Floating Worms

I recently figured out why Seattle and Vancouver are so coffee-centric. Because they are rainy cities and rain makes people want to drink coffee. Or so I concluded when, during May-now-June’s umpteenth rainy, dreary day, I reached for my second (or was it third) latte of the day. Before standing in front of the pantry, willing something delectable to jump out at me from the staple-filled-shelves. Perhaps there were some m&m’s lurking behind the rice that I’d simply forgotten about?

As if.

I used to think I wanted to live in Seattle. The comparatively mild climate. The coffee. The cool factor. The natural beauty. But the reality is, if I had to endure [consecutive] weeks of rain and/or gray, I’d probably go insane. My teeth would be scary-yellow from all the coffee. And I’d spend most of the day sitting on the couch eating….anything.

Because gray and rainy days call for hibernation – but not the sleeping-without-eating kind of hibernation. No, the watching-movies-continuously-with-a-hand-stuck-in-a-cookie-jar-while-everything-falls-to-pieces-around-you, kind of hibernation.

Oh, is that just me?

Anyway, the point is, it’s rained a lot and things have gotten somewhat dire chez Johnson. Because monsoon-week happily coincided with ‘no-screen’ week. Yes, during yet another of my irrational-impulsive moments, I decided that the reason the boys were crazy and grumpy was because they were having too much screen time. Not because they were falling asleep increasingly later every night courtesy of soccer and bunk beds and three boys insisting on ‘sleeping’ in the same room. No, it was because they were having too much screen time.

Sure, putting it into [those] words makes me sound all kinds of loony, but I had actually noticed a marked increase in their demands (and my concession) to watch Netflix or play wii or bizarre computer games. And more screen time…. means less playing and reading and drawing. (But less screen time means more whining and fighting.)

I’m not sure which is worse: more screen time or more fighting. Okay, truthfully: more fighting is worse. But I’m willing to consider the bigger picture and put aside my petty aversions to yelling and refereeing awesome arguments like ‘he’s looking at me.’

Oh, the horror.

On Day 1 of NSW, I happened to be gone most of the day. Perfect. (Though the professor disagreed.) On Day 2, I picked up the Hen from school and he refused to speak to me. Literally, the kid gave me the silent treatment because I’d put the kabosh on computer games for seven days. By Day 3, things had mellowed a bit and the boys were starting to count-down the days until they could be reunited with their screen of choice. On Day 4, I picked up the Hen from school and he was crying. Because of my failure to pack a sufficient amount of food in his snack for the two hours and thirty nine minutes that he was at school.

Apparently he’d been on the brink of starvation.

But we made it through Day 5 and 6 with shreds of our collective sanity still intact. The boys played outside (in the rain).


Note the too-short sleeves on Percy’s jacket. It has since been donated to Goodwill. 

And Percy tried to start sucking his thumb. (Maybe it’s the 3.75 year old’s version of coffee?)


We played a couple of rounds of Scrabble…..I read the boys a book (about Skylander Giants)……

And then it was Day 7. And it was still raining. And I started feeling a little bit like Noah in the Ark. (Mostly because the Gort or the Hen had referenced it the week before.) And the professor, who seems to have a new obsession with not-so-new Pandora, failed to notice that it was playing nothing but Bon Iver.

As one of his breathily-morose songs began, I racked my musical brain to recall where I’d heard it last: yoga class. A relatively peaceful memory. But then there was another and possibly another and finally I turned it off before I completely lost the will to live.

Shortly thereafter we left the house in the teal special and ran a few errands. Which did nothing to improve anyone’s mood. (Funny how Costco can do that. Or not do that, as the case may be.) And, two hours later, as we pulled up to the curb in front of our house with seven groceries in the trunk, and a chorus of are-we-going-home-now’s, I knew we had to do something.

‘Who wants to go for a walk in the rain?’ I tried to chirp cheerfully. Four reluctant Johnson boys agreed. And we set off around the neighborhood in search of something.


Worms, it turned out. Because a week of rain not only gives you a muffin top and yellow teeth, it also gives you a lot of worms. Ergo, there was a lot of stopping to stare and poke at worms. [And the professor literally paid his squeamish youngest boy-child to hold a worm in his hand for five seconds.] Poor boys: their mother thinks they should spend less time in front of a computer and their father thinks they should hold worms in their hands.


We returned home a good hour later, but it was still nowhere near bedtime. At 5:21, I glanced at the clock, ‘I’ve just lost the will to live,’ I sighed to the professor. ‘You’re about an hour behind me,’ he muttered by way of reply.

Just before eight we dispatched the younger boys for a bath whilst the oldest boy got creative with the masking tape. ‘Do I look like a robot or a skeleton,’ he wrote the question on a piece of paper.

Because he’d taped his mouth shut.


I haven’t summoned the courage to look at next week’s forecast.

5 thoughts on “Floating Worms

  1. Maybe that mask it the answer to the fighting problem… they can just write down their discontent…

  2. It’s a myth – it is not grey and rainy in Seattle here all the time! It may rain every day for 8 months, but it does not rain ALL day 😉 The boys are playing outside every day all year round. I much prefer that to sub zero myself 🙂 I hope the forecast clears up for you!!


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