I thought I was going to be able to get back to you with my tale of really icky basement woe before my family arrived for the week but in retrospect that was not going to happen. House guests and septic system failure do not leave a lot of time for leisurely chats with imaginary friends.
I just typed that and as I did so I heard a phantom Steve saying "It's NOT the septic system" so fine. What happened is this: last March (the last time my family visited, now that you mention it) the, uh, thing that, um, collects, er, waste water, in the basement which is connected to another thing that uses a pump or something to get the er um up to the septic tank failed. It failed and the alarm failed and everything flooded and kept flooding in the most disgusting way possible. We had a restoration company come and clean everything and replace the carpet but we noticed there was a still a bit of a... vaguely unpleasant odor in the far back corner of the basement where the pit thing lives in the electrical closet. We don't use that space, like, ever and we thought maybe it would fade in time but it's been months and it hadn't. So we called a plumber and asked him to look at a few things in the house, among them the thing in the basement. He decided to reseal it and we said okey-dokey and he did and we paid him and he left. And that was that until about six days later when Steve went down to the electrical closet and realized the carpet was squinching beneath his feet.
Further investigation revealed that a clamp had been removed and never replaced so every time the pump thing tried to pump and shift it merely pumped and... sprayed. Erupted, if you will. All over the room and the walls and the doors and
sorry. I should have asked if you were squeamish. You might not have wanted to read that.
So we had the emergency restoration people out...
hey here's a hint. when you call your homeowner's insurer on a weekend and tell them that your basement is literally swimming with sewage you might get a person who says ok, here's your initial claim number and a claims adjuster will be in touch with you within one business day. they might then end the conversation as if they had been helpful. that is when you call back and say HELLO MY BASEMENT IS SWIMMING IN SEWAGE and the next person to whom you speak will say, oh, so sorry, did you want the number for someone who can come out and deal with the situation today? You will say yes, yes you do
... and our carpet is ripped up again and the drywall's gone and we lost half the stuff in the adjacent storage room and it's annoying beyond words but I suppose it could be worse. We did ask our insurance company (who raised our annual premium... anyone?... SIXTY-SIX PERCENT after our first claim in the Spring. bastards) to work with the plumber's commercial insurer and he's been very reasonable about it so we're relieved. These things happen but hopefully we will get our deductible back and they won't raise our rates again.
Still under the category of Eruptions Comma Noxious my mom noticed that Edward seemed to be uncomfortable at more or less the same time that I tracked the off smell that I thought might be feet to Edward's ear. His ear, I mean to say, smelled like feet. I took him to the pediatrician/walk-in and we were fourth in line to be seen until Edward started rolling around on the ground clawing at his head and keening at the exact moment his pediatrician's medical assistant opened the door to call someone else. She put us in a room and our pediatrician walked by the open door and veered sou'southeast to get to Edward immediately. His timing was impeccable. Edward's ear drum ruptured in several moments of blinding pain and the diagnosis couldn't have been simpler. Edward felt much better but his ear (his ear!) oozed foul whitish brownish greenish pus for four days until the drops and the amoxillian kicked in.
Whoops. Squeamish again? Sorry.
Now that Edward is feeling better he is much less psychopathic, which makes all of us feel better. He is really very lovable and charming when he isn't crazy. He has his cuddly (cudyee) things that he likes to carry around. The collection started as two small blankies but has grown to include one small brown cat named Purr, a blanket Patrick made for him out of a car patterned flannel and two transformer cars. Purr talks in a sweet, high voice and says please and thank you a lot. I like that cat. The transformers talk in low gravelly voices and keep threatening to destroy my village. They make me nervous. Edward continues to be the go-to twin for all imaginary play, although Caroline does have an imaginary little sister named Assidy (Assity?) Assidy is five and goes to kindergarten and has a dog and a mother named Julin. Like Patrick's Sassy (who was a 153 year old cat) Assidy (I think the name similarity is a coincidence since Sassy had left us long before the twins were sentient) seems to exist simply to give Caroline a foothold in conversations for which her limited life experience would otherwise render her ineligible. If we mention a friend in Africa, for example, Caroline volunteers that Assidy also has a friend in Africa. Who rides a giraffe.
Edward asks a lot of questions. Why? Why are we having chicken? Why are we reading this book? Why is that Arkansas? "Um" doesn't work as an answer but I have discovered that "Because it is not Louisiana" suits him just fine. And it's true, too.
Caroline is much more pointed. The other day she asked (again) for a dog while she, Patrick and I were in the car. Patrick the cat lover said, "We can't get a dog because it would chase Jamy and Darwin and Kelvin."
Caroline said, "Mommy, would a dog scare the cats?"
And I said, "Yes. Yes it would."
She thought for a moment and then asked, "Mommy, do cats die?"
I thought oh GOOD LORD and said, "Ummmmmmmmm sometimes" which caused Patrick to laugh and say "Sometimes? Cats sometimes die? And the rest of the time they live forever?"
Caroline stuck to the point, "So if our cats sometimes died I could get a puppy like Assidy?"
My mom says if we discover the front door ajar and cans of tuna leading a trail to the woods we can be pretty sure we know who the culprit is.
Question for you. A true discussion question about which reasonable people can disagree so... about sex. I read somewhere that parents should start to discuss sex with their children around... I don't remember. Eight maybe? Or ten? Elementary school, certainly, and I thought hmmm glad I don't ever have to worry about that ever ever and then Patrick and I were listening to one of the Tiffany Aching books (someone here gave me a very timely heads up on some of the mature themes in the last one, thank you. we haven't gotten there yet but I will read it first) and the subject of sex came up. Not in any particularly lascivious way, more in an older character asking a younger character if they needed The Sex Talk way. I looked at Patrick and he blinked at me and I found myself pausing the book and saying, "Do you, ah, know what they are talking about?"
Patrick said, "Oh yeah of course."
And just as I was trying to decide what to say next he said, "Book, please!" and I let it go. Until right now.
So at what age does one start talking about the whats and the wherefores of sex? Patrick has thus far been very sheltered in that he is completely disinterested in mainstream culture (his tastes are on par with those of an elderly Oxford don) but this new class of his has certainly expanded his horizons. There are some zippy kids in there. Anyway if you think fourth or fifth grade is about right (hey, two part essay question) any good books to recommend either for him or me? We're book people. Nothing like a nice straight-forward non-awkward unembarrassing book to get things started, right?