For those of you who left birthday wishes to Himself, he responded to every single one of them. You are all lovely. Himself thinks so too.
Here is the next installment of the GUFP. Which is the fiction piece I’ve been sitting on for some time. Don’t forget: fiction. Not-fact. Factless (mostly).
Parts 1-5 can be found here.
– 6 –
“Don’t blink,” says Ri.
“He’ll have to blink sometime,” I say.
“Don’t blink yet,” she amends.
Joseph is letting his eyes be examined.
Peter is sitting on the floor with his upper body sprawled over the arm of the couch. He is at least a little grossed out, but after the third time Ri said “shut up” in a nice way (because “shut up” are not words that are allowed in the house when you have four children and are trying to negotiate détente on an hourly basis) and I have threatened ejection from the “exam room” he is maintaining a strained silence.
Ri puts the flashlight down and makes a few notes on the diagram of the eye she is referencing while inspecting Joseph’s.
“Does Liam have to do this too?” I ask.
“Liam didn’t get the eye.”
“What did Liam get?”
“He originally got the tongue, but when he didn’t get Cherie for a partner he traded.”
I can’t help but snort at this. Joseph blinks but is safe from reprimand because Ri is still making notes.
“So what did he trade for?”
“How is he supposed to look in an ear with a flashlight? Are they giving out otoscopes at school?”
Ri shrugs and finishes making her notes. She turns back to Joseph with the flashlight and instructs him not to blink again.
“When is this due?” I ask, wondering if Liam has gotten started on his yet.
“You’re ahead of schedule,” remarks Joseph.
Ri shrugs again. Ri being ahead of time isn’t unusual, she inherited her obsessive-compulsive disorder from her mother.
Peter pipes up, “You don’t have to touch it, do you?”
I walk upstairs to Liam’s room and knock on the door. I can hear music so I knock louder. “Yeah?”
I’ve learned the hard way that “yeah” is not the same as “come in.” So I ask if I am allowed entrance.
I walk into Liam’s room and wonder anew at the accumulation of stuff. Papers, books, potato chip bags, tennis shoes, magazines, cereal bowls, basketballs, cd cases, cd’s, a duffel bag, a back pack, three paper bags from Trader Joes, a shampoo bottle (his sister’s shampoo, I notice) and the dog’s leash are all on his bed. I dare not attempt to inventory the floor.
“When’s your ear due?” I ask.
“Tuesday,” he answers.
“Sort of” is one of those answers that make a parent mildly nauseous. Because fundamentally, “sort of” translates to, “’No’, in any reality-based or functional definition of the word, but ‘yes’ in a letter-of-the-law type of way because I have actually written my name on the assignment sheet and the answer I’m giving communicates that I will defend myself against accusations of time-wasting or procrastination even when interrogated with red-hot pokers.”
This translation can be inserted into almost any “sort of” response. “Have you taken out the trash yet?” “Sort of.” “Have you watered the plants yet?” “Sort of.” “Did you write your thank you cards?” “Sort of.”
There are times when I can take up the “Anti-Sort-Of Standard,” and times when I can’t. Right before school, as much as I emotionally don’t want to cope with the consequences of “sort-of,” it’s simply not an adequate answer to questions like “Do you have your lunch?” “Did you finish your homework?” or “Do those shoes still fit?”
I decide on the gentle approach. “Does ‘sort-of’ encompass any actual research yet? And before answering, know that you are allowed only one ‘sort-of’ per assignment.”
He almost laughs at that, and I can tell I’ve headed him off at the pass. “I did a few online searches to get an idea of what the inside of the ear looks like.”
“You don’t get an actual ear to dissect?” I know the answer to this already, but also know that he will think this is funny.
“Ri gets the eye, she can look at any eye she wants. Pinna are boring and I don’t get to really see any of the interesting parts.”
“Pinna? Is that like piñata?”
“Pinna is the outer part of the ear – the part that holds up your glasses and you put earrings on.”
“Ah,” I say. “Of course. Will there be work on the ear this weekend?”
There is a pause. “After band practice.”
“There’s band practice?”
“And Sunday morning.”
I sigh. “Liam…”
“I can get a ride to the one on Sunday.”
“And when are you going to get your ear done?”
“I’ll still have Monday.”
“And what else is due next week?”
“Nothing till Friday.”
I don’t say anything.
I remain silent.
“Except for my English project.”
“Which is due when?” I ask.
“Not till Tuesday.”
“Which is the same day as….?”
He catches up with me. “Oh. My ear.”
I adopt the strong, silent pose again.
“I guess I can only go to one band practice.”
My work here is done.