For those of you keeping score at home, there are now less than three weeks remaining before The Big Day. (I am referring, of course, to my first manicure in a dozen years. Truly a cause for celebration.)
So, after our difficulty securing the desired plane tickets, Otto rearranged his life so that he could be here this weekend, and then we also went ahead and bought his plane tickets for the wedding weekend. Because it would really suck to get everyone together only to hear the pastor say, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today for a wedding that’s been postponed because the airlines have jacked up the prices again.” Not that you would be able to hear him, over my
We had some real excitement here headed into the weekend. Aside from my unbridled joy at the state of my internet (it’s on! it’s off! they’ll send someone! they can’t send anyone!) and the state of my basement (it’s dry! it’s fine! it’s… a little damp! it’s filling up! it’s drying out!), I especially enjoyed how I regularly gnash my teeth and wring my hands over my daughter’s seeming belief that I live to torment her, and then what do I do? Happy day-after-your-birthday, baby! Let’s go have gum surgery!
The periodontist didn’t see the need for gas. Chickadee didn’t see the need for all those big needles, and felt that if she screamed loudly enough maybe they wouldn’t put them in her mouth. Because I am the meanest mother ever, I held her hand and tried to sound soothing while I explained that if she didn’t let them finish, we were just going to have to come back and do it all over again, anyway. In the end, she got her gum graft.
I took my mind off of her screaming and squeezing all the bones in my hand to dust by watching the periodontist delicately filet my daughter’s lower gums, slice off a hunk of the roof of her mouth, and sew it over the newly-opened carnage on the bottom. (Whoops! Sorry, that loud thud you just heard was my father passing out. He doesn’t do gore.)
On Friday as I sat at Panera trying to get two days worth of work done in two hours so that I could go pick up Otto at the airport, the school nurse called. She just wanted to let me know that Chickadee was being a real trooper, truly, but she was having some pain, and one of her stitches had just fallen out, and maybe I’d better take her back in. (In the end she didn’t have to go back in, but at least she is terrified to brush her teeth, now.)
So by the time Otto arrived, I was sorely in need of a break. From… everything. We did manage to secure first a certified copy of my divorce settlement (turns out you need one of those to get another marriage license, and I had somehow never gotten one), then the marriage license. Being the together woman that I am, I managed to set off on this particular little adventure with exactly $1.32 in my wallet, so Otto ended up paying for all the paperwork. When I offered to pay him back, he said, “No, no I like that I can say I paid for your divorce paperwork. I think that’ll make a good story.”
Later, Otto attempted to take the kids to Home Depot on an errand (Chickadee was feeling better) so that I could finish up some work. The children proved that they are now thoroughly comfortable with him by getting into a screaming argument with each other before they even made it into the store. They returned home quite contrite (the kids, not Otto; he was mostly bewildered), received a talking-to (again, not Otto), and then Monkey stayed home with me while Otto and Chickadee went back and completed the task at hand. Otto gets a gold star for Handling Things and was rewarded with slavish, puppy-like devotion from Chickadee the rest of the evening.
This was interrupted only long enough for her to get into a snit with ME, and after being reprimanded for sassing and sent to her room, she tossed a “WHATEVER!” over her shoulder that drew a second lecture from me (“When you have your own job and house and don’t need me to pay the mortgage or feed you or drive you to your friends’ houses, THEN you can ‘WHATEVER’ me, young lady! Until then I CONTROL YOUR DESTINY and it behooves you to BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY!”) and a bemused “We’re totally screwed when she’s 13, huh?” from Otto.
After a belated birthday dinner followed by ice cream sundaes, we dropped the kids off with my ex and came home and tried to stay awake. Both of us had been up since the wee hours, so we were quite the pair, slumped together on the couch. We went over some wedding stuff (sorry, all of you who expressed support for Song of Solomon… I don’t want anyone calling my hair a flock of goats at my wedding) and then went to sleep. Because we are party animals.
On Saturday we laid around like slug people before running a few errands and then heading off to have dinner with Otto’s family. I am shamelessly trying to ingratiate myself with my soon-to-be nephews, both because I am a sucker for children and because I figure it will improve my family standing. The 4-year-old isn’t too interested in me, but the 2-year-old is my very favorite age (I love toddlers as long as they’re not mine) and a very friendly little beastie. When we arrived he and Otto had the following conversation.
Otto: How are you?
Otto: Can we come in?
Otto: Do you remember who I am?
Otto: I’m your Uncle Otto. Remember, I was here at Christmas?
Him: UNCA OTTO!
Otto: Right. And do you remember who this is?
Otto: This is Mir. She’s going to be your Auntie Mir, she was here at Christmas too. Remember?
Him: UNCA OTTO!
So my usual strategy to win over small children is to ask if whatever they have is for me, and then if they don’t melt into a puddle of indignation they generally giggle and it’s a good way to start off an interaction. Unfortunately, this child is so friendly, it didn’t really go as planned.
Me: Oh, you’re eating pretzels! Are those for me?
Him: YES! *tries to stuff a saliva-soggy pretzel into my mouth*
Me: Oh! Um! Ha! Well, you can have that. Thank you for sharing, though.
We were all sitting around talking after dinner, and I was picking at a sliver of cake I really did NOT need because I’d already had a piece of pie, and along came my friend the pretzel slobberer. He reached out one chubby little fist and pointed at my plate. “ME?” he asked.
“Oh, I think you already had dessert, honey,” I answered. He frowned and shuffled away to cry at the deck door, because he’d been trying to escape the house all evening. I quickly asked his mom if he could have a little more cake, and she said yes, so I called him back over and got him to sit on my lap with promises of cake. He let me feed him 4 or 5 mouthfuls, and after each one I asked him, “Who’s the best auntie in the whole wide world?”
He would answer—around a mouthful of cake—“MEEEEEEEEEEWW!”
Otto says he was saying “ME” and I think he was saying a (heavily frosting-ed) “MIR” but I suppose we’ll never know for sure. The kid has about 20 aunts so just let me believe that in those few sugary moments that I was the best one.
After dinner we stopped to visit some friends who are going to have a baby any day now. I am looking forward to having another smushy little baby to dote on but whom I can give back and then go home and sleep all night. This is a good phase of life to be in, I think.
We had a long drive home and it was Sunday morning by the time we got back on Saturday night. We went to bed late and then had to get up early to take Otto back to the airport.
I remembered my manners and thanked him for coming instead of bitching about the shortness of the visit.
“You know,” Otto said, “I’m getting pretty tired of the hassle of the trip just to come up here for a day or two.”
“Oh, SORRY,” I answered. “But I think you’re going to need to do it one or two more times, y’know.”
He considered this. “I’ll do it ONE more time,” he conceded. “But if I have to do it past that, that’s it. I’m taking you home with me.”
That made it a little bit easier to let him leave.