Oh, yeah? When I was your age…

Hal has yet another loose tooth. It seemed pretty loose to me so when he walked in pushing on his lip near the tooth, I suggested that my husband take a look at it. Hal jerked away and shook his head.

“I’m not going to pull it,” he said. Then, after wiggling the tooth, he added, “Yeah, I’d say it needs another day or two.”

“Are you sure? Felt like it was ready to come out to me,” I responded.

“No,” he said, looking at Hal. “I’m more of the wait until it’s ready to fall out kind of person. Your mom is the rip it out kind of person.”

“You think I’m the rip it out kind of person?! Let me tell you…”

I then launched into the tale of my first two pulled teeth. These were stories I’ve told many times before and it dismayed me to realize that I didn’t remember for sure which was the first tooth and which was the second.

“So I was out shopping with Mimi. And Aunt May. And Aunt Susan was probably there. And Grandma Lucky and my GREAT grandma.”

Hal’s eyes were wide with wonder.

“And we were all in a dressing room together. It was a big dressing room.”

I was playing with my tooth and my great grandma asked to see it. My mom, who was very big on yanking teeth {this part now makes me think that this must have been my second tooth because how else would I know this?} warned her off and said, “Oh, grandma, no. It’s not ready yet.”

“I’ll see about that,” she said.

At this point, back in my dining room, I held up seven fingers – all on my left hand and only the pinky and ring finger on the right. “Now, my great grandmother,” I told Hal, “only had seven fingers.”

He looked over at his dad, who confirmed it with a solemn nod. Hal’s eyes went even wider.

“I can’t remember whether she used those two fingers this time or not but they were like pincers. She could grab hold of this skin under your arm {I demonstrated} and lead you wherever she wanted you to go.”

Hal scooted closer to his dad.

“Anyway, I just remember her reaching into my mouth and yanking that tooth out and saying, ‘Looks ready to me!’ I clearly remember looking at myself in the dressing room mirror, staring at the blood running down my face and all the commotion that caused in the dressing room.”

Hal was now standing partially behind his dad.

“Now, the second tooth,” I continued. “I lost that one on the Fourth of July. I know that because it was almost time to go to the big fireworks display in town and my mom insisted that we weren’t going until that tooth came out.

“I pleaded my case but she pinned me against the kitchen cabinets, reached in, and yanked out the tooth! It slipped from her fingers and fell onto my tongue. She said sharply, ‘Stick out your tongue!’ and I did and she plucked it off my tongue and we went to the fireworks display.”

Hal, now standing fully behind his seated dad and ducking down behind him, whispered in a small voice, “I’m glad I wasn’t you.”

I smiled. I didn’t have a rough childhood – definitely not. But my children are definitely softer than they would have been had they been me. Between my great grandma, grandparents, and my mom, not a lot of crap was put up with. Let’s just say they all had a perspective that you needed to be tough.

Oh, one last thing? Before I was two sentences into writing this story, Hal entered the room with his hand cupped in front of him. “Looks like today was the day after all,” he said, holding the tooth.

Affirmation. I was right!

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Park People

I left out part of the experience in yesterday’s post about our Saturday morning bicycle outing. It concerns the other people present at the park. We got there around 7:30 in the morning. It was raining and had been raining. But there were already people there.

At a covered picnic table in the children’s play area were two grubby looking men, hunched down and sitting rather close to each other. I couldn’t see what they were doing. Near the pavilion was a car much older than any of my children with considerably more contents than you would find in most vehicles. It was unoccupied.

As I approached the pavilion, I heard a toilet flush. That struck my naive mind as odd – who had chosen to come to the park this early in the rain and been there long enough that they now needed to use the bathroom? I soon saw who.

A blond woman of indeterminate age returned to the cover of the pavilion with a reflective silver sunshade over her head – even though the rain had stopped for the moment and the distance from the bathroom to the pavilion was very short. I would have put her in her forties or so if pressed for a guess, but she looked like life hadn’t been easy on her so I suppose she could have been younger.

She sat down at a picnic table and a few minutes later, a young black man exited the bathroom and joined her. They huddled there quietly while we attempted to make the air pump work. I began to suspect that they had slept the night in the car. Since there was only the one vehicle, I also began to suspect that the two men had perhaps spent the night at their picnic table and had walked here from who knows where.

I tried to stay aware but not particularly tense. It wasn’t fair to assume that just because they were down on their luck, they were inherently dangerous. But I was definitely uncomfortable.

Obviously, a person jogging (i.e. me) has no hope of keeping up with two people on bicycles, but the sidewalks looped back on themselves frequently so I basically kept my husband and son in sight as I trotted around. At one point, one of the men from the playground rode past me on a bicycle.

My first thought, from the innocent and naive part of my brain, was one of relief. See? He’s not homeless. He’s just here riding his bike like we are. Reality soon invaded as I noted he was very, very dirty. So was his backpack, which was carrying a water bottle, yes, but also quite a number of other things. No one goes on a morning bike ride with more than they need for that ride.

The young man under the pavilion soon disappeared into the bathroom again. When he returned, he was visibly shaking. He sat down so close to the woman that he looked like he was trying to push her off the bench. She wrapped her arms around him, rubbing his arms vigorously and then holding him tight. Drugs? I wondered. Maybe the frequent trips to the bathroom were due to illness, but if that was the case, these two were definitely living out of the car because given the choice, most anyone would rather be sick at home than at a public park. As if to confirm this, the two soon returned to the car – where the sun shade was placed in a side window that appeared to be missing and the humans nestled down out of sight.

At some point, probably around the time Hal was falling down after pitching his fit, I noticed I was alone. I circled around the playground but my husband was no longer in sight. I became intensely nervous. A young couple was in the vicinity somewhere – walking and talking. A bright red truck sat in a driveway of a parking lot – maybe good people? But sitting there not driving off was odd. And then there were the four street people hanging about.

It wasn’t that I was expecting them to be violent or anything. Not for the sake of violence, that is. But at some point in my run, I had opted to play some music from my phone. The phone was well hidden in a pouch in the small of my back, but the hiding place isn’t very hidden if music is blaring out of it. Obviously, no one is going to believe that the music is just coming out of my a**.

I hadn’t been deliberately hiding the phone to begin with. That’s just where I often carry it when running. And obviously, I wasn’t that concerned about people knowing I had it when I started up the music. But seeing that I was essentially alone – that my large and formidable husband was gone, put me on edge. What if they decided the potential to fence a smartphone was worth attacking me?

When my husband and son returned to view – probably slower than intended due to the youngster walking and crying rather than riding, I commented to my husband that I had been nervous.

“That’s why I offered you the keys to the truck,” he replied. So I wasn’t the only one who was maintaining some situational awareness. Of course, I already knew that when he worked to get my bike and its separated wheel into the backseat of the truck rather than just tossing it in the bed at the start of the morning.

After a little bit more “get back on your bike after an injury” riding time, we began loading up. As I attempted to extract the bike from the backseat, the bike riding guy hurried over to us, calling out. I was pretty sure he had said “sir” so I ignored him and focused on the wedged bike preventing the still unhappy child from crawling into the truck.

“Would you like to buy my bike, sir?” he asked. Glancing over at me, “So she can have one too?”

“She already has one,” my husband responded, gesturing toward my efforts.

“Mine’s a Schwinn. It’s a real good bike. I’ll make you a good deal – I’ve got four of them. I can let this one go.”

“She already has one but thank you.”

The man stood around for another minute while we loaded up, commenting that the brand of my bike was a good one but still offering to sell his. We were polite and thanked him for the offer. He walked off and then we drove off, glancing at the car of the other two as we did.

Other than that brief moment when I realized I was vulnerable and alone, I wasn’t particularly scared. Just acutely aware. It gave me a lot to think about though. Later in the day, assuming the weather cleared up, the park would be filled with families. Little children would swing on the swings and slide down the slides. Groups would gather under the pavilion to grill hot dogs, perhaps adding balloons and streamers to celebrate a birthday. This was how I was used to the park looking.

And these people would move off… somewhere. I had no idea where. They’d retreat from view though, possibly returning as it got dark and all the families with homes returned to them. I couldn’t help but feel, to some extent, that when we arrived so early that morning, we were actually invading their park time. Maybe I wasn’t the only one nervous.

Opening Night

And while we are on the topic of opening weekend movies, the fam went en masse to see Infinity War on opening night. There were a few highlights of the experience plus some insight into my two oldest children that I’d like to share.

First off, I’m not going to go into any real detail about the movie, so you are basically spoiler safe. At the same time, the movie’s been out like a month, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I find it hard to believe that it’s all that important to you. I’m not going to be as careful as I might have been if I had written it that week as I had planned.

First, the theater was packed – just like you’d expect for the first showing in town. Everyone was excited. My husband was running late so I went out to the ticket taker, gave him the ticket, and described my husband before heading back to the theater.

The trailers had already started so I carefully snuck back to my seat. Something was bothering me about the trailer though. It seemed to be staying on that scene too long – a crazy alien guy walking through a sea of dead and dying people, giving some grand speech.

I leaned over to Jane and asked, “What movie is this for?”

“This isn’t a trailer,” she responded. “There were no trailers. This is the movie.”

I was shocked! The whole reason I didn’t wait in the lobby for my husband was because I absolutely despise missing even the first minutes of a movie. But OK. That shock paled in comparison to the ones to come.

The crowd behaved just like you would expect an Opening Night crowd to behave. Lots of oohs and ahhs and cheering and shocked gasps and cries of horror and laughter and clapping. I was missing some of the dialogue because of it, but the energy was palpable and made it all worth it.

At one point, a bearded man dressed in all black came on the screen. The theater erupted in cheering. I was confused. I couldn’t think of who the person was. How could this nondescript person be this many people’s favorite? So, I leaned back over to Jane.

Who is that?” I whispered.

She stared at me for a moment and then laughed. She got her brother’s attention. “Daryl! Daryl! Mom just asked who Captain America was!” He leaned over to stare at me incredulously before shaking his head and turning back to the movie.

Whatever.

As I’m sure practically everyone has heard, the ending was a shocker. Actually, multiple shockers. Shocker after shocker after shocker. I sat there kind of numb thinking, I can’t believe they are doing this to their fans. I mean, Marvel fans are so devoted!

People were exclaiming in dismay. I could hear people crying. My son – insight #1 – was laughing. He was looking around the theater with a certain amount of superiority on his face, laughing at everyone there. He’s jaded enough to know that the dead people weren’t going to stay dead.

As the credits rolled, a friend came down to sit next to me. We talked about the movie and the ending and watched the credits, anticipating, like everyone else, the end credit scene(s). Well, almost everyone else. I think 5-10 people got up and left at the end. Who does that? I mean, really. You came to Opening Night of a Marvel moving and you aren’t staying through the end? Are you that dense? Or were you that mad at the ending? It made no sense.

As we talked, we saw that the end of the credits were rolling toward the top. The excited chatter that had filled the theater as soon as the last scene ended died abruptly. You would have thought the audience was an orchestra and the conductor had just circled his arm to stop the music.

Everyone waited. Silently. The last words disappeared from the top of the screen. The screen was blank. The theater was deadly quiet. And then… more words appeared at the bottom and began to scroll up.

Psych!

I chuckled. They really were messing with their fans. The friend and I began to theorize that they were actually going to stick it to everyone by going with no end credit scenes. In a Marvel movie. We were wrong – there was a scene, but that pregnant pause in the credits? I think that was my favorite part of the entire experience.

It was as we walked to the parking lot that I had insight #2 about my children. They were complaining – vociferously! – about the crowd.

“Why couldn’t they have been QUIET? Sheesh! I couldn’t even hear the characters talking!”

“I know! I kept missing stuff. OK. We get it. We don’t need you to clap when your favorite character comes on screen.” (I wondered if either noticed when I clapped enthusiastically for Black Panther).

“And that one girl? Did you hear her scream?!”

“Yeah. That was crazy. I mean, who even likes Ironman that much? Chill out – it’s just a movie!”

“Like remember when we went to Star Wars? And that text and the music started at the beginning? Everyone went wild. I just don’t get it. I wish they’d just shut up.”

“Um, guys,” I tried. “That’s the way opening night is. People get into it. That’s the whole reason for going. It’s an experience. It’s different than what you get any other night.”

“Well, I don’t like it.” The other one agreed.

“Then you need to not demand that we go on opening night – because that is always what you are going to get,” I said.

“No, I’m still going to go then. I just wish people would be quiet.”

*sigh*

Who knew my kids were such killjoys?

The Grossest Part of Deadpool 2

We double dated with our daughter and her boyfriend opening weekend for Deadpool 2. Since she was the only other member of our household we were willing to let see the movie, it seemed like a good time to see it.

First thing I noticed as we sat down was that there was a large party of people sitting in front of us. It looked like an extended family – many of whom were children. And I don’t mean just-about-to-enter-high-school young teenagers like Daryl (who is unhappy we won’t let him see it). I’m talking twelve or younger.

I shook my head but “what evs” – not my monkeys, not my circus – a mantra I’m trying more and more to adopt. But then the movie started and it was soon made my circus – and everyone else’s – in a funny way.

It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the movie started with a lot of blood and gore and guts and death and mayhem. If you didn’t see that coming, you probably weren’t planning to watch the movie anyway. Lots of people’s heads were sliced off, blood spewed everywhere. Typical Deadpool.

But then Deadpool returned home from his killing spree to put his domestic side on display. Think “honey, I’m home!” He and his girlfriend bantered back and forth, talked about big future plans. Big upswell of emotion for Wade Wilson (that’s Deadpool when he’s not all masked-up and violent) that led to them making out.

Now, if you don’t know much about Deadpool, Wade was hideously burned in the first movie. He’s really quite horrendous looking, which is why he covers his face completely when he goes out killing, or really, goes out just about anywhere. Only the undeterred love of his woman made him more at ease with his appearance.

And here he is in a beautiful display of love and affection with his lady. That’s when the monkey invaded my circus. In a little high-pitched voice that I would place at maybe 8 years old – tops, a little girl shrieked in disgust, “Ooooohh!”

The theater erupted in laughter, myself included. But it also made me a little sad. I mean, think about it. That little girl had just watched dozens of people killed in very violent and bloody ways. That didn’t disgust her. Didn’t upset her. Didn’t make her cry out in horror.

But two people kissing? That was simply a step too far. Parents, listen up. I’m not going to tell you how to run your circus, but I will pass on this suggestion. If your kid isn’t old enough to see two people kissing without reacting – loudly – then they really, really aren’t old enough to be watching a rated R movie.

 

{A big thank you to Jane for helping me with the title. I think she came up with a perfect one. All I did was add the -est to the second word.}

The Battle of the Light Switch

We are staying in a hotel room for a few days. The room is nominally a suite. When you first walk in the door, if you don’t turn sharply left, you’ll run into the little kitchenette: mini-fridge, microwave, sink, coffee maker. After turning left, you enter the main room. There’s a couch along the left wall, a small desk and windows along the next, and two queen beds on the third. The fourth wall has a little alcove and a TV. The alcove has a sink at the back, a closet to the right, and the bathroom (shower and toilet) to the left, with a door – making it the only true additional room in the suite.

This room has a quirk. There’s a motion sensor light for the bathroom. You might initially think that’s handy. Get up in the middle of the night, it’ll light up for you as you get close. But there’s a few problems with it.

First, in the hypothetical middle of the night scenario, if you are particularly considerate of your roommates, you might want to wait until you are in the bathroom with the door closed before turning on the light, so as not to disturb them. Can’t happen in this room.

The bigger problem has to do with where the sensor is located. It’s not in the bathroom. It’s out in the alcove, next to the bathroom door. The first morning, as I took my shower, which included a thorough leg shaving, the light went off. I waved my arm out of the shower, not yet knowing where the trigger was. That didn’t work. I actually had to open the door to get the light back on. Not all that convenient when there’s shampoo running down into your eyes.

Not only is the location a problem, but so is the sensitivity. We both rolled over at the same time early this morning. Guess what? Yep. The bathroom light flicked on. See, that closet door across from the bathroom? It’s mirrored. That’s why opening the bathroom door was enough to get the light back on during my shower despite the door opening in and being on the same wall as the light sensor – the mirror reflected the movement. Our bed is also across from the mirror. So as the light in the room became less than pitch black, it was able to reflect our movement on the bed and trip the light.

There is a button you can press to force the light off but that’s apparently only temporary. I pressed it last night so I didn’t have to wait for the timeout to get a dark room for sleeping in. That didn’t keep it from turning back on when we rolled over this morning.

The sensor looks a lot like the ones at work, which I know can be programmed by certain patterns of pushing the button, but I don’t know the programming and I’m not sure the hotel would appreciate my modifications.

I guess a little tape over the sensor at night might do the trick. Some duct tape? We are at Destination Imagination Global Finals after all. Or, wait, like all DI folks, I should probably revisit my solution for improvements. Maybe I should just shut the bathroom door at night. Then it can turn on and off all it wants and I can still sleep in the dark. And wake my family up before I shower so their movement can keep the light on for me in the morning. Maybe that’ll work.

Comfort Food

When I was young, I liked to lie in my mom’s lap, with my head rested on her chest, and listen to her talk. I liked how her voice reverberated through her chest. I liked the warmth and feeling her heart beat under my face. I liked being the only person experiencing her voice and her touch in that way at that moment. These are intensely pleasurable memories. Comfort food for the soul.

Last night, I stepped up to my six foot tall son as he put his PS4 controller away after another epic round of Fortnite. When I reached out for a hug, he hugged back and didn’t quickly let go.

I wrapped my arms around his waist and nestled my head against his chest. He continued talking to his dad about the game. I marveled at how his deep voice reverberated through his chest. I soaked in the warmth. I felt his heart beat near my face. I could have stood there forever. I cherished being the only person he calls mom. The only person who gets this particular hug.

I don’t see my mom as often as I’d like and I never rest in her lap with my head on her chest anymore. But I get a good taste of that old comfort every time we hug. And now I can get a similar sensation with my son. Comfort food for the soul.

Optimizing My Life

I analyze. Everything. Constantly.

Always optimizing.

Everything needs to be as efficient as possible. Even when it doesn’t matter.

You have no idea.

Thursday morning, I went to gather my clothes before taking a shower. I typically wear a pair of jeans twice before washing them and the night before, I did what I always do on day two – I removed the belt from the belt loops, hung it up in the closet, turned the pants inside-out, and placed them in the hamper.

Standing in the closet that morning, I remembered that this week I had decided to wear my khakis one day instead of jeans. But when I reached for the hanger, I saw that it was hanging backwards, which meant it was awaiting its second day of wear. That gave me pause.

Wait a minute. I thought. If this is day two of the khakis then Friday will be a new pair of jeans that will only get one day’s wear this week. That can’t be right. Only one pair of pants gets a single wear each week. It can’t be two. So what did I do wrong?

Wait a minute. The first pair was Monday, Tuesday. That means the pair yesterday… shoot! That was only one day of wear! And I took the belt off – again! Sheesh.

I retrieved the pair back out of the hamper and flipped it right side out and set it aside, thinking about how I had done the exact same thing on Monday. Except that after hanging up the belt, I realized my mistake before putting the pants in the hamper. So I was getting worse as the week went on.

I regaled my husband with the tale of my poorly executed routine that week. He lay there staring at me before saying – with considerable feeling, “I am really glad I don’t live inside your head.”

So. Yeah.

It makes me killer good at Mastermind and packing a small car with a lot of stuff and finding all the mistakes in your emails. But it really is kinda exhausting sometimes. I’ve yet to find a way to turn it off.