Well, we have officially passed the halfway mark of summer vacation. It seems once we get to the middle of July, the rest of the summer flies by, like Superman heading to a bathroom emergency. It won’t be much longer, and I’ll be packing a lunch for Thing 2 again, every single morning, that he will take exactly two bites of in the school cafeteria, so that he can be the first kid out to recess. In some ways, his refusal to eat any of his lunch is freeing, because I don’t have to think about becoming the Pinterest Mom, who uses cookie cutters before dawn to make sandwiches shaped like spaceships, before she cuts skim-milk cheese into star shapes and creates astronauts out of seven different vegetables, held together with toothpicks. For one thing, our son would use a toothpick to stab someone in a lunchtime sword fight, and two, all he’s going to eat are two grapes anyway, so that’s all I ever pack.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the 4th of July, and I managed to snap a very small handful of pictures. Seeing as how today is July 17th and I’m just now getting around to those snapshots, I guess you could use the word TIMELY to describe me.
We celebrated our country’s day of independence by waking the boy up at 7:45 and pushing him and Thing 2 out the front door by 8 AM, to pull weeds. Of course both boys moaned and groaned and acted like abused children who would be better off in foster care, as they hollered, “We don’t know any other families who have a weed pulling party on the 4th of July! Everyone else is sleeping in and eating red, white and blue pancakes that their loving mother cooks for them!”
But, with the rock beds and flowerbeds looking neat and tidy and utterly weed-free, we released the little beasts from their unpaid jobs, and I fed them a nutritious breakfast of Pop Tarts and bananas.
Later that day, we joined the rest of Small Town, USA in a giant field for the big fireworks show. Everyone goes… and everyone goes early, to tailgate. We were no exception. Hubs has a friend who helps set up the fireworks every year, which is a big job that requires LICENSING. Because this fellow has an all-access pass beyond the barriers, where the explosives are set up, he also has passes for front row parking, which he gave to Hubs and some other friends of ours. We felt like guests of honor, as we bypassed the other three thousand cars in the field, to drive straight to the front row. While everyone else would just watch the show from further back, we would be sitting underneath the fireworks, where the hot sparks could potentially land on us and ignite our hairspray choices.
Now… you have to understand that YES! THERE REALLY ARE THREE THOUSAND CARS PARKED IN THIS FIELD. There are also probably eight to ten thousand people there. In other words, it’s a crowd. And Hubs and I own a six year old who is a mover and a shaker. We died laughing when we went to the theater to see The Incredibles 2 last month, because Mr. Incredible’s baby has superpowers, too. And… he can disappear in the blink of an eye, to another dimension, which keeps Mr. Incredible from sleeping at night, because WHERE DID THE BABY DISAPPEAR TO NOW?! Poor Mr. Incredible was sleep-deprived, unshaven and sporting dark circles under his eyes, as he strained himself to stay awake and monitor that baby.
This, people, is us. Hubs and I also have a child with superpowers, who can literally disappear into another dimension in the blink of an eye, and we can’t always lure him out with cookies, like Mr. Incredible could do. So, you can understand why my anxiety was a touch on the high side for our chosen activity on the 4th of July, and why Mama needed a Valium tablet in her water bottle.
I ran into my friend Jessica at Walmart the day before we went to the tailgating party. Jessica also has a little man with superpowers, who also disappears into thin air quickly, and she had some tips. She recommended that I buy a neon shirt (the easier to spot him in) and that I should write my phone number in a Sharpie pen on his arm (the easier for people to get a hold of me with, when my child emerged into their dimension). I took Jessica’s advice, because she’s brilliant. I dropped $4.99 at Walmart for a neon yellow shirt that could be see from outer space, and I wrote my phone number on his shoulder with a giant black Sharpie.
When we made it to the giant field and parked, our friends all commented on Thing 2’s telephone number tattoo, and there were some giggles and questions of AREN’T YOU A LITTLE OVERCAUTIOUS? Clearly, they all knew nothing about raising Jack Jack Incredible. But, Jessica had assured me that if I took these precautions, nothing would happen, because that’s exactly how life goes, when you’re prepared.
Thing 2 was thrilled to be with our friends’ boys.
What you need to know about this trio is that they are THE ABSOLUTE ROUGHEST AND TOUGHEST BOYS IN THIS ENTIRE TOWN. All three of them can wrestle grown bulls and pin those horns to the dirt. These two little friends of ours are two of the only kids I know who can keep up with Thing 2. I adore them like crazy, and they make life fun!
Thing 2 used the wiffle ball and bat while we tailgated. He threw that plastic ball into the air more than seventy-seven million times. He’d throw the ball up, swing the bat, smack the ball and streak out in a dead run after it. And then he’d throw the ball up, swing the bat, smack the ball again, and he’d be off on a full-out run, to retrieve it.
He literally did this ALL… EVENING… LONG.
He was obsessed with batting that ball.
We all offered to pitch the ball to him, but he politely refused. He wanted to do it himself. And so we let him, and he was easy to keep track of, because there he was, all evening long, out front, smacking balls, and he wasn’t going anywhere near the three thousand parked cars behind us, where a boy could take a wrong turn and be lost in a sea of people for the rest of his life.
My heart was somewhat at rest, but I still never took my eyes off our little Jack Jack Incredible.
And then the unthinkable happened. Little T pushed that truck through the grass alongside our cars… and he got into the next row of parked vehicles…
… and he disappeared.
He disappeared in the blink of an eye, even though we were all keeping an eye on him. All the adults in our group split up, and we started looking, going from row to row to row of cars.
If you think this isn’t a scary thing, then you’re probably not a parent. I knew he was going to show up, but I was also about to puke up my pulled pork sandwich from sheer nerves. THE BABY WAS MISSING, and we had been watching him!!
It took about twelve minutes of agony before I spotted him, having a glass of iced tea with a woman in her seventies, eight cars away from our vehicles. I grabbed him up and burst into tears, and he’s not even my own son. I bawled my eyes straight out, and this wonderful woman told me, “I could tell he was lost, so I just sat him here with me, in some hopes that I could keep him right here, until his parents found him!”
I know I blubbered my thanks to this good woman, and then I cried all the way to hand that little man to his very worried mama.
And guess what Little T received?
Oh, he got a phone number tattoo… on BOTH of his shoulders, with a big, black Sharpie marker!
With our emergency over, the kids went back to playing… and batting.
And then, WHILE EVERYONE HAD THEIR EYES ON LITTLE T… he walked in front of a parked car and turned the opposite direction we expected him to turn, and he was gone a second time, in less than half of a second.
He was gone a second time.
The search party banded together again and spread out. Little T’s mama flagged down two sheriff’s deputies on bikes, who were set to help look, when… all of a sudden… her cell phone rang! Because those phone number tattoos on his arms? Yeah… within two minutes, another mother who knew what it’s like to have kids CALLED MY FRIEND’S CELL PHONE! She had found the little wanderer, and he was safe, and she described her location, which was basically three hundred miles away from our parked car, because that two year old can COVER SOME GROUND!
And from then on, Little T had to sit in someone’s lap for the rest of the night. The end. We are thankful that we received two very happy endings, and NO ONE giggled at Thing 2’s phone number tattoo again!
And yes… the boy was with us for a short period of time, while he waited for friends to get off work and come out to the giant tailgating party and fireworks show. And… look at what he was doing!
… he hated reading.
The boy has hated reading since he learned to do it. Of course, this broke my heart, because I’m the nerd who always preferred to read a book over almost anything else. I taught the boy to read at the age of four, so that he was capable of reading entire chapter books when he was in pre-kindergarten. He read the first Harry Potter book as a first grader! And then second grade rolled around, and the boy announced that he hated reading and wouldn’t be doing it any more. He never read another book that he wasn’t forced to read for a class.
I begged him to read. I promised to buy him expensive Lego sets if he would just READ A BOOK ALREADY! It was a no-go. And then something happened this summer, and the boy decided that DO YOU KNOW WHAT? I ENJOY READING! He read two books FOR FUN in June. That’s two more books than he’s ever read for fun, since he was seven years old. Over the 4th of July, he was reading a non-fiction book about a mafia member who got out and became a Christian, and he said the story was so fascinating, he couldn’t put it down, so he brought the book to read at our 4th of July party!
WHO WAS THIS CHILD?!!
That is the only picture I have of the boy reading, because the boy has never read before!
Eventually his friends all made their way out to the giant field, and he left us. I managed to get one snapshot off before the group left to wander in and out of three thousand cars (I thought about writing my phone number on the boy’s arm, but decided against it, because STOP IT, MOM!). Of course, these hilarious teenagers POSED for their one and only photo opp.
Meanwhile, at our camp, the glow sticks came out. Someone had a package of one hundred glow sticks, so our kids looked like they could land an airplane, with all the light they put off.
And… we all made it home before 11:30 that night. The best news is that we all made it home with the exact same number of kids we had brought with us!
We’d like to thank my friend Jessica, and her straight-up brilliance for that! Phone number tattoos can be lifesaving.