Monthly Archives: August 2013

Why I Would Not Make a Good Stay-at-Home Mom

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So I have pneumonia and am at home.  I don’t feel well and I don’t rest well even if I don’t feel well, so I’m a very reluctant stayer-at-homer.

Since I am at home attempting to recuperate, The Lovely Rhonda didn’t feel it was worthwhile to engage a sitter as we normally do on Thursdays and Fridays.  This means that I am home with The Children.

Also, the house is kind of a mess because we got home from the beach on Sunday and I was already sick then.  And we both work.  And there is a fridge in the dining room because the new one was delivered yesterday.  The guy from the place is coming to get it, in fact he should be here momentarily, but in the meantime it’s looming over me as I sit here at my desk.  I’m fairly sure that it’s trying to make me feel guilty for replacing it.

Let’s recap:  I am not feeling well.  I am home.  With.  The.  Children.  In a messy house.

Today while making lunch I asked the spawn whether they would like a full sandwich or a half.  One of them, who will remain unidentified, declared, “Half.  Half a sandwich.  Turkey.”  This in a breezy way that implied just the sort of entitlement that we do not put much stock into around here, to put it mildly.

It was not the first time that I had had to remind these particular children to use those common words of politeness and gratitude, “Please” and “Thank you.”  It was not the first time TODAY that I’d had to do so.  And so my response was swift and not terribly subtle.  The pauses (…)  are where I almost but did not quite use a profanity to get my point across, because although I was angry, I was not quite over the edge far enough to actually drop the f-bomb in front of impressionable children.

“Okay, so the next kid who does not say PLEASE will be standing in the corner.  Because I am not your (…) SERVANT here to do your (…) BIDDING.  You can start saying PLEASE and THANK YOU, or you will find yourself making your OWN (…) SANDWICH.”

I rather doubt that this is the kind, gentle approach favored by child development specialists nowadays, but I’m pleased to report that nobody forgot to say “please” for the remainder of lunch.

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This thing which happened, part 4

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So anyway, at last the day arrived.  Dad and I had spent Friday afternoon (before shopping for helmets etc) frantically cleaning out the adorable miniature garage.  This used to be a normal two-car garage, provided the cars were small and didn’t mind being very close to one another, but we had built a bedroom out of half of it.  The back half.  So you open the big rolling overhead garage door and are met with a space that only goes back half as far as it used to.

Coincidentally, this depth exactly accommodates a motorcycle front to back.  Or two, if it comes to that.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in an hour and a half given a bit of assistance and a great deal of motivation.  I’ve been moaning about that filthy garage for months but BAM!  It was reasonably tidy by dinnertime.  Dad even installed a rubber flange-thing across the bottom to keep the worst of the leaves and dirt from blowing in as they have for all the years we’ve lived here.  One cannot subject one’s brand-new motorcycles to such tawdry conditions.

Finally after breakfast when we were just starting to wonder if we’d dreamt the whole thing up, the man with the trailer phoned ahead to make sure we were home to take delivery.  And half an hour later, here came a truck with a big enclosed trailer behind it, and then a very nice fellow unloaded two of the shiniest, most ridiculously clean and bright motorcycles to the curb.  IMG_0488

We ooh’ed and aah’ed and took photos, and then Dad and the delivery guy stood around and swapped stories and lies for a little while.  Finally off the guy went and we were left in the street with two shiny, perfect motorcycles.  Two shiny, perfect motorcycles that I was terrified to touch.  They looked bigger than I remembered.  Also?  They were completely unspoiled.  Who was I to smudge them all up and very possibly damage them in some way?

Luckily Dad was perfectly willing to garage them for us, because not long after delivery we had to run off to some errand or another.  When we returned, we prevailed upon the neighbor lady to watch the kids for a short while so that we could go on a ride.  Dad rides a Gold Wing so he took The Lovely Rhonda with him while I rode my own bike.  The one with twelve miles on it, eight of which I had put there myself on the test ride.

I managed not to embarrass myself too much, and re-learned an important lesson.  We hadn’t gotten the mesh jackets yet and it was just as hot as hell, so I rode in a t-shirt.  (Yes, after all that discussion about safety gear, I rode in a t-shirt.  It really was hot as blazes and it was a short ride.  Don’t judge.)

At around forty miles per hour, a t-shirt will ride up in the back.  Like, all the way up.  Like, Hi there fellow highway travelers, please check out my foundation undergarments.  I rode most of the way back with my left hand on my hip, holding my t-shirt in a death grip.

This thing which happened, part 3

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So it was that we signed papers on two brand-new motorcycles.  It turns out that if  you buy two brand-new motorcycles, the dealership will trailer them right to you even if you live across the river in another state.  We eagerly awaited the delivery day, which was Saturday.  We signed on Wednesday.  We had to wait Three. Whole. Days. for delivery.

I am of the opinion that they were perhaps the three longest days in recorded history.

My dad happened to call on Thursday night.  He was in town and unexpectedly free and wondered if this was a good time to visit maybe?  He lives about five hours away.  It is of note that he has ridden motorcycles pretty much all his life and once toured parts of Europe on — wait for it — a Triumph Bonneville, in about 1970 or so.  My mother rode on the back, having stashed us wee children in the care of total strangers another Navy family for a MONTH in Rota, Spain, where we were stationed at the time.

I kid.  I’m a kidder.  I have no memory of this because I was a tiny tot but we probably stayed with their best friends who had kids a little older than us.  Probably I should ask her.

So I told him, “You know, it’s funny you should call just now.  I have to work tomorrow but then the next morning a trailer is going to pull up to my house and deliver two shiny new motorcycles!”  Not surprisingly, he opted to stay and enjoy the show.

We went out to a shop on Friday night and bought new helmets and jackets, and also gloves for The Lovely Rhonda. Gloves are important.  I knew this already, but it was really made clear when I had patient during clinicals for nursing school who had dumped a bike while wearing no gloves.  I think he was wearing a helmet but little else in the way of protective gear.  Anyway the skin on his palms was essentially torn off, like to the dermis.  Wear your gloves, people!  This kid was facing months of extremely limited use of his hands, if not skin grafts or some other kind of reconstructive surgery.  Ugh.

Helmets have come a long way in ten years.  My first helmet was an open-faced half lid, which I had to augment with a face shield.  I was riding first a crusty old Honda with no fairing and then later a BMW that had a little cafe-style fairing on it, but because the rest of the bike didn’t really put me in a cafe-style riding position, the mini-fairing served only to funnel the wind directly between my eyeballs, necessitating supernatural neck strength to prevent my head from being torn straight off.  This is probably what led to the degenerating disks in my neck, come to think of it.

Then I had this one girlfriend who insisted that I get a full-face helmet, which made my head feel like it was in a packing crate.  This definitely kept the wind out of my eyes but was hot in summer, fogged up if it was damp, and prevented verbal communication.  Nowadays they have these modular helmets where the front part can be flipped up so you can expose your face, say when stopped at a light so other riders can hear you, or if it’s really effing hot out like is now and you’re riding at low speeds.  And!  They have a little flip-down tinted sun visor inside the helmet, like a little pair of sunglasses, so you don’t have to try to cram your sunglasses into the helmet — especially useful for people like me who wear glasses.  I do have prescription sunglasses but it’s nice not to have to wrestle with them or even carry them around.  Plus as a bonus you look like you’re going to pilot an F-15.  Srsly.

We got jackets as well, three-quarter length ones with zip-out linings and armor in the sleeves and shoulders.  It’s been so hot that we then had to go get mesh jackets, similarly armored but made of a heavy mesh that allows the breeze to filter through admirably.  The thought of putting the heavy jackets on and riding around in the ninety-degree sun was unbearable.  The mesh jackets are still pretty warm in the sun if you’re not moving, but it’s the price you pay for protection.  Motorcycling in the summer is a sweaty affair.

TLR felt it was important to also order a communication system, which arrived today.  I have spent the past hour installing half of it into my helmet, and presumably the next hour will be spent similarly installing the other half into hers.  This thing is crazy — you can play music, talk on the phone, communicate with other riders in your party.   I’m not sure I need most of this but it will be nice to have a better way of signalling that I need to pee, which happens rather more than I’d like to admit.  Generally you ride up alongside your fellow motorcyclist on the freeway and tap your tank to indicate that you need gas, rub your belly to let them know you are hungry, or just make a broad sweeping gesture toward the right with your left hand to say, “Hey, let’s take a little break at that truck stop, I need to drink some spectacularly shitty coffee,” — but if you have to pee, it’s expected that you humiliate yourself by pointing at your junk.  Oddly enough, all my “let’s go drink coffee” stops include a stop at the restroom, sometimes a stop at each end of the break just to be safe.  I am fairly convinced that many of your more antiquated motorcycle enthusiasts take up smoking just to have an excuse to get off the road and pee every hour.