Nipple Ring

It had been a long day, as so many of them seem to be. I had happily crawled into bed at the end of it and snuggled into my pillows. Sleep was going well but I can only assume I was too close to a sleep stage transition when my husband suddenly asked, “Hello?”

My back was to him so I rolled just enough to look over my shoulder. I saw him pulling the phone from his face so I glanced at the screen: Daryl. He pulled the phone back to his ear, repeated his question, then looked at the screen again. The call had just ended.

“What’s going on?” I asked. Silly question since he obviously had gotten no answer, but it was two in the morning and I don’t function well at that hour.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything.”

“Is he home?”

“I don’t know but I’m going to go check now.”

Daryl had spent the evening watching the NBA All-Star basketball game over at his sister’s place. He wasn’t home by the time we went to bed. I started to wonder if he had fallen asleep there. Or had he been in a wreck on his way home?

My husband returned from his sojourn down the hall and told me that he was home and asleep in his bed. He shrugged it off and went back to sleep. I, as I am prone to do after such events, lay awake for hours waiting for sleep to reclaim me.

My alarm woke me soon after I fell back asleep. I dutifully got up and we went to the gym. The boys didn’t have school that day so we were letting them sleep. As I prepared to leave for work, I paused at Daryl’s door. I don’t know if it was honest curiosity or a desire to pay him back, but I went inside.

“Daryl,” I said, shaking him gently. “I’m going to work, honey. Where’s your phone?”

He had just been groggily stretching until I asked him about the phone. He pushed his torso up off the bed and looked around confused. As he stretched up higher and looked down, I saw it. His phone was face-up under his bare chest.

“That’s it! Daryl! You nipple-dialed your dad in the middle of the night! It woke both of us up! It took me hours to go back to sleep.”

He didn’t respond.

“The least you could do is say Sorrrryyy Mooooomm.” I said the “sorry mom” in an exaggerated put-out-teenager voice. He repeated the words in exactly the same tone. Maybe my version wasn’t so exaggerated after all.

“Thank you,” I said, picking up the phone, now at 11% battery because it had spent the night under his chest instead of on his charger. As I plugged it in for him, I confirmed what time he needed to be at Destination Imagination practice. And then I told his dad to make sure he was awake when the time came.

Because, you see, it’s always mom’s job to take care of the kids. Even if the kids wreck her sleep. You take care of them. And then you take care of yourself by increasing your caffeine intake for the day. And then you cross your fingers and say a little prayer before trying again for a good night’s sleep at the next opportunity.

GW to KG – Wassup?!

It seems only fitting after sharing some of Jane’s recent writing, that I should share some of Daryl’s. Eighth grade history with a bit of a flair! Here is his vision of how a conversation might have taken place between George Washington and King George during the Revolutionary War. If they had had cell phones. And if they talked smack like the average middle schooler.

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Some translations for those of you not hip enough to digest this with full understanding:

KG: King George
finna: fixing to
W: win
LMAO: laugh my ass off (you knew this one surely… right?)
boi: said expressively to indicate the other did or said something stupid
brb: be right back
tryna: trying to
rn: right now
aiight: all right?!
foo: fool
WTH: what the hell (guessing you knew this one too…)

I’ll close with a couple of observations.

George Washington probably should have charged his phone before he tried to cross the Delaware. No way 53% is going to get him through the day – especially that cold outside.

And it’s no wonder England lost. What with the King texting his plans to the enemy and all.

 

Hello? It’s me. You know, your mom?

This is what I typically see when I look at my conversation history with my 13 year old son. Sometimes it feels really lonely. Like I’m talking to myself. I know he has a phone because his nose is in it much of the time we are together. So what happens to it while we are apart? Strange, I tell ya. Maybe I should ask him about it…

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20 Hours and a Bag of Rice

The children and I, plus Jane’s boyfriend, were away from home visiting family. It was the last day and a full busy one. We had met my father-in-law for breakfast and then made a quick visit out to his house before heading back to my mother’s house for the big extended family gathering.

My grandmother on my stepdad’s side plus her daughter and son-in-law had pulled into the driveway just ahead of us. We greeted them and made introductions before I darted inside. See, I was supposed to be helping with the food but really needed to use the bathroom first.

It was much colder than I had expected it to be. When we had left home several days earlier, it was 84 degrees outside. This particular morning, it had literally been freezing when we woke up. I had foolishly failed to check the weather and as a result had not packed any long pants. I had spent the previous day wearing a pair of my mother’s jeans. She and I have about the same girth but my legs are noticeably longer. I walked around looking like a dork in high waters.

All this to say that I had stopped at Wal-Mart and purchased some sweatpants that I needed anyway. But sweatpants have front pockets, not back pockets. And I was in a hurry when I entered the bathroom. I took care of my business, turned to flush, and then quickly pulled up my pants. I was tying the string when my cellphone, nestled in that front pocket and forgotten about, leaped into the toilet headfirst.

I shrieked as the water swirled around it, made a mental observation that it was a good thing it was too big to fit down the drain, and snatched it out quickly. I then added to my growing list of boneheaded moves and rinsed it off under the sink before drying it off. Isn’t that what you always do when you pull something out of the toilet?

Anyway, I then rushed out of the bathroom and told my mother that I desperately needed some rice. She could tell it was an emergency but couldn’t quite figure out how someone could have an urgent need for rice. Especially as they emerge from the bathroom. But rice she fetched as I powered off my phone.

I would later remove it from the rice to use the vacuum to suck any moisture out of the openings, but otherwise, it stayed in a bag of rice from noon that day until 8 am the next. And for that 20 hour window, I was struck by how lost I was without my phone.

I wasn’t able to make the dish I planned because my recipe was on my phone. I didn’t want to Google and find something close – I wanted my recipe.

I couldn’t take pictures as the family gathered. I had to use my mom’s phone and now I’ll have to wait for her to forward the pictures to me.

I couldn’t check my work email as I had promised to do while away from the office.

I couldn’t check personal email either, which turned out to be very critical the next morning when I discovered at 8:20, as the family was slowly waking up, that the bell choir director wanted us at church at 8:50 for rehearsal.

I couldn’t receive text messages from the friend taking care of our dog.

I couldn’t check on my Words With Friends games or play Two Dots. I actually kind of liked that part. Hmmm…

That afternoon, when I prepared to go run – it having been too cold that morning, I realized that without my phone, I couldn’t track my run or my heart rate and — horror of horrors! — I couldn’t play music to keep me motivated.

For that one, I downloaded the two apps on my mother’s phone and survived well enough. The run won’t be in my Polar Beat history. But that’s OK because mom’s older Samsung still has the location bug and wouldn’t track where I was anyway.

I couldn’t access Google Maps but fortunately knew my way home.

That night, I couldn’t set my alarm clock for the next morning but was luckily back with my husband. Who had not dropped his phone in the toilet. So I had him set his.

I felt so lost. I was only antsy for the first couple of hours. After that, I managed to accept the situation and wait. But I couldn’t help being reminded how critical that expensive little device has become.

Forgetfulness on the Last Day of School

Last night, Daryl wanted us to let him stay up late to finish reading a book he had borrowed from his teacher. Since today was the last day of school, he needed to return it to her today. I didn’t let him stay up because, well, he had spent plenty of time playing a game on the computer instead of reading the book, which he had likely forgotten all about when he sat down at the computer.

This morning, my husband noticed that Daryl was reading a different book. “What about the one you have to return today?”

Daryl smiled a sheepish grin. “It’s on my pillow.” He confessed that he had read it by flashlight after going to bed and finished it. He then promptly forgot it was on his pillow and didn’t take it to school.

This was not the only case of forgetfulness this morning. Not by a long shot!

I was finishing my morning run on the treadmill when I saw the kids filing out the door to the car. “Hey!” I called out, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?!”

Daryl and Hal kept walking. Jane, who was running back into the house yelled defensively, “I haven’t left yet! I will!”

But when I got off the treadmill, she was nowhere to be found. My husband came in to get a hug and I asked where she was. “Out in the truck,” he replied.

So off I went to say goodbye. As I opened her door, I asked, “Did you forget something?”

“Oh! Mommy! I’m sorry! I forgot!”

About the same time, Daddy looked at the boys in the backseat. “Did either one of you brush your hair?” Guilty expressions answered the question. “What about your teeth?” Heads hung in shame. “Get out. Get out of the truck now.”

“Daryl,” I chided. “You have to brush your teeth!”

“People forget things, Mo-om!”

“Not brushing your teeth, you don’t!” Ah… the irony those words would prove to be…

Soon enough, they were off to school and I entered the house to get ready for work. I noticed that my husband had left his cell phone on the arm of the couch. My first instinct was to call him and let him know.

Since that wasn’t possible, I thought it’d be fun to surprise Jane by calling her on his phone. But she didn’t answer. Frustrated, I called again. She sent me straight to voicemail. As I began to type out a text, she called me. Turned out, she thought her daddy was “butt calling” her (her words) so wasn’t answering!

I was now running late for work and was still a little overheated from the run after my shower. I decided to skip drying my hair as the heat seemed too much to bear. Skipping any part of my routine almost always has regretful consequences. Sure enough, I was halfway to work when I suddenly realized. Yes. I had forgotten to brush my teeth. Ok, kid. You win. But really, you “forget” every day. And unlike you, I have toothpaste and a toothbrush at my destination.

All I can say is that five brains had already checked out for the summer. It’s amazing we made it through the day.

Modest Humor

My husband and I recently had a weekend away from the kids. We’ve done this nearly every year for the last 4 years. We drop the kids off at grandma’s and then travel an hour further away to setup a booth at an arts festival. It’s a lot of work but we enjoy spending time together, just the two of us.

This year, however, things were different. The separation was not as complete now that Jane has a cell phone.

Early afternoon, I received a text that included a picture of Hal, asleep in the car with a string of candy hanging out of his mouth. Jane said, “Hal got tired while eating candy in the car.”

The following exchange ensued:

At this point, I shared the exchange with my husband, commenting on our daughter’s remarkable sense of modesty. He took the phone and typed a response:

I nearly choked laughing so hard at her response. We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction from her. It was remarkable that she had rightly discerned that that was how her father would talk to her, not her mother. It just hadn’t occurred to her that just because it was my phone didn’t mean it was me talking. He took the phone again.

I then texted her, hoping to gently chastise her for being so full of herself.

We may not have to worry too much about low self-esteem, but we may need to keep an eye out for an over-inflated sense of self worth. The latter can be just as destructive as the former.

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

It had been a long and intense evening of discussion. Mother, father, daughter all holed up in her room, while the boys waited in another part of the house and wondered if they were going to get to eat dinner.

We discussed her school schedule and our disagreements about it. We discussed priorities, desires, boys, grades, cell phones, behavior, attitude. She got angry, calmed down, cried, tried to distract herself by cleaning her room. Every once in awhile, the dog or the preschooler or the dog and the preschooler made an appearance. Daryl tried to remind us there were other people in the house. The discussion lasted nearly two hours and left us all drained. Drained, but not really at odds with each other. From the parental perspective, the talk had gone well. We had accomplished our objectives.

Per the new cell phone directives, she handed me her phone as she resumed her homework. I looked down at her wall paper and asked who it was.

“Channing Tatum,” she replied, smiling up at me like she dared me to say something. She had recently had a mild argument with her aunt over whether he qualified as “hot”.

After a brief pause for effect, I smiled back and nodded. “You’ve got pretty good taste.”

“I know,” she said. And then under her breath but with a smile, “Unlike you.”

“What did you say?”

“Well… my dad’s really not all that, ya know.”

“What are you talking about?! He is the hottest man on the planet!”

Laughing, she put her hands up in protest. “Okay, you can stop now.”

“No, really. Your dad is hot!”

“That’s enough!”

“You should have seen him in high school…”

“Really! You don’t need to do this!”

“…He was so tall with broad shoulders…” I gazed longingly at him in the other room as she interrupted.

“Enough! Please! I don’t need to hear this!”

I adopted my best imitation of her swooning teenager voice. “I’m telling you. He was a man among boys!”

“Okaaayyy!!” The embarrassed laughter and friendly banter seemed to break through the slightly reserved interaction we had had a few minutes prior. As she laughed and kicked around, the smiley face eraser fell off her pencil and onto the floor. Rose dove in after it.

“Rose! No! Don’t eat my smiley face! Mom! She just ate my eraser!”

Rose certainly appeared to have something in her mouth so I reached down to fish it out while Jane nearly fell over from laughing. That’s when I noticed the eraser tucked behind a chair leg. We laughed some more. It felt good.

I had been down in the dumps all day, dreading the conversation. It is more difficult to parent a preteen/teenager than I ever could have imagined. The previous night, her dad and I had discussed what we needed to talk to Jane about. I was distressed and anxious. I didn’t want to be a parent of a twelve year old anymore. I didn’t want to do the hard work. I didn’t want to take the abuse. I didn’t want to have the arguments that are inevitable when what the parents think is best conflicts with what the child wants.

Then we talked. And it was hard. But not as bad as I had feared. And then we laughed and teased and I was in love with my daughter again. There will be more rough times ahead; but as long as we can find something to laugh about afterwards, maybe it will all be ok.