Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Atlantic to Pacific, Gee the traffic is Terrific!

To me, nothing says happy holidays like an extended stay road trip. What could be more fun than cramming the whole family into the car while singing, "From Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific," packed tight like overstuffed olives, as we inhale stray strands of hair from the dogs balancing on the wrapped gifts in the back seat? Yep, there's no place like home for the holidays.

Before my parents moved South, we would make an annual Christmas road trip from Georgia to Massachusetts, stopping halfway in Delaware so we could spend time with both sides of the family. Sometimes, on the way back home, we would load up Aunt Katie and cousin Olivia to make the last thirteen hours of the trip a little more exciting and ring in the New Year with some real Chesapeake Bay pizzazz. The challenge was always how to add two more passengers to a vehicle that already resembled one of those tiny circus cars with the twenty something clowns in it. We rode with our load far beyond the top of Mount Crumpit!

On that particular trip, Senia Mae was probably a year and a half, no more than two, and was still at the age where she spoke only a few choice words. I called them "power words" because the phrases she spat our had to have the effect she wanted; sometimes she had to use a little more vocal force to drive the point home. After a exceedingly long standstill on 95, the bumper to bumper chaos was beginning to take its toll on our moods, so we pulled off somewhere in Virginia to get a little fresh air and stretch our legs.

After we had all used the restroom and refreshed our beverages at Dunkin' Donuts, the dogs had been walked and we were crossing the parking lot towards the car. When Senia Mae realized where we were headed, she immediately cemented her feet to the pavement like a stubborn old mule.

"Poopie diaper, poopie diaper, poopie diaper," she grumbled, resisting our attempts to move her forward.

I had just changed her diaper a few minutes before. When I slid my finger around her back side and propped it open, there was nothing in there, just like I thought. Senia Mae must have been testing out her dawdling tactics in hopes of going elsewhere, anywhere but back in the car. At eighteen months old she was already giving us the fake out!

As grownups, we don't always appreciate our ability to freely express our opinions. I guess shouting "poopie diaper" was the only way Senia Mae could delay the inevitable, her way of telling us she was NOT going to be shoved back into that micro machine... at least not without letting us know how she really felt about it!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The real Porno for Pyros

Yesterday, as the mercury plummeted to a level where a jacket was deemed necessary, it finally became cold enough in Georgia to build a fire in the fireplace. Although I always appreciate seventy degree weather in December, the sudden chill in the air, like shoving through the crowds of overzealous mothers clawing the last available doll at Toys r' Us, does seem to be seasonably appropriate.

Whenever it is fireplace weather there is always this underlying competition of who can build a better fire from scratch, me or Kim. I feel superior because I was a Girl Scout, spending much of my youth heaving and hawing through the woods with sit up-ons and tuna can fire starters. I pride myself on knowing how to build an oven out of a wine box wrapped in aluminum foil and have no problem throwing on an old pair of boots in order to scavenge the depths of the woods to find the best dry kindling to start a fire.

Kim was a Blue Bird. I know Blue Birds eventually turned into Campfire Girls and obviously with that title they would have the appropriate skills to maintain a blazing fire in the hearth.

Whenever Kim starts the fire I always get in trouble for trying to rearrange her logs. "Get out of there," she says to me as I sneak over trying to maximize air flow under the grate. It seems hilarious now, but years ago we actually got into an argument over our competitive management of the fireplace.

She seems to have no recollection of what she learned as a Blue Bird, just that she was one. Even though I feel as if I have superior fire training, I would love to actually hear from some other Blue Birds out there, just to give Kim some extra support because even though everyone is the best fire starter in their own mind, it probably depends most on WHO is telling the story!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

There's a Missing Member from the Manger

I feel myself starting to unravel as Senia Mae scants from bin to bin pulling out random Christmas decorations, giving them the quick once over, and then proceeding to discard them on the floor as she moves on to the next discovery. The mood is supposed to be good: it's chilly and raining outside, we are drinking eggnog and blaring the Glee Christmas album on Pandora. Why can't I just enjoy this moment of family bonding as we decorate our home for Christmas? Taking a deep breath, I let my shoulders relax as I step over a mound of tinsel garland and help Senia Mae pull out her Little People Nativity scene. That is what she is really searching for.

When we find the box underneath several hand blown glass ornaments that were placed haphazardly a midst the table runner in the Christmas tote, I pull it out carefully, like it is the lost treasure we have been seeking for decades. Within seconds the box is on the floor and there is plastic hay, a mule, and a couple of wise men camouflaged into our tan and white shag carpet.

"Let her be," Kim says to me, smiling and putting her hand on my shoulder in hopes of calming down the manic expression she sees rising on my face. "We can gather up all the pieces when she is done playing."

But I can't just let it go. I have always had this neuroses where I can't stand for parts to be missing from a set, it makes me crazy. Why can't we keep all of the pieces together? It feels like its been the daily battle of my existence, trying desperately to keep all of the pieces of my life neatly together.

I remember sobbing in my mother's lap after the neighborhood kids left our old house on California Road. Pieces of my Barbie Dream house furniture were scattered in every room and I was a total mess, spinning out of my control because my "stuff" was not in a contained area. Looking around my living room today, I realize that not much has changed with my mental incapacities as I try to control myself and let my child have her own Christmas experience.

Apparently I am not Elsa and I just can't just let it go. I line the Little People up on the mantle, feeling the strong urge to make sure all of the members are there. Of course, several are missing: a donkey, one palm tree, and the cart that goes on the mule. Instead of unpacking the rest of my pre lit garland and my special Christmas tableware, I find myself digging through Senia Mae's four bins that happen to contain a mixed salad of everything from Barbie shoes to palace pets to farm tractors.

After thirty minutes of digging, I recover two of the three lost manger members. One is still missing. Is Christmas really going to be ruined over a missing donkey cart from the Little People Nativity scene? Hopefully not.

Since then I have been able to move slightly forward, I have gotten the upper mantle partially decorated. But I can't seem to get past the thought that maybe the cart got mixed in with the farm toys we passed down to her cousins last summer. I'll call my sister later to see if she came across a stray cart with no donkey. Since this isn't a dire emergency, my therapist would probably appreciate it if I held off calling her until Monday morning!