Every week Mad Dog and I get a phone message from the boys’ school principals. Inevitably, valuable information will be disseminated and Mad Dog will then share what is said. Full Speed will hear him but not actually listen. He will be there, physically present, nodding and agreeing, but mentally be somewhere else entirely.
He does not like to follow up on anything Mad Dog tells him to do.
Even if the principal left us a message that leftover pots of gold from St. Patrick’s Day were available for pick up at the school office, Full Speed would hear this and then never, ever, ever follow-up. All his school friends could be throwing gold coins around like confetti and he would still never, ever, ever stop by to get his.
Mad Dog, ever the problem solver, is hopeful to add Full Speed to the principal’s call list. This way at least there is a chance, albeit slight, that Full Speed will do what is asked of him.
Trust me, the leprechauns aren’t worried.
Nora also does not like to listen to Mad Dog.
However, this blatant disregard for his authority
is rewarded with treats, verbal affirmations, and let’s not forget,…
At a certain point in the day, I am over watching tv. Especially on days I’ve clocked in a four-hour-plus baseball game. Sometimes I’m over reading, too. When these moments happen, I just want to call it a day. Even if I’m not truly tired I’d prefer to have dark and quiet. Mad Dog isn’t always in agreement, but part of marriage is compromise.
“Are you planning on reading?” said Mad Dog as he finished up brushing his teeth.
“Nope. But I did think we could talk about our feelings,” I said.
There are two important characteristics to look for in friendship. The first being pool ownership. The second, and most critical, is this friend allows you full use of their pool if they have to travel.
Let’s just say, I have some of the best friends in all of Texas.
The key to surviving any competitive endeavor in this family whether pool related or not, is to make sure Mad Dog is always on your team. He is a natural-born strategist and the king of trash talk. However, the boys having learned from the best, are now able to verbally spar on his level.
It’s a whole lot of nonsense if you ask me, but apparently the secret ‘man-formula’ to showing respect is hurling insults at one another at a top-rate speed. Full Speed especially enjoys targeting me. If you were a betting kind of person, you might guess it’s because I am the most reactive of our bunch. I can’t speak to this specifically but I am crying right now as I type this.
Pool volleyball is no exception. Mad Dog and I happened to win our first round of games versus the boys. We had to work for it. As we sat around poolside dissecting various aspects of the game, T.Puzzle remained surprisingly unfazed by the loss. Normally, he would brood and mope leaving the whole outing in ruins because he did not win.
“That means you are growing up, when you can lose and still say you are had a fun day at the pool,” Mad Dog said.
We are more adaptable than we realize. We have settled into new routines and found sparks of hope in unexpected places. T.Puzzle’s new mantra is “less school, more video games!” Silver linings are there for the taking.
Everyone has unique strengths during times of stress. While my strength lies in cultivating family bonds, I may also freak out a little more than the rest of my clan. Thankfully, I am married to a man who never freaks out. It actually kind of freaks me out that he is so calm ALL THE TIME. At this point, I am not going to change who I am, but I am forever grateful I feel safe enough to fully be myself and know without doubt, I am loved just as I am.
When this whole pandemic began to impact our lives, to help preserve my sanity, I took a major pause from social media. I simply cannot hold that many stories in my head and function well. It may appear that I am less connected to what matters, but I have found the opposite to be true. I am remembering the beauty of my own backyard.
My imagination runs wild so I have to be mindful of the T.V. shows I watch. Otherwise my sleep will be disrupted and general mind mayhem will ensue. This leaves me with limited options. I have been reduced to watching lots of reality T.V. This is fine in small doses, but recently I have noticed my propensity to want to walk around in thong bikinis, toss martinis about and speak incoherently in a British accent. Weirdly, Mad Dog has little to no objections concerning my altered behaviors. I am in no danger of being voted off the island.
In these strange, lock-down days, I have been attempting to engage my boys in meaningful dinner conversations.
It hasn’t been a good run lately.
T.Puzzle is the worst offender. You could ask him about it, but I promise you, he won’t answer you. And if he did, you wouldn’t gain any new information.
I have even tried to speak to them as adults.
This was my attempt last night:
“Please take this question seriously. I am genuinely curious as to what your answers are. What are your thoughts about what you may want to do as an occupation? I want you to dream big.”
Full Speed said, “Contact tracer.”
I just gave him that look. You know, the mom one where you telepathically communicate your inner most thoughts of frustration and/or annoyance.
“How are you going to be a contact tracer? By the time you are graduated from college, I don’t think it will be viable option. At least I hope not.”
“I could do it over the summer. They pay $25 an hour,” he said.
“But you are only fifteen!”
“Once they got to know me, they would make an exception. I’m that good.”
As you can see, my first attempt at realness failed.
I turned to T.Puzzle. After a few moments of him looking completely bewildered and/or uninterested, he said he wanted to work for Space Force.
He wasn’t being serious either. They were both chuckling and finding themselves to be utterly amusing.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. I had reached my limit.
I lifted my right arm, pointed to the stairs and ordered them to go to their room.
Protests abounded but I kept my composure and sent them on their way.
Here’s a little trick that I am happy to share with you. In these situations, never give them a time limit. Send them on their way but leave their return time open and ambiguous. This can make thirty minutes feel like thirty years. Also, in the name of brotherly unity, I thought it was good to send them together so they could bond over how impossible I was being. There is nothing that solidifies a sibling connection more than having a shared common ‘enemy’.
Mad Dog and I proceeded to clean the kitchen post-dinner at our leisure. We then went on a walk and spent some time hanging out on our back porch.
I was in no hurry to set the jailbirds free.
I asked Mad Dog if I was attempting the impossible by prompting the boys into thoughtful discussions. Am I only hurting myself? But, they are the people I encounter the most so maybe I should keep going?
He said it’s good for them so keep trying. It wouldn’t hurt to lower my expectations either.