Let me preface this by saying that I may come back to this for more details at some other point. I left my notebook in the car and I’m damn tired.
Upon arriving at my grandmother’s house, she already had my martini ingredients out. She’s a wonderful lady. I only ate two jars of olives there… well, maybe three. She made spaghetti for us, and although I requested she put some aside for me before she added the meat, she forgot. Then she told me to pick out the noodles away from the meat sauce that was everywhere. Ugh. Ok, so yeah, I ate them and then I even took a few bites of the pink, fluffy, marshmallow salad she made. That, my friends, is love. Or exhaustion.
Day 2 at Grandma’s, she pulled out a bunch of stuff for me to pillage. Notably, there was a cassette tape with my name and old phone number on it. I don’t have a tape player, so I curiously played the tape at her house and heard this horrible, awful (ok, not really that bad) singer singing all of my old audition songs. In my defense, I was really just playing with my $30 mixer and… ok, it was bad. What was I thinking? That tape is now destroyed.
Day 3, I drove back down to my BFF’s house to watch her daughter and procure Arkansas wine (don’t knock it until you try it!). We played at the playground and went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant with an actual “vegetarian” menu. I was happily eating my “vegetarian” fajitas, promising myself that I would copy the recipe at home, when I noticed what appeared to be a mushroom. I dug deeper. No, that is NOT a mushroom, that is a piece of steak. FUCK. I told the waiter that I ordered vegetarian and that I wasn’t going to pay for it. He smiled and nodded (and mentally patted me on the head) and brought us the bill, with my lunch still on it. Annoyed, I took the bill up to the cashier (coincidentally the owner) and explained that there was meat in my food.
“How much meat?” he asked.
“A piece of steak,” I replied.
“Oh, its just a little meat then,” he responded.
“Yes, but I don’t EAT meat,” I said.
“Well, we cook it all together,” he said.
“Then its not “vegetarian” and I would like it taken off of my bill,” I sneered.
That was meat event #3.
My BFF, Em, and I drove back up the mountain to Grandma’s house (over the river and through the woods!) and I was reminded of the last time she and I drove anywhere together. Granted, it was from Oklahoma to Texas, and we were in one car, wearing very little and driving at 100mph. This was much different, and sad. We’re no longer cool because we drove separate mini-vans and did the speed limit. The “glory days” are clearly in the past. Then, the storm from hell hit. I couldn’t see through the rain, which was probably good since I was still freaked out from the heights I was encountering, but I could sense their presence and the very real phobia of being washed off the side of a mountain was horrible. These are the moments when chewable Xanax come in handy. Someone get busy on perfecting that, k?
After Em checked into her hotel, I went back to Grandma’s and sat around. My cousin came over, tried to get me drunk, and then I passed out. Not from the drinky, from the emotional fainy/mountain/meat toll of the day. Really.
On Tuesday (Day 4), Em and I went to the local pool. WE DO NOT HAVE POOLS LIKE THIS. 4 water slides, a Mickey Mouse shaped wading pool with fountain and a big sloped pool… and a herd of cattle roaming behind it. It was a strange paradise. An oasis of quirky delight. Oh, that pool… I will remember it forever. After the pool, we took the kids shopping. Em went back to her hotel for the night and Grandma, the kids and I went to my cousin’s house.
So, by day 4, my Grandmother had reached her breaking point with The Enigma. She doesn’t understand autism and he was totally on her nerves. And, well, she was on his. I watched him get more and more wound up, and really start pacing (stimming). The way Grandma operates is that she whispers about you when she thinks you can’t hear, but she doesn’t seem to realize that her voice carries far and wide. So, I made myself look busy while she trashed my son to my cousin and his wife, mentally telling myself it was wrong to smack an 87 year old woman down. My cousin’s wife pulled me aside and did her best to talk me down, without letting me know she was talking me down. She saved my evening.
Day 5 was Em’s last day with me, so we went to the mall for lunch and to walk around. I was still fuming over the Gma vs. Enigma battle as I ate my mall pizza (and where the hell is my spinach/mushroom pizza?? *cry*). All the way to the mall, I was trying to figure out a diplomatic way to tell her to lay off of Enigma or I was leaving. I was pissed, I was grouchy and I was ready to fight. Then, as I finished my pizza, a wave of calm rushed over me (hmmm, must look into mall pizza spices for their calming effects). I was ready to go back, Em was ready to go home so we got up to go.
As we walked from the food court, Sir Talks-a-lot (the eldest) said, “mom, I just killed one.”
“You just killed what?” I asked.
“A bug in my hair,” he replied.
OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME????!?!?!?!
In the middle of the mall, I pushed back a bit of my son’s hair to see…
FATHER PLUCKING LICE.
Just kill me now. The notice they sent home 3 weeks before school was over, telling us there was lice in his classroom, suddenly flashed before my eyes. But, I had checked him and he was fine. Having never had to deal with lice before, of course he was fine, since I had no clue about what I was looking for.
Its now 2 months later, and I owe Jeremy the theatre manager a huge apology. I should probably take the pins out of the voodoo doll, too. I sent my son to Arkansas with lice. That means that the plane was contaminated and everywhere he was for the past 4 weeks was buggy. His bio-dad didn’t even clue in, nor did his grandmother, and THAT was a fun text message to send. Un-fucking-real.
Em, bless her heart (and not in that snarky southern “hahahahaha, you’re an idiot” way), stayed with me as I cooked up a plan to get his hair cut at the mall and fake being surprised when they told me about his condition. She’s so good to me, and yes, I was going to be that person. I didn’t care. I was homocidal, lice-icidal, and bordering on a nervous breakdown. This is why I don’t GO to the mall *snicker*
So, the hair people were taking forever and in that time, I decided that I would get hair clippers from Target, confess to my eldest that I smoke so I could puff away behind the van in the parking lot, and go back to Grandma’s house and shave his head, and Enigma’s too. I, of course, was NOT going to chace Grandma’s reaction, so we were going to just casually sit outside in the rain and take care of business. I’m really good at crisis management, and this is why I am not a good liar. I just set myself up to get caught.
We get the clippers, and by the time we get back in the car, I decided to just confess to Grandma and brave her comments of disgust. I call my cousin and his wife and tell them what’s up (cringing) and get back to Grandma’s. I tell her what’s going on, mentally cringing like a beaten dog, and she…
shrugs. She SHRUGGED. UGH!! Where is my drama??
I take care of all of the bedding, boys’ heads, etc. I comb through the girls’ hair with the tazer, find nothing, but decide the next morning to treat them anyway. We head over to Walmart, grab some stuff, including lice spray for my cousin, and then go out to his place so I can buy them a lovely pizza dinner.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
We leave, I get the kids all into bed, and Grandma and I talk about Enigma. She brings it up, and I tell her that he is a lot like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Will he get better? I don’t know, but I know he’ll be functional and that both she and he are feeding off of each other’s anxiety. She seems to understand, or gives up. I give up. We start planning her journey with the kids and I on our next leg to my aunt’s house. I have a drink. I pass out, wondering exactly why she wants to put up with my kid at this point, especially in the car and hotel.
Oh, speaking of hotels, I’m there now. Since she was joining us, I had to reserve a different room, er, suite. Its huge. I’ve not had this much “alone” time in 10 days and its nice. I almost remember what its like to be at home, except at home, I know how to cook popcorn so it doesn’t burn and almost set off the fire alarm. Where is my beer fairy?
Anyway, so Day 5 (yesterday) I woke up to a very sad Grandma. She’s in pain, and she has decided not to come. I’ve never seen my Grandmother cry. She’s lost her husband, 3 of her 4 children, and not once have I ever seen her shed a tear. She was my mother when my real mother was too fucked up to raise me… and never, ever, did I see her shed a tear. I wanted to scoop her up and… I don’t know. It sucked. Her pain, her disappointment. Aye. Suddenly, all of her words against Enigma didn’t mean shit, not in that moment. She took a pain pill, napped for a few hours and was fine by the afternoon. She even cooked. Never have I been so happy to have an excuse to not eat her “open face” hamburgers. My poor kids, especially Talker, really took one for the team.
So, here we are. We left Grandma’s at 8 this morning and are now in Illinois on the way to my aunt’s house in Michigan tomorrow. I miss my computer, I miss my “real” life, but I wouldn’t trade this whole journey/trip/experience/insanity for any of it.
P.S. I ordered fries from Sonic today. They were salty as hell and as I got to the final crumbs, guess what appeared before my eyes! Breading from chicken nuggets. That’s #3.
Much, much more to come.