So it turns out that when you spend your day catering to a very sick and pitiful child and also trying to work, by the end of the day you feel as though you’ve been up for a week. And then you review the day to consider what you could possibly write about, and once you rule out everything that has to do with a bucket or Lysol or the indignity of the Hallmark Channel claiming that Little House on the Prairie is on when REALLY it’s just another damn episode of The Waltons, there isn’t much else on your mind.
Um, let’s see. Oh! Our dishwasher started behaving strangely. And by “behaving strangely” I mean “leaving all of the dishes coated with a slimy grit that rather indicated it wasn’t actually cleaning anything.” First we tried running through a cycle with a cup of vinegar and that didn’t help at all. And then we started taking it apart.
The good news is that we found the source of the problem. The bad news is that I swore I wasn’t going to talk about anything disgusting today, so I’ll just say that if YOUR dishwasher starts having problems, it’s a good idea to see if maybe there’s some stuff jammed in the area that’s supposed to be sucking out the food bits. Mmmmkay?
Monkey, by the way, is terribly concerned about his sister. He scolded me this morning for not at least giving her a vitamin, MOM, because how do I expect her to get better if I withhold the little pink elephant of health?? When I explained that upset tummies do not need vitamins, it was as if I’d just told him that the earth is flat. “But she’s SICK,” he said to me, very slowly, so that perhaps my addled old brain could follow him, “and vitamins make you HEALTHY. I thought you knew this.”
So apparently she’s still sick because of my failure to jam a vitamin down her throat. I’m so ashamed.
Anyway, I spent yesterday tending to Chickadee and tending to work and Monkey was only too happy, when he came home from school, to do his homework and then join her on the couch for a mindless hour of television.
“By the way,” called out Monkey, as he stuffed his completed homework in his backpack, “my inventor report is due tomorrow.”
“Wait, what?” I asked.
“Yeah. My report on an inventor. Due tomorrow. And she wants me to do a black inventor, so I guess I need to pick someone new.”
I think I may have mentioned that Monkey’s teacher is an interesting sort. She called me one day about… something… I can’t even remember what, now, and in the course of that conversation, she said, “Oh, by the way. I want Monkey to do a little report on a famous inventor next month. He’s going to stand up and talk about it as part of our promoting the inventors program.”
And I thought that was really swell, truly, that she’d selected him for this, but when I asked when it was due she was EXTREMELY vague and finally I said, “Okay, well, could you maybe write it down in his agenda, so we know exactly what to do?” and she agreed.
He’d come home that day with a note in his agenda (you know, that place where the teachers are supposed to WRITE DOWN ASSIGNMENTS?) that said “Monkey needs to write about an inventor for February.”
Right. Because that cleared up ANY questions I may have had.
When I asked HIM about it, he insisted it was due in the middle of the month. He also said he wanted to write about Edison. So that was the plan. Except that we hadn’t gotten around to it, and now it was suddenly due the next day, and also, by the way, it’s Black History Month, and why not combine the two and do a black inventor? All good. Except for the part where we always seem to be doing “projects” at the last minute because his teacher cannot be bothered to communicate clearly with either the students or their parents.
So I told Monkey we’d sit down and work on his inventor report after Otto got home, and he said “Great!” and went back to watching TV.
Later, Monkey ate his dinner while I sat next to him with my laptop, and we reviewed a number of famous black inventors until he’d spotted the one he wanted to do his report on. (In case you’re wondering, he went right for the most important invention out there, naturally.) We talked a little bit about what he wanted to cover, and then after he finished eating I told him to go get ready for bed and then come down to the office and we’d get his report ready.
While he rattled around upstairs, I took Chickadee’s temperature again and cruelly forced her to have a few sips of water.
By the time Monkey came back down, it was apparent that Chickadee needed to go to bed. I asked Otto if he was busy, and he said no.
“Great!” I said, “in that case, maybe you could go upstairs with Chickadee and read her a story, while Monkey and I finish this up? And then I can come up and say goodnight when we’re done.” Chickadee brightened immediately, because—let’s face it—although I may make with the words all day, Otto is a MUCH better storyteller than I am, even if only because he still has a bank of tales she hasn’t heard yet. Anyway, she thought this was a splendid idea and was ready to lead Otto away, but Monkey interjected.
“Don’t YOU want to read her a story, Mama?” (I tell you, my care of her through this episode has been called into question CONSTANTLY. Monkey is going to grow up to become a human rights advocate, methinks.)
“Of course I do, Baby, but I’ve been with her all day, and YOU need my help right now.” Otto chuckled and followed Chickadee out of the office. “Monkey, grab the chair from Otto’s desk and bring it over here to my desk so you can sit with me, please.” He did. “And besides,” I continued, “See, this is one of the advantages of having TWO parents around!”
“Yeah, you’re right, Mama,” he declared with genuine enthusiasm, parking himself in the seat beside me. “Two parents means two chairs!”
Stepfamilies: Expanding seating options for the greater good!