Not 14 Minutes

It was time for Hal to take a shower.

“Are you watching a video or playing a game?” I asked.

“Watching a video,” he replied.

“How much time is left?”

He clicked on the screen and studied it for a minute. “It’s… It’s… not…” He hesitated.

“How much time is left?” I asked again.

“Fourteen minutes.”

“Ok, I’m going to make a deal with you. It’s almost bedtime. You hurry into the bathroom and take a shower. Be quick but make it a good one. Make sure you scrub your armpits and use soap. Take a good quick shower and then brush your teeth and I’ll let you stay up to watch the rest of your video.”

A few minutes later, I heard him talking to his older brother about what was happening in Fortnite at that moment.

“Hal! I said to hustle! You aren’t going to get to finish watching your video.”

A couple of minutes later, he still wasn’t in the bathroom.

“I’m serious,” I said, approaching him from down the hall. “You are using up all of your video time. It’s already your bedtime and you are wanting me to let you stay up for another fifteen minutes after taking your shower.”

“No! No! Not fifteen minutes!” he protested.

Inside my head where he couldn’t see, I rolled my eyes.

“Ok,” I said, barely holding onto my patience. “Fourteen minutes. It’s essentially the same thing, Hal.”

“No! It’s not fourteen minutes!”

Now confused, I said, “You told me it was fourteen minutes.”

“No! I said ‘not fourteen minutes’.”

I waited for him to say more, but he just stared back at me like that cleared up everything.

“What? How is that useful information, Hal? ‘Not fourteen minutes’ tells me absolutely nothing. ‘Not fourteen minutes’ could mean ten seconds, or ten minutes, or fifty minutes, or forty-eight hours. Why would you tell me ‘not fourteen minutes’?”

Jane giggled from her adjacent room.

“Well, you know, you look at a video and think, ‘that looks like it’s fourteen minutes,’ but it’s not.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know, it shows that the video is fourteen minutes long but you’ve already watched some of it so you don’t have fourteen minutes left.”

“Ok,” I said, finally understanding where he was coming from but not regaining my patience. “That’s when you look to the left and see how much time has already passed. What did that number say?”

“Nine minutes.”

“Ok, then that means you have five minutes left. Now that would be useful information. Hurry up and take your shower and I’ll let you finish it.”

I stopped by Jane’s room after. She looked up from her homework and said, “I just have not ten minutes left on this, mom. Not ten minutes. Ok?”

Sometimes You Just Gotta Sing!

My mother-in-law’s house outside of Denver has a basement, complete with two rooms and a bathroom. One day while we were visiting, I was sitting on the bed in one of the rooms recording receipts in our budget app. My twelve year-old son was in the bathroom taking a shower.

And singing.

Kind of.

I mean, I suppose you could call some of it singing.

Some of it was more like practicing exotic bird calls.

And some sounded like Tibetan throat singing.

And some sounded like yodeling.

And still others like some sort of theatrical stage production.

And at times, the various components were combined in unique ways.

He was getting on my nerves. In fact, I almost called out to him to cut it out. But before the words came out of my mouth, I paused and considered. He’s enjoying himself. Truly, truly carefree and enjoying himself. Surely I could enjoy it too.

Which I did.

And then I realized that other people deserved to enjoy it too. I realized I was missing an important opportunity as I strove to finish entering the receipts. With that realization, I hopped off the bed and rushed quietly to the bathroom door – a receipt partially entered and forgotten.

I began to video the dark, closed door. And of course, at that moment, he quit singing. But I waited patiently. Sure enough, 30 seconds later I heard his low voice make some squeaking dolphin-like noises followed by some (loose interpretation of) lyrics from Jon Cozart’s YouTube hit, After Ever After:

The Japanese killed all my whale friends

Oil is spilling

Mermaids are killing

Thanks to BP

He then devolved into a screeching, donkey-braying repetition of “THANKS TO BP!”

I laughed silently as the noises crescendo’d before morphing into monkey sounds and eventually into some rousing beatboxing. The beatbox stopped suddenly and after a brief pause, he called out in his best Urkel impersonation, “What was thaaat?!”

Another bit of silence and then I knew it was coming and could barely contain my giggling.

He opened the door.

And screeched, clutching the towel around him.

His face registered first pure shock and surprise to find someone at the door, followed almost immediately by the recognition of what I had been doing. My laughter spilled over the floodgates. I rushed to stop the video and pull away as he tried to grab the camera.

I promised him that I wouldn’t post it on Facebook and I’ll honor that commitment. And I won’t violate the spirit of that commitment by posting it here. What I will do is gleefully show it to anyone I come across who’s interested. It’s good for a solid belly laugh. Trust me on that.

Stone Age

A coworker today told me that I’m living in the Stone Age. He said this when he found out we don’t have cable. Actually any TV reception at all.

We watch our TV from Netflix and Amazon Prime via our Roku box. I hear that’s how the cavemen did it too. My coworker, on the other hand, recently upgraded from taping his shows to using a DVR.

I depend heavily on my smart phone. It serves as my alarm clock, cooking timer, stopwatch, address book, calendar and day planner, email portal, to-do list, notebook, map, GPS, dictionary, camera, video camera, newspaper, reference book, casual gaming device, and more. I even use it to make phone calls from time to time.

My coworker, the Renaissance Man that he is, doesn’t have a smart phone. Actually, he doesn’t have a cell phone at all. Or a computer. No internet at home. What separates sophisticates like him from stone-agers like me is apparently not technology at all but merely whether you have access to catch the Super Bowl this weekend.

As much as I love watching big beefy guys crash into each other, I think I’ll just stay in my cave. Besides, I can get a pretty good idea how the game is going by watching my Facebook newsfeed. On my phone. While watching Dr. Who on my Roku. And all the commercials will likely be on YouTube by Monday.

New Frontiers

So what does the insecure and reserved goody-two-shoes do when she hits her mid-life crisis? If she’s anything like me, she throws caution to the wind and signs up to do something totally radical and unheard of. Cutting edge, daring, spontaneous, illogical. Playing in a badminton tournament so her company will keep their participation points. Talk about walking on the wild side.

Thanks to our strong turn-out in the 5K portion of this inter-company competition, our company was leading the way in participation points. That 5K race, by the way, was another notable example of my new daring approach to life. I began running a few months ago and finished my first race at 32:49. I kept an even maintainable pace and then, following my nine year old son’s sage advice, sprinted to the finish line as if I were in competition for something more than kudos from my kids.

This may not sound like much to those readers more adventurous than I, but for me, running in that race was terrifying. I barely slept the night before. I had no expectation of winning. That’s not what scared me. What scared me was the thought of trying and failing. Perfectionism is the antithesis of adventure.

However, the sky didn’t fall. I didn’t fail. My kids were proud of me. I succeeded. I felt good about myself.

So… when the email arrived from the 5K coach that the badminton team needed another female participant in order to retain all the participation points, I called my husband and asked if he thought I was crazy. Amazingly, the calendar was open the night of the tournament.

I reminded him that I hadn’t actually played badminton since ninth grade PE. He said he didn’t think recreational badminton would be all that tough and I should go for it if I wanted to. So I did. Completely out of character.

We had a practice a few days before the big event. Four of the six team members showed up. We attempted to play outside with a strong wind. It was quickly apparent that we were unlikely to earn anything more than those precious participation points. But at least I learned how to do the more sophisticated backhand serve – thanks to the teammate who had watched some YouTube videos of Olympic competitors.

When we arrived at the venue and began to walk from our car, I saw a man carrying a bag with racquets and shuttlecocks. Wow. I thought. He must be serious. Our coach had purchased a kit. Between him and the YouTube lady, we had enough racquets to go around.

I signed in and led my family into the gym. Our jaws dropped. Those birdies were flying hard from racquet to racquet. Rapid fire between the players warming up. People darting back and forth. It was intense. Even the competitors’ children were impressive, batting back and forth between the courts during warm-up.

“Dude,” my husband said. “You are totally going to get creamed.”

And he was right. A teammate would later comment that this was nothing like he was used to playing at barbeques. That teammate, and another one, actually took a birdie in the face because they were hit too fast to get out of the way.

My husband chuckled through a good portion of my first game. I was playing mixed with an overweight, middle-aged man who was fortunately pretty good. He somehow dove for a birdie and got it over the net in our first game. Neither one of us were rocking but we had a good time playing with each other. We were even leading during much of both matches in our loser’s bracket game. We might have won if we had been playing to 15 instead of 21.

The handful of coworkers that knew what I was doing had teased me about playing badminton. You could tell by their tone that they considered it a joke, a non-sport. Never mind that my muscles were still sore from the practice session. Never mind that I was sweaty and exhausted by the time the night was over. Never mind that they were likely sitting on the couch watching TV while I put my lack of talent on display. They still found it laughable.

That night taught me many things. First, what is a joke to some people is serious business to others. My team comprised most, if not all, of the white people in the room. The other competitors were overwhelmingly of Asian or Eastern Indian descent. And they were good. Really good. This sport was a big deal to them and, watching them play, it was unquestionably a sport. My coworkers had no room to laugh.

Second, I didn’t have to be the best, or even necessarily good, at something to have fun. We knew why we were there. We improved. We pulled off some good volleys and saves. We learned. We laughed. We had fun. It was a night well spent.

Third, it was rewarding to move out of my comfort zone. There was no risk. No downside. Why should I care what my non-adventurous coworkers thought? They were laughing but that was all they were doing. I was experiencing. I was living. I was learning. I was growing.

So maybe running races and competing in a sport you’ve never really played before doesn’t count as a mid-life crisis. Maybe it’d be more accurate to call it growing up. Finally.

Bubba Bob

We are nearing the end of our gender-separated vacation. Jane and I have one more full day in Washington, D.C. with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. My husband and the boys are heading home tomorrow with Grace’s boyfriend, Bob. While we took in the city-dwelling sights, the boys were looking at the splendors of nature: visiting Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and other great camping destinations.

With a two hour time difference and spotty cell phone reception on their end, we haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time in contact with each other. Tonight, I was stretched out on the bed in our hotel, trying to recover from over-indulging at the Ethiopian restaurant we visited tonight. I was bored and had tried, unsuccessfully, to contact my husband.

As I cruised YouTube on my phone, it suddenly rang. My husband! Yay! Grace looked up. “Where are they? Are they still on the road?”

“No,” I replied. “They are in for the night.” She scrambled to grab her phone and then sprawled across the other bed. Within minutes, I could hear Bob’s voice through her phone. We each greedily began exchanging information with our significant others.

After awhile, my husband said that Hal wanted to talk to me. I talked to my four year old for a few brief minutes and then he asked if I wanted to speak to… Bobba? I wasn’t sure what he said but figured he meant “Bubba” since that’s who I always talk to next.

“Sure! I definitely want to talk to him,” I said.

I then listened to him call out to people, asking where Bob is. Bob? No, wait! I want to talk to Daryl! I sighed as I waited for it to get straightened out on the other end. I could clearly hear Bob’s voice through Grace’s phone. I then heard Hal ask his Daddy for Bob.

“Why do you want Bob? Are you done talking to Mommy? Let’s let Daryl talk to her now.”

“But she wants to talk to Bob!”

I was laughing by the time my husband got on the phone. “No, I don’t want to talk to Bob. I thought he said ‘Bubba’. Can I talk to Daryl now?”

I’m not used to Daryl sounding so excited on the phone. He had obviously had a great time on the trip. After we talked for a few minutes, he asked, “Do you want to talk back to Daddy now?”

Before I could answer, I heard a panicked and indignant Hal call out, “NOOO!!!! She wants to talk to BOB!!”

Daddy explained the confusion to him and we all had a good laugh over it on our end. He was so cute trying to fulfill his understanding of my wishes. But, really… Bob’s a nice guy and all but why would I want to talk to him before I talk to my own son?