I’m An Excellent Driver

1772 1772_ () 1772 1772 This morning, I ran to the grocery store with Henry while the two big boys hunkered down in the front room with fevers. They stayed home from school today, and at least one of them will be home again tomorrow.

After the store, we hit my fave place for getting unsweet tea (with a smidgen of sweet on top). I always have to go in to get the tea because one time I tried getting it at the drive-thru and the lady took my request for “a little sweet on top” to mean she should add some Splenda. One of these days I’m going to tell you about my new lease on life once I stopped drinking Diet Coke (a year-and-a-half ago) and how I will never ever never touch artificial sweeteners again.

That day, when the lady explained adding the Splenda, I asked if I could just pull forward and come inside with my cup to mix my tea properly. So from then on I just go inside to get my tea (why I don’t just make tea myself at home is also another post for another day).

So today Henry and I went inside and I decided to let him run around on the playground for a few minutes while I sat and savored. As we pulled in, I was in the middle of a phone call with Paul. We were hashing out the details of Ethan’s upcoming 13th birthday and right there you can understand why I might have been a tad bit preoccupied. I am going to have a TEENAGER in my home in a matter of days and I’m feeling a wide range of emotions. The good news is I don’t think the “teen” thing really kicks in until at least 14 or 15 and if you haven’t found that to be true let’s not talk about it right now.

So I pulled in, hung up with Paul and unloaded Henry. We sat on the playground for a few minutes until a gentleman, a nicely-dressed man in his early 50s I’d say, came out to where I sat.

“Excuse me,” he said, “do you drive a Chevy?”

At first I pictured an old beat-up truck and I was about to tell him no I don’t until I looked out to the parking lot and realized, yes, I do in fact drive a Chevy. I nodded.

“I can’t get in my car,” he explained. He was very nice about the whole thing.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had parked so close to this man’s car that he couldn’t open the door. There was my giant vehicle slightly over the right line of my parking space. All kinds of room on my left, nothing on my right.

“I am so sorry,” I explained, and told him I would move the car right away. He smiled kindly and went back outside.

The man mulled around in the parking lot while I corralled Henry, gathered my things, got a drink refill (of course!) and finally headed out to the lot. I fished my keys out of my purse and then loaded Henry and my stuff before starting the car and driving off.

I wondered, as I apologized one more time and then pulled away, if the man might have decided at some point that climbing over the passenger seat would have made more sense? I couldn’t figure it out. If I had been in that boat I surely would have been annoyed (which he did not seem to be) but I don’t think I would have been nearly as patient.

This happened to me one other time, years ago when I also drove a Suburban (an older model which was even bigger than my current one). The four big boys were all very little and I was inside a drug store, standing in a long line with the boys. A woman came into the store, loudly asked who drove the white Suburban, and I meekly raised my hand. She demanded I go move my car because she couldn’t get in and because I didn’t really want more attention drawn to me than I already constantly got at that point (four boys, five and under) I just got out of line and went to my car, boys in tow.

Now that I am older and wiser, maybe I would have pointed out to the lady that the guy she was with, the one standing right there next to her, maybe he could have gotten in on his side and scooched over and moved the car. But she was a big lady and an older lady and I just didn’t want to mess with anybody.

I don’t know sometimes, if there is a fine line between being considerate and being a pushover. All things being equal, it just worked out to leave and move the car today. I was ready to go and it was just as easy to leave than explain to the man that I really couldn’t go to the parking lot at that exact moment.

Plus, do I really want to be the kind of person who not only can’t properly park an oversized vehicle but who is also a jerk about it? 1772″> .

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Rainy Day Games

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It was a rainy evening, which had come on the heels of a rainy afternoon. That combination meant lots of consecutive inside-time for this brood of mine that would prefer to be outside where they can be as wild as they would like.

Inside, there are constricting rules like “don’t kick that soccer ball in the dining room” and “what did I just say about the soccer ball?” These are hard for my boys to understand, it seems, and everyone does better when being outside is the order of the day.

On this particular evening, we were settling in to a game of charades, a game that in our house is heavy on clues involving martial arts and sword fighting. I am at a disadvantage when we play because there are all kinds of movie titles my boys have not even seen but they act them out based on bedtime stories their dad has told them. They are not allowed to watch Lone Wolf McQuade yet they have completely memorized the very best parts.

So there we sat in the front room and seven-year-old Augie took his place in the front of the crowd. He made the sign indicating the proper category.

“It’s a person,” the other boys shouted. Augie nodded his head. Then he held up two fingers.

“Two words,” shouted Ethan. Another nod.

Augie then slowly raised his hands to his face and menaced, ever so slightly.

“Chuck Norris,” shouted Elliott, and everyone began to cheer.

It all took less than fifteen seconds.

I’d like to lie and say I never saw that one coming, but Chuck would have been an early guess of mine, definitely in my top five. The problem was I took too long deciding if the hand gesture would be that of a saber-wielding pirate or a sword-loving Hobbit. What I forgot, what I must never forget, is that Chuck always goes first.

When we play these games, I am clearly the odd-woman-out. And yes, sometimes it’s frustrating. Paul and the boys have a language I’m not always privy to (one I don’t want to fully understand, mind you) and during some rounds of charades all I can do is sit back and watch. My menfolk work their way through the list of adventure movies and action figures, with the occasional martyred saint or historic hero. Many of these people, places and things I recognize, some I do not.

When it’s my turn, I throw in something like “Nativity Scene” or “cleaning house.” And once again, the boys are reminded that there are strange, non-male creatures who also inhabit the earth.

Despite all these differences, and the moments when I am painfully aware I have minority status in my own home, I so often find myself asking God the same question: why me, Lord?

I mean this in its most sincere form. I am not whining or complaining or even asking for a change-of-address. I am humbled by God’s generosity in giving me this family and I wonder what I did to deserve such blessings in my life.

What an honor to be a part of this strange, male-dominated little scene. When I imagined family life, when Paul and I were first starting out, this is not what I predicted. If I could have picked the gender line-up of my brood, I would not have made it so lopsided.

How many times I have thanked God that he did not leave that decision up to me.

What adventures, what overwhelming bliss I would be missing!

Perhaps it is with every family that God gives us what he knows we need. Maybe he simply gives us the grace to wholeheartedly love and appreciate the children, each child, that he sends our way.

How many of us thought we wanted one thing only to discover that God knew better, that in his infinite kindness and mercy – and his overwhelming love for us – the Lord showers us with more than we could have hoped or dreamt or even known to ask for. 1771″

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Sad Moment

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I can’t remember if I ever posted this picture, way back in Spica-time. Every time it shows up on my screen saver, I get a little lump in my throat. What a horrible, horrible afternoon that was.

But this morning I looked at it and thought, “Wow. We survived that. God is good.”
And now, after enough time has passed, I can think about that day in the ER and remember the moments of peace and calm and yes, even laughter. You get enough family gathered together and there is bound to be some of that too.

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Two Smart