1. Get off work at 4:00 on Friday afternoon and collect the boy from Kellen’s house, where he has been playing since school let out.
2. Bring Kellen home with you.
3. Listen to the boys whoop and shout and carry on, as they chase one another around outside like sword-swinging madmen.
4. Look at one sword-to-the-side-of-the-cheek blow. Examine it with your limited medical knowledge and swiftly pronounce it nothing more than a flesh wound. Tell the boys the words which they hear, over and over, and which they tend to ignore, over and over: Please be more careful.
5. Eventually send Kellen home to his parents and shove the boy into bed.
6. Stay up until midnight watching The Next Three Days with Hubs.
7. Decide that the movie’s previews led you to believe that this action-packed, bust-your-wife-out-of-prison film would be better than it was.
8. Ask Hubs if he’d break you out of prison, if you were there for a murder you didn’t commit.
9. Don’t take it personally when Hubs says, “After a week or two at home with some peace and quiet, I would probably start planning something to get you out. It would probably involve explosives, though, which Russel Crowe didn’t use.”
10. Fall into a dead sleep.
11. Wake up at 6:10 on Saturday morning, because that’s simply how you roll. Realize that going to sleep at 12:15 and getting up at 6:10 is completely un-idyllic.
12. Shower and brush away your morning breath and tame your unruly mane of hormone-induced curls which were brought on by the inevitable onset of old age.
13. Sit down with a cup of Coffee Mate. Add a hint of genuine coffee to it, so that society doesn’t criticize you and label you as eccentric, because you have added nothing but a straw to the giant jug of French Vanilla Coffee Mate.
14. Finish your Coffee Mate and head off with Nina to the giant antique shop, just outside of Small Town’s city limits. Spend TWO FULL HOURS wandering through the store and chatting.
15. Buy nothing but a silk scarf, because you had to buy an iPhone last week, after you threw your free one onto the bathroom floor and smashed it to smithereens. Know in your heart, that had you NOT just purchased an iPhone, you would have bought THIS and THIS and THAT at the antique store.
16. Do not covet the small blue dresser that Nina bought. Or the little table. Remind yourself that coveting is a SIN, and that Nina did not just buy herself an iPhone, because Nina did not just smash her free AT&T transition phone.
17. Come home and realize that low! Hubs had the boy mow the yard! Praise the boy on a job well done, and agree with Hubs that this is why you had children in the first place. You both knew that eventually the boy would grow up and you would never mow again.
18. Run some errands with the boy and Hubs. Get some groceries. Get some groceries for the frogs, which amount to nothing more glamorous than two bags of live bugs.
19. Return home and demand, with a hint of Mean Mother in your voice, that the boy take the time to CLEAN the frog tanks, because of OH MY SWEET, HOLY MERCY! GROSS AND DISGUSTING, AND WOULD YOU WANT TO SIT IN POO-FILLED WATER ALL DAY, SON??!!
20. Nod your approval at said tanks, twenty minutes later.
21. Listen as your son makes plans with the cute neighbor boy, over the long-range walkie talkies that they keep in their rooms because the boy’s parents PLUM REFUSE to buy him a cell phone, even though he is THE VERY LAST TEN-YEAR-OLD ON PLANET EARTH who doesn’t have one. Remind the boy that Carter and Ben and Kellen and Quinn and and Ciara and Patrick actually do not have cell phones either.
22. Grow a bit bored with the argument, as the boy lists everyone who DOES have a cell phone.
23. Feel some sense of relief that the conversation is over, when the cute neighbor boy rings the doorbell and the boy heads outside with him.
24. Sit on the deck with Hubs for a bit, while the boys run wild outside, rattling on and on to one another over their walkie talkies, as they zip all over the place.
25. Do some laundry.
26. Pick up odds and ends that are scattered all over the house.
27. Realize that your life can almost be summed up by the amount of times you actually DO laundry and pick odds and ends up.
28. Meet Regan in the park to take some pictures of her, because she is in her final week of Pregnancy #4. Assure her that you are an AWFUL PHOTOGRAPHER, and you hope that she had no real intentions of getting high-quality photos to preserve the memory of her giant, baby-filled belly.
29. Crack yourself up as you say things to Regs like, “That’s it. Give me a smoldering look! Toss your hair, baby! Toss it!”
30. Tell Regs that she should try to get on Top Model, because she can toss her hair like a pro.
31. Buy the boy a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard from the Dairy Queen, because he has been begging for one for over a week now.
32. Head for home.
33. Steam some asparagus and green beans and make a salad and mashed potatoes, while Hubs grills pork chops for dinner.
34. Have the cute neighbor boy over for dinner, because he likes pork chops and mashed potatoes.
35. Insist that THERE WILL BE NO CAMPING OUT on the lawn, in the lean-to structure that the two boys spent the afternoon putting together, because of RAIN CLOUDS and DROPPING TEMPERATURES. Insist that this is a summertime activity, and assure the boys that they will be plum rained out at 2:00 in the morning, if they choose to sleep outside. Tell them that YOU WILL CARE, when they say they DON’T CARE if they get soaked by rain while they are sleeping.
36. Tell them the rain will short-circuit the cute neighbor boy’s cell phone.
37. Because he HAS a cell phone.
38. While the boy does NOT. Due to MEAN PARENTS.
39. Text the cute neighbor boy’s cell phone at 9:30 to tell him to send the boy home for the night.
40. Text the cute neighbor boy’s cell phone again at 9:45, telling him to please let the boy know that you smell a SEVERE GROUNDING on the horizon, if he is not home PRONTO.
41. Giggle as the boy bursts through the backdoor at 33 seconds past 9:45 PM.
42. Shove the boy through the shower to wash some of the day’s grime off.
43. Shove the boy into bed, even though he is vocally protesting that he would like to stay up until 2:00 in the morning and see if it actually rains, as you’ve predicted.
44. Deny the request.
45. Laugh when the boy is sound asleep, with his mouth open wide and his arms flung helter skelter, at 10:02.
46. Decide that six hours’ worth of sleep just wasn’t enough the night before. Make enormous plans to go to sleep that very second.
47. Cave when Hubs says, “Let’s catch up on all of this season’s episodes of The Office that we haven’t seen.”
48. Remind Hubs that The Office has been nothing but a giant let-down this season, and that you JUST KNOW that the six episodes you have left to watch will be b-o-r-i-n-g.
49. Laugh your head off until you cannot breathe when Dwight Schrute becomes Acting Manager of the Scranton-based, Dunder Mifflin paper business.
50. Decide that The Office has somewhat redeemed itself.
51. Fall asleep at 12:30 in the morning.
52. Achieve a deep, deep REM state of sleeping almost instantly.
53. Jerk awake and sit upright in bed at 1:03 AM, because you have just heard a giant male lion, straight from the plains of Africa, race across your house and roar viciously somewhere nearby.
54. Calm your heart and listen.
55. Hear the roar again.
56. Wonder how on earth you’ll manage to fight off a full-grown, roaring male lion in your house. Wonder how on earth said lion GOT INTO your house. Realize that you have some common ground with The Hangover, which you’ll never admit to watching.
57. Except it was a TIGER in the room in The Hangover.
58. Quickly realize that you DON’T have a roaring lion under your roof. The running sounds were the boy, racing for the bathroom. The roaring sounds are coming from the bathroom, because the boy IS PUKING, PUKING, PUKING! Violently puking!!
59. Run to the bathroom to help. Hold the boy’s forehead and rub his back, while he throws up hard enough to break all the blood vessels in his eye.
60. Realize that Chocolate Extreme Blizzards are not pretty when they are looking up at you from the potty.
61. Get the boy cleaned up. Get his mouth rinsed up. Realize that he has a fever of 101 degrees.
62. Tuck the boy back into bed.
63. Return to the boy’s bathroom and Clorox his toilet and sink.
64. Go back to bed yourself.
65. Lay awake in bed — WIDE AWAKE! — because you know that the boy is a puker from birth. You know that this will not be a lone episode of barfing. Wait for the next one to hit.
67. And wait.
68. And wait some more.
69. Look at the clock and realize that you’re exhausted, and that it’s now 1:47 AM.
70. Crash hard. Fall into a deep REM sleep. Dream that your neighbor is twining bamboo trees around stained glass windows, and that the lead filling in the windows has poisoned the plants.
71. Wake up to Puke, Round Two at 2:20 AM. Realize that you were right, because IT IS RAINING OUTSIDE!!! Make a mental note to inform the boy later.
72. Race to the bathroom.
73. Hold the boy’s head. Rub his back.
74. Clean the boy up. Have him rinse his mouth out. Put him back into bed.
75. Re-Clorox the bathroom toilet and sink and floor.
76. Fall into a sleep that Abraham Lincoln has been enjoying for the past 100+ years.
77. Wake up at 4:58 AM, because the tub is being filled with water. The boy is freezing from the chills, and he wants a bath.
78. Help with the bath water.
79. Sit on the edge of the tub and talk to him, until he’s out of the tub at 5:30, puking some more.
80. Get the boy cleaned up. Get his mouth rinsed out. Put him in clean jammies. Shove him back into bed.
81. Say, “The heck with Cloroxing the bathroom,” and totally skip that stage, because WHY BOTHER?!
82. Tell Hubs, when he asks at 5:50, “I think he has strep throat.”
83. Fall back asleep until 8:30 in the morning! Realize that the boy is still asleep, and so is Hubs.
84. Get up and shower, because you know you’re heading for the pediatrician’s office for antibiotics.
85. Meet Dr. B. Realize that you could write for Web, MD, because you totally called this diagnosis, as it’s official: The boy is plagued with strep throat.
86. Bring the sick kid home. Send Hubs to the pharmacy.
87. Let the boy watch an endless marathon of movies on TV, while he alternates between actually WATCHING the shows and SLEEPING IN FRONT OF the shows.
88. Spend the ENTIRE DAY doing nothing more strenuous than sitting on your sofa, reading a book and playing Words With Friends on your cell phone.
89. Get a bit mad when Hubs beats you in one game by 41 points, even though Hubs readily admits, “I actually hate word games!”
90. Wonder how badly Hubs would have beaten you, had you been playing Math With Friends.
91. Decide that it probably would have been by a thousand points.
92. Check on the boy continually.
93. Bring him yogurt when he asks for it.
94. Throw the yogurt in the trash can, when he says his throat hurts too badly to swallow yogurt.
95. Bring him cinnamon toast, when he emphatically declares that yes! Yes, he COULD eat that. Assure him that if he couldn’t eat the yogurt, he probably can’t eat the toast, because toast is SCRATCHIER than yogurt is.
96. Throw the cinnamon toast into the garbage, when he insists that he was wrong.
97. Refrain from saying, “I told you so,” because you are now a grown-up, and you have to act in a mature fashion.
98. Breathe easier when the boy inhales a full juice box of apple juice.
99. Go back to reading.
100. And playing Words With Friends.
101. Text the cute neighbor boy, because he HAS a cell phone. Tell him that it’s a good thing he didn’t camp out with the boy, because he would have been covered in barf. Also assure him that IT REALLY WAS RAINING AT 2:20 IN THE MORNING! Tell him you know this, because you were awake, dealing with all the puking!
102. Keep reading.
103. Help Hubs grill chicken for dinner.
104. Clean up the kitchen.
105. Go Clorox the bathroom, which you put off all day, because you were worried that it would be a complete time waster, because of PUKE, PUKE, PUKE.
106. Put the boy into bed.
107. Watch TV with Hubs until 11:30.
108. Sleep like a log until 8:00 in the morning! Be completely floored that it’s already 8 AM!
109. Realize that the boy is STILL ASLEEP and FEVER FREE.
110. Take a shower, because you want to get ready for the day and have some Coffee Mate.
111. Add just a touch of coffee to the Mate.
112. Do nothing more strenuous than two loads of laundry.
113. Migrate around the house with your book.
114. Finish a second Words With Friends game with Hubs. Be somewhat happy that YOU beat HIM by 14 points. Realize that a man who doesn’t even like word games should not have (1) beat you in the first game, or (2) lost to you by ONLY 14 points.
115. Eventually yank the boy away from Base Camp, which is at the foot of the TV, and snuggle up with him on the sofa. Read to the boy out of a book that his friend, Patrick, loaned to him, because of SICK, SICK, SICK.
116. Realize that the boy has some powerfully nice friends, who take care of him while he’s down with strep throat.
118. Keep reading.
119. And reading.
121. Eat leftovers for dinner.
122. Rejoice that the boy! HE FEELS EVER-SO-VERY-MUCH BETTER!!
123. Head to bed EARLY, because OH MY WORD!
124. You’ve plum exhausted yourself over Memorial Day Weekend.
Happy Memorial Day, people!