Tales from the Porch Swing.

The kids were playing outside while I was lounging flat on my back on the porch swing.

(That happens more than it should. But Motherhood as an introvert is exhausting.)

(And I’m exceptionally good at lazy when I want to be.)

Noah needed to go to the bathroom, so he headed over for me to unbutton and unzip his pants, then shuffled inside.

But it’s fall, y’all. And the kid had on blue jeans.

So he couldn’t get them off.

He came back outside and I wrestled him out of his jeans – because toddler jeans are nearly as hard to manage as women’s skinny jeans.

He sprinted back inside, naked from the waist down this time.

(My neighbors think we’re real classy.)

I continued my lounging in peace, scrolling on my phone, reading my tweets, doing all the things that one does when laying flat on their back in a gently gliding swing on a beautiful fall day.

After about fifteen minutes, I realized that Noah probably should have returned by then to collect his pants.

And then I remembered that he was especially gaseous as we were wrestling him out of his jeans. At the time I assumed it was from all the straining, but fifteen minutes later, I recognized the more likely cause.

He had to poop.

And he doesn’t wipe his own butt.

(I have been exiled to nearly eight years of constant butt-wiping. The day that I don’t have to wipe anyone’s butt ever again is going to be one with much rejoicing.)

So Noah. He was probably still sitting on the toilet, waiting for me to come clean his hinder, no way to reach me since he, unlike the rest of the first world, cannot text while pooping.

I went inside and was greeted with an aroma that confirmed my suspicions.

“Nooo-aah? Are you okay?”

“Yes! I pooped.”

I walked in and he was still calmly sitting on the toilet, most likely straining his vagal nerve and germinating toddler hemorrhoids due to my negligence.

“I’m so sorry, buddy. <wipe, wipe> So…what exactly was your plan? Were you going to sit here all day until I came?”

“Well, I yelled and I yelled for you, but that just made me poop more. Did you see all those poops in there?!?”

“Well then, I guess it worked out nicely!”

I got him cleaned up and washing his hands and thanked him for waiting patiently for me. Which is when he looked at me with love and adoration in his eyes and said,

“I knew you would know. You would know I pooped. You would know I needed you to wipe me.”

And that’s how a boy melts his Mom’s heart…with feces.

Noah Charm


On yet another round of “Mommy lays in the porch swing while you kids play nicely together,” Ali and Noah were drawing with chalk in the driveway.

They seemed happy and especially giggly, so I let them alone until it was absolutely time to call them inside.

That night, we were all riding in the car together when Chris mentioned,

“So either Ali’s handwriting has gotten really good all of a sudden, or she convinced you to write ‘poop’ on the driveway.”

“Whaaaa?! I didn’t write poop on the driveway!”

“Are you sure? Because it was really, really well-written. I stared at it for a minute, then said to myself, ‘well, I guess Ali asked Rachel to write it and she did for some reason.’”

“I did NOT write poop on the driveway. I do remember them talking about a toilet, though…”

“Oh! I saw that too and thought it was a giant white finger pointing to where she had written poop.”

Ali was listening intently and finally chimed in.

“I was the one who wrote poop on the driveway. And underneath that, I drew a brown, lumpy…”

“WE GET IT.”

When we got home, Chris let me out of the car and he shined the headlights on the artwork du jour so I could experience it for myself.

And I must say, she really does deserve an A+ for those letters.

Chalk Poop_thumb

As well as marks in thoroughness for making the inside of the toilet bowl yellow.

Chalk Toilet_thumb

I got back in the car.

“Well that’s just something.”

“And did you know that it’s not supposed to rain for over a week?”

“Fantastic.”

The next day, my Mom stopped by. Noah dragged her to the driveway to show her the new facilities, as well as to demonstrate how very talented he was at squatting over the potty and pretending to use it.

 

And I’m going to have to start baking daily Apology Cookies for my neighbors.

When Death Is Stranger than Fiction.

It was bath night.

We had been to the playground, we had eaten popsicles and let them drip down our entire being, we had handled with our bare hands an opossum jawbone found in the wild (another story for another time), and, most compellingly, it was technically our twice a week appointed bath night.

Kids at the Park

There was no escaping it. There was only pushing through it as quickly as possible.

I threw Noah in the tub and started scrubbing his head before he even had a chance to sit down. He wasn’t exactly joyful about my aggressive approach, but complied with my wishes anyway.

Ali came in to prepare for her own bath, when she gave a tiny shriek and said, “A roach!”

There are certain triggers in life to which I cannot be responsible for my feedback. Cockroaches are chief among them. As I’ve mentioned before, Chris knows that if he ever hears me scream like I’m being murdered slowly by butter knife, he simply comes running with a cup.

It didn’t help that the roach was running quite actively down the wall right next to the bathtub, of which my son was in and I was directly on the other side. I jumped out of the way as I let out my sound of fright.

And that’s what did it.

You see, roaches usually like coming out late at night, so Noah rarely hears my war cry, which meant that he didn’t remember ever seeing me truly frightened since roaches are my only nightmare.

Apparently, being three and a half and seeing your mother scared is quite the traumatic experience.

And so, he responded in a completely new-to-him way.

He Mariah’ed the neighborhood.

Seriously. I had no idea he had that note in him. I don’t know what it was but I’m positive it was actually higher than the beginning of any Mariah Carey song and louder than the monthly tornado siren test. And he didn’t stop at just one shriek – he gave five in a row – long, loud, sharp, and exquisitely painful.

My ears. They bled. They rang. They ached. The windows quivered in fear. The judges from America’s Got Talent heard him from their respective corners of the earth and all called at once to beg him to audition.

Then Noah started crying. From overexertion, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, the roach had scampered off of the wall and was on the floor out of eyesight, right behind the Bath Stuff Basket.

Chris heard all the commotion from downstairs and, since I was joined by two other screamers this time, he wasn’t positive of the cause. He came loudly sprinting to see who was throwing us out the window one by one. I pushed through the ringing of my ears to greet him with, “It’s a roach!”, the main purpose in being him not freaking out over us freaking out over nothing.

He told Noah to calm down, told me to move, and then he pushed the basket out of the way.

And there he was.

The villain that had upset the entire balance of our family.

Dead.

Dead as a doorknob dead.

Flipped over on his back dead.

Just twenty seconds ago, that very same roach had been defying gravity, running up and down the wall at Roadrunner speeds, clearly ready and able to participate in a Couch to 5k. And now he was as dead as dead could get.

There was only one explanation, only one possibility as to the cause of death.

My son had killed him with his screech.

And now he’s my favorite forever.

The Cost of Extroversion.

140604 Downtown Inside Out

“Hey…did you know The Redmont Hotel is still open? I mean, who knew, right?”

I groggily recounted this extraordinarily urgent information to Chris at 6:15am Saturday morning. I had not slept all night, and was entrapped in a heavy delirium that later made it impossible to walk in a straight line.

“I mean, I figured that place had been closed for years. Decades even. You never hear anyone say they stayed there! I mean, have you? But Jamie and I Googled it at lunch a couple of weeks ago and it’s still open!! Isn’t that fascinating?”

“Okay…”

“We should really go there sometime. I mean, we should know what it’s like, right? It’s like…a historical marker or something.”

“Umm….What all did you take to try and help you sleep? And at what time?”

I recounted the list of things I took, all within legal and somewhat recommended limits.

“Are you going to be okay today?”

“I hope so! I should get up and run since I can’t sleep!”

This took place between Friday’s Artwalk and Saturday’s Artwalk.

As Chris was leaving for the football game, I tried to set his mind at ease.

“I think I figured it out around 3am. There’s this part of my brain – like a real, physical lobe or something – that I have to use to talk to lots of people. But if it gets activated, it can’t shut down. Like…ever. Or at least for a lot of hours.”

“Please be careful today.”

Despite my lack of mental clarity at the time, I actually think I was right.

I’m an introvert. I recharge by being alone. I like people, but prefer them in small doses. Just like four ibuprofen is the outer limit of how many one should take at once, four people is the outer limit of the number of humans I can relate with at once.

However, when I need to, I can Transformer-Style morph into an extrovert. If I find myself in an extended situation of extreme extroversion, as I was at ArtWalk where I talked to hundreds of people for six hours straight two days in a row, my brain is able to compensate and allow me to become a temporary extrovert.

However. Once that switch is flipped, I become immediately and intensely aware that I can forget about sleeping. Because my brain will refuse to shut off, no matter how many magically delicious melatonin gummies I chew.

It’s not even that I’m thinking – it’s almost as if I can feel my entire brain buzzing. It plays songs on repeat. It has imaginary conversations that make no sense. It will play iPhone games – all in my head. I cannot escape from my brain, and it holds me hostage with no excuse.

The ability to switch back and forth, according to the aforementioned friend Jamie (who is an Extrovertedness Evangelist), is called being an Ambivert. An Ambivert is someone who has both an introvert and an extrovert side, like having a multiple personality disorder without the loss of memory.

And apparently Extrovert Me is an acute insomniac.

I believe this is because I don’t let her wake up very often, and so when I do tiptoe up to her bedroom door and knock softly, asking her to come out and take over for a while so that Introvert Me doesn’t curl up in the fetal position at the thought of talking to hundreds of strangers, she is like “HECK YEAAAASSSS!!! Do you KNOW how long I’ve been locked in this room? It’s been like two years!! PAAAAAAARTYYYYYY!!!”

(For those of you properly educated in the subject of My Little Pony, imagine Pinkie Pie after having found herself locked in a dungeon for twenty-four months. Now picture her delighted, screaming face pointed at the sky. That’s Extrovert Me.)

And then it takes ten bouncers in my head to shove her back into her cell and lock the door.

BUT.

There’s only one thing worse than not sleeping because of Extrovert Me bouncing off the sides of my brain.

It’s if Introvert Me returns too quickly.

Because then she keeps me up all night also…but in complete and utter horror…recounting every conversation Extrovert Me had with every single person I saw, conjuring up ways that I probably offended half of them, confused half of them, and looked like an idiot to all of them.

Because that’s what introverts do.

Partying all night like an extrovert is always preferred.

So. How does your brain work?


Editor’s Note: That very Saturday, Jamie came to see me at Artwalk and said, “By the way – did you hear that The Redmont closed?” My efforts to confirm this rumor have been unsolidified, but seem to point in that direction. So I sure am relieved that I was able to convey that timely information to Chris at 6:15 that morning.
Updated: The Redmont is undergoing a renovation and will be reopened as a Hay Creek Hotel. Thanks to Katherine for the tip.