What Everyone’s Doing

I log onto FB, and they’re doing it. All of them. With pictures to prove it.

My friends, family members, casual acquaintances…seemingly everyone I know is doing it.

“We should do it.”

“Do what?” B&B asks.

“Do this,” I reply, tilting the monitor so he can see.

He frowns. “You’re out of your mind. We’re not doing that.”

“The kids would like it, I think.”

He shakes his head. “The kids would be miserable. They’d ruin it for us.”

I beg to differ. “Don’t you mean you would be miserable? And ruin it for the rest of us?”

He shrugs. “Same difference. The outcome is misery. We’re not doing it.”

What is it they are doing?

Skiing.

Everyone is skiing. Everyone but us.

***

Here are 5 solid reasons you won’t see the Meyer family on the slopes this winter.

1.) It’s fucking freezing.

I can handle the cold. But my kids hate extreme temperatures. They don’t do well in July, and they fare equally poorly in February. It’s important to remember that they are boys, which makes them anatomically incapable of keeping a pair of gloves married for longer than 37 minutes. Back in December, I organized their winter accessories. I was left with 8 gloves of all different sizes and patterns. All right handed.

Say we take them skiing. By the time we arrive at the mountain, an hour’s drive away, the four of them are already 23 minutes beyond the point of knowing where each of their left handed gloves are. The cumulative complaining about their frozen left hands would put a damper on the day.

But, B&B would put them to shame. He abhors the cold. Stick him on a snow capped mountain, where the temps peak at 20 degrees, and he simply cannot function.

Not without complaining more frequently than my kids, who at least have reason to complain. Since all four of them are glove-less.

2.) I’ll lose one of them. 

I’m in the business of crowd control. I do try to share meaningful moments with each of my kids. I’m smart enough to attempt them within the confines of my own home. Meaningful moments don’t happen outside the house. Because the minute we exit the premises, I morph into someone whose behavior closely resembles that of a secret service agent.   “I’ve got these two covered. You cover those two. Wait, I lost one…I LOST HIM! No, he’s good. He’s here. He was peeing behind the tree, but I found him. He’s just pulling up his pants now. I’ve got two. You have two? We’re good? Let’s move.”

Desperate to connect, the kids try to talk to me when we’re out in public. I flash a phony smile, “That’s wonderful, honey!” I raise my eyebrows and throw in a gasp for good measure, “Gasp! You did? I’m so proud of you!” But I’m not listening to them. I can’t. I’m too busy counting them, herding them forward, reminding them to remove their hands from their penises, barking at them to stop touching one another, cut it out already with the potty talk, and for the love of Pete, smile, because we are having so much fun!

If I strap skis to their feet, place them atop a mountain of ice, and yell, “Let’s all stay together!” or worse, “See you at the bottom,” that will be the last moment we share as a family.

I will never be able to keep track of them.

3.) Ski poles are weapons.

I know the Verb and the Interrogator, ages 4 and 6, would learn to ski without poles. In which case only the Kenyan and Waldorf would be wielding weapons. 2 kids with ski poles is better than 4 kids with ski poles, right?

Wrong.

How do you expect my younger sons to defend themselves against their older brothers? Because they will indeed have to defend themselves. From poking…from swatting…from jousting. To equip them with ski poles is dangerous, irresponsible, and stupid. But, to leave them defenseless against their armed older brothers is just plain suicide.

So, I’d have to insist on poles for everyone. Say it with me…”brawl”. We’d be lucky to disentangle them long enough to shuffle them over to the chair lift for the first run of the day. If we actually managed to get them into line, we’d have to wait our turn, which would give them time enough to poke, swat, and joust with one another in tighter confines.  Unable to hear my voice over the wind, and just out of reach of my short arms, I’d be forced to use my poles to disentangle them. It’s likely I’d have to do some poking, swatting, and jousting of my own.

And someone would undoubtedly get hurt.

Because ski poles are weapons.

4.) I cannot run the risk of injury.

The chances of the kids getting hurt…frostbite aside…are slim. B&B is an entirely different animal. He is predisposed to injuries. Particularly in cold conditions.

Exhibit A:

We take Waldorf and the Kenyan sledding one Friday evening. First time down the hill, B&B sleds…sober…directly into a baby tree. Breaking his collar bone. And sending the Kenyan into a temper tantrum for cutting his fun short. B&B wears a sling for the next several weeks. He is unable to lift the children. Unable to wash the dishes. Unable to dress himself. Unable to put on his belt. Unable to tie his shoes. He expects me to wait on him.

It’s a recipe for wedded disaster.

Exhibit B:

After a very long 6 weeks of nursing the broken collar bone, B&B finally feels ready to exercise. He dons his running gear.

Me: “You should hit the track. Take it easy. No intervals. Just get some time on your legs.”

B&B: “Yeah, that’s probably what I’ll do.”

Me: “Seriously, do NOT run the trails. It’s too icy. You haven’t run in awhile. Make that something you work towards.”

B&B: “Yeah, I hear you.”

2 hours later, he hobbles into the house. Jacket ripped. Hands bleeding. Bloody right hip. Ribs bruised.

Me: “Is that fake blood?”

B&B: “I got problems.”

Me: “Are you joking? Because pretending you’re hurt again isn’t funny.”

B&B: “I’m not joking, Bethany. I fell. I really hurt my hands. And my hip. And my ribs.”

Me: “You fell on the track?”

B&B: “Of course not. I fell on the trails. You were right. They were really icy.”

Of course they were.

Exhibit C:

B&B decides to take Waldorf, the Kenyan, and their two buddies sledding. They load up the car and drive to a local hill.

Shortly after they leave the house, I text him…

Me: “Having fun?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Huh? Why not?”

Him: “I fucked up my ribs.”

Me: “Ha. Ha. Seriously, why not?”

Him: “I am serious.”

Oy vey.

Me: “Shutup!! What happened?!”

Him: “I was at the top of the hill, holding onto my sled. I took a running start. And I tripped over my fucking shoelace, which must have been untied. And I fell down. HARD. Right onto my fist. It hurts to breathe. I think I cracked a fuckin’ rib.”

Me: “You’re saying you attempted a running start, tripped on your own shoelace, landed on your own fist, and hurt your rib?”

Him: “Yes. We may have to go to the hospital. Again.”

Me: “Are you serious? Did this really happen? I am ROFLMAO at the visual.”

Him: “Fuck you. It happened.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry you got hurt. Again. Good luck telling the Kenyan he has to leave sledding early again so you can go to the hospital. Again. He’s going to have a royal hissy.”

Him: “No shit. You’re not going to post anything about this on FB, are you?”

Me: “Never. I wouldn’t dream of it.”

To fit this injury-prone man with a pair of skis and place him on a mountain and tempt him with the thrill of achieving high speeds while racing his offspring down a steep hill is to ensure that our next stop is the hospital.

I don’t know much. But I do know this.

5.) I’d have to sell a kidney on the black market to be able to afford it.

sellakidney

Even in the fine state of Pennsylvania, where the Pocono Mountains offer free lift tickets all season for 4th and 5th grade students, it still costs a small fortune.

Boots x 6 people
+Skis x 6 people
+lift tickets x 5 people
+ lessons x 4 people
+ gear x 6 people
=Skiing is expensive.

The last time I skied, I wore mint green bib overalls, a pair of sunglasses from the Limited, and a pom pom hat that my Mom wore religiously from 1970-1975. And I was on the cutting edge of mountain top fashion.

I was in Marshall’s last month and tried on a pair of ski pants. Not with skiing in mind…purely to wear sledding with the kids. I broke out into a sweat merely trying to wrestle them onto my body. In what universe does a mother of 4 have to remove her underwear in a dressing room in order to squeeze into a pair of ski pants? Because I was in that universe. And it was disturbing. Boot cut, skinny leg, low rise ski pants? They’re gonna cost me. Because it’s not merely the price of the pants. It’s the personal training sessions I’m going to need to reshape my body to fit into those ski pants.

Move over, Susie Chapstick, times have changed.

And evidently, so have ski pants.

Oh well. There’s always next year…

***This post appeared in the parenting section of the Huffington Post on February 8th, 2013.

****

Our This Is Childhood series continues this week with Galit Breen painting the most poignant picture of age 4. The same age as my baby. Yep. I cried when I read it. Head over to read Galit, who is such an exceptional writer.

Friday Night Lights (the bright ones you find in the hospital)

I try to be a fun Mom. I almost have to tell myself out loud at times, “Stop washing the dishes and play Candyland with the Interrogator and the Verb.” Truth be told, there are days when I prefer the dishes to Candyland. That’s a lie. I prefer the dishes to Chutes and Ladders. And I prefer labor without an epidural to Monopoly. I loathe that never-ending game.

fridaynightlights

To that end, I planned an evening of sledding for B&B, Waldorf, the Kenyan and Fun Mom. (Clearly this took place last year since Jack Frost has yet to pay a visit this winter). Here is how it went down…

It is a Friday night, and my kids are on winter break. I call the babysitter, put the Interrogator and the Verb to bed early, and we are off.

The Kenyan: “So this is what it’s like not to have those noisy little guys in the car with us!”

Me: “Kinda quiet, isn’t it? So, Daddy, where should we go for our very exciting night time sledding excursion?”

B&B: “Oh, don’t you worry, I have just the spot.”

He pulls into the parking lot of the brand new public elementary school and shines the high beams of his truck onto the monstrosity of a hill that butts up against the blacktop.

Me: “That’s the K12, Daddy-oh. The double black diamond of sledding hills. Too steep, let’s find another spot.”

B&B: Turns the ignition off, leaving the high beams on “Hey, guys, Mommy’s scared of the hill. She thinks it’s too steep for us.”

Obligatory siding with B&B from the two buffoons in the back…

Me: “OK, try to keep up, ladies.”

All 4 of us grab sleds and run for the hill. B&B, propelled by his long legs and powered by those bloody Lance Armstrong lungs, reaches the top first.

I look up at B&B, then down at the bottom of the hill. It is a crazy windy night, so the snow is already icing over. The parking lot had been plowed, and all of the snow from the blacktop had been pushed into high, now very icy, piles at the bottom of the hill we’ve just scaled.

I’d better tell Waldorf and the Kenyan to turn their sleds before they get to the bottom of the hill. If they faceplant into those icy piles, it won’t be pretty.

Me: Yelling to be heard over the wind, “Hey, guys, listen…”

My warning is cut off short by the Tarzan-like yelling from B&B.

B&B: “WOOOOHOOOOOO! HERE I GOOOOOOOO!!!”

He takes a running start, then flies down the hill and whizzes past me, hollering and whooping the entire way. Excited, I turn my back before he reaches the bottom in order to continue my own climb.

Once I get ¾’s of the way up the hill, I turn to start my descent. I’m Fun Mom, but I’m not Death Wish Mom. Waldorf and the Kenyan are still climbing.

Where’s B&B? Ah, there he is.

B&B had not made it all the way down the hill. He is lying on his sled, stopped just short of the bottom.

Look at that. He’s winded. Trying to rest for a minute because he’s all tuckered out from sprinting up the hill to impress the rest of us.

Me: “Guys, watch me!!! Woohoo!!”

I cruise down the icy hill at a ridiculous speed, and turn my sled at the bottom before slamming into the plowed snow.

Holy crap, that was fun. The boys are going to love it. I’m going all the way to the top next time.

Me: “Guys, did you see how I turned at the bottom? Make sure you do that too…otherwise we’re looking at a broken bone, and it’s a bad night to go to the hospital!”

I hear muffled cries of acknowledgment from Waldorf and the Kenyan, who continue to climb Mt. Everest.

Where is B&B? Oh, there he is…

B&B is pacing around the parking lot. With the intensity of a family member awaiting news of a loved one’s fate outside the operating room. Smiling, I jog over to him.

Me: “You were right, this hill is no joke. I’ll race your ass up there.”

B&B: “We’ve got problems.”

Pacing, pacing, pacing.

Me: “What do you mean?”

Pacing, pacing, pacing.

B&B: “I mean we’ve got BIG problems.”

Pacing, pacing, pacing.

Me: “Can you maybe stop pacing and elaborate?”

B&B: Clearly exasperated by my request, finally he stands still. “I’m talking broken shoulder problems.”

Me: “Well, fine, let’s find a different hill. I don’t want the kids to break a shoulder.”

B&B: “Bethany, you’re not hearing me.”

Me: “Well, maybe because you’re speaking in code.”

B&B: He takes a deep, frustrated breath…accompanied by a wince of pain and a look of agony on his face “Bethany, I broke my shoulder. I need you to take me to the hospital. Right. Now.”

Luckily, I remain calm during crisis. Well, except for that one time when the 2 year old Interrogator deposited a dime into the Verb’s 5 week old mouth as though it were a slot machine.  And the Verb stopped breathing until we shook him upside down as though he were a piggy bank. I hit the panic button then. But I blame the post-partum hormones for that hysteria.

Me: “Oh boy. OK. I’ll get the boys.”

Mother humper. The Kenyan is going to give birth to a cow when we pull him off that hill.

Waldorf and the Kenyan are just finishing their first runs of the night. They are exhilarated and eager for more.

Me: “Guys, come over here for a minute. Daddy hurt his shoulder. So, we need to make sure we get it looked at in case it’s broken.”

Waldorf and the Kenyan look at me with wide eyes and open mouths.

Waldorf: “How did he hurt it?”

Good question, Waldorf, I didn’t even ask.

Me: “Let’s ask him, but be nice because he is in pain.”

They approach B&B, who’s still pacing in the parking lot. Breathing deeply and muttering curses under his breath. Well, not exactly under his breath.

Waldorf: “Daddy, how did you get hurt?”

B&B: “I sledded into a tree, buddy, I’m sorry we have to leave. But Daddy’s hurt.”

Waldorf, the Kenyan, and Fun Mom simultaneously look at the hill we’ve just conquered.

No trees. Hmm. That’s a little detail we can address after the hospital. I know better than to..

The Kenyan: “What tree? There are no trees on this hill.”

Oh boy. Master of the obvious just couldn’t let his Daddy slide.

B&B: (Wincing as he lifts the arm connected to what I assume is his good shoulder and pointing) “Yes, Kenyan, there is a tree on this hill. It’s right there.”

Waldorf, the Kenyan and Fun Mom all squint and look in the direction B&B’s pointing.

The Kenyan: Voice escalating “There IS no tree on this hill!”

It’s clear we are 45 seconds from a serious temper tantrum. Whether it comes from the Kenyan, B&B or both, still remains a mystery.

Waldorf: Always quick to come to his hero’s rescue “Oh, there it is, I see it. See? It’s really small, but it’s right there.”

The Kenyan: Squinting, “You mean that Charlie Brown tree? You could run that tree over, Daddy.”

B&B is fuming. He marches purposefully toward the plant we have yet to confirm is a tree.

B&B: “Follow me right now. All of you.”

We obey, Waldorf and I making eyes at each other, both of us fully aware that the Kenyan and B&B are about to throw down. And that we are powerless to stop it. The Kenyan begins to cry as he lugs his boot-clad feet up the hill. My poor heartbroken Kenyan.

B&B wraps his fingers around what I hesitate to label as the trunk of a tree. Picture a bamboo stick coming out of the ground.

B&B: “I banged right into this tree with my shoulder. It stopped me cold. It’s a good thing it wasn’t my neck, or I’d be paralyzed right now. And you sledded right past me on your merry way down the hill when I was laying here in agony.”

He looks at me accusingly.

Oh boy, crazy’s loose.

Me: “What? I…I thought you were resting. You know, fatigued from running up the hill.”

B&B: “I was slammed up against this tree!”

The Kenyan: “That’s not a tree! It’s like a baby stick! I want to stay here! I am going to go sledding! We are SUPPOSED to be SLEDDING!”

Oh no. The other crazy’s loose.

The Kenyan grabs his sled and starts hauling it back up the hill.

I usher Waldorf quietly towards the escape vehicle, then double time it back up the hill to attempt to reason with the Kenyan.

Me: “Buddy, listen, I know this is a huge bummer. But, if one of you were in pain, we’d do the same for you. Let’s get into the truck, and we’ll go sledding tomorrow. I promise.”

The Kenyan: “IT’S NOT FAIR! WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE FUN! THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! LEAVING IS NOT FUN! I WANT TO GO SLEDDING!”

The Kenyan is actually our easiest kid. He goes with the flow. He plays by himself. He plays well with his brothers. He gobbles up books. Draws his own cartoons. Tries his best at school.  He eats what we put on his plate and doesn’t accuse me of poisoning him. This temper tantrum is atypical behavior for him. Which is why I didn’t grab him by his boots and drag him back down the hill to the car. Because that’s what I would have done with any of the other three if they had pulled this crap.

Me: “I want to go sledding too. It stinks, doesn’t it? This hill is awesome! I think you were faster than Waldorf.”

The Kenyan: Sniffling “I know. I was. And IT’S NOT FAIR!”

I usher him slowly towards the car. B&B is still pacing. The Kenyan, while our easiest in most ways, does have a tendency to sulk. So his head is hanging low. And he is walking slowly to illustrate his distaste with this unexpected (yet almost comical) turn of events.

B&B: “Kenyan, I’m really sorry. I didn’t do this on purpose. But we need to get to the hospital, so please walk a little more quickly. Because I hurt.”

3, 2, 1 and cue the crying

The Kenyan is flat out bawling. As though he’s the one with the alleged broken shoulder.

We all get into the truck. I drive. B&B in the passenger seat, wincing in pain with each bump. Waldorf’s quiet in the back. And the Kenyan is sniffling the entire way, with his Perry the Platypus hat pulled completely down over his eyes.

We drop off the boys at home, make the icy drive to my parents’ house, bundle my Mom up and drive her to our house. She kindly relieves the babysitter, while I drive B&B to the hospital.

We debate going to a different hospital. We’ve had a slew of recent visits to the ER for the kids, and I am slightly nervous that, upon check in, someone may take note of our frequent flier miles and start accusing us of something ludicrous. But, in the end, we go to our old reliable hospital. Evidently, B&B is getting his sense of humor back.

Nurse: “How did this happen?”

B&B: Glances nervously at me, then refuses to make eye contact with the nurse. He whispers, “Do I have to answer with her right next to me?”

I immediately laugh. A nice, big belly laugh. Did I mention in my description of B&B that he’s funny? He’s funny.

The nurse looks at him, then at me, then at him. She’s not laughing.

Nurse: “Do you feel like you’re…in danger?”

B&B glances at me again, then leans toward the nurse and whispers, “Yes. She scares me.”

Me: “OK, enough, funny guy. Tell her. Tell her about the tree. Well, about the bamboo stick, tell her about the bamboo stick.”

B&B: “Wait, what was the story again? You hit me right here with the bamboo stick? Oops, I mean I sledded into a tree that looked like a bamboo stick.”

Sidenote. We have not been drinking. Or partaking in any recreational drugs. This is just typical behavior from B&B. He sleds into a tree, then thinks it’s funny to act like he’s the victim of domestic violence. Now, had he been sledding down that hill and crashed into that sorry excuse for a tree with one of our children on his back? He would certainly have been the victim of domestic violence.

The nurse is not at all amused. She doesn’t know us. She doesn’t appreciate the side show. It is an icy, cold Friday night, the car accident victims are starting to pile up in the waiting room, and we two fools are wasting her time.

B&B puts his serious face on, and she gets rid of us as quickly as humanly possible. As we walk away from her, I put my arm gently around B&B and he says, just loudly enough for the nurse to hear, “She’s doing it again. Ow, please stop squeezing me like that. I promise I’ll be better.”

Me: “You have serious psychological problems.”

But he is funny.

Turns out the broken shoulder is actually a broken collarbone. No way to cast it. No surgery needed. Bullet dodged.

As we sit in triage, waiting for B&B’s release instructions, he looks at me.

B&B: “You’re dying to post this on Facebook, aren’t you?”

Me: Feigning hurt and surprise, “No WAY. Absolutely not. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

Dammit. Foiled. I could really turn this into a funny post.

B&B: “Thanks. I know you could make a funny post out of it, but I’m feeling a little sensitive about this.”

Me: “No Facebook post. I promise.”

No Facebook post could do this circus act justice. This is the perfect story for a blog.

Shhh…don’t tell B&B.