Some weeks I drive carpool for Olivia and two of her friends. We are up early and and on the road at 6:45. In the morning. Some mornings I have to drag Diego out of bed extra early and bring him with me. Needless to say, three teen girls, and a sleepy 7 year-old at 6:45 in the morning, are not the most pleasant company as we wind our way through traffic to get to the girls high school a few cities away. Often the sound of the silence in the car is deafening, disrupted only by the occasional “uh-huh,” and accompanied by the requisite adolescent eye-rolling. One day last week was a completely different story.
Olivia was riding shot-gun and Diego was strapped in his booster seat beneath a couple of blankets, dozing. I picked up K and M, two of Olivia’s friends. When they got into the van, Olivia asked them if they smelled skunk. K and M replied that yes, in fact that did. Olivia was mortified, and began to offer an explanation. She told them how the night before, when she got out of the shower she reached for the towel that had been in her bedroom. The towel had been draped over a pile of clean laundry, which was on the floor, in a basket.
As Olivia used the “fresh” towel to dry herself she found it odd that it was slightly damp and not exactly clean smelling–in fact, it smelled a little like, wait for it, dog urine! Yes, our dog Molly found the towel laying atop the laundry on her bedroom floor and thought it was her pee pad! When Olivia discovered she had just dried herself off with the pee towel, Olivia, jumped back into the shower and took another equally long shower. Maybe it was Olivia’s heightened sense of smell or the thought of all that dog pee, but the thought of sleeping in her own room where the scent of dog pee still lingered was too much for her, so she opened up her bedroom window, and went to sleep in her sister’s room.
The next morning the entire household was awakened to the very real and distinctive smell of skunk spray. Olivia’s open bedroom window allowed the stench to permeate from outside the house. The skunk scent lingered everywhere skunk had been, outside Olivia’s bedroom window, on the front porch, and on the driveway where our van was parked. No wonder K and M could smell it when we picked them up. Maybe it was the idea of Olivia drying herself with the pee towel, or the skunk story, but soon the girls began telling their own skunk stories. K told us about the time a skunk had crawled under her house and died. Her family tried to hire a couple of people to remove it but the stench was so bad no one would go near the dead skunk. Every time they got close enough to remove it, they would vomit. I guess all this talk of dog pee, skunk spray and vomit was just too much for Diego, who I thought had fallen back asleep. I was wrong, Diego was listening, fascinated by the grossness of it all. As K finished telling her story, Diego, chimed in. He asked, how did the skunk die and why didn’t anyone try to give the skunk CPR? With the curiousity of a 7 year-old Diego asked, if they had given the skunk CPR, couldn’t they have vomited in the skunk’s mouth?That was enough to send squeals of eeww among the girls. Diego just laughed out loud, very pleased with himself. I just grimaced and thought to myself, that maybe it was better to have a quite carpool in the morning.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
-Cecil F. Alexander, 1848.
I am generally okay with most creatures great and small, except for three small things, roaches, rodents and slugs. But, Diego loves all creatures great and small, especially slugs. Diego once picked up a slug and excitedly let it crawl on his forearm. He held it out to me and told me, “Here, Mommy, if you let it crawl on you it tickles and leaves a shiny mark!” No thanks. I first wrote about Diego’s love of slugs here, my first blog post ever.
Diego loves to explore the wilds of our backyard and capture animals and insects. He has a fascination with these creatures, as I suspect most boys do. In fact, I am sure as most boys do. My other son, 12 year-old Nico’s pet…
Spike the Bearded Dragon.
See? I really am okay with most creatures great and small.
So, it does not surprise me or creep me out when Diego occasionally asks for a jar or a box of some kind to house his roly-poly pets, insects, or whatever. It does, however, creep me out when he asks for a jar to house his pet slug. He did this the other day, while I was in the middle of making dinner, otherwise known as throwing food on the table for the kids to inhale. I absent-mindedly gave him a clean glass jar without a lid. I told him we could punch holes in foil and use it as a cover. I did not see what he did next, but I have since learned that he promptly placed “Sluggy” in the jar, without foil, and put it in our TV cabinet in the family room.
The next day I got a phone call while I was at work. It was our babysitter, Marian Poppins.
MP: Hi Diana. Have you seen Diego’s pet slug?
Me: What? What pet slug?
MP: The one he said he put in the jar you gave him. He said he put the jar and the slug inside the TV cabinet.
Me: Oh. My. God. I didn’t know he was going to put a slug in that jar, and I certainly did not know he would bring it in the house. Please find it!
MP: Okay, we’ll look for it.
Later, I checked in with her and asked if she found the slug. She replied that they looked all over and could not find him, or her. (Do slugs have a gender?)
I have not walked barefoot in my house since.
It’s been a very busy and emotional two weeks, so I haven’t done much blogging or made much progress on my list of 50 Things to Do Before my 5oth Birthday. I did manage to knock off a couple of little things, and one big thing, though. Here are some of the little things:
Number 21 on my list–Visit to a local landmark/attraction once a month. This month I went to Dodger Stadium, for a game between the crosstown rivals, the LA Dodgers and Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim. I still don’t understand how a team could be have LA and Anaheim in one title, since they are entirely separate counties, but from what I understand, that’s what the Angels are calling themselves these days. Anyway, the cross-town rivalry doesn’t just exist in Southern California, it also exists is our house. Juan grew up in the OC and I grew up in LA and environs. So we went to the game looking like this.
And of course, like father like son.
Even though I have been to Dodger Stadium several times, this was a special trip for me because I have never been on the actual ball field. After the game, the Dodgers had a fireworks display that would rival all the fireworks going on between the McCourts in thier divorce litigation. Fans got to watch the fireworks from the field, something I was very happy to do.
#21 for the month of June? Check.
The next thing I am making progress on my list, is number 24, review my financial retirement plan. Juan and I have had three meetings with a financial planner in the last two months. Now, before you jump to any false conclusions that I actually have any finances to plan, I should tell you that our lack of financial planning, has caused me a great deal of anxiety. Juan and I have 4 kids between us. Kids are expensive. We have (I hope) four college educations to plan for, not to mention our own retirement. Getting re-married later in life, also caused us to get a late start on the planning. Prior to meeting with this financial planner, Juan and I have been saving whatever we could, hoping and praying that it would be enough to fund some kind of higher education for our kids, with enough leftover for us to be able to eat something besides cat food in our retirement years. And while our meetings did not dispel all of our financial anxiety, they did give us some direction to how to achieve some our goals. I am breathing a little easier now, and I am sure our kids will be
happy relieved okay knowing that they will be able to go to a college. Even though it may not that fancy, schmanzy, private East coast university, we should not have to go knocking at their doors, ready to move in with them when we retire. Now, whether or not the kids will come knocking on our door when they finish college, that’s another issue.
Number 24? Check.
The third thing I did these past two weeks was number 35, Camp on the Beach. Well, I call it “beach camping,” even if it was more car camping and the beach was across the Pacific Coast Highway from our tent site, but I think it qualifies. Actually, I really do like camping, but I have never camped near or on the beach, so it is something I have always wanted to do. When my sister-in-law invited us to tag along with her and her family over 4th of July weekend I was thrilled. It was a last minute decision, but when you go camping with other people who already have the site, and most of the camp gear, a last minute camping decision is easy. We just had to pack a tent and some sleeping bags. It also helped that we were “camping” only an hour away in Orange County at a very beautiful beach, which happened to be down the street from a shopping center, and a take-out pizza place. Oh, and the fact that the camp site was brand new with showers and flush toilets didn’t hurt either. Now that is what I call “roughing it.”
Number 35? Check.
The last big thing on my list….
Molly. We got a new dog. I wrote about it here. I thought she was great until I discovered that she completely scratched the back of my leather loveseat. I threatened to send her back , but the kids love her. When we first brought her home, she was a bit timid, but now, she has warmed up to us and has made herself at home.
We had a little bit of trouble trying to reach a consensus on her name. Some contenders were: Jackie, Churro (Diego’s idea), Baby Monkey, Cow (Both Olivia’s ideas). We finally agreed on Molly. Or as I sometimes call her, Miss Molly. But, Diego likes to call her “Cute-Cute,” because she is.
That’s it for now. 5 down, 45 to go.
It’s summer and around here that means it time for summer haircuts, for the boys. When Nico was younger, and before he had an opinion about his appearance, he would get a buzz cut for the summer. This was a good solution since he has a head of hair that becomes a soggy mop after swimming, and a wool coat during our long, hot days. Now that Nico is older, he still gets a shorter cut but he does not like the shaved look, so he no longer gets a buzz cut.
However, since Diego is only 6 years-old, I figured that I could still have some say about his hair. Boy, I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. Maybe it’s the influence of his older siblings, or maybe it’s the Justin Bieber and Big Time Rush look, but Diego has definite ideas about his hair. He did not want a buzz cut. No way. I didn’t realize how much his hair meant to him, until this weekend.
Juan had to run some errands and decided to take Diego with him so they could stop and get a haircut. First, they went to the pet store. The pet store had its usual weekend dog and cat adoption fair. And as usual, Juan sent me a text which read “Can we get her?” and attached a photo of one of the dogs. Our dog, Mischief , died last November, and our family has been missing a dog in our lives. But right now? Life is really busy, we may travel on a vacation. I texted Juan back. “Cute dog, but not now.”
Moving along, Juan’s next stop was Supercuts. Juan told the hairstylist that Diego needed a summer haircut. The hairstylist talked with Juan and another hairstylist and they agreed they would use the buzzers at a level 3, but somebody forgot to tell Diego. I am sure if they had, he would have told them he didn’t want his hair short. By the time the hairstylist began buzzing the top of Diego’s hair, it was too late. Diego was mortified. Juan thought it looked cute and smiled at him. This was absolutely the wrong reacation because Diego understood Juan’s smile to mean he was laughing at him. Then, the meltdown started. Big, fat tears rolling down his face. Sobs so thick he choked on them. The hairstylist tried soothing him. Juan tried to calm him. When he realized it was past the point of no return, he carried Diego out of there and drove home. On the way, Juan called me in a panic. He warned me to tell the kids at home not to say a thing when they got home. I went outside and met them in the driveway. Diego’s eyes were swollen, and he was hiccupping from his sobs. He refused to get out of the car, even though it was 90 degrees outside. I promised him he could go through the back door and bypass his sisters inside. We got him in the shower and he continued to cry, curled up in a ball on the shower floor. I could not reason with him. Finally, I told him he had three choices:
1) Stay in the bathroom until his hair grew out.
2) Act like his haircut was not big deal and then others would not think it was a big deal.
3) Wear a hat.
He considered number 1 but decided since he could not play x-Box in the bathroom, locking himself inside was not a viable option. He completely dismissed number 2. He decided that number 3 was the best option, but only if he could wear his army hat.
Of course, I agreed and brought him the hat. (He has not taken that hat off yet, even in church.) Juan had also told Diego that he would take him back to the pet store and look again at the dog he had seen earlier. Juan promised to buy Diego ice cream too. (I know, it’s a lot. Don’t judge me.) So, between the hat, and the promise of ice cream, we finally stopped the haircut meltdown. Oh, and that return trip to the pet store? Well, let’s just say that even though I knew we’d eventually get another dog, I thought we should wait a little while longer. But, how could I have said “Not now” to this face:
And this face.