom, I wasn’t always successful, but I tried to listen to what my kids were telling me. I tried to listen when they used words, expressions and actions to tell me “Mom, I love when you make up silly songs!” I tried to listen, and look, and understand, when a terrible tantrum showed me that my child was thinking “Get me out of here! I am confused! I don’t understand!!! It’s too loud, too bright, too happy, too sad…..”
I have always loved the honesty of children.
I remember how happy I was when one of my own kids, after a big argument between us, told me, “What you said wasn’t fair. I’m really mad at you.” It was so incredibly freeing, because I was able to tell him he was right, move past the fight and get to the root of our differences (whatever on earth they were.)
And I remember when I once told my class to let me know if I upset them, and the one little boy who told me, “You’re way to happy all the time.”
I remember the children who told me, “Your eyes make me happy.” and “I love the way you walk.” I love the honesty of children. I trust it.
So of course, I have a story to share about this Christmas with my grandkids.
I am used to the fact that when the big family gathers around, both Ellie and Johnny try to keep their distance from me. I’m the every day caretaker. Not as necessary as Mom and Dad, yet more familiar than those exciting Aunts, Uncles and grandparents from further away.
If I try to play with Johnny, he smiles his sweet smile, but makes sure to point toward his parents. “Mamma”, he says firmly. “Daddy.” I get it. He’s telling me its OK for me to hang around, but I better understand that he’s safe at home with his parents right now, and doesn’t intend to move.
When I reach for Ellie as I come in, she often smiles, waves and moves back out of my grasp. “I’m talking to Aunt Cynthia right now,” she’ll tell me.
I’ve learned to keep my distance and to embrace the adult conversations at these gatherings without the pressure of childcare. Watching Ellie play with the extended family is so sweet. Seeing Johnny in the arms of my siblings or his other grandparents melts my heart completely.
I think the kids associate me with long days away from Mommy and Daddy. I know they love me, but still….I’m like the comfy sofa. Always there, but not particularly exciting.
But this Christmas Eve, I got a much clearer idea of why Ellie has mixed feelings when I arrive at family gatherings. She barely spoke to me during the many hours of eating, drinking, gift giving, laughing, hugging and family revelry.
She danced by me once or twice, but we didn’t really connect.
Finally, though, when everyone had headed home except for a few of us, she threw herself into my arms and kissed me with joy. I was ecstatic to finally have her to myself, and kissed her cheeks and hair.
Leaning back into the curve of my arms, Ellie grinned up at me. “Oh, Nonni! Thank you for having this big party with us! The whole whole world was here at our party!!!!”
I squeezed her tight, telling her how much fun it was for me to be there with her.
Then my sweet girl put one hand on each of my cheeks and smiled right into my eyes.
“Nonni,” she told me earnestly. “You were so good here tonight! You were so so good!”
“I was?” I asked, wondering what she meant.
“Yes! You were so quiet!!! You didn’t talk at all! You were so so good!” She kissed me again in gratitude for my silence.
Really? All she wanted was for me to shut the hell up?
“Uh,” I began, “I did talk to my family….”
“I know!” She crowed joyfully. “But you didn’t talk to me!”
Way back in time, when Paul and I were mere grad students, I was introduced to a very intriguing concept. It was the end of one grad school year, and one of our friends stated that she and her professor were “decathecting.”
I had no idea of what the term meant, but as a grad student in speech/language pathology, it struck me as uniquely interesting. “Does one cathect?” I wondered. If not, how could one “decathect”?
It turns out that the term made a lot of sense to my husband and his fellow doctoral student in psychology. It meant, as I came to figure out, stepping back and detaching oneself from a relationship that was coming to an end.
Like that feeling that you’d get toward the end of a semester with a great professor and a fabulously supportive group of classmates. “Decathecting” meant that you would decide that nobody in the group was all that great anyway, so you wouldn’t mind leaving them.
Sort of a fancy way of saying, “You can’t fire me! I quit!”
I learned the true meaning of this term when I was teaching. Every June, I had to learn how to say goodbye to a group of kids I had come to love with my whole heart and soul. That meant, of course, that by May 1st, I was starting to think to myself, “These kids are actually kind of annoying.” At the same time, they were thinking, “Karen’s a pretty nice teacher, but we could do better.”
It meant a few weeks of rolling our eyes at each other, barking at each other and generally finding ways to look forward to our parting at the end of the year. We all knew that we were simply trying to protect our own hearts, and that we were sad to be leaving each other. Still, the process seemed to help smooth the way toward the end of our relationship.
I saw how “decathecting” worked when my children were teenagers, too. For the month or so before each one moved out, I found myself thinking, “Go ahead! Move out on your own! I’m tired of you anyway!” And I knew that every one was thinking, “I am so so tired of having my Mom hovering over every single thing I do!”
We parted ways with tears, hugs and a big old sense of relief.
I think today was my day for “decathecting” with my grandkids before Christmas break. I’d probably feel guilty about that except for the fact that its, you know, a real psychological term. And because I know it doesn’t mean that you stop loving the people you really, really need to get a break from.
Our Nonni/grandkids decathecting took place on the last day of school for the kids’ Mommy before Christmas break. Both of them knew that starting tomorrow they’d be able to stay at home with Mom and Dad. Both of them knew that they would be able to nap in their very own beds.
They have both been sick all week, too, so the desire to be home with their parents was even stronger than usual.
So today, both of my beloved grandchildren managed to express this thought to me: Who are you, anyway???? You’re not my Mommy! I don’t wanna nap here! I don’t wanna eat here! I refuse to eat/sleep/relax/readabook/color/drinkmilk/peeonthepotty/liedown/dance/sing/doapuzzle!!!!!!
It was a VERY. LONG. DAY.
I was cooking for a family party tomorrow. A party at which I will NOT be in charge of toddlers. I wanted to concentrate on my calzone instead of worrying about who need more playdoh.
Johnny kept grabbing his jacket and boots and going to the baby gate at the top of our stairs. He’d grab the gate and shake it for all he was worth, shouting, “my mama! my mama!” This went on for hours.
And Ellie, my one true love, spent the day with her braid completely unbraided, growling, “Don’t do my hair! Nonni! My MOMMA will fix my hair!!” and “I am so so tired! I need to sleep!!!” And when I’d suggest that she go to lie down in the very same bed where she has napped for three years, she sobbed, “NO!!!! I am so tired of this bed!!! I need to sleep in my own bed at my own house!!!!”
You get the picture. The theme of the day for the kids was, “We need a break from Nonni! We want to be home with our Mom and Dad!!! Help! Get us out of here!”
The theme of the day for Nonni was, “Two more hours until I can hand you off to your Mom and pour myself a drink! Help! Get these kids out of here!”
We were decathecting.
And it worked for the most part. Until Kate arrived to gather up her little ones and take them home. At that point, of course, Ellie began to sob.
“I don’t want to go!!! Nonni!!!” she sobbed desperately, “Nonni! I need you!!!!” Hurling herself against my legs, she seemed to be terrified of leaving.
Luckily, I know how this works. I hugged her back, kissed her teary cheeks and said in my firmest voice. “I love you. Go HOME.”
I guess we are still cathected on some level. Even so, I am really looking forward to a few days of adult thoughts and interactions.
Before you try to guess what I am moaning about, let me tell you that it isn’t what you think. Oh, sure, you’ve read my pitiful complaints before. You think you know me.
“I’m getting old,” you’ve heard me say. “My back hurts! Boohoo!” Sure. Pain is definitely a pain, but that isn’t what’s going to finally break my noble spirit.
“I lift hundreds of pounds of little kid, every single day,” I’ve written. You think that I’ll just curl up one fine day and die of pure fatigue. But that’s not it, either. I still have weekends and school vacations to rest and recover. I will not succumb to toddler-hefting syndrome.
“The current madness in this country is too much for me!” OK, I admit it. That one really does seem dire. The President is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad man. He is mean, nasty, dishonest, evil and probably has dementia on top of his malignant narcissism. Worse still, his entire political party is pretending to be blind, deaf and ignorant as far as he’s concerned. We are probably headed for the collapse of the world economy, the American Republic, democracy and perhaps human life.
But even that is not what has me perched on the brink of utter despair.
No, my friends.
Tonight I am facing a more demoralizing and devastating reality. Tonight I am contemplating another week of having to cope with the two most diabolical inventions of humankind.
Glitter and string cheese.
Glitter is my worst nightmare. It is insidious. You try your hardest, as a good modern progressive Nonni, not to use it or have it in the house. You do NOT buy jars of glitter just for fun. Even when the adorable little girl with the world’s most beautiful brown eyes gazes at you and whimpers with desire for such a thing.
You hold firm. But it gets to you anyway. It arrives the sparkly nail polish that an aunt bought. It attacks you from the blue gauze of the multiple tutus and Elsa dresses that have found their way into your home. It sneaks up in Christmas wrapping paper and inexpensive headbands.
And it hits your floor, sticks to your feet, finds its way into your eyeballs and nostrils. No vacuum can defeat it. No duster can erase it.
It. Will. Wear. You. Down.
And then there is the string cheese issue.
Now don’t get me wrong; string cheese is the perfect toddler snack and dog training treat. It is not messy. It doesn’t stick to things. It is healthy. It is super easy to carry in a purse or diaper bag. It’s inexpensive.
When you need it most, it will be impossible to open.
This is especially true if you have a barefoot toddler who just broke a glass and two puppies running around the house. If this happens, you will think quickly and grab a string cheese so that you can lure the pups outside and settle the toddler in the playpen while you clean up the mess.
You will be in a huge rush to open the cheese and get everyone out of danger. You will grasp the cheesy little niblet in one hand and try to pry apart the opening with the other.
You. Will. Not. Find. The. Opening.
You will give orders, “Stay!” “Down!” and “Sit down on the couch!” You will scrabble for the two tiny pieces of see-through plastic that keep sticking together when you’re supposed to pull them appart. And you’ll scrabble some more.
You’ll curse. You’ll tear at the plastic. You’ll scrabble even harder. You’ll try to use your teeth, but the sturdy freakin’ plastic will defeat your strongest molars.
Time will go by. The pups will dance around and the baby will chortle. All of them will be thinking, “Cheeseycheeseycheese!”
After about ten minutes, you’ll be soaked in sweat and will have cramps in all ten fingers. You’ll finally grab a pair of scissors and cut right through the words “easy open”.
You’ll give out the cheese and clean up the mess.
Then you’ll say, right out loud, “I will pay two million dollars to the person who can make string cheese in actually, truly “easy open” packaging!!”
One or the other of these will finally be the end of me.
Why are some women born with an innate ability to decorate the spaces they inhabit, while other women are born with the idea that plaids look great with stripes?
Now don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I dislike home decorating. That isn’t it at all! In fact, I yearn for the day when I will live in a place where every item is artfully chosen and precisely arrange.
It’s just that when I actually try to decorate my home, I inevitably come up with something that looks like it was done by a third grader let loose in K-Mart.
I didn’t even know that I was born with this deficiency until I had lived in this house (the one and only home we have ever owned) for several years. We were contemplating a paint job in the living room, and I decided to ask one of my many decoratingly gifted relatives for help.
“So Sue,” I asked my sister-in-law, “Do you think the living room would look good in a shade of Colonial blue?” (This was the 90’s. Don’t judge.) I mean, I was proud of myself for even knowing there was such a thing as “Colonial blue.”
Sue paused for a minute, looking around the room. “Well,” she said, “That depends on what you want to do with the kitchen and the dining room. You have to make sure that your colors flow.”
Flow??? My colors are supposed to…..um….flow???
I though she was referring to spilled paint, but it turns out that she meant that since all of the rooms connect and are visible to each other, the colors should be compatible.
She helped me pick out flowing colors, and the painting was done. Phew!
Over the years, with the help of both of my stylish sisters and my three “we could have our own showrooms” sisters-in-law, I have learned a few things. I sponge painted the upstairs at one point. I learned that the bath towels are supposed to match the hand towels which need to be color coordinated with the rugs, the soap dispenser and the shower curtain.
I now use table cloths when I have company, and they are (sorta kinda) color matched to my curtains, lampshades and picture frames.
I’m getting better! Yay, me!
But now it’s Christmas.
Now I am faced once again with the inarguable fact of my complete lack of taste.
Christmas decorating in this house means pulling out the old, puppy chewed toys from my husband’s youth. It means dredging out the aging, beloved, lopsided popsicle stick ornaments that our kids made 20 years ago. If I have been particularly inspired, it might mean a new Christmas candle or two.
What it doesn’t mean, (because I. Can’t. Pull. It. Off. ) is a perfectly arranged side table with crystal ornaments artfully displayed alongside beeswax tapers and perfect Charles Dickens lanterns. It doesn’t mean a gorgeous arrangement of antique toys or a tiny sparkling Christmas village complete with skating Victorian era children.
Oh, sure. I can put out a glass dish of red and green m&ms, but that’s my limit. How the hell does everybody else even FIND all those perfectly shaped, matching-the-wall-colors, adorable little decorative boxes? Huh?
How do all the other women just automatically KNOW how to set up the miniature reindeers? AND how the hell do they get miniature reindeers wearing bows that match their living room lampshades?
If any of you out there know the code to get into the secret society of decorating genius women, will you please, please let me know?
Meanwhile, I’ll be in the attic seeing if I can find the 40 year old plastic Santa with the chewed off mitten. He’s supposed to stand on the shelf next to floppy Frosty with the frayed scarf.
Our house is an interesting place these days. I mean, like really, ya know….”interesting’.
We are renovating two bathrooms. That means that we are now tearing apart two out of our two bathrooms.
Ergo: we don’t have any bathroom sinks this week. And we only have one working toilet. The one that is in the hall of our main living area. The one that has (cough, cough), no DOOR.
Now, let me be clear. Our house is about 35 years old. We’ve been here for roughly 28 of those years. We have been in the same bathrooms all this time.
Oh, sure, we’ve painted and put in a couple of new medicine cabinets after the original $3.95 cabinets kind of fell apart. We did a little bit to make things better, but still.
We were bathing in a wicked old tub and a wicked old shower. The drains were…in a word….gross. The bathrooms had those horrific “popcorn” ceilings.
It was PAST TIME to update.
And we are.
We have hired a crew of very skilled men who are ripping things to pieces while adding plaster, paint, a new tub, new shower, new toilets, new vanity. It’s gonna be LOVELY.
In the meantime…..
I am here in my house. With two or three toddlers every day. One is in a diaper, so he’s safe, but the other two? Well….they need a toilet every two hours. Or less.
So I have to call out to the nice worker men, “Can we use the toilet!?” They say “Yes!” and go into another room. Then I take the identified toddler and put her on the pot. I stand in the doorway, since both are suddenly all about “privacy” and we have NO. DOOR. on our bathroom.
Here it is:
This means, of course, that the kids sometimes pee in their pants. It means that the working men have to tell me, “Just a head’s up, gonna use the bathroom!”
And it means that old Nonni here holds it in. All. Day.
Nonni is channeling her inner teacher. But still…..yikes.
It means that when the kids go home and the worker men go home, and Papa hasn’t arrived back from work yet….Nonni rushes right into the incomplete bathroom and finds some relief.
It also means that at 3 AM when Nonni feels the call of nature, she has to stand up, turn on her phone’s light and stand there for a minute. She has to think “Wait. Bathroom. Huh? Bathroom? What bathroom? Oh, yeah in the hall….with no door….in the middle of the freakin’ night…..” Nonni finally gets there, but she is left with a strange feeling of “what the FUCK?” as she climbs back into bed after answering the call of nature.
This is a very strange place to be.
And here we are now. At 6PM. The kids and workers have gone home. I have organized and cleaned the living room and started dinner.
And I look around the house, thinking about Nonni’s needs.
We do have one working toilet (thank you, dear Lord, for the half hour with nobody home except for poor old backed up Nonni!). We have a new floor in our small master bath (Nonni will sing the praises of these worker men for months….) We have smooth walls, with no paint or color….we have no sinks, but we can brush our teeth in the kitchen sink for a couple of more days…..
Nonni is working very very hard to remain calm and serene. She is overlooking the plaster dust, the missing toilets, the lack of bathroom doors. She is trying to embrace her inner camper woman, she is trying to recognize that many people around the world are in much worse shape…..
Nonni is kind of “all done.” I will be thrilled to have new paint, new fixtures, new smooth walls.
But I am ready to have this all done. Nonni is ready, thank you, to have a nice, private place to go to get some relief from nature’s most primitive urges.
Please, please help me! I am in a desperate situation. Desperate, I tell ya. DESPERATE.
I don’t know what to do, or where to turn. I can’t take it any more, and things are looking very very grim.
Please help me.
I must find a way to rid myself of the most dreaded ear worm in the history of hearing.
Here is my sad, sad story.
I am, you see, the caregiver and loving Nonni of a three year old girl. This means that I spend a lot of time brushing hair, making cookies, hugging, blah, blah, blah.
But here’s the problem: I spend WAYYYYYYY more time acting out the part of either Elsa or Anna from the Disney blockbuster “Frozen”. You know the one I mean. The one with all the lovely visual images, the sweet story of true love between sisters, the adorable reindeer, and all that other crap.
You know this story.
It’s the one with the epic song “Let It Go!” Which ranks right up there in the pantheon of brain stickiness with “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” ‘
After roughly 12 straight weeks of watching “Frozen” every damn day, I am now about 4 seconds away from complete insanity.
Here, dear sympathetic readers, is a typical day in the life of Anna/Nonni:
Wake up at midnight from a little back pain. “Mmmm….comfy position….mmmmmm….”Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back any more-or-or….” NOOOOOOOO!!!! Eyes snap open, heart rate increases…..”NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” Clamp eyes shut, start internal singing of the alto parts in Handel’s Messiah….fall asleep…… Wake up at 6 AM. “H’m….today is Monday, so today we need to…’Let it go!!!! Let it go!!!!!!” Roll over, shove pillow over head and into left ear…moan pitifully…Begin to sing “Born to Run” right out loud. Take shower while singing “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” at the top of my lungs…..step out of shower…..”Do you wanna build a snowman????”
This goes on All. Day.
These songs are relentless. They have embedded themselves into my auditory system, where they are slowly chomping their way toward my cortex. They plan to overpower me. I feel it.
I feel the advance of the Frozen Earworm. I feel it! It’s coming for my soul!!! I don’t know where to turn!!!
But today, at last, I thought I might get a brief reprieve.
Today was the first day of our big bathroom renovation, and the house was full of big burly men with muscles and baseball caps and huge Dunkin Donuts coffee cups.
“Huh”, I thought to myself. “They will probably have a radio! It will probably be playing old Bon Jovi songs.” I smiled a little. I felt safe. These were obviously NOT Disney Princess types.
I let the men in with a sigh of relief, and got ready for the kids to arrive.
When Ellie and Johnny came in for the day, I introduced them to the big, manly builder people. I felt so….protected…you know? All was well. I felt almost smug in my sense of safety.
After breakfast, Ellie naturally asked to put on her blue Elsa dress and wanted to watch ‘the movie’. “Sure!” I said happily. “I’ll put it on!”
I still assumed that the manly men would be playing classic rock songs to scrub Disney right outta my cerebral neurons.
I’m an idiot.
Because here’s what actually happened.
Movie starts. Ellie begins to dance around in her blue Elsa dress, belting out the lyrics to every song.
Burly man #1: “Oh, so cute! Look at her! I have a six year old daughter and she loves this movie!”
Bulky muscle man #2: “I have two daughters! One is 13 and one is 11. Oh, I miss the days when they used to dance around in their Elsa dresses!” This one started to hum along with the music. I started to hyperventilate.
Manly worker dude #3: ” I have five kids! But only one daughter. This music really grabs you, doesn’t it?”
I was horrified. I felt so betrayed!
The music played. My earworm dug in even deeper. I am pretty sure I started to twitch.
I tried to relax. I started to hum Barley, by Birds of Chicago. I hummed really really loud. I stuck a finger in each ear and hummed some more.
When my heart rate returned to normal, I slowly withdrew my shaking fingers.
And this is what I heard, in three part dissonance from the men tearing apart my bathroom:
“Let the storm rage onnnnnn!!!!! The cold never bothered me anyway!!!!!”
You can’t count on anyone any more.
I am desperate.
And for the record, the cold ALWAYS bugs the hell out of me!!!!!
My house is generally sort of clean. Ish. I sweep the floors or vacuum pretty much every day. I have been known to wash my floors (if its muddy and the dogs have been coming in and out.)
I don’t do clutter. Unless you count the pile of papers that live on my counter, waiting to be looked at later.
So, you know. We are generally pretty clean.
But all I can say is that it’s a damn good thing that we have the occasional holiday. And it’s a damn good thing that I host them sometimes.
I say this because even thought today is a full three days before Thanksgiving, I have already cleaned two closets, dusted 25 picture frames (do you clean people do this on a regular basis?) and completely reorganized by kitchen.
I’ve located matching wineglasses and cleaned them all. I’ve counted out enough matching napkins for every guest to have one. Except me. I’ll get the mismatched napkin, but it’s all good. No doubt everyone will notice my extreme self sacrifice.
Today I found myself noticing all the dead bugs that have collected in various light fixtures. Ewwwwww and yuuuuuuuuuuuk all at once.
So there I was, standing on a chair, unscrewing light globes and shades, removing bulbs, and washing and dusting all of it. The back it all went.
What the heck.
I feel like I do a fairly, sorta, kinda good job of keeping ahead of the dust bunnies and grime.
At least I try!!!
But after all, it’s a good thing that at least once a year I have a reason to reach down deep and really get things clean.
Excuse me now. I need to go scrub the baseboards behind the toilet.
This is not a funny story, but if my words are chosen carefully and cleverly enough, I hope that you’ll at least chuckle a bit.
This is how it all unfolded.
I was at home this morning, as usual, with my two grandkids and our four year old friend. We had our breakfasts and cleaned up. We played a few rounds of Elsa and Anna and then we made some ridiculously goofy and adorable paper plate turkeys.
It was just your average day in the life of Nonni and the gang.
But suddenly, I heard something truly unexpected.
I heard my garage door opening.
“What the absolute FUCK?” is what went through my mind, while, “Oh, my goodness” came out of my careful Nonni mouth.
Nobody was due here in the middle of the day. Not my husband, my son-in-law or my daughter. Not the guy who is going to be renovating the bathrooms, not my neighbors, nobody.
But the garage door had definitely opened.
In the first ten seconds, I watched the reactions of the dogs. If a car that they know pulls into the driveway, they yip and dance and jump around like a couple of happy drunks. If it’s a stranger, they bark like they mean it and they both get a ridge of hackles down their normally smooth backbones.
Today, as the garage door opened? Deep barks and semi-hackles as they looked out the window into the drive. I peeked over their heads.
And saw nothing.
Now our garage has one of those openers with the little push button devices that sit on the cars’ visors. You can’t manually open the door. So, if there’s no car in the drive, there’s no device on a visor. Nobody should have been able to open the garage door.
But I am not quite insane. The door had definitely opened. The dogs and I had heard it. And there was no car anywhere in sight.
Ergo: Nonni panicked. I looked to make sure that all three kids were safe in the living room. They were. I didn’t hear anyone in the garage, so my assumption was that a bad guy was standing there, listening to the sounds of Olaf chasing Anna around the ice castle.
I can’t retell the next 30 seconds with any clarity, but this is a rough estimation of what went careening through my addled old panic stricken brain: “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…there’s a bad guy in the garage….he must have some wide band thingymadgigy that can open garage doors ….he knows we’re in here….whadooIdo? I’ll stay here with the kids and keep them safe! Whaddayamean safe? SAFE? From a crazy assed KILLER BAD GUY? I can’t keep them safe.”ˆ
By now my heart rate was approaching 200 and my head was absolutely splitting with adrenaline pain. I had a split second of complete indecision, and then for some reason, my brain said this, “I can’t hide up here with the kids…I have to go see who it is…if I hear any sound at all, I’ll just dial 911. where’smyphonewhere’smyphonewhere’smyphone? I got it, don’t drop it, hold it tight, tell the kids to stay here, tell them to sit on the sofa, they won’t sit on the sofa! Why would they sit on the sofa? Tell them to go hide in the bedroom! No, I’ll scare them…tell them you’re doing laundry….NO! They love laundry, they’ll wanna come! Just open the frickin’ baby gate and go face the deadly threat!”
At this point my whole body was shaking. It had been roughly two minutes since we’d heard the door open. The kids were still blissfully playing, making so much noise that I knew the bad guy must have heard them. I didn’t have a real plan in my head, but it seemed to make sense that I should try to scare off the threat. I could dial for help if it got dicey. No matter that chunky old Nonni couldn’t fight off more than chipmunk at this point, it still seemed like a good idea. So I went.
Our house is a split level, so the front door opens onto a set of stairs that go down toward the basement and garage, as well as a set that go up to the living room. I crept down the upper stairs, cell phone in hand, and glanced out through the glass pane of the front door.
There was movement out there on what should have been my empty lawn!!!
I took one more slow step. I got closer to the glass.
And there was my husband’s car, parked in the middle of the lawn. Behind it stood the man himself, pulling a bale of straw out of his trunk.
“It’s Papa!!!!” I yelled to the oblivious kids. Then I flew through the door and let the poor guy have it.
“OhSo, The daySo
So. The day is over. Papa made it safely back to work, and I made it back into the house. All three kids made it safely back into the arms of their parents.
After all that drama, there was no bad guy. No killer. No menacing stranger. I tried to tell myself that I had over reacted, but what else could I have thought? I couldn’t think of any other explanation for no car, no door opener but a wide open door. I started to chuckle at my foolishness, but a sudden thought stopped me: