Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do I Have Your Attention

Sometimes, I am not the most attentive mother.  No, no, it's true.  With three kids, homeschool, the house, the laundry, the cooking, and the husband, it is possible for the kids to sneak things past me.  So, a few weeks ago, while I was unpacking boxes from our move, it took me awhile to notice Jonah scuttling out the back door with random household items.

Why a cat with a lime on his head?  Because every post needs a picture, and this one got my attention.

 "Jonah, what are you doing?"

"Preparing," he said, as he raced out the back door, and just as quickly, back in again.

"Preparing for what?" I asked.

He paused, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "The battle begins at daylight."

"Oh, well that explains everything," I said.  Or, I would have, but he was off again.  Preparing.

"Mom, you'd better get ready, too," he told me, on one of his passes through the room.

"Uh-huh," was my attentive reply.

Several more times throughout the day he asked about my state of preparedness for The Battle.  I was ready, I assured him.  I even made a few declarations about my talent for military strategy and experience in battle.  Then I forgot all about it.

Until daylight.  Are you ready?  The sun is coming up.  Get dressed.  Shower?  Coffee?  No time!

I managed to put him off for a few hours; a shower and coffee being the backbone of any good military action.  Noon is still daylight, I told him.  Finally, he hounded me out onto the field of battle.  Also known as the backyard.

He wasn't kidding about being ready.  He had several card board boxes stacked as a barricade.  His weapons included three toy swords, a bow and arrow, spears made from tree branches, and wadded up paper which turned into balls of fire with one spark of imagination.  He made a stone fortress, thirty feet high, to which to retreat.  Okay, it was brick pavers from the flower bed, stacked about to his ankle, but we agreed that he would be safe there.  He even conscripted an army; his brother Sam, who pledged his fealty for the price of a single banana and his choice of weapon.  (He didn't want to get stuck with the sword held together by duct tape.)  They were prepared to defend the stretch of grass next to the garage with their lives.

While their base, as they called it, was the lawn, mine was the patio.  I walked out and knew immediately that I owed these boys a battle.  I picked up a plastic sword off the pavement and planned my attack.  What else was I going to do?  I had no defenses, no provisions, and no where to hide.

I charged, with a primal yell, sword held high.  Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  But, with less kilt, and more apron.  I swashed.  I buckled.  I deflected a flying ball of fire, off the broad side of my sword, and over the fence.

Then Cate, to whom we had not been paying much attention, ran out, demanding to fight.

"No!"  Jonah yelled.

"Jonah, don't be like that.  Give her one of your swords."

"But, Mooooom..."

"Just give her this little floppy one, and she can fight on my side."

"But, Mom.  She's too aggressive."

"Jonah, she's three.  Give the baby a sword," I growled, and he did.

Cate took the small, limp sword, and without a second's hesitation, charged through the cardboard barricade.  Before they could respond, she began hitting them, furiously and hard, right on their hands, until they dropped their weapons and recoiled, in real pain.  With her enemy stunned, she penetrated deep behind their lines.  Toward the back of their base were two ice chests, which I hadn't eve noticed until then.  She grabbed the larger of the two by the handle and ran, fast, dragging it behind her, the full length of the yard.  She pulled it up on to the patio, clambered up, and danced upon it, victorious.  With hands and sword raised over her head, she shouted, "I stoh yoh thwe-zhuh!"*

Of course!  The chests were treasure.

And, yes little girl.  You have our attention.

*"I stole your treasure," for anyone who does not speak Cate.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Brush With Infamy

Have you ever had your mind wander away from you, only to return with a story to tell?  I have, and this is one of those stories.

For the last ten days or so, my children have had the stomach flu.  That's all you need to know.  (You're welcome.)

Two Sundays ago, before we were sure one sick kid was an epidemic, I was in (our brand-spanking-new) church, when I began to feel a little queasy.  This is where my mind started to wander.  (Don't tell any of my friends from church.)  What if I, too, became ill?  I've never seen anyone vomit is church before.  What's the etiquette?

I was in the worst possible seat from which to make a discreet exit: near the front, near the center aisle.  Near, but not, to my great horror, on the aisle.  There were three new, upholstered chairs between me and my escape, two of them occupied.  And, the new carpet was so new, it still smelled like new carpet.  I was not going to be the first one to defile it.  No sir.  I needed a plan.

Then, I saw my purse sitting next to me.  It's a lovely black leather bag I got for Christmas (last July, when I bought it for myself and then called Hubband to compliment him on his excellent taste).  I am very fond of my purse.  But I could regurgitate my breakfast into it if necessary.  It was even unzipped, ready to go.

So, that was my plan.

In the event of an emergency, I would get up, very calmly and excuse myself, but if the worst happened, I would use my purse.

Perfect plan.

But, wait.  My Kindle was in there.  It is a lovely Kindle Fire that I got for my birthday (which isn't for a few more weeks--Hubband is an efficient gift giver).  I am very fond of my new toy, but it is not, as far as I know, vomit proof.

New plan.

In the event of an emergency, I would get up, very calmly and excuse myself, but if the worst happened, I would dump the contents of my purse on the floor before using it.  Distracting, sure.  But it would spare the carpet, the chairs, the people between me and the aisle.

As my mind wandered back to the sermon, (I swear this is true) the pastor was teaching about one of our sister churches in Southern California which, in the early 1970s, tried to make their hippie-surfer congregation wear shoes, so that the tar from their feet would not ruin the new carpet.  That policy lasted only until the pastor found out.  He cared more about the hippies than the carpet.  People are more important than things.  Amen, brother.

But, I kept my plan.

I never did get sick, which is a good thing, because as the service was wrapping up, I realized that the purse in my plan, was not, in fact, my purse.  It was identical to my purse, but it belonged to the woman sitting next to me.  The woman whose small frame I was prepared to knock to the floor to make my escape.  My purse was under my chair. 

I am so glad that my stomach did not wander where my mind had led, because, while I do believe that people are more important than things, and I know my pastor cares more about his congregation than his carpet, I do not want to go down in church lore as the woman who lept up in the middle of service and puked in someone else's purse.