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Mar 20, 2008

An ode to ruined pants

We just had a ceremonial tossing of the pants. Garry, Zachary, and I each threw our favorite pants into the big blue trash can in the driveway, never to see them again. "'Bye, pants!" we yelled as we stood in the pouring rain. And then we ran back inside.

There is a beginning to this story, and I know you want to read it.

I woke up today feeling lazy/apathetic/gloomy. Zach went to school, Garry went to work, I made the bed...and that's pretty much how far the day got before I gave up on it. Gavin was uncharacteristically cranky (read: mildly fussy) and wouldn't let me do anything without him in my arms. Therefore a workout got nixed. Still thinking I might be productive, I typed up long-overdue thank-you cards for Tyler's birthday presents. I became The World's Worst Mother when I made Tyler sign his name to said cards. This was his project while I taught a piano lesson from 9:45-10:15.

Upon completion of the lesson (oh, how I am ready to give up this profession), I discovered that Tyler had affixed four postage stamps to the kitchen table, plus two to the backs of the envelopes I had addressed. Will Goo-Gone ruin the finish on my table? I'm scared to find out.

Tyler had to empty the dishwasher as punishment for this infraction. During this task I caught him standing on the door of the dishwasher. He was using it as a stool, and the action made the whole appliance
l-e-a-n all skewampus-like out from under the counter. Great.

Next I exerted a great deal more effort than is usually necessary to get Gavin to take a nap. He finally relented. Then Tyler busied himself with a magnetic pattern board while I started editing photos for our Oregon scrapbook album. At one point Tyler ran off to the bathroom. I didn't notice how long he took to come back to the office, but shortly after he returned I realized he had made a pit stop in Gavin's room. (Nap Interruption #1.) I rocked Gavin some more. He fell asleep. Tyler had a time out. His screaming caused Nap Interruption #2. More rocking. Sleep again. Tyler and I took a lunch break.

Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. The baby cried. ARGH!!!! On the doorstep was our perky Realtor. Bless her little heart! She armed me with a new sheaf of flyers and a new sign rider announcing Saturday's open house. We haven't had a showing for a week. The mortgage situation in the news is bleak, the market is slow, yada yada yada.

When we picked up Zachary from school, his buddy Casey came home with us, too. This was pre-arranged, but I wasn't sure I had the stamina for an extra boy, no matter how happy his presence made my sons. Just before we hit the crosswalk, Zach and Casey were messing around and Casey pushed Zachary into the street, directly in front of a moving vehicle. I screamed -- very loudly -- as I watched the scene unfold, seemingly in slow motion. I lunged to reach Zachary, even though he was five to ten feet ahead of me. The woman driving the van slammed on her brakes, but still came within a foot of Zach's face. Those were some of the scariest seconds of my life.

The hour that Casey was with us was relatively calm (at least after the van incident), considering the time of day and the inevitable end-of-the-school day issues. Snacks and games kept the boys occupied. Casey left, Zach and Ty set up some video games, and I thought I'd have thirty minutes of calm.

Make that twelve.

A brawl erupted over whose turn it was, which woke Gavin yet again. Suddenly I had to get out of the house. We all piled into the van immediately. I'm not sure we even turned off the TV. We set about delivering Tyler's birthday thank-you cards. This went well. I decided to incorporate a trip to the pharmacy. Ha! Never incorporate a trip to the pharmacy on the fly, especially at 4:00 p.m. with three children.

In retrospect, things probably weren't as bad as I thought they were at the time. Zach and Tyler fought over the toy in the waiting area, they each got counted to three and earned a time-out. I slowly made my way up the line for my refill and the boys slid off, under, and around their time-out chairs, doing everything except actually sitting in them. Tyler kept stealing away from his seat to grab the toy table (yes, the entire table) and drag it to his chair. I kept stepping out of line and taking the table away (with Gavin and wallet in my other arm). Time-out didn't start until the boys sat in their seats. The ten minutes I was in line didn't provide the right opportunity for them to sit, apparently, so I found a chair after getting my prescription and waited. I waited ten or fifteen minutes. Tyler finally got the picture and served his time (four minutes) without moving so we could leave. Several adults in the waiting area were chuckling by the time we got out of there. They probably would have guffawed if they had realized I just purchased three months of birth control pills. I think the pharmacist should have given them to me for free.

I figured that as long as we were in this state, I was willing to brave one more errand. I wanted to check Target one more time for a shirt for Gavin to match the boys' Easter ties. One thing. In and out. I knew I was kidding myself, but I didn't care.

To make a long story short, Zach kept hiding from me while I browsed the baby section (Yes! I found a shirt!) and later while I paid. During the ten minutes we were in the store, Zach earned three jobs and Tyler earned one. I was cool, I was calm, and I was getting out of menial housework. Bonus.

Zachary got right to work when he got home. Garbage and recycling bins to the curb: check. Red bathroom scrubbed: check. Master bathroom toilet cleaned: check. He was a good little worker. I was proud of him. I let him watch Cyberchase in my room while I made dinner. Tyler was hysterical in his room because I made him clean it up. I was fast losing my ability to cope and had to escape somehow.

Garry got home and took over the ever-challenging dinner job so I could feed Gavin. I dumped the Saga of the Day on his shoulders, which included all of the above plus my frustrations over the house-selling situation and the declaration that I
must rescue some shouldn't-have-been-packed items from the storage unit.

The boys came down when spaghetti was on the table. As I sat there feeling like the world was crushing down on me, I saw Zachary walk into the kitchen. It looked like he had dripped Pepto Bismol all over his brand-new brown pants. And there were bluish stains on his shirt. I couldn't figure it out. Then suddenly I knew: Zach had splashed bleach all over himself when he cleaned the bathrooms. Bleach.

Things were a little dramatic there in the kitchen for a few minutes. I felt horrible for giving Zachary a cleaning agent that had to be handled so carefully. I didn't even think, and then I didn't supervise. Zach was hysterical about ruining his new pants, partly because he felt guilty for doing it and partly because he loved the clothes. I bought the outfit on clearance in two different stores and got screamin' deals, the last on the rack...no replacing those babies. Zach's crying made me cry, so we were both blubbering at the table. Then Garry said the sweetest prayer over dinner that should have buoyed and strengthened me, but instead made me cry more. It was pretty ridiculous.

Dearest Garry, ever the optimist, tried valiantly to lighten the mood. Eventually he struck pay dirt when he invited Zachary to take a gander at his (Garry's) pants. Garry was wearing his favorite jeans, which recently sprouted a hole that couldn't be mended. He knew he needed to throw them away but he just couldn't do it because they were his favorite! Zachary laughed. Then I piped up. I, too, was wearing my favorite jeans. They fit so well, even in my pudgy, awkward state, but they are wearing soooo thin in about ten places and look just dreadful. At that moment we decided we'd all take a trip to the garbage can and throw out our ruined pants.

So that's what we did. At the end of this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, three Bartles sent their pants packing. When the garbage truck comes in the morning and takes those ruined pants, I hope it also hauls away all the nasty vibes that hung around this house today. Vibes and pants be gone! To the dump with you!
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