Thursday, June 29, 2006

Recent Escapades with the SAPD - Part One

When you become a mother, you automatically join this private club of women. It's an unspoken club, but it exists, nonetheless, of every woman who has a child. There are subsets in this club: Adoptive moms, moms over 40, moms who gave birth without an epidural (I'm in that one, twice over).

I'm the newest member of this subset: Mommies who have lost their child in a public place. I'm also a member of this secondary subset: Mommies who had to call the Police Department when their child got lost.

Yup, that's me. Mother of the Year.'

The Situation: The kids and I were at Rack Room Shoes looking for summer sandals for me. Kendra was supposedly helping me by looking for shoeboxes with my shoe size. (Hey, when you wear a size 11 you get pretty excited when there's actually a shoe in your size.) Caelyn was supposedly in charge of David. Not the best plan, but that's what was happening.

After 30 minutes and several directives to the girls to "please go get your brother and bring him to me," I was checking out at the register. David came up to me with a random box of shoes that he had pulled off a shelf, somewhere. I told him "no touch" and said we were going to leave in a minute. He pouted when I took the shoes away from him and walked off toward the girls.

One minute later, I tell the girls that we are leaving. "Where's David?" I ask. The girls say they don't know, so we make rounds around the store looking for him. After circling the store 3 times, I ask an employee to help me find my son. She checks the storeroom and then says, "Do you want me to call the police?" I can't even tell you how stressed I was beginning to feel. I don't even think I answered her. I just told the girls to stay there with this nice worker and I darted out the front door and started running up and down the strip mall.

When I came back into the store, everything converged within seconds. The employee was on the phone with SAPD trying to describe David's clothes (the girls were helping her and actually remembered what David was wearing). Just as the employee was asking me how to spell my last name, the other worker calls out, "Hey, I think he's in your van."

I ran to the window and yes, David's head is now peeking out of the the sliding door on the minivan. He was rather sweaty, since he'd apparently been sitting there for several minutes watching me run up and down the sidewalk.

The employee told the police that we'd found David just before she gave him our name. I was saved from public humiliation at the police department, at least. I quickly thanked the workers, gathered up the girls, and practically ran out of the store. I don't think I started crying until we'd gotten on the highway.

A truly horrible experience, but I'm grateful for several things. I'm grateful that the car was parked immediately in front of the store, not across the parking lot. I'm grateful, strangely enough, that the car was somehow unlocked so David could get in and be in a relatively safe place.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This Is How Tired I Am

I just poured myself a glass of milk, got out a clean bowl, and then poured cereal into the glass of milk. I wanted cereal, but I'd rather eat it out of a bowl.

Why am I so tired? In the last four days I have:
1. Removed everything (and I mean everything) from the garage. This included all the tools, toys, shelves, and Kevin's makeshift workbench that was resting on cinderblocks. I hauled most of it into the house except for the lawn equipment and kids' toys, which are in the backyard. When you walk into my foyer, you are greeted by our second refrigerator. Our dining room is filled with boxes and boxes of garage junk.
2. Degreased, cleaned, etched, cleaned, powerwashed, squeegeed, powerwashed again, squeegeed again, powerwashed a third time, vacuumed the remaining etching dust from, primed, and painted our garage floor. It looks great, but I may have to apply a second coat tomorrow afternoon.
3. Purchased, loaded, unloaded, and assembled the biggest, heaviest garage shelving units I've ever seen. The assembly was kind of fun, actually.
4. Taken care of all the needs and a few of the wants of my children single-handedly, as Kevin is in San Diego enjoying dinner cruises in the bay. Not fair.
5. Gotten up at 6:30 every morning to get us all to church by 8:15 for VBS, where I've spent 4 hours every day running the Preschool Games & Activities for 50-plus squirrelly kids, ages 3-5. Lesson learned for next year: Three-year-olds do not want to play organized games. Also, not all three-year-olds know their names.
6. Dealt with an insanely unwanted ant infestation in my pantry. This required the removal and sanitation of all my plastic storage containers. Why do I have 100 Rubbermaid and Ziploc food containers? The ants are dead, the pantry's clean, and I now have an accurate inventory of the insulin-inducing amount of carbs in there.
7. Gotten by on less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

This entire garage redo is Kevin's belated Father's Day present. He doesn't know I'm doing it, and I'm really hoping he is happy about it all. He was strangely fond of his workbench that he found on the sidewalk, but it was time for something useful and space efficient. Hopefully when he gets home after midnight tonight he will not be upset by the amount of sheer clutter in the house as he tries to navigate his way from the front door to the living room. The garage floor won't be fully dry until Saturday, at which time I will haul everything back and place it all in labeled boxes on the shiny new shelves. Maybe Kevin will have mercy on me and help a little.

For now, I'm going to enjoy my glass of cereal (current favorite? Basic 4) and hit the sack. I've got to be at church in 10 hours.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Latest Curriculum Passage/Short Story

I vividly remember the first time I realized we were different. Not a different race or religion or anything like that. No, we were different because of our mismatched furniture.

I was in the second grade, 8 years old, and I was having my first sleepover. My mom dropped me off at my friend Gracie’s house on Friday evening. We were supposed to have pizza with her family and then watch a movie. I had just taken a bite of my second slice of pepperoni when it suddenly hit me.

“All your chairs are the same!” I blurted out, my mouth full of melted cheese.

Four pairs of eyes stared at me like I had just sprouted green hair. Mrs. Morgan was the first to break the silence by asking, “What did you say, dear?”

“All your chairs are the same,” I repeated. “The chairs we’re sitting in. They all match.”

Again, the Martin family stared at me with confused expressions. “Of course they match,” Mrs. Morgan said. “The table and chairs are a set. They’re supposed to match.”

“Oh,” I said meekly. I decided to change the topic by asking what movie we were going to watch later. Then, hoping to deflect the attention off me, I took another bite of pizza and pretended to be extremely interested in the pattern of the tablecloth. Nobody brought up the chairs again, and I survived my first sleepover without further embarrassment.

When my mom picked me up the next morning, I waited until we got home before I mentioned the chairs. But as soon as I walked into the kitchen, I saw that yes, indeed, we were different. None of our chairs matched. Instead of a set of six, nicely matching chairs like the Morgans had, we had six chairs of differing heights, styles, and colors. I couldn’t believe that I had never noticed this before. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized that this was, you know – weird.

My mom saw me quizzically staring at the kitchen table and asked what I was thinking about. “The chairs,” I answered. “How come they don’t match?”

“Match what?” she asked.

“Each other!” I said in a tone of voice that usually wasn’t tolerated at my house. “Aren’t chairs supposed to match each other?”

My mom told to me to sit down. I automatically chose my favorite chair -- the ladder-back one with the woven seat. My mom sat in the dark mahogany chair with the wrought iron legs. She folded her hands, sighed, and then asked what I thought of the Morgan’s chairs. I shrugged my shoulders and said they were nice.

My mom pressed on. “Okay, nice,” she said. “But what made them nice? What did they look like?” I didn’t know. I said they were brown, and they matched the table.

My mom said that yes, most people buy chairs and tables in a set and that yes, they usually match each other. She said there was nothing wrong with buying furniture that way. But then she posed this question: "Which one of these chairs is your favorite, Becca?"

That's easy, I thought. I told my mom that I was sitting in my favorite chair.

"Right,” she said. “That’s always been your favorite chair. That was a chair from your grandfather’s store.” My mom reminded me how I used to love going into Grandpa’s store and help him stock the shelves with merchandise. I’d forgotten that, since my Grandpa had retired several years ago and had sold the store. I didn’t realize that I loved this old chair because it reminded me of my grandfather.

“What about the other chairs?” I asked. “Where did they come from?”

One by one, my mother told me the story behind each chair at our table. The green chair was from the restaurant where my dad had proposed to my mom. Just before they got married, my dad went to the restaurant and asked if he could buy one of the chairs. He gave the chair to my mom as a wedding present. Smiling, my mom said the chair always reminds her of how much my daddy loves her.

Then my mom told me about the formal-looking armchair that had an embroidered seat cushion. My great-grandmother had made it. The design had red roses and green foliage and tiny, intricate swirls of gold in the background. She had needle pointed eight seat cushions, exactly the same, and they had been around her dining room table when my dad was growing up. When she died, all the surviving family members took a chair to remember her by. This was my dad’s favorite chair, and now I understood why.

When my mom had finished telling me the history behind all the other chairs, I realized that we weren’t different because our furniture didn’t match. In fact, I wouldn’t want a set of perfectly manufactured chairs like the Morgans had. Their furniture was pretty, but ours had character. Each of these chairs represented a piece of our family history, and that’s something you can’t buy in a store.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More Recent Reads

I'm officially done with Karen Kingsbury books. I just read her latest, Even Now. Yet another ridiculous plot! If your daughter runs away from home, and you spend 18 years searching for her, wouldn't you think to go through the box of journals in her room? Maybe, just to find a pertinent clue? No, not in Karen Kingsbury land, where parents conveniently wait until the dad is dying of cancer so we can have a Hollywood reunion scene.

Karen Kingsbury always has something like this in her books. In the Baxter family series, one daughter takes an AIDS test which comes out positive. Instead of getting a second test, even though everyone in her family and doctor's office tells her to do so, she stops living her life, cuts off all her relationships, blah blah blah. Of course she finds out later that the AIDS test was a false positive and all this heartache could have been prevented. But realistically, if you were told you were HIV positive, wouldn't you get a confirmation and then start guzzling AZT drugs? Again, not in Karen Kingsbury land.

On the other hand, I really liked Randy Singer's Self Incrimination. Great courtroom novel about an abusive father who's shot in his home, and the step-daughter confesses. Can't say too much more, but it was highly entertaining even though I figured out the whodunnit pretty early on.