Mom, Are You in There?

My kids begin spring break tomorrow. I’m excited that, for eleven glorious days, my counter will be void of the requisite eight snack and lunch bags that require nightly cleaning and packing.

I’m less excited about how many fakakta excuses the boys will create to interrupt my every-other-day-6-minutes-tops shower.

Mom, are you in there? I didn’t know where you were. I thought you left us.

Mom, are you in there? Where is Dad?

Mom, are you in there? What are you doing?

Mom, are you in there? Can I just please see where your penis is supposed to be?

Mom, are you in there? I have to poop.

Mom, are you in there? I’m hungry.

Mom, are you in there? I have to tell you something.

Mom, are you in there? What time is it?

Mom, are you in there? I have boogies in my nose. I need you to help me get them out.

Mom, are you in there? When will Dad be home from work? How many hours is that from now?

Mom, are you in there? Where are my socks?

Mom, are you in there? Can I play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? When can I play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? Is it my turn to play the iPad?

Mom, are you in there? When will you be finished?

Mom, are you in there? I want to be with you.

Mom, are you in there? I have to pee.

Mom, are you in there? My hiney is itchy.

Mom, are you in there? How many more days until my birthday?

Mom, are you in there? My brother breathed on me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother keeps looking at me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother farted on me!

Mom, are you in there? My brother killed me in Minecraft!

Momareyouinthere

Mom, are you in there? My brother hit me with the Minecraft pick ax!

Mom, are you in there? I can’t stop thinking about Minecraft! Can you help me stop thinking about Minecraft? Mom?

Mom, are you in there? I found a frisbee outside. It’s green! That’s my teacher’s favorite color! Mom! Can you hear me?

Mom, are you in there? I know you told me to stop asking for things all the time. And, I heard you. But can I just ask for one thing? Can we just have McDonald’s please? I’m not asking just for me. I’m asking for everybody. So, can we? Mom?

Mom, are you in there? You told me the yesterday before yesterday that I could have dessert after lunch. But you forgot to give me dessert. Can you give it to me now? I’ve been waiting so long. I really want dessert from the yesterday before yesterday, Mom!

I wonder how many new ways they’ll invent to interrupt my shower before school resumes on April 1st…

***

Today marks the last entry…the tenth…in our This is Childhood Series. Lindsey Mead writes an exquisite reflection on age 10. When Lindsey writes about her children, it takes my breath away. Today’s tribute is no exception…

Our This is Childhood writers are Aidan DonnelleyKristen Levithan, Nina Badzin, Galit Breen, Allison Slater Tate, Bethany MeyerTracy MorrisonAmanda Magee, Denise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead. I adore these women and was honored to be a voice in this series.

This is Childhood: Nine

I like 9 years old. It’s the biggest of the little guys. So close to double digits, but not quite there yet.

The 9 year old in my house is cool enough to hang with his older brother’s friends.

But he’s not above playing superheroes with his younger brothers.

Amidst the chaos of our home, I typically find him tucked in a corner engrossed in a book. Any book. A chapter book from the Warrior series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (for the 27th time),  an encyclopedia of animals…even his youngest brother’s picture book, borrowed from the library. He pours over books in silence. For hours. He’s immersed in a world that, 4 years ago, didn’t even exist for him as a kindergarten boy who was just learning to read and write his name.

Our 9 year old boy has confidently…and accurately…labeled himself an artist and a storyteller. I love that he shares my passion for running and writing.

 

My 9 year old is so resourceful. A true problem solver.

My 9 year old is so resourceful. A true problem solver.

But I think it’s the things he is good at that I’m not…like his unbelievable artistic talent…that make me most proud of him. It’s fun to be his Mom. I’m intrigued by him.  I wonder who he will grow up to be.

The amazingly talented Denise Ullem of Universal Grit writes about Nine today. Her daughter is nine, and I get such a kick out of reading about the world of her nine year old girl. It’s a world so foreign yet appealing to me. Please go read Denise at This is Childhood: Nine….

 

 

I Just Want to Pee Alone

Holy crazy year, Batman. And it’s only March.

It feels like only a week ago that B&B hacked every branch off our Christmas tree in the middle of the family room after vowing not to water it for the full month we gave it a home.

Ironically, that’s where this story begins…

So, Christmas came and went. And B&B committed to an outside-the-box approach to removing our Christmas tree. I wrote about it, and my piece appeared on The Huffington Post in early January. A few days later, I received an email from Jen, who writes the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She had read my Christmas tree horror story, liked it, and was offering me the opportunity to submit an original essay to her for an anthology she was compiling.

Jen skyrocketed to blog fame after her Elf on the Shelf post went viral in December, 2011. It resonated with me because I refuse to participate in those elf shenanigans. I view moving that elf around the house as the equivalent of playing the tooth fairy. Every night. For a solid month. And I  am a sorry-ass excuse for a tooth fairy.

Jen’s first book, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat, became an Amazon best seller and sold over 10,000 copies in its first 3 months of availability.

She is a giant in the blogosphere.

And an overall hilarious human being.

Let me see….let me see….did I want to be affiliated with Jen?

Oh, hell, yeah.

As a matter of fact, I petted the computer monitor when I read her email. Literally reached out and stroked it.

Was I at all nervous about my submission? Of course I was.

But not abundantly so. Between B&B and the boys, there is never a shortage of absurd material around which I can craft a story.

Meanwhile, I’d already been invited by Allison Tate and Lindsey Mead to participate in This is Childhood. They are two of my absolute favorites…as writers and women, and I was indeed verklempt that Lindsey had reached out to me.

Beating on my breast, Tarzan-style, I declared, in my best Oprah-shout,

“2013 will henceforth be referred to as The Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

Then, I floated about my business, patiently awaiting inspiration, both funny…for Jen…and poignant…for Lindsey.

While I was dancing on clouds, I received a text from my cousin. Her Dad, one of my favorite Uncles, had just suffered a massive heart attack, and we were instructed to prepare for the worst.

My entire family and countless friends collectively held our breath and said our prayers for a very long four days.

It was during that time that Little Sister’s husband called me. He and I are super close, but he calls me only in times of crisis. From the mall. When he needs help with Christmas, birthday, and Mother’s Day gift advice for Little Sister.

“I’m sending you a picture of two robes. Which one should I buy her?”

“I’m texting you a picture of two watches. Which one looks more like her? Please reply in the next 45 seconds because I’m holding up the line waiting for your answer. No pressure. Just hurry up.”

Little Sister’s birthday is in May, right before Mother’s Day. And Christmas had just passed. I was still sweeping up the pine needles to prove it. So, I was alarmed by his call.

He told me, “She couldn’t call you. She is a mess. We got a call from the dermatologist today. She was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma.”

“Wait…..What?”

Silence.

“What did you just say?”

He said: “Cancer. I said your sister has cancer.”

I didn’t hear too much after that. I know he kept talking. And I kept saying, “Mmm hmm. Mm hmm. OK. Mmm hmm. Sure.”

I hung up with him and eased myself down onto the sofa. There aren’t many places to hide in my house, so B&B found me there a few minutes later.

“What was that about?”

I whispered, “She has cancer. He called to tell me my sister has skin cancer.”

Two days later, we lost Uncle Bob. We had felt it coming, but the news still levelled us.

Little Sister flew herself and her stupid cancer across the country to be here for the funeral. I don’t really do church. For a litany of reasons, not the least of which is that my mind wanders, and all I think about is how-many-things-I-could-be-doing-right-now. But I listened a little bit that day. One of Little Sister’s oldest and dearest friends, whose voice is reee-diculous, sang at the church service. And my cousin gave a beautiful eulogy.

After the church stuff was over, we had a good old party in Uncle Bob’s honor. A “sure, I’ll have a cocktail in the middle of the day” kinda party. Everyone took turns telling stories about him. We celebrated his life, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks. I don’t pretend to know what happens to the human spirit after we die. But, it certainly felt like part of him was there with us that afternoon. In the anecdotes we told. In the love we shared for him. In the legacy he’s left in his children and grandchildren…and so many more whose lives he touched.

I sat next to Little Sister, whose stupid cancer was an uninvited intruder in her young body. And I found myself hoping that she would be open to receive all of the positive energy and love from the people in that room. And just maybe it could knock that stupid-ass cancer right the hell out of her.

Here is what i thought…

Dear Universe,

It’s Bethany. With all due respect, this melanoma nonsense is downright horse shit. Little sister has 3 kids. And those kids need their mother. So work your magic on this piece-of-shit cancer.

Also, dear universe, if you could help me locate my funny, I’d be super duper grateful. I have that essay due. You know. To Jen.

So, F the cancer. And send the funny. Cool? Cool.

I realize it doesn’t work that way, but the yoga is really affecting my judgement recently.

I managed to pen something and send it to Jen before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

Little Sister flew back home, where she had a follow-up procedure and some blood work done. She called to say they’d gotten all of the cancer during her procedure.

Thank fucking God. And/or the Universe.  

Then Jen e-mailed me to say my essay had made the cut for her book.

Holy shit, right?

So, I immediately reverted back to my Oprah impression, announcing

“2013 is the Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

My sweet Interrogator proved the perfect muse for my February This is Childhood piece.

And our anthology, appropriately titled I Just Want to Pee Alone, was just published.

IJWTPA

Several of the contributors to the anthology announced its availability on Friday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was greeted with this…

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

You know how it’s great to have the smallest house on the block?

You’re reading the smallest house right now. The tiniest blog in the bunch.

I am supremely lucky to have been a voice in the writing series that allowed me to express myself in a cerebral style. This is Childhood introduced me to a group of women who’ve been an invaluable support system and sounding board these past few months.

And I’m eternally grateful to Jen for the opportunity she’s given me to be a contributor to this hilarious anthology. I will always pet the computer monitor in gratitude when her name appears in my email inbox.

Buy the book. You will laugh.

Don’t believe me? Read this review.

Here’s to 2013, the year of the collaborative effort.

And, as always, F U, CANCER.

 

The Case of the Missing Nipple

caseofthemissingnipple

Verb: “What if I shoot a stranger with a bone arrow?”

Me: “That’s not nice.”

Verb: “No, Mom, a bad stranger. A bad stranger who is trying to take me. What if I shoot him in the eye with a bone arrow?”

Interrogator: “Well, that would hurt. And he probably wouldn’t be able to see.”

Me: “How about we change the subject?”

Verb: “OK, if a stranger tries to take me, I will hit him and kick him.”

Me: “And you can bite him. And scream. But only if a stranger tries to take you. Otherwise, no hitting, kicking, biting, screaming.”

Verb: “Or bone arrows.”

Me: “Right.”

Interrogator: “What if somebody shot a stranger who was trying to take you?”

Verb: “Like who? Like our grandfather?”

Me: “Guess what? My grandfather was shot.”

Chorus: “What?”

Me: “My grandfather was shot.”

Interrogator: “Your grandfather got a shot?”

Me: “No, my grandfather was shot.”

Interrogator: “Shocked?”

Me: “SHOT. He was SHOT. With a gun!”

Interrogator: “He was shot with a gun?”

Kenyan: “Who would do that?”

Verb: “A bad guy.”

Me: “He was in the war.”

Interrogator: “What war?”

Me: “World War II. The one against Adolf Hitler.”

Waldorf: “Adolf? That’s a ridiculous name.”

Me: “Well, he was a ridiculous man. Not in a good way.”

Interrogator: “Who gave him a shot?”

Waldorf: “No one gave him a shot, for crying out loud! He was shot! Pow pow pow!”

Interrogator: “So, did he die?”

Me: “He did. But not from getting shot.”

Verb: “He got shot to death and he lived?”

Me: “No. He got shot. And someone removed the bullet. And he lived. Then, when he was old, he died.”

Waldorf: “Oh, wait a minute, this is your grandfather who lost his nipple, right?”

Me: “Right.”

Kenyan: “He lost his what?”

Me: “His nipple.”

Verb, to Interrogator: “Hahahaha! She said ‘nipple’!”

Me: “I said nipple, yes. Nipple, nipple, nipple. My grandfather was shot. And he lost his nipple. It’s not funny.”

Interrogator: “Did the bullet shoot his nipple off?”

Me: “No. The bullet went into his chest. After the bullet was removed, they sewed my Pop back together and he only had one nipple left after he came out of surgery.”

Interrogator: “Well, what did they do with the other one?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Interrogator: “Well, where did it go?”

Me: “Maybe it was inside out. I don’t know.”

Verb: “An inside out nipple is just weird.”

Me: “Well, anyway, he was a soldier. And he was very brave. And he got shot. Then he came home, and soon after, Lolly was born.”

Kenyan: ‘Was he older than Dad?”

Interrogator: “Whose Dad?”

Kenyan: “Your Dad.”

Interrogator: “My Dad? My Dad is your Dad.”

Kenyan: “I know!”

Interrogator: “You mean our Dad?”

Waldorf: “Yes! For crying out loud! I can’t stand this anymore!”

Kenyan: “So? Was your grandfather older than our Dad?”

Me: “Obviously he was older than Dad. Dad hadn’t even been born yet.”

Kenyan: “I mean when he was shot!”

Interrogator: “Who was shot?”

Kenyan: “Interrogator!”

Waldorf: “OH MY GOD! CAN EVERYBODY PLEASE BE QUIET!”

Interrogator: “We’re still talking about this? Why is everyone screaming in this car?”

Kenyan: “Unfortunately, yes. We are still talking about it.”

Me: “My grandfather, at the time he was shot, was younger than your Dad is now.”

Verb: “And then he died?”

Me: “Well, not right then. He lived first. Then, he died. When he was old.”

Interrogator: “And he didn’t have a nipple.”

Me: “Right.”

Interrogator: “I hope he shot that bad guy back.”

Verb: “With a bone arrow.”

Interrogator: “In the eye.”

*****

This is Childhood continues this week with Amanda Magee’s dazzling tribute to Eight. Amanda is an amazing talent. Please read her here.