Elias declared that I make bad food and he will not eat any. Levi ate three bites and said his chest hurts because of the food he ate.
What is this poison, you ask?
Shepherd’s pie. With cheese.
Oh, the inhumanity!!!
This is not my story. I am sharing it with permission. So these are the words of my sister Mary Lou, edited lightly for perspective and clarity (mostly for those who don’t know all the names).
Bob called my sister’s house. Bob is a guy from southern Ohio that befriended my nephew Nolan, and has kept in touch with him over the years. Even recently, when Nolan moved several counties east of us for work.
So anyway, Bob called, and asked about how Mom is slipping. Keely, my niece, who picked up the phone, flatly denied it. Bob approached it a bit more gently, and said that Nolan says she gets mixed up … confused … maybe depressed? Finally, Keely came right out and told him: Mom is fine. She does not know what Nolan thinks is going on, but he’s just WRONG!
At this point in the story, both Mary Lou and I are concerned not only for Mom, but for Keely. I mean, she’s been spending a lot of time around here, and she seriously hasn’t noticed?!? Either her powers of observation are nonexistent, or she’s so deeply in denial that we may never be able to pull her out.
Nobody knows exactly when the penny dropped, but Keely finally realized that Bob, so patiently repeating his concerns, thought he was talking to Mary Lou.
Which means the mom who is losing it, well … is. And Keely had spent the last ten minutes impersonating her mother. Her lunatic mother, hip deep in denial. Who had maybe been a teensy bit rude, when pushed.
And because she was embarrassed and doesn’t know Bob very well, she very nearly didn’t fess up to him. But because she’s a good girl and loves her mother, she did.
We do wonder if Bob has quite recovered. Bet he doesn’t call back.
Possibly the best part of this story* is that, after no one told Mom (my mom, not Keely’s!) about it by silent mutual consent, Mary Lou reversed herself and told Mom the whole story. She said Mom so completely enjoyed it that she was sorry for ever doubting her, and it was pure joy to hear her giggling so much.
*And the only reason I’m sharing it so publicly.
And he didn’t even cry.
Levi is at a birthday party for his little friend from church. You could say he’s been pretty excited about it, if you were in the habit of making gross understatements. This morning, he asked me to take a picture of him so I wouldn’t forget him while he was gone. I know I’m absent-minded, but perhaps it’s worse than I thought.
Here’s how he wanted to be memorialized.
What a dear child.
And Elias was not to be outdone.
I heard about this all day, every few minutes. HOW MANY HOURS NOW MOM!!!?????!?!?!?!? HOW MANY NOW?!?!
He wanted to write “Levi loves Caleb” on the card, but changed his mind at the last second and went with a more traditional birthday greeting. I promise he’s not actually in pain here. That was as close to a smile as I could get out of him.
Elias, while he is a little worried about sleeping in their room all by himself, is contemplating the myriad benefits of being an only child. He was sad to be left behind, so we got pizza and treats. Papa let him have some pop, and then we had mini ice cream sandwiches. When I asked him if he wanted a second one, he looked up at me and I could actually see him wondering what I had done with his mother.
I’m told kids this age often end up homesick when it gets late, but I’d be surprised if we get a call. How often do you get to sleep in a tent inside?
I was in a jury pool this morning. There was a last-minute plea agreement, so the jury was never really chosen. There wasn’t much chance of me going home early if the trial had gone forward – I was the second person into the actual jury box. We stayed for the formalities of the guilty plea, and the judge told us we were welcome to stay for the sentencing, but we were not required to.
No one stayed.
I did serve on a jury about five years ago, on a drug case. It was, in fact, a very interesting experience. I have no connections into that world, and when they put the evidence box on the table in the jury room, I wanted to see it. It was crack, and a fat roll of cash, and a Crown Royal bag, which is apparently a thing in the world of drugs. (I knew somebody in college who kept his poker chips in a Crown Royal bag. At least that’s what he said was in there. It never occurred to me to wonder about that before today.) Now I know what crack looks like. What I will do with that knowledge, I can’t imagine.
Today’s case, though, was about domestic violence. I’m glad I didn’t have to hear the entire case. Hearing the details read out by the prosecutor was plenty sad enough for me. And I’m pretty sure this was a mild case as these things go.
It made me remember a day when I sat in a Toledo courtroom and listened to cases most of the day. I was in college and working for the City of Toledo as an intern. Sometimes I drove a city vehicle. Once, I rear-ended someone in one. That was a horrible day. I only felt better when one of the women down the hall told me her brother-in-law had wrecked a brand-new fire truck and hadn’t been killed, so messing up the bumper on a very old Jeep was probably not a capital offense. (And I only felt a little better.) The IT guy called me Crash until I left that job, which didn’t help much.
Anyway. The city was sued because of that accident – I think probably solely because it was a city vehicle – and I was supposed to go to court to testify. I waited a long time, through a lot of cases, 80% of which were related to domestic violence. In almost every case, the woman recanted the statement she’d initially given to the police, and asked for the charges to be dropped. I’d had almost no exposure to anything like it before, and it was an education.
And I was thinking today as I was driving home: I think that was really good for me, especially at that time. I was not in a very good place. My dad had died a couple of years before, and I’d tried to pretend that I was fine, right up until I crashed so spectacularly that even the other clueless college kids around me could see that I needed help. I had gone through a long period of hardly sleeping at all, and I consider it a minor miracle that my grades stayed mostly steady and I never fell asleep at the wheel. I was so hard on myself whenever I wasn’t perfect (which was all the time, because Hi! I’m a human.) that I had elevated self-hatred to an art form.
I would not have said so at the time, but looking back? I think I was ripe for an abusive relationship. I wanted someone – anyone – to love me. I wanted to be worth something to someone, because I certainly didn’t think I was worth anything to myself. I was desperately seeking something, and I would probably have put up with a lot to get it. Maybe even as much as all those women I saw defending their abusers.
Luckily, no one found me attractive.
KIDDING! I don’t really think that. Anymore. Mostly. These things don’t go away overnight.
What I meant was, by luck and by the grace of God, I never did end up in an abusive relationship. I don’t know whether the day I spent in court in Toledo helped me put the brakes on when it was needed or not. But I do know it made me grateful. On the days when I’m mad at Paul over something stupid (because it’s never the big stuff that makes you psychotic; it’s the dishes, or the broom), it’s good to remember that he is the opposite of those men I saw in court. He doesn’t yell at me even when he should.
And today, when I was listening to the prosecutor read through what happened one day to two people who once promised to love each other forever, I was just … unutterably sad. I was glad to get out of the courtroom, and I don’t think I was the only one.
I was not glad to navigate the steps in the municipal building again. I have never been on such a weirdly constructed staircase. The steps, of which there are roughly a thousand (for one floor!) are very wide and very shallow and seem like they’re designed to make you stumble. Or at least complain, which my fellow jurors did, vociferously.
And maybe a little bit to avoid talking about anything we’d just heard. But that’s just speculation.
Paul and I drove two cars to church this morning, since I was singing and had to get there early. As I was coming home with Elias dozing in the backseat, I had a few minutes to compose my gratitudes list for the day. I know I’ve talked about it on here and I thought it might be fun to share an entry.
This morning, I was grateful:
When Paul and Levi got home, I got to add to the list. They stopped and picked up flowers for me to cheer me up. (It’s been a long week. And I seem to have gotten up on the wrong side of bed this morning.)
It is delightful to receive flowers from a little boy who helped pick them out. He couldn’t have been prouder of himself if he’d built a spaceship.
They asked if I like the flowers, and I do. But I like who they came from even more.
For a cold and snowy one in January, I guess it’s not such a bad day.
I got up this morning on my own. It is really sad that this is noteworthy, but it kind of is.
I hate mornings. I know I’m not supposed to say hate, but seriously, I. hate. mornings.
It doesn’t actually seem to matter what time I get up (I mean, within reason) or how much sleep I’ve had. I just despise the process of emerging from my happy little cocoon to go face the day. I’m fine once I’m fully vertical and I’ve adjusted to the idea. But the actual getting up? Just … ugh.
Everyone else in my house – I’m convinced that this is some sort of horrifying cosmic joke – thinks that 5:00 is a great time to get out of bed. I’m told that when the boys are teenagers, this will change, but I’m not sure I can wait that long. And Paul will probably be getting up at 3:00 by then, since his morning wakefulness seems to relentlessly march back with age like other men’s hairlines. (Why can’t he just go bald and leave me in peace? These are the questions I ask myself.)
It does provide a certain amount of entertainment, though. Yesterday, Paul sent the boys in to roust me, and they came back out to the kitchen in short order. “What’d she say?” Paul inquired.
And he says he doesn’t know which boy said it, but he said, “She didn’t say anything! She just went eerrrrrrrrrrrgggghhhhh.”
That about sums it up. Too bad there’s a morning every day.