“I’m going to find us a hotel for the night with a suite so Liza can get to bed early.” That’s what I told Grandpa. He said okay. The third day with no electricity, no running water and the refrigerator full of spoiled food. “Nine people for dinner, five are kids. Five grand kids; five and under.” is how I like to say it. I’ll tell the hotel restaurant. “I’ll be sure there’s an indoor pool or jacuzzi.” I tell Grandpa.
What? he asks. Oh come on, what else will all these kids do? Good idea, he concedes, cooperatively. Your cousins, Ella, Kalen and Lyndsey and Uncle Ariel and Auntie Tab are visiting from Colorado. Tab’s mom lives in town on the westside and that’s the home base this time. This house is a bit too small for all of us, of course. Maybe next year we’ll have the big house.
You are excited. You say that you want to go swim and play. I can’t find an ad that features an indoor pool. This is California after all. Then I try to call. The temporary phone (the one that doesn’t require electricity) is on the fritz. Some of the numbers don’t connect. UGH. Liza cries because she wants to throw our final battery light in outage frustration, and you want Little Bear on Nick Jr and nothing works. Maybe Liza thinks if she throws the flashlights then we will have to start using that wall switch for light again. How come the juice is wine grandma? You spit. Oh, dear, its gone bad, too. I want electricity, you shout outside into the rain and wind. Well, aren’t we spoiled? Yes. We all want our comforts. I want to wash my hands. At least the wood stove keeps us warm. There are still a few sticks of dry wood. I search for a hotel phone number that doesn’t include 4’s or 5’s, the broken number buttons.
Its stinky in here you tell me, coughing. I cough and notice smoke, and see creosote drooling down the wood stove pipes dripping onto the tiles. Black goo burns a stream of smelly smoke so we put on jackets and open the windows. Where are you Grandpa? We sing into the night. When he returns sissy’s asleep, and the breezy living room confuses him. The stove pipes were put on on upside down, he explains. Creosote usually burns off and dries in the flue, he tells you. “Grandma, I have the flu because something sticky got in the woodstove. That’s why I am coughing.” you struggle to understand your raw, raspy voice. Let’s just go to bed! And we do.
Check in time at the Hilton in Scotts Valley is at 2. You are in school until 3 and Liza’s with Gina; Ella (5 1/2), Kalen (3 1/2) and Lyndsey (2 on Sat.) and their parents come up for a jacuzzi party and dinner. We sleep okay, eat breakfast and return to electricity! Yahoo. Then the Colorado cousins come over for lunch and bring their own food since so much of ours is rotten. I cried as I cleaned it all out and tossed it away. You had a tough day at school, spitting, Gina said. So they want to put a spitoon in the classroom. Just do not spit. Is that respecting an impulse? NO. The impulse is something more complex, not a spitting impulse (unless you have Tourette’s). Do you? Its using spitting behavior to carry out an impulse -maybe friendship play, who can be silly, what can we all do? what to do when frustrated, mad or a behavior that arose instead of hitting. Spitting is not part of most of our daily lives and so the behavior is not allowed unless its in the toilet or sink. Right? (Unless you are a nurse on the pulmonary ward) You can say silly words….make them up, clap together, stomp, whatever redirection has to occur that fits the age, children and situation. Spitting at a person is aggressive. Spitting on the floor or on things is inappropriate. Spitoons are not the answer unless the child’s family uses them regularly. Yours doesn’t. And we aren’t professional ball players, either. My goodness!?
I am really cranky. Even though the power came back on. I guess mine didn’t. I am so tired all the time. Can’t seem to get Liza her nap except when we stay at home and so she returns cranky and I get irate at her noodle tossing, flashlight throwing, dog-ear pulling, slapping you and flinging backwards, crying behaviors. She’s just fricken sleepy most of the time. I get it. And I am done in by it. As I am also sleepy but because of Metro’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 am wakeful pees. On the weekends and days at home Liza sleeps daily four to 5 hours divided between two naps and all night 6:30 pm-5:30 am. She functions much better when I am in charge. Everything goes better with me in charge.
The tile is going into three baths and the kitchen, but the ADHD tile-setter has a floor, half shower, partial wall and wainscoting done between three of the baths with boxes, pieces and powdery and sluggish grout and mortar everywhere! In the upstairs bedroom, downstairs hall, Master bedroom sample layouts and the kids playroom. But the painter and his crew is there to finish primer and begin color coat 1 and has to struggle around all the debris. I calmly explain, ask him to pick up. Tell them to move whatever they need to and then finally discover that tile man took another job next week. We get a reprieve. I feel embarrassed for him as I describe what areas should look like when he leaves on Friday. The painters can work in peace next week. But the carpenter had a breakdown during his 10 day retreat and we had to bring back the expensive one (wonderful, too) to do what the neighbor was going to do. And he’ll leave us on our own tomorrow to get back to his other job. I’ll figure out how to move an electric box a few inches, build a linen closet door and frame, get the tub in place (all 2000 lbs of it) and meanwhile keep sissy away from the upstairs room with no railings and shoo Metro out of the painters’ lunch bags.
Grandpa is gone a lot. Enough said. Work in L.A. (I’d go for him), in the shop, putting in the speakers, late over at the office next door. Wonder if Liza’s tossing the flashlights, me yelling or blasting TV with Little Bear contribute to his absence. Glad we never had teeny kids together! ugh.
Oh, wait, we do!
Vomit pushes at my chest, rises up and recedes every time I speak to your mommy. I feel sick about her situation. Compassion for how hard it must be for her losing her children, being unwell, and not having a job or teeth. But then I mix in some sad and anger at her for not staying enrolled in classes, not getting to class on the bus, but asking daddy to drive out there and madder that he does. He can’t work because he has to drive her around? Furious that they have no firewood because they didn’t go get it and sneaked in a heater (in a tent, no less) that skyrocketed our electric bill, and that AT and T allowed them to have long distance without my say-so on a phone I pay for and furious that mommy can’t get figure out how to get help finding any job. She asks your Grandpa Pete for motel room money and he calls me about it. Mad that they just now realized that food stamps needed to be reduced when you left the tent and now they are cut off and worried that they are cold and hungry and so helpless and concerned that we have a society that cannot help her. And sad, furious and worried and frustrated that she truly is helpless and your daddy is too, but in a different way. And sick that I will not help them anymore. And disgusted about the crazy situation that allows me to remodel and them to starve. Big things that don’t make sense, sit between my shoulder blades. That’s where I carry your mom and dad. Good thing I carry you and Liza in front, buddy. Near my heart. gma
One thought on “Visitors and powerless”
There are no words to express the feeling elicited from your notes so I am sending my love and understanding and honestly wish I had a solution to your predicament but, of course, I do not. Just keep in mind that this will pass, that you are strong and you have friends and family rooting for you.
You may not want to face this, but at some point the issue of Metro must be resolved.