For the last five days I did the solo parent thing while Jon visited a friend in Tennessee, and the whole experience just knocked me over, sat on top of me and then farted in my face. And it just reminded me that single parents are superheroes and should have parades in their honor every day with floats made out of roses and ice cream.
It started Wednesday night with a bee sting in my neck that paralyzed the movement of my head and then swelled to the size of single-family home. I have several friends who are so allergic to bees that one sting could prove fatal, and so for several hours after the incident I kept expecting to die. Did I go to the hospital with this worry? No, I just did some Googling, and occasionally texted Jon: “Not dead yet.” Although, there were moments when “dead” seemed like a better option than “looks like an elephant gave me a hickey.”
And then the garage door opener broke, which wouldn’t have been a huge deal, it’s just an annoying inconvenience, but when I tried to turn on the episode of Strawberry Shortcake that Leta loves to watch every morning, excuse me while I weep, THE TELEVISION BROKE. I won’t lie, right then I stared at four days alone with a preschooler and it felt like someone had shoved me overboard without a life jacket and told me that they’d swing back by in 96 hours.
So I had to come up with a plan, and the first thing that came to me was a suggestion a reader named Christina sent to me in an email about putting together a paper chain to count down the days to Halloween. You take strips of construction paper and link them together with glue or staples to make a chain where the number of links equals the number of days until the holiday, and every morning you remove a link to signify that you’re one day closer. I remembered doing this in elementary school to count down the days until Christmas vacation, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to try this with Leta. Maybe because I am not a very crafty mother, nor do I enjoy doing crafts. I know there’s a rule in the motherhood handbook that specifically states that you’re supposed to love doing crafts with your children, it’s on the same page as the paragraph that talks about how important it is to have a smile on your face when you give your husband a blow job after he gets home from a long day at the office, but I marked out that rule with a permanent black Sharpie. And then drew a sad face and glued on two googly eyes.
In order to have this very special bonding craft moment with Leta we had to go buy some construction paper, and yes, I am very aware of what this says about me that we didn’t already have some at the house. I mean, babies come out of the womb with a placenta, a pacifier, a tupperware container of Cheerios, and a stack of construction paper. And the only reason I’m even mentioning the fact that we had to go to the store to buy some is because while we were standing in the checkout line surrounded by unsuspecting grocery shoppers, Leta started vigorously scratching her backside and screaming, “MY BUTT IS TOTALLY KILLING ME!”
Do you have any idea how many times I would have loved to have said the same thing out loud in public? I mean, how less frustrating would life be if we could all just go around doing that? Like, yeah, you know what, I’m not rubbing my underarm, I’m trying to pull down this damn bra that keeps riding up, and yes I did just scratch my nipple IT WAS ITCHING. SO WHAT. Instead we’re all reaching into our wallets to pull out the correct change when all we can think about is how much we want to go home and blow things up.
So we get back to the kitchen table, I break open the construction paper, and Leta asks what we’re about to do. I explain that we’re going to do a project! A fun project! With scissors and staples! Dangerous things that I don’t normally let her near! And she wrinkles up her nose and says she’d much rather go play with her Polly Pockets. And I would normally let her do that, would encourage her to go play by herself, but dammit, we were going to have a special moment SO HELP ME GOD.
KID, EITHER BOND WITH ME OR I’LL PUT YOU IN TIME OUT.
So she sat there and watched me as I cut almost fifty strips of construction paper and stapled each one into a seven-foot-long chain. At one point she asked, “Why are you doing this?” Like I was doing something completely irrational. Like I was sitting there beating myself in the head with a corn cob. So I told her that this was how we were going to count down to Halloween, and each morning we were going to remove one link and that would mean we were one day closer. So she looked over the chain, from one end all the way over to the other, and said, “How about we remove all of them now and Halloween can be tomorrow?”