Remains of the Day

Today, the fates granted me four uninterrupted hours with my teenage son. If you don’t have a teenage son, you might think this is no big deal. You would be wrong. Usually, he is either away with friends or behind a closed door. To have him in my immediate presence and speaking to me is a miracle.

Here is how it all went down, in case any of you want to try it yourselves.

The Set Up:
For most of the past week, my son spent time with 3 to 12 (the number changed hourly) of his nearest and dearest friends doing Spring Break things. Then, two days ago, for reasons that only another parent can understand and which would require a complete blog post of its own, he sprayed air freshener all over his hands and arms. One day later, his arms began to itch. Two days later, with a weekend looming and arms still itching, he agreed to see a doctor. This whole thing should take 90 minutes, tops.

The First Hour:
As I filled out forms at the doctor’s office, Teenage Son asked if I could take him to a friend’s house after the appointment. Sure, no problem. He ate two lollypops and texted his friends, was in constant communication with them the entire time. (Note this for later ironic twist.) Once in the exam room, he explained the origin story of the itch, at which point the medical assistant turned to me and said, “Kids.” We left for the drug store to pick up a prescription. “Then you can take me to Friend #1′s house?” Yes, sure.

The Second Hour:
At the drug store, Teenage Son picked out one candy bar, a packet of gum, a King Sized package of Reece’s Sticks, and a self-inflating whoopee cushion while we waited. After 20 minutes, we were told that this particular pharmacy was completely out of the medication we needed. So we purchased Teenage Son’s merchandise and headed to the next closest store. In between texts with his friends, Teenage Son tossed the partially-eaten Reece’s into my cup holder and said, “Here, Mom.” And he was shocked – SHOCKED – when I rolled my eyes. “Why would you do that, Mom?! I got that to share with you. Geez.” So I thanked him for sharing the candy I bought him. We picked up the prescription at drug store #2 and headed back toward Friend #1′s house. “No, no, no! We need to go to Friend #2′s house! No one is at Friend #1′s house yet. They are at Friend #2′s house.” Still texting the whole time.

The Third Hour:
We drove to Friend #2′s house. No one was there. (What was the point of all that texting over the past 2 hours? Insert irony here.) Where were they? At a Starbuck’s. Which one? (more texting) Downtown. No. “What?! What am I supposed to do?” I pulled over and played on my phone until he figured it out. After 10 minutes, the Texting Teens decide he should go ahead to Friend #1′s house after all because that is where they are going from Starbuck’s. They were leaving any second and would probably be there by the time we arrived.

The Fourth Hour:
Friend #1′s house was deserted. I discovered this after Teenage Son got out of the car and wandered aimlessly in the driveway. He was Not Happy when I refused to leave him there for goodness knows how long. “Why, Mom?! Who does that?! What kind of parent are you?” Would he get back in the car if I agreed to take him for a snack? Sure, but they will be back any minute so hurry. One double-cheeseburger, fries, and a root beer later, we were back at the driveway of Friend #1. Waiting. For half an hour. Then a car arrived, unloaded four gangly teenagers and my son was out of my car to join them faster than you can say Snap Chat. Not a word to me.

But we had four hours together! Uninterrupted. Sometimes with actual non-arguing conversation! He’s got food in his belly, less itchy arms, and a very annoying mom. I’ve got these remains of our day…

Fossil record of four hours with my Teenage Son

3-Legged Stool of Survival

Another overnight on-call is coming up. Now that I am more than halfway thru my CPE internship, I am starting to wonder about myself the same things I wonder about patients:

  • what is giving your life meaning now?
  • gosh, you’re going thru a lot, what coping strategies do you have?
  • do you ever consider a good metaphor for what you are going thru?

Okay, I don’t really ever wonder that last one about patients. But for myself…I’ve been wondering what my three-legged stool is for surviving this summer. You know, the three-legged (because that is how many it takes to hold something up) stool used to talk about investing, leadership, or even Anglican theology? A timeless metaphor.

What are the three essential things keeping Mary from falling over?

Those might sound a little snarky to you. How about something more serious:

But really, what it boils down to is this:

 

Ode to my Breathe Right Strip

When January winds stir golden dust
Of cedars (really junipers) in the land,
My sinuses swell up with ev’ry gust,
Eyes are runny and tissues in both hands.

To ease the pain I’ll swallow any pill
Empty drug store shelves in desperation.
But Claritin, Zyrtec, and Bendryl
Fail to bring my symptoms to cessation.

And so, dear Breathe Right Strip, I turn to you
To save me from this annual nasal plight.
As air flows in, more so than hitherto,
I give thanks that you made me feel alright.

O, Breathe Right Strip! With you I can inhale!
I gasp, I gulp, so happy I could weep.
Over evil pollen I will prevail
And drift off into restorative sleep.

 

The wreath that took a week

Some years, Christmas preparations are more of a struggle than other years. Maybe you put off shopping and miss the shipping deadlines. Or you wait too long to get a tree and all that’s left are the Charlie Brown specials. Of course, there is always at least one year when everyone gets a bad flu. That can make things a little rough.

For us, the trouble started right off the bat with the Advent wreath. We had the greenery, ribbons, and sparkly ornaments. My daughter was excited to put it all together. The project was started and then…the first holiday tantrum.

Wreath making halted; wreath maker was sent to Siberia.

Two days later we tried again. The stupid ribbons would not tie right and the stupid ornaments wouldn’t do what she wanted…AHHHHHHH! The candles are crooked. What is wrong with them?! Back to Siberia. It seems that Advent is, indeed, a penitential season.

Today, the 7th day of Advent, the wreath was finally finished, and not a shouted or sarcastic word was uttered. There is even a pile of extra materials to make a fairy house. An Advent miracle.

The wreath that took a week.

 

Light and darkness

I am a huge metaphor addict. Truly, I stumble across visual and verbal analogies just about everywhere. There is not much practical use for this tendency in daily life–it has never gotten me anywhere on time and doesn’t get my kids dressed and fed in the morning. But I think it might come in handy this month. Today is the beginning of Advent, a season brimming, bursting with metaphorical possibilities. It is compared to pregnancy, a journey, light. We see blues and purples and pinks with their symbolic meanings. Captivity and freedom. I could go on–and probably will in future posts.

So, you can imagine my dismay when, after lighting our first Advent candle at dinner tonight, I discovered my son has very little regard for metaphor. “Light?” he smirked after reading a passage from Isaiah. “They had light every morning. What is the big deal about light and darkness ? And why is darkness so bad anyway. I like darkness.”

This wasn’t a matter of him not understanding symbolism. He does. But he dissed the whole enterprise. Every time I tried to toss him a metaphorical bone, he tossed it back. I am so flummoxed I can’t even think of what this is like. It is worse than bone tossing.

We’ll be lighting that candle again tomorrow night. He can’t argue or snark himself out of hidden or revealed meanings this time of year. After all, there is a reason he won’t know what his presents are until Christmas morning. They are living in a land of great darkness and light won’t shine on them until…oh, snap!

 

Beware: Snark Ahead

I am a fundraiser who has donor fatigue. Can I give this advice to the booster club at my child’s school:

It is true that you need to ask if you want to get a donation. But it is also true that you can ask too many times. Seriously. And it is especially true that when you use my child’s creativity/pride/desire for plastic stuff to get donations for me my patience wears thin!!! STOP ASKING!!!!

We have not yet reached Thanksgiving and I have been asked to support the following fundraising activities FOR THE SAME SCHOOL: art you can order on tchoches, book fair, cocktail party, school directory sponsors, gift wrap, and school carnival (and sponsorship). They even changed the annual Fun Run into a fundraiser–with plastic stuff as a prize for how many donations you get. That is 7 fundraisers in 3 months.

I am starting to catch on to their insidious plan–I will pay them to leave me alone.