Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I am standing in the Rite-Aid (multipurpose drug store) waiting for my daughter to come out of the bathroom. I have suppressed the irritation that comes when a child has to go NOW just as we are walking out of the store, instead of waiting the 10 minutes it would take us to drive home and I am also suppressing the irritation of going to Rite-Aid for non-existent advice on allergic reactions to shampoos which the pharmacist was clueless about. After looking at the ingredient lists of about 20 different bottles, all loaded with 10 or more chemicals with unpronounceable names, we've decided the only answer is to conduct a formal scientific inquiry on my daughter's skin because she breaks out every time she washes her hair with anything. We'll let you know the results. Frankly I'm suspicious she will fail the control experiment and break out from water too. But anyhow I am still standing in the Rite-Aid with a son who is asking repeatedly why it takes his sister so long in the bathroom (this morning he informs me it is because she is a teenager and he winks. this I find both hysterically funny and wise) and we are standing at the end of several rows - a wall full of different kinds of shoes to my right, a wall directly in front of me covered with games, a wall ahead and to the left with summer water toys, and to my hard left aisles filled with shelves of toys. For some reason I am feeling very overwhelmed. My son walks over to the shelf of cars and picks up an army tank, saying something like "I don't have this" and quickly putting it down as if he recognizes why he wouldn't have one, and then says "I like all the Hotwheel cars" waving expansively at hundreds of tiny cars, which does not surprise me but I am feeling like I will faint if he asks me to buy him something, as the excess of the stuff in our house has loomed up in my mind to meet the cacophony of colors of baby bowling pins and Frisbees and neon pool toys and women's Ked's style shoes in fuschia and cobalt. Why is this bothering me now? Why doesn't it bother anyone else? All I can see at this moment is a meaningless excess of cheap soul-stealing stuff. At home many things are broken - the fluorescent kitchen light, the garage door and siding on the south side of the house need replacing, the pond leaks, a car is dead in the driveway and requiring towing. I've spent the last hour talking to the repair guy about all the different ways to replace the fluorescent light with no clear answer. Has this sent me over the edge? Everything seems so complicated.

For a minute I contemplate sprinting out of the store to escape, but there is a thirteen-year-old still in the bathroom and I cannot explain to the kids why I am panicking if I don't understand it myself. I would most like to sink down onto the floor and sob for twenty or thirty minutes but I realize this is both impractical and would make for significantly more and larger problems than I have to cope with now and really, if I just grit my teeth and wait a couple more minutes she will finish in the bathroom and we can go home and walk the dog. So I do what is required, grit the teeth and wait, then walk quickly out of the store with two children and some degree of remaining sanity in tow.

I suspect those who know me real-time would not believe I wrote this. Maybe this is the greatest insanity of all.

The kids came through and delivered a lovely Mother's Day dinner Friday night, where I was not allowed to lift a finger. It went quite a bit better this time and they surprised me and did something of their choosing with some help from their babysitter. My son had a great baseball game Saturday, and our garage is half-way cleared out and organized after a productive day Sunday. I'm going on vacation next week to Montana to hike and birdwatch. My Dad is now planning moving up here, at least for a trial run, something I've been trying to convince him to do. My youngest niece is turning around her school and behavior issues, and everyone is healthy, and my kids are thrilled to learn their mother likes Linkin Park. Possibly more than they do.

Yes, actually, I'm sure more than they do. If someone's gonna scream, better Chester than me.

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