I'm a sucker for two things. Grandchildren. Everyones. Mine included. And free trips to Paris.If someone pops up with a free ticket to Paris and says only glitch is you have to be on that jet by midnight and sleep in a bookstore the entire week your there. Check, got it, gone!
So, when a sleepover night popped up for the Charmings (the girls are the Adorables) I said yes, get in the car. Off to the store for snacks because Zaza has been in finish her novel mode. This means having a pantry that looks like. Coffee, can of tuna. a can of beans. Red Wine.
100,00000 dollars later with cereal and sausages and eggs and bread and milk and strawberries and yogurt and ginger ale and grapes the size of grapefruit and . . . . a box of Cereal.
Shopping for the cereal produced a negotiation with a five year old that should have been something used during the cold war.
I'm gonna have to say No, kid to the crack coco and I'll highly suggest you think Raisin Bran. I'll have to pass on the Raisin Bran, Zaza and suggest we strongly consider classic frosted flakes.
(Cousin Deb and I would sit down after a rough day in high school and eat an entire box with the gallon of milk sitting on the table between us. My little sister had to start hiding them to get any.)
Let's pass up on those delicious sugar coated bombs and go more traditional with classic Cheerios.
I'm not going with the Cheerios, Zaza but how do you feel about Apple Cinnamon Cheerios?
I think we can work with this, I say.
Regardless of the sugar content, I'm out of time. I'm appreciative that I had a witness to this conversation. A stranger, a woman in the aisle that looked at me with a smile fully appreciating the calm and intelligent way this negotiation was handled. No name calling. No screaming. No power plays. The only cereal I can't actually bring into the house is LIFE because I will walk around the house with my arm in the box up to my elbow and eat it until it is gone. Life is a weakness for me. It has just the right amount sweet to crunch ratio. Wish I had some right now. When Momma has been particularly ornery she will buy me Life Cereal and Red wine as a peace offering. (I do not consume them together but both can be satisfying in their own right.)
When we unloaded groceries the eating train began immediately with all aboard and me the conductor of constant feed. I do not understand how they can eat two yogurts a piece and a bowl of strawberries and chicken noodle soup with crackers and then lasagne within 70 minutes. But they CAN! Then HAVE A BEDTIME SNACK. The 3 year old is a cross between Winnie the Pooh and Baby Groot and I hate to break it to him but he has inherited my genes which means he has a metabolism that burns at the rate of a bear in hibernation. The Five year old is a cross between a cheetah and a chimpanzee and he must eat fifty,000 times his body weight each day to survive. This is the luck of the genetic draw.
I don't know why in my special little mind I thought I would have them and they would be snuggly and quiet while I worked on my novel. Or that I'd write quietly while they continued sleeping like angels. No, it did not work this way. They had bubble baths and then the five year old kept saying he thought he could still fit into his mickey mouse pajamas and I said no, you need to wear star wars. He put on mickey mouse. Baby groot had his Mickey's on already with his pooh stomach rocking that shirt. Five minutes later the five year old says his Mickey's are itching him. They're too tight I say - put on star wars. Those are too big he tells me. I'll find Spongebob and so he did. Thank God for Zaza's who have a wardrobe of wolf pack bedtime costume changes when I can't find two socks that match for myself if my life depended on it.
BEDTIME - hahahaha. The five year old is getting over MONO. (What five year old gets MONO?????) and the Three year old has the flu. Diagnosed last week. Has been on meds. Do I put the one with mono or the one with the flu on the cute little sleeping sofa I designed in my room just for a reading/napping/sleep over for a wolf pack member and which one do I put in bed with ME?. Innie minnie miney. OK, kid with flu, hit the sleeper a whole twelve inches farther from me and kid getting over mono who hopefully doesn't now have his brothers flu in bed with me. I built a barricade of pillows between us, handed him a bear and said here. Love you guys. Lay me down to sleep, Night, night.
The feeding began again at 6:30. with first breakfast. Cheerios. Yogurt. But a strange smell surfaced like a blue smoke. Could that be? Could that be? No, surely not. The three year old is Potty trained. The smell doesn't go away. Hey kid, did you poop? Nope. Are you sure? Nope. Let me inspect something. Wow! Really? Really? This unfortunately explains the sticky, wet spot I stepped in earlier in bare feet.
We need to go to the bathroom he tells me. Wow, really? Now you tell me.
40,0002 wet wipes, two bath cloths, three towels, a bar of soap and a new costume later I'm taking the trash outside when I realize the three year old is running to wake up his brother when I run back going no, no, no he has mono. You have to let him sleep and sleep and sleep late.
2nd Breakfast - Eggs, toast, maple flavor sausage. The five year old comes down the stairs looking really rough. Zaza? Good morning precious what is it? I think I wet the bed. Wow, really? Yeah. Ok, back upstairs. Soap, washcloths, towels, costume change. How about those Starwars pajamas now? Looking good now aren't they? Kinda warm and soft aren't they?
Back to the kitchen to make another plate of breakfast but no, he's still in first breakfast mode. Apple Cinamon Cherrios in order. I'm making cereal and in my mind working out a scene in my head for the novel that involves physics, an old woman, a secret, another secret, and a surprise.
Here kid. Daddy calls. Lot going on over there. Wondered when I was bringing kids home. Asks the sugar bear 3 year old if he is ready to come home. NO, he says. We're staying with Zaza.
Ok guys. You've got a few more hours. Maybe a nap. Which means I need to take out the trash and wash the sheets. Pull out some books, pencils, trucks for you to fight over.
I'm a great Zaza. Absolutely, positively great. But then - I'm a better Zaza then I was a Mom simply because I'm older. I was a young vivacious mother, writing plays and going to rehearsals and strapping the kids on my back wherever I went. And, we went a lot of places. Someone asked me the other day if I had taught my sons to cook. I looked at him and said flat out - I taught my sons to order from a menu and behave in a restaurant. (Now, that I think about it, I consider these critical life skills. Maybe I wasn't such a bad mom after all.)
It Seems I've found my place - Being Zaza. Staying in one place. It was one of the very things I ran from all my life. Simply staying put. But here I am doing it and stepping into the shoes that have been worn for so long by my mother, my daddy, my Aunt Kate, my grandmother and Memaw. Those people who always left the light on for us. Where showing up in the backwoods of Georgia at two am didn't mean you needed to get a hotel room so as not to disturb. It meant my Aunt Kate got up and started cooking. It meant within just a few minutes our tired minds and bodies would be sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits and sausage and eggs and sharing stories. It meant we broke into Mom and Dad's house so many times climbing through the kitchen window that Mom said she needed to just make dozen keys and lay them right out by the door to make it easy on people. We broke in because it was home. Because even though we 'grew up' and made a show of going off in the world, it was still 'home'. My sons did the same thing. Even if they showed up unexpectedly and there was no one there to welcome them or open the door - they climbed through Nana's window, then opened the cabinets and started looking for something to eat. It meant my Grandmother spoiled me with homemade chocolate cakes and my Memaw would step out on the back porch with a big grin and say, "What do ya'll think you're doin?" As if she was surprised when she had a seven layer peanut butter cake waiting on the kitchen table.
It meant that when we walked into the house, pulled up in the yard, crossed that bridge, no matter what time, day or year - someone smiled to see our faces just because it was us and that brought them joy. They let us know it. They showed it. We were loved. We were welcome.
So I understand what it means to plant myself on this hill. It means Being a taproot the kids can come back to, anytime day or night, any year. Somewhere they will always know that they can open the door and yell, Zaza, I'm home! And, I'm hungry.