Revolution #8

We have boxes at work to put personal belongings in. They each have a key with a number on them. You select a box, put your stuff in, and take the key. When you leave, you insert the key, open the door, get your stuff, and go home. Simple.

Over time, I – just like many others – have developed a box preference. My personal, no-one-else-better-take-it box. It took awhile to get to this point. I started out with box #4. But box #4 was on the bottom left and I guess was pretty popular because I couldn’t reliably get it. I moved to #16 but its locking mechanism tended to catch. Sometimes I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the door open.

Eventually, I settled on #8. Yes, I greatly prefer the multiples of 4 because they are on the bottom, just below my eye level. I can see in easily. So for the last several weeks, maybe a couple of months, I’ve used box #8. It didn’t seem to matter what time I got to work, it was always waiting for me. Even if there were only 1 or 2 boxes with keys still in them.

It’s like the universe and all my co-workers understood it was my box.

And then one morning… the key was missing. I was irritated, to say the least. I resigned myself to using #16, forgetting that the locking mechanism catches. I grumbled any time I got into the box that day.

When I left fairly late that evening, the key was still missing. I began to suspect that not only had my box been co-opted by someone else, it had been taken over by someone who takes the key home with them. They aren’t supposed to do this, but some people feel so strongly about their box selection that they do anyway. Had someone been waiting for the opportunity to steal my key all these weeks?

I got to work early the next morning – no key. Went home that evening – no key. Next morning – no key. All week long, I never saw box #8’s key. I started using #28 but being that far to the right disturbed me. I wanted my #8 back. I contemplated putting a sign on it begging for its return.

Then, that Saturday, as I pulled the clothes out of the washing machine to transfer to the dryer, I saw the tell-tale bright yellow plastic tag of a box key. Surely not, I thought to myself. Is it really?

Sure enough, I had apparently slipped the key in my pocket that last day I had it instead of putting it back in the lock before I left. In short, I had stolen the key from myself. Friday, I had begun to complain to co-workers about the stolen box. And then Saturday, I looked the thief in the mirror.

That week the key was missing, someone else had put signs on some nearby boxes reminding people that the boxes and keys were company property and you were not to take the keys home. I had cheered the signs. On Monday, I slunk past them and quickly used the #8 key to open the box before anyone could see me.

The next day, the key was gone again. And then I entered a twilight zone. Had someone coincidentally taken #8 the day after I returned the key? Had someone that knew the story deliberately taken #8 just to mess with me? Had I accidentally taken it home again? How would I ever know?

I returned to #28. The next day, #8 was missing again. I began to think #28 would have to be my new box. I suspected the new guy had taken a shining to #8. Especially as his supervisor, I couldn’t exactly say, “Hey! Are you using box #8?! That’s mine! Hands off!”

But at the end of the second day, I saw the key hanging from the open box door. And I smiled. It was waiting for me the next day and I grabbed it. Get there before him enough and he’ll probably get the hint. I hope.

Just Another Mystery of Motherhood… Solved

I do the laundry every weekend. This weekend, my husband helped out by running a couple of loads through on Friday. I fold the laundry in our bedroom, making neat little piles for the boys to take to their rooms or for me and my husband to put away in our closet. But something was missing from the piles this past weekend.

Several somethings, actually. I began to wonder if maybe my husband was inept at collecting the laundry, but the hampers were empty. I would have expected approximately 14 of these somethings and instead there was only one. One pair of little boy underwear. Just one. I stared at the piles in disbelief as I finished folding the last load. One pair of underwear – Hal’s.

So let me get this straight, I thought to myself. Hal only changed his underwear once this week. And Daryl… Daryl never changed them at all. He’s still wearing the same underwear he wore a week ago? But he’s showered! Surely he didn’t put stinky, crusty underwear back on day after day?

Daryl, of course, insisted that he had changed his underwear. He couldn’t explain the lack of any clean pairs in the laundry. “Maybe someone took them out of the hamper,” he suggested.


The mystery went unsolved until last night. Jane declared the bathroom floor a mess. I concurred and instructed Hal to pick up all the towels that were on the floor and take them to the hamper. So he picked up the five towels that littered the floor and this is what remained:


We found the underwear. Eight pairs – four each exactly. So four showers. Four pairs of underwear. That’s about right since they fight taking showers so much, I only require showers every other day (unless they’ve gotten sweaty and/or dirty). Of course, they are still supposed to change their underwear…

But I guess I’ll take two-day underwear wearing over seven-day. Small comforts.

Running Trance

Hal injured himself the other night. It was fairly scary for that few minutes we thought he’d managed to break his collar bone. My husband and I were in our bedroom, our daughter in hers, the boys in the kitchen. We heard some fast running, followed by a loud crash that sounded like a door slamming. Then, Hal cried out – which I initially interpreted as him being angry after Daryl had beaten him to some destination and slammed the door in his face.

But then the pained crying began. He was not angry at all.

We rushed into the living room and saw Daryl coming around the corner from the kitchen toward Hal, who lay crumpled on the floor. I was relieved to see that, whatever had happened, it had not involved his big brother.

He had been running through the living room and, despite the fact that he was wearing rubber-soled shoes, had slipped at full speed. This had sent him flying forward, crashing hard into his train table.

My husband examined Hal and noticed that his clavicle appeared to be protruding from its usual orientation. He glanced up at me and said, “We are going to need to take him to the emergency room.”

But as he prepared to help Hal stand without moving his right shoulder, Hal stuck his right arm out to catch himself on the floor. After further examination, it became clear that he still had complete range of motion, but a nasty contusion on his shoulder. The protrusion was just his usual bony self. An inch closer to his neck, and he probably would have snapped his collar bone, but as it was, he was going to be fine.

The next morning, I was running on the treadmill and listening to Pandora’s Electronic Cardio radio. I began to think about how differently the previous evening could have gone. My imagination took off.

I imagined us taking him to the emergency room. I rode in the backseat comforting him. When we arrived, they eventually separated him from us for a time. I have some experience in this phenomenon. When I split my forehead open above one eye in a hockey collision, they separated me from my husband to ask if he had done it to me.

Whatever they asked Hal had confused him and he had answered in a way that concerned them. CPS got involved. My mind traveled down many side roads and dark alleys as the music pounded on, no words to disrupt my thoughts.

After awhile, they let me see my son. I held him tightly, yet gently, being very careful around his right shoulder. He nestled his head against my chest. I held it tight with one hand while wrapping the other arm around him. I closed my eyes and drank in the beauty and peace of holding my dear youngest son. It would all be okay.

And then – I stepped off the side of the treadmill.

The tenor of the treadmill belt changes when you aren’t running on it. It’s almost like it’s protesting your departure. I grabbed frantically at the handlebars and tried to jump quickly back on. I was disoriented and confused. What had just happened?

When I told my husband later, he said, “Yeah, you have to be careful listening to that music. They call it Trance for a reason.”

And that’s exactly what had happened. The music, combined with the sentimental feelings, had lulled me into a state where I was no longer aware of my real, physical state or surroundings. I had closed my eyes, not just in the daydream, but in real life. For that brief second, I had actually been hugging my son. I was 100% there. In the moment. And as I leaned to the right in my hugging, I had leaned to the right for real.

Mind over body can be a powerful thing. And a dangerous thing too. Today, I made sure that my thoughts while running steered clear of anything too deep.

Relative Importance

This morning, my boys were having a discussion about the relative importance of things.

Daryl, the puberty-entering near-twelve year old, was sitting at the dining room table, eating his cereal and milk. Hal, the learning-to-read-efficiently near-seven year old, was sitting in the living room, reading a book.

“Hal,” Daryl called out. “You need to come eat your breakfast.”

“I’m reading!”

“So? You need to eat breakfast.”

“Reading is important.”

“Not as important as eating breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You need it to fuel your body for the rest of the day.”

“Well, reading is more important than eating!”

“No it’s not! You have to eat or you’ll die. You can read after you eat breakfast.”

When I related the conversation to my husband, Hal clarified his reasoning. Turning to his brother, he said, “Well, what if you ate poison, huh? If you ate poison, you’d die! And what if that poison had a sign on it that said ‘poison’? If you read it, then you wouldn’t die. But only if you can read!”

Who can refute such logic? Certainly not an older, thinks-he’s-so-wise brother.

Circle Time


Well, yes dear. That certainly is a set of more than 6 circles. Now if only you had applied the same creativity and extra effort to your writing homework…



“Well??!!” he exclaimed. “I was trying to use all those words!”

“Ok, so maybe you try ‘I was at home and then I went to school, where I saw my teacher and gave her an apple. Then I saw my principal…” I started.

“Who had a monkey on his shoulder!” my husband added in.

“And that monkey handed me a book to read! It was the weirdest thing ever,” I finished. “Isn’t that a much more interesting story?”


“When they tell you to use all the words, it’s still ok and probably a good idea to use other words too, sweetheart.”

Gotta love first grade.


Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.

I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.

When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.

What does that have to do with my children?

Let me tell you.

You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.

And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.

But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.

By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.

I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.

I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.

Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?

Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?

No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?

My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.

He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?

Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”

He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”

“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”

Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.

“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”

I must have looked defeated.

“Would you like a hug?” he asked.

I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.

“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.

“I know honey. I’m sorry.”

I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.

I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”

He began to laugh.

I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.

I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.

Rare treat, indeed.

Time To Meet The Boy

So… how to write about my daughter’s boyfriend? Especially knowing that 1) she reads my blog, 2) she has shared my blog posts with the young man, and 3) some of my opinion is formed from information that maybe I’m not supposed to have. That’s been my quandary for the last week. But, really, I can’t just throw out there that she’s bringing a boy home to meet us and I’m anxious about it and then not fill you in on the results.

I wrote about my worries Thursday evening (the post ran Friday morning), before going to the high school to pick her up after the JV football game. Jane isn’t interested in football – at all, but Brent (not his real name) is on the JV team. When I arrived, she texted that she wanted to say hi to him before she left. I sighed – they were just then running off the field to the locker room. I’d be sitting in the car for a bit.

Eventually, though, I saw her walking toward me with a young man beside her. Guess I’m actually meeting him tonight, I thought. He leaned in through her door to shake my hand and introduce himself. He was a bit awkward and obviously nervous, but he was very polite and left a good impression. After saying good-bye to me and saying he’d see me Saturday, he turned and gave Jane a hug before walking away.

“So we’re at the hugging stage, are we?” I asked.


“But you aren’t his girlfriend?”


We talked (and laughed a bit) about how nervous he was. She said his hands were shaking. He had patted his chest and told me he was a sophomore in a way that had me giggle inside. He texted her to say that he liked me. I told her I was glad I could make a good impression for at least a few minutes.

I told her he had relieved a lot of my fears and when she asked why, I had her read my blog draft. She said, “Don’t you think I have a bit of you in me and know how to pick a good one?” I reminded her of some of her less stellar sixth/seventh grade selections in response.

When he came over Saturday, his mom came in and introduced herself. He abruptly cut in and asked if he could take off his shoes. It was a bit startling but I reminded myself that he was likely still nervous. We sat down in the living room while my husband finished something on the computer. I intended to just make small talk – even though it’s not my strong suit.

He took the moment to be his interview, if you will. His opportunity to sell himself to me. He started off by patting his chest as he told me (again) that he was a Sophomore. Jane laughed good-naturedly and said, “Brent, you’ve said that twice now. You’ve literally said that twice in two days.”

He wasn’t fazed and went on to tell me about how he has his whole life planned out. And I can say this: while it is hard, having been there myself, to take a fifteen year old very seriously, he is definitely a young man who has spent a lot of time thinking about what he wants, both in life and in a relationship. He is not a superficial child by any means.

This makes me happy. In a text conversation with one of Jane’s friends a couple of weeks before this meet-up, he basically stated that he didn’t know where things stood with Jane. He was pretty sure he liked her but wasn’t sure if she liked him. He didn’t know if they were just destined to be best friends but that that would be fine with him too. He said he preferred to talk before dating because he thought you should be close to someone first. And he wasn’t interested in relationships with people that he couldn’t see himself with long term.

He didn’t want to be with someone who when you asked, “Where do you want to go?” would say, “Wherever you want to go.” He had already picked up that Jane would speak her mind. He knew they had a lot in common. It was important to him that she was smart. He thought her personality was the best. And he thought she was extremely beautiful.

He recognized that if they were in a relationship, they would probably fight, which he didn’t want to do but knew that would be part of it. He wasn’t sure if he had feelings for her but felt that she was the best person to come into his life so far. He was obviously wrestling with his feelings and thinking about them rather than going off emotion.

He went on to say that they had said they loved each other but didn’t know if it was love love or just letting each other know they cared.

Needless to say, I found all of this pretty positive. So when she texted me at work last Monday and said, “BRENT ASKED ME OUT!!!!!”, I responded, “REALLY? Who could have possibly seen that coming?! I sure didn’t!!”

She told me that sarcasm suited me.

So maybe this parenting a high schooler thing will be survivable. Maybe even enjoyable. And as a friend pointed out… if he does break her heart, I’d rather it be now while she’s at home and I can help her pick up the pieces.

{And my apologies to anyone waiting anxiously for this story. I wrote it fairly promptly but the edit got lost in a busy week. I did skip working out this morning to finish it up! :)}