Slumming it, for real

I had grand plans of doing a major basement purge-overhaul in the professor’s absence. I tidied his office. Relocated the stacks of CDs that were perched on his desk and organized the boys’ movie collection that had been sitting in the same spot on the floor since we returned from our epic journey to the heartland.

In July.

But that’s where it stopped. So I had one last day to get it all done. That day – was Saturday. And then I woke up at 3am with chattering teeth and the realization that I was most likely ill. And my hopes for achieving domestic nirvana went out the window. I would have to spend Saturday: surviving. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s kind of a funny sight when I, person who eschews all things medicinal, scrabbles for the (hopefully unexpired) painkillers before the clock strikes 9am. Yet, there I was. Not sure what I thought that one tablet of Advil was going to do for me, but that’s what I could find so that’s what I had.

Call it the placebo effect, but that little Advil (or the little Aleve I found a few hours later) enabled me to shower and make banana muffins for the boys’ snack. And paint with the older boys while Percy napped. It turned into something of a marathon session as they filled page after page with fruit, planets, landscapes, lava, and dinosaurs; depleting my entire supply of Cadmium Red. All while I worked on one, single, pathetic little painting.

But when Percy woke up, the Advil-Aleve combo stopped working. And I fell on the couch in a pitiful heap. ‘Mom, we’re hungry,’ the Gort informed me. He deduced, correctly, from my grunt that a homemade lunch was not in the cards. ‘That’s okay, I’ll make a sun butter and jelly sandwich,’ he offered. ‘Can you make one for your brothers,’ I begged-pleaded.

Next thing I knew, Percy had climbed onto the couch beside me: a piece of (ungarnished) whole wheat bread in each of his hands. ‘Could you at least put something on the bread?’ I asked the Gort. Who’d lost interest in being the chef. ‘Why do I always have to do everything?’

The two year old returned to the dining table, grabbed another piece of bread, and returned to me. I thought of the crumbs on the couch. I thought of the fact that he was eating plain bread for lunch – and a lot of plain bread at that. But I was powerless to act.

‘Mom, can we watch something on Netflix,’ the Gort asked when his snack-lunch was done. ‘Sure,’ I whispered without making any attempt to get off the couch and set them up at the computer. ‘That’s okay, I can do it,’ the seven point five year old allowed me to stay put. I waited for the tell-tale ‘Let’s Go, Ghostbusters, let’s go!’ theme song from the animated series before snuggling with crumb boy to watch Flipped. Though I missed most of the significant moments in the plot, I was grateful for the company. Marvelling at the boys’ ability to rise to the occasion.

Around 5.30, I realized dinner time was quickly approaching and though I actually had leftovers in the fridge, I decided to attempt an outing. I surveyed the crowd.

Oldest boy-child, still wearing pajamas.

Middle boy-child, wearing actual clothes. Actual, splattered with Cadmium Red clothes. ‘That was your favorite shirt,’ I sighed, pointing to the now mostly-red pirate shirt. ‘That’s okay, I’ll find another one,’ he scoffed.

Youngest boy-child, wearing actual clothes. But actual clothes he’d slept in the previous night, covered in chocolate stains from……who knows where and when.

Mother, covered in bread crumbs, wearing husband’s oversized hooded-sweatshirt-jacket-thing.

The only outing we were suited for, was the drive-thr(o)u(gh). And the only dinner-ish place with a drive-thru: McDonald’s.

The boys acted like they’d won the lottery when I told them we were going to McDonald’s. Even though only one of the boys actually eats the food there. But a plastic toy and a bottle of chocolate milk call for celebration, chez nous.

I ordered three happy meals and passed them to their respective owners. ‘We’re having a car-picnic,’ I tried to make it sound special. I then pointed the car in the direction of Starbucks for my dinner: earl grey tea latte. After which I drove along the reservoir, feeling guilty that the boys had seen nothing but the inside of our house all day long.

We passed a playground. ‘Can we stop at the playground?’ oldest boy-child asked. It was 6.30pm. I couldn’t fathom lifting children onto swings and monkey bars. ‘No, it’s too late,’ I begged off. And I was freezing (even though it was a balmy fifty degrees outside.) But they asked so nicely. And they’d been so good. And then we came upon a second playground.

‘Okay,’ I relented, ‘but just for five minutes.’ ‘Thanks mom, you’re the best!’ the Gort shouted. ‘You’re the best,’ the Hen followed suit. ‘You’re-a-best’, Percy copied.

So they played. While I stood in the gravel clutching my drink. And ten minutes later we drove home. Each of the boys – even the two year old – telling, without a doubt, the world’s worst knock knock jokes.

An image that still had me smiling at 11pm. When I scraped sunflower butter off the floor. And washed green and red paint off the walls and floor.

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