Tales from the Great Covid Pandemic

Why write a blog and not tell stories? That was the whole point of this…..

 

Me: I can help you.

Tornado E: You can’t.

Me: I teach freshman English.

Tornado E: But you don’t teach GATE freshman English.

Kid….

***

Me: I can help you.

Tornado E: No, you can’t.

Me: You’re working on English. I’m an English teacher.

Tornado E: Well, you don’t know MLA.

Me: Kid, do you even know what my degree is in?

***

Me: Tornado S, you’re in trouble!

Tornado S: I didn’t do it.

Me: No kidding. I’ve heard from two teachers now. You haven’t done any work for 2 weeks. You’ve just sat in front of the computer doing nothing for TWO WEEKS.

Tornado S: I did science.

Me: Try again. The last teacher that emailed me was your science teacher.

***

My Mom: Fae, you need to go to the grocery store. I forgot to ask you for sour cream.

Me: You sent me yesterday.

My Mom: You’re the only one who can go.

Me: And the day before that. And the day before that.

I am the red shirt of my family.

***

My mom has been making masks.

My mom: Fae, I sold your mask.

Me: You sold my mask? The one you made me last week?

My mom: One of my friends wanted a green one. It’s not like you’ve worn it.

Touche.

***

Tornado A: Hi, Mama! I’m up!

Me: It’s…. 6…. why…?

Doze because I don’t have to commute anymore….

Tornado A: I checked my assignments! I didn’t have any! So I did 3 math exercises and 3 English assignments! So I’m done!

Me: It’s…. 6:30….. Dude, your teacher hasn’t posted anything. I haven’t posted anything!

Tornado A: But I checked!

***

Tornado A: MAMA! I’m done! With all my assignments!

Me: It’s only been twenty minutes!!!

***

My grandma: I need to get milk and eggs and a cake mix.

Me: Why won’t you let me go for you?

My grandma: I’m not frail.

Me: You’re in. the. vulnerable. group.

My grandma: I’ll be fine.

Me: I have charts and articles. I’ll bore you with research.

My grandma: Fine. If it makes you feel better, go.

***

Me: Are you done with homework?

Tornado E: …. Yes….

Me:…..

Tornado E: (nods and smiles)

Me:…….

Tornado E: ….Maybe…..

Me: Do you work.

Tornado E: (sighs, grumbles, goes to his desk) mumbles something

***

Me: Are you done with your work?

Tornado E: I’m watching something first (on his phone).

Me: Is it for school?

Tornado E: ….Yes…..

Tornado E’s phone: *%$!@

Me: Your phone tells me that’s a lie. Do your work.

***

Me: Did you read?

Tornado S: YES!

Me: Was it game stats online?

Tornado S: Yes!

Me: Go read an actual book.

Tornado S: But-

Me: Now.

***

Tornado S: I don’t see why I can’t read online.

Me: Are you reading game stats?

Tornado S: I was researching.

Me: Game stats?

Tornado S: What does it matter? Reading is reading. It’s all the same.

Me: Can you make connections? Predictions? Analyze theme, plot, characters?

Tornado: I’ll get a book. (mumbles something about teachers and mothers.)

***

My mom: Fae, I need green onions.

Me: I’ll put it on the list. I’m going now.

My mom: Do you have your mask?

Me: Yeah!

My mom: Let me see.

Me:….

***

Me: Why does my face mask smell of peanuts?

***

When you wear a face mask, no one can see you mouth cuss words. Even when you wear a face mask, people can still hear you cuss though.

This Special Moment

I tucked Tornado E to bed after he stayed late volunteering at school. His brothers were fast asleep.

Me: I love you.

Tornado E: I love you too.

Me: I’m so proud of you. I’m so lucky that you’re my boy.

Tornado E: I’m lucky to have you as a mama.

Me: You’re going to do amazing things one day.

Tornado E: Thanks, Mama. You’re going to do amazing things too.

Me: Thank you, baby.

Tornado E: Mama?

Me: Yes?

Tornado E: You need to brush your teeth. Your breath stinks.

Me:…..

Tornado E: …

Me: Goodnight.

Tornado E: Goodnight, Mama.

 

A Punny Teen

He’s growing tall, my boy. Four inches over the last. Still more to go. And still very goofy.

I went after the Bookfair, where I left him, to pick him up. He was the last student to stay to clean up. He looked over at me.

Tornado E: Hi, Mama!

Me: Hi, sweetheart. Are you done?

Tornado E: I don’t know.

Me: Go ask what else you can do. Ask until everything’s done.

I want him to be helpful. I want him to be of service. I want him to stay until everything is done.

One of the moms: Thanks, Tornado E. Could you go get me my fan?

She was loading up her car with several tables. There was nothing for me to do. Tornado E came out of the school, carrying a large box fan. The mom turned and reached out for it.

Tornado E: This is my biggest fan. Be careful with him.

The mom burst out laughing.

She turned to me: I love his sense of humor. (She turned to him) I love those types of jokes.

He beamed.

The mom: That’s everything. Thank you so much, Tornado E. You can go home.

He came to me. I put my arm around him and walked to the car.

How did this kid get so much of me in him? I wonder if anyone sees anything else but me hanging out behind his eyes.

I kissed his head.

Nah. It’s all him. I could never enjoy math the way he does.

Tournament

I had my share of competing. Volleyball, basketball, softball, and swimming. In swimming, it was just you in the water. You competed against yourself because if you looked back at your competition, it would slow you down. When the set up your heat, your age and your stroke was all that mattered. So as a freshman, you competed against fully grown seniors. It could be several heats going for three precious spots. You had to push hard because you didn’t know if you could.

The boys’ karate organization breaks down its competitors by age, rank, and size. The compete only in their heat, so each heat has a first, second, third, and so on. At first, I thought it was odd (you know because of ultra-competitive sports), but I’ve learned to see the value in it. Granted, it’s not always fair.

Tornado A got into karate as soon as he was old enough, and he has ranked every semester he has been in the sport, which puts him at a high rank for his age. He does not have many competitors his age and rank. His heats are usually smaller, allowing an easier time to grab a top spot. He still pushes himself though. Those 150 black belts aren’t going to earn themselves.

Tornado E has had the opposite issue. He joined karate at the usual age, and even with jumping rank, he still has lots of competition. Usually his heat is filled with all 8 competitors. He’s small for his age, so he’s competing with girls and boys much bigger than him. A year or so ago, he won nothing until the last event. We had a talk about having to work harder because he’s smaller. This tournament he did rather well.

But in this tournament, Tornado S did not do well. He is small for his age. Then for some reason, only a handful of kids his age were in his rank. So few kids his age were in the ranks around his, that they combined them. So Tornado S competed, not only against kids bigger than him but, against kids that out ranked him by one, two, even three stripes. As you might have guessed, it did not go well for Tornado S. He hung in there until the end, but he never got a coveted place. To add salt to wounds, he even out preformed Tornado E and his heat in points.

So tomorrow I’ll give the lecture of working twice as hard as others because you never know when you’re going to go up against someone bigger and better ranked.

Que a scene of Fae at fourteen (skinny as a bean pole, not yet hitting her growth spurts), on a swimmer’s block, in her team swimsuit, goggles, and a blue silicon swim cap with a braid tucked in, looking over at a big, built senior in her swimsuit, goggles, and silicon swim cap. It’s a sunny day. The senior is doing all sorts of stretches on her block. Fae rolls her shoulders, looks at the camera, and says, “This is not going to end well.” Then she smiles, “But at least, I get to swim.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suit

Me: Ok. Try it on.

Damn.

Too small.

Fine.

Let’s go.

Because my boys want to wear suits to church. Because they want to wear suits to formal events. Because my boys like suits.

So Friday, two days before Easter, I took Tornado S shopping for a new suit. He was thrilled. I was less so.

I’m not a big fan of shopping. I’m not really good at it. And if you ask any one with boys or have boys yourself, you know that buying clothes other than playwear is a bit difficult. Most stores have a handful of nice button-up shirts and maybe a couple of tie and shirt combinations. Or maybe just 4 dress shirts. Four. Which means, many, many stores if your boys either don’t look good in those or you or they don’t like them. I personally despise sweater and shirt combinations.

Luckily I have a store. Tornado S and I left right after breakfast, which isn’t really impressive because I made breakfast cookies. Like 5 dozen of them.

We walked into the store and walk straight to the back to the boys’ clothes area. Tornado S nearly skipping at the enjoyment of having a Mama Day.

Me: We’re looking for size 12.

Tornado S: Ok!

He made a bee line to the clearance rack and started sifting through them. Huh. Expensive as it was, I knew what I was getting in to. So I started going through the regular price size 12 suits.

After a few moments, I had found a navy, a pin-striped, and a grey. I knew Tornado E would throw a fit if someone else got a pin-striped suit.

Tornado S: Mama. I found a suit. (I looked over.) But it’s blue.

He held it up. It was blue. Not crayon blue but like a bright navy blue.

Me: Ok.

Tornado S: I. I don’t really like blue, Mama.

He looked pathetic. And adorable. I nearly laughed.

Me: Thank you for looking in clearance, but I’m not going to buy you a suit you don’t like. What do you think of this grey one?

He beamed and ran over.

Tornado S: I like it, Mama!

Me: Let’s try on the jacket. Oh good. Perfect. Let’s go buy it.

 

At Easter Mass, I stood between Tornado S in his grey suit and Tornado E in his pin-striped suit. I looked down at Tornado E’s arm. Ah. Damn.

Me: (Whispering) You’re going to need a new suit.

My Dad: (Whispering) I noticed that last week.

Really? You didn’t think to mention that when I said I had to take Tornado S to get a suit.

So guess what we’re doing next weekend.

The Tornadoes Try to Plan an Impromptu Vacation

On the first day of Rodeo break two weeks ago, I texted my best friend at 10 am.

My phone rang with her ringtone.

Wally: Why aren’t you at school?

Me: Rodeo Break!

Wally: Your town is so weird.

We talked for 45 minutes as she commuted to school. Tornado A insisted on talking to her, but then she had to go. As we were saying goodbye, Tornado S entered the room.

Tornado S: Are we going to see Wally?

Me: Um, no.

Tornado E entered the room.

Tornado E: We’re going to see Wally?!

Me: No. She lives in California.

Tornado A: Is Wally coming to see us?!

Me: No, she’s going to class. Can you here this?

Wally: (laughing) Yeah, but I got to get to class. Tell the boys I love them. I love you.

Me: I love you too. Good luck. Study hard. Bye.

Wally: Thanks. Good luck. Bye.

Click.

Tornado E: When can we see Wally?

Me: Probably this summer.

Tornado S: Why can’t we see her today?

Me: Because she lives 8 hours away, and she has work and school.

Tornado A: So she can come here!

Me: Not possible.

So I have realized we can vacation nowhere but Southern California, so we can visit Wally. Today I told the younger tornadoes about my thought.

Tornado A: Wally is mommish.

Tornado S: Because she’s family!

Tornado A: She’s not family! She’s not related to us!

Tornado S: She’s kin!

Me: I call her my sister.

Tornado A: She doesn’t share our blood.

Me: She shares our heart, and that is more than enough.

Tornado S: YEA!

Tornado: Ok. That’s good enough.

Empty Threats

We are caught up in the Marvel Universe. We just need to see Thor: Ragnarok. Or really, the boys need to see Ragnarok. I saw it weeks ago. And my plan was to take the boys to see it this week in the second hand theaters.

It’s not there yet.

So I promised. Not this weekend because they’re with their dad. But next week I’ll take them to see Ragnarok.

Tornado E: Or I could ask Daddy.

Me: No. No. Your dad has already proven he can’t handle taking you to Marvel movies.

Tornado E: It was late. We hadn’t had dinner yet.

Me: You do not skip end credit scenes. You plan for that. You don’t come into movies late. You just don’t.

I mean. Honestly. I’m trying to raise kids who respect the story, respect the movie. Their dad should know better.

Tornado E: I’m going to ask Daddy to take us any ways.

Me: I won’t take you to see Black Panther.

I know. Harsh. But desperate times, people.

Tornado E: But Mama…..

I raised an eyebrow.

He pouted.

Then they got to talk to their dad on the phone several hours later.

Tornado E: Daddy! I’ve got an idea for the weekend.

Me: (hissing) Tornado E.

Tornado E: (laughing.) Nevermind, Daddy. (Sticks out his tongue at me and carries on his conversation with his dad)

I looked over at my dad and pointed at Tornado E and then gestured “What the hell?” My father has no sympathy. He laughed.

Me: Why does he have to be so mean?

My dad: He’s Got Our Genes.

My family is pranksters, jokesters, and storytellers. And we’re mean as hell just for the laughs. Stupid genes.

 

Goodnight. Goodnight.

Me: Goodnight, Sweetheart.

Tornado E: Goodnight, Mama.

Me: I love you.

Tornado E: I love you too.

Me: I’m proud of you.

Tornado E: I’m proud of you too.

Me: (Smug smile) Thanks, baby.

Tornado E: I didn’t meant that. I was copying you. I didn’t mean to say that. (Sigh) I’m proud of you, Mama.

You have no idea how much that means to me.

Tag

The boys were lounging on my bed as we watched YouTube videos. Some Honest Trailers.

Me: What do you want to do now?

Tornado E: Nothing. We don’t have any time. Daddy will be here soon.

Me: Sure, we do. Tag.

I slapped his leg lightly. His brothers scrambled out of the bed and ran out of the room. I walked out. I walked down the hall.

Tornado A: Mama! Run!

Me: Naw. I can walk. Your brother is too slow to catch me.

That was it. Tornado E ran out of the room at me.

So started a ten-minute game of tag so funny that I nearly peed myself from laughing so hard.

Tornado E is not nearly so fast that I can’t play a game of Gotcha Last.

References

We’re developing quite the private language with inside jokes and references. My boys and I are like a little club. You have to watch Star Wars movies and shows. You have to watch The Simpsons, Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go. And you have to watch Star vs the Forces of Evil.

Which brings us to the other day.

I am very honest about my political beliefs with my boys. Because, you know, they’re my boys, and I’m raising them right. Allies aware of their white male privilege. Empathetic. Compassionate. Inquisitive. Honest. Rebels.

I got off topic.

Any ways. I was explaining President Trump’s apparent need for attention. I don’t know how we got on the topic. But there it is. And I tell them if you can’t back up an opinion without a reason and example/fact, then it’s worth hot air. So I explain my logic.

The boys thought about it for a moment.

Then.

Tornado E: What Glossaryck hears is me, me, me, me!

It was perfect. The moment. The reference. The timing.

If you’re curious, it’s season 2 episode 26a “Page Turner,” or you can watch this link. Star Vs The Forces Of Evil Episode 26 Part 3