Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wet Feet

The boy came home from school and immediately started complaining that his shoes had holes in them. The boy complained that his feet were wet.

This was nothing new.

The boy has a tendency to abandon all common sense and walk through puddles, and run through mud and take the least paved route to wherever he is going.

“Yes, it was wet today, wasn’t it.” I absentmindedly answered.

The boy came home from school the next day and complained that his shoes had holes in them and that his feet were wet.

“Stop walking through puddles!” I barked at him with a little more awareness and a little less empathy than I had the prior day.

The boy came home from school the next day and complained that his shoes had holes in them and that his feet were wet.

“Goodness gracious!” I cried out in nearly complete attentive frustration. “Aren’t those shoes dried out yet? You should put them in front of the fireplace to dry overnight.”

The boy dried his shoes out overnight in front of the fireplace. As he put them on the next morning I said to the boy. “Now, boy! Those shoes are dry now. Your socks are dry now. When you get home I expect both your shoes and socks to still be dry."

The boy looked at me in, obviously immersed in thought. After a minute he spoke. “Mom? Can I take a box of Kleenex and a roll of duct tape to school today?”

“Why would you need those?”

“To keep my feet dry, like you want me to. I can put the Kleenex in my shoes around my socks to keep them dry. And I’ll roll the duct tape around my shoes to cover up the holes to keep the water out.”

“Gosh darnit, boy! I swear I just bought you those shoes. I can’t imagine that you really need duct tape for your shoes.”

The boy leaned back in his chair and lifted his feet in the air. I leaned forward and for the first time, ever, and certainly the first time in the last three days, I took a look at the bottom of the boy’s shoes.

The boy went to school with his shoes and the duct tape and the Kleenex. His teacher and his friends and I’m sure, a random child welfare worker just passing by, were able to see that the boy and his feet were not properly cared for. The boy and I did go to the shoe store that very night to get him some new shoes. And later that evening, I officially withdrew my application for Mother of the Year.

Check This Out!

The Slightly Exaggerated family has now realized that lentils mixed with rice and grape tomatoes and salt and pepper makes a very nice breakfast.

We’ve realized that the composition, Pines of Rome, by Ottorino Respighi can cause the teenager to tear up, cause the boy to declare, “I feel like someone is sneaking up behind me and is getting ready to stab me in the back!”, and cause the husband and I to thoroughly enjoy a 9th grade band concert.

And we’ve realized that a nice little perennial plant, known as the Heuchera or Coral Bells, will live very happily in the shade and will make your yard look great.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jury Duty

When I surrendered all of my morning duties to the husband, I didn’t delude myself with high expectations of what would happen when I was not home. During our temporary role reversal, I assumed that the dishes and laundry and floor cleaning would not cross the husband’s radar. I was hoping however, that the husband would ensure that the teenager and the boy, clean or not, nutritious breakfast eaten or not, homework finished or not, would somehow get to school on time and in one piece.

When I left my family for jury duty that morning I was armed with snacks and books and whole ton of patience. I had been told there might be some waiting. And despite inexplicably setting off the security alarm at the courthouse door, I managed to check in on time, fill out my forms and start to prematurely judge all of my new juror friends by their appearance and behavior.

A competent seeming judge soon provided an inspirational and instructional speech on my jury duty experience and the pride I should take in the long and slow process of waiting.

The judge asked if there were any questions. The first question came from a young woman and concerned the form we had all filled out. “It says on the form, ‘Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit?’ Well what if you went to a party and afterward there ended up being a big lawsuit over some stuff that happened that night?”

The next question came from a middle aged woman who cleared her throat and then spoke. “Where it says here on the form, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a felony?’…..well…what exactly do you mean by a….FELONY?”

A man raised his hand and asked the judge, “I already know I’m prejudiced but I didn’t see that on the form. Is there any way I can just leave now?”

Between the judge’s infectious enthusiasm for the importance of jury duty and my new doubts about the capabilities and qualifications of some of my fellow jurors, I found myself more than ready to take part in the judicial process. Within the first hour, a woman began to announce the names of 62 people that were to be questioned for a jury in courtroom number 4. I sent the woman telepathic messages with my brain, “Pick me! Pick me! I’d be good! I got an A in American Government in high school!” I don’t think the woman ever got my silent messages. She never called my name. I was convinced there had been some mistake.

Eventually, my jury duty enthusiasm began to wane as I sat and waited with those who were in the same jury limbo boat that I was. We read our books, ate our snacks and pounded on laptops. We spoke in Korean, very loudly, on our cell phone for 2 hours straight. We complained about President Obama and Sarah Palin and those troublesome Australian tax rates. We bought shoes for $39.95 from our cell phone, confessed our marital troubles to strangers and announced to the room that the pitcher for the local baseball team was a big wussy. But mostly we shifted in our seats and stared at the walls. I never was called to be a juror. After hours and hours of waiting I was sent home. I had earned $20 in jury pay, read two great books and was now able to speak some rudimentary Korean.

I drove in the driveway and my thoughts shifted back to my family. I wondered how the morning had gone for the husband and the teenager and the boy. When I walked into the house it was not the expected dirty dishes or the inevitable basket of dirty laundry or the pesky crumbs that were still left on the floor that caused me to pause. It was the sight of the first aid kit, strewn all over the counter, left in a frantic mess that caused my breath to momentarily suspend.

When I left for jury duty that morning I had hoped that the husband would somehow ensure that the teenager and the boy, clean or not, nutritious breakfast eaten or not, homework finished or not, would somehow get to school on time and in one piece. And I could see from the evidence of the dismantled first aid kit before me that the teenager and the boy, although apparently bandaged, were still, thankfully, in one piece.

Check This Out!

One of the books I read while waiting for my jury duty moment to come was Exile by Richard North Patterson. This legal thriller focuses on the defense of a Palestinian woman on trial for organizing the suicide bombing of the Prime Minister of Israel as he visited San Francisco. I found it to be a nice combination of the expected drama and suspense a novel like this is known for as well as a good dose of information about the Middle East and the often confusing Arab-Israeli conflict. This one was a hard one to put down.

For a completely different kind of book, you might try I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago. The author, Hape Kerkeling, is a hugely popular comedian and entertainer in Germany and the rest of Europe. His pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Spanish shrine of St. James, is the same spiritual journey that over 100,000 people make every year. I expected a book by a "funny guy" to be intentionally funny. This book wasn't. It was most definitely amusing. But somehow, quietly and slowly, meaning and inspiration also snuck their way into the words he wrote. This book started off slowly for me. And by the time I had finished it I knew it would be a blog recommendation.