Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall break, take 2

Remember when I told you that fall break was over? Finished? Caput? Well, let’s just say we’re right back in the thick of it.

Last night I did everything but stand on my head to get Charley to buy into the thought that fall break was over.

I said, “Guess what son, tomorrow you get to go back to school, isn’t that great?”

“No not,” he said.

I said, “Son you’ve had a whole week off, now it’s time to go back.”

“No not.”

So much for the cheerful tone.

So I tried playing the Mr. Bailey card. “Mr. Bailey misses you,” I said.

He thought about that for a moment.

“Don’t you miss him?”


“Then aren’t you glad school starts tomorrow?”

“No not Mommyhead.”

This wasn’t working either. I would have to turn up the volume.

“Son, I thought you said there were girls at school,” I said, and walked out of the room.

The next thing I knew he was right behind me.

“You right Mom, I go school morrow.”

Well let me tell ya, morrow rolled around and Brad and I went into automatic pilot.

“Time to get up son.”

“The bus is on its way.”

“Hurry up, you’re gonna miss the bus.”

"Would you get your rear end out of that bed?”

He peeked out from underneath his covers. “Relax Mom,” he said.

Yep, we were back in business…Brad and I were running around the house like a couple of chickens, and he was (if you’ll please excuse the expression) dragging his butt. Things were definitely back to normal.

The bus pulled up. He got on it. Ain’t life wonderful?

“Whew,” I said to Brad, “I thought school would never start back up again.”

The phone rang. Brad sort of stood in the doorway and hovered. That’s never a good sign.

“The school just called. They think Charley has pink eye,” he said.

We had sent him to school thinking his allergies were acting up again because his eye was a bit red, but that’s happened before and then gone away, so we went on and sent him.

Into the car and down the mountain we went to retrieve our kid.

One of his teachers, Mrs. Tooter, talked to him all the way out to the car and told him not to fuss at us for picking him up at school.

He said okay, and then when she was out of earshot he demanded an explanation. “Daddy, why you uppin’ me at school?”

“Because we need to get your eye checked.”


“We’re going to the Dr’s office.”

“Daddy I hate darn doctor.” He was referring to his recent hospital stay when they turned him into a pin cushion with the IV.

“It’ll be okay, I said, “They are just going to look at your eye.”

Why oh why can’t I just leave well enough alone? But no. Mommy Dearest had to stick her big nose in because no sooner had we arrived at the doctor’s office than I started concocting this scheme to have all three of us get our flu shots.

I went first, then Brad.

I came back into the examination room and he noticed the Band-Aid.

“Mom, what happened to you?”

“I got a flu vaccine,” I said. It sounded better than saying the word shot.

“Not me,” he said.

He had no clue what a vaccine was but if it required a Band-Aid he knew he wasn’t about to do it, so he started blowing me kisses. Perhaps if he buttered me up …

“I love Dad,” he said.

“Me too,” I said.

The physician’s assistant took his blood pressure. Then since Charley has two arms he took it again in the other arm.

“Whelp, I go home now,” he said.

“No son, we haven’t seen the Dr. yet.”

He blinked his eyes at me. It’s his way of telling me off without opening his mouth, and then when he'd had enough of waiting for the Dr. which seemed to take forever, he fell sound asleep and started snoring.

I looked at him stretched out, oblivious to the world around him, and to tell you the truth if I could have I’d have shoved him off of the examination table and taken a nap myself.

The Dr. broke the news. “It’s pink eye,” she said. “He’ll have to be off school the rest of the week.”

I looked over at Brad. “Fall break times 2,” I said.

“Whelp, I go home now,” Charley said.

“In a minute son, we’re going to get you an immunization to keep you from getting sick,” I said, as if using a big word would keep him uninformed for at least another 30 seconds and therefore he might not bolt for the door.

Scott (the physician assistant) tried reasoning with him first. Man to man. I peeked through the crack in the door. Scott was telling him it wouldn’t hurt, but Charley wasn’t buying it. Any of it. He sort of slid off the examination table and was kind of crouching down.

“I scared,” he yelled.

Scott was saying, “It only takes a second.”


So I went into the room to try and help.

I said, “Charley do you want me to stay with you while you get your shot?” Did I just say the word shot?


“You want me to leave?”


“Roll up your sleeve, here let me help you.”



He was curled up into a little ball.

So I curled up into a little ball with him. And just hugged him. He hugged me back and buried his head into my shoulder. “We’re only trying to keep you from getting sick,” I said. “It’s because we love you honey.”


“I know you’re not now, but you might get sick if you don’t have the shot.”

Next Brad tried.


The shot was not going to happen. At least not today.

Brad and I look at each other with that look that husbands and wives give each other when they know they can beat their heads against a brick wall and in the end all they will have are heads that have been beaten against a brick wall. “Miss Scarlet? Tomorrow is another day,” he said.

We suggested that Scott look into the possibility of getting that nasal spray we’ve seen on TV so Charley could get a flu vaccine. So we decided to wait a week or so and try again, and if that doesn't work, we'll head to Knoxville where hopefully they'll have that nasal spray. Come on medical people, it takes what it takes.

It’s been a weird week. Today is Thursday, at least I think it is. It’s so early in the morning that I’m not sure if it’s still Wednesday.

I heard Brad in the hallway. Charley was asking him, “Daddy, this school out?”

Brad said, “Yes.”

“Work off?”


“Church over?”


Silence. Perhaps they've gone to the other end of the house now and I can go back to sleep. Perhaps I can get one more hour before I have to get up and do the day. Perhaps…oh for crying out loud, the door opens.

Brad’s creeping into the room. He’s being as quiet as he knows how, but I hear him moving things around. He’s looking for something. Charley’s in the doorway with the light on, of course, “Dad, leave Mommy lone.”

He continues moving stuff about.

I may as well join in the party. “Brad, what the heck are you doing?”

There are some things you just can’t write about. I knew exactly what he was looking for, but I can’t tell you because even Brad deserves to preserve what ever dignity he can fool himself into thinking he has.

He shuts the door and leaves.

I could go back to sleep.

Or, I could face the fact that I couldn’t get back to sleep and could just get up.

Five minutes later I’m chasing Charley around the kitchen table trying to put drops in his eyes. Yes, I did say the word chasing. Someone I know and love must be feeling better, because he’s darting one way, then the next, keeping the table between us.

So I sweet talk him. “I’m not playing with you, son, you’re going to get these eye drops and that is that. Now be a good boy…”

“I not a boy!”

“What are you, a monkey?”

“Stop it mom. I a man!”

He's a man all right, a man who's standing his ground.

“Son, you must be feeling better; would you like go to work today?”

"You're fired!" he says.

"You can't fire me, I'm the mom."

“I can call Betty and have her pick you up in about 30 minutes.”

“Stop it Mom.”

I cross the room and pick up the phone and pretend to dial.

“Hello Betty? This is Sherry Palmer, Charley wants to go to work today.”

Charley plops himself into the chair and assumes the eye drop position.

“Never mind Betty, false alarm,” I say and hang up the phone.

I pick up the little bottle of eye drops and talk to him to distract him. It's gotta be a direct hit, because I know I won’t get another chance, at least not for a while.

I’m holding his eye open and he’s squinting it shut.

I’m saying, “Hold still, will ya?”

And he’s leaning as far back in the chair as possible. I’m sort of standing over him trying to keep my balance but I feel myself slipping.

The drop lands on his cheek.

“Son, the idea is to get it in your eye,” I said, tightening my grip on him.

“It’s Cold!” he says and jerks away.

Eye drops at 5:45 in the morning. What was I thinking?

“I’m not going to wrestle you to the floor,” I say.

Wait-a-minute, what am I saying? I am on the one on the floor. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is just too much fun.

Mission unaccomplished.

“Warry mom.”

“Not half as warry as I am,” I said.

“Whelp, I go my room now.”

“Whelp, I get coffee now.”

"Mom, you order that Mask of Zorro yet?"

"Son, you shave the other half of that beard yet?"

“I love you Mom.” I can see him peeking at me from the doorway.

“I love you too son.”

So yes. It’s fall break. It’s Thursday. Or is it Wednesday? The rooster across the street hasn’t crowed yet. The chickens haven’t made their way across the lawn. The cat hasn’t been fed. The breakfast hasn’t been made. The clothes haven’t been ironed. The drops haven’t landed in the eye.

But for now the drops can wait.

I will peel myself off the floor.

I will wrap myself in a blanket, wipe away the spider webs and plant myself in the wooden rocker on the front porch and watch the sun come up.

I will sit here and wait for the roosters and the chickens, and listen to my son in his bedroom laughing out loud at his movies.

I will sip hot coffee and thank the Lord that my son is on the mend and that break or no break, I have more blessings than I deserve because I have another day with him.

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