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    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    The Princess and The Pee

    Have you ever felt vindicated? Yes, I know God says vengeance belongs to Him. And truthfully, I seldom seek revenge. Yes, I might, on occasion leave certain lacy supportive garments on the bathroom doorknob, and maybe that’s a subconscious payback for all the socks my husband leaves on the floor. But, on the whole, I don’t tailgate people who cut me off, or leave poor tips for lousy service. I leave vengeance to Someone better suited for it.

    But this week, I confess to enjoying a sublime moment of vindication not of my own doing.

    Monkey and Chunky started swim lessons on Monday. Monkey loves water. He’s a second generation Monkeyfish. Put that kid in water and he’s as happy, as, well, a clam.

    His class consisted of four or five young swimmers just confident enough to cause trouble. On Tuesday, I noticed the whole class was riled up. At one point the instructor sat them all on the edge of the pool and laid down the law. Bravo, I thought. He’s in control of his class.

    I returned my attention to the book I was reading only to be interrupted moments later. Another mom came over to inform me that my son was “torture splashing” the other kids.

    Really. Torture splashing? Isn’t that a bit of an overstatement? I’ll be the first to admit that Monkey enjoys a splash war as much as the next seven-year-old. But it’s not like the kid is waterboarding his classmates.

    I should have smiled and told the mom that I would watch my son more closely and intervene if necessary. Instead, I went to the side of the pool, crouched down, and chewed out my bewildered child.

    Yeah. Bad Mommy Award for me.

    Later that evening, I explained to Monkey that some kids are more sensitive to splashing than others, that he was not the only one at fault in the class, and he should just give that particular kid a wide berth.

    He understood and continued his lessons with only minor splashing and acceptable cavorting.

    But, today, my moment to smile came. See, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the large pool, where Monkey has lessons, and the small pool, where Chunky has lessons.

    More than once, I giggled about the class one level below Chunky’s. Taught by a tough-guy lifeguard, the class consisted of six adorable little girls. Too tiny to be in the water alone, they’d all sit in their frilly Disney Princess swimsuits on the edge of the pool, while Buff Guy showed them the very basics.

    Today, after their lesson, Buff Guy lined them up on the wall and sang “Six Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree.” Every time the “alligator” snapped, one little girl jumped into the waiting beefy arms of the instructor. Yeah, almost too cute to be legal.

    Except one itty bitty princess should have been wearing a swim pull-up. She pranced. She danced. She squealed. She peed.

    Buff Guy immediately enlisted the help of another nearby, very reluctant, lifeguard, who whisked the Peeing Princess off to the restrooms for probably no reason at all considering she was, by then, done.

    I, and the other parents, looked around for the unfortunate mother of the pool-christening toddler. Who should come hurrying over but the mom who’d accused Monkey of violating The Geneva Convention.

    Yes, I smiled, which was maybe not so Christian of me. But I did not go tap her on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me, your child is using biological warfare against my child.”

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    This is Better

    Last week brought bad news on more than one level. No, no one is dying. Except for my women’s fiction novel’s chances of getting published. I know in five years I’ll probably be thankful my early attempts never reached more than my supportive critique circle. But I’m not there yet. And I’m thinking, “Why isn’t it good enough?”

    Even as my agent broke the news that my proposal was on life support, she encouraged my most recent efforts in a different genre. “Keep working. Keep going in this direction. This is better.”

    Her words came back to me on Saturday when we took the boys on a surprise trip to Santa’s Workshop. We piled in the van without telling Monkey and Chunky where we were going. But, of course, they could read the fun mood in the car and began peppering us with guesses. My husband and I grinned at their excruciating excitement.

    “Are we going swimming at the Y?”

    “Maybe,” my husband said. But we soon passed the turn off for the YMCA.

    “Are we going to Art Sports?” they asked.

    “We could do that, I suppose,” Kory said. But we didn’t.

    We drove by the putt-putt course and the boys frantically begged, “Can we play golf?”

    When we passed the exit for mini-golf, the kids got upset. “Dad,” Monkey whined, “why can’t we play golf?”

    I turned back and smiled at him. “Don’t worry. This is better.”

    My boys were impatient for the good thing to happen now. They would have settled for swimming at the Y when we had something much, much better planned for them.

    And here I am getting worked up, just like an over eager seven-year-old, because my writing path hasn’t gone where I thought it would. I want to be at the destination now, but what if God has something even better planned for me?

    Kory and I had so much fun keeping our wonderful secret, but, of course, we didn’t enjoy our children’s panic and frustration when we passed by the places they thought we should go. Luckily, they listened when we told them to trust us and wait for the treat that was coming.

    Can I do the same? Trust and wait. Yes, on a good day. On a bad day, I still ask, “Why isn’t this good enough?” Silly Evangeline. Don’t settle for the neighborhood pool when you could go all the way to the amusement park.

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    How to Behave in a Coffee Shop WITHOUT WiFi

    Should you--do to some unforeseen, catastrophic event--find yourself in a coffee shop without WiFi, there are a few steps to take in order to preserve sanity and, indeed, even life.

    1. Take a deep breath. Realize that life is full of these little trials and navigating them builds character.
    2. Go ahead and order a double shot of espresso. The stimulant will take the edge off your panic attack.
    3. In a casual voice, ask the barista if the bagel shop next door has WiFi you can access. Note: Do not scream hysterically at the person behind the counter as this leads to spilled coffee, frightened whimpering, and, in the case of more proactive baristas, expulsion from the premises.

    Once you’ve gotten your coffee, find a seat. And here’s an unexpected benefit: you don’t have to fight anyone for the table near the outlet. See, there can even be a positive side to this situation.

    Go ahead and check your mobile device at this point, just to reassure yourself that the Internet has not vanished even though you find yourself in this backward, wireless-handicapped place.

    Once you’ve stowed your Blackberry or Smartphone, you may develop a moderately severe condition known as “What do I do with my Hands? Syndrome.” Relax! It’s temporary.

    In the absence of a keyboard to keep your fingers busy, you can:

    1. Fold your hands in your lap.
    2. Wrap them around your coffee cup.
    3. Wave casually to other stranded caffeine addicts.

    Do not, under any circumstances, pick something. This includes your nose, your wedgie, and the fake flower petals at your table.

    When you’ve finished your coffee, grab your unopened laptop bag, exit the shop, and continue with your day, confident in the fact that you have overcome one of the foremost obstacles in the path of Internet dependence, the Medieval Coffee Shop.

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Chicken Fingers and Romance

    Today I happened to drive by the church where Kory and I got married. I pointed it out to the boys, which got them wondering about Mommy and Daddy’s wedding. They insisted on watching our wedding video and then couldn’t understand why they were nowhere to be seen in it.

    We laughed and explained that they didn’t show up until a few years later. But apparently the seeds of romance finally cracked Monkey’s girls-are-yucky shell. We went out for dinner, and who should happen to sit in the booth next to us, but a certain cutie pie classmate of Monkey’s.

    The two chattered happily over the back of the booth, but soon I noticed Monkey slouching back into his seat, randomly hiding his eyes or his forehead or his cheeks, and wearing a decidedly goofy grin.

    Soon he whispered the reason for his agitation. “I want to ask her to marry me, but I don’t know how to do it.”

    Kory and I grinned to each other then explained that maybe, instead of proposing matrimony, Monkey could simply ask his friend over for a playdate.

    But the heart will do what the heart will do. Monkey shuffled through the napkins, sweetener packets, and silverware on the table until he found the complimentary crayons that came with his kids’ menu. Then he smoothed out the strip of paper that had secured the napkin around the silverware and began to write.

    Like a caricature of a lovesick poet, he crumpled his first attempt and tossed it aside. He started over with another scrap of paper and this time, he managed to convey his crucial message.

    He passed this compelling note over the back of the seat and was favored with a shy smile from his beloved.

    I’m sorry to say, this story has a sad ending. The lady in question turned him down. We explained to our moping son that he should wait until he’s grown up and then perhaps try again. He promptly pounced over the seat and proposed again with the “grown-up” proviso clearly stated.

    Alas, shut down once again.

    He collapsed back into his seat. His dejected little face made my heart squeeze. I searched for words to console my seven-year-old, but as it turns out, the stages of rebound are considerably shorter for an elementary kid.

    He stuck his lower lip out. “I really wanted her to marry me.”

    He sighed and crossed his arms. “Now what am I gonna do?”

    His brows lifted and his eyes widened. “Hey, I could find another girl!”

    And there you have it, the age old truth from a seven-year-old. There are other fish in the sea.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Accidents Happen. Or Do They?

    My boys have a hard time understanding that accidents happen. For spilled milk and missed turns, they demand a reason.

    I have a theory on this. I’m sure you’re familiar with that automatic “It wasn’t my fault” reaction when

    • Something gets broken
    • Someone gets broken
    • Something nasty ends up someplace it doesn’t belong

    A child, particularly a boy child, learns to say “Was an ackydent, Mommy” about the same time he learns basic cause and effect principles. Like, if I pull on the table cloth, everything on the table comes crashing down on Mommy’s newly cleaned floor. Or, if I whack my brother with a toy hammer, he cries.

    “Accident” to a little boy means, “I did it, but I don’t want to get in trouble.”

    This is why, last week, my boys had trouble understanding when we explained that our family doctor had a hiking accident and broke his kneecap. We stated that we needed to pray for Dr. Vogt to get better, and Chunky quickly agreed. “I’ll pray for Dr. Vogt.”

    But when it came to bedtime prayers, we found ourselves explaining once again.

    Me: Dr. Vogt fell and broke his knee.
    Monkey: Why?
    Kory: Maybe he slipped or tripped.
    Monkey: Why?
    Kory: We don’t know. It was an accident.
    Monkey: Maybe somebody pushed him.

    Let me take a time-out to say that Dr. Vogt is in the running for Man of the Year every year. It’s hard to imagine a kinder person. I’ve called him after hours, panicked about Chunky’s Croup. He’s helped Monkey with his fear of shots by screaming right along with him. Just a few weeks ago, he and his wife visited Mom in the hospital, not just in a medical capacity, but as friends.

    So my response to Monkey went something like this: No one on the face of the earth would ever push Dr. Vogt!!

    Chunky pipes up: Maybe it was a raccoon.

    Then, in Chunky’s typical creative style, he improvised a story about a “bad, mean raccoon” who climbed out of his tree, snuck up behind Dr. Vogt, and pushed him over a cliff!

    Since then, Chunky has added a raccoon hero to the tale. Apparently, this masked, vigilante coon is even now, scouring the foothills for Dr. Vogt’s attacker. Rest easy, citizen hikers. Super Raccoon is on the job!

    We all got a chuckle out of Chunky’s version of the accident, and we’re very thankful that our favorite doctor is on the mend.

    Here’s a picture of him smiling after he hiked back down the mountain with his broken knee.