Saturday, March 8, 2008

Although the Matron Occasionally Stretches for the Sake of a Story, Here is an Actual Slice from the Life

The Matron arrives home close to 1 pm, after the usual classroom dramas, including the hundred million late assignments that students needed to discuss, right now.

Classroom technology felled her. Think Othello was a blood bath? This is nothing compared to the Matron versus the overhead projector.

She is hungry, tired.

But alas, she also procreated.

The Matron cuts and slices: carrots, basil, onion, curry. Thus, she bulks up the exotic can of split pea soup.

Stryker toils by her side: eggs, butter, cheese. Thus, he begins the omelette.

At 1:12, the Matron sits down to her steaming bowl of soup. Breakfast is a distant memory, somewhere before 8 am.

"Mom! Can you do the toast! Please! I'm afraid I'll burn this!"

Stryker's culinary skills are just emerging, meaning he can do one thing at a time.

The Matron snaps up bread, swift as a bee. She's proud of her son's acumen with heat and a skillet, happy to lend that hand.

She grabs a plate and pours milk, too, other complex mama skills.

"Mama! I have to go to the bathroom!"

Merrick staggers past, clutching his penis, a dam in Holland. Wait, he's waddling.

"Mama! Poop too! Come on!"

Oh, a multi-themed party!

Because the bathroom holds monsters and fiends that only the Matron can stave off (ah, Merrick, if you had seen your mother thrash with a DVD earlier today. . . you wouldn't be quite so confident), the Matron stands outside the door with just the right attitude.

From the bathroom: "Don't look at me! Don't open the door! Are you still there? Are you waiting?"

Matron: "Not a peep. Right here. Stationary."

From the kitchen: "Mom! Mom! Mom! I am SO sorry! I just knocked over the whole thing of milk. Oh My God. Help!"

Bathroom: "Don't leave me! Don't leave me!"

The Matron assures Merrick that she is glued to that door and silently whips down the stairs to toss towels in the kitchen, racing back up just in time to respond appropriately to this:

"Don't look at me! Don't open the door! Are you still there! Are you waiting?"

The bottom is wiped, the milk mopped.

The Matron microwaves her soup.

Jekyll is standing by the door. The Matron opens the door but before she can shove him out, he pees. Scruffy bolts by and soars out the door, heading (the Matron hopes) for his various escape routes.

The Matron wipes up pee.

Suddenly the house is filled with a scream so loud that tea cups rattle in China.

Scarlett runs into the kitchen: "I stubbed my toe on the radiator!"

The Matron rolls her eyes and hauls that child onto her lap. There, there. Let me see it. Oh my that must really hurt. Do you think you can self-regulate any time soon?

"Mom! Scruffy is over at Eva's!"

Because we all know how the Matron feels about this dog: she puts on her coat and boots and retrieves Satan's Familiar who has just eaten the wild cat's dinner on the neighbor's porch. The Matron understands this dinner will be deposited on the hallway floor in about two hours.

The Matron returns to the kitchen where Scarlett decides the toe requires an ice pack and Merrick wants his temperature taken--not to be outdone.

When the Matron attempts protest, the child falls to pieces: "Feel my fowehead! I have a feber!"

The thermometer disproves this theory.

Scarlett's ice pack is buffered by a washcloth. Too much cold.

Stryker enters, in the midst of some strange project. "Mom! Can you tie a knot, right here, now?"

The Matron's fingers become giant sausages. Can you even see that string in this light? She searches through drawers for her reading glasses.

The Matron microwaves her soup. It is 2:20.

The phone rings. Scarlett leaps: "Hello? Hi Daddy!"

Starving prisoners of war have nothing on the Matron. She clutches that bowl of soup: "Tell him I can't talk -- I'm eating."

Scarlett rolls her eyes and reports with utter airy disdain: "She can't talk. You know how she is when she's eating."

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Matron Must Hire a Hit Man

Gentle Reader.

Please do not misunderstand. The Matron allows spiders to procreate in her kitchen. She will sidestep a bug.

She loves dogs! She considers herself a Dog Person. For nearly 15 years, she doted on this one:

Thurston had issues. Primarily, he had an amazing eating disorder: he ate everything.

One steaming July day, this dog ate 64 balloons waiting to be filled with water for a child's birthday party. The Matron--with a baby plastered to her breast and a yard full of children--wrenched these iron jaws open to pour hydrogen peroxide down the resisting throat.

Scarlett and her friend Eva stood on the picnic table, offering encouragement: "Throw up! Throw up! Throw up!"

Three doses of peroxide and ten gallons of Matronly sweat later, he did. Red, yellow, blue, purple and green--they all came up.

Eva was beside herself with pleasure. "Oh, Mary! This is so much better than daycare!"

Thurston's poop was always informational. So that's where the Polly Pocket went! That's what happened to the crayons! Here's the key!

And when Thurston's 14 year old body failed him and he needed hand-feeding and diapering, the Matron took on these tasks without hesitation.

What a good person that Matron is!

Now that Thurston is gone, it is this boy's turn to go through the geriatric shuffle:

The Matron hopes that her children are watching how she tends to old age, even if it is of the canine variation. She would like equal treatment.

Pee just falls from Jekyll. He can't help it. You can scream in his ear: "Don't pee in the house!" And it won't matter, not because he doesn't understand but because he cannot hear you.

He is so blind that one must point his snout in direction of his food and shove him out the open door (which he doesn't notice).

Mostly, he is spending his 15th year sleeping on the most expensive chair in the house.

How patient is the Matron!

Reader, she is asking you to forgive her single shortcoming, her sole murderous impulse. Here is the current bane of the Matronly existence:

This dog weighs 14 pounds. According to the Matron's estimation, he produces twice his body weight in poop, daily--inside the house!

This dog's official food is one half cup of dry nugget. The Matron is unclear where he gets the fuel for such copious discharge.

Poop in Scarlett's bedroom.

Pee on the upstairs carpet (Jekyll doesn't do stairs so she knows who to blame!)

Poop in the basement.

Poop in the dining room.

Poop in the hallway.

This dog, Scruffy, is a recent acquisition. The children love Satan's Familiar beyond reason. Scruffy loves to be carried. He wears cute sweaters. He sleeps under the covers. He plays fetch.

But when the children aren't here to entertain him, he spends his time barking: yap, yap, yap. Did that dust particle move? "Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap"

Recently, the Matron treated herself to lunch with a friend.

Scruffy also dined. He devoured the contents of 10 party bags for Merrick's birthday massacre: Hershey Kisses, Sweet-tarts, gum. Scarlett had carefully (spent hours!) created this surprise for Merrick, hid the bags in her closet.

Shredded slimy paper, wrappers and half-chewed plastic toys littered the house.

The Matron hesitated with the hydrogen peroxide. She picked up the bottle. Debated. She looked that dog straight in the eye.

And decided to let nature take its course.


Her last hope is the backyard fence. Scruffy can jump four feet high. He wriggles out underneath the slightest gap. He's Houdini.

The Matron is constantly seeing the dog halfway down the alley. She mumbles: "Scruffy, come here. Scruffy."

Once he was gone nearly an hour. Then those children! They noticed! Resigned, the Matron feigned alarm.

Scruffy always returns.

After all, he has work to do! There's unmarked territory in that house. Fresh planks requiring poop. Corners to mark and shoes to destroy, carpet to ruin.

The Matron's hatred for this dog disturbs her children. "How can you not love him?" they whimper, fearing a similar fate.

So she tries to smile in his fetid direction. She forces herself to pat the Scruffy head and has stopped the random kick.

Still. She plots. She's keeping all options, open.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Matron and The Youngster

Recently, the Matron walked into a bagel shop.

Sweet Young Thing Behind the Counter: "Can I help you? Oh! I really like that skirt! It's great."

Matron (taking a peek, because memory, it is that spotty): "Thank you. My goodness! I've had this skirt since 1984!"

At this point, diverging realities emerge.

Here's the conversation that should have transpired:

Sweet Young Thing Behind the Counter: "You fit into something you bought over 20 years ago? Oh my God. That's amazing."

Matron: "Yes, it is, isn't it."

SYTCB: "But you don't have children, right?"

Matron (enjoying herself immensely): "Three! I have three children and they all weighed well over 8 pounds. The last one . . . " Here, the Matron pauses for dramatic effect. "The last one weighed nearly 10 pounds!"

SYTCB: "Wow. That's amazing."

Matron: "Let's not forget about those laundering skills, too."

That conversation did not take place. Instead, Sweet Young Thing Behind the Counter shrieked this:

OH MY GOD! Your skirt is older than I am!"

And the Matron had no reply.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Insert Star Wars Theme Song Here

My three males are incapable of peeing alone.

Merrick: "I have to go potty!"

Stryker: "Sword fight!"

John (!): "Hey, wait for me!!"

Mad rush for the bathroom. Where their pee streams fight.

Scarlett and I just cling to each other like life boats in this house.

On a Somber Note

My students give me unlimited writing material.

And this is troubling.

Their lives are chaotic. They're under-prepared. Many can't write a proper sentence. They are utterly without organizational skills.

They really want to do better, and just don't know how.

The worst? Many, if not most, exhibit little curiosity about the world around them. They are tapped into the culture through celebrities, television and games, but don't grapple with big issues--environment, politics, poverty, dynamics of gender and race.

We've had several frank discussions about their disinterest in the great big troubling fabulous complicated world.

They admit that they're uninformed and uninvolved. Why? Because they're busy earning money.

My students are all white-knuckle and strain, trying to get into that middle-class. An education is one way in. But college costs money. So they have 2 jobs. Or 3. This gets in the way of homework.

Toss in Life with all its complications, lack of fundamental writing skills, and a dim understanding of the concept "time management" and you have all those D's, F's and withdrawals in my grade book.

Oh, and don't forget the venerable Game and vast Internet. Video games are relaxing. It's how they unwind. YouTube is sorta like oxygen and blood. Some of us bloggers have a little bit of this bug, too.

In "Citizenship In Emergency" -- a very fine essay about 9-11-- Elaine Scarry argues that our nation has an urgent need for a more informed citizenry. She urges each of us to attend to our responsibilities as citizens, to be actively engaged with the government that structures so much of our lives.

Far from this, my students remain on their financial treadmills, nose to the minutiae of their own existence. When they get off for a few minutes, they unwind. Click! Online or with game.

Totally understandable. And alarming.