Open House Punch

My son punched me in the mouth. Hard. He didn’t get in trouble for it though.

It was Tuesday evening. We were at the Elementary School Open House. He was smarting off in some way as we headed down the hall, so I reached out and poked him in the butt cheek with my compact umbrella.

He turned around and started throwing defensive Ninja moves my way. I bobbed and weaved as I looked for an in to jab my umbrella at his belly or swat his behind with it. He was good though. He blocked every thrust. So I acted like I was done messing around and then poked him when he turned away.

He then announced that he’d be giving me a slow-motion punch. I grinned as he moved his right hand in a large, wide arc toward my face. He slowly and lightly brushed my chin, turning my head equally slowly away from him. I reached out and jabbed him in the belly with my umbrella.

We messed around for a few more minutes as we waited for Daddy to return with Hal, who had disappeared. Again. He went for another slow-motion punch. I took the opportunity to quickly jab him with the umbrella. For some crazy reason, this took him by surprise. His surprise caused him to speed up. The speed up meant he slammed his fist into my mouth instead of slowly grazing my chin.

I grabbed my mouth/side of my jaw. Jane exclaimed, “Daryl! You just hit Mommy! Mommy, are you okay?!” Daryl just stared at me, wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open. I rubbed my jaw. He began to giggle nervously and apologize. Although he did suggest that my sudden jab to his abdomen might have contributed to the situation.

Which is why, by the way, he didn’t get in trouble. It’d be awfully hypocritical of me to punish him after all those times that one child or another has come to me in tears and I’ve responded with “Well, if you are going to insist on rough housing, someone is bound to get hurt.”

Daddy showed up while I was still holding my chin. He had failed to locate Hal. We walked to the other end of the hall. No Hal. We split, he and the kids heading outside to the portables. I checked the cafeteria. No Hal. We rejoined in the hallway. Hal hadn’t been outside either. The search was getting more frantic and more desperate until a mom I know asked how I was doing and I asked if she had seen him.

“Oh, I saw him a minute ago. He was rolling around on the stage.”

The stage. At the end of the cafeteria.

I was tired of him disappearing like this. I am tired of him disappearing like this. While my husband was gone on his recent trip, we attended Daryl’s basketball game one Saturday morning. Hal disappeared. I looked all over the gym. I went outside. He was nowhere to be found. Then someone said they had seen him at the next building over.

I was extremely firm and serious when I dragged him off the stage this time and sat him down in a chair and looked him square in the eye, all the while resisting the desire to rub my jaw just a bit more. I didn’t yell but I was so serious that he began to cry. He wasn’t happy when I insisted he’d hold my hand the rest of the night either. He made sure I knew it continuously as we headed back down the fifth grade hall and visited Daryl’s teachers.

Open House.

Other parents should be so lucky to have it as good as I’ve got it.

And, yeah, my face is still sore.

A Tale of Two Tuesdays

My husband was out of town last week. Being a single mom of three kids is no easy task, even if you do have friends and family to help you out. Let me tell you how last Tuesday went.

I got up before 6:00, feeling the pressure to get all four of us out the door on time so that no one would be late to school. I dropped Jane off about 7:20 and Daryl shortly there after. As Hal and I climbed out of the truck at his school, I realized that in the chaos of leaving the house, I had not verified that he had his backpack. He did not.

I didn’t have time to drive home so I warned him to be careful and not have an accident or spill food or fall in mud because he didn’t have a change of clothes. Then I drove to work, parked, and thought about the day ahead of me. That’s when I remembered I had a presentation to make at 10:15. I glanced down at my usual attire of jeans and tennis shoes and knew it wouldn’t do.

As I pulled out of the parking lot to make the 15 minute drive home, I thought, “Well, at least I can get Hal’s backpack.” Which I did. Although I left my cell phone sitting on the shelf where I had set it while changing my pants. And then I drove right past the preschool with the backpack.

Work greeted me with a voicemail from a coworker informing me that the presentations had moved up. They were starting at 8:30. We could be on as early as 8:50 and they wanted the slides delivered by 8:00. It was 8:28 when I got the message. With a sigh, I put my yogurt back in the fridge, grabbed my presentation, and rushed off. The morning had not gone well.

My sister-in-law picked up the older two from school. I got Hal and met them at home. We had about 10 minutes before we had to head to the elementary school for Open House. At one point, I found myself standing outside the library with a third grader who desperately wanted to buy a book from the book fair, a preschooler who was trying to run off, and a tween telling me that her volleyball coach said she had to have her knee pads at practice, which she had left at home.

I was texting the coach, explaining that she would be very late if we had to go back for the knee pads, when the phone rang. I answered it and found myself talking to the lovely woman that watches Hal while we practice bells. She was trying to coordinate an alternate plan for the next night when another call came in. It was my sister-in-law, who had arrived at the school and wanted to know where I was. I rushed directions without saying hello, told the church lady I’d call her later, sent Daryl into the book fair, told Jane to grab Hal, finished the text, and then tried to take a deep breath as I grew a few more grey hairs.

I would later leave the school to drop Jane off at volleyball practice without saying goodbye to my sister-in-law who was still looking for me. So then we met at my house, where I brought home Sonic hamburgers for dinner. When we finished eating, I had to load the boys up so we could pick Jane up from practice. By the time we got back home, it was past bedtime, no one had practiced their violas or taken showers, and I was exhausted.

Let’s just say that Tuesday was representative of the week as a whole.

This Tuesday, I woke up sometime after 6:00 and rolled over to cuddle with my husband through a couple rounds of snooze on the alarm clock. I padded around in my pajamas and played with the kids as they got ready for school. Sometime after they left with dad, I got in the shower. A lazy and relaxed start to the day.

After work, I met Jane and my husband at the school for TAG Open House. I stayed to look around with Jane while Daddy picked up Hal from the preschool and then Daryl from an after-school activity. Then I dropped Jane off at volleyball and, again, picked up Sonic for dinner. (Their hamburgers are half-priced on Tuesdays. We cook veggies at home for the sides.)

We ate and took care of a few things before my husband headed into town to get Jane. I tried to get the boys to take care of their chores. When my husband got home, I gave Hal a bath while he conducted Daryl’s viola practice. Everyone was tucked into bed sometime fairly close to their bedtime. I don’t feel exhausted.

The difference between the two days is remarkable. The evenings were about the same in complexity yet I grew no new grey hairs tonight. There is nothing, in my mind, dishonorable about being a single parent. But this right here was a vivid illustration on the value of a two-parent household. Being able to share the load again has me skipping with joy. Welcome home, honey! I am so glad you are here.