Sunday, August 20, 2006

"I Brush My Teeth"


Imagine the changes coming to Erin's life after this conversational exchange:

Scene: Erin visiting with her nurses at University Pediatrics the day after returning from vacation.

Beverly: "So, Erin, what did you need a vacation from?"

Erin: "What do you mean?"

Beverly: "Like chores. Do you have a lot of chores around the house that you needed a vacation from?"

Erin: "Oh yes. I have lots of chores."

Beverly: "Like what?"

Erin (thinking or maybe stalling): "Well.. . um."

Beverly: "You probably don't do anything to help out. You probably make your poor mother do all the work."

Erin: "No, really. I do chores every day."

Beverly: "Like what?"

Erin (smiling because she finally thought of something): "I brush my teeth."

Mother collapses in a mortified heap on the floor.

What kind of failure of a mother am I that the only chore my nine-year old has is the brush her teeth? Wait a minute. Maybe I'm brilliant. Maybe I have so brainwashed her and disguised the chores that she really thinks that setting the table, loading the dishwasher, and collecting the garbage are fun and games, not work. Yeah. That's got to be it. It can't be that I have given her a free pass on chores.

School started uneventfully last week. Erin has a few of the usual suspects (her buddies) in her homeroom which has made the transition to fourth grade a piece of cake. We think her new teachers, Mrs. Carson (homeroom, language arts, and social studies) and Mrs. Harper (math and science), are super already. And here's one for the small world category. It turns out that the only new student from Bryan High going to Rice this fall with Davis is Connie Carson's niece. Davis is still trying to figure out how I am able to plant so many spies around him.

Speaking of the college man. He irritated me yesterday. About the time I got the living room organized to start staging items for packing, he decided Walter couldn't make it to the grocery store without him. Then, he had to touch up a project he had been working on. Then, he had to go to the rec center for one last work out. Then, we had an early family dinner planned so that he could have one last night out on the town with his high school buddies. So, the little red hen (that's me) said, "That's okay, I'll do it myself," though inside I was thinking "How do I know what he wants to take?" and "This is so inefficient. He's likely to forget some important things because we're not doing this together. By the time he gets in tonight. I'll be sound asleep and no help."

In the end, it all got done, of course, and I didn't have to stay up past my appointed bed time. He may have forgotten some things, and I may have packed some things he didn't want to take. I decided that those miscues were just like dangling threads and loose ends, and that I faced a choice. If I really tied up all the loose ends and cut all the dangling threads, then Davis would be just like a marble--solid, compact, nothing hanging off. If he were like that, then he could just roll away, where ever he wanted, and everyone knows that a rolling marble has no reason to come home. If there are still the telltale bits of string dangling there, it probably means I'll see him again (and if whatever he has forgotten is important, it will probably be sooner rather than later--like maybe even Tuesday, when Erin and I will be across the street at Texas Children's for her monthly clinic appointment).

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