This week the theme is what we would do if the New Year’s Eve wish, which we’ve wished for every year, came true. Although I’m a firm believer that diligent work pays off for those who never quit, all but one teeny-weeny part of my story will come true in 2016. Read on and then share your own goal.
(The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.)
“Mom, he won’t give my hairbrush back!” Nicolette yells from the other room.
“Oh give me a break, you won’t use it anyway.” Her brother, three years older, hollers back at her. I can tell they are running by the way their voices bounce with irregular breaths.
The kids pierce my ears from the other side of the closet where the water heater and furnace hide of our square donut-shaped apartment. It’s been awhile since we took our sideways jaunt for a ‘temporary’ apartment to get our bearings straight. We’d started out in a good-sized home on the mountainside overlooking the valley. A few years later we wound up in this hellhole where every night we search our bed for spiders and mice before crawling between the bedclothes. Once we’re asleep, we’re fair game and sometimes one would swear we had chicken pox.
I remember opening the window of our home and peering down on the greenish-gray murk covering the valley floor below. I was so thankful we were up where the air is less generous with pollution and a bit more with oxygen. I never intended on moving. But I never intended on losing my job because of an extended stay at the hospital either. Everything took a hasty downwards pivot from there.
Now we live in a basement apartment. We’ve been here for over five years. Regardless of our stay, we hardly know any of our neighbors because we’re ‘foreigners.’ We don’t speak Spanish, and the only thing I ever understand coming from the apartment above us is when they’re having sex. Even covering my ears with a pillow doesn’t help because as soon as I pull it off they start up again—like they can never get enough. Maybe I’m jealous. Nah, they’re just inconsiderate of the rest of us who don’t get any and it always pisses me off.
“Mom, he says he’s going to throw it away!” My daughter’s voice, a high-pitched squeal must be heard by the neighbors. I wonder if they hate it as much as I hate their noises. I hope so.
“Tate, give your sister her hairbrush back and get your shoes on. We’ve got to be at the doctor’s appointment in half an hour and I overslept.”
“Too much partying will cost you,” he says jokingly back to me.
“Give it a rest, mister. I only get to speak to other adult faces three times a year, and that’s if you count the parent-teacher conferences for you and your sister. New Year’s Eve should be an anticipated given.”
Entering the living room, I see my 2nd grader chasing my 5th grader around the room with complete and utter anguish etched across her face. Using her legs to spring like a cat, she lands on him, knocking him face first toward the coffee table.
In slow motion, Tate’s eyes widen and his nose crushes across the top of the cherry wood finished coffee table. Blood bursts like tiny fireworks, spiraling through the air, with the impact dabbling across the table. Droplets shoot beyond to the forest-colored Berber carpet below and his hand releases the Cinderella hairbrush.
Without wasting a second, Nicolette scrambles and grabs the blue brush before it even has a chance to get comfortable on the floor.
The blood pouring down Tate’s face reminds me of a Stephen King movie, minus the bouquet cradled in Sissy Spacek’s arms. “Great, another damned bloody nose. Thanks a lot, Nicolette, seriously.” He isn’t hurt as much as his pride and his stained Captain America T-shirt.
Without a second thought, she casually strolls away, pulling the brush through her long blond locks. “You’re welcome, Tate. Anytime,” she says before turning her attention to me, “Mom, Tate swore. He said the beaver’s house word again.” Following up with her tongue jutting out at him.
“Can you please get me something?” he says as he rolls onto his back across the couch. He pinches his nose and tilts his head back, coughing.
I make a dash to the kitchen where the paper towels wait on the counter. Grabbing a handful I poke them under the cold water. I start the incessant mumbling I remember my mother doing about my age. “Every time I plan for us to go anywhere, we’re always late. I hate being late, but that doesn’t matter. Even when I get an early start something has to happen to screw it up! We’re going to be late—again!” My kids will probably do that too.
“Someone’s at the door,” Tate says in a nasally voice from under his pinching fingers.
“They’re just going to have to wait.” I shut the water off and wring the towel out. I give it a quick shake and turn toward my son.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Just a cotton-picking minute!” I yell, carefully placing the wet towel over my son’s nose and allowing him to take over.
I swing the door open, certain its Jehovah’s Witness missionaries, as they’re the only ones to even venture to my door in this neighborhood. Everyone else is either frightened or wouldn’t be able to communicate.
The cameras flash from every direction. My eyes attempt to adjust and I see a huge balloon bouquet in a woman’s hands. Just as surprising is a spray of crimson roses dotted with baby breath, held by an older gentleman. Either one would be appreciated by me at this point, much less both.
“Are you Alexis McCreedy?” the brunette with huge brown eyes asks me between beaming white teeth.
At first I don’t answer. The shock of having flowers at my door seems highly unlikely. I finally muster up the energy and force my head to nod.
“Congratulations! You’re the big winner of this check for…” her voice blends into the chaos escaping my house.
“Mom! Tell Nicolette to leave me alone. She’s sitting on my stomach and bouncing—as—hard—as—she—can.” My son calls to me from the couch.
Turning to look inside, Nicolette continues combing her hair and using the entire weight of her body to pummel her brother into oblivion.
An eternity passes before I determine what my options are at the time. There are so many choices.
If I were a really good mother, I’d ask these people to please wait while I tend to my kids. Then again, I’ve never claimed to be the best mother in the world.
I closed the door.