Baby Teeth

Alas, sometimes we are forced to grow up, like it or not. From cute shrieking toddlers to rude six year olds, we proceed. And today, we are off to the dentist to have Eamon’s baby tooth yanked from his mouth.  As obstinate as my son ,the baby tooth refuses to leave even though his adult tooth has risen from his jaw in all its glory right behind it. Like it or not, that bad boy’s coming out. And of course I promised him a toy from K-mart for his trauma. Shot next week’ll warrant an ice cream. Happy Wednesday before Thankgiving.

Post Mortem : You can cry and still be brave. My little man lived to tell. In fact , shopping for a toy in the K-mart, he’d forgotten the whole incident. When queried later, he said it wasn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be.

My life this week

People ask ‘how’s it going’ and I say ‘fine’. Here’s the truth I’d tell you if you asked   me.    I’m doing better than fine.

The husband left town two weeks ago. I had to prove to my child my worthiness of being his parent that first week. I gained a sense of humor somewhere during the second week which helped tremendously. That same week was filled with fog delays which allowed me a reprieve from yelling at my son during the morning rush to the bus stop. We’re both doing well. And secretly, I am noticing the one less person to worry about.

At his teacher’s conference, Mrs. Love, his extremely sweet and newly wed teacher, said he’s doing so well she looks forward to future conferences. He got academic excellence in first grade and his writing about computers taught the office a few things. I could worry about his future boredom but why? Unfortunately, our visit to the dentist confirmed there’s a baby tooth that needs to be pulled. I scheduled it for the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll so be using bribery to get through it. Like his father, even having my son’s teeth cleaned was a traumatic experience.

My own moments came when I saw an old friend at the grocery store I hadn’t seen in a very long time. The baby in her cart told me how out of the loop I’d been. I almost started crying. I sadly had to pass up an opportunity to make a piece of pottery and get buzzed at a girl’s night out event. No child care. And I went out to my friend’s art opening last night. Met new people. Re-met others and, with my child at my in-laws, was able to go out to eat and then come home and crank up the new Coldplay album for ten minutes before I had to go pass out.

Today, my kid and I hit two play grounds, went to Panera Bread and the Amish Market, and had bike/jog alongside time. Plus we watched the second Nanny McPhee, having seen the first on Thursday night in preparation. I can say I cried a lot. So when I got the call from a friend that my husband had been admitted to the hospital in Hawaii, probably for not enough sleep and heat exhaustion, I decided I wasn’t going to worry. I’m too tired.

I read this morning in my self esteem book that acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like something, you just have to acknowledge it’s there. I have done well enough by my kid this week to be less annoyed by him. I have made progress on my self awareness. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do to help my husband, whether he’s here or in Hawaii. So I’m here helping myself to an appreciation of my life today. And this time I mean it.


A Tale of Four Squirrels

The same week from hell that was my birthday found us looking skyward searching the roofline to source out the noise we kept hearing. It was a loud clattering and hard to ignore. So when I saw the little heads peeking out of the aluminum soffit hole, I knew we were in trouble. And when I saw the shreds of wood falling onto my porch, I was even more aggravated. Not only was the Fokker family nesting in my eaves, they were shredding my house.

My son and I looked up the definition of rodent one day out of curiosity. It simply said “those that gnaw”. Those cute scurrying furry tree critters had sussed my house for their home and when they felt too lazy to go out and gather leaves for bedding, they started chewing on the trim work I can’t see up under the sided soffit. Every time I went outside, I heard their clatter and looked up yelling, “I hear you up there.”

See, my neighbors had experienced run-ins with the neighborhood squirrel gangs. They’d endured nesting and scampering under their roof. Mary had been scared when a baby squirrel hissed at her. And when they opened up the roof, they found these rodents had chewed down and compromised the roof joists. Not good. And out the other window, I watch these critters crawl through the slats on the bell tower of the church next door. My arrogance had me thinking it wasn’t going to happen to me. They showed me.

I called my carpenter and resident huntsman, Mr. Neil, to ask if he could seal up the holes. This is what he said, sort of, ‘cause he’s a country man and I’m a city girl so I’ll translate. You’ve got to get rid of the Fokkers first. They’ve decided that your casa is their casa. And you’ll not dissuade them. He said he had a trap to tie an ear of corn inside of and set up on my roof. Had he known I’d be climbing out onto my roof, he may have come over and done it for me. And then I could take them to the State Park close by and let them go.

So we wire tied corn I had paid eight dollars for at a local supply store and began. And one by one, I caught the three Fokkers and a friend, and drove them to the Park. I chose camping pad eleven in loop A because it had a lot of woods behind it. And I kindly left an ear of corn for camping supplies for them while they got there bearings. Then I called Mr. Neil back up and he and his man Greg returned and patched up my soffit holes. I nervously listened for any signs that we’d entombed anyone. Nothing. I appreciated the silence.

We rode bikes around the camping loop yesterday and hollered a greeting to the family as we went by. Hope the country squirrels didn’t give you too much of a beat down for being city squirrels. They’ll be safer there if they survive the gang wars. Driving yesterday, I passed a just run over squirrel convulsing on the road and just felt horrible. This time of the year it’s tough not to notice the deer and squirrel bodies littering the roadways. And then I remember, starvation due to overpopulation is pretty sucky too. If the Fokkers are the fittest then they’ll survive in a new home in the woods with a steady supply of campers to feed them Cheetos.

Buddy Buddy Butthead

At 9am on a mid-October Saturday, my husband had called me at our home in Denton from his cell phone. Neither of us recalls the reason for this call. Before the line went dead, he utters the equivalent of “Freaking cat” and probably more unheard expletives. Our cat Butthead had stowed away in the back of a moving truck loaded with lighting equipment bound for a wedding at the Tidewater Inn, twenty minutes away Easton, MD. It took me five minutes to grab my kid and run out the door.

This near twenty pound terrified cat charged out of the tailgate opening like a locomotive, tore across the parking lot, and bounced off M. Randall’s shop window on the opposite side of Harrison Street before he disappeared. After searching for more than an hour, we endured my kid’s soccer game, informed Talbot Humane, and headed home.

As we drove home on Matthewstown Road, a squeak escaped me as I held my tears. He must have heard me because my son wailed,” I don’t want him to be gone. I still want to play string games with him. He’s my brother”. “I know you’re sad and I’m so sorry” was all I could say. I was painfully aware I could make no promises for his return. Helplessness is hateful.

I made a flier, ran it off, and we returned to Easton to commence the ‘Bring Home Butthead’ campaign which would gain a following. As I went from door to door with my lime green fliers, I was overwhelmed by the support of so many fellow pet-owners as they acknowledged the hole I felt. Butthead bugs us as only he can. My husband says spend a day with him and you’ll know where he got his name. But he’s still family and like a dog, he waits for the school bus with us.

By Wednesday, I had done all I could. I’d even walked through Spring Hill Cemetery one night and paid for a radio ad. I didn’t know where to stand now. If I stopped my search, I would be giving up. I contemplated the inevitable lesson in letting go of control, grieving, and entertaining acceptance. I revised my promise to myself. I would have to deliver thank you notes to everyone even if I didn’t find him.

My cell phone rang the next Saturday night. Her name was Ria and she was standing in the Historical Society’s garden petting Butthead. I sped out of the house knowing the search was over. I hugged Ria and her friends after I’d shoved Butthead backwards into the carrier. My thank you note read, “7 days and 12 hours later, Butthead came home. Thank you so much, each and every one of you, for your kind words and support as we searched for our cat this past week. I am grateful for and humbled by your concern and community. Sincerely relieved, Shalagh Hogan, Butthead’s Mommy”. And there was a resounding “Yeah!”.