I've finally booted the boy. One last straw on Friday afternoon and my maternal done button popped so hard it splintered the glass in my office window leaving bright shards of safety glass puddled in the late afternoon sunlight. My mother walked right through it when she arrived, sat herself down in one of my guest chairs and proceeded to experience heart attack symptoms until I managed to shut down my database, document my last few attempts at getting regional data to roll into new and improved sub-groups and hauled her off the fifth floor and down to the level 2 parking garage.
As soon as I got her home I let her know that we'd made reservations for dinner at the only restaurant within ten miles and that while I hoped the service would be passable I couldn't guarantee but that the food was more than likely going to be palatable. Mom was OK with this which was a damn good thing as I probably had a millimeter of emotional bandwidth left to spare and that wasn't going to cover ordering bad pizza.
Middle child is sick as the devil. Lays in bed all day and night and drinks fluids only when prompted. She comes out to great her grandmother from a distance and crawls back into her sister's bed where she will stay until Grandma has vacated her bedroom. I had requested room sterilization of the now defunct twenty year old and when that completely failed, the plague ridden daughter. It appears she's done something reasonable and then promptly vacated. Maybe Mom will survive this.
Beloved arrives on schedule and we leave behind the six year old with the barely awake sick one waiting for husband number two to arrive and fetch her for the evening. He's been forewarned and will arrive post haste. We drive the 3.6 miles to the Cobb's Mill Inn and hope for the best.
This really is a very cool place. I don't know how old the inn is but it's surely been around for a few centuries. I don't know who owns it but I do know they struggle with their staff. Very nice staff, just a bit distracted from the task at hand; you never know if you're going to eat at 6:30 or maybe at 10. Almost always the food is passable if not down right good. The inn is situated at the junction of four roads and a river. It sits right on the river and you can look out over the water, through the woods and see the first gravel road, a house and then Route 57 junctioning into Route 53. There is a waterfall, there are ducks and the overall setting is idyllic in any season.
We are greeted and seated and given libation. We are left with our liquid Valium, a new menu and remarkably a basket of bread with butter. We discuss the menu and are ready to order almost immediately but the waiter has vanished. We don't fret. Additional groups are seated around us and we drink our drinks and peer out over the water.
My mother announces, 'that, over there - the gravel road - that is where your brother totaled my car with a bunch of his friends on their way back from swimming in the den. They got out of the car and started throwing all the empty beer cans into the woods not processing the fact that the early diners were sitting right where we are now watching the show.'
I have just thrown my son from my household for having complete and utter disregard for anyone but himself but he never did this that I am aware. I consider the possibilities. Nope. He's not coming home again. Just as bad or maybe worse. I take a deep breath and remind myself to tuck all this away until Monday when Mom is safely ensconced in my brother's Manhattan apartment. For now he is safe with his father.
I don't recall which waiter finally took our order or in which order the events occurred. I only know that I intended to order the duck and the next thing I know we see our waiter across the bridge, on the other side of the river walking about on the rocks. Toward the ducks. I looked away and suddenly he was back. There are too many ducks to know for sure which was mine but by the time it arrived I would have accepted anything and cleared my plate well before I could give it much thought. I wonder how long it takes to fully pluck water fowl?
Everyone slept late in the morning. Late enough that I wondered about the well being of my mother. I think about these heart attack symptoms. I know perfectly well what they are but I think that I do not want to find my mother dead in my daughter's bed. She is way too young for this and yet here it is anyway. She has not expired, we get up and have a fabulous breakfast, everyone in and out of the shower and she and I head off to pick up my youngest at the tail end of her swimming lesson.
Little girl has been waiting all lesson for this Grandma she barely knows to show up and watch her jump into the water and plunge down down down popping back up like the cork that she is. We rush from the pool deck into the locker room and dry her and dress her as fast as we can heading back to the parking lot where husband number two waits with a child support check he can't bear to be late with. Bless him for he makes up in so many ways for the near total unwillingness of husband number one. We head for the mall.
I hate the mall.
My mother will spend $20,000 on a horse she can't ride, another $10,000 trying to get him ridable and then send him back at a significant loss when it doesn't work out but I can't get her to spend more than $50 on a coat because she's cold and has come without one. My brother is just like this. I love them madly but can't seem to get them to understand that I am the inverse of this and that it's perfectly all right.
She watched me try on a pair of shoes that probably equal the gross national product of some backwater country. I probably most likely was not going to buy them but I did try them on and walk up and down the corridors of Neiman Marcus in them until my feet hurt so bad I took them off and gave them back to the very sad shoe lady. Tell Mr. Blanik to make something I can walk in without bleeding and I'll think about it.
We walked all three levels of both legs of the L before I finally broke down and decided I ought to get on with what I came for and started pulling things off the rack in a frenzy, heading for the fitting room in under six minutes. It took less than that to choose and more than twice that to get a sales person to take my money. My mother looked horrified but was probably suffering from low blood sugar. I neglected to feed her. In the end I left her in the shoe department at Nordstrom while I bolted back to the other end, six year old in tow, to purchase the birthday present for Beloved I'd neglected to capture the first time while walking blisters into my feet in borrowed shoes.
We left the mall four hours later. Three ladies limping toward the vehicle, driving sanely toward 287 and then moving like a bat out of hell for home. We arrive and Beloved informs me that I cannot have the dinner reservation I want because they're having a party. He's booked us at Sakura instead. I wail. I gnash my teeth. My mother does her best to shush me. 'But you don't understand! I don't want sushi I want lemon sole!' My mother asks, can't we order a pizza? 'Hell no! I'm fragile and tired and wasted on mall and I want good foooooooooood!.. and nice serviccccccceeee!'
We go to Pacci. They don't want children at Pacci and I don't bloody well blame them. Who wants to wreck a really wonderful meal with disruptive children and their disconnected parents? I have a brief word with my six year old who promises that she understands completely (and she does, by the way). We are stared at upon entry and my mother thinks it's at her jeans and blue blazer. It's not. It's directed at the miniature adult disguised as a six year old. Our neighbors to the right look appropriately horrified. Our neighbors to the left are the kitchen. Pretty soon the neighbor's on the right relax. It's not really a child; it's a very small adult that speaks in appropriate low tones, will eat a half order of whatever's good on the menu and requires a booster seat and a Shirley Temple. The small adult reminds my mother gently to remove her elbows from the table. This is repeated throughout the evening. My mother asked for this, really she did, she just didn't know what she was bargaining for.
We are home and up way too late talking. In the morning I am frantic because I've got to get this household going and ready by 11 or 11:30 at the latest. We've got tickets to Avenue Q in the city and there's too much to do in the mean time.
We are late anyway.
We stand in the back watching the show waiting for a break in the music so we can disrupt the back row and sit ourselves down. I am almost immediately grateful beyond belief that we chose to leave smallest at home. When we get to the line that goes... 'grab your dick and double-click...' I look at my mother and breath a sigh of relief that she's marginally deaf.
In the end I leave Mom with Brother and take the sick fifteen year old back to her bed. It was perhaps an error in judgment but this musical was written for young adults and that's just her.
I have worn through my bearskin and need to repair the I/O channels. I tried to explain this to my mother who is truly quite technical. I have a 64 bit highway. I've been shoveling 128 bits of information through that highway for a few weeks now without rest (for some reason the vacation did not create clean up). I need to be seriously DOWN for a day or two. All systems DOWN in order to clear the wreckage and reboot effectively.
I may be the only person to ever cry through the last twenty minutes of Avenue Q. When they got to the part where they start to sing It Sucks to Be Me, they added the line, but only for a little while. It's about young people really. Young people fresh out of college trying to find their way in the world.
It doesn't ever really stop being hard, the hardness just changes texture and you hope you don't become hard in the process. It was a great show, I recommend it to anyone who won't run screaming from the site of raunchy puppet sex (which was hilarious, heart breaking and perfect on many levels). I remind myself that no matter what it is, it's only for a little while.
I don't know if I'm crying for me, the mother, The Boy, my son and first born beloved child, or maybe just a little bit for all of us. But I am crying and it does hurt and it's only for a little while.
The world does move on.