Holy cow. You know, I was looking for a mostly plan-less weekend last weekend, one where the kids are playing gleefully in the yard while Josh bar-b-ques in a manly fashion and I spend most of the sunny day in a hammock. For some reason, however, we came up with this great idea: see, Josh had just a little bit of work to finish at his jobsite to be ready to paint on Monday morning, and I felt a little guilty since I had distracted him from his work by making him take me to lunch (in Prineville) to meet our buddy John. So I suggested he take the girls with him to help, since he was demoing a deck and they would be good haulers (hahahahahahahaah). ANYWAY.... these little glimpses of Terrible Teenage started showing in all three of the biggers, and I could see the writing on the wall. I volunteered myself for the work party when I began to realize that if there was no mediation, some one would probably NOT be coming back from the Mountain High neighborhood on Saturday. Since they've already had their share of murder/suicides on that street in recent months (that will be another story), I felt it best to offer my mediation skills. This may have been the fatal flaw in my weekend planning.
It was all coming together nicely - Actually, it was coming APART nicely, since we were tearing out a deck - until something set Nattie off. Whether it was the black widow nests on the beams from the underside of the deck, or the slippery mud in the flower beds that they had to tromp through, or the weight of the soggy 2x6es that were being hauled through the muddy flower beds, we may never know. My personal theory is that the socio-emotional cumulative stress of the first week of school combined with staying up until 1 AM watching H2O (this show is a socio-emotional stress in and of itself), did her in. But at any rate, Nattie snapped. Now, for those of you that know Nattie, you know what this means. Nattie is the child that learned that climbing stairs was a bad idea only after she took a header from the top at 22 months. Spankings, reprimands, lectures - none of these have ever borne any weight for the petite blond that is, in the words of all of her teachers, an ideal child. Nattie, in addition to her will of steel, wrote the book on The Human Temper. Being her mother, and primary disciplinarian, I have to admit, she terrifies me. I once sprained my wrist just trying to keep her from throwing her skull into the wall of the bathtub. Of course she was doing this to avoid a spanking that would have hurt much less than bashing her head on bathroom fixtures, but for Nattie, it's all about who's idea it is. So last Saturday, Nattie snapped. It started off with minor fuming, under-her-breath cussing and dramatic huffs-and-puffs indicating her displeasure with her tasks. The lure of a $5 reward + Cuppa Yo did nothing to dissuade her from her downward spiral, but then it got Really Nasty. I asked Nattie to help Aspen carry a piece of lattice that was twice her size to the trash pile. I knew it was a bad idea before I finished pointing, but once it had been issued, I had no choice but to back the order up. With some carefully placed grunts and sighs, Nattie found an ideal moment to "accidentally" drop the lattice on Aspen, and as it grated down her bare legs (goodmom FAIL - always wear long pants for construction demo, especially if you are 8), the shrieking started. Aspen is a tough kid, especially for a girl. Her boy cousins can cry circles around her, and everybody knows if Aspen makes a deal out of it, it's a DEAL. She was crying. Full-on, hold-you-breath, passing-out, crying. There were big, bloodyish scrapes down both of her thighs all the way to her knees, where apparently the lattice got bored with tormenting her and fell to the ground.
Nattie INSTANTLY threw her hands in the air and starting screaming about the accidental nature of her transgression, and running wildly across the yard to escape her apparently imminent retribution. Picture, if you will, a serene, wooded neighborhood, of sprawling ranch style homes and large open yards, all decorated with the ceramic cats and cement fairies that somehow become intensely appealing upon retirement. Mountain View is peopled largely by upper-middle class retirees from everywhere except central Oregon. While the clients that Josh works for in this neighborhood are some of the nicest Californians you would ever care to meet, their neighbor must have come of age in the wealthiest district of Fairbanks, Alaska, where entitlement and Seasonal Affective Disorder come crashing together in a miserable existence. She is not a nice person, and really likes to make sure Everybody Knows It. Her favorite complaint, however is about any noise. Especially noise in the morning. Like the kind of noise that Natalee was generating at a galloping pace. As quickly as I could I herded the screaming demon into the cab of the truck, where she proceeded to thrash around wildly, projecting about her impending death, which was apparently going to be inflicted by me. Natalee spent most of the rest of the morning in the truck, and I would like to establish, for the record, that I did not lose it with her. I'll admit the thought of duck taping her mouth and hands flashed through my mind, I reflected on those stories you read in the news about parents who do crap like that and since I would rather garnish fame in other ways, I discarded the notion.
Somehow we all survived the morning, in spite of Kizzie being Bored Beyond Belief, and Aspen bouncing mindlessly through piles of old boards with rusty nail-spikes just begging to skewer her foot. We are working on that whole awareness thing. We had a robust reward of Taco Bell and Cuppa Yo (under 6 oz - which is No Small Feat) and went home, where Josh and I had a nap. Really a nap is a great way to avoid doling out well deserved sanctions on misbehaving kids, like Halle who had woken us up at 5 AM looking for a pair of shorts that I was supposed to have exchanged for her (this was the latest in a long stream of how-to-make-your-parents-despair-moves on her part).
I am writing this as I am on hold with the medical clinic to cancel appointments for sports physicals that apparently, the older girls didn't even need, but let me panic about for weeks. I can never understand a 15 minute wait time to cancel an appointment. I should have just gone to the appointment, it would have taken less time! But at least the wait music is a really terrible tropical sounding interpretation of "land down under", which will make the rest of the day seem awesome, once I am set free.