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.

 

Maturity

Tornado S and I have been reading Harry Potter together. We’re on book 4.

Tornado S: I’ve decided what I want to be for Halloween.

Me: Oh yeah?

Tornado S: Lord Voldemort.

Me: What?! (Come on. Still? Why? Why always a villain?! Why can’t you like heroes?! Honestly!) Really? How about Harry Potter? You would make a great Harry Potter. Or a student from Slytherin House.

Tornado S: I could go as a Death Eater.

Me: (Somehow that’s worse!) What? Why? Why must you always be a villain?

Tornado S: I went as the Emperor for years, and you were ok with it.

Me: Oh, honey. I wasn’t. I was just waiting for you to grow out of it.

Tornado S: I did grow out of it. I grew out of it to Lord Voldemort.

UGH!!!!

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.

The Awful Game of Bowling

I have probably mentioned before my dislike for bowling. I was forced to go bowling several times a week all summer long for most of my childhood. My mother is a bowler. And bowling was torturous. No bumpers. No granny rolls. We had to mind our hold, our steps, our releases. In short, I know how to bowl.

And my boys enjoying bowling. I blame my mother. She has grand schemes of bowling every week or every other week. She insisted that I sign the boys up for free bowling, which I did.

So a few days ago, we went bowling. While the boys have gone bowling with their dad several times, it became painfully obvious that no one has taught them to bowl. Then because they are my stubborn boys, they insisted they knew what they were doing and that they didn’t need any help. Sure, kid, whatever you say.

So this is the first time I have ever witnessed a ball being thrown in a way that it looks like an air hockey puck bouncing and rebouncing off the sides of bumpers. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a ball be thrown and it hit the bumpers to collapse the bumper and then slowly return to the bowler. I have never seen until that day a pin fly out 2 yards to get stuck in a bumper. I’ve never seen a pin land in a way that it shut down the lane. This was the first time I watched a ball spin half-way down a lane and then spin back to the player. I was highly perplexed.

It’s also the first time I got 3 strikes in a row.

Now my mom wants to go again.

A Battle of Wills and Water

I grew up in a competitive family. My parents played sports. My brothers and I played sports. We played board games and video games. We compete. Games are meant to be won. In fact, I have never finished a game of Monopoly because things would get heated when someone embezzle from the bank.

Lately my mother has been trying to compete with me. First it was over Duolingo. Now it is over steps. I refuse to be sucked into this. I shudder as I remember listening to my mother, her sister, and their mother compete over how many pounds they lost over the week. (Shudder.)

Today my parents, my boys, and I were swimming. I was forcing the boys to go over strokes when Tornado E decided to rebel in the middle of the deep in.

My mom: (To Tornado E) I bet you can’t tread water longer than me.

Tornado E did not know what she meant, and I have obviously failed as a mother. So I quickly taught him.

My mom: I bet I can tread water longer than your mom.

My eyebrow shot up. I have been swimming longer than I could walk. I spent my summer days in water, having the skin cancer to prove it. I have 12 swim seasons under my belt.

Me: Oh, I don’t think so. I can tread water longer than both you and Tornado E.

Tornado E: No, you won’t.

So we treaded water. I wish we had thought to time it. But it was too late before I thought about it. We treaded until Tornado E grew bored and complained about the contest.

Me: Fine. Quite. But I bet you I can outlast you.

Tornado E: How much?

Me: Five bucks; you can’t afford twenty.

Tornado E: You’re on.

We treaded more water and more. I regaled Tornado E with stories of treading water for five minutes and ten minutes. I told him in high school we would have to tread water without our hands.

Tornado E grew bored again.

Tornado E: What if I stopped and dunked you?

My mom laughed.

Me: Do not make me lose to your grandmother.

Tornado E: What if I did?

Me: How many workbook pages do you want to do over vacation?

With that, Tornado E turned and tried to attack my mom. She held him at bay with a foot out.

My Mom: Tornado A come play with Mama!

Tornado A, who had been torturing his Papi, turned to us with a devilish grin.

Me: Do NOT make me lose to your grandma!\

Tornado S looked over from his play with Papi. Both boys started swimming towards us.

Ah crap.

They swam straight for my mom, who held them off for a while. Barely. Seeing that they could not get close, Tornado A switched tactics. He climbed out of the pool and jumped in as close as he could to his grandma. The other two boys followed.

Tornado S: Ok. Guys. We should come from all different sides.

Me: Aww, they’re working together. (Stage whisper) Do it quieter?

My mom: Why are they all after me and not you?

Me: Because you’re the fun grandma.

I looked at my boys, trying to help me.

Me: You know. I don’t need your help to beat her.

Then the boys all jumped in. Tornado S distracted my mom; while, Tornado E dunked her. Tornado A swam into my arms and kissed me.

So I won.

And I have my own little minions willing to fight for me.

One Fine Summer Day

Today my house was a mass of chaos as four boys ran through it. They played with Nerf guns and light sabers. They played with water balloons and squirt guns. They had ice cream. They swam. They had pretzels and lemonade. They ran yelling through the house, playing and laughing. And it felt right.

I miss the days when the boys had friends over. I always had a house filled with children and chaos. Few things were breakable. Few knickknacks were about. It was easy to clean. It was easy to make my home available.

Now living with my parents, I feel like I’m imposing. My mom wants our house to be a certain type of clean. She likes it clean for company; I like it clean for function. There is a difference. I worry if something breaks or if the boys forget to clean up.

But today was nice. I pulled the older boys away to let the younger two play by themselves. I had the boys stop whenever they changed games to clean up, and then I rewarded them with some sort of treat. While I didn’t get to swim (because I thought I could do a better job refereeing and lifeguarding from outside the pool), I did join in with the water balloon fight. I hope the boys can continue inviting their friends over.

Though Tornado A needs to work on his social skills.

I had a sweet little ending that I was writing in my head before I got to my room. Then I drank some water from my glass in the bathroom. And gagged because someone accidentally put soap in it again.

Yeah, we need our own house.

My Little Morning Larks

I have mentioned before that I am a night owl and my boys are morning larks. This is not an optimal arrangement. Especially in the summer. When the sun gets up early, so they must get up early.

No matter how late they go to bed, they are up early. But now they are sleep deprived. Exhausted, cranky, emotional, energetic tornadoes. It’s not an optimal situation.

Near the end of the school, Tornado A was getting up at 5:30 and getting me up at 5:30. Because the rule is you can’t get up until 6, he would come to me and snuggle like a moving heater that takes up the bed. It was not an optimal arrangement.

So my parents bought a black out shade. The blinds are closed; the shade is down. The room is dark. And they still get up between 6 and 6:30. But after a week of 5:30 wake up calls, I’ll take it.

Please, Not Another Penis Rule

I’m afraid to say it, but we need a new Penis Rule.

Honestly, how many of these rules do we need? Thank goodness that I haven’t engraved them on a tablet somewhere. I would’ve run out of room. Did anyone know boys were this complicated?

So it turns out Tornado E is in that special time in his life where he’s growing hair where there wasn’t hair before. No word on those special feelings yet; he seems particularly obtuse.

While obviously his age and the tiny pimples gracing his face would be a clue that Tornado E is in puberty, I know about the new hair development because of two annoying brothers, who separately, within minutes, barged in on Tornado E taking a shower. With him yelling out at his brother, the brother came running, excitedly over to me to yell, “Tornado E has hair on his penis!”

……..

“Well, everyone will grow pubic hair during their puberty. One day you will grow hair there.”

Insert comment about their dad that I really don’t want to revisit.

“That’s what happens when you’re an adult.”

Then repeat the scene all over again with the next brother.

Little brothers are annoying. I should know. I had two of them. So new rule: No more barging on siblings or parents while they are taking a shower.

There I said it. Finally.

And they respect that rule.

Unless they have to pee.

Or they want to play video games.

Or their brother has hit him.

Or he did not hit him.

Or yes, he did.

Or Papi is being mean.

Christ, when can I take a shower without being interrupted?

Only when the boys are asleep…..

So This is Summer

We made it through another school year. The last semester found me on the side of the street with a protest sign and the nights emailing, calling, and sending postcards to all my favorite Arizona legislators. When that unholy mess was only marginally solved, I raced to get my students to learn something and gain enough points that the lack of essay writing in the third quarter wouldn’t send them to hell. Most of them made a spectacular pull out of the nose dive; while, others have the next 4 weeks planned out for them. It wasn’t all that bad; I had some amazing students who did amazing things. One day they will all do amazing things.

As for the Tornadoes. The oldest two decided to test my patience by falling into Cs and Ds. They lost their video games until they were back up to Bs and As with the threat that they would see no video games over the summer if I saw anything lower than a B on their report card. Apparently Tornado A would like to skip a grade because 2nd grade was too easy. Everyone made Honor Roll and Principal’s List and earned a Presidential Award. There’s a joke about the last one, probably several, but it’s like shooting large fish in a small barrel.

We began summer with the boys coming with me to school to finish a few chores as I turned in my grades. The Tornadoes left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to why I can deal with freshman. Three rambunctious tornadoes running through the halls with plastic swords as they lead or follow their mother from room to room to collect signatures. Yup. 30 freshmen are nothing compared to the three Tornadoes.

After I finished my work, we had our traditional First Day of Summer Lunch. Ice cream. Two chocolate shakes, one hot fudge sundae, and one Brownie Blast Sundae. Tornado A insisted on macaroni and cheese to go with his hot fudge sundae. The kid has a hollow leg.

Then I took the boys to see Solo. We made it with plenty of time to get popcorn and get to our seats. The teen at the counter gave us extra butter. The boys rarely played with the electrical chairs. Thank God. It was a fun movie, and we all enjoyed it. The boys especially loved some of the scenes near the end.

As luck would have it, I got them for that first night and into most of the next day. Enough time for a late night swim and cake for breakfast. (Blame the breakfast on my parents.) The boys are making some real progress with The Simpsons. They’re already on season 15; I’m so proud.

When they left, I was enlisted to organize the boys’ room. My mother’s grand plans dwarfed my own. So what else could I do this weekend but organize and clean. It’s not like I could use the time to catch up on sleep and healthy eating. Nope. It’s time to organize, so I can center and refocus. Never a dull moment.

But at least I have more time to write.