Don’t argue with the enforcer

Yesterday, Peeta came home from school with a story. M, the resident badass of room 105, stepped on a roach (or perhaps a beetle) during recess. The teachers at Peeta’s school tell the kids not to kill living things. So Peeta told on him.

Peeta has a very strong sense of morality, and his nickname is “The Enforcer.” He spends a lot of time ratting people out for things that he feels are inappropriate. I’m starting to worry that he’s going to get a reputation as a tattletale. So I tried to gently address it.

Me: You’re right, Bud. That wasn’t very nice of M to do, but you really shouldn’t tell on people unless something really bad happens, like if someone gets hurt.

Peeta (looking really disappointed in his idiot mother): Mama, the BUG got hurt.

Shit. He got me. Lawyered by a seven-year-old.

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The depths of my evil know no bounds

So we just took the kids out for ice cream after dinner. The guy behind the counter was handing me my cone and I stepped back from the counter, right onto the foot of a small child. Just as I was saying, “Oh! I’m so sorry!”, the kid looked at me and snarled, “DON’T STEP ON MY FOOT!” His grandmother patted him on the back and they moved along.

And I thought, “Hey kid, let me introduce you to the back of my hand.”

A few minutes later, after I got all the cones for all the kids and we were walking outside, I passed the kid’s table. He had dropped his ice cream on the floor.

And I thought, “Hey kid, karma’s a bitch.”

Nothing but the truth

Today, we rode our bikes to a nearby playground for our somewhat weekly playdate with our friend Joe and his two kids, by whom Noodle is obsessed. Joe and Peeta played baseball for a while, while I played with Noodle and Joe’s kids (read: tried to keep her from choking his baby with her hugs). After getting everyone on the field to play baseball, we eventually had to quit because Noodle was running amok. For a 22-month old, she has very little self control. It was like when one of those drunken, deranged baseball fans jumps onto the field and runs around like an idiot until he gets caught. And it was starting to rain.

We were halfway home when we had to get off the bikes to cross the street. I turned around and Noodle was casually swinging her helmet in her right hand. And so it was that I had to wrestle her, thrashing, on the bike seat, in the rain, to get the helmet on. To punish me, she started screaming, “Daddyyyyyyyy!” (which, by the way, is not what she calls Bucket). She screamed the whole way home, calling for him, and Peeta and I rode as fast as our legs would take us.

Bucket was making dinner when we got home. Noodle walked into the kitchen, wailing his name. We told him what happened and how I am The Meanest Mama In The Land for making her wear a helmet on a bike, and he told her she had to wear it too.

Cut to after dinner:

Me: Noodle, what did Daddy say about your helmet?

Noodle: Take it off.

Me and Bucket: WHAT?!

Noodle nods seriously.

Me (trying again): Noodle, what do you put on your head when you’re on the bike?

Noodle: Pants.

Then, she cackles, “Bad girl!” and cracks herself up. To try to distract us from her evil, lying ways, she takes off her sock, puts it over her eyes and starts to dance around.

Just the other day, I was saying that I didn’t think toddlers her age understood lies. Apparently, my daughter is pathological already. Is it too early to start applying to boarding schools for her teen years?

Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day today, which means I got to sleep in late and take the dog for a walk and do some gardening and get lunch and ice cream with the kids and go for a bike ride this afternoon and have Ethiopian food for dinner.

Mother’s Day, while wonderful, is a painful one for most adoptive parents. I am Peeta’s mother only because another woman couldn’t be. Her tragedy became my good fortune, and while I would love to be able to celebrate that, I can’t do it without acknowledging her loss.

In many ways, we are lucky. We know Peeta’s whole story. We know that his mother died sometime before he turned two. We know her name and we even have a picture of her holding him when he was a tiny boy. We know that he looks just like her, and that those big brown eyes and thick, thick lashes come from her.

Many families I know don’t know their child’s history. They don’t know how their child became orphaned, where they were born, or anything about their family. If the child is lucky, they have a vague memory of life before coming to America, and maybe they can remember their parents. If not, there is nothing.

Peeta has no memory of life before going to the orphanage, as far as I know. To him, life began when he came to live with us. I don’t know if that’s because he was just too young to remember, or if it’s because it was so traumatic he blocked it out. I would love for him to have some recollection of his mother and the love she gave him. On the other hand, I’m glad he’s blocked out all that pain, because it breaks my heart to think of him suffering through all that again.

I think of his mother often, since Noodle turned one. When she snuggles up into me and hooks her head into me, I wonder if Peeta did that with his mother. When she cries and throws her arms around my neck, I wonder who did that for him when she died. When she climbs into my lap and says, “Beautiful Mama,” I wonder if his mother lived long enough to hear him say the same thing to her. I am always looking at Noodle and wondering, “Is this how old he was when she died?”

I can’t imagine the terror and sadness of it all. I can’t imagine his poor mother, blessed with this beautiful child and cursed with impending death. I can’t imagine how terrified she must have been, knowing she was going to die and leave her child behind. I can’t imagine how lost he must have felt with her gone, not knowing where his beloved mother went.

I am a mother because she isn’t. For the rest of my life, I will carry that burden. One of the greatest blessings of my life came from another woman’s tragedy. I hope she’s out there somewhere and she knows how much he is loved, and how grateful I am to be his mother. I hope she knows how much we treasure her memory, and how we will remember her.

We have Ethiopian food every Mother’s Day. We do it in part because Ethiopia made me a mother, and in part because I feel it’s the one small gift I can give Peeta’s mother. I may never have met her, but I will never forget that she gave me the greatest gift of all.

What’s a record?

Today, we were in the car (for an hour) driving to and from Blowe’s, returning the last products we will ever buy from there. About halfway into the journey, I was singing a song on the radio. Peeta asked me, “How do you know EVERY song on the radio?”

I told him it was because I’m old and I’ve had time to learn lots of songs.

He yelled, “You’re not old! You’re only 35!”

At that moment, I decided he is my favorite child.

But then, I ruined the moment by explaining that I knew the Steve Miller song on the radio because I had the record in junior high.

And there it was: “What’s a RECORD?”

So I had to explain to him that a record was a giant flat circle that plays music, like the ones we have at my family’s house at the lake. We had records when I was a little girl. And then we had tapes. And then we had CDs. And now we have iPods.

He nodded absently, looking at me like I was speaking Chinese.

And I realized that Peeta was wrong. The music I listened to on a record as a girl was three incarnations ago. My kids will never know what a record, a tape, a VHS, or a floppy disk are. The music I listened to as a kid is now on the OLDIES STATION, the greatest indignity of all.

Is it too late to pretend I stopped the conversation when he said I wasn’t old? I say no.

Imagine

Hypothetically, imagine that a woman is redoing her bathroom and is too cheap to buy a new vanity. Imagine that she decides to paint the old one black and get a new sink instead. Imagine that she finally gets a free hour to paint it while the boy is playing baseball outside, the girl is taking a nap and the husband is grouting the tiles in the tub. Imagine that she chooses black paint for the vanity. Imagine that the vanity is too heavy to move anywhere else, so she is painting it in the guest room.

Imagine that the only unattended paint in the room is the top of the paint canister, which is face up on the floor. Imagine that the dog comes into the room. Imagine that he steps directly on the paint canister and then jumps onto the bed. Imagine that the bed has white sheets. Imagine that those sheets are the softest in the world, soft enough to make the woman and her husband sometimes consider switching beds just to sleep on them. Imagine that the sheets are suddenly covered with four distinct paw prints. Imagine that the woman jumps up, carries the dog out of the room and immediately runs downstairs to soak the sheets.

Imagine that even after soaked and washed repeatedly, the paw prints still don’t come out.

Imagine that this is why they invented bleach, right?

Things that happened

So in case you don’t follow the scintillating updates on my Facebook page, I have been ravaged by The Plague for the past three days. On Saturday night, I got the stomach flu and it decided to stay and play a while.

Yesterday, it seemed like there was light at the end of the tunnel, because I was able to walk and managed to spend all day without Bucket home to help me. And it ended up being an interesting day. The following things happened:

1. Noodle decided to start walking around naked. Given that it was 45 degrees and raining, I didn’t consider it an inspired choice, but she’s nuts, you know. Her new favorite game is to strip off, shriek, “SO COLD!” and then jump under the blanket to hang out with me. At first, I thought that’s what she was doing. But then she dragged the baby toilet into the living room and told me she needed a new diaper. Then, after her nap, she got naked again, dragged the toilet into the kitchen, yelled “SHINTE!” (which is Amharic for pee, you ignoramus) and then ran away. I was in the process of ruining some soup, so I didn’t notice until later that she had actually PEED in the toilet. By herself. For the first time.

2. After Peeta came home, Noodle and I went upstairs so I could take a bath, and he played on my computer. After a while, I heard the doorbell ring. Then I heard Peeta open the door. Then I heard him yell, “Mama! The mailman’s here! Don’t worry, I let him in!” fortunately, it was the UPS man coming to deliver the last of the Home Depot tile, and Peeta had just let him onto our porch to drop it, but for a moment, I was frozen in the tub, trying to figure out how to get dressed as fast as possible, or give him a show (which would probably mean we’d never get mail again). Perhaps it’s time to have that strangers talk again.

3. At about 4:30, the phone rang. It was Cigna mail order pharmacy, calling about a prescription for Peeta. Bucket had been fighting with them for days over an order that had been screwed up, for which they wanted to charge us. Clearly, they thought they could circumvent him by coming to me. They were wrong. The woman asked for Peeta. I said I was his mother. She asked for him again. I told her he’s seven, so I didn’t think he’d be much help. She then told me they were out of the refill for the prescription, but they would have it tomorrow. I decided to let it go, despite the fact that we ordered it LAST WEEK, but asked her if we were going to be charged. She said yes.

Oh, Lord, that poor woman will rue the day she ever called my house. I went absolutely batshit on her ass. I told her that it was unacceptable to charge us twice for a mistake that wasn’t our fault, and she had the audacity to argue with me. Sister, don’t mess with me on the third day of the stomach flu. I ranted and raved and finally told her I wasn’t dealing with this any more, because they had been dealing with Bucket. I gave her his number and called him to warn him they would be calling. He was pissed too, and then they called n the other line.

There will be no charge for the refill, and they’re lowering our co-pay because of some issue with the manufacturer (read: your wife is a fucking lunatic and we would rather lose money than ever have to deal with her crazy ass ever again.)

Mama: 1. Evil thieving bureaucracy: 0.

I got to end the day by going to see the Red Sox lose with two of my favorite friends. A fly ball cracked off the skulls of two people in front of us, so we ended up on NESN. The shot was (thankfully) brief and consisted mostly of me jumping up like a fool, with my hand over my mouth in horror. Bucket TIVO’d it, because you know, it wasn’t embarrassing enough that people saw it the first time.

All in all, it wasn’t a terrible day, despite The Plague. Except that when I got home, Bucket remembered we had leftover Cipro from Africa, which would have been nice to take on Sunday morning. But hey, at least I got to be on TV, looking sexy.It’s every girl’s dream to have video documentation of herself after three days of retching, right? Oh, yeah.