So I got off work at 3:30, rushed home to pick up the kids after school. I whipped together a microwave chicken and rice casserole from the back of a cream of mushroom soup can for dinner, got the kids fed, and jumped back in the car. It takes about an hour with traffic to get to the airport. This was a fast-moving precise sequence of events much like a series of dominoes standing in a pattern set to fall seamlessly into place. I had visions of that exact precision exercising itself on my evening events: In my mind, I just knew I could make it all work — somehow looking like Wonder Woman in the process — and get to the airport in time to pick up Scarlett. I did, of course, bribe my children with a trip to Rita’s Water Ice if they would be cooperative.
(*Commercial Break*) The reason I was quite high strung about getting to the airport on time was because there was a time in my past that I actually forgot to pick up Scarlett from the airport. Not kidding. To say that Scarlett was a bit miffed or “hot” about waiting for an indeterminate amount of time is an understatement — she was downright on FIRE that night — in fact, I’m sure I still have scars from the scalding I got once I actually arrived to retrieve her! Hysterical story now that I think back on it. (*Break over*)
I had tunnel vision. Nothing was going to stop my “best-laid plans” of getting everyone fed, back in the car, and on to the airport. But let’s please remember that God has a sense of humor and I had two children in the car. Not five minutes into the trip — we weren’t even out of our subdivision — Caden says, “Mommy, my stomach is starting to hurt (which I took seriously because he’s being tested for food allergies). And before the breath could completely escape Caden’s mouth, my parrot, aka Alexandra (the 5-year-old who copies anything & everything her siblings say), chimes in with, “ooohhh, my stomach hurts, too." At which point, my compassionate side blurts, “Your stomach absolutely does not hurt Alexandra, stop copying your brother!” I convinced them both that we just ate dinner too fast and that the best way to solve the stomach issue was to play the “Blind Quiet Game” while listening to the radio. (This is a version of the quiet game that I made up. It requires silence with your eyes closed.) The Blind Quiet Game lasted a good 15 minutes until Alexandra stared grunting while trying to get her shoes and socks off. Caden declared “grunting” a form of language for some mammals and since Alexandra was a mammal AND she grunted, then by default, she had lost that round of the Blind Quiet Game. Hmmm, how do you dispute that kind of first-grade logic? Well, that went over like a lead brick. Alexandra was not happy one bit. She said Caden was name-calling, even though he knew she wasn’t feeling good. So, not only had she lost the game, now in addition to her “stomach hurting," she needed her shoes and socks off because she was too hot. UGGG, how many more minutes to the airport?!
After what seemed like hours, we finally make it to the airport to pick up Scarlett. As soon as we see her standing on the curb, I give my 50-cent speech to the kids about behaving, not interrupting, and being respectful before she gets in the car. Scarlett hugs and kisses us all, gets in the car, and the trip home begins. I’m not sure why I assumed the trip home would be uneventful or any different that the trip to the airport. I really did have a Norman Rockwell vision going on in my mind. But that was not to be the case. Within five minutes, all the aforementioned nonsense reignited with fervor: name calling, interrupting, and stomachaches.
It went something like this:
Scarlett: “I’m so glad to see you guys. How are you doing?”
Alexandra (blurting out and interrupting Caden): “I’m good, except my feet are hot and my stomach hurts — even though Mommy says it doesn’t — and my feelings hurt too ‘cause Caden called me a mammal and it’s not nice to hurt people with your words.”
Albany: I just smile and nod sheepishly.
Caden: “Have we been good enough to get Rita’s Water Ice?”
Alexandra: “Can I have water ice too? It’s not bad for stomachaches.”
Albany: “Alexandra, stop saying that. You do not have a stomachache.”
And then it happened. Alexandra leaned over and threw up all over the floor.
Caden: “She tried to tell you her stomach hurt.”
Alexandra: “Now I feel better. I told you my stomach was hurting.”
Scarlett: “Oh dear. Do you think that was a one-time thing, or do you think she has a bug? I’m just asking because I kissed her on the lips a few minutes ago and I don’t want to get sick.”
Albany: Silent with shock and horror.
Alexandra: “Now I feel better AND have room for water ice.”
Caden: “Do you know what’s cool about puke? It makes a pattern.”
Albany: “Caden, please don’t say puke.”
Caden: “Okay, Mommy. Alexandra’s “throw up” makes a spin pattern. That’s not like an A-B pattern, that’s a random pattern, isn’t that right, Mommy? Lovey (which is what my children call Scarlett), “I’m learning about patterns in school. You can find them everywhere if you just look.”
Albany: “Thanks for clearing that up, Buddy. Can we NOT talk about it, please?”
And then it came. Deep inside, I somehow knew it would….
Scarlett: “Honestly Albany…”
So much for the Norman Rockwell visuals. Thankfully, I knew of a “do-it-yourself” car wash that was on my route home. By the time we got there, the vomit-encrusted floor mats were getting quite aromatic. I staunchly ignored the odor. Scarlett fanned. Caden still talked incessantly about patterns. (Please remind me WHY I taught my children to talk?!?!) I pulled in, rifled through my purse and glove compartment and arose victoriously with $3.75 in quarters. Perfect! Enough for the vacuum — and BONUS — there was a carpet shampoo machine, too! I hopped out and got to work on vacuuming the vomit and doing a quick scrub job.
If you’re following along, this is DAY ONE of a five-day visit. SIGH. I’ll fill you in later on some of the other escapades. Please remind me to tell you about the Lock & Lock and the milk. I seriously couldn’t make this stuff up, but these are the things in life that keep us real and give me a reason to giggle.
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