August 13, 1992
Boo Boo Head

... I knew something was wrong even before the car pulled into the driveway. Don't ask me how I knew: call it a mother's intuition. Jamie ran into the kitchen and breathlessly said, "Has Lori called you yet?" Oh Lord. The last time Jamie asked me that question was when Kyle flipped off the bars at Shannon South and split his lip open. "No," I said. "What happened?" And just then Kacie came in with a bloody towel pressed against her head, sobbing, with Audrey and Kyle close behind. There was blood all over her face, her swimsuit, her arms. "Kacie hit her head against the side of the pool and cracked her head open," Jamie said. I sat Kacie down and tried to look at it, but her hair was such a bloody, matted mess that it took a few minutes to clear it away from the wound. It was a beauty: a gaping gash at least two inches long and a good half-inch deep. I've seen a lot of "owies" in my ten years of Mommyhood, and this one took the prize. We got a clean towel and had Kacie keep putting pressure on the wound, while I called the hospital. The nurse wanted Kacie to come into the emergency room right away, so I cleaned the blood off her face and helped her change into some dry shorts, and then Ray took her to the hospital. Two hours, two hospitals (Riverton was "packed," Ray said, so he took her to Highline) and seven stitches later, she was home. I made her a bed on the loveseat and served her dinner on a tray, and we all took turns bringing her fresh ice packs and glasses of juice and extra pillows. "I don't know why everyone's makin' such a fuss over me!" she said, but it was clear she was pleased by all the attention. Unfortunately, her gymnastics career has come to a screeching halt, temporarily anyway. My little bird has had her wings clipped!

August 16, 1992

Nice day: my mom took the kids and I to Northwest Trek, a wildlife park near Eatonville. Except for an occasional shopping trip or a visit to John and Lori's, I've done nothing "special" with my kids this summer. So this was it. The day was more fun than I'd expected it to be, although it was also long, hot and tiring. A narrated tram tour took us "through 435 acres of unspoiled beauty where bison, elk, moose, deer, caribou, bighorn sheep and pronghorn roam freely" - a direct quote from the brochure. We arrived just in time to take the noon tram, a long rambling trip through wooded mountain slopes. We got really close to a group of goats (including two babies) and a herd of bison. After the tram ride, we wandered around and looked at the rest of the animal exhibits, had lunch in the café and looked at the gift shop. Afterwards, Mom wanted to drive up to Ashford: there was a mountain lake she wanted to show us ("It's absolutely gorgeous!" she said) and a place in town that would give me some great "photo opportunities." Unfortunately, Mom forgot about the drought, and her "absolutely gorgeous" lake was a shallow pool of muddy water. I could tell she was disappointed, but we did get some great pictures of the kids posing with the life-size wooden statues in Ashford. So it wasn't a complete wash-out.

August 25, 1992

School starts on Tuesday, and no one seems very excited about it ... not even me. ("So QUICK?" Kyle said, astonished, when he realized that vacation is almost over.) I'm going to miss having the kids around for company! I love our summer mornings, drinking coffee and watching The Price Is Right and The Young and the Restless. It's going to seem awfully quiet around here without them: I don't know what I'm going to do with myself this fall. The idea of spending all day every day alone with Mak is profoundly depressing.

Kacie's stitches are out: I took them out myself, the day she got home from Peg and Don's. She put her stitches into a little plastic bag to keep. When Jamie made a comment about how "disgusting" that was, I primly reminded her of the grimy, disgusting casts she kept in her closet for over a year. Now Kacie is back to practicing gymnastics in the backyard all day long. I watch her as I stand by the window, washing dishes ... cartwheel after perfect cartwheel.

September 1, 1992

The first day of school

... Kyle gave Mrs. McCall the apple he'd picked for her, but he was very quiet and (I think) overwhelmed by everything. When I left him, he had put his notebook and school supplies into his desk and was sitting there, holding onto his new lunchbox. He had toothpaste and orange juice all over his mouth, but I didn't want to embarrass him by cleaning it off in front of the other kids so I just kissed him goodbye and said I would see him after school.

Lori called after I got home. She said she peeked into Kyle's classroom to see if I was still there, and that he looked a little scared. "His eyes were really round," she said. This gives me such a wrenching feeling in my heart.

After school Kyle was upset because his teacher asked him not to bring his new Trapper/Keeper to school anymore: she wants him to use a standard three-ring binder instead. I assured him that it was nothing personal, and gave him the money to buy a new notebook with. I had to drag the details of his day out of him. Did he like having recess? (Yes.) Did he like eating lunch in the cafeteria? (Yes.)

Who did he sit by? (Marcel.)

Kacie was completely on fire when she got home ... she's excited about earning Kido Bucks, and she's already started three extra-credit projects. Jamie seemed pleased with her first day of fifth grade, although the only real comment she made was "Tomorrow I'm going to wear deodorant everywhere." Her classroom faces west and they catch all that sweltering afternoon sun.

Lately Kyle has two all-consuming passions ... Legos and batteries. At any given moment he's got one or the other in his hand: this morning they're spread all over the house, and it's making me nuts.

September 1992

Kacie and Kyle got into big trouble yesterday. I was sitting in my bedroom, trying to straighten out my dresser drawers, and they were running back and forth through the house, yelling like Banshees. Once or twice I screamed at them to "Settle down!" but they ignored me. Suddenly I heard a terrible CRASH from the kitchen, followed by Kacie's horrified gasp. She had knocked the knick knack shelf off the wall. The shelf was in splinters, and two of Grandma St. John's porcelain owls were smashed to pieces. I was furious, and I yelled at them both to "Get out of my sight!" Kyle ran to his room and slammed the door shut, and Kacie, sobbing hysterically, ran outside to the garage.

A little while later Ray got home from work. He took one look at my expression and at the broken owls on the kitchen table and he knew what kind of day I'd had. He went outside and put Kacie to work, smashing aluminum cans and picking up garbage. I started fixing dinner. I was still mad, but I was beginning to calm down a little. Kyle came out of his room and climbed onto my lap. "Mom. Can I tell you what happened?" he said. A couple of minutes later I went out to the garage to find Kacie: one look at her tear-swollen face completely did me in. I took her in my arms and hugged her, and her whole body just went limp, as though I were relieving her of a terrible burden.

This morning I nailed the shelf back together and moved it to a different spot, where it's less vulnerable. The owls are broken beyond repair, but I'm just going to let it go.

A month or two later, Kacie used all of her precious "Kido Bucks" to buy me a little glass duck, to make up for the broken owls.

And where was Miss Jamie P. when all of this was going on? Where she always is anymore ... in her room. Lately her room has become her sanctuary, and she's spending more and more time there ... usually on her top bunk with one or both of the kitties, reading and listening to the radio.

Kacie: "MOM! I said I only wanted half an English muffin!"

Mom: (pretending to be really crushed) "God, I'm really sorry. I'm a lousy mom."

Kacie: "Are you kidding? Some kids would DIE for a mom like you."

Just spent my entire morning cleaning Kyle's bedroom ... what a disgusting, back-breaking job. It hadn't been cleaned in months and needed it. I'll certainly be glad when Kyle is old enough to do it himself, but until that wondrous day arrives I'm the only one with patience enough to sort through mountains of Legos, Matchbox cars, broken crayons, weird little bits of paper ...

Joey B. was here for most of the afternoon. Kacie, Kyle and Joey immediately got into an ear-splitting argument. "Kyle threw a knife at me!" Kacie howled. That got my attention!! (It was only after I dragged all three of them into the house and interrogated them that I learned Kacie had tied her little brother up in a sheet and left him trapped inside of it. Honestly ... )

Jamie was elected school Secretary/Treasurer yesterday. Her first personal victory! Funnily enough, her competition was none other than Tia B., who, rumor has it, is furious that Jamie beat her. Tee hee.

A Thought Out of Nowhere

Where will this family be in ten years? It'll be the year 2002. Ray and I will be in our forties; the girls will be out of high school, Kyle will be in his junior or senior (?) year ... where will we be? What will be going on in our lives? What triumphs and losses will we have lived through?

October 1992

Cleaning the girls' room

(Cue swelling theme music)

Announcer: "The girls' bedroom ... the final frontier!"

(More music)

"... This is the voyage of the Momship 'Fedupwiththegoddamnedmess.' Her all-day mission: to explore strange, laundry-infested bedrooms ... to seek out moldy apple cores and naked Barbie dolls without heads ... to boldly go where NO MOM HAS GONE IN THREE MONTHS."

10 a.m.

God. I've been in there sorting dirty clothes for an hour and I'm pooped already. The last time I cleaned their room was last July, when they were at camp: now I remember why I don't do this very often!

One sad note: I'm packing up the Barbie stuff today and sending it up to the attic. My sophisticated daughters seem to have finally outgrown Barbie - they sold the Townhouse to Danielle last summer - so this is the end of an era. Bye, Barbie.

11 a.m.

Another "coffee break" following another hour of intensive cleaning. I'm on my third garbage box, and I haven't even gotten to the closet or the bunkbeds yet. Most disgusting "find" so far: the clump of bird feathers under the bed. Most irritating "find": a bunch of outdated computer slips from her teacher, which I should have signed and returned two weeks ago.

1 p.m.

Done. Exhausted. I must amend one thing. The "most disgusting find" wasn't the clump of bird feathers, after all. It was the bird's head, which I discovered fifteen minutes later.

October 1992

A wild and windy morning, and Kyle is home sick. He's thrown up three times since he woke up and I suspect he's running a fever, although I don't have a thermometer so I don't know for sure. Right now he's laying in my bed watching TV, and he's as pale and limp as an old cotton ball. My poor baby. "I can't figure out what's makin' me barf so much," he said, bewildered.

A few days later

Now it's Jamie's turn. She went to Girl Scouts last night looking a little wan, but when she got home she looked ghastly. Her face was chalky white and there were huge black circles under her eyes. This morning her temperature is 101 and she can't keep anything down. Right now she's exactly where her brother was, 72 hours ago ... laying in my bed watching TV.

October 28

The kids carved their pumpkins last night, and I don't know if it's my imagination or not but this morning I smell pumpkin everywhere ... on my hands, in the kitchen, on the sofa pillows. We cleared a space on the dining room floor, and I helped them cut the pumpkins open - the most dangerous part of the whole operation - and then let them have at it.

October 30, 1992

After losing my babysitting job for the final time

Karen called last night to announce that they're "looking into a new daycare." No preamble, no warning: just a flat announcement. It's nothing personal ... they just need something closer to home ... but as usual the timing stinks. Ray said the same thing he always says ("It'll be OK"). Even Jamie was doing her part to be supportive. "It always seems like you find a new babysitting job," she said sweetly.

October 31

What is it with Jamie and Hallowe'en?? For the second year in a row, she's in tears because she doesn't like her costume. Last year she wanted to be a "baby," only at the last minute she decided she looked stupid and she shut herself in her room, refusing to come out. Eventually she relented and came trick-or-treating with us, but she was sullen and unhappy most of the evening. This year, the problem has been getting to a store to buy her a costume. I came up with a great idea for Kyle: I made him a "karate kid" outfit out of an old white jacket my mom gave me and a pair of the girls' white sweat pants. He loves it. And Kacie has been planning to go as Wednesday Addams for weeks, and she's got her costume pulled together already. Jamie, on the other hand, still has nothing to wear. She threw together a makeshift "gypsy" costume for yesterday's school party, but when I suggested this morning that she go ahead and be a gypsy again tonight - I even offered to pay her ten bucks if she would just settle for the gypsy costume without a fuss!! - that's when trouble started. Her Pouty Face made its first appearance of the day. "But my HAIR won't stay curly, and no one even KNOWS what I AM!" she said, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. I woke up to a chest cold and pouring down rain this morning, and I was in no mood. "Fine!" I snapped at her, throwing the ten dollar bribe on top of the fridge and stalking out of the room. She sat in the living room and cried, and I stomped around the house, trying to clear my head and come up with an idea. Finally, I called my mom. Would she mind taking Jamie shopping today? The happy ending is she'll be here at noon to pick Jay up. I got paid last night (for probably the last time), so I'll give her $25 and tell her to bring me change. Hopefully she'll find something she likes, and that'll be the end of it for another year.

Hallowe'en turned out just fine. Mom and Jamie found a Minnie Mouse costume on sale, and when we finished putting her together Jamie looked great. By the time she left to go trick-or-treating with Nicole, she was babbling happily. "This is gonna be the best Hallowe'en I ever had!" she said. "I've got a cool costume, I'm going with my friends ..." At that point she shot me a slightly guilty look. Was I upset because she wasn't trick-or-treating with the family this year? I assured her that I was OK with the idea, that I just want her to have fun, and she seemed relieved. Kacie, Kyle and I went with Thelma and her kids. Mostly we just drove around the Angle Lake neighborhoods and let the kids hit all the houses that were lit up. Audrey, as always, was insufferable, so I was glad we only had to trick-or-treat with them for forty-five minutes or so. Then we went over to Shannon South and went out with Lori and Tracy.

November 19, 1992

Yesterday morning I looked out the kitchen window and was startled to see a rainbow. A rainbow in November?! For days we've had nothing but rainstorms and muddy grey skies ... the world has seemed relentlessly winterlike, within my heart and without. So to suddenly find myself looking at something so bright and full of hope was jarring. It was like a little sign, meant for my eyes alone. God? Grandma? Someone telling me to hold on, something good is just around the corner. I was so moved - I didn't know whether to laugh or cry - that I ran and got my camera and took a picture of it, just so that someday I can look at it and remind myself that it really happened ...

Continued ...

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