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March 2014

Fifteen Constantinople

Patrick is studying for tomorrow's geometry test and I am hanging out on his floor as a sort of warden slash expert in residence*.

Three things:

1. I took geometry in 1985

2. I got a C

3. Patrick's way of approaching a math problem makes me want to strangle myself with my tongue.

It's a thankless job.

I know how to take a test. I'm good at them. I might not be the smartest petunia in the bowl but give me a #2 pencil and a scantron sheet and I can process the eliminations and take my chances with the best of them. I had to take the written portion of the drivers' exam when we moved to Minnesota and I aced it. Seriously. 115%. This despite the fact that twenty-six years after first getting my license I still open the driver's door to look backwards when I have to reverse for more than ten feet and I quite literally cannot parallel park to save my life**. But ask me whether the law requires one to park a) six inches b) four miles c) banana or d) ten feet from a fire hydrant and I am... well, I am legal.

So Patrick's bizarro, hurly-burly, why memorize the distance formula when it's just the Pythagorean theorem, let's just think about the question without all the plugging of numbers into formulas, anarchist approach to things... mwrrrwark. He just drew a cupola roof, rocks and seagulls into his graph before handing it to me to check his answer. Seagulls. Seagulls. They wanted to know at what height the ornithopter would hit the lighthouse with etc tailwinds and the answer was, like, 78 feet and he's over there drawing seagulls. Seagulls!

Jiminey. Fernhollow. Chrysomelid.

I once worried that Patrick's pixie spirit would be crushed by the juggernaut of modern bureaucratic education but I have realized that it is far, far more likely that the pixies will be the death of us all. The woman who has taught Patrick for the past two years has decided to retire in June. Coincidence?

I know there will come a time when I look back on these study sessions with wistful nostalgia but right now I am just looking forward to helping Edward with his geometry. Edward is my only child to respond to the words "I forbid you to go to bed!" with "That's it! I'm going to bed!" Patrick has always managed to talk and talk until he has hypnotized me into believing I really don't want him to go to bed and Caroline smiles and tells me thank you but when she wants my opinion on something she'll ask for it.

Edward, I'm saying, is workable and I am certain he will not only be grateful for my study tips, he will employ them.

Steve saw an orthopedist last week who pointed out that the xray for which we waited four hours at the ER was very nice as it went, but it only went as far as his pelvis. The new xray (of his back - helpful, that) showed that he has broken a vertebrae and in light of this I am even more surprised that he drove himself home after his accident. I am quite certain that I would have just lain in the snow, all little match girl; hoping a St Bernard might show up with some peppermint schnapps before The End.

[Caroline and Edward have spent almost every weekend since December in ski classes so Caroline considers herself to be very slope-savvy.

She asked, "Did they send the meat cart for you, Daddy?" and was disappointed to learn that they did not. I love her and/but/because she is ghoulish.]

Edward got a scrape on his back and when I noted that he looked like his father he said, "Yay! Now I can sit on the couch and watch TV all day!" which pretty much sums things up around my house: Steve is in situ, Edward is envying the hell out of him and Caroline is eyeing them both as candidates for future medical research.

And, like I said, Patrick is drawing seagulls.

*Patrick finds geometry challenging and he was so startled and alarmed by this fact that by Christmas he asked me to help him study. So here we are. I'm writing this and he's drawing seagulls and every so often I try to point out that practice test question 14 is exactly like chapter example 7 so if he just copied from the book and wrote these numbers instead of those numbers... and he says, "No no no there's another way to do it... " and we're back at accursed Pythagoras again.    

**Speaking of parking I had a woman in the school parking lot yesterday shout to a friend that she was pretty sure "this lady" (that would be me) deliberately parks too close to her all the time. She said "See?" and waved her hand in the space between my passenger door and her car. I was sitting in the driver's seat waiting for the twins so I got out of my car and said oh I am so sorry, am I too close, let me just back up and try to move over a bit... but she wouldn't look at me. This was a little disorienting but it occurred to me that maybe she hadn't seen that I was there and was embarrassed? So I apologized again and said I would move my car. She walked away. I got back into my car and moved it over as far as I could; only to discover that the guy in the truck on the other side of me was now looking at me like I was crazy. So I told him I was sorry too.

The spaces in the school parking lot are wafer thin but even so I acknowledge that I am terrible with judging distances. I know it. I am sorry. My children all know not to bother unbuckling their seat belts until I have opened my car door to figure out how far I am from the lines because I often have to take a few stabs at it. Steve can hardly stand to be in the car when I am driving.

When I took him to the emergency room he offered so many suggestions (go faster. go slower. change lanes. stop sign!) that I finally lost it and snapped, "How do you think I manage to drive all over the place every day?"

Steve said, "I was just asking myself the same question."

On behalf of every idiot in the lot who consistently leaves their vehicle as if they had just crashed drunk into the space: I apologize; I am not deliberately trying to annoy you; I am open to requests to move.

Ackshuwee It Was The Rapid Deceleration At The End

Steve had a skiing accident last week that was serious enough to make me very grateful it wasn't worse. He lost control at high speed (perhaps he was overly optimistic in establishing his skill-to-speed ratio or perhaps he was tripped by a lemming - we'll never know) and crashed. The good news (since apparently he and I are complete idiots who put our kids into helmets for everything from taking the top bunk to eating  a sandwich but never considered similarly equipping ourselves) is that he managed to protect his head. The less good news is that in doing so he walloped his back into the edge of a metal electrical box.

Ugly. It's seriously ugly. I took him to the emergency room the next morning and he told the intake person he had "hurt his lower back". I looked at him like, really? because 'hurt his back' made it sound like he pulled something while bending over; the reality is that from behind he looks like the Big Bad Wolf a couple of minutes after the woodcutter arrived. It was almost comical to see the nurse's face change from polite concern to wincing grimace as Steve peeled up his shirt to reveal his injury. Or, rather, it would have been comical if I had not been absorbed at the time, trying to help him onto the gurney like a particularly needy baby koala.

It has been a week and he can now hobble from the bed to his desk to the couch. He recently attempted the kitchen as well but I banned him after he did... something while making a smoothie and wound up on the floor literally screaming in agony. Caroline came racing in with the phone, all ready to dial 9-1-1. Most alarming, although nice to know Caroline is prepared for an emergency.

Poor Steve. He really is completely debilitated and it is hard to imagine that his back is going to get significantly better quickly enough to content him. In the meantime he is [insert your own misandristic cliche about men and their tolerance for illness.]  

So there is that.

Spring Breaaaaaaaaak!








(that last one? is why I am signing her up for karate again. she's a natural ninja)

Actually only Caroline and Edward were out of school this week. Patrick started his break today and the twins go back on Monday. There was a time when I would have found this inconvenient but it's not like we were going anywhere anyway (and we would have had to cancel due to immobility even if we had been) so... staggering is fine.

Speaking of staggering I should go check on Steve. Poor Steve. He hates this so much.