My piano tuner is about to arrive. I wish he was one of those introverted, awkward piano tuners who have trouble making eye contact and prefer to get right down to business, banging out Ds incessantly only to finally move on to D#, but no. I have the most talkative piano tuner on the face of the planet. He starts talking the moment he walks in the door and will continue gabbing, even as I grab a laundry basket and make my way up the stairs. I try to hide out in my bedroom when he arrives. What should be an hour endeavor takes two hours if we chat. Also, he seems to mistakenly believe I’m an expert on Liszt. I wonder how I could have possibly given off the impression that I am an expert on anything. Before his arrival, I not only have to look up facts on Liszt, but I have to brace myself for the inevitable “You need to put a humidifier next to your piano during these dry winter months or else ALL IS LOST” speech.
Until he gets here, I am writing on the couch while watching the program Extreme RVs on the Travel Channel. The RV guys are showcasing a 1.2 million dollar RV, which has a really attractive kitchen. I expect, however, that it guzzles a lot of gas. That, and I don’t know if I would like to be stuck with my kids in even the most luxurious RV on the market during long road trips. They are getting to be a handful. I have an incident that demonstrates what I’m dealing with on a daily basis:
Yesterday was Columbus Day. (There were a lot of people who took to social media to display their discomfort with celebrating the life of a greedy genocidal megalomaniac. I see their point. On the other hand, I enjoy a national holiday. So I’m torn about it. I’m not going to say Happy Columbus Day, but I’m not going smack anyone across the face who says it to me, either.)
Yesterday was Columbus Day, and the kids were home from school, so I sent them outside to play, because you can do that, you know. You can say, “It’s a beautiful day! Go play outside!” And then you can lock the doors so they can’t get back in. Beware of children who insist they are thirsty and must come inside to get a drink. This is a ruse. First it’s a drink, then it’s “I drank my water too fast and I feel like I have to throw up,” and then it’s “I can only sit on the floor and play Forza 4 on the Xbox or else I’m gonna puke.” I speak from experience. The outside hose is just fine for thirsty elementary-school children.
Yesterday, I heard howling in the front yard. Ben burst through the front door (I must have forgotten to lock it) and said:
“Daniel is about to come in here and say that I choked him. He’s lying! I didn’t choke him!” Because I am such an astute parent, I was immediately suspicious of this claim. Daniel is just not shrewd enough to entrap his brother with a fabricated choking story.
Daniel stumbled into the house.
“Ben ch-choked me!” he blubbered.
Ella followed him inside.
“I just want a drink,” she said.
“Did you choke Daniel?” I asked Ben. Ben stared at his feet.
“I didn’t. I just told you I didn’t.”
“Look at me in the eyes.” He managed to glance in my general direction, and then stared somewhere just beyond my left ear.
“I didn’t…” he whispered.
“Ben. Did. You. Choke. Dan.” His eyes filled with tears.
“Maybe a little bit.”
“Oh, well, if it was just a little. Carry on, young soldiers!” I said.
I didn’t say that. I was perplexed, because this was my first “choking” incident. There have been plenty of “I’m lying to my mom’s face because I think she’s stupid” moments, but no “choking” moments. I thought back on my life, trying to recall a time I had choked a person just a little bit. I couldn’t think of one. Choking is really, really bad news. I sent Ben to his room.
“I knew if I told you the truth I'd get in trouble!” he yelled as he stomped up the stairs. "This is NOT A GOOD COLUMBUS DAY!"
“Mom, I’m going to play computer now, ‘kay?” Ella gave me a sweet smile.
“I’m not going outside EVER AGAIN. And I’m not playing with Ben EVER AGAIN. Can I have a drink?” said Daniel.
Sometimes it feels like all I do all day is get people drinks and extricate them from electronic devices.
After a long time out and a long discussion about the dangers of choking other people, I sent Ben back outside. Because you can do that on a sunny federal holiday when you’re not driving across the country in a luxury RV. Outside is wonderful when your kids are being a handful.
The piano tuner is here. He came to the door and immediately asked for a drink. Then he said, “Look at those RVs! Aren’t they something!” and sat on my couch.
He’s going to be here a while.