Ugh, it feels good to be typing again! “Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck! “–Robin Williams as Aladdin’s Genie
Yes, we’ve been busy—moving, vacationing, parenting, IKEA-ing. But also, I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block. And not to say that funny, ridiculous incidents haven’t occurred.
For instance, there are swim lessons, which are absurd. I’ll probably have to hire a sports psychologist to get Nate to swim. And then there was the training wheels fiasco. And Nate’s fragile nostalgia as we pulled away our old house for the last time—were those real tears??! And then Sam’s geographical confusion as he adjusted to our new house.
And then the five nights—count ‘em, FIVE!—that Tighe spent at my brother’s bachelor party. I could have live-streamed events from our house: Real Housewives Kansas City, and I probably would have won some sort of independent film award. Or sainthood. Or at least a visit from Child Protective Services. Though the fire department did come, but Tighe was home for that.
All easy to write about. But I didn’t.
And then, most recently, Nate very intentionally threw his entire McDonald’s Happy Meal from the backseat of the Suburban up to the front center console. Aiming for me, I believe. Fries everywhere. The greasy stench lingered in the car for days. Are you kidding me?
And then there’s the reason I had bought them Happy Meals in the first place—not to promote childhood obesity or because I find their food particularly delicious.
Nope, it was because we were twenty minutes from home and Sam, who had just woken from a late afternoon doze, had started screeching nonsense from the backseat. Thrusting around in his car seat, arching his back, and pulling at his straps,
“Do you have to pee?” I was starting to panic. He couldn’t hold it until we got home.
“No! No, I don’t have to pee, Mom!”
“Sam.” Calmer this time, “Do you have to pee?”
And after another quarter mile of shrieky denials in rush-hour traffic, he came clean.
“Mom, I need to PEEEEEEE!”
“I know you need to pee!”
Ha, vindication! I’m always right about urinating. And Tighe’s always right about bowel movements. Theirs and his. And sometimes mine. We’ll call it “vicarious familial instinct.” I think it’s kind of like how sorority sisters naturally synch up their menstrual cycles or something.
But back to Sam and our impending flood. My sense of self-righteousness quickly vanished as I realized I’d soon have to dismember his car seat and wash the cover. Not to mention listen to him scream the entire way home about how he hates to be wet and stinky.
“I need to pee RIGHT NOW!”
“We should probably stop so he can pee, Mom.”
Speaking of self-righteous know-it-alls…
“Yeah, thanks, Nate.”
I made an impromptu left turn at the next light, pulled into a McDonald’s, and explained my plan over Sam’s desperate pleas of “I need to pee really bad!” and Nate’s joyous monologue: “Yay McDonald’s I wonder what the Happy Meal toy is I think it’s Minions because the minion movie just came out and Colin had a minion toy at the playground the other day and I’m pretty sure it was from McDonald’s and Mom you should park on the other side we saw the minion movie already too so it’d be great to get a minion toy oh I’m so excited to get a minion toy mom can we get smoothies too McDonald’s milkshakes aren’t that good but their smoothies are I think I like Wendy’s Frosty’s better than…”
“Nate.” Of course he can’t hear me over Sam screaming. Or his own soliloquy.
Does anyone ever listen to me? Of course not, that’s why I had to start a blog.
“Nate!” I barked.
“You wait here with Tess while I run Sam into the bathroom.”
“Mom, Tess is asleep.” How does she do that?
“Ok, I’ll be right back. Keep the car doors locked.”
I reached back to unbuckle Sam, trying not to disturb Tess, and wrestled his jittery, panicked little body around her car seat and out the door. We had already rehearsed this same dance in a very crowded IKEA the week before. It’s awkward and graceful and intensely emotional all at once.
As soon as he peed and washed his hands, we embraced, victorious yet again. We proclaimed our love for one another our commitment as mother and son. Again, we’re old pros at this routine. It’s exhausting.
Returning to the car, I delicately shoved him into his car seat so he wouldn’t bump Tess.
“Great! Now we can just go through the drive-thru! I’m so excited about this minion toy!”
I wonder if Nate ever stopped talking while Sam and I were in the McDonald’s.
I glanced at the clock. 5:57. What the hell, let’s do it.
I should mention that while I was inside the McDonald’s and again as we sat in the drive-thru line, I noticed that the Happy Meal signs did not boast minions, but advertised The Emoji Movie instead. And I mentioned this to Nate. Several times.
“No, it’s minions.” He smirked, dismissing my statements in a way that seemed eerily prescient of a conversation we’ll probably have when I’m old and senile. Like, “My poor mom, always wrong.”
Incidentally, at a red light, I pried open the Happy Meal box on front seat and glanced inside. Definitely an emoji toy. Not a minion.
I shrugged. This should be interesting, I thought to myself.
So, we listened to him talk about the minion movie the whole way home with occasional inquiries about who sings the song on the radio at the moment or why we never go to that playground anymore and why all his friends from preschool aren’t going to the same kindergarten and why people’s homes flood when we get seven inches of rain and why some cars are more expensive than others and why babies need sleep and then there was a brief lecture, directed at Sam, about why smoothies are healthier than milkshakes.
And as we pulled into the driveway—when my head already felt like it was about to explode—he unbuckled himself and hopped up to the front seat, grabbed his Happy Meal box and poked his head inside.
I could feel the rage and despair joining forces to take over Nate’s being.
And the next thing I knew, I had fries in my lap.
See? There’s always something to write about. That, for me, was a pretty standard Thursday afternoon.