Teenagers Are Like Two Year Olds

This is what my husband says when I complain.  Teenagers are like two year olds.  When my children were two, I didn’t complain about their irrational, illogical, self-centered, pouty ways.  I just accepted it as part of the stage.  Well, ok.  I complained, but not because I expected them to behave differently.  Maybe if I view my teenager as a two year old, I can do the same now.

The thing is, they look so much like grown-ups.  They are capable of so many things like complex speech, reading, self grooming (most of the time), lawn care.  It really seems like they should be capable of logical deduction and basic analysis of situations.  But they aren’t.  Some examples are in order.

This morning, Jane was angry.  She was angry because her dad wouldn’t buy her Blow Pops for her campaign for National Junior Honor Society Secretary.  He wouldn’t buy them for her because she didn’t have a plan.  She just wanted to hand them out.  He said she should have “Vote for Jane” signs on them or something.

After discussing with me, he decided to offer to buy the Blow Pops if she’d pay for half.  She was still angry.  Because he had told her (her words) that “giving the Blow Pops without a sign advertising was stupid.”  I stopped her and pointed out that she now had the opportunity to get what she wanted.  She was too busy moping.

When I pressed, she pointed out that she’d been asking for the Blow Pops for several days and she could have put tags on them if she had gotten them then.  I asked why she had never mentioned putting signs on them.  “Last night,” I said, “Why didn’t you say, ‘Hey, I need those Blow Pops for tomorrow. Look, I’ve made these signs and I want to attach them.  Can mom pick up the suckers on the way home from her meeting?’  But you didn’t do that.  You waited to ask for them again this morning.”

“Because I didn’t think about it then.”

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the problem with the teenage brain.  Well, one of them.  They expect so much more out of you than they ever hold themselves accountable for.  It’s her suckers.  We really don’t give a flip if she has them or not.  So whose responsibility should it be to make sure they get purchased?  See, I would think it’s hers.  But she thinks it’s ours.  Because she told us about it and that makes it ours.  She gets to offload it from her brain to ours, as if we don’t already have plenty of things that are important to us taking up space there.

A similar thing happened with the purchase of eggs for her science project.  One Wednesday evening, she declared the need for eggs to test her protect-the-egg-from-breaking-when-dropped-from-a-great-height device.  So Daddy brought home some eggs.  Saturday night, she had a friend spend the night.  Sunday morning, with six people in the house, one of them a guest, Daddy thought it’d be a good idea to fix some breakfast.  The eggs were still there and were the only eggs in the house.  So he cooked them.

Monday morning, Jane got out a pan to fix herself some breakfast before heading out to volunteer for four hours at the elementary school (no school that day).  That’s when she discovered that *her* eggs were gone.  She was enraged.  Those eggs were hers.  They were for her science project and we had no business cooking them.  Never mind that we cooked them so her guest could have breakfast.  Never mind that she had acquired them over four days earlier yet not conducted her experiments.  Never mind that she herself was about to cook them.  Never mind that we had four hours to get more eggs before she could do anything with them.  They were hers and we were out of line.

About five hours later, we were returning home and were almost there when she asked about eggs.  She then got saucy and rude when she found out we had forgotten to purchase the eggs.

“You and Daddy drove right past the store after he picked you up.  Why didn’t you ask if he had purchased the eggs then?”

“Because I didn’t think about it then.”

Again, we were expected to remember her business more fully and completely than she was.  We were, again, in the wrong while she shared no culpability in the non-possession of eggs.  And she needn’t come up with a solution to her problem – like, stopping at the convenience store around the corner from our house, which was what I suggested.

The selfishness of teenagers truly has no bounds.  That particular weekend that her friend spent the night, her brothers had been making plans to sleep on the couches in the living room Saturday night.  They were pumped about it in a way that only makes sense if you are under 12 years old.

And then Jane, who was celebrating her birthday with friends, asked for a sleepover.  I agreed and then suggested to the boys that since they didn’t have school on Monday, they could sleep in the living room Sunday night.  They weren’t happy about it but reluctantly agreed.  Jane and her friend stayed up late into the night watching a half dozen episodes of How I Met Your Mother in the living room.

Sunday night, on the way home from visiting friends, Jane asked if she could watch an episode.  Daryl immediately piped up that she couldn’t because they had the living room.  I confirmed that he was right.

“So I don’t get to watch an episode,” she said, with so much scorn and disgust dripping from her voice that I’m surprised it didn’t stain her clothes.

“That’s right.  They didn’t get to do what they had planned last night so they get to tonight.”

“Can’t they wait in their room while I watch an episode and then they can go sleep on the couches?!”

“No, dear.  They gave up their plans last night so that you could do what you wanted.  You watched five episodes last night.  I think you’ll be ok not watching one tonight.”

“So I don’t get to watch an episode.”  Her tone made it clear that the world was unfair and stacked up particularly tall against her.

The fact that she could not comprehend how she had impacted her brothers the night before, nor that she was asking for a further inconvenience that night for something that was truly not important, astounded me.  The comparison to a two year old is an accurate one.  The only difference is that I never expected her to comprehend why it was wrong to steal someone else’s toy when she was two.  I kinda expect her to get it now.

But, no, it’s all about what she wants and when she wants it.  The morning after Daryl’s exhausting sleepover, while I prepared to make detailed minion cupcakes for Hal’s party that afternoon, she wanted me to sit at the dining room table so we could discuss her desire for an iPhone.  I told her that, especially since I had just discovered I had no icing, I simply didn’t have time and it wasn’t a priority to be taken care of that morning.

She could not believe that I wasn’t making time for her on what is arguably one of my busiest days of the year: Saturday of birthday weekend.  She started ranting about how she had been “kicked out of my house on my birthday and now you won’t talk about my phone!”  This ignored that we had pulled her from school to eat at her requested restaurant for lunch.  That I had delayed taking her back so she would miss the class she didn’t want to walk in late for.  That she had spent the evening doing what she wanted: movie and dinner with her grandmother.  That she had been given the option of returning home or staying at the hotel with grandma and had chosen the latter.

She also couldn’t understand why her Daddy wasn’t willing to just trust her that she could earn $50 a month to pay the larger phone bill.  Never mind that she struggles to pay her current $20 bill each month.  Never mind that we would be locked into a two year contract, whether she proved able to pay it or not.  Never mind that she’s never shown a willingness to work.  No, her father’s desire for a two month proving period where she earns the $50/month before we acquire the iPhone was deeply unreasonable.

Oh, well.  My only comfort is that when I talk to my friends with similarly aged children, they tend to bounce up and down and get excited and point at me and say, “My kid too!  Oh, my goodness!  It’s like they are twins!”  I take comfort in our shared misery.  I also take comfort in my mother’s laughter when I finish a rant about my daughter with “I surely never behaved this way!”  Because if I did, as her laughter seems to indicate, then there’s hope for Jane.  After all, I think I turned out just swell.

TBT: Ride Sharing

In honor of Throwback Thursday…

My junior year of high school, I carpooled to school with a guy I had been friends with since early elementary school.  At some point, my future husband started riding with us.  In retrospect, this was a bit nonsensical since he had to drive past the high school to get to my house.  Then again, perhaps he didn’t have a parking space.  At any rate, at some point – I don’t remember when – the friend no longer rode with us.

My husband can be a bit obsessive about stuff sometimes and spending time with me was one of those things (still is).  He figured out pretty quickly that if I was ready to go when he got there, I got in the car and we went to school.  But… if I wasn’t ready yet, I’d invite him in and then he’d get to hang out with me while I finished getting ready.

He started arriving earlier.  And earlier.  And earlier.

This caused me a good deal of stress because I didn’t want him to see me before I had my makeup on.  So I started waking up earlier.  And earlier.  And earlier.

And since I was waking up earlier, that meant he could arrive earlier.  And earlier.  And earlier.

He wouldn’t come to the porch until he saw the lights were on.  So I started sneaking to the front door in the dark to see if he was there yet.  One day, he wasn’t there but there was a large dark form of a man crouched on the front porch.  How I stifled the scream before running back to my room, I have no idea.  And why I didn’t report it to my parents?  Also no idea.  I just remember it scared the living daylights out of me.

My husband later said it was the Avon man making my mom’s delivery.  Like I said, he wasn’t there yet but he saw the box.  And probably had been there early enough some other time to see the man.

Since I was in the band and we had early morning practices, I left my house long before anyone else got up.  (Side note: he was not in the band.  That’s how much he wanted to spend time with me – he got to school over an hour before he needed to.)  I never knew (or don’t recall) if my parents ever knew how much time my boyfriend was spending at the house in the morning.  Or that he was deliberately coming early to catch me before I was ready.  Or that him doing so made me at least a little bit uncomfortable.

I’m glad that it went the way it did though.  If they had known, they might have warned me that the behavior was odd.  And that I should cut him loose.  Yes, the behavior was odd.  But we’ve navigated his oddities for a long time now and I’m happy for it.

A Grammar Nerd’s Defense

I’m raising Grammar Nerds.  I refuse to call them Grammar Nazis and I truly do wish we could retire that term.

I recently commented on Facebook about the poor grammar in a letter sent out by our school.  I said something about expecting better from the school I send my children to.  What I forgot to consider was that I live in a small town.  And so I probably know the person who wrote the letter.

Well, I do.  And she’s one of the sweetest, nicest people you could ever meet.  And she was embarrassed and hurt by my remark.  I felt terrible.  On the one hand, I don’t think I was (strictly speaking) wrong to expect more from my school.  On the other hand, I had caused harm by bringing it up in a public manner.  Normally, I would do it privately, and only if I felt the person would want to fix it.

At any rate, I was telling some friends about how terrible I felt.  One of them very sternly told me, “That was bad.  Really bad.  People don’t like it when people do that.  That’s where the term Grammar Nazi comes from.  Because it’s bad.  People don’t like it.”

Let’s just rein it back in for a minute, shall we?  I publicly remarked that a letter that did contain grammar mistakes… contained grammar mistakes.  This wasn’t a random post on Facebook.  It wasn’t an email or text message or some other throwaway communication.  It was official correspondence from my child’s school.  And it was not well edited before it was released.

Was my complaint really comparable to the starvation, torture, rape, and execution of tens of thousands of people?  I mean, really?  Let’s try to keep it in perspective, please.

Needless to say, when I saw a sign on the door at the school saying “Our student’s safety is our top priority”, I kept my mouth shut.  Well, not completely.  I told Jane about the sign, without telling her the mistake, and asked her how it should be spelled.  She said, “S-T-U-D-E-N-T-S apostrophe.  What, did they put the apostrophe before the S?”

She smiled as I commented that I didn’t realize the school was only worried about one student and wondered which one it was.

It was less than a week later when the boys brought home a T-shirt order form from their school.  The logo said “To Our School We Proudly Hale”.  Jane was the first to point out that they meant Hail.

We contacted some folks who were very appreciative that we brought it to their attention before the shirts went to print.  It’s nice, as a grammar nerd, to be granted appreciation instead of scorn.  It’s much nicer than being scowled at.  Then again, I suppose how we approach the correction makes all the difference.

But you see, it’s not easy to turn it off.  We notice.  And we actually don’t find grammar all that hard.  We get that it’s easy to type something wrong.  But if it’s something that you’ve read over, there probably shouldn’t be many mistakes.  At least, not the really big ones.  We try to consider people’s feelings, but sometimes the timing is just too perfect or the temptation too great or the frustration too much to bear in silence.

Take a conversation Jane was having with some friends.  She remarked that she was not going to be an orchestra teacher when she grew up and then pointed to one of the girls and indicated that she probably would.

The girl responded, “I’m not going to be no orchestra teacher.”

Jane immediately fired back with, “You aren’t going to be an English teacher either!”

Ok, so out of line?  Yeah.  Probably.  Funny?  Hell, yeah!  I couldn’t believe she had said it, but at the same time, I couldn’t help feeling a little proud of her either.

One final proud Grammar Mom moment?  I’ve had multiple adults tell me that they ask Daryl for any spelling help they need.  One of them had barely met him two years ago when he was in the third grade.  One of the other students had made a sign that said “Flower Shop”.  Only, she had spelled it “Flower Shope”.  All the other kids told the girl that the E shouldn’t be there.  Daryl walked by, glanced at the sign, and said, “If you want to spell it with an E, you need two P’s.”

We can’t help it, my children and I.  We live in words.  We immerse ourselves in books.  We love to write.  We love the language.  And it actually hurts to see it butchered, even accidentally.  So we try to be compassionate and consider people’s feelings, we really do.  But sometimes, our instincts get the best of us and we just have to let it out.  At least I haven’t taken to carrying around a bottle of white-out and a Sharpie to fix all the misplaced commas and apostrophes that I come across!

The Great Cherry Coke Hunt

I wanted a Cherry Coke.  Really badly.

Most of my adult life I have eschewed soft drinks of any kind.  Either that, or I’ve consumed Code Red.  Or… when concerned about calories, Diet Mountain Dew with cherry drink flavoring added.  I have vacillated between total abstinence and Diet Mountain Dew off and on over the last couple of decades.

Until my doctor expressed her dismay that I was adding chemicals to chemicals and drinking it.  She even started holding me up as an (anonymous) example to her other patients of someone “who ought to know better” doing something profoundly stupid.  And other friends started telling me just how bad the Dew was.

So I kicked Mountain Dew to the curb.

But every once in awhile, during “Happy Hour” at Sonic, I’d get a Coke Zero with cherry and vanilla flavoring added.  I grew to like it.  And then I started worrying about artificial sweeteners.

So a few weeks ago, when I was so very tired at work, I bought a regular, non-diet Cherry Coke.  And loved it.  I knew I was starting a new indulgent phase but justified it (just as I always have) by telling myself that I only drink one 20 oz. bottle a week.  I’ve had one just about every week since.  If I could find it.  A couple of times I’ve had to settle for the inferior Wild Cherry Pepsi.

Because, you see, the Coca-Cola vending machines at work are not overfond of stocking Cherry Coke.  There’s one in the building across from mine, but it’s persnickety about taking my money.  Meaning it often won’t.

And on this particular day last week, when I really didn’t want to settle for Pepsi, it wouldn’t let me feed my dollars in.  Wouldn’t even try to take them.  I knew that the nearby machines didn’t carry Cherry Coke so I widened my search radius.  I checked six additional Coke and Dasani machines, hoping to find Cherry.  I searched upstairs and downstairs.  No Cherry Coke.

I popped my head into an honor-system snack bar and exchanged my bills for quarters.  And tried them in the special golden Cherry Coke possessing machine.  And heard my quarter fall all the way down to the coin return.

Dejected, I left the building and ran into an acquaintance.  I told him my tale of woe.  He asked if I had tried training.  When I asked if they had Cherry Coke in that machine, he said, “I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to check.”

This was an absurd statement since that particular machine was at the far end of the facility.  I pointed out that I was, quite contrary to my norm, wearing heals.  I had already walked enough and couldn’t walk all the way down there on a chance that I’d find Cherry Coke.

“Take my scooter,” he said.  “Seriously, I’m going to be in this building for a little while.  Just go ahead and take it.”

He’s crazy, I thought to myself.  And I am too if I actually take him up on his offer.

And then I climbed into the scooter.  It took me awhile to figure out how to put it in reverse.  I thought I’d thoroughly embarrass myself by climbing back out without going anywhere.  But finally, I was on the go.

I drove to the other end and parked in front of the training department.  I walked past the front desk like I knew exactly what I was doing and entered the break area.  I turned to face the Coca-Cola machine.  The first thing I noticed was the row of Cherry Cokes!  The second thing I noticed was the sign taped to the front that said “Does not work!”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I said something to the woman at the front desk.  And in her, I found a kindred spirit.  A fellow lover of Cherry Coke.  We shared our similar, yet opposite sorrowful tales.  How mine wouldn’t take my money and how hers would take the money but not give her a drink.  She affirmed my crazy scooter borrowing action by stating she would have done the same in a heartbeat.

I stopped at another building and checked some more machines.  I finally resigned myself to Wild Cherry Pepsi.  And felt more than just a tad ridiculous that I had expended the level of time and energy I had to hunt down a Cherry Coke.

Why Do They Call Them SLEEP Overs Anyway?

Daryl had his first sleepover party Friday night, with four of his closest friends.  The last sleepover party (being distinguished from just having a friend or two over) was 3 or 4 years ago for Jane.

Let me just say that boys are waaaaaaaayyyyyy different from girls.  The biggest mishap with the girls was when someone dropped their nail polish bottle and some of the polish splattered out all over the we-don’t-care-about-it-30-year-old-linoleum floor in a room marked for remodeling.  And it was easily cleaned up.

The boys…  well… the boys had a lot of energy.  And they were loud.  They opened presents while my husband and I were back in our bedroom trying to get a little quiet time while we ate our pizza.

They went outside before it got dark.  I stepped out to check on them just in time to see a boy throw something that made a clunk as it stuck into a piece of plywood on the ground.  The other two exclaimed in delight and I began to suspect that… surely not…

“What are you guys doing?”

“Oh, just throwing a sharp piece of wood to see if it’ll stick.”

“Are you sure it’s not a sharp piece of metal?”

Yep.  They were throwing a knife.  A long, former kitchen knife whose handle had seen better days that they found… somewhere…  After that, they moved to pushing a large tub of water down the slide to see what would happen.  Eventually, they returned to the house.

Where a boy promptly got himself trapped in the bathroom.  A mechanism in the doorknob had broken.  We tried to disassemble the knob from the hallway but weren’t successful.  My husband then went outside and instructed the boy to open the window.  He then fed tools in to the kid, who followed his instructions to finish disassembling the knob from the inside.  The door still wouldn’t release, until we saw what part was broken and compensated for it.

Freed from the bathroom, he rejoined the others, who were having yet another epic battle in that slated-for-remodel room that suffered a nail polish spill a few years earlier.  There was a rubber Minecraft sword, a rubber Minecraft pick ax, a couple of thin plastic swords, a wooden sword, and a “whip” that was actually the long plastic tube for some toy.  There were also projectiles: a football and my two exercise weight balls.  I quickly reminded them that there was pottery and glassware all over that room and I’d appreciate them not throwing heavy objects at each other.

The office chair that sits at our computer was used as a tank of sorts, with kids using it to glide quickly across the battlefield.  Until it broke.  When someone jumped on it.  We hated that chair but we weren’t necessarily ready to replace it.

During the night, they decided to add ice cubes to the bowl of Hershey almond nuggets.  So much for using the leftover candy for party favors for Hal’s party.  They also spilled stuff – just water, I think – on the rug and scattered candy all over the place.

And made a lot of noise.  I mean, a lot.

We told them at midnight that we were going to bed and they needed to try to keep it down.  I went in and reminded them again at 1:30.  And 2:00.  And 2:20.  And 2:55.  And 3:10.

By 3:30, I was fed up and desperate.  I stomped back into the living room and said, “Look.  I’m sorry.  But it’s time to turn off the TV, turn off the lights, and be quiet.  I mean, quiet.  No sound.  I’m done.  I have another birthday party to run today and I need my sleep!”

Of course, they were dead to the world the next morning.  I was dead to the world for the entire day.  Shoot, maybe the entire weekend.  Somehow, though, I managed to pull off Hal’s party that afternoon with only a few minor mishaps.  Like buying cups when I was serving Caprisuns.  And forgetting candles and a lighter.  And not bringing bowls for the grapes and cheese crackers.  Yet bringing forks even though they were eating cupcakes.

By the end of the day Saturday, I had also managed to confirm that none of the boys from Daryl’s party had accidentally ended up with one of the other boy’s Xbox controller.  And it was definitely not in my living room.  So it looks like the cost of the party will be increased by the cost of replacing the controller.  And the office chair.  And the bathroom doorknob.

Oh, well.  At least he had a good time.  And I truly wish him the best of luck in convincing me to ever do it again.

TBT: Meeting My Children

My children all have birthdays this week, so it seems appropriate to devote this week’s Throwback Thursday post to their births.  I’ll try not to make it into a long drawn-out birth war story that makes all the men run for the hills and all the been-there-done-that women roll their eyes.

One thing I distinctly remember when I was pregnant with Jane, our first child, was the day that it finally hit me that we were about to become parents.  And that we were locked into it.  Committed.  Baby growing in the belly.  It was going to happen.  And we didn’t know what we were doing and I was scared out of my mind!

I remember trying to run up the headboard “away” from reality, saying to my husband, “Oh, no!  Oh, no!  What have we done?!  We don’t know what we’re doing!  Are we crazy?  We can’t do this!  We can’t do this!”

One similarity with all three births was that I worked all the way up until the day they were born.  All of them.  Although slightly different circumstances each time.  With Jane, I remember preparing everyone the day before.  I asked a guy in a club I was President of to attend a meeting for me in my place if I didn’t show up to work the next day.  I gave another guy a list of things-to-know “just in case I’m not here tomorrow”.  And guess what?  I wasn’t there tomorrow.

Daryl was induced.  I had begun dilating 5 weeks before he was due.  Every week, the nurse would comment, “Well, we probably won’t see you next week!”  And then I’d drag myself in the next week.  Since Jane had woken me up with labor, that’s how I anticipated it happening with Daryl too.  So every morning that I woke up still pregnant, the more depressed I became.  Horrible, terrible people would comment, “You ain’t had that baby yet?!”  I started wearing sunglasses, even in the buildings, as I walked into work – so no one could see the tears.

The week before his due date, they measured me at 5 cm.  Before you say anything, yes.  I know that’s supposed to be active labor.  But there it is.  When I went to my appointment the day before his due date, the doctor looked concerned.  She was afraid that whenever labor did start, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the hospital in time.  So then she did a terrible thing.  She asked me, “Do you want to have a baby today?”

I burst out crying.  Of course I did.  What I did not want (when I was in the right state of mind, that is) was to be induced.  Or have any other interventions.  But she had hit below the belt and I just nodded mutely.  She sent me to the hospital.  I called my husband and my mom.  Husband got there in time.  Mom, who lives in the next state over, made it to the parking lot.

Contrast my quick willingness to head to the hospital with Daryl to the way I conducted myself with Jane.  The night before, I had told my husband that if I went into labor, I would be shaving my legs before we left.  He rolled his eyes.  When I woke him up the next morning by tossing the notebook with the timing of my contractions on the bed, he hopped up and asked if I was ready to go.  I said not quite.  He cried out, “What are you doing?!” when he saw me waddling into the shower.

“I am not going to the hospital with hairy legs!  I told you that last night.  I’m going to shave.”

There indeed was no need to hurry.  She was born a solid 14 hours after we got to the hospital, which was about 3 hours after the contractions woke me up.  And that was after we forced the issue with my lackadaisical body.  I think I might have vegged out too much, trying to stay relaxed.  I put the Gregorian Monks CHANT CD on repeat All.Day.Long.  It drove my mother insane.  She begged for something else to listen to.  I refused.  When they finally shut off the CD to prep for delivery, I could still hear it.

That forced pushing set me up for some panic with kid #2.  Contractions are more intense when you are induced yet still going natural.  So intense that at one point, I started screaming my head off, imagining that I was in for hours of that pain.  I distinctly remember rational-me curled up in a corner of my mind thinking I’ve completely lost it.  What’s she going to do about it?  Instead, that primal urge to push came over me and the boy was out less than four hours after I headed to the hospital.

Despite a speedy delivery, the experience with the inducing and an unpleasant nurse that chastised me for not taking drugs caused me to dislike the thought of returning to the hospital with kid #3.  So I talked to my Primary Care Physician about doing a home birth or using a birthing center.  Since there were not any birthing centers nearby and she was concerned about how quickly the last kid had come and since my births had been non-eventful, she recommended a home birth.

And that’s what Hal was: a planned home birth.  That third pregnancy was the hardest.  I eventually decided that a particular day would have to be my last at work because it was just too uncomfortable to go into work.  I went home, slightly disappointed that I wasn’t able to work up until the end.

Hal, always the thoughtful child, was born in the early morning hours the next day.  I woke up in the middle of the night to extremely sharp and powerful contractions that did not repeat and did not build in frequency.  I eventually retired to the couch so I wouldn’t disturb my husband.  Some time between 2 and 2:30 am, something happened that had not happened naturally with either of the other two.  My water broke.  We called the midwife.  The contractions were suddenly 3 minutes apart.  We called the friend who had agreed to sit with the kids.  We called my mom.

The midwives arrived first and quietly began to assess and prep.  The friend arrived next and quietly whispered outside our bedroom door that she was there.  Mom, again, was unable to cover the distance between us before the child was born.

I had always planned to bring the kids, 5 and 8 years old at the time, into the room to witness the birth.  I learned in those early morning hours, however, that I needed everything in that room to be about me and I couldn’t handle a kid asking a question or getting grossed out.

The kids, prior to the friend arriving, were in their shared room on the other side of our closet.  They could hear me screaming through the contractions (not panicked screams like before – these were intensity-of-effort screams).  They lay there, wondering what was going on, both of them on edge and slightly scared.  One of them finally said, “I think Mommy’s having the baby.”

They were reminiscing about that morning this week, each saying what they remembered.  It was funny to listen to because neither of them had accurate memories.  It made me wonder which of my memories of childhood are faulty.  I also learned that they’ve recounted their versions of events to their friends.  I now wonder what their friends think about me.

Right near the end of my very short (less than 2 hours) labor with Hal, I tried to call them into the room for the birth.  They arrived just in time to see Hal getting placed on my chest.  “Happy Birthday, Daryl!” I said with a tired smile.  I’ll never forget that huge grin that spread across his face as I said it and he looked at his little brother.

And each time, as I cradled my new little one, I felt just the same as I did the first, when the nurses all chuckled and smiled as I whispered, “Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!” and stared dumbfounded at the beautiful miracle in my arms.

 

Another Almost-Botched Birthday

We came close to botching another birthday this past weekend.  At least this time, I had help from the birthday girl.  Jane made some friends at summer camp this past summer and her birthday wish was to get to see them.  She assured me that this was attainable because “we all live within 2 1/2 hours of camp.”

There is no point in employing logic when planning with a teenager.  It is lost on them that two people that are 2 1/2 hours from a given location are not necessarily close to each other.  They could, indeed, be a solid 5 hours from each other.  And when only one or two of these people can drive, it seems unlikely that parents would be willing to drive them somewhere to meet another kid from camp.  As she named the towns they each lived in, I found it unlikely we could make this get-together work.

But I am a loving and devoted mother who wants to give my children what they want when possible.  So I first said to find out who was available on that particular Saturday and who was able to travel.  She crafted the text request in such a way that no one answered about whether they were able to travel any distance away from their homes.  One answered that he would be taking the SAT in the morning but was free after.  One said maybe.  One said yes.  One said no.  The local girls, who would be transported with us wherever we went, said yes.

So I said, “Ok.  Tell them that we are going to have your party somewhere at 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  We will pick the somewhere to be as accommodating as possible for the people who are able to come.  See who can be there at that time.”  Same answers.

So then I checked a map.  I already felt like I was having to pull teeth to get any decisions made on this get-together.  After studying the map, I picked a town that was just over an hour from us and also from each of the two yeses.  It would be a longer journey for the maybe, but maybe he could get to the guy closest to him and catch a ride.

“Ok,” I said.  “Tell them the party will be at a park in Townville and see who can still come.”

“Which park?” she asked.

“I’m not going to spend the time picking a park until I know for sure that people can go there.  If either one of those guys bails, then we’ll move the party to the other person’s town.”

“Mom!  We are not irresponsible 10 year olds who say yes to parties when we don’t know whether we can go.  We are responsible teenagers who know what we are doing!  They said they could go.  They know it will be in the {general nearby metro} area.”

“I’m done with this conversation,” I said, and walked away.  Her notion of space is weak as the chosen town is not in the area she described.  After getting dinner in the oven, I tried again.

“Jake can’t come.  He says it’s too far,” she said.  I bit back the urge to point out which one of us had been right about the need to share the location with people.  I merely asked her to confirm with the other person whether he could travel or whether we should travel to his town.

“So at this point,” my husband asked me later, “we are planning a party around one person?”

“Basically,” I said.  But surely one of these friends would be better than none?  I told her to give the boy my phone number so his mother could call and talk if need be.  Several days went by with me pinging her each one.  By Wednesday, I still didn’t know what we were doing.  It distinctly felt like everything was falling apart.

Finally, the boy responded.  His mother said it was too far away and reminded him that he had another party to go to that day anyway.  Ok.  So now what?

She fretted over not being able to get people together for her birthday.  She mentioned a popular girl at school that had dozens at her party.  I said the quantity of people at the party was not nearly as important as how much they mean to you and vice versa.  She seemed to be getting down.

Finally, she named a science museum she wanted to take her local girlfriends to.  I stayed home with the boys.  My husband took the four girls and dropped them off at the museum while he checked out a nearby art museum.  Then he took them to her chosen hamburger joint and a Hot Topic, where they got matching shirts.  One of them then spent the night.  The next day, I delivered her to a movie theater that was showing the “one weekend only” One Direction concert movie.  She didn’t take any friends because none of them are One Direction fans.  Just her.

All in all, I think she had a good birthday.  But it was looking kind of sketchy there for a bit.