Dedication: To my loving, sweet, unnaturally flexible, middle daughter, Kate. Without you, I couldn’t have received my award this year.
And for Felipe. While I often joke that you are also married to me in some respects, without you, Devon and I would be screwed. Your love for the kids and the time you spend with them is appreciated by me. Also, I love talking sports with you. You always back me up when Devon and I fight about basketball fundamentals. Thank you, Felipe.
I have had one seriously amazing week with my kids. Besides the bad parts of having to run willy-nilly all over town for games and practices (the calendar their dad produces hourly is insane), we have laughed more than usual.
The greatest thing about the custody arrangement that Devon and I have is that it’s a one-week on/one-week off schedule. In the beginning, it was tough to let my kids leave at all, but once everyone got used to the idea, it has had its major perks.
For one, no one gets sick of each other. Well, the kids fight no matter what, but I always look forward to seeing them, and by the end of the week, I look forward to having time by myself. We cram in fun activities, I plan for only one week’s worth of groceries and meals, and my gas bill for my rock star mini-van is reasonable. (Reasonable is relative with prices today, I realize. But it could be worse if I had them every day of the month.)
Because of this arrangement, I have every other week by myself and have a lot of time to reflect about the previous week’s events. I get to write about them because my schedule is freed-up. This week, there were more Funny Events than Psycho Mom Events, so overall, I’d say it was a good one. However, both categories lead to what I have termed as my Mom-of-the-Year Moments.
My first mommy debacle this week wasn’t that I left Kate at the gym. Which I did. Thankfully I realized it once I got to the car. That’s completely benign compared to this real doozy.
It all started on Monday night when I went out to run some errands for a half an hour, leaving the progeny at home. My kids are old enough to stay by themselves for short periods of time, but during those times, they aren’t allowed to cook, eat or play outside. Basically, they have to sit on the couch and not move. Bedsores abound in our house and when I get home they act like they’ve been stuck up in the attic for years, like those Flowers in the Attic books from the ‘80’s (sans the incest, thank God.)
There are a couple of other players in this scenario that need to be mentioned besides Kate and myself. We have the most amazing neighbors ever, and essentially when the kids are with me for the week, they have constant entertainment because of the two boys next door. The youngest one, Hanokh (I’ll call him Thing-Two), is the sweetest most crazily active boy I’ve ever met. He runs around in bare-feet in the winter and will literally run up and down the street, sprinting with all of his might (like 22 times) for no reason at all. He also happens to be a spaz for all animals, especially abandoned ones.
The second player will be revealed shortly.
So, when I got out of the car with four bags of groceries in hand, he yelled at me from down on the corner: “Emily! Emily! Come quick! I need your helllllpppp!” He sounded like his right arm was just chopped off with a machete, so I dropped my groceries, not caring about the two bottles of wine that I needed for my therapy, and went bounding down the sidewalk.
And there was Thing-Two, holding a little bumblebee-sized baby quail, wrapped in some leaves.
Yes, it was alive.
That part really sucked.
And then I got pissed. First of all, my therapeutic wine was left all alone in the driveway. Second of all, I just ran down the street for a goddamn baby bird; and he was alive. No arm lying in the street, no blood gushing from Thing’s head. Not even a little road-rashed knee. And now Thing-Two was looking at me with his Afro curls and boogery nose, holding one out of 60 billion baby quails, and I was completely cornered.
I needed to pass the buck. “Is your mom home?”
“Emily!” His pleading eyes were tearing. “What are we going to dooooo?”
Several options ran through my head as answers to this question. A few of these entailed: 1) Place the baby bird back down on the sidewalk and walk away; 2) I toyed with the idea of saying to him: “I don’t know what you’re going to do. I don’t like animals generally, especially ones that were probably left to die in the first place by its mother because it has some defect”; and 3) “Come on up to the house. I’ll get a box and a towel for it.”
Of course, I had to choose #3 because, well, he really needed a Kleenex for those nose crusties and that part of him is seriously endearing to me. So, I walked with him up to my banging screen door to get him a box and a towel to use until his mom got home to figure out what to do with said mutant bird. This was going to be my one good deed for the day.
It was a mistake. I should have had him wait on his front porch while I snuck inside my house, without my kids knowing, so that I could keep it all on the DL.
Of course, Thing-Two yells into the screen door, “Hey, guys! Come check out this baby bird I just rescued!”
Game over. I was screwed because now Kate knew. This is doubly problematic because she has general fixation issues and because she has a crush on Thing-Two. If I had my druthers, Kate and Thing would become betrothed. They are kindred spirits when it comes to the environment, animals and the impending death of a baby bird. (Plus Thing-Two is cute. They’d make beautiful babies.)
Anyway, Kate freaked out, Thing fed off of her energy, Thing’s mom got home, she’s a better mom than me, yadda yadda yadda… so I loan Kate out for the day. Kathryn has the patience of a saint. I just don’t know how to handle Kate’s empathy sometimes. I have empathy for people, but animals? Meh. Not so much. Thing’s mom is used to this sort of thing and took Kate under her wing.
This pun has not escaped me.
So, by 9 p.m., I went to get Kate at Thing’s house. The baby quail had quite the set up at this point: a plush blue towel, a heat lamp, some sugar water, two doting, freaked out children and a soft-boiled egg to eat. (Apparently baby birds can eat eggs. This does not compute.)
Kathryn and Thing were planning on feeding this bumblebee every 30 minutes, all night long. I am so glad it was her and not me. I would have somehow justified to the kids the next day that the Tooth Fairy came and took the bird mysteriously in the night. I’m not going to lose any sleep for a little baby quail, ever.
Kate said good night, tried to linger as long as possible, then we went home. She asked me to mention the quail in our nightly prayers. I gritted my teeth and mustered a compassionate voice during the bumblebee part, kissed them good night, poured 3 glasses of wine, stalked the comments under my posts on Facebook, and went to bed. I think I read 50 Shades of Grey. That book takes forever to read for reasons you would only understand if you’ve read it.
I seriously, completely forgot about the bird incident until the next morning at 7 a.m., when I was jolted awake by the slamming of our front screen door.
Thankfully, I was so tired from the night before, I promptly went back to sleep.
This slamming, jolting, going back to sleep sequence occurred about four times throughout the hour. One thing my kids know about me is that if I don’t get up at least 30 minutes before they start their day, they’d better give me tons of space until I finally start to function normally. That screen door was seriously starting to send me over the edge.
“What’s that BANGING?” I yelled from my bed upstairs.
“It’s Kate!” Thomas and Maddie reply in unison.
Well, of course it was. She is an awesome girl, but she can’t see past her own nose most of the time. If anyone’s being loud while I’m trying to sleep, it’s her.
She came into my love den, with the gloomiest face ever. I figured it was because she knew she was in trouble for banging the door so much. Wow, her demeanor sure rubbed me the wrong way. I got more pissed-off than I was already.
“Kate! What the hell do you think you’re doing with all of that banging? I’m trying to sleep in and you’re being rude!”
She started to look like Puss ‘n’ Boots from Shrek. She peered at me with those beautiful, big green eyes and squeaked: “Mom, the baby bird just died…”
What could I have said? What should I have said? This is where I bring everything full circle, back to the Mom-of-the-Year topic.
“Jesus Christ, Kate! It was just a bird!”
Yep. Now you understand. I’m the best mom ever.
So, a nuclear meltdown of major proportions ensued and I felt smaller than that dead baby quail. I did everything I could to help soothe her, but I pretty much ruined the moment.
Thankfully, Kathryn was there for her. She encouraged Kate and Thing-Two to make a coffin, bury it, etc. I still wasn’t quite awake enough, due to the three glasses of cheap wine the night before, so I kind of let Kate just do her thing, asking her how she was doing periodically.
Kate eventually came in to announce that the time was near for the burial and eulogy, but she just needed a box… for Quinn the Quail. Yep, the bird was officially named. I found a empty card box for thank you notes, which had stained glass windows on the front of it. It actually looked kind of churchy. I told her so, but for some reason, she didn’t find it as funny or ironic as I did.
Unfortunately, I continued to make the situation worse. This was completely unintentional on my part, but damn, it makes for a great story as I write this.
I noticed that this angelic-looking box was considerably too big for sweet Quinn. I suggested, “Kate, maybe you should stuff paper towels around Quinn so that he can’t move.” (Yes, Quinn was a boy bird, which was completely obvious to Kate and Thing-Two. I didn’t realize that boy birds have testicles. I even asked Kate how she knew this. She said, “We just do.”)
Anyway, you should have seen the expectation in Kate’s face. I guess I misled her. “Mom, do you think Quinn might actually be alive? Will he need room to wiggle so he can get out?”
I just cannot win, can I?
“No, Kate. I meant that in case you shake the box, he can’t jiggle around inside.”
Her incredulity at my statement was priceless. She couldn’t believe I would insinuate that she would shake the box, ever. “Mom, just let me have the box. Geez. You don’t know anything, do you?”
Again, I’m the best mom ever.
So, a little while later, Kate called to everyone inside the house, “We’re going to bury Quinn! Hurry up, you guys!” Unfortunately, I was upstairs using the restroom. I called down to Kate: “I’ll be there in a second! I’m pooping!”
Perfect timing, like usual.
Once I got outside, I spied Thing-Two with the garden spade. He was desperately scouring his front yard. When he saw me, he begged, “Emily, can we bury Quinn in your yard? There are too many animals buried in ours. Please?”
After I thought about Pet Cemetery, how could I say no to bugger-nose? “Yes, dear, how about over here? Now, make sure to dig a really deep hole. We don’t want any dogs to defile Quinn’s gravesite.”
This statement still haunts me one week later. Kate continues to ask if any wild dogs have disturbed Quinn’s grave.
The coffin was actually really sweet. Kate was very proud of her peaceful lair. She even used rose petals to pack around Quinn’s carcass.
As I reached for my phone to take a picture of the tranquil resting place for Quinn, Kate became guarded and shielded me from seeing it. “Mom, you can’t take a picture of it if you’re going to post it on Facebook and say something mean.”
Now, why would she think that? I am gaining quite the tarnished reputation with my children. I assured her that I wouldn’t say anything inappropriate, but I knew it would take every ounce of my being not to be cynical about it. I really wanted that picture.
So, yeah, I posted it on Facebook. I was passive aggressive with my comments, so if she happened to read them later, she might not pick up on it.
The burial was beautiful. Kate has visited the gravesite every day that she’s with me. When she’s at her dad’s, she texts me each morning to see if Quinn is still there.
This is hysterical. I can’t tell if it’s because she’s worried that an animal may have dug it up, or if Quinn was miraculously resurrected, wiggled and pecked his way free.
Kate, you are the most amazing young lady. I hope you’re a better mom some day than I ever was to you.