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“KEY”-ping the Peace

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 07:36:22 PM

TRAGEDY OF THE WEEK – September 24, 2011

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“KEY”-ping the Peace

“Ellie!” I heard Tom call. “Have you seen my keys anywhere?”

I rolled my eyes to myself. Here we go again, I thought. Another lost item that I would get blamed for. This happened about every five minutes in our house because between Tom, and the five children, the only one who seemed to know how to organize and put things away was myself. If someone couldn’t find something, I was blamed because, surely, I had put it somewhere. However, I always put things away in their logical places so if someone couldn’t find something, I would conclude that it was because I hadn’t touched it.

“Ellie?!” Tom called again, but I still didn’t answer. I was hoping that he was just asking carelessly and without really looking for the keys himself. I was hoping that he would just stumble upon them and stop calling to me to try to find them.

“Ellie!” Tom yelled again, but this time his voice was louder as he walked into the playroom and found me with Elsie.

“Oh, sorry, Tom,” I quietly lied, “Elsie was babbling, and I didn’t hear you call me.”

“Yeah, have you seen my keys?” Tom said quickly while taking a half-glance around the floor.

“No,” I said. “I haven’t seen them.”

“Are you sure? I think they were on the counter last night,” he said, as if this was a special clue to jog my memory.

“I really haven’t seen them,” I insisted, because I really hadn’t. “Did you check in the door, or next to the bed? And what about the pockets of your pants from yesterday?” I suggested, listing the places where keys were often found in our home. I didn’t bother to ask him if he had checked the key hooks on the wall by the back door. I knew Tom would never have put them there.

“Are you sure you didn’t notice them on the counter? I was carrying the mail in yesterday, and I’m sure that I dropped my keys on the counter when I put the mail down.”

“Tom,” I said, with adamant denial, “I haven’t seen your keys, and I didn’t touch them. If I had touched them they would be on the hooks by the back door. That’s where keys are suppose to go, and that is where I always put them,” I said lecturing, as usual, about organization.

“Oh, okay,” he said, nodding his head as if he was agreeing with me over something. “I’ll go and check on the hooks,” and he optimistically left the playroom, thinking that I had put his keys away for him. He had obviously misinterpreted my criticism for his lack of organization, as a confirmation that I must have touched his keys and hung them up. I was feeling a little frustrated and annoyed.

“Can I play computer?” Tucker asked as he interrupted my slight aggravation and walked into the playroom. He saw Elsie struggling to reach her toy phone, and quickly handed it to her because I was not paying any attention to her grunts as she stretched her little arm. I had been lost in frustrated thoughts. “Here, Elsie,” he said, cheerfully handing her the toy. “So, can I play?” he asked again.

“Fine,” I said to Tucker, letting out a heavy breath.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Tucker asked.

“They’re not here, Ellie!” Tom called from the back hall.

“Try next to the washing machine,” I said. I wasn’t really trying to be helpful. I knew that the keys were not by the washing machine, but Tom was so insistent that I must know where his keys were that I felt like I should keep making suggestions. I hoped that maybe he would just get tired and stop bugging me.

“What’s Dad looking for?” Tucker asked without turning away from the computer game he had just started.

“His keys,” I said.

“Oh,” he answered, rolling his eyes as I had done. I thought his eye-rolling was confirmation of Tucker’s recognition that his father almost always misplaced his keys, but, suddenly, without even looking in my direction, Tucker surprised me by saying, “So where did you put them?”

“Ellie, they’re not there, either. Are you sure you didn’t put them somewhere?”

“I didn’t put them anywhere. You did. They are your keys,” I insisted.

“So, Mom lost your keys, huh, Dad?” Tucker said, and this time he actually tore his attention away from his computer game to give his Dad a knowing smile. I was getting angry now, and although I tried not to satisfy them by being defensive, I really couldn’t help myself.

“Why is it that every time someone in this family loses something they blame me?” I questioned with annoyed energy.

“Because you’re the one who touches everything,” Tucker blurted out with delight. He was really enjoying teasing me. He knew that nothing got under my skin more than being accused of misplacing or losing things. I prided myself on being the organized one in the family, but my family was always trying to sabotage my efforts.

“Look, you two,” I said with some serious anger as both Tom and Tucker tried to hide the smiles that emerged on their faces every time I got worked up about this issue. “I don’t randomly touch things in this house. I actually put things away. In fact, I put everything away. I am the only reason this family has not become a candidate for “Hoarders!”

“Right, Mom,” Tucker said, but he was smiling sarcastically, and I knew that he thought I was just full of it. Tom was now looking around, under the papers by the computer, and around the desk for his keys.

“I remember putting my keys on the kitchen counter,” he said, frustrated with his own attempts at looking futilely in the area of the computer.

“Maybe it was the bathroom counter,” I suggested, thinking that Tom was getting confused because I had put the mail away after Tom dumped it on the counter, and there were no keys.

Keys - Momma's Dramas

“Ellie,” Tom said, sounding a little frustrated himself. “My keys were with the mail. I didn’t bring the mail into the bathroom.” His annoyance at my suggestion was very obvious.

“Well, I don’t know,” I stated firmly.

“Charlie, have you seen my keys anywhere?” Tom asked, as Charlie came down the stairs.

“No,” he said, as he accidentally hit the stair-step basket with his foot, sending it tumbling off the stairs and onto the floor, spilling its contents everywhere.

“Charlie!” I yelled with frustration.

“What?!” he yelled in defense. “Do we have to have this stupid thing here?” he said throwing his hands in the direction of the basket.

“Yes,” I insisted, “because that is where I have to put everyone’s things because none of you ever put anything away.”

“Your keys are probably in there, Dad.” Charlie said in an attempt to, kind of, help his father, but mostly to take a little dig at me.

“The keys are not in there. Those are just toys and things that need to be put away upstairs.” I was starting to sound defensive, and although I didn’t like that my words had this tone, I still added, “I would have put the keys on one of the hooks if I had touched them,” but Tom wasn’t listening. He was already glancing at the things that had spilled out of the basket.

“Oh, those are the toys that were on the counter near the mail,” Tom said, as he looked on the floor and went to help Charlie pick up the basket so he could search through everything. “Maybe you put them in here, Ellie, and you don’t remember,” Tom said gently.

“Yeah,” Charlie confirmed. “I heard that older women are forgetful,” Charlie laughed, as he picked up the toys.

I was livid. “I am not older or forgetful!” I insisted to myself even more than to Charlie and Tom.

“Charlie, stop,” Tom said unconvincingly, as he tried to stifle his amusement. “Stop giving your mother a hard time,” but I saw that he and Charlie were both laughing, thoroughly enjoying the teasing at my expense.

“Hey, Mom, you remember that Elsie is in here playing by herself right, ‘cause I’m not really watching her,” Tucker chimed in, obviously listening and wanting to be ‘one of the guys’. At this point, Charlie and Tom erupted into laughter that they unsuccessfully tried to control.

I grabbed Elsie’s purse that had spilled out of the stair-step basket, and brought it to her in the playroom. I needed to get away from Tom and Charlie who were delighted with themselves and the hard time that they were giving me. I could still hear them whispering and laughing in the hallway.

“Were your keys in there, Tom?” I needled, trying to sound playful, but realizing that my tone was still whiny and defensive. There was no answer, and I wondered if Tom and Charlie had left, and if they had even finished cleaning up the mess from the basket. I left Elsie, again, and went back to the hall. Tom was still picking through the contents of the basket without success.

“See, I told you,” I said, oozing with the immaturity of a seasoned three-year-old.

“Okay, yeah,” Tom said, but I don’t think that he agreeing with me. He just wanted me to stop talking and lecturing about organization. “I’ll have to borrow your extra car key.”

“That’s fine,” I said, still in my little tizzy. “I have no idea where your keys are. I didn’t touch them,” I reiterated just to make one more point.

“Hey, Dad,” Tucker said. “are these your keys?”

“What?” I said, as Tom and I went back to the playroom. Tucker was still at the computer, engrossed in his game. “What, Tucker?” I said, annoyed that he had called to us, but that he was not really paying attention now that we were in the room with him. “Where are the keys?” I asked,

“Right there. Are those Dad’s or Elsie’s?” he said, pointing to the floor where Elsie was chewing on something that did not resemble her usual baby toys.

“Where did she get those?” I questioned Tucker, assuming that he had the keys and had given them to Elsie to avoid confrontation or punishment. “Did you give those to her?” I accused.

“No,” he said with the relaxed look of complete innocence. “You did,” he said shrugging his shoulders and glancing at me.

“I did not,” I stated. I was really angry now. Tucker had joined in this ‘teasing of Mom game’ whole-heartedly, and he was enjoying it thoroughly.

“Yeah, you did, Mom. They were in her purse.”

“How did my keys end up in Elsie’s purse?” Tom questioned, and then he and Tucker both looked at me.

“Well, I didn’t put them in there,” I said, unconvincingly. There was silence for a moment, and then some whimpers as Tom had to try to get his keys away from Elsie who had decided they were quite special and much better than her usual plastic ones.

“What?” I continued to say, as Tom and Tucker nodded their heads in some kind of silent agreement. “I didn’t put your keys in there,” I continued to say, but I was still unable to convince myself of this, so my words did not carry much weight with them.

“It’s fine, Ellie, we found them,” Tom said kindly, but I felt like he was coddling me.

“Did you figure out where Mom put your keys, Dad?” Charlie called from the kitchen.

“That’s enough, Charlie,” Tom said, and then he added, “Elsie had them,” as if blaming Elsie would somehow get Charlie to stop teasing me.

“Sure she did,” Charlie joked. He just had to get one more little comment in before shutting himself up.

Tom went to work, and I spent the rest of the day wondering if today was my surprise graduation from “busy, young Mom,” to “older, forgetful woman.”

S’more Homework

Posted on Sep 18, 2011 02:01:09 PM

TRAGEDY OF THE WEEK – September 18, 2011

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S’more Homework

“I had a terrible day!” Lanie exclaimed as she burst through the front door after school. She was mad.

“What is the matter?” I asked.

“This,” she said, and she showed me a Science paper with the grade of a C+. I didn’t think there was anything really wrong with this grade, but it wasn’t like Lanie to get a C+. I figured maybe it was a particularly difficult assignment.

“Did you have a problem with the assignment?” I questioned, wondering what could have happened.

“Yeah, I had a problem, and it’s name was Michael,” she hissed as her little, red cheeks puffed like she was about to spit venom. “I hate him! Boys are so stupid.”

“Oh, honey, that’s not very nice.”

“So!” she shrugged. “Michael isn’t very nice either.”

“Well, maybe that’s why you got paired with him. You are a really nice girl so maybe the teacher thought that you would be able to work with him,” I said hoping that by complimenting her I could distract her out of her  bad mood.

“I don’t want to be a nice girl if it means I have to work with stupid Michael. He just sits there and does nothing. He never helps me with any of the projects. He can’t do anything,” she emoted dramatically, as her body went limp, and she collapsed into a chair.

“Oh, come on, now, Lanie, I’m sure Michael could have helped you with something.”

“Oh, yes, you’re right, Mom. He did help me,” she said as she placed her hands on her hips for emphasis. “He helped eat all the marshmallows.”

“ Marshmallows?”

“UGH! You’re not even listening to me!”

“I am listening, Lanie, but you haven’t said anything about marshmallows. I don’t have any idea what you are talking about.”

“The marshmallows, Mom, THE MARSHMALLOWS! The ones for our project that I told you about a week ago.”

“I’m sorry, Lanie, I really don’t remember. Why don’t you start at the beginning,” I said as I tried to make my apology sound sincere, but truthfully, I found her dramatics and expectations of my memory to be a little annoying.

“Oh, fine,” she sighed as she collapsed her shoulders with the theatrical flair of an expert drama queen.

“Last week we had to design a structure out of marshmallows and toothpicks that would support a cup of marbles, and Michael ate all of the marshmallows.”

“Why would he do that?”

“I don’t know!” she yelled.

“Well, honey, didn’t you notice that Michael was eating all of the marshmallows while you were working together? Why didn’t you say anything to him?”

“Oh, great, so this is all my fault now?” she said throwing up her hands. “Just forget it, Mom, forget it.’

“Lanie, I’m not blaming you, but you could have spoken up and told Michael to stop.”

“I shouldn’t have to! Mrs. Norton told each team that we would get just fifteen marshmallows and as many toothpicks as we wanted to construct something to support the weight of the marbles. She said that the marshmallows were not for eating, and that if any team decided to eat their marshmallows, they would not get anymore. She also told everyone that they were old marshmallows from the previous year so they were stale.”

“Michael ate year-old marshmallows? That’s gross. Why would he do that?”

“How should I know, Mom! Probably because he is a boy so he’s an idiot.”

“Lanie stop.”

“I can’t stop. I’m too mad.”

“Well, how many stale marshmallows did Michael eat?”

“He ate, like, ten of them.”

“And you had to make a structure with just five marshmallows?’

“Well, yeah, but I knew it was, like, going to be impossible.”

“Did you talk to Mrs. Norton and tell her what Michael did?”

“I tried to, but she said ‘no exceptions.’ She said it was my responsibility as a member of the team to make sure that my classmate followed all of the rules. ‘No exceptions, Lanie,’ she said. And then she said, ‘What were you doing while all these marshmallows were being consumed?’”

“Well, what were you doing?”

“Oh, so you’re blaming me too. This is so unfair!” she concluded in a huff of anger.

“I’m not blaming you. I’m just trying to understand what was going on at the time,” I said, trying to sooth her irritation a little.

“I was doing what we were supposed to be doing. I was drawing in my notebook and designing our structure. I made this really cool plan for how to build the supports for the cup using fourteen marshmallows and a bunch of the toothpicks. Michael had his head down so I thought that he was drawing a plan too, and then I thought we were going to try to combine our ideas. I didn’t know he was eating all the marshmallows. I didn’t notice. I was trying really hard not to have to look at him at all.”

“So Michael ate all of the marshmallows?”

“Well, pretty much,” she shrugged, “and he might as well have eaten them all because you can’t do anything with five marshmallows.”

“So, Mrs. Norton said that she wouldn’t give you any more marshmallows even after you told her what Michael did?”

“Yeah. She said, ‘Well, that will be part of your team’s challenge now won’t it?’” Lanie said again, sternly, with a furrowed brow, attempting to imitate her teacher.

“So what happened?”

“By the time I got back to my table after talking to Mrs. Norton, Michael had eaten another marshmallow.”

“Seriously?” I questioned, trying unsuccessfully to stifle my laughing.

“Mom, it isn’t funny.”

“I’m sorry, but don’t you think it’s kind of funny?” I asked smiling, hoping to get her to see the lighter side to this situation. She really needed to relax a little.

“No,” Lanie said flatly, but I could see a small hint of amusement in her angry eyes. She quickly dismissed any fleeting thoughts of humor and quickly added, “Actually, Mom, I think Michael is totally disgusting. Those marshmallows are from last year. He is weird and gross.”

“Did you ask him why he ate all the marshmallows?”

“No, I don’t care why,” she said wrinkling up her face in obvious disgust and scrunching up her shoulders. “He’s just an idiot, so I yelled at him and said ‘What the heck am I suppose to do now?’ and then he got all mad at me and said, ‘Who cares! Just shut up, Lanie. Give me some toothpicks, I’ll do it.’ And then he grabbed everything and just randomly shoved all of our toothpicks into the four marshmallows that were left. Our structure looked like someone had just run over a porcupine. It was so stupid. I tried to fix it by straightening out some of the toothpicks, but then Mrs. Norton told us that our time was up.”

“What did she say when she saw it?”

“What do you think she said, Mom? Obviously, she couldn’t say anything good. Our structure was the worst one in the whole class. She just said ‘Hmmmm…given what you two had to work with here, I would say that at least you made an effort,’ and then when we actually had to balance the cup of marbles on the structure, and it balanced for about half a second, she said, ‘Well, it held up for longer than I would have thought.”

“I’m sorry, honey. Sounds like you had kind of a rough day. Maybe if you talk to her about how hard it is for you to work with Michael, she will switch you.”

“Yeah, I guess, but I doubt any of the other boys are any better. I bet Kelly and I could make something good, but she says the girls get too chatty when they work together, and the boys get too silly if they work together, so I’m still going to have to work with some other stupid boy anyway. I hate Science class.

“Maybe she’d let you work alone.”

“I don’t know, but I doubt it,” she said, finally sounding defeated, but at least calm.

“Well, what about your grade? Did you ask Mrs. Norton if you could improve your grade somehow?”

“Yeah, she just gave me an extra homework assignment.”

“She gave you some more work to do?” I questioned a little mischievously.

“Yeah, she just gave me some more,” Lanie said with some confusion because she knew I was thinking, but she didn’t know why I had such a goofy look on my face.

“Some more?” I said smiling, and emphasizing my words so that she would get it, but she was serious, and just getting angry with me.

“Yeah, I just said that, Mom!” she yelled.

“Some more work? Some more? Some more? S’more?

“Yes, some more, some more, some more!” she repeated, still not getting my little joke.

“S’more work? Get it? Don’t you think that’s kind of funny? You know, marshmallows…s’more work…get it?” I said giggling.

“That’s not funny, Mom,” she said, rolling her eyes and shaking her head as she took her backpack and left the kitchen in disgust.



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