Tuesday? It would have to have been a Tuesday night. Some Tuesday night a few weeks ago. That’s the calmest night of our week, calm meaning not spinning like a top off of the corner of a table into a spiraling abyss of math problems and piano practice and SERIOUSLY. Of course Marlo was the first kid in her class to volunteer to take home the class “pet.” We’d all be rightfully disappointed if she hadn’t because COME ON. There she is, giant pink-rimmed glasses, a dimple possessing the magnitude of a black hole, looking around at the other kids thinking, wait a minute. Our class pet is a stuffed puppy? SIGN HER RIGHT THE FUCK UP. She was going to write checks her body could totally cash. BINGO. JACKPOT. GOLDEN FUCKING TICKET.
Yes, this is one of those Heather posts that will generate email from concerned readers saying, “Are you okay? You seem like you need a break. That thing you wrote was all over the place.”
If what I write is not all over the place then why are you here? For astute political commentary? For comprehensive analysis of post-colonialism in the Middle East? You are here because the ride through my brain is not your mom’s Pinterest board. I am not going to knit you a literary document, you know this. You know that at some point I’m going to mention my butt and how much Leta hates it when I do so.
Here goes the ride, squad. Gather round.
Marlo has more homework than most graduate students. Two pages of writing a night, problem solving on the iPad, math on the computer, and then at least a half hour of reading. So… wait. Oh god, I just realized her teacher is probably going to read this and so is the principal. I was at a gathering on Friday night and at least three people came up to me and said, “How do I know you?” My first answer is always, “I look like Piper from Orange is the New Black. You have me confused with her.” When they go, “No, no, that’s not it,” I say, “Madonna. You think I’m Madonna. Just like a prayer.” And when they go, “No, that’s not it either,” I go, “I write about my butt on the Internet.”
BINGO. JACKPOT. GOLDEN FUCKING TICKET.
A lot of homework every single night, is what I’m saying, and then she brings home that goddamn stuffed puppy? A stuffed puppy she has to write about in a puppy journal? ARGYLE SOCKS IN A POLKA DOT MUFFIN TIN, MARLO. That is what I said out loud. In my head I said JESUS COLDPLAY CHRIST, KID. Because getting Marlo to write a single solitary letter is not unlike slamming the car door against your head over and over again, bleeding out of your ears and coming right up against death on the floor of the garage.
But, oh guess what, you’ll never guess except you totally will because you know Marlo and Marlo has been sent specifically by the devil to FUCK WITH YOU. That kid wrote page after page after page about that stuffed puppy. She wrote literary documents. Words just poured out of her onto those pages, and I was like, okay. Kids are different and learn things in different ways, so from now on I am going to have a stuffed puppy on my person at all times. While her older sister finishes reading her tenth book in the span of two days.
Which kid do I get to take credit for? BOTH, is who, y’all. Because being a full-time single parent is really fucking hard, and I bang the shit out of making it work. I work so hard at providing everything they need and being every place they need to be and filling every void I can fold myself inside. There is nothing more important to me than those two girls and giving them the emotional foundation they need to enjoy their childhood, to wring it dry of every joke and pun and scooters crashing into the fence, bowls of water lining the porch so that every mermaid Barbie has her own pool, sleepovers that don’t involve much sleep and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, yes, Marlo, you can have the leftover frosting.
IT WAS A TUESDAY NIGHT. Okay, there it is. Why did I sit down to write? Yep. Found it. Are you still here? This is all over the place.
Marlo was tired from all the homework, and so instead of making an early dinner I indulged her. She wanted to watch a movie in my bed at 6 PM, and I was like, why not? Let’s go watch a movie in my bed! These moments are rare and precious, and when she is older she will remember the three of us — just the three of us — there in that house making it work together. Movies in my bed on a school night. Together. Leta downstairs reading another goddamn book. What is it with her and being interesting?
Now I remember. This just suddenly made sense to me, right here as I am writing these words. It was some random movie about gymnastics. That’s why! And we were lying there next to each other when five minutes into the movie I made the tragic mistake of closing my eyes. Momentarily. Except I guess not so momentarily. I was tired from homework, too! All y’all doing the first grade homework are nodding so hard you’re spraining your neck. Hold on, I’ve got some ibuprofen in my purse. We’ll share.
I was asleep for no more than three minutes when suddenly I heard a faint whoosh through the air, and then Marlo’s face landed firmly against my own. NOTE THE WORD LANDED.
I sat up, wiped the sleep from my eyes and watched as she crawled off the side of the bed over to a stool she had moved from my bathroom to the foot of the bed. She then climbed on top of that stool, stuck both arms out from her sides as if showing me that the fish she’d caught was this big, and then hurled herself headfirst into a front flip, landing with her feet on my forehead.
I should mention here that she was wearing a bathing suit.
She had stripped herself of all of her clothing and strapped on a bathing suit IN THE SPAN OF THREE MINUTES. Take into account that she had also moved that stool more than 20 feet in that window of time. And thrown herself into her fourth? fifth? front flip? Who knows? By the time I pieced together what was going on she was flinging herself sideways in a cartwheel motion four feet in the air off of that stool. And landing every time with an elbow or a knee to my face.
Imma take credit for her. Because if those three minutes are not the exact embodiment of this brain ride well then what is, TODD?