It’s a beautiful thing

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Thank goodness school is back in session. And that ringing of the school bell and seeing all the kids head back conjures up all sorts of thoughts.

By summer’s end I crave a schedule and routine almost as bad as I’ll desire an unstructured life come May. That’s how my pendulum swings.

But as much as I like knowing what’s coming next, I’ll still be a copycat of the much younger set and take recess. I can run, skip and bounce my pigtails with any kind of shenanigans I see fit.

There’s a great poem about how we learn all we ever really need to know in kindergarten. If you’ve never read it, have a look, truer words have never been spoken. But in conjunction with that, we also learn a great deal on the playground . . . having recess.

In light of school testing that has become the end all, be all in modern education, sadly, recess has been disappearing from the lives of children. How counterproductive. I could go on a real rant about it, but that’s not really where I intended for this to go so I’ll refrain.

Much like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, sometimes having fun requires a shift in perspective, and learning there are cycles of work and play. Who among us doesn’t need to learn that some sustained attention will be rewarded with some letting off of steam? Or that work can be made fun by a shift in one’s attitude?

I’m quite proud to say I’m a master at making the mundane enjoyable. How else could I survive fifteen and a half years as a domestic engineer? And it’s a learned skill, I think.

I have all the playground equipment I’ll ever need installed in a nifty little spot between my ears. I can take recess whenever and however I want. All my best pals are there, too. Everyone gets along. Sunshine, butterflies and 72 degrees happily coexist. Or I can play alone.

And the real things taught me a thing or two as well.

Life see-saws back and forth…sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down, and that’s OK.

There are times I have to struggle to climb a tall ladder, only to feel the exhilaration of sliding down after all that hard work.

Then other times things swirl around in really fast merry-go-round circles, but I know it will eventually slow and even stop.

It all gave me a reference point. And even if I’m supposed to be doing something else nobody knows I’m recessing. I’ll come back when I’m good and ready. Shoot, I might even pick up my ball and go home!

I burn off all sorts of restless energy which allows me to settle in and do what needs doing.

We don’t have to miss recess and it doesn’t have to be all in our heads, either. We can decide to have fun and/or enjoy anything we want to. We can have a carefree mindset and frolic through just about anything.

Any one of us can take recess in our minds . . . any time we see fit. And thank goodness for now, no one can take it away. That’s a beautiful thing.

 © 2012 Natalie Whatley

Gonna keep on truckin’

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Nearly four years ago you were all with me when my oldest began driving.

Since that time I— and thankfully everyone else peripherally involved— endured the first moving violation with ensuing fine, first traffic accident and the super silly burning off of tires and destroying the rear-end of a car in aforementioned burning of tires.

It all aged me a great deal, but I stand today not only older, more wrinkly and grayer, but wiser and proudly more calm about the whole business of cherub number two taking to the roads.

You may also recall that my choice of vehicle for my first baby was a giant wad of bubble wrap on wheels. That didn’t fly with a 16-year-old male prepared to take the world by its proverbial tail. And the story repeats with yet another similarly situated male still under my care and tutelage. Imagine that.

Adding to this old but new experience is that Jeremy, aka second cherub, has worked very hard, saved his pennies and amassed an impressive fund. The young man has automobile options far beyond my choice of the air-filled plastic stuff and he is putting me through my shopping paces. Maybe you also recall that I don’t like to shop.

To speak in today’s hip vernacular: He blows up my phone regularly with photos of the truck du jour. See, he falls in love anew each day he and his computer let his fingers do the walking.

I get all the views—front, back, sides, interior, stereo and the all-important tires and wheels. Oh, and it’s extra special if it’s “lifted”.

I do believe he has settled on red. And I must admit they’re all starting to look the same, but he can point to some nuance that makes each day’s choice better than the one before. Clueless to so much of what goes on outside his own noggin (not sure where he gets that from) he becomes a man of details.

Then Mr. Detail gets annoyed when I point out a very major one by responding to shiny-truck-photo messages with, “Have you worked on your driver’s-education stuff today?”

It’s all requiring me to reverse previous training: In this instance he needs to put the cart before horsepower. Shoot, I want that cart sitting up front right now. We’re not done filling it! Close, but not done, yet.

Rest assured to you, the motoring public, we won’t turn him loose until he has been fully blessed by an officer of the Texas Department of Public Safety.  (As a side note: DPS has resumed actual driving tests for new drivers. They stopped doing said tests for a while. Someone saw the folly in that and reversed course. I, for one, appreciate that.)

And Jeremy’s a good egg and will be a responsible driver. I want all (ok, maybe not ALL, but most) of his auto dreams to come true.

The truth is that I, too, get hung up in the trappings of how incredibly handsome he will look perched behind the wheel of his vessel to greater independence.

That’s it, really. Kids grow up and do grown-up things like work hard, save money, make large purchases and drive away in them. I’m very blessed and proud to call such a young man my own.

Mom has to keep on truckin’. And she will.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Take it to the bank, Dads

Author: admin  //  Category: Holidays, Life with children, National

While assisting my kiddos in finding the perfect Father’s Day greetings for the paternal figures in their lives I ran across a few that were quite funny. Others—with a giggle and grin—touched on the cold, hard truth that Dads often get second billing in the grand theatrics of getting offspring to adulthood.

Of course what now constitutes “adulthood” has Dad on the hook even longer than in times past, but we’ll not go there today. In my mind that’s no cause for celebration, and I’d be on my soapbox far too long.

Anyway, one card in particular hinted that the origin of June’s Father’s Day came about after menfolk caught on to the major celebration May’s Mother’s Day turned into. The card showed a disheveled man standing, arms out and palms facing upward exclaiming, “Hey!?”  He’s clearly thinking, “What about me?”

While clearly not of the male persuasion, I see his point.

We girls tend to get a lion’s share of the credit having to go through the whole pregnancy and birthing process.  It’s worth mentioning that mothers get a bit of a head start and a hefty helping of biology to bond them to their babies.

The following nifty little quote from www.menstuff.org illustrates my point: “Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity. For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride. Then, a referee. And finally, a bank.”

I laughed at that truth, and I’m sure you guys are grinning, too. Although my own little cherubs’ dad swears the banking part pretty much runs start to way after finish. (Jeff and I are still operating under the potential illusion that there will be a “finish”. Please don’t burst our bubble.)

But as I look around at today’s fathers their job has become just as complex as mom’s.

Women bemoan having to juggle all of life’s demands, but as motherhood changed with en masse female entry into the workforce, the guys had to evolve, too.

All the dads I know work, take the kiddos to activities, help around the house . . . pretty much do it all. And they’re far calmer doing it.

When I consider how much they’ve had to change in such a short evolutionary period, I’m impressed beyond words.

For all the strides that have been made on the female side of life’s equation, it would have been impossible had they not stepped up to the plate . . . and hit it out of the park.

To all the Dads on your special day: I suspect you often feel unnoticed and unappreciated, but your massive contribution and continual hard work does not go unnoticed. You are first-rate and far more than a monetary institution. You can take that to the bank. Happy Father’s Day!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

You can lead a foal to dishwater . . .

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Every generation spends some time thinking the next doesn’t have what it takes to properly get through life. 

Of course we older folks have to take some of the blame, but I refuse to take it all because I led my foals to the dishwater.  But you know how the saying goes. I wasn’t successful at making them drink, either.

When school let out last week, I began yet another summer with offspring who have the time—minus the inclination—to help more with the running of a five-member-plus-animals household.  I’m no different in thinking they are doomed to an unkempt existence once they fly the family coop.

Shoot, at this point in life with three teenagers under my roof this momma bird is not at all averse to kicking them out of the nest entirely since they pretty much know how to fly. Ask them, they’ll tell you how they know it all. If they’re not careful, I won’t let them take any of the feathers currently lining the twigs upon which they balance so precariously.

I estimate that over the span of their lifetimes I have done roughly 10.7 trillion loads of their laundry. I understand it takes that many repetitions before the process of sorting loads and operating the washer and dryer becomes fully engrained in one’s nature. So, I think it’s time they seriously increase their training.

I’m also trying to help them understand that they too can brandish a toilet brush. A sparkling bowl is good for the soul. At least it is for mine. And if momma is happy . . .

A broom: not difficult to operate and truly doesn’t require any special instruction. I know it’s a little bristly, but I’ve assured them it doesn’t bite.

They see no need for such an archaic piece of equipment since their great grandmother gifted me with a nifty little robot that sweeps and mops, but I feel I’m not doing my parental job if I don’t at least make them aware cleanliness can be achieved without the modern-day technology they probably won’t be able to initially afford for their own nest.

And I still can’t get them to comprehend the rationale behind dusting after sweeping and vacuuming instead of before.  I’ve hurt cherubic feelings by questioning their work order, and I know I should be thrilled to receive help at all, but is help that’s not really help helpful?

Maybe I need a whole different kind of help . . . in the form of a long couch and possible prescription drugs. Tranquilizers would probably do the job nicely. 

Cooking, I only have four words: Ramen noodles don’t count. But the mess does, so, uh, how hard is it to rinse out those dishes and place them in the dishwasher?

Which is a grand segue into: Little elves don’t show up and put the clean dishes away. If you know where you got a fork from in the kitchen, surely you can find your way back with a fistful of clean ones.

This old mare is tired of draggin’ young’uns to the watering hole.  But I imagine if I “accidentally” kicked one into the water . . . they’d sink or swim. And if I had to bet, I’d wager on the swimming. Lord knows they won’t touch a sink!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

It’s hard to be soft

Author: natalie  //  Category: Holidays, Life with children, National

Happy Mother’s Day to all my cohorts in the grand adventure that is motherhood.

I sat down at my computer and pondered on what it means to be a mother while hoping some profound words would emerge from my fingertips as they danced across the keyboard.

Just so you have the perfect visual, please know that somehow I got through a whole bunch of formal schooling without ever learning the proper typing technique that is now called keyboarding. So, my typing and dancing fingers can be likened to the chicken dance. I’m chuckling because I know that song will be stuck in your head the rest of the live-long day, but I digress.

It all came to me and I typed it up as quickly as my fingers would move: Motherhood is hard. That’s it. That’s all she wrote.

Then I stared at my literary masterpiece in all its splendor. It was a beautiful moment up until I realized I had come up with three whole words and needed roughly 550 more to pass muster with one Mr. Adam Yanelli, high-ranking official at The Sun. Talk about pressure. The things I do for you people.

I pondered and chicken danced some more.

Author Elizabeth Stone summed it all up far better than I could: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  Wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve has got nothing on mommas!

And at least in my experience, it’s easy when children are young to be all squishy as we learn to yield to the demands.  They’re so cute when they’re sleeping . . . shoot, when they’re awake, too. The innocence and the dependence are intoxicating . . . most of the time.

It’s rewarding and exhausting work. I’ve been on top of the world and back down to the hole I dug in the ground when things didn’t go according to plan. It takes a strong breed to withstand the extremes that punctuate the monotony of the daily grind.

Then those cute little puppies turn into dogs. Weird things start happening. They (and their demands) get bigger.  Oh, and they learn to negotiate like the finest of litigators.

The role changes and I think we all strive to be that soft place to fall, but let’s face it: There’s a hard outer shell that forms.  That’s what happens when we feel the sting of being tenderized and having someone or something come along and pour salt in that open, exposed heart.

It’s a difficult, but necessary balance to strike while trying to prepare those precious babies for the rigors of real, life-isn’t-always-fair life.

And it’s out of a great deal of love we put on the armor and head into battle. Even harder is having to switch back and forth between fighting for and then against. I lay awake at night strategizing—choosing my battles and weapons carefully while weighing the consequences of the various options.

A lot of times I don’t want to be the hardened warrior, but when your heart walks around outside your body you learn all to quickly it’s just plain hard to be soft.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

The timeless tick tock

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Time is but one of mankind’s equalizers. Removing those who are born and those who pass, remainders still only get 24 hours in each day. Novelist and poet C.S. Lewis explained it even better, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

Several times this past week I listened to stressed adults lament “not having enough time” to accomplish and/or participate in all they desired.  I have certainly felt their pain.

But it wasn’t until my 13-year-old daughter stood before me with large tears on the cusp of falling out of her even larger beautiful brown eyes that something quite profound dawned on me: For all the time we humans in this day and age spend on “education” (I’m talking basic book-learning here), we seem to be failing miserably in the basics of how to navigate real life.

It struck me as I was about to impart some time-management wisdom on my darling teary-eyed cherub, while recalling all the grown-up wailing and gnashing of teeth, that too many of us just don’t get it: Time is finite and not one of us gets to do it all. And who really wants to?

Yes, some will nearly die trying and annoy the heck out of those around them with all the nasty side effects of overextending one’s self.  To each his own, but I do get a tad miffed when such often intentional behavior encroaches on my world and inconveniences me.

However, and getting back to my sad, stressed little angel, I realized it was time to impart some motherly advice and I even ended up shedding a few tears of my own. Thank the heavens above for Granny Adcox who keeps us well supplied with hankies!

I explained how we all have the same number of hours in a day —some of us ending up with a longer string of days than others—and how quite simply choices must be made. And let’s face it: Sometimes it just stinks to choose one thing over another.  But somehow we have to grasp the totality of the here and now and weigh those options. Oh, and doesn’t it stink far worse when the scales hang in perfect balance, not making a decision clear?

Previously in her life, I made decisions for her by simply saying no to too many activities. I suppose it was my loosening of those reins that caused her to feel the strain. Not to mention, her brothers helped me figure out that allowing (or maybe it was forcing) them to choose based on time constraints (theirs and mine) also made them responsible for what came next. And there was no more blaming me for less-than-pleasing outcomes.

I eventually saw a smile on that pretty little face. Even though she hadn’t emerged from between the proverbial rock and hard place, the weight of the world had been lifted from her tiny shoulders. She was relieved to learn that she was not at all alone in her conflict – that I, and others, struggled, too.  

How to live out our time . . . it’s timeless.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Sick and tired

Author: admin  //  Category: Life with children

I say this all the time and people chuckle, but it’s true: I don’t have time to be sick.

I constantly scan my surroundings looking for sickly behaviors and perform sharp 180-degree turns away from those who display any. I’m almost to the point of donning surgical masks in public as technology has allowed me to see cough and sneeze particulates in slow motion. 

Yet another case of ignorance was bliss. I wish I could “unknow” how far and fast that stuff can travel. 

Imagine the tizzy I experienced this past week as it became apparent Streptococcus bacteria was an unwanted visitor causing strep throat and misery at the Whatley Estate.

Wearing a Tyvek suit and flanked by Clorox and Lysol, I’ve been waging a ferocious battle against the known but invisible intruder. Only time will tell whether or not I was victorious.

Please note that for your safety and even though my hands are raw from washing them roughly 2.7 billion times in the past week, I am wearing rubber gloves to type this. Can’t be too careful.

This ne’er-do-well hitched a ride into our home via youngest cherub, Erin.  As an aside this is the same young lady who rolls her pretty little brown eyes when I lovingly persuade her to wash her hands as soon as she comes in from anywhere and before eating. 

If I had a snippier disposition, an “I told you so” would be in order.  I figure a nasty sore throat will be a far better teacher.

It’s my understanding this sneaky little piece of contagion is pretty much everywhere.  I can also report directly from Texas Children’s Pediatrics that they are seeing case after case of strep throat in this area.

But anyway, while Erin was on the mend and penicillin was putting up the good fight, mean old Streptococcus found its next host: Jeremy.

After the requisite teasing about kissing his sister we got on to the business of fighting in his arena. 

His case was more time-sensitive as he was to escort the lovely Miss Melanie Butler to Ross S. Sterling’s Star Ball this weekend.

I never saw a young man more excited to get all fancied up formal-like, and he was none too happy over having fallen ill. With his southern drawl he made it quite clear, “Gotta get this taken care of now. I cannot be sick this weekend!”

 I’m curious to see if his enthusiasm wanes after being in a tuxedo and what I imagine will be uncomfy shoes for hours.  Probably not. He’s a trooper for his Star.

Happily, he cleared the contagious phase and will be in tip-top form for the big event.

As for me, I think I may be in the clear as I have surpassed the time period whereby I should have succumbed. And that’s a good thing because I’m exhausted from being a short-order cook, nurse, quarantine-enforcement officer, medical chauffeur, and decontamination specialist.

But wait. There is an opportunity here for a few lazy days in bed minus the yucky symptoms. My acting skills may just be up to pulling off Streptococcus Poppycockus.

Picture Scarlet O’Hara (big, fluffy southern-belle dress and all) dramatically throwing her head back and resting the back of her hand on her forehead, “I do declare I’m feeling a tad feverish.”

I don’t want to see any eye rolling.

Wash your hands, folks!   

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Slicing pie with Jeremy

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

What follows will not be a tasty treatise on the finer points of pie making just in time for your holiday baking, but rather an illustration of how I can’t cut it when it comes to proper slicing.

It’s  not often a mom gets the chance to play life-like cops and robbers with her son, especially when said son is almost grown and is trying to carve out some pieces of life that don’t include his mommy. Luckily I fall very loosely into the football-girls-car trifecta in that I watch him play, am female, and own a car used a great deal to motor him around until his big, happy, driver’s license day arrives. Otherwise, he might have forgotten I exist.

So when I saw an opportunity for a little quality time where I knew Jeremy would sit, stand, and slice pie alongside me with rapt attention and of his own free will, I grabbed a gun and a flashlight and went after it.

Since I have gone through the rigors of the Baytown Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy’s basic and advanced curriculum, graduated, and joined the alumni association, I have opportunities from time-to-time to observe and participate in some real police training.

Of course these classes are watered down a bit for the ease and comfort of the uninitiated, but still a great peek into the work of a police officer.

Enter my middle child, Jeremy.

 For as long as I can remember, Jeremy has planned a career of military and eventually law enforcement.  For some crazy reason that doesn’t scare me. I’m just plain proud of who he is and what he wants to be.

That gushiness aside, when I learned a new group of citizen’s police academy students were scheduled for comedic Officer Shawn Latta’s and Corporal Monica Summersill’s building clearing class, I knew Jeremy and I needed to attend, observe, and yes, clear a building together.

After our training, we were “called out” on a night-time burglary in progress. Neighbors reported a bad guy in the house and it was our job to go in and remove him—by force if necessary.

Armed with a flashlight, simunition gun (shoots fake bullets) and our wits we entered the unlit interior of a dark, layout-unknown-to-us residence.  

 I let Jeremy take the lead. He has a booming voice, is large enough for me to hide behind, and plus I wanted to get the full view of him under the effects of what’s called an adrenaline dump—see if he was as commanding under a little stress as he claimed he would be.

Together, we “sliced the pie” (room clearing method whereby a space is visually cut into pieces) and made entry into three rooms without incident.

Looking into the fourth room, however, we found our burglar. At that point it was quite obvious I was only along for the ride.

And when I heard, “Police! Put your hands up!” I didn’t even recognize my own child’s voice.  I was scared for the burglar (Officer Stewart Beasley) and was happy when he complied.  Then Jeremy communicated as trained to his fellow officer, me, and in my rattled state I didn’t quite follow protocol. Go figure. Let’s just say I was a little too eager to ‘cuff the burglar. I was duly chastised on the way home, but it was still loads of fun.

And be thankful that someday Jeremy will be soldiering and policing in far better form than me. When he slices a pie, he does it cleanly and serves up a near perfect piece. Me, I just a make a mess.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Living in high cotton

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

It was the last Bingo number called for the night. “B-1” made yours truly the proud new owner of the prize no one else claimed in the two hours preceding:  a countertop cotton-candy maker. Am I lucky, or what?

I’m sure luck had nothing to do with it. It takes special skill and laser-like focus to win at Bingo.

The winning streak was running long for the Whatley Clan at the BERA (Bayer Employees Recreation Association) Annual Bingo Bash beautifully put on twice each year by Andy and Clarissa Legg, who by the way are new parents to one of the cutest babies I think I’ve ever seen. I swear by Hasbro toy makers he is the real, live Cabbage Patch Doll.

Fortune —or misfortune depending on where one is situated in the parent/child equation—had already smiled upon us earlier in the evening. Jeremy won an electric keyboard and Erin a karaoke machine.

These items complement the electric and acoustic guitars as well as a viola already enjoyed in my home. Told you I was lucky.

All that’s needed to topple my mental state into insanity and make permanent the nervous tick I have acquired is a set of drums.  No, I will not accept donations from any of you who’ve already lived through this special brand of crazy-making.

But getting back to cotton candy:  My not-so-little cherubs couldn’t wait to try it out. And I bet you already know they weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about cleaning the thing afterwards. However, as the webbed confection blew through the kitchen air, they did run in circles catching the “mess” with their tongues. Good times. (The cotton is supposed to stay in the collection bowl atop the maker IF/WHEN the operator is skilled enough to catch it all on the provided cone. I need to practice.)

Nostalgia Electric’s Hard and Sugar-Free Candy Cotton Candy Maker transforms hard candies straight into honest-to-goodness carnival deliciousness.

I banned cotton candy from my personal diet a long time ago as I was concerned over ingesting tons of pure sugar, but I was amazed to learn how much sugary cotton was produced with a mere two pieces of hard candy.

Two peppermints, which I’d never blink an eye over consuming, are two peppermints regardless of their form. And two of the red and white candies provided a perfect, pink serving. I love it when I learn something new like this. Life is sometimes so sweet.

We played with our new toy until queasiness set in, and I must admit to my surprise the machine was incredibly easy to clean.

Afterwards, you know I had to find out how and who in the world discovered a pillow-like material that literally melts in one’s mouth.

Its roots go way back to the banquet tables of European aristocracy and a time when sugar was so rare it was kept under lock and key. Spun sugar was the precursor to the cotton we know and love today. And it’s all about caramelization and what happens to sugar when it melts. It gets a little scientific.

That’s not entirely interesting, but what did make me take note in confectionary history was that the first patent on a cotton candy machine was obtained in 1899 by candy maker, John Wharton, and dentist, William Morrison. You think those two were in cahoots? Pure-sugar genius there.

Anyway, back then what was produced became known as “fairy floss” and cotton candy as we know it didn’t really become popular until the 1920s. It has remained a fun staple ever since.

All of that aside, I had an unexpected great time with two of my most favorite human beings on top of a fun night of Bingo with family and friends.

It’s a beautiful thing to be living in such high cotton. And when it gets too noisy, I’ll stuff some in my ears.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Raising Cain

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

It has been said that we all must “pay for our raising”.

 I believe that’s true and my mother, the stunning Linda Rowe, will no doubt rejoice (or at least giggle) over the fact that I’m making payments.

Before I get started on describing the nature of the currency with which I’m repaying childhood debt, I must confess that I was the most difficult child and teen to get out of bed.

 The fact that I showed up for school and later work on time was a testament to the grit and determination of my maternal figure.

Also know that this whole bit is more than slightly tongue-in-cheek.  I do realize that if what I intend to complain about is the worst I have to deal with: I’ve got it made. But it’s still annoying and teenaged son and I are having the devil of a time finding an amicable resolution.

Not one person residing at the Whatley residence could be labeled a “morning person”.  However, we do manage to tell each other to “have a good day” after grunting and growling and before heading our separate ways. “I love you” also manages to sneak its way past snarls.

It gets so ugly because three out of five of us don’t hear alarm clocks. That includes me. Shameful, I know. And I’d appreciate if we could just keep that here between us.

Making things worse, every member of the family keeps different hours—not by choice but by school and/or work mandate. The going and coming is nothing short of chaos.  Mornings are the worst.

I knew the new school year with one cherub transitioning from a junior-high school start time of 8:40 to high school’s 7:15 was going to be a challenge. Minor miracles take place each day he catches his 6:27 a.m. big, yellow, chauffeured-limousine ride.

I’m certain he arrives at the bus stop with a scowl that matches the one I wear for the remainder of my morning after we’ve tussled over his not getting up on time and the ensuing rush accompanied by my harping.

And when he misses his chauffeured-limo ride, it’s a most unpleasant trip by private car to the Ross S. Sterling campus. Two-year-olds have nothing on me when it comes to the tantrums bus missing induces in me. It’s pathetic, really. But I do put on my big-girl britches before getting behind the wheel.

It’s all very odd because this particular young man, who I’ll refrain from embarrassing by name, is at any other time polite, agreeable and just generally an easy-going pleasure. Love him dearly.

But, between the hours of five and six-thirty a.m. he is the spawn of Satan. And, yes, as his mother I fully understand what that makes me. I’m living up to the part beautifully.

So Jeremy . . . oops, I wasn’t going to mention his name . . . and I are going to keep at this morning thing and together we’re going to conquer his losing that hour and a half.

In the meantime: If you hear my hollering all across town in the wee hours just before day break I’m not just making a fuss, I’m raising Cain out of bed!

© 2011 Natalie Whatley