The town in which we live was originally a small quaint farming community. These days, that small quaint farming community — which used to be 10 miles from its closest neighbor — is “nestled” under the hairy armpits of the other once quaint farming communities.
And now, none of these communities are neither small nor particularly quaint. We are more like a bunch of fat guys on an airplane – all squeezing over into our neighbor’s space and fighting over the elbow rest.
It is not a town without some charm though. Within the space of a block you can find homes wherein high-paid athletes live behind big stone fences and other homes wherein disinterested Billy goats live behind chain link fences. And we live somewhere in between. We have neither a big stone fence nor a Billy goat.
As you might imagine, the expansion of so many people into an area that was intended for slow moving tractors and Billy goats has created traffic problems. And the city’s response to this problem has been roundabouts.
Roundabouts are a Yankee thing, and well, it’s taking some getting used to for us slow moving southern dwellers. We only know how to do the four-way stop, and even that, seems to be a challenge for some of us.
And it gets even more complicated when you have to negotiate the roundabout while it’s under construction.
So the other day, we approached the intersection that is near our house and discovered that it was being transformed into one of them fancy roundabouts. There were barricades up and chunks of road had been torn out and traffic was being diverted and re-directed and nothing was where it used to be. Drivers were entering the roundabout, not knowing exactly what to do — some stopping completely, some yielding and others just zippin’ through. People were honking and throwing their hands up in the air.
From the back seat, Sean perfectly assesses the situation with his signature wit. “Instead of a roundabout,” he said, “they should call it a Round of Doubt!”
And from henceforth, it shall be known…
So a Sunday or two back, because it was cold, I pulled on a pair of tights to wear with a wool skirt. I normally wear pants to church when it’s cold. And by pants I mean slacks, not jeans. I am not a wear-jeans-to-church kind of gal, but if you are that’s okay, not that there’s anything wrong with it…. But for some reason I thought I would wear a skirt even though it was near freezing.
Sidebar: Sean really likes it when I wear a skirt or a dress, perhaps because it is so seldom. I have a few strapless sparkly cocktail dresses left over from back in the day and he’ll often pull one of those out and suggest I wear it to church. One time in pre-K, for a Mother’s Day project, he was supposed to draw a picture of me and then write a sentence about me. His sentence was “My mom has a lot of fancy skirts.” I have one fancy-ish skirt.
Yet Another Sidebar: Okay, here’s a new trend I have observed that puzzles me – bare legs all the time, even when it is seriously cold outside. In the summer when it’s warm, I like to wear a skirt with sandals. That makes sense. But when it is below, say 75? I do NOT want the icy wind howling up the antique gams. Not only because it’s uncomfortably cold but because blue goose-bumpy legs are not attractive. But then again, I was a young gal in the 70’s and 80’s and owned approximately 3,825 pairs of L’eggs. I am a product of the panty-hose generation. Even if I had really great legs, which I do not, I would not go bare-legged with spike heels and a pencil skirt in January.
So, on this particular cold Sunday, as we were heading out the door for church — me in my plaid wool skirt, turtle neck, Mary Janes and black tights (can’t you just picture the sexiness?) Sean is walking behind me and makes a funny little cat-call whistle sound – woot-WOOoooh! – (because he can’t actually whistle) and says, “Mom! I reeeeally like those high heel socks!”
And I chuckled because high heel socks sounds so much more sexy than control-top tights.
Perhaps that’s how we could bring back pantyhose – we could call them high heel socks.
Sometimes, in a fit of motherly passion, I”ll scoop Sean up and smother him with kisses, telling him he’s so cute that I can’t stand it. And then he squiggles and wiggles out of my arms and runs off, laughing and yelling “Yucky!”
Last week, we were at the grocery store, and as we were checking out, he was chatting up the cashier, a grandmotherly type.
“You’re cute!” she cooed at him as I ran my credit card through the machine.
“Yeah but my mom can’t stand me,” he told her. “She says that all the time.” And then for some reason, he offered her this weird, crooked, sad little smile.
The cashier narrowed her eyes and looked at me suspiciously.
It probably didn’t help that Sean had a dirty face and had dressed himself that morning as a Hip Hop Rap artist on a golf outing.
I shut my eyes and shook my head ever so slightly.
The effort it was going to take to explain that it was the level of his cuteness that I can’t stand vs. him which I can stand very tolerably (sigh), exceeded my mental bandwidth at that particular moment. So I didn’t even try.
I think I exceeded my mental bandwidth just typing that sentence.
In some local ladies Bible study, there’s a Wal-Mart cashier asking for prayers for the little boy whose mother can’t stand him.
Earlier in the week, Sean and I were in Target. He was being loud. Happy loud, but loud. Happy loud is annoying, but not nearly annoying as Unhappy Loud. Still, it was LOUD.
I told him that he needed to pipe down so that we didn’t get kicked out of the store.
“Kicked out?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “You are disturbing the other customers and the store manager might kick us out of here.”
“Kicked?” he asked incredulously. “Out?” His eyes widened in disbelief.
He stopped along side the cart, and with a worried and questioning expression, demonstrated a swift little soccer kick for verification.
“Well that wouldn’t be very nice,” he declared, quietly.
Perhaps I should have stopped here and taken the time to explain the concept of metaphorical speech, but I was too busy enjoying the not loud. And what do I know, the manager of Target could very well be literally kicking people out of the store.
I know there was a lady in the Christmas aisle talking loudly on her cell phone that I wanted to kick. Out.
Three-year-old ears hear everything. Every. Thing. They are omnipotent little creatures.
No matter how preoccupied you may think they are with your contrived distractions, they are listening and taking in every word, mentally crouching like a hungry tiger, waiting to pounce at just the right opportunity to gobble up your tender juicy pride.
Sunday morning at church, Sean was busy racing his Lightning McQueen matchbox car up and down my arm and gobbling up Goldfish by the fistful — seemingly oblivious to the inspired and impassioned sermon about hell, fire and brimstone.
Just as the preacher paused for dramatic effect, Sean comments rather loudly, “Well THAT doesn’t sound good!”
And indeed it did not.
When Sean was just a little guy, maybe around 18-months-old, we were sitting on the floor by the door that looks out into our back yard, watching the squirrels play hide and seek and flit and zip around.
One squirrel had regrettably decided to bury an acorn in a fire ant pile. When he discovered his mistake, the poor little fella began erratically flipping and flopping like a crazed acrobat trying to shake off the angry ants. Having been bitten by my fair share of fire ants, I felt sorry for him, but at the same time it was quite amusing to watch.
“Sean, look at the squirrel flip flopping!” I said. He began laughing hysterically until tears rolled down his cheeks. “Fwip fwops!” he repeated over and over as he pointed to the back yard. It was the funniest two words he had ever heard and the more he said it, the funnier it got. And the more he laughed, the more I laughed at him laughing.
And to this day, he still calls squirrels flip flops. It has become part of our family’s own unique vernacular that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else.
The other day at the playground, Sean exclaimed, “Mommy! Look at the flip flops!” Confused, all the other mothers looked at their feet.
I didn’t even try to explain.
Does your family have any “special” words?
What I said: Done with the milk?
What I meant: Would you pleeeez not leave the milk out?
What I wanted to say: Stop leaving the damn milk out.
What I said: I need to go to the store (sigh).
What I meant: I have to defrost or chop something for dinner and I don’t feel like it.
What I wanted to say: I’m not really hungry. Y’all are on your own for dinner.
What I said: Are these papers important?
What I meant: These papers have been on my kitchen counter for a week and you need to move them. Now.
What I wanted to say: I’m throwing these papers away.
What I said: Can I make you a sandwich?
What I meant: Do you have to spread the contents of the fridge and pantry across the entire kitchen to make a measly sandwich?
What I wanted to say: Get out of my kitchen before I turn on you with a spatula.
What I said: Thanks for fixing my computer.
What I meant: I love how you take care of me.
What I wanted to say: I’m glad I married you even if you leave the milk out.