Just a Gown

Tornado S needed an MRI, so on the first day of spring break, we went to the clinic to get it done. He was suspicious because last time we were at the clinic, he was forced to give blood. The kid hates getting his finger nails cut. It’s like torture. Imagine trying to get a needle into this kid.

Tornado S has been diagnosed with a developmental delay disorder. Mild, general, physical. But his hand writing is getting worse, so the doctor wanted to make sure Tornado S was not regressing.

The nurse was quick to set Tornado S at ease. She was efficient and cheery. But upon handing me the medical gown, she frowned, looking at Tornado S.

Nurse: See if it will fit him.

It barely made it past his butt.

Nurse: Let me see if I can find a bigger one. (In a moment, she returned and handed me a new gown.) This might be a little big, but it’s the best we got.

Tornado S stripped, and I helped him into the gown. It hit the floor. I giggled to see my boy in a gown.

Tornado S: How do you walk in this thing?

Me: (Thinking back to all the princess dresses I wore as a girl, never missing an opportunity to dress like royalty) You can lift it up like this. Or you can kick-step. Kick-step. Like this. Kick-step. Kick-step.

Tornado S kick-stepped.

Then I remembered this was Tornado S. Uncoordinated Tornado S.

Me: Nevermind. Just pick it up like this.

Tornado S mimicked my gesture and picked up the gown and walked a few steps.

Tornado S: This is annoying. How does anyone do anything in one of these?

Me: Oh, sweetheart, millions of women have been doing everything in dresses like that for thousands of years.

He looked up at me and wrinkled his nose. Yeah, many of them would probably agree with you, kid.

 

P.S. Everything is fine. He’s just lazy on his handwriting, and yes, I do have pictures of Tornado S in his floor-length gown, smiling up at the camera.

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Ancient Parenting Techniques

So it was dinner time and I went outside to call in Tornado A and Tornado S. Who were wrestling on the trampoline. Wearing only shorts. With newly shaved head.

Me: Spartans! Dinner!

You know it fits. Last summer the boys somehow learned about Leonidas yelling “This is Sparta!” and kicking someone in a pit. They practiced this move all last summer, using the pool as their pit. They also taught themselves some rudimentary stage fighting techniques.

This is my family. Apparently, I’m raising Spartan men.

Existential Crisis

Tornado S did not want to go to religious class. But I made him. He whined. He cried. He begged. Video games were not going to be in his future.

When we arrived, Tornado A jumped out of the car. I told him to go ahead and go without us; we’ll catch up. I opened up Tornado S’s car door.

Me: Come on, Tornado S. Time to go.

Tornado S: (crying) But why are we here?

Me: Because I am raising you Catholic, so you have to come to classes.

Tornado S: But why?

Me: Because this will give you a place to start. A place to start questioning and searching and trying to understand the world.

Tornado S: But why here?

Me: Because this church has a lot to offer, and it agrees with a lot of what I believe.

Tornado S: (still crying) But why are we here?

Me: (sigh) Because you have to go to class.

Tornado S: No. Why are we here?

Me: What?

Tornado S: Why are we here? Why do we exist? Why do we live?

Wait. What?

Me: You want to know why we are here on earth, living this life?

Tornado S: (sobbing) YES!

Me: Well. I think we’re here to learn. To experience. To love.

Tornado S: But why is life so horrible?

Kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But then this is the kid who cried watching a Save the Children Fund commercial.

Me: I don’t know, baby. A lot of people have tried to find out why. Listen. Let’s go home. You can rest. You don’t have to go to class. When you’re ready, we’ll talk more about this. Let me just let your teacher know.

So I walked into the building to find that Tornado S’s teacher wasn’t there. In his place was the director of children’s ministry.

Director: Hey. You don’t look like Tornado S. But I see a resemblance. (Yeah, we’ve been in the program for a few years now.)

Me: It’s the nose and the cheeks. Yeah, Tornado S is having an existential crisis in the car. So I think I need to take him home.

Director: A what?

Me: He wants to know why we’re here. Not here for class, but here as in our lives.

Director: OH! Wow. Ok. Yeah. Tell him I wonder that myself. It’s fine. He’s a good kid. He told us all about the homily the other day.

I stopped making eye contact as I watched Tornado S walk past the windows to the door. He came into the room.

Tornado S: Hi, Mama! I figured it out!

Me: Um, ok.

Tornado S: We’re here to have fun!

Um.

Tornado S: I’ll stay for class.

Director: Tornado S. I won’t make you do any work today. Just listen. Ok, bud?

Tornado S: Ok. Can I go get a snack first?

Director: Sure, go ahead.

Me: Um. Ok. Well, then. See you in 50 minutes.

What the hell?

Studying

I should have put up a sign. Sorry, grading.

Last week was midterms. I actually said to my kids, “Sorry. All laundry services have been suspended until midterms are graded.”

But all midterms were graded. I magnanimously graded late work. All grades were in on time.

Instead of collapsing into a nap/read/gorge-on-salads-and-fruits to regain my strength and sanity, I had to study for a test. A test that I need to be an official teacher, not a temporary-we’ll-see-if-you’ll-make-it teacher. And I misjudged my expiration date. Because I left time to retake the test if need be. Nope. It’s a one shot. From the free throw line. No pressure.

But I’ve done my share of free-throws. And I know how to study. 15 minute increments with 5 minute break. A little every day. Don’t stress. Except the two weeks of intense grading consuming my every waking minute. So I was a little nervous.

During the afternoon, on our first official day off, I sat down to study since no one wanted to go to the movies with me. Thanks, boys.

Me: Tornado E! Here take this. Help me study!

I got a teenage look of boredom and are-you-kidding-me.

Tornado A: I’ll help, Mama!

He grabbed the answers for the study guide.

Me: I’m going to take this test and tell you the answers, and you’re going to tell me if I got it right.

Tornado A: Ok, Mama!

I started to read the long, intricate problem.

Tornado A: You can do it, Mama! This one’s easy!

I glanced up before returning to the problem I was reading.

Me: A!

Tornado A: Yea, Mama! That’s right! Now what’s number 2?

Me: Hold on. I have to read it.

I started reading the problem.

Tornado A: This one is easy, Mama!

Me: Thanks.

I kept reading.

Tornado A: It’s an easy one, Mama!

Me: D!

Tornado A: Good one, Mama! Now 3! It’s easy too!

Me: Baby, you only have the letter answers. I’ve the test.

Tornado A: I know, Mama! But this one is easy!

And so it continued through out the practice test. Except when I got it wrong. Then Tornado A would console me and encourage me to do it again.

He makes a heck of a cheerleader.

 

 

 

Oh, and I did pass my test.

A Book Signing

We had a Festival of Books this weekend, and Tornado E missed it as he was off on an all-weekend school trip. Unfortunately for Tornado E, several authors he likes were in town. Fortunately for me, one of those authors was one of my favorites. So I decided that I HAD to see her and get her to sign a book.

Because I’ve never been to a book signing, I worried that I would only get one book signed, so I slyly asked Tornado S to come with me under the guise of a Mommy Day. Tornado S said yes.

But first we went to the lecture. An hour talk. Which included two other authors in a panel discussion about world creating. It was great. It was funny. I learned a lot. Tornado S was bored out of his mind.

But boredom is good for the mind.

After the lecture, while I waited in line, he ran around in circles to get the energy out. Then he came and stood with me, holding Tornado E’s book. We got to the front of the line.

HB: Hi! (She reached out for a book)

Tornado S: Hi!  (handing her the book) I don’t read your books yet. But my big brother does. But he can’t be here because he’s away for the weekend for school. So can you sign it for my brother?

HB: You stood in line for your big brother? (Tornado S nodded) That was very kind of you. Do you want me to make this out to your brother? What’s his name?

I spelled it for her.

Me: (Whispering to Tornado S) Did you want to ask her your question?

Tornado S: OH! Are you going to make a movie out of your books?

HB: I hope so. Fingers crossed. It’s not up to me.

Tornado S took back the book.

I handed her my book.

Me: I’m a huge fan. Thank you for writing such great books.

HB: Thank you. What’s your name?

I spelled it.

Tornado S: She has two books! Can you sign both of them?

HB: Sure! That’s what I’m here for!

Me: Oh, thanks. (I quickly pulled out the second book and handed it to her) I’ve loved your books since the first one.

HB: (Laughs) Thanks for sticking with me.

Me: I’m making it a family thing. (I patted Tornado S on the head and grabbed my book.) Thank you.

And that’s how my quiet, shy introvert had more guts than me.

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.

Just a Minor Task

About two weeks ago, I decided to give up cussing.

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable adult thing to do. Like I used to when I was in college. Purify my words; give them weight. Keep your words in good order.

The next morning the ex texted me to tell me that he failed to pay for Tornado E’s school weekend field trip. By 5 days.

***

Then Trump talked about arming teachers. Several times. Before the evening national news came on, I knew it was going to be bad.

Me: Boys, please leave the room.

Tornadoes: Why, Mama?

Me: Our dear president is going to say something stupid, and I need you out of the room before I react.

******* ******* ****

Nearly every day since has been just as bad.

Traffic.

Drivers.

The ex.

The president.

The politicians. Home and abroad.

This task is going to be harder than I thought.