Wednesday, June 11, 2008
friend files-two: big ice, little tyke, and one terrific mom.
If I’m ever a mom, I want to be a mom like my friend and neighbor C. She is calm, cool and collected. She makes her kids laugh all the time. She doesn’t sensor herself too much, but manages to mask the rawness of her humor for now with full understanding that any day her kids are going to get what she’s been talking about. She is an expert cake-maker. When it’s Mardi Gras, she is confident and together enough to tote all three of her kids to the Spanish Town parade and our friend's after party – one eye always looking out from afar, but never hovering insecurely over her kids.
She is the sort of person who gets worked up over the utter laziness and incompetence of our police department, Metro Council, planning commission, and every other local body that holds an ounce of power. She will rant and rave about a call she made to our Metro Council member’s office. She is also one of the last people on earth who doesn’t use email. C. is a letter writer. In fact, when she gets really angry about some asinine happening in BR, she’ll spend days composing a letter to the editor. Then, if we’re ranting over the same issue, she’ll read her letter aloud to me, and ask, "How's that? Do I need to soften the tone?" She confesses to writing notes and leaving them at our neighbors' houses: “It works this way: You put your can out on Monday, bring it IN on Monday afternoon. Out again on Thursday. IN again same day. Garbage collection is a cycle. Get it?”
Okay, I made that note up, but it’s the kind of thing that gets her goat, and I wouldn’t put those words past her. I bet she’s contemplated leaving that very note on my door.
She's also a team member on my adult league kickball team, The #1 Teabaggers (we all have a #1 on the back of our shirts). And when C.’s then seven-year-old son h. (now eight) asked C. why we're called the “teabaggers,” she said, “You know. It’s like your baggin’ em. You’re gettin’ em good.” I think there was a fist-swinging-through-the-air motion that accompanied her explanation.
“Oh,” h. smiled and nodded with self-assured understanding. I doubt if h. has ever bothered to ask her about the saggy balls she bedazzled onto the front of her kickball shirt. I suspect he’s already on to her. But pseudo-explanation of team name in hand, in our five seasons as a team, h., his six-year-old sister l. and their three-year-old brother r. come to the games and cheer us on occasionally: “Go Teabaggers!” they’ll shout from the dugout – to everyone else’s amusement.
C.’s not really a church-goer, but she sent her kids to a Baptist preschool with a good reputation. (Maybe it's Presbyterian?) One day h. came home, and in exasperation he asked, “Who’s this Jesus guy everyone keeps talking about?”
C.’s dry response: “You better ask Miss So-and-So about that.”
Maybe a year later, when her daughter l. was three, C. told a story about how l. had woken disturbed in the middle of the night, charged into her parents' room and - signaling the teen angst-to-come - proclaimed, “I just don’t understand why god made us!”
Finally, little r. is obsessed with cars, trucks and anything with wheels. C. showed us a little trick when he was one. She sat him in her husband’s truck where he was happy as a clam, and when she pulled him out, he began crying erratically as if on command. He pointed and screamed, "Truck! Truck! Truck!"
“That boy loves being in the truck,” C. laughed. Apparently he hears my c.’s truck drive by his house in the mornings, and he pokes his head up to ask, “c.’s truck?” When he passes by our house and sees my car, he offers, “preet’scar?” If he sees me or c. in person, we’re greeted in the same manner. And C. will say, "Yes, r. That's Herpreet," or, "Yes. That's c."
I like those kids. A lot.
Last night during our kickball game, I gave r. the Heimlich maneuver. Ever had the pleasure of such panic?
He and h. and l. were in the dugout – little r. at one end playing with someone’s dog. His big brother and big sister were sitting on the bench a few feet away. Somehow I happened to be standing near h. and l. when r. walked up crying, moving his hands around his neck-region and gasping through tears. h. and l., calm and oblivious were asking, “You allright, r.? It’s okay." But they weren't really getting it. I turned to see what was happening, and I'm sure it was all of a few seconds, but it felt like several slow minutes.
I looked at him, and according to my husband, I said, “He’s choking. He’s choking.” Next thing my husband knew I was getting behind r. and wrapping my arms around his little waist. c. said he thought to himself: She doesn’t know the Heimlich maneuver. Admittedly, I was panicking silently: Do I know how to do the Heimlich maneuver? But I geuss I do, because two tiny pumps later I felt a chunk move in him, and an ice cube flew out of his mouth, upon which, he began crying out loud and hugging his big brother.
I wanted to go into hysterics, shouting, “r. are you OKAY?” But I remembered the way C. always responds. I said, soothing and cool as a cucumber, “It’s okay r. You’re all better.” Meanwhile I was entirely numb. Someone got his mom, and she walked over, asking, “You okay?” but not knowing exactly what had happened. She gave him a hug and that was the end. He settled down to mere dazed sniffling.
When I saw him playing and running around a few minutes later, I said to C., “So. I officially gave r. the Heimlich maneuver tonight.” Her eyes got big and startled, and she answered, “Well, THANK YOU. I missed all that going on.”
I spent the entire night tossing and turning and envisioning r.’s face, tears rolling down, but not much sound coming out while he tried to tell his siblings he was choking. Scared the hell out of me. At four a.m. I got up and took a shower to help me sleep, but first I looked on-line, and what I learned is that it’s recommended that you slap a person’s back 15-20 times to dislodge the object before you do the Heimlich.
I called C. this morning, paranoid that I’d bruised r.’s stomach or something, but he was just fine. She said he told her last night, “No more big ice.” And we laughed.
SONGS: Still obsessing over Neko Case. Sort of ALWAYS.