If Yes Then No

For Posterior-ity

I don't even know what Steve and Patrick were discussing down on their end of the table (dining with Caroline and Edward, acrobats in training, is a harrowing experience) but I heard Steve say, "Because I am the decider."

Then he laughed and said, "That's not really a word. The former president used it once and got some grief because it isn't really a word."

"Oh," said Patrick.

Steve looked thoughtful. "Now what was that other word he made up*?"

I shrugged and pushed Edward back into his seat while trying with my other hand to prevent Caroline from doing a back-flip.

"What WAS it? What was that word the president came up with? It... it is almost... ."

"Shitting?" Patrick offered, helpfully. Then he saw our expressions and blushed.

"What?" he said. "I just made that up. I mean, didn't I? I did!"

Trying very very hard not to laugh I said, "No that is an actual word and it is not a very nice word and it is not a word a seven year old is allowed to say and it is absolutely not a word a seven year old is allowed to say at the dinner table."

Patrick blushed even more deeply and said, "Ohhhhh right, I forgot the swear part."

He went back to eating.

"But... I am not going to say it again... but THAT word... it was made up by a president, wasn't it?"



I don't have many moments of maternal greatness but I feel pretty confident on the whole naughty language front. At some point during first grade Patrick came home fascinated by swear words. Specifically his ongoing theological debates with young Whatsit had led to his being somewhat misinformed about what constitutes profanity. For instance he had it on good authority that, and I quote, when you show someone your middle finger it means you do not love God.

I get where Whatsit's parents and/or youth group leaders were going with this, really I do, and I have no problem whatsoever with the sharing of same, but in our family the middle finger most often means that you are going 54 mph in the left hand lane; personal relationships with a Creator having nothing to do with it. Further conversation elicited that Patrick was a little murky on such things as "stupid" and "butt" and a whole host of other words that might be inappropriate in certain situations but are not necessarily completely forbidden (you may recall my own kindergarten struggles in this arena.) So one night I sat in his bed with him and I took him through the whole gamut of swear words from the innocuous to the really really Big Ones. I said them. I explained them (sort of. I am only human and "fuck you" does also mean that you are really mad at someone.) I told him that in my opinion people who swear just aren't creative enough to come up with better ways to express themselves (AHEM. do you ever marvel at the incredible hypocrisy of parenthood?) And that was the end of the fascination with Words We Do Not Say.

Where was I? Oh yes, Bush invented profanity. The World According to Patrick.       

So, about two years ago I got assigned my very first actual magazine piece. I was very excited and I realized that I was going to have to interview people for it. Actual interviews of actual people for an actual magazine article. I further realized that my shorthand is not what it was back in 1937 so I would need to record these interviews somehow and that some of them might be over the phone. In my hour of need I did what many generations of journalists have done before me... I went to Radio Shack. At the time I was exactly 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant with Caroline and Edward and a little tippy on my pins. As I crossed the parking lot I suddenly tripped. My cell phone went flying, my purse scattered and I landed, hard, on my side. I will never forget the care with which the car coming at me slowed down enough to drive around me and keep going. THANKS KIND STRANGER. I mean, yes, thank you for not running me over but really? Not so much as an Are you ok?

Anyway, I stood up, looked with dismay at the fact that the only pair of maternity jeans that fit me were torn, found my phone and my purse and went into Radio Shack to buy my recorder. Then I drove to pick up Patrick from kindergarten and sat in the parking lot while I breezily called my OB's office to say, no big deal but I fell and I am contracting... see ya. Fast forward fourteen hours and I was in a hospital bed hooked up to machines and loaded with terbutaline and half the room was getting ready to transport me to the nearest hospital with an adequate NICU and the other half of the room was trying to get the contractions to stop.

The next morning I was shaking so hard my eyes were rattling in my head and I was uncertain as to whether we would be having babies that week. I tried to get my life in order as I started bed rest and among other things I sent a message to my editor saying that I was terribly sorry but I was not going to be able to write the article after all.

[22 months later...]

Today I spent hours trying to figure out where in the hell (whoops) where in the halliburton the voice recorder had wound up. I knew it wasn't still in the car. We don't even own that car anymore. But as I tried to reconstruct the events of that day with a focus on the Radio Shack bag rather than, oh say, my guinea pig sized twinkles... I was at a loss.

I thought and thought and I looked and looked and finally I gave up. Then as I was getting a bedroom ready for my mom (whose long-planned visit is fortunately/unfortunately coinciding with Patrick's tonsillectomy) I decided to cram something into the guest room window seat rather than take it to the basement where it belongs and voila! The voice recorder! Buried under a pile of wrapping paper rolls and still in its black plastic bag. I am pretty sure that this has never before happened to me in my entire life. Usually I lose something at least until after I have gone to the trouble and expense of replacing it.

So I have a favor to ask. As of this morning I yet again have an article to write (yay!) and I could use some help with it. I was interested in exploring the creative ways in which people are building non-traditional households. There is a nod here to what my mother calls These Days, meaning a tightened economy, but I want to highlight the positive aspects of such things as multi-generational family homes or roommates who are able to help each other with co-parenting. Or even college students eschewing the dorm to live at home. Military spouses living together or with family during a deployment? I don't know. I am sure there are lots of possibilities. I have a handful (a big handful but still) of people lined up to interview but I would love to widen my approach. So if you (or someone you know well enough to shove my way; or vice versa) are currently or have recently been in a living situation that does not resemble a 1950s sit-com leave me a comment or email me. Then we can chat. Like on the phone (or in person I guess if you're local.) Just you me and my miraculously recovered voice recorder.

PS Oh, also, any realtors? Family counselors/life coaches/financial planners who are seeing this with their clients? Lemme know.     

*Misunderestimated was the word for which Steve was groping. Not shitting.

PPS The hospital called to set up Patrick's surgery time. Toward the end of the call the nurse said he would be kept overnight. My understanding was that it was outpatient and he would, barring any complications, be coming home the same day. I called the ENT's office and the nurse said they almost always send them home but she was unsure if there were different instructions left for Patrick specifically. She was going to call back but has yet to do so. I want to prepare Patrick for his procedure but I do not want to freak him the freak out unnecessarily. Under the murky circumstances would you tell him he is staying the night or he might be staying the night or just leave it with the understanding that he is coming home afterwards? He hated the hospital stay SO. MUCH.