Call Me Larry

I was working on a cute, fluffy little post about our new cat, Lila, who hates me and hisses or growls every time I walk into my own bedroom. Which, apparently, is now her bedroom because I believe it is entirely possible that she might just be planning to murder me in my sleep.

But … suddenly “cute” and “fluffy” aren’t really the mood I feel like hitting today.

There are so many discussions out there about Coronavirus, and I have no interest in talking about any political angles. It’s here, it’s scary, and it sucks. Period.

I want to believe that the media is blowing everything up for the sake of ratings. I want to believe that we’re all going to look back at this and roll our eyes at the overreactions. I want to listen to a bunch of people grumble in July that there was no need to cancel basketball games or close schools or whatever.

I want it to all be a tempest in a teapot. A mountain out of a molehill. Much ado about nothing.

But I also want the people I love to be safe.

I’ve got a nephew stuck in Europe. A high-risk family member showing symptoms. A friend in Washington whose entire family is sick and afraid.

I’m scared.

On Thursday, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that all schools in my state will  be closed for at least the next three weeks beginning on Monday, March 16. My son didn’t go to school on Friday (no, I’m not that mom; he was vomiting from something un-Coronavirus related) but I went to my job as a cafeteria monitor in the middle school/high school cafeteria.

I looked around at all of those faces, and damn if it wasn’t hard to keep smiling.

Years ago, my older children were in a minor accident on the school bus, and they came home mocking their bus driver, Larry. “He just acted like it was nothing!” my daughter seethed. “Larry’s an idiot,” my oldest son agreed; “he didn’t care that we could have all been killed!”

As an adult, I understood that poor Larry was probably in dire need of a change of underwear when he got home. But he was smart enough to know that he needed to act calm in order to keep the kids calm, no matter how rattled he may have been. So he acted as though crashing a bus full of children was no big deal. Not scary at all, right?

I think I may have channeled Larry a wee bit yesterday. Some of the kids were rejoicing over their unexpected “vacation” while others griped about it as nothing but an overreaction by the governor. Still others were obviously terrified, wanting to talk about it. And as one of the adults in the situation, I had to be Larry 2.0.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” I kept saying when asked. “Just a precaution. Just stay close to home and wash your hands a lot, and you’ll be fine. No big deal. Media is just blowing everything out of proportion.”

And that’s …. probably true.

Probably.

Possibly?

I couldn’t help it, though. I kept looking at those faces and wondering if some of them won’t be returning to school when (if?) this all blows over. Supposedly,  very few young people are being affected by this. They’ll all probably be just fine.

Probably.

But how many of them might lose a parent or a grandparent or other loved one? How many have families that are going to struggle in the economic disaster that’s hitting right now because of all of this? How many are quietly terrified every time they feel the need to sniffle or cough? One way or another, lives are going to be changed in the coming months.

I think about all the times I’ve said “it’s a different world now from the one I grew up in.” Yeah, I know you want to shout “OK, BOOMER” at me. But it’s true. The world is different. And it’s true for all of us at this moment. Whether you believe Coronavirus is an over-exaggerated common cold and we’re all idiots, or you believe it’s the end of the world as we know it, you have to agree that this is a pivotal moment in history.

Whether it’s pivoting more around out-of-control illness or a media-manufactured panic remains to be seen. But in terms of economic crises, loss of trust in our government officials, and just plain old worry, we are currently in the midst of a unique moment in history.

Damn it, I’m scared. I’m scared for my kids and my sisters and my nieces and nephews and my friends. And yeah, I’m scared for “my” kids in the lunchroom, even though they all have their own families and really don’t need to have some random lunchlady worrying about them.

I promise, I’ll be back with “cute” and “fluffy” soon. Probably tomorrow. At times like this, sometimes the only way to calm down is to escape into books or hobbies, and I’ll do my best to keep creating fun stories to help folks escape. Because that’s all I can do to help: create some lighthearted escapism, worry a lot, and maybe do some baking to work off some stress.

(Note: I won’t be baking. That was a test to see if my kids read my blog.)

Please, folks, be careful. Wash your hands, stay home if possible, and make sure to say “I Love You” as much as possible. Stay positive if you can.

And call me Larry, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy birthday, Little Man

Today is Little Man’s eighth birthday.

It’s not a “landmark” birthday like the one I just had last week, or the one his big brother will be hitting soon. In the grand scheme of things, turning eight is not a big deal. One year older, several inches taller, and just old enough to tell me at the school this morning that I can still hug him in public but no more kisses in front of his friends.

I snuck one in on the  top of his head anyway during my allotted hug. I don’t think anyone noticed.

It may not be a landmark birthday, but it’s a big day around here. He’s our bonus baby, the one who came along when his brother and sister were already half-grown. He’s old enough now to ride in the car without his booster seat. Next year, he’ll be able to get off the school bus without an older sibling, which is a good thing because next year he will also be my only child still at  home.

Little Man and I made cookies last night to take in for his class today. I had found a box of Strawberry Milkshake flavored cookie mix on clearance a few weeks ago, and we discovered last night just exactly why it was on clearance.

It was the single most complicated box mix of anything I have ever seen in my life. Things had to be “frothed” and “folded” and prayed over, and I think there is a remote possibility that we may have created an alien life form in the process. We ended up creating a sticky, paste-like pink substance that clung to the spoons like a living thing as we fought to drop gelatinous globs of it onto a cookie sheet.

They are delicious, but I swear the tiny chocolate chips look like eyes glaring at me.

For his ninth birthday, the boy gets Oreos.

Last night, his big brother whispered to him that birthday boys should get French toast and scrambled eggs and hot cocoa for breakfast for their eight birthday. He whispered it and muttered it and then announced it rather loudly until Little Man agreed.

For the record, his big brother can be a little bit of an asshole that way.

My kids go to a school that serves free breakfast to all kids every day. Let me say that again, just to make it perfectly clear. Free. Breakfast. To all kids. Every day. Free. I haven’t had to feed my kids in the morning for years.

Now, I work in the school kitchen, so I know the food is fresh and healthy. And let’s face it, it’s prepared on surfaces that are a hell of a lot cleaner than any of the surfaces in my own kitchen. In short, the people at our public school feed my kids a better breakfast than anything I’m going to make them at home.

And did I mention that it’s free?

Still, it wasn’t so bad starting the day out with homemade French toast and scrambled eggs, as long as I had access to plenty of coffee.  I even managed to get the syrup on the toast and ketchup on the eggs instead of vice versa, so I did better than I had really expected.

I gave the cookies to his teacher and I’ll be returning later in the afternoon to read to the class from The Stinky Cheese Man. Folks, if you haven’t read The Stinky Cheese Man, you are missing out. Even if you don’t have a child in the appropriate age range for bodily function humor and horribly groan-worthy jokes, you just have to read this book. I don’t know what I’ll do when my Little Man gets too old for it and I run out of excuses for reading it to anyone. That’s right, I am a fifty year-old woman who still laughs out loud over The Stinky Cheese Man.

I think there just may be support groups for people like me.

Apparently, I can be a bit of an asshole at times, too.

Tomorrow, the boys start Spring Break and I dive headlong into Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to reach my goal of 30,000 words in April — especially since April includes Spring Break, a final round of edits on Fat, Fifty and Menopausal, and preparations for my oldest son’s high school graduation — but I’m willing to give it a try.

April is going to be a busy month around here, but for today, the last day of March, our only plan is to have fun with a certain Little Man who is growing up much too fast.

Happy birthday, Little Man.