Supper eaten. Table cleared. Dishes washed. Sun going down. Kids in basement with Kevin, going squirrelly. “When can we go for a ride?” How about now? Children racing back and forth between porch and driveway. “Open the car! Open the car!” Right. Car seats. Children dragging car seats off the porch and toward the car. Children scrambling over each other’s heads to be the first into the new car. Children shouting. Driveway littered with car seats. Kevin sticking car seats into position, Mama changing her mind about who will sit where, Kevin rearranging car seats. Mama incredibly grumpy. Not helping. Finally, seats in position. Mama straps baby in. Baby instantly stops chewing odd-looking odd-textured stuffed duck (where did it come from? why is it suddenly a favourite chew toy, when he’s drowning in options?). Begins screaming. Mama struggles in half-light to fasten straps. Baby screams, with conviction. Children cheer as lowered DVD screen comes to life. Cheer subsides when no movie is instantly forthcoming. Mama snaps final buckle. “Are you going to sit back there?” “I guess so. He’s really upset.” Mama straps self in. Proof that three can sit comfortably in the middle row. Plenty of leg-room. No time to appreciate, as Kevin backs out of driveway, and new uproar arises. DVD has started up, but won’t play. Baby howls. Mama fiddles blindly with controls. “You have it!” But she doesn’t. “I think that’s the right one, Mommy!” But it isn’t. “Try over there!” But she has. Kevin jeopardizes safety to paw around for the remote. The new car has a remote? Baby turning purple with rage. Another cheer erupts. Mama has inadvertently landed on the right button. Paddington Bear begins to play. “I can’t hear it! Turn up the volume!” Mama spoils success by poking more buttons. Apparently volume can’t be controlled in the rear. Kevin fixes volume, nearly runs red light. Baby shrieks. “Why isn’t the movie playing?” Mama lands on correct button again. Kevin hands back remote, pulls into parking lot. “Why are we going here?” Here is Kevin’s office. He’s dropping off supplies for scotch club. We’ve travelled about five city blocks. “I’ll just leave the car running, then? And be right back?” Yes, please come back. Mama plays peekaboo with baby. Moods improve. Eldest son plays with overhead light. Immensely pleased. Baby laughing. Peekaboo a riot. Mama fiddles with remote. Is promptly scolded by children, and tucks device into side pocket where it is likely to be forgotten. Kevin returns. “Well.” “Well.” “Should we just go home?” Drive back five blocks. Mama plays peekaboo with increasingly hysterical baby. Kevin shows off nifty high-tech features, such as rearview camera that kicks in when the vehicle is in reverse. It looks potentially confusing. Isn’t that what mirrors are for? GPS shows car travelling down familiar streets. Kevin risks life and limb to demonstrate how map on screen can zoom in, and then out. Mama wonders whether screen can be turned off. Kevin fiddles around. Then decides no. Vehicle pulls into driveway, parks. Uproar erupts. “Can’t we keep watching the movie?” Children have seen movie approximately five billion times previously. Theme song of Paddington Bear so embedded in Mama’s brain, she finds herself humming it on odd occasions. Too darn catchy. The answer is no. The answer is no! The answer is: it’s time to floss those cavity-laden teeth and go to bed! The answer satisfies few in the audience. Baby begins howling afresh. Children stumble lacklustrely out of new car. Mama and Kevin exchange heartfelt sighs. Family enters home.
Apologies for the naval-gazing in previous post. Usually Kevin gets to suffer those thoughts; and trust me, those are thoughts I go round and round ad naseum, in some form or another, like, sigh, all the time. Years go by and I’m still going round them.
Or they’re going round me.
We have a new car! We are now a one-car family! But we upgraded. This vehicle actually seats seven normal-sized humans, with car seats too, which the minivan only pretended it was able to do. It sat six humans and one Gumby.
Whoops, my hamburger is cooking up faster than expected. Friday! We made it! And I’ve reached my exclamation point quota! My computer will shut me down if I use even one more!
Or writing morning and half an afternoon, to be more precise. It’s come to a natural end. My babysitter is about to leave, and I finished working on the story, so it’s blah blah blog time. This story is three years old. Amazing, but I wrote it the fall after F was born, and have tinkered with it unsuccessfully ever since. Think I solved the major problems today. This is a reminder of how incredibly patient the writing life requires one to be. It has to be, far and away, the toughest lesson to learn and to keep in mind when struggling to “be” a writer. Virtually nothing is immediate. That’s why writing this blog feels like cheating, somehow, way too easy.
I still put myself in quotation marks when it comes to the “writer” facet of my identity. I’m not sure what qualifies one, exactly, to claim to be a writer. Yah, I write things. I make things up and write them down. I’ve published a little bit, here and there, though not regularly. Does publishing make one a writer? Readers? Or can it be a pure pursuit of craft? Stephen Harper would likely see that as sinfully futile, pursuing something with absolutely no monetary or worldly value; but I can’t just throw blame on our prime minister, ’cause I feel that way sometimes too. Sometimes I wonder–if I were to write just one truly wonderful story in my entire lifetime of writing, would that satisfy me? Because, quite honestly, even one truly wonderful story would be a lot of ask for. But I’m not sure. Maybe being satisfied is the opposite of what I’m pursuing. Maybe satisfaction would kill the desire to try.
I spill words. I want to. They tumble out of me. I love putting them on the page and moving them around, playing with syntax, tense; it feels like play. The act of writing itself can occasionally be frustrating, but mostly, almost always, it’s happy time. I am taken out of myself. So maybe the end result is immaterial? Could that be true? I’m thinking in comforting cliches about the journey versus the destination.
But truthfully, that destination matters to me, too. Yes, I do want to write really wonderful stories. It’s almost terrifying to admit, and feels both arrogant and ridiculous all at once. Gives me the same feeling as those dreams where I’m wandering around naked (somewhere like a mall or downtown), not noticing until far too late.
Okay, wake up Carrie! Must, must, must get back into myself–and in time to organize for the school run. Tonight we’re also going to walk to the Rec Centre to get an idea how long this will take, because swim lessons start next Friday after school. After the Rec Centre run, I need to get to Nina’s buying club. And then make a fine plain supper out of frozen hamburger (Nina’s), leftover fresh tomato sauce (CSA), and ww macaronis (leftover from last night’s supper; not local).
Wanted to write an update on today’s Least Favourite Hour, because it really wasn’t so bad. We had a pleasant walk home (always one of the best parts of the day), chatting about Safety Village and forts and French (AB was apparently cheered this morning when I assured her that other children in her class were also not fluent in French, and in fact, that if she already knew French, she wouldn’t need school to teach her. Poor kid. She’s a bit of a perfectionist. Wonder where she gets that from).
When we walked in the door, A was very excited about opening and displaying the contents of his backpack–which turned out to be all kinds of thrilling material about fire safety (field trip to a pretend burning building, apparently). A was insistent that we immediately check all fire alarms, and forevermore test them weekly; and that we make a family escape plan. All wonderful advice, I am sure, which I recall fretting over, oh, about twenty-five years ago: My bedroom has no handy rope ladder for escape! My family refuses to sit down and make an escape plan! Our house is a certain fire trap! We’re doomed!
First, I assured the kids that our fire alarms are in good working order–in fact, they go off regularly over cooking incidents.
And then, instead of heading toward the kitchen for the lunch-/supper-making quest, we ran some fun pretend fire drills in the living room, acting out potential scenarios (besides, baby CJ was starving and I needed to sit down to nurse him; many things I can do, but nursing while cooking is not one of them). A rolled on the floor to demonstrate precisely how he would extinguish the flames, were he on fire (“strangling” the fire, according to AB). His escape plan goes something like this: “First, I put the back of my hand to the door, and if it’s hot, I open my window and kick out my screen–” (here is where he was interrupted by his mother, “Whatever you do, don’t jump out that window!” [his window is two-and-a-half storeys above flat concrete]. “No, I’ll grab a big blanket and wave it. And scream.” “You can yell for someone to call 911,” I suggested. “I can cry really loud, too,” says A. “Maybe as loud as I can yell.”
AB also had a fun surprise waiting in her bag. “I have a pink piece of paper, Mom,” she says.
“Oh great,” sayeth I. “I’ll bet it’s a lice notice.”
Yup. Lice in her classroom. Last year we got about one of these pink pieces of paper every other week for months at a time. You have to sign and send back confirming that you’ve gone through your child’s hair. So we got out a pick, and went through the hair, A’s too. If you’re familiar with my kids, you will know that they have a lot of hair, and it’s tangly too. It took forever. And was oddly entertaining. While I didn’t find lice, I did find a few odd things that I otherwise would not have. Like what looked like sparkly blue pencil shavings in both kids’ heads. Weird, huh.
Anyway, by this time a good half hour had escaped, (who knew–fire safety and lice notices equal good times), and the kids ran happily to the backyard (oh fleeting summery weather, how I will miss you), and baby CJ hung out in his gigantic bouncy device, and I whipped up some new lunches (by Friday, my inspiration is running thin; but hey, hummus and pita is a healthy option), and made supper.
Which my family is clamouring for this very instant.
I’ve become frantically reaquainted with my least favourite time of day this past week; that being, the hour or so between arriving home from school and suppertime. Kevin isn’t home, the big kids are wound up from their days away, F has been craving her siblings’ attention all day, and baby CJ becomes a little monkey child and desires utter attachment to his mama. We walk through that front door, and it’s a shambles of work and chaos for the next hour or more, till Kevin arrives and I drag baby CJ out of the sling and pass him off. I use that hour to go through school bags for forms to be filled out (and money requested; I picture School like a giant maw, always hungry); to empty lunch boxes; to make the next day’s lunch; and to start supper. Of course, in the midst of that work, I’m also trying to organize happy play (outside! go outside!), reprimand bad talk (why do they come home with the desire to say mean things to each other??), discover tidbits about the day (why a particular lunch item is untouched), and on and on.
Yesterday was this gorgeous warm afternoon, and all I really wanted was to go outside and lie on a blanket with baby CJ, who loves the outdoors, and watch the kids run around and play. They did go swing in their hammocks happily; but I couldn’t lose that hour. The work needed to be done. Supper has to be eaten. Lunches have to be made. After-supper chores await. And if I don’t get into those bags as soon as we walk through the door, I lose track of the forms, the library books, the squashed sandwiches; quite frankly, I forget otherwise, the contents of those bags disappears from my consciousness, and then I’m confronted with surprises early the next morning, which is not a time of day when I’m good with surprises.
I’m a pretty organized person. Maybe I just need to get my head around re-organizing that hour, structuring my time differently, so that I can spend that hour really with the kids, not shouting from the sidelines. Or maybe I just need to accept that thus it shall be …
But playgroup this morning was really really fun!!! I have been missing that weekly dose of adult conversation. It feels more relaxed without having to race off for half-day kindergarden, too. And I’m very well-caffeinated.