TWO HUNDRED FORTY NINE…narrowly escaping a craptastic day part 4

I’ve had enough distance from last Tuesday to laugh about our morning disaster. It was almost a full-blown craptastic day. I am in fact due for one.

I define “craptastic days” as an unbelievable series of events which come together to break down the individual’s psyche. On those days, I am hanging on by the thinnest thread until mentally, I am on a cold cement floor curled into the fetal position. The moment right before the thread completely unravels, something resembling redemption happens. A kid comes to me, gives me kisses, a picture they drew for me, a hug or just randomly tells me they love me and it makes the whole day worth while.

The song ‘Don’t really know me’ by Snowden plays silently in my head the entire day. I knew I was in for it when 10 minutes before Cecilia and I had to leave the house for her therapy sessions, Abby and Phoebe begged to come with me so we could “do school” while in the waiting room. Right. They NEVER want to do school…especially in the waiting room of Cecilia’s therapy.

As Cecilia made a B-line for the upstairs to get her coveted mini mouse doll for the umpteenth time that morning, the two older sisters casually informed me, they, “didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and…can we stop by the grocery store to pick up some pop-tarts.”

There it was.

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Despite my constant nagging reminding them about pop-tart’s complete lack of nutrients, high sugar content, and their general inability to satiate them…I acquiesced to their tactics.

“Let’s remain calm and maintain some sense of sanity…while minimizing eminent disaster” is the mantra I kept repeating to myself.

I managed to get everyone out the door. Acknowledging the speed limit, we quickly made it down our street. Two stop lights later, I am pulling into the un-named grocery store’s parking lot.

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Knowing I’m on a tight timeline, I am going over in my head the series of events which need to take place

1. I have to QUICKLY run in and grab some generic box of pop-tarts

2. Make it to therapy without going over the speed limit.

Therapy is a 5 minute drive from my house. The grocery store is two minutes away. Ah the benefits of living in the city. So if I have 10 minutes, I should be able to get there within the narrow time frame. Really, how hard can that be?

FLW (famous last words) folks, FLW.

Steps away from the automatic front door, I realize I don’t have my “special” grocery store card. Who cares, right? Just buy the damn thing. I don’t need a discount on $2.99.

So when I answer the cashiers, “Ma’am, do you have your members card” with my, “Oh darn I forgot it” she was scrambling to find a piece of paper and pen to scribble my number down. I repeatedly told her, “It’s ok I don’t need a card for the pop tarts…I’m running late, I have an appointment in like 8 minutes”.  Before I can finish, she seized my computer screen and ran to customer service to “LOOK UP” my phone number while yelling “it’s ok Ma’am, it will just take a second”.

I stood there, red-faced, furious, sweating of course and pissed that we are going to be late for Cecilia’s appointment. Amazingly enough she made it back pretty quickly from the grocery store’s hidden archaic machine just in time to type my ten digit pass code into the computer….and wouldn’t you know it, those pop tarts didn’t qualify for any kind of discount what-so-ever. She looked at me and had the nerve to seize my computer again only to suggest I go and pick out another box of pop tarts that were on sale.

In a rare moment of personal strength, I just looked at her and let my furrowed brow give her the answer she was refusing to hear.

SIDE NOTE: When I was in my undergrad at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, we studied the Alexander vocal technique. As a freshman we were encouraged to carry around famed vocal coach Patsy Rodenburg’s ‘The Need for Words’. It was an integral part of our curriculum and considered to be “the bible” of protecting your voice.

Contrary to my studies at UNCSA, there was no need for words in that moment. Turns out, sometimes a simple blank face will communicate exactly what your inner dialogue is. She nervously smiled and said, “No you probably don’t want to go get another box do you…that’s right…you did say you were in a hurry.”

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Once again, as I’m checking out, the screen flashed its big bold-faced word in size 20.5 font  “COUPONS” with a big green Yes button and an even bigger red NO button. I gently and somewhat sarcastically extended my forefinger on my right hand and pushed the giant “NO” with its  19.5 font.

Of course, you could probably guess what happened next. If your thinking “Oh no, did the printer run out of paper?” You’d be correct.

I mean come on…when my luck goes down hill it plummets into the black abyss. There is no piece of toilet paper gently swaying side to side on an imaginary pillow lined staircase with blue skies in the background. Nope. My toilet paper spontaneously combusts into an enormous fireball and hurdles itself into the cavity of despair.

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“I don’t need my receipt” I gently inform her and wouldn’t you know she comes back with, “Are you sure, It won’t take long I promise”.  “No that’s ok…have a great day!” I yell. Before she can complete her, “Thank you for visiting with us today” I was out the door and waiving like the true derelict I am.

I clumsily shoved myself in the car and chucked the pop tarts in Abby’s general direction.

As I was responsibly pushing 3 miles beyond the city speed limit, I nervously acknowledged the police officers passing me in the opposite lane.

We were in fact 5 minutes late. I was able to sign in, but there was a long line of parents in front of me so I waited for the 15 minutes it took for the line to dissipate. As I approached the desk, the receptionist who jokes with me every single week about how, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…this new system we are learning is so complicated” picked up the ringing phone and was once again distracted.

I sat back down and waited another 5 minutes. By this time I was completely pissed. Twenty minutes have come and gone and Cecilia is still in the middle of the room dancing to the music in the current commercial on the waiting room tv.

Finally the anger propels me out of my seat and I approach the receptionist who had finally gotten off the phone, and I said, “We were 5 minutes late, I acknowledge that but it has been 20 minutes now and I personally don’t feel we should have to pay for the 30 minutes she didn’t have therapy.”

Bracing herself for battle, she squinted her eyes and said, “Oh no, I think we forgot to call you last week to let you know your OT was on vacation this week.” I calmly smiled and verbally affirmed her goof with a, “Yep, you forgot to call me.” To which she made that face where you stretch your mouth in a downward frown and attempted to offer a sincere apology.

Since CC’s next appointment was in 5 minutes I just decided to continue to wait. We made a trip to the bathroom, washed her hands, and by the time we returned to the waiting room, it was time to send her off to her session. With 30 minutes to spare and KNOWING it always takes a full 15 minutes to pay the bill, I just requested to go ahead and pay for her session at that moment.

Of course the receptionist delivered her usual, “Oh this new system we are implementing is so confusing…I guess you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks can you?” In my head I answer with a confident, “No, you really can’t.” But in reality, I just smile like I usually do and signed the little receipt and calmly set the pen down on the ledge and returned to my seat with the explosion in my brain on standby.

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Obviously we didn’t get any school work completed in the waiting room. By the time I finished paying the bill, Cecilia was five minutes from finishing her session. Luckily, the rest of the day carried on without any major upsets. I almost reached the mental fetal position, but looking back, it didn’t fully qualify for a “craptastic” day. When we arrived home for lunchtime, Phoebe June came to me with a hug and kiss to let me know how much she loves me. Abby voluntarily completed her school work and Cecilia played quietly in her kitchen for a whole hour.

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And just like that, the stress flew out of my body. I narrowly avoided a full-blown craptastic day.

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TWO HUNDRED TEN…my day was craptastic how was yours? part 3

I’m visiting yesteryear with Dave Mathews Band’s ‘Live at Red Rocks’ this evening. There’s just something about ‘Granny’ that makes me envision myself lounging in the back of a pick-up truck wearing one of those old-school red plaid bikini tops with jean shorts, driving down a sandy beach road soaking up the sun, watching the clouds pass by. I always think of my friend Justin my brother-from-another-mother when I listen to DMB. Out of the 15 DMB concerts I went to, I don’t think any of them were with him…but he is the first person who pops into my mind anytime I hear this band.

So, I had another craptastic day last week. Why do my craptastic days always begin in retail stores?

I took the girls into the Lake Havasu, Arizona Wal-Mart on Friday. We were doing a little bit of food shopping…a little bit of school shopping…a little bit of craft supply shopping.

Despite not really knowing the town, I made it to Lake Havasu from the outskirts of Needles, CA without any whoops I missed the exit U-turns. It is an amazing feeling to arrive at the destination solely on memory,  without detours. It was an accomplishment for me honestly and it was Friday to boot. It was going to be a good day. I could feel it!

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During our visit, Cecilia and I made it to the potty twice, we had picked up all the groceries, visited the school and crafting section with no hick-ups. I was feeling it. I was proud of my crew. We were having a successful shopping experience. No-one was crying, no one wet their pants, the girls were walking by my side…not asking for everything in sight and I remember thinking, “OMG, this is it. We have turned a corner. My inmates are getting older. We are to the point, where we can all visit the store and make it in and out without any major dramas or catastrophes. This is it.”

We were in the check out and Cecilia said, “Mommy, pee pee” and seriously it was all I could do to hold back the tears of pride.” I gushed over her and took a moment to look her in the eye, rub her sweet face and shower her with verbal praise and kisses. A little over-dramatic…definitely. What can I say, I was submerged in gratitude and feeling appreciative. One by one, I was running down my list of people I needed to call and thank like I had just won an Academy Award.

I finished my praise-a-thon, paid for our items and politely asked Abby and Phoebe to stand with the cart outside the bathroom until we returned. We got into the stall and it was a thing of beauty. I didn’t have to coax her to “Go ahead and pee sweety” she did it all on her own. I swear it was a moment of moments to be treasured for years to come.

When we came out Abby and Phoebe were standing there like the good little girls I knew they were. Guarding the cart with their vigilant eyes. I proceeded to put CC in the cart and was quickly jolted back into reality when Phoebe started screaming at the top of her lungs.

Turns out, her finger was stuck in the cart and when I sat Cecilia down in her seat, it forced Phoebe’s finger into a more precarious position. I quickly picked Cecilia up from her seat and set her in the main part of the cart so I could focus on PJ. Yup, her finger was definitely stuck and bless her heart, I couldn’t get her to lower her voice. If you’re lucky enough to know PJ, you know she doesn’t do anything half-way. She’s a “Balls to the Wall” kind of girl. And that’s especially true with her volume. “Why speak at a 5, 6, or 9 for that matter when you can always speak at a 10” is her philosophy.

By that time, I had a small crowd gathered around me…watching to see how I was going to “save” this tortured soul. I began to sweat. I licked my fingers and was hoping to free her finger with my spit…but soon realized I was too nervous and suddenly had a severe case of dry-mouth.

“Chapstick” I thought. As an non-official chapstick spokesperson, I have every flavor all shoved in my “make-up” bag, because you never know when you’ll need a hint of wintergreen with a tint of strawberry followed by a splash of the forgetful blue one. I can do this…I whipped out the chapstick and within seconds her finger was free…black and blue for sure, but it was free.

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I got to one knee in preparation for hugging it out when a hand touched my shoulder. It was a petite lady fashionably dressed who had been watching nearby, “I saw the whole thing” she said, turning in an instant and vanishing into thin air. I thought she was going to say something else, which would have been fine, but she just turned and walked away, leaving me to ponder the purpose of her comment the entire weekend.

Phoebe and I had a private moment in a crowded store and all was well again…until she said, “Ok Mommy, you have my glasses right?” I blinked then squinted my eyes and stood with my mouth agape, like I normally do when I have absolutely no recollection of the words just spoken. Frantically searching through my purse and then the grocery bags to no avail.

“Phoebe, I don’t remember you wearing your glasses” I confessed. She then assured me she had in fact worn them and matter-of-factly had them on in the crafting section. I could hear the panic in her voice escalating. I could feel my body getting a fresh shot of adrenaline. My gut reaction was to take flight: GET OUT OF THIS STORE AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE…but my head was telling me to put it all aside and help her…all the girls are watching me now. I needed to take the time, put aside my uncomfortable feelings and desire to get the hell out of there and give them a good example of what it means to “take responsibility and care for your things…and of course retrace your steps”.

We walked through the produce section, the cereal section, over to the kids sunglasses section. She assured me it was Abby trying on sunglasses, not her. Sure enough, they weren’t there. We made a B-line over to the school notebook section, the coloring book section and finally the crafting section. We scoured the rainbow looms, the wooden letter section and paint section where they lingered for minutes at a time trying to pick their activity, with no luck. During our frantic search, Abby and Cecilia became the supportive sisters and complied with every wild twist and turn of our storewide search.

It was in this moment, I contemplated telling her she actually didn’t even need her glasses anymore because her eyes had already improved. But I decided to forgo that piece of information because in reality, they did belong to her and she was taking responsibility for them. So many little lessons happening all at once, I couldn’t just throw my hands up in the air. We traced our steps all the way back to our self-check-out line where the empathetic cashier suggested we visit customer service.

When Customer Service said they did not find a pair of children’s red prescription glasses, Phoebe broke down once again. And again, I knelt down on one knee to commence a new hug-it-out session. Cecilia sensed the inner turmoil of her sister and naturally fell in line to help make little Phoebe feel better. Little Phoebe June, as beautiful and unique as she is, has inherited her mother’s sensitivity gene. It is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because she will naturally empathize with others. A curse because she could turn into an over-sharer and a “yes” person much to her chagrin. I hope she fares better than I have in walking the fine line of being too open, caring, and eager. 

I was down on my left knee with CC who was so overwhelmed with worry for her sister,  She was holding on for dear life to my right side and Phoebe mirrored her on my left. Abby wanted a piece too, so she hugged us all. I have no doubt we put on quite the show at the Lake Havasu, Arizona Wal-Mart. A wee bit dramatic…definitely. The talk of the store…maybe.

When Phoebe felt better, we picked ourselves up off the ground, placed Cecilia back in the grocery cart seat, made it out to the car, and made it all the way back to the RV again, with no hick-ups.

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And wouldn’t it be great if the story ended there?

Naturally, I insisted on taking the girls to the park, because who needs to relax after the kind of morning we just experienced?

We rode our bikes up the mile and a half trail to the playground. The kids were getting along with each other, running around, chasing each other down the slide, under the platforms, over the steps, and through the little tunnels. I turned my back to check out some of the other RV’s in the park, when I hear Abby’s nervous voice yell, “CC!” followed by Cecilia’s screaming and crying.

I didn’t even think, I just turned and ran in the general direction of her voice. I hadn’t gone a full 2 steps before knocking my head on the steel platform above. The blinding pain brought me to my knees. With my hand over my forehead which I was amazed to find it was indeed NOT covered in blood I stumbled to my feet and made my way over to Cecilia. She  had tripped over a post and skidded on the right side of her face on the astroturf covered playground. She was standing there with that perfectly pouty lip holding her arms out toward me, needing me to kiss the pain away.

I laughed through the pain thinking to myself, “If someone had been watching this, they have surely just reached their quota for hardest laughable moments of 2016.”

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Poor Cecilia with her PD on the mend, she now had a huge cherry on the side of her face. We picked up our bicycles and peddled the mile and a half back to the RV.

The rest of the afternoon went off without any major hick-ups: Cecilia went down for a nap, the girls did their best at school, dinner fell into place, and as we were winding down the night, I thought to myself, “I need a glass of wine after this day”. I retrieved the only wine glass we had, since I had broken the other one, washed it out, set it out on the counter to dry while I reached for the bottle of Merlot. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the wine glass tumbling off the counter and turned just in time to watch it shatter in 3 large pieces on the floor.

Carefully, I picked up the pieces and threw them in the trash.  I kissed Greg on the cheek and pulled a Kathleen Kelly: I made it to the bed and fully clothed complete with running shoes and baseball cap, flopped into the bed, pulled the covers up to my head, and proceeded to sleep sound until the following morning.

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In the morning, Greg took the kids out for breakfast allowing me an extra hour to sleep in.

And there in lies the memory of my craptastic day #3. A day so unforgivable, it is worthy of the Craptastic title.  With ‘Proudest Monkey’ on in the background, I picture my friend Justin having a good laugh at my expense…I know I sure am.