I Almost Got Struck By Lightening While You Were Gone

This post is one I am moving over from my other blog, Welcome To CABsPlace, where I am pretty certain I will not continue writing.  That is…unless…someone can come up with a really good reason why I should write two blogs that mostly deal with the same stuff.  This particular post, speaks of doing the single parenting job with four kids and how sometimes, for no seemingly apparent reason, you just encounter turbulence.  I wrote this post originally in June, 2008 and have made only minor revisions. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer 2009 033 A sunny summer June Monday morning started out peacefully but soon deteriorated into complete and total chaos, then, just as suddenly as it erupted, the chaos evaporated. This kind of disturbance happens routinely in my home and I am often perplexed as to why or how it starts and what to do about it when it does. Today, I did nothing. That seemed to work.

I awoke, as I normally do to the peaceful music of the birds outside my window. These wonderful sounds were angrily disrupted by the grumbling, groaning, clanking, banging noises of the garbage truck makings its rounds on the block behind mine. My oldest daughter, who had rolled in well after midnight last night from an out-of-town choir tour, continued to sleep undisturbed. Now, she doesn’t usually share the bed with me, but this last week she was gone and her room became the laundry room. When she returned in the wee hours of the morning, I was unwilling to move the laundry and my bed, so though I hated the thought of enduring the battle of the bed sheets and her snoring, I suggested she just crash in my bed tonight. I figured if it got bad enough, I’d just go sleep on the couch.

The night passed uneventfully, meaning I slept without disturbance, until around 5:30 or 6, my youngest decided she wanted to crawl in with us. Once cozily sandwiched in between her older sister and me she drifted off into blissful sleep. I rolled over to try to catch a few more winks myself. That’s when the fun began.

j0422197 I was just drifting of into some nice REM sleep when the warm blankets were abruptly pulled off me. I was startled awake by the chill morning air and the loss of the covers. My youngest, sweet cherub that she is, had become too warm and kicked off all the blankets in her sleep. I glanced across the vast bed to my oldest. She was still sleeping soundly. So was my youngest for that matter. The kicking clearly bothered no one but me. I grumpily pulled the covers back up, rolled back over and went back to sleep again. I’m not sure how long I was sleeping before the covers were suddenly pulled off me again. This time, knowing it was my daughter’s kicking problem, I just reached out grabbed the blankets and pulled them back up over my shoulders. I burrowed down into the bed cinching the covers close around my neck. I closed my eyes. I waited. Sure enough, it was only a matter of a few moments when my daughter’s began flailing in an attempt to rid her body of the constricting sheets. That was it for me. I slid out of bed and padded into the kitchen to start the coffee. I was officially up for the day.

Connecting through Random Sound Bites

Later that morning, as I was putting away dishes, my daughter (Number 2) was mixing up pancake batter when an argument arose between my son (Number 3), and my youngest daughter (Number 4) about who woke up first this morning.

I mean, what’s up with that and who cares?

Then there was the confusion about how Number 1’s dirty clothes got mixed in with the clean clothes in spite of the fact that she’s been gone for a week. This then moved into a discussion (okay, it was really an argument) about moving the family computer out of my oldest daughter’s (Number 1) room to the kitchen/dining area where I am now typing on it. Never mind that all school year she complained about having it in her room because she needed to study and no one else was allowed in there to use the computer while she was studying. Sigh. Then there’s the breakfast table conversation which went something like this:

Number 1: I know for sure I’m not going to Elite Private School in That Big City by Puget Sound.

Me: Oh, why not?

Number 1: I’m not so sure I like the city. (She’d just returned from a week long trip to That Big City.)

Me (raising my eyebrows internally): Well, that’s definitely a consideration.

Number 1 (to Number 2): I got some really neat things while I was gone. (Note the random and sudden change in conversational direction.)

j0422455 Number 4: Pass the syrup.

Number 2 to Number 1: Did you get me anything?

Number 4: Is the first gallon of milk already gone?!

Me: No, it’s right here.

Number 1 to Number 2: No, but you can use some of it if you want. (Referencing the stuff she got on her trip but which was not for her sister.)

Me: Number 2, I don’t think we have enough pancakes here. Does anyone want some more? We can mix some up.

Number 2: You mean, Number 2, can mix some more up.

Number 1: Number 2, are you going to be in Youth Ensemble next year?

Number 2: While you were gone I almost got struck by lightning.

I kid you not, that is how the conversation went. That is how the morning went. One random thought after another. Sound bites of our lives, disconnected but fitting together.  The heartbeat of a family simply comfortable with being together.  It sounded like no one was listening to anyone else, but that wasn’t the case.  It seemed everyone was content just to say something, anything even if no one responded to it.  It is enough to make the thinking adult go nearly mad.  Except that somehow, almost miraculously it seems, there was actual dialogue and forward progress on those daily activities that keep a household afloat. Have you ever stopped and listened to the flow of the daily conversation in your home?  Close your eyes for just a second and listen.  What do you hear? Keep your eyes closed, now what do you see?

Expect Occasional Turbulence

Number 2 did tell about her close encounter with lightning, we did finish breakfast fairly uneventfully, the laundry is getting folded and put away, in spite of Number 2 and Number 3 creating an alliance against Number 4. Currently, Number 3 is attempting to avoid changing the sheets on his bed by suddenly developing an interest in reading, Number 1 is agonizing through her allergies by doing the dishes with Kleenex packed firmly in each nostril and Number 4 is refusing to let me type one more word until I give her permission to scoop the dead worm she found out of the pool. None of this would be a problem except now the older kids are accusing Number 4 of digging up the worm and putting it in the pool instead of finding it already there. Hmmm, how would a worm get in the pool on its own anyway? And then, Number 4, when passing through the sliding screen door knocks the screen completely out of its tracks, you’d have thought she was struck by lightening.

There are days in a family that pass by fairly uneventfully, like when all the kids are gone to their other parents’ homes or spending time away with friends. There are other days, when we are all here and things still pass fairly uneventfully but that seems to occur only if I let the kids do whatever they want and make no demands on them. Since that is not  our reality, it is more common that there is going to be some turbulence at points along the way. I know this. I understand this. I expect and accept this. But I don’t always like it.l_60fb08cb5f694286b3a6544b7f9c3f53

At this very minute, there seems to be an unofficial cease fire and things are calm. I wonder how long this will last? It baffles me how the tone in a home can go from blissfully serene to completely insane in seconds and then just as suddenly back to peaceful. It is not unlike being struck by lightening. Sometimes in family life, it feels like you end up dead too.

On the other hand, it can also leave you with the feeling of being more alive than ever.

Further Tales From The Friendship Files

One of my friends spent her Winter Break in Mexico.  I’m already jealous, aren’t you?  While most of us in the Pacific Northwest were slogging away through some  extreme form of precipitation, my friend was sunning herself in her size 2 bikini, blonde hair down to her butt, no, wait, past her butt and sipping dangerous concoctions oceanside near Porta Vai Somewhere In Mexico.  She didn’t care.  She wasn’t having to drive home. 

This is her annual treat to herself and her family.  Yes, I did say family.  She and her husband and their two children go to Mexico every year at this time.   Usually, the vacations are pretty standard, as vacations go.  Four star luxury resort accomodations, sun, sand, surf,  sex (I’m guessing, though she didn’t go into it with me, particularly. Ah, just as well).  This year, things became a bit more exciting when said sexual exploits were rudely interrupted and her husband got in a fight.

Now, whereas my friend is small, her husband is quite tall and he’s not the skinny, shrimpy tall either.  He’s  a big, strong man.  He is not, however, prone to fighting, nor is he what I’d call, a bruiser.  He’s an easy going fun guy with a ready smile and a quick wit.  He’s a very kind, considerate, friendly person, except when his wife is upset, then he gets upset because, as he says, “If she’s upset, I’m going to hear about it.”

 When my friend mentioned that her husband got in a fight, I was all ears.

It turns out that they’d been on the go most of the vacation.  You know, entertaining the kids and all. It was their first night  there and both the kids crashed early, the place was quiet and they were feeling quite amorous.  Do you blame them?  For married couples on vacation with kids, it’s not often that both kids fall asleep while parents still have any energy left.  Just as things started heating up, the phone rings.  Annoyed, my friend’s husband answers the phone.  A voice on the other end asks, “Is Mike there?”  My friend’s husband’s name is not Mike, so he said, “No.”  The voice on the other end laughed abrasively and hung up.  My friends shrugged and resumed their activities.  As things once again began heating up, the phone again interrupted the holiday celebration.  The same conversation transpired.  This intrusive caller continued to several other times, before finally leaving my two friends alone for the evening. 

The next morning, very, very, very  early before anyone was awake, my two friends were again enjoying the quiet before the children woke up when there came a knock on the door.  Mexico Friend’s husband goes to the door, there is no one there.  He shuts the door.  A few minutes later they hear another knock.  He answers the door.  There is no one there.  Now, it is very early in the morning. My friends are on vacation in paradise, the kids are out cold and they are being disturbed at ungodly hours by some prankster at the most inopportune times.  They were both getting really annoyed.  Apparently, Husband Of Mexico Friend was more than a bit annoyed. 

This time he waited right by the door and the minute he heard the next knock he lunged out the door.  He was just in time to see a big burly kid probably about middle school age go hightailing it around the edge of the building.  Husband took off with Mexico Friend right behind him. 

Husband, being the larger and faster of the two was able to catch up with the kid but not  whithout slipping and sliding on the tile floors.  The kid  very nearly made it into his own room and had the door almost shut but Husband stopped the door with his foot breaking his toe in the process.  This did nothing to diffuse Husband’s temper or lift his mood.  Husband instead lifted the kid right out of his 4-star room and drug him back out into the hallway.  Husband verbally taking the prankster to task.  As I mentioned before, Mexico Friend’s Husband is a big man.  While he appears fun loving and gentle anytime I’ve ever seen him, I certainly wouldn’t want to get on his bad side.  He could be somewhat intimidating when provoked, I think.  I’m thinking the middle school student thought so too.  He was shaking like a leaf and white as a ghost. 

Well, the tonguelashing  caused quite a disturbance and it wasn’t long before others in the vicinity peeked out of their rooms to see what was going on.  Soon a bit of a  crowd had gathered. Apparently,  the parents of said teen were out partying and had left him on his own.  Out of boredom he decided to have some fun.   Mexico Friend had followed her husband because she thought he might need some support.  I have no idea what she thought she might do to help. 

Soon, things calmed down a bit and Mexico Friend’s husband ended his tirade. Relatives of the punk showed up, promised they’d address the behavior with the kid and just as everyone was beginning to disperse, Husband looked over at his wife and couldn’t believe what he saw.  In the wee hours of the morning, with very little time to plan, they’d both bolted out the door with little thought as to their appearance.  There stood his beautiful wife surrounded by a crowd of gawking onlookers, long blonde hair tousled and all 100 pounds of her (if she’s even that) clad only in a thin see through tank top and panties. White and transparent to be exact.  Knowing my friend as I do, I’m most certain these were not the grandma type briefs that my mother used to wear (sorry, mom) nor were they even boy shorts. I’m thinking her attire left little to the imagination and my friend is not, at least as far as I know, an exhibitionist.  She must have been mortified.

Mexico Friend and her husband made it back to the states safely.  Fortunately, there was no Mexican jail time for either of them.  She told me this story in person today as she gave me a beautiful hand-crafted Mexican poinsettia Christmas ornament as a souvenir.   Each year as I pull this lovely ornament out of it’s tissue and place it on my tree I will remember this humorous tale of what must have been a very embarrassing but humorous moment for Mexico Friend.  I will chuckle,  smile and think fondly of my friend and her family and wish them many more wonderful  and far less eventful vacations in the future.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

I wrote this poem as part of a writing assignment the same summer I separated from my ex.  Summer 2007.  The assignment was to take the first line of someone’s poem and create your own poem from it.  I, for the life of me, do not remember who the author is to credit this beginning to…but, I’ll figure it out and post it soon.  In any event, I certainly don’t claim the title or the first line as my own original work and I am greatly indebted to the original author for their inspiration.  I’ll do my homework and post the information soon.

With Gratitude I Hear My Neighbors Fight

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

I didn’t know what it was at first

The music of muffled comments

floating through the air

gradually growing in intensity but not too loud

Short staccato vibrations in the otherwise

still summer night.

There syncopated beats

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

Looking out, my eyes see the silent, lifeless shapes

of an RV park asleep

A place for happy families vacationing from their real lives

A make believe journey they can escape

by simply packing up

and going home.

They can choose to stay or leave.

 

But not me…for now,

for me this is not vacation

This is real.

Late at night,

in the deep, dark, noisy night

Semis rushing by, air brakes blasting

Their noise chases sleep when it tries to land nearby

Disturbing the silence

Not a hundred feet from my flimsy door.

This is not a vacation, it is my real life.

 

For now it is my escape

From a living nightmare

A nightmare I thought would never end

It is a refuge from hell

A halfway house for my kids and I as we flee Hades

This this is where we live…for now

But this is not our home.

 

With gratitude, I hear my neighbors fight

Two campsites over

the music of muffled comments

Sneaking in through the window of the travel trailer

I borrowed from friends

 

And for now, I know we are safe.

And I hope we will soon be home.