I may just die this week. Look for Zombie Lori coming to a blog near you! The launch for Project:Purse and Boots went brilliantly and sixteen amazing women have signed up for Purse Parties so far (well, 15 amazing women plus me).
Today is part 2 of The GUFP. (The Great Untitled Fiction Piece). A real title will show up someday. Promise. Reminder, this is a work of fiction (based loosely on my experience in a blended family.) Preceeding portions of the story can be found here.
I can buy two gallons of juice and it is not enough to carry four children through a weekend. I tried concentrate from a can, thinking it would be cheaper, but I can’t convince any one of four kids who can each read at several grade levels above their own to actually follow the directions. So at the end of the day we went through more cans of concentrate than we would have gallon bottles. I also tried smaller cups, thinking that it would last longer if they were drinking smaller portions. Smaller cups turned out to be far more convenient receptacles for pretzels and trail mix and never once has a liquid graced their brightly colored interiors. In the end, my only victory comes in responding to “We’re out of juice!” with, “I hear water is still considered potable.”
Four children are not twice the amount of two children, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what algebra says. Four children are four times the amount of two children. I know, I cook and shop for them.
Let me describe what it is like to move from a household with two children to a household where there are four: louder, messier, dustier, costlier, hungrier, thirstier, crankier, needier, and there is no such thing as enough bathrooms.
At the same time, it is funnier, busier, gigglier, and it’s very, very rare that anyone is bored.
I can’t think of anyone I detest much more these days than Carol Brady.
I am not blond, I do not wear Pucci prints, I do not have a housekeeper named Alice (although at times I would give a cup size for one), I do not have children who are so innocently well behaved that their greatest mischief is accidentally losing track of my earrings in the laundry (although that has happened). I do not have a husband who can support me as a stay-at-home mom for all these children, he’s working too hard to support his ex-wife.
My children are smart, sharp, occasionally whiny, occasionally impossible, mostly helpful, often disorganized, and are not capable of remembering to feed the dog. And to make matter just that much more interesting, I have two thirteen-year-olds. I tell this to other mothers just to see the looks on their faces. I have an eleven-year-old and a thirteen year-old, my husband has a thirteen-year-old and a sixteen-year-old. Fortunately, the thirteen-year-old energy includes only one girl. I don’t think our relationship would have survived otherwise.
Let me introduce the cast of characters that are our children.
Emma. Emma is the oldest. Emma can almost drive, but until our physician has prescribed us blood pressure medication, will not. Emma dances, wins science fairs, eats mostly tofu and Snapple tea, pretends that her younger brother isn’t related to her, lovingly condescends to her thirteen-year-old step-sister who worships the ground she walks on, is mostly responsible, can’t yet cook, is simultaneously intensely interested in but desperately shy around boys, and is prettier than she thinks she is.
Liam. Liam is thirteen. Liam sings and plays the saxophone and is already far too aware of what a cute boy who plays the sax and wears sunglasses will accomplish with young ladies. Liam is quick, sarcastic, messy, prone to forgetting important things at the wrong house, has shoes that can’t keep up with his feet, dislikes haircuts and is afraid of being bullied. By his classmates, his sisters, the dog, random girl scouts, it never really seems to matter, but it worries him.
Ri. Ri is short for Rhiannon, which was the name I chose while still romantically infatuated with literary names during my first pregnancy. It was either Rhiannon or Bronte for a girl, or Barrett for a boy. Why Rhiannon won out over Bronte in those critical first minutes is still a mystery, but it did. I think we actually went through the pronunciation of all three syllables in the first two years, but by the time my son was born, saying the names of both the children (when I could remember them and keep track of which one was which gender and separate out the names of children from pets) became simply too labor intensive. And despite my earlier literary inspired names (which I had fortunately outgrown by the time my second pregnancy came to term), I didn’t care for Ann as a nickname, and Ri was just easier. So Ri she is. I’m sure that in a fit of adolescent self-indulgence she will decide that Rhiannon suits her better and we will all need to revert back, but that’s okay because then I’ll have something easy at hand to annoy her with.
Peter. Peter is bossy, argumentative, too damn smart for his own good, prone to back talk, but often so innocently sweet that sometimes it seems that eleven is simply too worldly an age for him. Peter reads like reading is breathing, can do math in his head faster than I can track down a calculator, has figured out tricks on my cell phone that I know are not in the user’s guide, and is the only one who actually pays attention to the dog.
And speaking of the dog. The dog’s name is Avery. Or, if one is in a bad mood or has just discovered the mangled remnants of the credit card bill in the laundry room, A-Very-Big-Pain-In-the-Ass. Which we’ve considered registering with the Kennel Club. When my husband and I were struggling with the newly integrated group of people who were having to learn how to be a family through doing, we thought a pet would help bridge gaps that couldn’t help but exist, but that we were too inexperienced to know how to close ourselves. It didn’t work poorly, but there are times when I think that if I had realized the need, chaos, noise, haste, mess, cost, and overall energy demand that a family of six would exert on us, I would have been far more reluctant to add thirty-two pounds of fluffy, drooling, hyperactivity for us all to trip over.
But, in the spirit of words that we’ve said over and over and over again, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”