Saturday, March 19, 2016

Not That I Worry, Mind You


To cap off Spring Break 2016, The Princess and some friends decided to spend the day in Chicago.

Now mind you, this would be the same group of girls who, a couple of weeks ago, were having trouble deciding whose car would make it to Des Moines (2 hours away) for the Girl's State Basketball Tournament, and who would most likely be able to stay awake to drive home.

Not that I worried at all about three high school girls (granted they're all 18... just barely) driving the nearly three-and-a-half hours to Chicago's Navy Pier (which, by the way is located in downtown Chicago) and Shedd Aquarium, or driving the nearly three-and-a-half hours back home late at night (when most people like to sleep).

Now mind you, earlier in the week, when I suggested we go to Chicago to the aquarium, the children rolled their eyes so hard I was afraid they would sustain brain damage.

Not that I worried. At all.

Now mind you, this would be the same Princess who whines if you do not respond instantly to her calls or texts, but who, after setting out for downtown Chicago doesn't see the need to call or text her mother.

Not that I worried. Because obviously I knew that:
A. They were having too much fun to call;
B. There are no cell towers in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area;
C. All three girls' cell phone batteries died on the three-plus hour drive there;
D. Their cell phones didn't work at the bottom of the Chicago River, where their bodies were no doubt sinking after the kidnappers tossed them off one of the bridges. Although I will admit, cell reception is probably crap at the bottom of the river.

Now mind you, being a typical Mom I did text her late in the afternoon just to:
A. Embarrass her.
B. Make sure they made it safely to wherever they wound up after telling me they were going to Chicago;
C. Check cell reception at the bottom of the Chicago River;
D. Let the kidnappers know that I was on to them;

Not that I worried. Because in response to my text asking “How's it going?” she did send a return text saying “Good.” Which is exactly the reply you would expect:
A. When a group of teenage girls is having fun;
B. When that's all the time you have time to type as you're sinking to the bottom of the Chicago River;
C. When kidnappers let their victims send a brief, non-committal message to assure their worried parents that they are still alive;
D. When you're sitting in the Customs Office at the Canadian border because you got lost on your way to Chicago from Eastern Iowa.

Now mind you, I could have called one of the other girls' parents, but:
A. I like to keep my own particular brand of crazy hidden as much as possible, and there was a slim chance that I was over reacting.
B. Nope, that's pretty much it, although...
C. They are 18 and, unlike me, actually know how to use the navigational systems on their phones.

Not that I worried and stayed up half the night waiting for them to come home, because:
A. I decided long ago that the key to surviving teenagers is to sleep as much as possible when you have the chance, because once the call comes from the police department/ hospital/ Navy Seals searching the bottom of the Chicago River/ customs officers at the Canadian border, there will be no more sleep;
B. I could fall asleep standing in line with kidnappers at a crowded customs office on the Canadian border;
C. I slept fitfully for half the night, until I heard a ghostly voice whisper “Mom, I'm home,” then I slept fitfully for the other half of the night wondering if I actually heard something or if it was just an example of that weird “we're so close/beyond the veil” phenomenon that would end up with me being portrayed by a tired-looking actress in a dramatization on some cable TV show;
D. All of the above PLUS the cat woke me up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, again, so that I could watch him eat after checking to make sure that The Princess, was indeed, peacefully sleeping in her bed.

Now mind you, it is 9 p.m. on a Saturday night and The Little Prince isn't home yet.

Not that I'm worried.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Best Part of Waking Up (Not)

I am awakened by a muffled sound from my alarm. It's the pre-alarm sound that always startles me so that I am ready with my ninja-like reflexes to hit the snooze button when the alarm proper goes off.

It is not full day light yet, as it should be at 7 a.m. I know I set the alarm for 7 when I went to bed last night. I was looking forward to that extra hour or two of Saturday sleep. It should not be this dim, even if it is overcast.

I wait impatiently for the alarm to begin softly playing hits of the 70s and 80s so that I can hit snooze.

The mattress sags by my calf. I sense hesitation.

The mattress sags by my hip. I tense.

Twelve pounds of pressure are transferred through a two-inch round-ish paw, exerting a multiplied force of at least 100 pounds on my belly.

I reach blindly for the snooze button – finding a cold, wet nose. I recoil. Blech.


All four paws step across my abdomen in sequence – 100 pounds each – boom, boom, boom, BOOM. The last includes an extra push, extra force, then a thud on the floor as the snooze is set.

I slip back into my dream. Billy Joel is playing the piano. He looks deep in my eyes and sings:


His voice sounds like a cross between a congested baby duck and a mangled squeeky toy. A mangled, squeeky duck toy? What?

I squinch my eyes shut and flail over the edge of the bed for the alarm. Something warm and fuzzy slides between my grasping fingers.



There is a gentle nudge on the side of my mattress next to my head. Soft puffs of air. I'm being sniffed for signs of life.

“Sleepy time,” I hiss-whisper.


“Shhhh.” I try not to wake my husband. He snores on, a back-up alarm.

A plastic bag rustles near the foot of the bed. I knew better than to leave that there. I throw a wadded up Kleenex, but it falls short.

The sound of claws shredding carpet.

I toss back the covers. The shredding stops.

“Mreh. Mreh.”

The tiny dancer leads me around the foot of the bed, fakes right then darts left across my toes and leads me to the bathroom.

He sits expectantly on the sink, blinking, puffing out his chest, preening, posing.


I reach around and over him to wash my hands. He bumps my arm. Bumps my other arm. Sniffs the water I slopped on the edge of the sink while being bumped. I sigh.


I open the door.

THUD. Cat-like grace, my fanny.

He ankle-tackles me in his haste to regain the lead. He waits for me in the hallway, then races ahead, changing lanes without signaling, cutting me off. I stumble, stop mid-step and swear softly.

He sits in the kitchen doorway, blinking. Oblivious.


His food dish is . . . completely . . . full. Horrors! There has been no one to stand guard and watch him eat for at least eight hours!


Big, green eyes, staring.

I pet him in one long, full swipe. Firm pressure is applied evenly from his ears over his shoulders down his back across his hips and along the tail. To. The. Very. Tip. Whichisheldfor precisely, three, seconds. Then twitched away.

The head is raised expectantly, the process begins again, muscles ripple one by one to the tail, two, three.




I am dismissed. The alarm has been reset.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Princess' Last Stand

 Last fall, when the Princess began her senior year of high school and we took “first day of school pictures” for the last time, I did not cry.

When we walked across the field with the other cheerleaders and football players at the senior night game, I did not cry.

When we walked across the mat with the other cheerleaders and wrestlers at the senior night meet, I did not cry.

When I finally got around to putting all the important school events on the 2016 calendar – days off, concerts, prom – I did not cry.

I didn't bother to write in graduation because The Little Prince is only a freshman and The Princess is only a . . . a senior. A senior? A senior!

A senior who will be graduating from high school in May.

May 29. I went back and added it to my calendar, but I did not cry.

I was still in denial.

It's not like I didn't know she was graduating. For two years now she's been making post-graduation plans that range from moving to Australia to never moving out of our house. That seemed reasonable, since there are days I wish she would move to Australia and days I want to snuggle with her on the couch and never let her out of my sight.

The constant contact from prospective colleges has also made it difficult to ignore her impending graduation. Sorting through all those letters, emails and phone calls to pick just the right school has been tough, as we have different selection criteria. She's looking for a school that is close enough to home so that I can do her laundry consistently, but far enough away that I can't nag her constantly. I'm looking for a school that is far enough away so that she has to do her own laundry regularly, but close enough that I can supply the detergent routinely.

I want her to spread her wings and test her independence, but I want to be there to cheer her on.

I have done a poor job of documenting the first 110 days of her senior year, but I vow to make up for that with the last 65 days. I'm starting with a costumed photo shoot for her final President's Day in high school.

The Little Prince has (successfully) turned my distraction to his advantage. Last night when I told him to clean his room, he reminded me “The Princess only has 280 days to clean her room before she moves out.”

The joke is on him. There are 600 school days until his graduation.

That's plenty of time for me to cry.