Bump in the Night

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It’s one o’clock in the morning, and my daughter has just messaged me. Now, there is no way I should still be up at one o’clock in the morning, but I am balancing three overlapping sessions in my summer online job, and I’m trying to finish up something. Anything. And suddenly, my biggest concern is not that I am still up, but that she should clearly be sleeping. And she’s not.

In fact, sleep schedule has been a point of contention between her father and myself for all of the many years we have been apart. He insists that the children are on the same schedule at his house as at mine. Solid evidence proves otherwise.

“Hi,” she types, as if it’s one o’clock in the afternoon.

I hear the bell announcing the message’s delivery. I read it, and I think, What. The. Heck. “Why are you still up?” I hastily type back.

“Ok so it’s almost 1:00am and there’s this sound outside coming from the middle of the lake that sounds like a little kid saying ‘dada,’” she responds.

And here I am, a thousand miles away, wondering what I am expected to do. I choose to take the reasonable approach. “Frog?” I type. “Bird?”

In my mind, I can see her shaking her head. “So C comes into our room with a knife and a flashlight and we don’t know what to think of it.”

This sounds like a totally safe situation. “Well, if it’s in the middle of the lake, it’s somewhat far away,” I reassure her.

“It could’ve also been W sleep talking and we misheard where it was coming from,” she tells me. And with the next sentence, I know she’s not buying my reassurance. “But creepy ghost children can travel quickly,” she continues, going with the supernatural because it is, after all, the middle of the night. And the supernatural can explain anything. Truly.

“You’re right,” I type. I figure at this point, the only approach is to agree. “I didn’t think of that. Those creepy ghost children can travel very fast. Hopefully, they are only after slow, old people.” I figure I may as well have some fun with this one.

It is only a second or two before she types back, “But there are slow old people IN THIS HOUSE!!”

“Yes,” I say. “I know. They will go after the slow old people and leave you alone.”


“I don’t know,” I finally surrender. “I can’t hear it. It is raining here, and the rain is muffling the sounds from your lake.” Because the truth is, no matter what the sound is or is not, there is nothing I can do when I am a thousand miles away.


But now, I must go to sleep wondering what is calling “dada” in the night.

Oddities #3

On Tuesday, I took my children to the airport and put them on a plane to travel to their father’s house for their annual two-week summer visitation. Their flight was scheduled for the middle of the day. Lunch time, to be exact. But for C, who has cashed in his school schedule for the teen sleep-plan, breakfast is often the midday meal. When he got up that morning, he didn’t want to eat.

“I’m not going to buy you a meal at the airport,” I told him in my sternest no nonsense tone. “I don’t have money to pay airport prices. Find something to eat.”

“There’s nothing to eat,” he complained. “I’ve already looked. I’ll just eat when I get there,” he stated. As if that was an option.

“You tell me how hungry you are every time you go to your father’s. You say he doesn’t feed you. You say there’s never any food in the house. And now you say the first thing you’re going to do when you get there is eat lunch?” He stared at me with the blank expression that said he didn’t want to engage—with me or the world. “Eat something, please. We’re going to be late.”

He grabbed a box of cereal and a sandwich bag. “I’ll just take a bag of these,” he said, holding up the box. Fine, I thought. At least it’s better than nothing. He filled the bag, and we were on our way.

He ate a few bits of cereal on the way to the airport. When I stopped fast to avoid the car in front of me, the bag of cereal slid off C’s lap, and the cereal scattered across the floor on the passenger side. He didn’t even try to save it.

“Are you kidding?” I asked.

“What?” he replied, as if he had absolutely no control over the situation. He sat there, looking at me. I raised my eyebrows. “What?” he repeated.

“Seriously? Are you going to pick it up?”

He looked down at the cereal at his feet and sighed. He bent down and pushed it into a pile. “Throw it out the door when you get out,” I instructed. Because clearly, that wasn’t obvious. Some days, I feel like a walking, talking instruction manual.

It started to rain. Hard. I turned the windshield wipers on high and wished they’d go higher. They beat their rhythm as we drove. “Do you want me to drop you off and then park?” I asked over the roar of the rain, the drumming of the wipers.

“Sure,” came three voices in unison. I pulled up in front of the doors by the ticket counters. The kids got out, grabbed their bags from the trunk and stepped onto the sidewalk.

I drove around, pulled into short-term parking, and parked the car. Just as I was turning off the engine, I looked down at the floor of the passenger side. Cereal. It looked like the work of squirrels.

I am sure C would blame it on the rain.




I was making fresh strawberry scones the other morning.

I dumped a small pile of flour on a piece of waxed paper so I could flatten the dough and cut it into scone-sized triangles.

“Is that your bench flour?” C asked.

“My bench flour?” I looked at him, unsure of his reference. “You mean this pile here? Is that what you call it?”

“Yeah. And you save it when you’re done.” I spread the flour with my hand and plopped the dough onto the flour where it (hopefully) wouldn’t stick. I rolled it into a ball, worked it for a minute, then started to spread it out.

“You save it?” I asked, a bit incredulous, knowing what my ‘bench flour’ looks like when I’m done. In fact, as the dough stuck to my hands, I would rub little bits of dough off my fingers and into the ‘bench flour.’

“Why wouldn’t you save it?” C asked. “It’s just flour and little pieces of pie crust.”

“Well, not really….” I thought for a minute. “What if you are making chocolate scones? Then your ‘bench flour’ has little bits of chocolate dough in it. When you roll out your pie crust, it gets chocolate in it.”

“That’s half the fun,” C replied, mischief creeping into his tone. “It’s like a treasure hunt. ‘What will I find in my bench flour today? Oh look! A whole blueberry!!’”

“That’s gross,” I stated, but I laughed in response. “I think I’ll throw out my bench flour. Thanks.” Funny or not, there will be no “treasure” traveling between my baked goods.

But from here on, every time I eat something from a bakery, I will wish there were some things I did not know.


One of my least favorite chores is buying groceries. I don’t really know why it’s my least favorite, other than it takes time out of my schedule; I have to physically touch every object I buy multiple times (way too many, in my book); and it’s EXPENSIVE (and getting even more so by the second). Nowadays, I tend to get groceries on my way home from work, which delays my arrival home AND our family dinner.

When my children were younger, we all went to the grocery store together much more often than we do now. Occasionally, when I had only a few items and I was feeling particularly adventurous, we would use the “self-scan” registers. One time, when C was about 10 or 11, he ran ahead of me into the self-scan lane, and hit the button on the screen indicating that we wanted our checkout experience to be in Spanish. Um… what?

First of all, it is important to understand that throughout junior high, high school and college, I took French. Back then, we didn’t have exposure to foreign languages before we hit 7th grade, and at that point, we had to choose our career language—the language we would take through high school. Nobody ever switched. Thus, I know English and French (and a little bit of Greek from a two-month exchange trip back in the dark ages). No Spanish. None.

I stared at the screen with no idea what to do. How do you fix the language setting when you can’t understand the language in which the machine is prompting you? Ugh! Out of frustration, I moved to another register and let that one time out and reset itself. And I made a mental note not to let C beat me to the self-scan registers anymore.

Yesterday, a new laptop arrived in the mail for C. He was in the living room running through the set up procedures, and I could hear him reading the options aloud. “Set language….” And BAM! Just like that, I was transported back to that day in the supermarket. I could see the sly smile he gave me that day, just like it happened yesterday.

“Set it to Spanish, C!” I called to the living room. “Just like you used to do to me in the grocery store!”

He snickered. “Yeah. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Yes, I thought, my own sly smile brightening my face. It would be kinda fun, wouldn’t it?

Nothing Good

One day this week, my daughter came downstairs for breakfast. She opened the fridge and looked inside. She stood there just a moment too long, surveying. She sighed, “There’s nothing good in here.” No, there is never anything good to eat in my house.

This is one thing I dread about school letting out for the summer. My children will check the refrigerator, the cabinet, wherever, sigh and declare, “There’s nothing good to eat.” In an hour or so, they will come back to stare into the fridge and repeat the process. They don’t seem to notice that I have not left the house and no one has entered. “There’s nothing good to eat,” is a complaint I hear daily.

Last night, I made a batch of blueberry muffins—a dozen muffins in all. I got up this morning to make lunches and get the kids out the door. By the time I sat down for breakfast, the muffins were gone.

Monday afternoon, I came home from an errand to find C, who had just arrived from school, sitting at the kitchen table downing a rather large bowl of pasta salad. Actually, it was the “Family Sized” bowl, and I know this because we were going to have it for dinner.

“What are you doing?” I asked, trying to temper my accusatory tone into curiosity. I didn’t want him to think that I was accusing him of doing something wrong when he had made a relatively healthy snack choice.

“Mom!” he nearly yelled, immediately defensive that I should walk in and catch him eating, of all things. “I eat four meals a day! My school lunch is at 10:30. You can’t even call that lunch.

“So this is one of your meals?” I questioned.

“Yeah. This is my lunch!” Well, it’s good to know my pasta salad wasn’t merely a snack, I suppose.

And during the warmer weather—like now—I try to keep some cut up fruit in the fridge. I cut up an average of two whole watermelons a week. I cut it into bite-sized pieces and put it in a bowl, so it will be cold and delicious and ready to eat. Every time I think I might snack on some watermelon, I go into the fridge and it’s not there. The empty bowl sits in the sink with only a bit of pink juice remaining in the bottom. One of the teens in the house has consumed the contents of said bowl, though he or she blames another. “I only ate some of it. C ate the rest!” or “J ate the last piece….”

Come to think of it, I’m beginning to understand why my kids say, “There is nothing good to eat!” I can’t find anything, either….



It started at the dinner table, our discussion of warped things. W looked out the window into the settling dusk of evening. “And… it’s started raining again!”

“It’s raining?” I questioned, glancing out the window. It had been raining for two days, but the rain had stopped earlier in the afternoon, and I thought it was done. According to the weather forecaster, it was done, at any rate. Then again, the weather forecaster doesn’t have a great track record.

“Or tiny morsels of something are hitting our window,” W continued. “I can hear it.”

“Oh, that’s not rain,” I informed him. I’d been sitting at the kitchen table all day, and I had heard the noise he was referring to. “I washed the window last week, and for some reason, the sun-catcher is now tapping against the window.” I leaned in toward the window to study the sun-catcher. “I must not have put it back in exactly the perfect spot. Or may it’s warped….” The discussion wandered to how a window might be warped, until I brought it back to the sun-catcher.

I stood up to put some dishes in the sink. I looked at W. “I have a son who’s warped….” He turned to look at me, startled for half a second before the mischief smiled on his face.

“You do have a warped son, don’t you?” He glanced at C who was getting up to bring his plate to the sink. C was also smirking.

“Yes, you do,” he agreed, as he moved out of the kitchen for his next activity.

“You can totally say that, Mom,” W commented, “Because we’ll both think it’s the other one.” He watched C walk out the door, and he leaned toward me, speaking just a little quieter. “But I’d be right!”

I smiled in response, and W started the dishes.

A few minutes later, the warm water had begun to lull the crazy day out of him. He looked up from the suds that he had been spreading around a pan. “You know Mom, I’m not warped. I’m just bent.”

Yes, my friend, we’re all a little bent. That’s what keeps us from breaking.