Patience and Possible Pestilence

Today I made a really unbelievably passive-aggressive move. I had pulled out of my driveway to head to a grocery store and was immediately joined by a truck that came up on me fast and lodged itself into my buttocks. Metaphorically speaking. My house is a block and a half from the end of our street and, generally, if I see someone within that block and a half I wait for them to pass unless they’re clearly poking along or signalling to turn or something. The truck hadn’t been there at all, so he must have whizzed up in the 3 or 4 seconds it takes for me to move from my pause at the end of the driveway until I’ve pulled onto my street and checked my mirrors again.

Some people drive really fast on our road. Have I told you that Cute W actually had a radar gun and has clocked speeds in order to complain? Well, he has. One morning he made a little chart and nobody was driving at or below the speed limit (30 mph) and at least one person was going above 50 mph. So what did I do with Swifty the Tailgater? I kept my speed to 33 mph and then–and this is ridiculous, but I was feeling pretty hostile at this point–I skipped the turn-off that I’d planned and drove an additional three blocks just for the pleasure of seeing him fume and fidget behind me. It was entirely out of my way. I felt entirely juvenile doing it, but also? I think I’d probably do it again.

And there was no need to hurry on my drive, anyway, because when I got to the grocery store deli counter I waited a very long time. I really hate going to the deli counter. I mean, I guess that there is a certain segment of the population who wants to see that their meat is freshly cut and wants to thoughtfully approve the exact thickness of said cut and get a little sample before they commit. . .  that is not me. But I have certain fussy family members who have very specific preferences and needs, so sometimes I have to go to the deli counter. And waiting feels maddening. Almost as maddening as it must feel to be a pickup driver stuck behind a slow-driving middle-aged suburban mom. I had downloaded a podcast to keep me occupied, but that was insufficient. Usually I’m listening to a podcast while driving or cleaning the bathroom or washing dishes, but there I was, just standing. And it’s at moments like those that I start to hear the Days of Our Lives intro playing in my head, and I start to feel my life force draining out of my toes. So I decided to multitask by doing some squats. Of course, full-on, deep squats would have been a bit too ostentatious, so instead I lifted one leg at a time so that I could do one-legged mini-squats. I got about 25 in on each leg. When I mentioned this to M later, she was appalled that I would do such a thing in public. “It was sort of subtle,” I said, before conceding, “Okay, yes, if you had been with me, you definitely would have moved away from me to disassociate yourself.”

I hope that pickup driver needs some lunch meat.

Ugh, and pestilence! You guys, everybody is sick. It feels like this is one of the worst seasons ever. On Sunday J caught a ride with a teammate for her volleyball practice while Cute W was working and I took M to her soccer game. Apparently during the practice J’s teammate/ride buddy started feeling awful. They didn’t leave early because the mom had run errands until the end of practice, but the poor girl sat out most of the practice and was suffering for the whole long ride home. Meanwhile J was backed away from her as much as possible, literally holding her sweatshirt in front of her face in an attempt to mask the germs. The poor mom was all freaked out–it was our very first ride-sharing experience, and her car had become a germ-mobile–and she advised J to go into the house and take a shower immediately. J actually pulled the outer layer of her clothes off in the screened porch to keep the pestilence at bay, and she was in the shower when I got home. When she came down I handed out Airbornes like candy. A couple of hours later J was pleased to report that she still felt fine and therefore must be safe, and I was like, sorry, kid, you’re not out of the woods yet.

But it’s M who’s fallen victim. She came home from track practice complaining that she was cold, and I just assumed that it was what we call “the post-workout chillies” and advised her to take a shower even though she was headed out again to soccer practice. She just arrived home from soccer and announced she was sick. “Oh, baby!” I said. “I’m sorry. What are your symptoms? Does your head hurt? Or is it your stomach? Or are you achey or tired?” She just answered “Yes” to all of it, accepted some drugs and zero dinner before heading straight to bed. Poor thing!

Generally, my kids are pretty healthy. I think that this is partly the result of a clever parenting method that I like to call “Conscious Uncleaning,” in which the girls have been exposed to the kind of germs that one can only encounter when a Very Special Mother is willing to look the other way as her toddler samples some garden soil or the Cheerios lodged between car cushions. You know: as part of a long-term immunity strength-training strategy. And as a result my kids rarely miss school and have no allergies without having to travel all the way to Africa to walk barefoot in feces. That’s right: I am an awesome mom.

And now it’s another soap opera. . . will M be so sick that she falls behind and misses out on crucial track training? Can J’s makeshift sweatshirt mask and copious showering save her from illness even though she spent the interval between M’s track practice and soccer practice snuggling up to her big sister to try to warm her up? Guess we’ll have to have patience and see what the morning brings. Or hope, I guess, that everyone sleeps straight through ’til morning.

For now, I’m realizing that I’ve got to text my soccer carpool mom friend an apology for turning her car into a germ-mobile.

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