We’ve reached the halfway point check in for the summer and let me tell you, things do not look good for the Cractpots. The players knew that the coming season was going to bring a few challenges; the oldest Cractpot had landed herself a volunteer role in a professional theatre company. Middle Cractpot was focused on making the most of her elementary school friendships before the inevitable high school shake up and the youngest was enrolled in summer courses. On top of all this, we had opened our house to 4 orphaned kittens. (read about that here)
Undeterred, we marched boldly into summer with a full bucket list and high spirits.
We have yet to accomplish one goal.
To say that my confidence is a little shaken would be an understatement.
Walking up to the plate, the bases were loaded. Watching my oldest take the stage was an amazing experience. I could not be more proud of her performance or the respect and admiration she received from her cast and crew. The challenge was that rigorous daily practices meant almost all other activities had to be given up. She was unable to keep her part time job and family gatherings were put on hold. Still, we seemed to be managing until we were faced with a special occasion that could not be rescheduled and required an overnight stay in Ottawa. We had to draw on the support of family and friends to get our daughter to and from her show and trust that our responsible teenager would be able to handle taking caring of not only herself, but a menagerie of animals for a night.
A week before we left, middle Cractpot got an invite to a pool party and bbq that she simply COULDN’T miss. It was decided last minute that she too could stay at home on the basis that two heads were better than one and that together they could keep each other company and share responsibilities.
Things started out well enough. My younger daughter decided to attend her big sister’s show and my parents were confirmed to drive both girls home at 9 o’clock. At 9:30 my mother called to let us know that the oldest was grabbing a quick bite to eat before getting a ride home with a boy, which she assumed was ok because middle child had assured her that we allowed this boy to drive our oldest home all the time.
In reality, we had only allowed this boy to drive her home once before, but who’s counting? Our main concern was that our 14yr old was home alone and that my oldest daughter had shirked her responsibilities. My mother didn’t want to be the one to cause trouble so I promised to check on the girls myself to confirm that one was missing.
The first call to the land line went unanswered. My second phone call informed me that my oldest child was out of minutes even though we were only half way through the month. When middle child didn’t answer her phone either, I could feel my blood pressure starting to climb. I sent a group text informing my daughters that if I didn’t hear from someone in the next 10 minutes, I was packing up our hotel room and driving home. Coincidentally, my phone rang immediately.
Middle child calmly informed me that she’d missed the call because she had been busy with the kittens. When I asked her why her sister hadn’t answered, she explained that she was out with the dogs.
The stakes got a little higher when I offered to call back in a few minutes. When middle child answered the phone again, she tried convincing me that our little broadway star was so tired that she had fallen asleep as soon as she was done with the dogs. I played along and asked her to wake her up for just a second, so I could say a quick goodnight knowing that she was going to have to come clean.
I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry when she agreed and after a short pause, a tiny voice came back on the phone saying, “Hi Mum. I’m really sleepy, what do you need?”
As my eyebrows disappeared into my hairline, all I managed to sputter was, “Excuse me?”
Apparently we are blessed with two actresses in the family, because after a bit more static and interference (as middle child undoubtedly tried muffling the speaker to help disguise her voice) she repeated, “It’s me Mum, your oldest Cractpot. Did you want to talk to me?”
I had now ascertained that I absolutely did NOT feel like laughing, so I pulled out both the first and middle name to clearly express that I was no longer in the mood for any nonsense and that the gig was up.
Tears and apologies were cut off as I hung up the phone in order to direct my effort into dealing with her sister. Texts were sent off every minute, escalating in severity until every word was in ALL CAP LOCKS! I imagine when she finally stopped staring dreamily into the eyes of her date to memorialize her meal on Instagram (or whatever social media platform they’re using these days) and discovered 30 missed notifications from her mother, her dinner must have curdled in her stomach. When she started texting apologies I typed my answers so forcefully it’s amazing I didn’t break my screen. When she borrowed her friend’s phone to call me, I’m sure the entire restaurant heard my blistering lecture on responsibility and trust. Pressing the ‘end call’ button wasn’t nearly as satisfying as slamming a receiver down but such is the price of modern technology. To say the rest of the weekend was a flop is an understatement.
Strike two was deciding in our infinite wisdom, that we were capable of guiding our son down the path of higher education. In the past, when one of our children let their grades slip below a 70% in any given subject, we registered them in an educational summer program to review the material. With an already full schedule we felt like we were being clever by choosing an online course that we could complete in our own time. We found a site with our provincial curriculum and decided that he would complete one lesson in math and one in english per day. Graduating a lesson required achieving 50 points. You get 1 point for every right answer and for the first few days we flew through lessons in less than 1/2 an hour. As we progressed, the content became more complicated. Things took a turn for the worse when we realized that a wrong answer meant we lost 5 points. Suddenly for every one step forward we were taking two steps back and our 30 minute lessons were dragging on for hours and usually ended in tears.
Sometimes our son got frustrated too.
The hardest part was keeping a positive attitude during the math component. I can remember moaning about memorizing my multiplication tables as a kid and begging to use the calculator and my mother warning me that I wasn’t always going to have a calculator handy. Little did she know how the world would change and I wonder if she had known if she would have said, “screw it” and encouraged me to brush up on my photo editing skills instead.
During a lesson about word problems with fractions and whole numbers we were asked:
There are 96 cars in a parking garage. Mary is asked to count the blue ones and she tells you that 7/12th’s of them are blue. How many cars are blue?
Seriously??? Why don’t you ask Mary? She’s the one who counted them! I feel like if you encountered this in the work place as an adult you would be less concerned about trying to remember how to calculate fractions and more interested in wondering why Mary is being such a smart ass. Unfortunately that was not one of our multiple choice options. Just in case you’re wondering, the answer is 56.
Thanks for nothing Mary!
Strike 3 was perhaps the biggest upset of all. While fostering kittens is a rewarding and important part of rescue, letting them go when they’re ready for adoption is incredibly difficult. It’s easy to become attached to every animal that has found refuge under our roof but it’s especially hard not to fall in love when you have spent hours staring into their eyes while you bottle fed them and cuddled them to sleep. Still, like ripping off a band aid, we dutifully returned litter after litter because we knew what we were doing was necessary and saved lives.
When we took this last batch, we knew from the start that for the very first time, we were going to keep one. We had decided several months ago that we were ready to add a kitten to our family (read about that here) and it seemed to make sense to foster a batch to find one whose personality best suited our family. We didn’t realize, until it was too late, how much harder we had made our task. Instead of tearfully packing up kittens and dropping them off at the shelter, we had now added a decision making process that was proving to be impossible. Currently we are fostering 4 kitten fugitives. Paralyzed by indecisiveness we have let our deadline come and go and we are about as close to choosing a kitten as we are to crossing anything off of our bucket list.
So wish us luck.
For any of my readers who are also struggling this summer let me remind you that some of the best stories are come back stories and you miss 100% of the shots you never take. It ain’t over till it’s over, so step up to the plate and swing for the fences!
August is anybody’s game so bring on the bucket list and let’s play ball! Besides, I’m pretty sure that’s on my bucket list and its’ got to be easier than choosing a kitten!
See you all in September ❤
It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up~Babe Ruth
disclaimer: please forgive me if I mixed up any of my sport metaphors. I know about as much about baseball as I know about word problems with fractions and whole numbers so please direct any complaints to Mary. No one likes her anyway!