Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Day in the Life...

I wake up to the monthly dull ache in my lower abdomen and groan.
“Not today…” I complain to no one.
After swallowing a couple Extra Strength Stanley Multi-Symptom PMS relief tablets, I hope for the best.
I’ve been looking forward to this day all weekend. Nothing is going to prevent me from enjoying it.
Not even my bangs that are too long and desperately in need of a trim. I will not let them ruin my day either.
But I don’t know what to do with them. The centre ones fall flat on my forehead with the ends sticking into my eyes. The corner ones have been licked by cows so the roots flip back while the ends curl foreward into my eyes.
Sheer desperation had me do the unthinkable. I clipped them back. Are you gasping? Do you know what bangs in a clip look like? Think whale spout. Think water fountain. Think ridiculous.
I managed to flatten it down a bit. And some stray hairs escaped and fell across my forehead anyway. But the bulk of it was away from my eyes. Which is very important if it happens to be the day of the month when the nerve endings around your eyes are totally intolerant of whispy annoying hairs.

“So, what’s the plan again, mom?” Drew asks from his spot beside me in the front.
I sigh.
“Oh, just forget it. You don’t have to be so mad.”
“Sorry Drew. I thought we’d been over this about 10 times already this morning. We’re going to get a day pass for Clint’s car. Then we’ll take it through air care. If it passes, we’ll go get insurance, then leave the car at LC&T.”
“So that we don’t have to drive all the way back home to park it. It’ll be fine in Langley, then we can head into Vancouver.”
“What if it doesn’t pass?”
“Then we’ll take it over to Dave’s and get him to get it fixed up.”
“Where’s all this money coming from? Can we afford to fix the car?”
“Don’t worry about it. Clint and I will look after that.”
“But what…”
And so on.
That child needs to know everything.
When we got to the farm, Clint started his car, parked at the green barn, and drove it the 80 feet up to the house.
Where it stalled.
We could not restart it.
And killed the battery trying.

Some hairs were escaping their area of captivity from the top of my head and were poking into my eyeballs. It was also hot out, so my forehead was getting oily, making those hairs greasy.
“This is stupid,” I declare. “I’m calling BCAA to get a tow truck here. We’ll get it towed to Dave”s. He can figure out what’s wrong.”
“Are we still going to Vancouver?” Max asks, hopeful. That’s the part of the day he’s most looking forward to.
“YES.” I say exasperated. “I said we’d go. And we will.”
Drew and I are in the Camero. Max and Clint are at the front of the car, looking under the hood.
“Maybe we should pray.” I say to Drew.
“I already have,” he says.
“Oh, you know, Baps said we need gas. Maybe it’s out of gas…”

Clint and Drew head down to the shop to look for some gas, while I try to get a grip.
After a gallon of gas is dumped mostly into the tank, we try starting it again, but the battery is not cooperating.
Magically, there in the driveway, 3 feet away from the Camero is an electric battery charging machine.
Go figure.
When God answers prayer, He answers prayer.
We moved the electric battery charging machine into the carport and plugged it in. Then, uh, we pushed the camero into the carport as well. Much pushing. In circles. Max was driving. Drew and I were pushing. Clint was reading the fine print on the electric battery charging machine. (He is becoming familiar with bringing life to dead batteries. On Saturday, he took the Durango from the cabin and joined a bunch of camp friends for Pizza at the other end of the lake. He called 2 hours later, “Mom? I left the lights on I guess cuz the battery is dead and I can’t get it started. What should I do?”)
Anyway, eventually the battery recharged.

Hours behind my self imposed schedule, we head back to Langley to take the car through aircare. The one day permit was put in my name, so I’m driving the car with Drew beside me, while Clint and I Max follow me in my truck.
At the air care centre, Clint parks the truck in the cul-de-sac (and locks it with all the windows wide open) and both boys run over and hop (well, squeeze,) into the back seat.
This is a big adventure. All 4 of us are in the car as we enter the air care facility. Drew is looking forward to sitting in that little room with me as they do the testing and as we wait for my Visa payment to be processed he remembers all the other times we’ve done this together.
I pull forward to the testing station and am asked to leave the vehicle. The kids all scramble to get out, but the young blonde female technician invites them to stay.
Watching from the sound-proof booth, I can see them all chatting in the car, very relaxed and at ease.
Once the test is over, she waves me out.
“There you go,” she says as I manoeuvre into the car. “You have really great sons. What a nice family you’ve got.”

“Do you think we passed mom?” Drew asks.
“Doesn’t matter. She said I had a nice family. And great sons.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Clint asks.
“Nothing. But it sure was a nice thing to hear.”
“Hey! You passed!” she says with a smile as she hands us our print out.

We head over to the insurance place where we stop at 14 red lights en route. Another 40 minutes is wasted while we spend much money.
Finally we drop off the car and head west for the big city at 2 in the afternoon.

Because it’s the summer (meaning warm) and because my air conditioning doesn’t work, we travel with the windows open. The breeze is lovely, but it is whipping my hair about in a most irksome manner. I keep trying to pull it off my face and out of my eyes without much luck. The increased hair activity is causing the grease glands to work overtime and much is being produced. My extra strength pain killers have passed through my system and I’m torn between two overriding emotions; the desire to simply cut off my whole head, and the need for someone to apply a strong massaging pressure to my lower back.

We are heading into an area of Vancouver that I’m not familiar with. On our way home from the fireworks earlier this month, Max spotted a cluster of boarding shops in the Kits area that caught his interest. I was trying to find them again this afternoon. I knew they were on 4th, so I headed west along 2nd, and thought I’d scoot over 2 blocks after Granville.
I ended up on the Granville Street bridge heading north.
“CRAP” I exclaimed as I found myself on a fast moving busy bridge heading in the wrong direction. Trying to keep my hair out of my eyes with one hand, I steered with the other. My frustration level is peaking as I navigate up and down one way streets in an attempt to turn myself around.
“NOTHING.” I reply, too loudly.
“You didn’t. You said crap.”
“Good. I’m glad I didn’t swear.”
“Why are you so mad?”
“Because I turned on the wrong road…”
“Yeah idiot,” Clint snarls from the back seat. What did you think she did? Quit asking such stupid questions. You are so dumb…”
“Are we still going to see the boarding shops mom…”
And the other reason I’m so ticked is because of my hair, I say to myself. I should buy a hat. My friends with the small heads all get away with wearing baseball caps on their bad hair days. Sucks to have a fat head. I am powerfully vexed.
“Oh, here we are. This is it, isn’t it Max?” I say. We pulled off the bridge, back onto 4th… and voila. We are exactly where we want to be.

I park in a no parking zone right on 4th at the height of rush hour traffic because I’m blonde and have PMS. The kids shopped for an hour. They try on the ugliest snow boarding pants ever designed and dream of the upcoming winter season with giddy anticipation. When the female clerks start flirting, I decide Clint and Max don’t need me hovering, so I go back to the truck and avoid looking in my mirrors.
Drew stays with his brothers, determined to be a teen.
But the other night at the lake, he was still my baby.
We both woke up at 3:30 am to the sound of the alarm beeping. It has done this all summer. It does a double beep every 10 seconds 24/7 unless someone punches in a code. Once you’ve pressed the secret numbers, the beeping stops. Sometimes we have blessed silence for a few hours. Sometimes for only a few minutes. Oh yes, it’s astoundingly annoying. So the beeping woke us up, but the fact that the power was out, kept us up.
“Mom. The fan’s not working. It’s so dark…I’m scared.”
“Close your eyes. It’s late. Go to sleep.” I say with compassion as I roll over and ignore him.
“MOM. I heard something outside on the deck.”
“No you didn’t. Good night.”
“MOM. Please…”
“Please what? I can’t do anything. Hydro guys are probably working on it. Go to sleep.”
“Mom, why would the power be out? It’s not windy. There’s no storm…”
I get out of bed, grabbing my blanket and pillow.
“Mom! Where are you going? What are you doing?”
“Get your pillow and come with me.”

We carefully find our way downstairs. He waits at the bottom of the stairs while I feel my way into the kitchen. I remember leaving the box of matches on the top shelf in the cupboard next to the fridge. If my memory was correct, there would be one match left. Drew and I had used the rest of those matches up in June, when he and I were at the cabin waiting for Clint to complete an evening of staff training. It was a Tuesday night, and both guys had school the following day. The power was out that evening as well, so while Clint was at camp, Drew and I sat on the deck and played Yahtzee til dark. Then we lit every candle we could find (all 47 of them) and played a few more games. It ended up being (or so I thought at the time) a once in a lifetime memory for Drew and I. It felt a little bit magical in the cabin that night.
So, now here we are, in August, in the middle of the night, doing a re-run. Deja-vu.
The box was exactly where I left it. The lone match was waiting to be used. Slowly, one candle at a time, light was restored to our dark abode. Drew and I settled on a couch, each at our own ends.
“You don’t feel like playing yahtzee, do you?” I asked carefully.
“No, I’m tired.”
“Are you going to be able to fall asleep now? I asked with great sensitivity and not a hint of sarcasm or impatience.
“Well, I wish there was a fan or something. Anything that would make a noise. I keep hearing stuff outside.”
Jokingly, I offered to sing.
“OK,” he whispered.
“Are you serious? You want me to sing?”
Two things: I can’t carry a tune. And secondly, even when I can (like when I’m singing along to the radio), the kids beg me to stop. Then they demand that I cease ruining their enjoyment of the song.
And, now, at 4 in the morning, while I’m laying down, and have no music to accompany me, he wants me to warble.
“Shu shu shu shulahlahlah” I start very quietly.
And continue with ‘You are my sunshine’ and ‘the Farmer in the Dell’. I intersperse hymns (How Great they Art and Amazing Grace) with Sunday school songs (Jesus Loves Me and The B.I.B.L.E) and folk songs (This Land is My Land). My repertoire lasts about 30 minutes. My voice is rough and low. I’m exhausted and he’s asleep.
I’m worried about falling asleep with all those candles burning so I wait til the sun comes up. After blowing them all out I pass out too. For an hour. Then the alarm did it’s double beep trick. I reset it, only to have it wake me up again at 7.

But that was last Friday. It was night and he was little.
Today it’s daytime and he’s hanging with his bros.
They jump back into the truck, excited about the upcoming fashion trends; houndstooth, plaid and argyle. As they negotiate who will ‘get’ which look, I aim the truck towards the downtown core and head for the huge record store that is closing out. We park a few blocks away and stroll along Robson, window shopping and people watching. The crowds unnerve Drew, so he keeps close.
“Did you just take my money?”
“You think you can take my money and I won’t care?”
We hear some screaming as we approach an open area in front of an abandoned building.
“I’ll teach you to take my money…”
We arrive just in time to witness a guy spray painted silver hop off his pedestal and put a scruffy-looking-homeless guy in a headlock and drag him to the corner of the building where he proceeds to punch him repeatedly.
It is unsettling. For me and Drew.
Clint and Max were entertained.
The “human statue” did not let up. I can’t watch any longer, so I pull us away, just as the ‘thief’ throws the stolen coins at the street performer.
“Can we go home now?” Drew asks. “This is why I don’t like Vancouver.”

We carry on towards to mega record store which turns out to be a huge disappointment (75% off all items they were sold out of. 0% off all items currently in stock.) Interesting marketing technique. No wonder they’re going out of business.

We have supper on the roof at Red Robin’s on Robson.
And then finish off our adventure by browsing in the largest Chapter’s in Western Canada.

Clint and Drew have both bought hoodies and reading material on our excursion and are pleased with the day’s purchases.
Max, who stopped at the bank to get a whole lot of cash, hasn’t bought anything.
“If it wasn’t for that street fight, this whole trip would’ve been a write off…can we stop at the mall when we get back to Langley? I need to buy something.”

Sometimes things just don't turn out like you planned. But in spite of all the lil glitches, it was an awesome day. There are times that I just love being a mom. Today was one of them.

As soon as I got home I talked to my sister.
She’s trimming my bangs in 16 hours.

And on Wednesday night, Max and I are going to the mall.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Parents who have stayed married for 46 years. Happy Anniversary dad and mom. Love you.
2. Homecooked "adult" meals with my girlfriends. Thanks Donna. Your new place is beautiful.
3. Kids who have just enough of my DNA to enjoy browsing at art stores.

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