Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Me?

Weird things seem to happen to me when I’m alone or alone with the children. 

Several days ago, I dropped the children off at tennis and returned home.  As I’m walking past the turtle aquarium, I happen to see one of those creatures climbing out of the aquarium.  I did a double take in time to see the stupid thing fall out.  You heard me, or rather you read me – the turtle fell out of the aquarium!  And the aquarium is about 4 feet high off the ground, but alas there was Franklin on his back.  Just in case you have not read all of my posts, I’ll bring you up to speed.  I don’t like turtles.  I don’t like reptiles.  I see a turtle move its neck, I see a turtle trying to swim, and I want to vomit.

So when that turtle fell on its back, I ran upstairs and called my husband.  He is 100 miles away, what can he do?  I checked on it and realized that it somehow managed to turn over.  When I saw that, I dashed upstairs to inform my husband.  He asked if I was going to put it back in the aquarium, and naturally I differed.  There was no way in hell I was touching that thing!  He told me there was a net under the fish aquarium - I can just guide it and put it back.  Since the kids would not be home for a couple of hours, I finally concurred.  But when I attempted to oblige, I just couldn’t.  I didn’t have what it took. 

I flew upstairs and closed all the doors just in case Franklin went on a joy walk.  But later as I relayed the story to the kids, it hit me that from the time the turtle fell out to the time I called my husband to the time I called my neighbor and she sent her son to help, that turtle did not move one millimeter; so there was no way it would have been able to climb those steps.  Hey, we are all entitled to a jackass thought…..or two!

The other day my husband drove my van.  The next day my daughter and I went on a quick run.  There was no issue with the van until later in the day when he had left for work, and I was taking her to a basketball game.  The jalopy made this frightful noise every time I accelerated.  I called my husband and did my best impression of an old minivan making a strange noise.  Of course he had no clue.  He promised it would be okay.  My daughter was fine with his prognosis, but I kept looking in the rear view mirror to see if there was smoke.  It doesn’t matter what kind of noise my vehicle makes, my first thought is that it is going to explode.  I know:  I watch too many powerful movies, but this is America.  If it rains too much, people die.  If it rains too little, people die.  If there is too much snow, people die.  If there is too much sun, people die.  Therefore, Myra is not taking any chances whatsoever.

And to make matters worse, we had just gotten stuck in traffic.  There is never that much traffic on this road so I plugged in the GPS for a detour, but the stupid thing wouldn’t work.  I was about to lose it when my level headed daughter reminded me that I just bought an Android cell phone a few days ago with a built in navigation system.  Luckily, she has more of her father’s genes.  She doesn’t buckle under pressure.  She doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeves.  She has a great poker face.  She never panics.  Her twin on the other hand should be my twin.  We panic first and think later.

Case in point:  He participated in a winter soccer league, and the first game was on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  As we left his basketball practice, one of the mothers told me it was snowing badly outside.  I was about to panic until I got outside and saw just a minuscule dusting of snow.  I thought to myself, “You really can’t listen to other people.”

The day prior, I drove to the location because the email regarding the directions was very complex.  I decided that I may as well figure out how to get there during the day and set the location in my GPS.  We left the basketball practice an hour before the soccer game was scheduled to start. 

When we passed the exit that I thought we should have taken, I was surprised that the nice lady in the GPS didn’t instruct me to turn.  My surprise turned to horror when she said, “you have reached your destination,” and we were still on the highway.  She was right because we were in front of the building, but she was wrong because we were at the rear of the building.  Apparently the GPS followed the coordinates I set, notwithstanding where the entrance was.  I looked at my son, who was about to lose it, and promised him that I’d get him there.

We took the next exit, but the lady in the GPS was adamant that we should get off on the middle of the highway and jump over the fence.  Believe me, I thought about hoisting him over.  When I realized, I changed the destination to Home; at least I’d be able to get back on familiar territory.  But in the interim, we found ourselves on a side road that had a lot more snow than the main roads.  Since there was no traffic, the snow had settled.  As I attempted to get us out of that predicament, things turned for the worse.  The van got stuck and could only go backwards----backwards up a hill!!!

I put the vehicle in Park and was about to break down and bawl my eyes out because it is now almost 8 pm in the middle of January; it is pitch black, and we are lost.  I know it wouldn’t have helped, but it was the only solution I could think of.  I let out a shriek until I realized my son was way ahead of me.  He had this, ‘we are gonna die’ look and burst into tears.  His younger brother consoled him.  My daughter gave me a reassuring look, and I thought to myself, “When I grow up, I want to be like her.”

I reversed a little at a time and eventually turned the car around. We drove up and asked for directions out to the main road.  When we finally got on familiar territory, I realized what that mother was referring to because the van started sliding on black ice.  I wouldn’t call this panic, but my heart skipped a few beats.  My son is on the verge of panicking, and I thought I should just go home.  My daughter calmly looked at me and said, “You thought that was scary?  I wasn’t even scared earlier.”

But you know what, an incident occurred that made me realized I’m not only alone for the bad things.  In one of my son’s All Star Baseball games, he was the first baseman and I saw a ball heading between the first and second bases.  Next thing I knew, my little pumpkin, my pain in the ass kid, the sole reason for me getting gray hair, dove towards the second base with arms outstretched and caught that ball in midair.

My first thought was, “I have to call my husband.”  Can’t call him only when fit hits the shan, you know.  But it made me think that in life we really have to take the good with the bad because perspectively speaking life always won’t be a bed of roses. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Get With the Program, Myra!

I’m a proud Antiguan.  I try my utmost to keep my accent, granted with not much difficulty.  I enjoy my Antiguan dishes, and I relish meeting Antiguans in my neck of the woods.

One thing that is very much Antiguan is that children’s lives do not revolve around their parents; well, it is definitely Old School Antiguan.  I do try to attend all my children’s games because that is what supportive parents do, but you won’t find me screaming at the top of my lungs.  Experience has taught me that they actually don’t hear or can’t process everything that I’m saying, so why waste my energy?  Sure at their band recitals or school musicals I can holler, but other than distracting them and irritating everyone else, what’s the point?  I don’t begrudge any parent who does, it just seems futile to me.  I’ll clap and cheer, but I won’t scream from the sidelines or yell like a lunatic.

I am a big believer in the development of children; and athletics is one way of doing it that benefits children and parents alike; but with three children playing two to three sports annually, where will I find space for all their trophies?  Now I have nothing against a first, second or even third place trophy, but why fill the house with trophies just for participating?  Isn’t that what team pictures are for?

My first encounter with me getting in line came two years ago when my youngest played competitive basketball.  With trophies for baseball and soccer being thrown around his room, when the coach sent an email about obtaining trophies, I declined.  My husband was the assistant coach, and he was put on notice that since we were not planning on getting a trophy for our son, the coach will get it for him.  I think they were about $8, so it wasn’t about the money.  I HATE clutter, and like I said, these trophies are just for showing up.  In hindsight I understand where the coach was coming from - if all the other boys got trophies and my son didn’t, he would have felt left out.  But this is where I’m coming from – if your parents get you a trophy and you don’t treasure it, then no more trophies for you, mister!

I remember when my children were toddlers, and my boss constantly asked what they were going to be dressed like for Halloween.  I always responded that I didn’t celebrate Halloween.  I think she kept asking me in the hopes that one day I’d have a different response.  When they got a bit older, they wanted to celebrate.  Fine by me.  They can celebrate if they want, but not me; and I certainly wasn’t taking anybody to beg candies from strangers.  Also I wasn’t spending good money on costumes, nor was I wasting time or gas to procure said costumes.  Initially, they got costumes from their teachers, but as they got older, and went trick-or-treating with neighbors, I noticed they were dressed like professionals – athletes, executives – anything that permitted them to use their own clothing. 

This past spring, my daughter’s school basketball team entered a tournament, and that was the most exciting basketball I ever saw outside of the NBA.  It dawned on me that that was the same tournament her coach had wanted her to enter the year before.  But I had just finished dropping off and picking up three children for four months straight.  I needed a break.  He mentioned a couple of times that if she had entered, they would have won; but it didn’t hit me how big this tournament was until I attended.

So when my son made the All Star Baseball team, the turtle that I am, again I didn’t realize this was going to be a huge deal.  You would think I would have learned by now, but not me.  There were emails about purchasing hoodies to decorate the dugout.  There were emails about purchasing apparel with the boys’ names and numbers.  Two things came to mind.  1) I just paid for him to play in the regular season.  I just bought new shoes, pants, socks, and belt.  I constantly bought gas to get him back and forth.  I contributed toward the coaches’ gifts (which is probably the only well-deserved money spent).  I contributed toward the end of season party.  I paid for him to play in the All Stars.  I am spent….don’t want T-Shirts for the family….not buying a hoodie.  And B) these boys are 9 and 10!  At that age, they just haven’t been around long enough for me to sport attire with their names.  This is not the major league.  This is not the minors.  Heck, this is not even college.

When we arrived at the first game, we were overpowered by a wave of royal blue.  Every single parent, almost every sibling, grandparent, aunt and uncle was wearing a royal blue T-Shirt.  Twelve hoodies adorned the dugout fence, and the team has 13 players.  Everyone was in full regalia except the Francis clan.  It felt a little weird because we already stuck out…..if you know what I mean.  (Insert sly smile here.)  But not weird enough to feel guilty.  I was just amazed that parents took little league so seriously.

I still think that it’s too much attention for little boys.  Yes they practiced hard, and yes they worked their little butts off; I just don’t think that they have earned it yet.  Therefore, this will probably be one of those things that I will never get.  However, if my son makes next year’s team, I will go all out and get that hoodie, dress the rest of the family in T-Shirts with FRANCIS and his number, join the other mothers and cook for the team, (okay, not that) because perspectively speaking, if it makes him happy, it should make me happy too. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

It was me.  It was all me.  I have only myself to blame.  It was totally my idea, and I cannot fault anyone else for the outcome.

So we had a trying year, rough enough that I felt we deserved a reward.  In spite of their extracurricular activities, the kids managed to do well in school, and hubby continued to put those long hours in.  And I, well I put up with everyone else’s crap, so I figured we ALL needed a vacation.  Well, what happened was, I found out that we had a week’s vacation through the timeshare from 2011 that will be expiring in September.  We agreed on a destination to which we could drive, one with lots of outside activities.

The customer service representative told me that New Bern, NC was available for the dates I had in mind.  I wanted to go before the twins started soccer (or what I call football) and my youngest started football (or what I call American football).  How was I to know that the kids’ schedules allowed no down time?  It turned out that my daughter had summer basketball, and my youngest tried out and made the Baseball All Star Team.  The summer basketball was no biggie, but the baseball was major.

I started feeling badly about him missing practices since it was every day, so I conjured up this bright idea:  what if he stays with the coach and just the four of us go on vacation.  The twins thought it was a good idea.  I knew it was an excellent idea.  After all, if I’m going on vacation, I really don’t want to have to scream and holler and fret for the whole week.  Plus, I knew once he was with other people, he would be on his best restaurant behavior.

Then the day of the first game, I heard a mother saying that there would be two games the following week.  Oh snap!  There is no way I would feel comfortable with him missing a game, much less two.  They lost that first game, but he played exceptionally well, and I thought to myself, “They are depending on him.  I would feel real badly if he went on vacation, and they lost all their games.”

I mentioned my bright idea to my husband and was instantaneously shot down!  Dude didn’t even give it a second thought.  Well, not quite; after he thought about it, he said, “One of us will have to stay with him if that is the case.”  I knew I wasn’t staying, so he said he would.  Well, that would defeat the purpose of a family vacation, so I dropped the issue.  But in my mind, I’m thinking there has got to be a way.

After the game, I asked my husband if he let the coach know that we were going on vacation tomorrow.  I would have told him except I was incapacitated for a few days.  Yep, I scheduled my big summer cleaning session the first week after the kids were on vacation, but I guess the Universe had other plans for me.  Day Two into the cleaning, I went to the Emergency Room.  Okay guys, I’m fine, so don’t worry.  It was serious enough for me to be hospitalized for three days but not that serious that a priest was called to read my last rites.

And before you feel slighted that I didn’t tell you I was in the hospital, I now know why people don’t broadcast their illnesses or hospitalizations.  It’s not that they are secretive, well not in my case.  This is what I think – well this has been my experience.  Someone close to you will coincidentally run into a third party that you haven’t seen/spoken to in a while and mention it.  Then before you know it, that third party is calling you, quite concerned, of course, but inquiring about you and the next thing you know, apart from the 10 people in the hospital that you had to review your symptoms with, you are now going over them again with 100 laypeople.  Then you have to hear people telling you to take care of yourself, as if that wasn’t what you were doing all along.  And you have to listen to people telling you to be careful, as if a hypochondriac like you could be any more careful.  I promise, I don’t think any doctor would say this about me – if only she had come in sooner.

So the next time I’m hospitalized, I’ll just wait until I’m out to tell everyone, and I mean EVERYONE.  Case in point:  a few years ago I had to do surgery on a particular female body organ, and I neglected to mention it to one male neighbor whose daughter stayed with my children after school.  (I’d say kids, but if I hear one more time that they are not baby goats, I’m gonna scream).  When he and his wife found out, they were offended.  Now this guy and I are not buddy buddy, how the hell was I going to broach the subject without him asking me what’s wrong?

Anyway, back to my bright idea.  My husband went to tell the coach that we were leaving for a week.  When he returned to the car, he said that the coach suggested he spoke to the head coach because of some protocol that I obviously overlooked when I booked the vacation and didn’t realize it was going to coincide with baseball.  To make a long story short, my husband said well if someone could take him for the week, and the coach volunteered.  My son was happy.  The coach’s son was happy.  The coach was happy.  The twins were happy.  I was ecstatic.

We got home and packed his bags, and I tried to complete five days worth of cleaning in one day.  I don’t have to mention that I fell short on that one, but then we eventually set off for our vacation.  I didn’t get much sleep because I figured that my husband would drive first, while I slept, then I could relieve him.  As we were packing, I was real testy with the twins and my husband, and at first I didn’t know why. 

However, by the time I got in the car, it hit me.  Every corner he turned, I jumped up and asked if he was okay or if he was awake.  Every time I fell asleep, I startled myself with thoughts like:  what if something happens to my son while he is with the coach; what if I am not fully recuperated and relapse on vacation; what if the four of us die in an accident and the coach has to relay the news to my son; how will my sisters get to him since they don’t have the coach’s information.  They don’t even know he was not with us.  Full blown panic attack had set in!  As these crazy thoughts bombarded my head, I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t relax.  I was of no use to my husband when he was ready for me to drive.

After a while I calmed down and took over the driving.  We got to our destination safely, and for almost a week, I rested.  I NEVER had to say STOP, BEHAVE, DON’T DO THAT.  I never had to remind anyone to brush his teeth or send anyone to take a shower. 

When we played tennis, no one slammed the ball over the net or dropped the ball short, causing the opponent to dash for it; no one hit the ball out of bounds and still claimed the point because the ball went over the net.  When we played basketball, no one fought.  When we went to the beach, I wasn’t anxious about anyone walking away.

But during all this calm, relaxing, fun time, a huge piece of me was missing.  I enjoyed myself but with a mega whole in my heart.  And I thought to myself, which is worse: having to deal with a child that drives me crazy 24/7 or missing him terribly?  So I remind you to be careful what you wish for because perspectively speaking the prize is not always worth the price you have to pay.