Don’t Wake Mommy! Please!

As I have said before, I don’t like getting woken up in the middle of the night. It makes me grumpy. I spend an unfortunate amount of time being grumpy. Fortunately for my family, I’ve learned ways to present my grumpiness with a bit of lighthearted humor. To take the edge off.

Since we are both off work this week, my husband and I have been trying to finish the remodeling project we started nearly two years ago when we gutted our bedroom and bath of everything – including drywall and insulation. We had gotten the project to the point where we just needed flooring and baseboards in both rooms. Oh, and door frames. And new lighting and a heater in the bathroom. And a mirror. And the attic access needs to be trimmed. And it’d be nice to have handles and locks on the sliding doors. Oh, and I guess it’d be nice to have a vanity actually attached to the wall with a working sink on it. And then I decided that I really couldn’t live with the ugly metal window in the bathroom after all.

Needless to say, we’ve been working very hard and going to bed exhausted all week. I’m still usually a light sleeper, though. So, two nights ago, I was awakened suddenly by my boys’ bedroom door opening. I tensed and waited, praying that I’d hear the toilet lid go up rather than hear the shuffle of feet approaching my bed.

I didn’t hear the toilet lid. Or the shuffling feet. Or any other noises. I strained my ears to try to hear what was going on. I glanced out to the hallway to confirm their door was indeed open. I thought I heard whispering. Were they both up? What was going on? Then I heard the dog move, more excited whispering, verging on giggling, feet moving hurriedly back down the hall.

As I reached for my phone to see what time it was (12:30am), I knocked it off the table to the floor. A shadowy form paused at their bedroom door briefly before closing it. I laid there tense before realizing I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep soon. I got up and peeked through the crack by their door. (Another project, don’t ask). I saw and heard nothing. I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. I laid back down and wondered why I had had children as I waited impatiently for sleep to reclaim me.

The next day, I asked them why they had gotten up in the middle of the night.

“Oh,” said Daryl, semi-evasively, “I was just using the bathroom.”

“No you weren’t. I never heard you switch on the light. Never heard the toilet lid go up. Never heard it flush. I did, however, hear whispering, which means Hal was with you. What were you doing?”

“Bubba was going to go to the computer so we could play a game!” said Hal, with a fair amount of 5-year-old glee.

Daryl looked at me with a sheepish smile and tried to shake his head in a weak denial.

“But you didn’t. Why not?”

“Because Rose woke up and I was afraid she’d wake you up and get us in trouble, so we hurried back to bed.”

“Ok, Daryl,” I said, “I’m a ridiculously light sleeper. You can’t even open your door without waking me up. And I really don’t like being woken up. So please, please don’t leave your room unless it’s to go pee. Ok?”

The next night, Hal reminded me that sometimes I really am so tired that opening their door does not wake me. Those nights are the worst. Those are the nights where you are deep in a blissful slumber and are ever so slowly roused from that slumber by the realization that there is a child crawling on top of you. Those are the worst because you can still sense the wonderfulness of that sleep you were in and are coming to realize that it is all over and you will be forced awake.

“Hal, what are you doing?!”

“I need to go potty!”

“Well, then go potty!” This is where the grumpiness comes in. I was so dead to the world that he could have walked down to the hall bathroom, as he has done many times before, without waking me at all – for once. But this time, this time, he felt the need to come tell me first.

“I don’t want to walk down there.”

“Well, it’s either that or pee in my bed and I don’t want you doing that!” I threw off my covers and stalked down the hall, flipped on the light, and tried to stay in the hall in the vain hope that not exposing myself to the bright lights would make it easier to go back to sleep.

He entered the room, lifted the seat, and began to pee. I stood in the hallway thinking about little boys and how they often pee when not very awake. With a sigh, I turned to look in the bathroom. His stream was disturbingly horizontal. I wasn’t sure whether he was hitting the bowl or the underside of the raised seat.

Alarmed, and too tired to consider the consequences, I said, “Point it down!”

This startled him, causing him to jump and bump the toilet. The lid and seat, which need to be tightened, fell closed. He continued to pee.

“Stop! Stop! Wait!” I yelled as I rushed into the room to raise the seat. And then I headed to the kitchen for the cleaner and paper towels so I could clean the mess I had helped make while he returned to bed. When I crawled back into mine, beside the husband who never wakes, I tried not to think about how good my sleep had felt before it was interrupted or how tired I’d be come morning. I just tried to remember how much I really do love that kid.

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Maybe Tomorrow: Stumbling Into Christmas

Last year, we started a tradition of putting up the Christmas tree at Thanksgiving. I can’t remember if it was the Sunday after, when we returned from visiting family out of state, or if it was the Wednesday before. I just remember that it worked out really well. It was to become a tradition. Only… we kind of blew it this year.

We succeeded in getting the Christmas tree – but not the ornaments – down from the attic Monday morning before school. I honestly don’t know what possessed us to do that on the first school morning after a holiday. Maybe I felt guilty for not doing it the day before. Or maybe we thought it’d increase the chances we’d get the tree up that evening.

Well, it didn’t. Hal asked if we were going to but the night was just too full. As was the next day, what with a trip to the nearby metroplex for a doctor’s visit, an orchestra concert, and basketball practice. Wednesdays are always full and Thursday was a Christmas party. Then we were iced in – surely we’d get it done with everyone home from school Friday and the town’s Christmas parade delayed a week.

But the next day was to be Daddy’s big sale and there was still so much to do to prepare. Then Mommy got sick and we spent the day trying to find a doctor willing to write a prescription. All the florists, retailers, and fast food joints were open – just not the doctors or urgent care centers.

The weekend was full with the studio sale and a volleyball championship game and church. The following Monday looked promising but since my sister-in-law and her boyfriend were preparing to move out-of-state, they stopped by to visit and shower the kids with gifts.

Hal asked on Tuesday when I picked him up from school. It’d now been over a week of asking – every day.

“I really don’t think we’ll be able to do it tonight,” I said. “Maybe tomorrow, but I kind of doubt it.”

Tuesday night was already booked with Destination Imagination practice for both of the older kids, a meeting at church for both adults, Boy Scouts, and basketball practice. Oh, and my sister-in-law and her boyfriend were now spending the night at our house since the last of their stuff was now loaded in the POD.

Wednesday fared no better with bell choir practice, Christmas pageant rehearsal, and a volleyball team shopping spree for the elderly women they had adopted.

“Maybe tomorrow,” I said.

But Thursday night, we had to finish Daryl’s costume for the Christmas parade and then there was basketball practice again. Also, some investigations at Lowe’s for flooring solutions in our never-ending remodeling project that some people would call the master suite.

As Thursday revealed itself to be another non-Christmas-tree-assembly day, Hal asked me a question.

“Mommy? Do you remember that day that’s not tomorrow when we put up the Christmas tree?”

At first, I thought he was referring to last year, when we got it all right. Then I realized that he was begging me to not tell him, once again, that we’d put up the tree… tomorrow. See, tomorrow never seems to come.

He soon began to bargain, reduce his standards. “Can’t we just put up the tree and one ornament? Just one ornament? I have one. Sissy took it but I know where it is.”

When we drove past the uber-neighbors’ house – the one with icicle lights on the fence, lights on the house, and a lit, decorated tree in the front window, he said, “See! Everyone else has their Christmas tree up! Why are we the only ones that don’t?”

I assured him that we weren’t the only ones, but he wasn’t convinced.

Friday night availed itself with the cancelling of the Christmas parade due to rain. But we took the opportunity to have a rare family movie night and then it was time for bed.

I felt terrible as my husband and I sat there planning out how much flooring we needed for the bedroom and bath. I was sure that we were slowly suffocating the Christmas spirit in our youngest child. Saturday wasn’t looking too promising. More Destination Imagination and basketball, not to mention a birthday party, meant I would be driving all over town all day long.

The only solution was to make sure we put up the tree so he could put his one decoration on the tree before all the craziness started. Before we left the house at 8:45 in the morning.

I cleaned off the dining room table, collapsed it to its smaller size, and scooted it away from the front window. I swept and mopped. And when Hal came out of his room the next morning, I declared, “Who wants to put together the Christmas tree?!”

We put it together, just the two of us, while listening first to Christmas classics on Pandora, and then to a cooperative viola practice by the older siblings. It turned out to be a pretty special, albeit still quick and a tad bit rushed, morning.

And then he went to go get that one ornament he’d been talking about. He’d said it was his and his sister had taken it. I found him in her room, standing on a chair, taking a porcelain cross down off the wall. The cross that he had given her to put with her collection of crosses.

“Oh, no, dear! That’s not an ornament and it’s not yours anymore and you aren’t allowed in her room without permission.” He began to cry.

Luckily, there were two paper Santa ornaments that he and Daryl had made a couple of weeks earlier. He placed them on the tree with great care. He’s still on my case about getting the tree fully and properly decorated, but at least we got started. And I won some bonus points, after getting the boxes of ornaments out of the attic, when I took out a large nativity scene and set it up by the TV.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the lights and ornaments on the tree. Maybe tomorrow.

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My Little Pretty

This morning, Jane entered the bathroom while I was showering and began to sort her laundry into our laundry hampers. We have three that are sorted according to how the articles need to be washed. The boys have a sorted hamper system as well. Jane has one hamper and periodically brings it to ours for sorting.

The hampers are near the door so as she opened it, she left it open (with her rear actually poking out of the room). She then began to pull her clothes out of her hamper and toss them into ours. I felt the cold air drift down from above the shower wall and yelped. “Shut the door!!”

She scooted in and quickly closed it. Unfortunately for her, it is a pocket door, one that still lacks a handle due to the never ending remodeling job. So if you close it too completely, it is difficult to open. She turned to leave and couldn’t grab the edge of the door. She reached toward the top and then to the side before asking, “How do I get out of here?”

Her wording grabbed my fancy. I opened the shower door to poke my head out. I smiled deviously at her and in my best witch’s voice, said, “You don’t! You are trapped in here my little pretty! HEE, hee, hee, hee, hee!”

She smiled faintly at me as she gained a hold on the door edge and left the room. I wondered if she had found it funny. It’s been only recently that I’ve been willing to let go of my own fear of embarrassment and act silly with my family. I still won’t do it around most anyone else.

I had a sudden chilling thought. My kids think I’m cool. Well, for the most part, they do. How terrible would it be if they found me embarrassing? I mean, like truly, “get away from me, mom” embarrassing? How would I handle that?

Rockin’ Grammar

There is a Rolling Stone magazine sitting on my bathroom counter. It is partially obscured by other stuff that has stacked up there. The edge near the spine, however, where the titles for the various articles are printed, is still visible. One morning, I noticed that one of them said “Imagine Dragons Take Flight”.

Shouldn’t that be ‘Imagine Dragons Takes Flight’? I thought. I continued to ponder it as I climbed into the shower. The band takes flight I thought. The name is a title for a single object: a band. It’s singular. Pink Floyd takes flight. U2 takes flight. See? The Eagles… take flight. Hmm. But ‘The Eagles’ is plural, so yeah, that makes sense. ‘Imagine Dragons’ isn’t really plural.

Ah, I thought. It’s because the name has a verb in it. Tricky. I wonder which way it should be.

With that thought, I finished my shower and went about my day. The next day, the magazine cover was still staring back at me and I still thought it “read” wrong. The analysis continued in that morning’s shower.

Okay, what are some other non-standard band names? They Might Be Giants… take flight? Oh! That sounds awful. It should be ‘They Might Be Giants takes flight’. Well, what good is my opinion? I think it should be ‘Imagine Dragons takes flight’ too.

I considered the possibility that the copy editor for Rolling Stone might be wrong. It’s possible. Of course, they surely have more experience than I do in ensuring proper noun/verb agreement with unusual band names. The problem, I thought, is probably relatively new. Bands used to name themselves with nouns or with an adjective/noun combo, not verbs or complete sentences.

I turned off the water and decided to employ Wikipedia to help me out. Not that they are perfect at grammar themselves. Just a bunch of everybodies like me. But any article on a band will start with “band name is/are blah blah blah”. I suspected I would find support for my position.

First I looked up They Might Be Giants: They Might Be Giants (sometimes abbreviated as TMBG) is an American alternative band formed in 1982…

A-ha! Success. The band is, therefore the band takes flight. Time to check out Imagine Dragons:

Imagine Dragons is an American alternative rock band from…

Yes! Agreement! The anonymous editors at Wikipedia agree with me! Woo-hoo!

Checking The Eagles showed: The Eagles are an American rock band formed in…

Logical consistency, at least according to my view of the grammatical world.

A Matter of Etiquette

Our bathroom, the never-ending remodeling project, does not have a mirror or a sink. This is why I found myself in the kids’ bathroom drying my hair while Jane brushed her teeth.

As she rinsed her toothbrush, she dropped it into the recently spit toothpaste at the bottom of the sink, just as she was turning off the water. She grimaced at me slightly and then turned to wipe it clean on the washcloth hanging on the towel rack behind us.

“Jane! You should have rinsed it off before you wiped it on a towel that other people might use to wipe their faces!”

“What? You mean the washcloth that I used to clean my shoes?”

With eyes wide in disbelief, I said, “If you used that to clean your shoes, you shouldn’t have hung it up on the towel rack where other people might use it.”

“Oh,” she replied, looking slightly abashed. She quickly pulled it off the rack. And then turned to the mirror and… wiped the toothpaste from the corners of her mouth with it. Grinning at me as she did so.

And all this time, I thought it was boys that were supposed to be disgusting.