The Scarlet Letter Day (with apologies to Nathaniel Hawthorne)

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high-mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

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As parents, we do a lot for our children. Loyal daddies and mommies are aware of the things Wife and I do for our miracles of Christ. Sometimes the things we do take a little longer than others.

One child needed their car fixed. It’s hard to do when they’re at school all day. I got the car after taking The Oppressed and The Boy to their school. After dropping them off, I stretch my legs for a nice morning walk to pick up the car. From there, it’s off to another garage for a sticker.

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

This car fails inspection. Emissions. There’s a leak out of the exhaust. A neighbor who knows cars looks underneath and assures me the problem isn’t a big one and there’s a great place nearby that can get it fixed for us. My neighbors selling point? It’s a garage with a bunch of guys smoking and talking cars. Well, I quit smoking over 10 years ago, but if a car place is good enough for my car-savvy neighbor, by jump-start it’s good enough for me.

The Scarlet Letter

I take the car to get repaired. Job is done and I am on my way back to get the sticker… and it fails again.

No problem I tell myself. They offered me two options and I took the cheaper one. Maybe I should have taken the option that required more work and time. Shame on me. I go back to the garage that did the work and ask if I need a new part. They look at the car. People are visibly upset. There’s nothing wrong with the parts. They’re trying to get me to have work done at their garage so they can overcharge me. Stay there, they tell me. Have a seat. People are going to get to the bottom of this. One guy grabs the phone and asks for the phone number. He knows the place. Everyone knows the place. He just needs the phone number so he can talk to “them”. What’s he going to say? Should I follow him? Should I go live? Fight! Fight! Fight!

I don’t know what happened I just know I take a seat and wait for the saga to unfold. I also know they have donuts because the guy behind the desk takes me to the garage and presents a box of donuts. He offers me one. I accept because it’s been a long, harrowing morning and I’m worth it.

Off the bench and ready for action.

They look at the car. There’s some more work that needs to be done but they don’t see anything that would make the car fail inspection. Oh well. Hopefully, it’s something that we’re fixing now and won’t have to worry about for even longer now that we’re addressing it. And, did I mention they have donuts?

Nothing happened between the two garages. I thought there would be some drama. There was no drama. People just wanted to know where this place was that failed the car. I’m a little disappointed. I thought there would be a little something to spice up my morning.

I’m there for a little longer. Maybe an hour. The car comes back out. I pay for the work and return to the first garage for another attempt to pass muster. The car goes in. I hold my breath. Do I dare to peek inside? I do. I see the scarlet sticker removed and replaced with a sticker that passes inspection. Good boys and girls get stickers in school. This car was good and got a sticker. I feel like I’m standing on the podium as the National Anthem is playing while the medal – I mean sticker – goes on and the car is backed out. I thank the nice men for their time and drive home to tell Wife about my donut.

Playing Games and Waiting Turns

Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn.

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School is in. Classes have started. Assignments have commenced. All five children are in the routine of reading and writing.

It was a good summer. We got to get away a couple of times. We tried new things. Wife and I liked being able to try a new restaurant in the middle of our travels and the kids liked the donuts we got at Donut Dip. We had a good summer. It was nice to have a break from the excitement of the daily life of work, practice, and the daily crisis that befalls us.

Monopoly. A favorite of mine and one of the Gaggle’s.

We still get a little free time now and then. That usually happens at night when dinner is over and dishes are done by the child who has that task. They haven’t started them yet, but it’s just a matter of time. For a short time, before we send the children to bed to recharge the batteries for the upcoming day, people usually spend a few moments doing something. For me, that means playing a game with The Oppressed and The Boy. Sometimes one of The Gaggle will join us, especially if it’s a game of Monopoly (I love that child).

Lately, it’s been cards. We play a couple of games before sending the children to bed. The games are fun. The problem is that the children don’t understand they actually need to be there when they are playing. We play Uno at night. There are three of us, so theoretically, it’s a fast-paced game where you don’t need to wait very long for your turn.

With our house, there’s always something that steals our children’s attention. It doesn’t take much when it comes to our kids and it doesn’t matter what it is we’re doing at the time. My children think they can multi-task. I wish they felt this power when it came to picking up their rooms or whatever mess they left behind. It’s a strange power. It comes and goes like wi-fi signals.

Uno cards patiently waiting to be played.

We’ll start to play a game. It starts well. Everyone checks their hand, waits their turn, and throws a card. As the game progresses, though, the children feel a need to check on other things throughout the house. Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn. They thrown down a card, jump up, and make a dash for it. Before they’ve left the room, I tell them it’s their turn and need to be back. They will be back, they tell me, right after they check out what needs to be checked out. They’ll be right back, and they do come back just in time to throw down another card before doing another lap around the house before coming back for their turn. Honestly, it’s almost like we’re back at Six Flags. Waiting a long time for something that’s a fraction of the time we spent waiting. Maybe that’ what The Boy is doing. Maybe he thinks we’re back at Six Flags and he’s pretending he’s still on Summer Vacation. Or maybe he just has that sudden burst of energy that evades him when we need to leave the house or pick up his room. I don’t know. I’ve mentioned before there are mysterious forces at my house; Forces that visit and leave messes in what were clean and tidy rooms and corners. Maybe these forces have found their way to my son. I wonder if they can get him to the car in time for football practice.

My Poison Ivy Rash and Recovery

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My poison ivy is on the mend. It sure has been an interesting couple of weeks. Then again, weeks here with me, Wife and all of our miracles of Christ usually are interesting.

Doctors and nurses did a good job of taking care of me and making sure I was as comfortable as I could be with this onset of poison ivy. Rashes and itching weren’t fun. I’m glad I was able to provide a nice topic of conversation for people at practices and impromptu meetings with family and neighbors. Everything seems to be going away. I’m very happy for that. I’m definitely not going to miss this. The itching and discomfort was bad enough. Worse was the medication they gave me. This stuff was known to give you some stomach pains. Another side effect of the medication was increased appetite. I don’t need that. My appetite is healthy enough without the medication. I don’t need any more help in that department, especially since I spent all summer trying to lose weight, and I was losing weight. Trips to Six Flags (or any amusement park) usually include pizza, ice cream, fried dough, and other staples that are required eating when you’re at a fair or an amusement park. Now that we are in September, it’s almost time to check out local fairs and the delicious fare being offered at the fair (See what I did there?). The point is, I was doing a good job if controlling my weight until I was prescribed these medications and now my appetite is coming back. I’m hoping my willpower will be able to hang in there while the medication runs its course and does its job.

Itchy

I’ve been told to take it easy since I came down with the rash. That’s hard to do. I’m coaching The Boy’s flag football team. I take The Oppressed to cheerleading practice. Pickups and drop-offs at school. Sports practice for The Gaggle. Things are busy. Medication had side effects. I’m hoping being busy will take my mind off of eating and the schedule will give me other things to do besides eat.

Speaking of eating, I got a nice fruit basket from an aunt who wanted to make sure things were alright here. Some of the fruit was covered in chocolate. Again, I’m trying to control my appetite, but there always seems to be other things popping up in front of me when I’m trying to walk the straight and narrow, or slim and lean. There’s always something here. If there isn’t something requiring out attention at home, there’s something away from home that requires our attention and efforts. On the plus side, I have a few more good stories to tell. The people watching at the hospital was interesting. Sometimes, I thought there would be authorities involved. People telling hospital staff they didn’t know what they were doing or they were wrong. I kept my family looped in with the drama that occurred as I went from Emergency to my room. I was also glad to have my books and phone with me so I was able to keep up with my work while waiting to be looked at by the GSH staff. Thanks to all those who had a hand in my recovery. And to the nice people at the walk-in clinic at the start of this adventure, I’m sorry if what I had on my arms and legs creeped you out at all.

Something nice from my aunt and uncle to forget my suffering.

School Days, Here Again

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It’s September. That means transitioning from vacation to school. Hopefully, it will also mean having a few more uninterrupted conversations with my wife now that the Miracles of Christ are back in school.

School has returned.

Everyone is adjusting to the new schedules. Some children are dealing with the harsh reality of not waking up at noon. Other children are adjusting to a morning of getting dressed and leaving the house instead of rolling out of bed and going on autopilot to the television, generating just enough energy to stay vertical until they reach the couch.

I’m adjusting, too. I need to make sure I’m up early enough to get the little cherubs out of bed and on their way to the car or bus. I’m helping children get their breakfast and find their things so they can be on time for school. The first day of school was tough. Kids had tons of supplies to see themselves through the school year. Usually, we can get to the school a day or two before the official first day and drop the things off so children can just walk to their classrooms on Day One and not worry about anything else but making it to the classroom and seeing who they were sitting next to.

It didn’t happen this time. Oh, well. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy with their gear. Luckily, things fit in their bags and they were able to remain upright on their way into the building. I went home and did my work, patiently waiting for the time I could return to the school and find out about their day.

That glorious time came and I eagerly waited at the school parking lot for the doors to open and release the children from the temporary adult oppressors to the permanent oppressors. The Oppressed was in relatively good spirits and gave about as much information as I could expect. The Boy, on the other hand, was none too happy. Apparently, his teacher took his things from him as soon as he got to his room and locked them up on him. The Boy didn’t understand why the teacher had to take his things away from him without any explanation. I decided to find out more about this and asked The Oppressed, who just happened to be an alumna of this teacher. It turns out this teacher allows the students to keep what they need in their desks and the excess stock is kept in a closet. When the student needs something, the teacher will fetch it from the closet, thereby making sure that everything is accounted for, nothing gets lost, and the student has everything they need for a successful school year. The Boy didn’t exactly see it that way and was upset with his teacher for days because she, “stole” the things he needs for school. The Oppressed and I tried to explain what happened. The Boy said she should have spoke to him about it and asked him if it was alright to take his things before she took it. After all, The Boy reminded us, it’s his stuff.

Despite my inexperience and lack of know-how when it comes to parenting (I just live here with my children), I have learned there are times when it is best to just let kids sulk and stew about the cruel lot cast upon them by fate. At this point, all I can do is patiently wait for The Boy to need something and, at that time, the teacher will go to the closet and retrieve what he needs from the supply closet. Maybe then he will understand the grand scheme of the teacher and her classroom.

Time will tell. As of now, there are other things to deal with. Another round of the Homework Wars will be descending upon us. There are flag-football, cheerleading, and cross-country practices to attend. Wife and I have our own jobs. I know I said something about having uninterrupted conversations with my wife while the children are away, but there may be other things lurking in the shadows and waiting to snatch whatever chance I have to talk to her without someone or something jumping in and fill what I thought was an opening.

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