Singing in My Sleep

Lill Hawkins

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After one of those days yesterday, I had one of those nights. I stayed up too late, fell into bed exhausted and then found myself still lying awake at 2 a. m. , trying to remember “Sylvia's Mother's" last name. In case you don't remember the song, it was by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show and it was written by one of my favorite writers, Shel Silverstein. In case you find yourself in the same situation, it's Avery. Somehow, I thought it was Johnson, but it turns out that's the “widowed wife", oxymoron though she may be, in Harper Valley PTA.

What made it one of those days, you ask? Well, it started when I went to pick up a few things at the supermarket and was standing in line with my daughter. She was browsing the magazines and bloids - most of which had photos of stars that the headlines said were either too fat or too thin, when she said, “I'm fat. " It wasn't a question. My little nine year old wasn't asking for my opinion or a refutation. She was just saying what she saw as the truth.

I asked her why she said that and she pointed at the magazines. “I'm a lot fatter than all of those people, except the ones they're calling fat. So that means I'm fat too. "

In between “paper or plastic" and “thank you, have a great afternoon, I put your dog's ear mite medication in a separate bag", I tried to explain to her about Hollywood, the obsession with weight in this country, the sensational nature of bloids and women's mag's headlines, and, (without totally embarrassing her or getting us banned from the store) the effect of puberty on body shape. I hope I got the point across and that she isn't going to start worrying excessively about her body image, but who knows?

Next, we stopped to have lunch at a chain restaurant and were seated next to two parents-without-a-clue with three children. Two of the kids were bouncing around in the booth with them, but one little guy, who was probably all of a year, was in a high chair at the end of the table. He was not a happy camper, probably because it was past noon and he was hungry and the food was taking a long time. He was crying, so in an attempt to help, the, um, mother, for lack of a better term, gave him a spoon to play with.

Almost immediately, she grabbed it away, because he was banging it on the table. “Be quiet or you're not gonna get any lunch!" she said loudly. The baby started to cry even more and she rolled her eyes and looked around. “Oh, stop crying. This is a restaurant. You have to be patient. "

I won't even go into the rest of the stupid things that poor baby had to put up with before he finally got some food in the form of a breadstick that I offered after bribing his maternal unit with a big smile and several comments on how cute her kids were and how beautiful her homemade t-shirt was. (It was emblazoned with a heart with her kids’ initials on it. The older kids had made it for her for Mother's Day. Of course. ) My son calls people like this “family planning propaganda" and says they should film them and show them in health class in high school.

We ate as quickly as we could and went home in a much darker mood than we had started out in. I was irritable and snapped at the dog when we got home to find that she'd been sleeping on my bed. I wouldn't mind, except that she's a little too fond of rolling around in deer poop. Then two of the three cats threw up - some sort of rodent residue is what it looked like. We cleaned that up and the other cat threw up the remains of a sparrow. We were running out of paper towels and patience and none of us was too keen on eating supper for some reason.

So we sat down with books and tried to read, except that, as soon as we did, a smoke detector began to chirp. I'm sure you've had this happen to you, but I don't know if you've had it happen to you in an eleven room house which was built by inebriated carpenters who attended the M. C. Escher School of Architecture. Our house is like a rabbit warren, albeit not as well-planned. Rooms go into other rooms and hallways go off on tangents. Stairs go up, down and around.

There are three levels and every level has at least four smoke detectors. And although we always change all the batteries at the end of October, like McGruff says to, every single fershluggener battery dies at a different time. So we fan out, trailing in and out of doors and yelling back to the others that “it's not this one" and “if you'd be quiet I might be able to hear which one it is" and “did you just say you found it or that it's not down there?". It's like a French farce, only without the wine and sex.

So we found the dead battery, replaced it, had a little supper and I offered to help Daughter with her shampoo when she took her bath. She's working on doing it herself, but she has long hair and it's a lot easier if I do it for her. So I filled the pitcher, tipped it over her head and watched in horror as my Powerball ticket wafted out of my pocket and landed in the water under the running faucet. I quickly fished it out, but it was a goner. The ink was already running and some of the numbers were gone.

So now I had a quandary. Did I phone the geek and ask him to get me another one, thereby probably wrecking my lottery karma forever? Or did I just say the heck with it and take a chance that they wouldn't pull the numbers I play every week. I'm not superstitious, but I know how things work in this crazy old world and I can't think of a better way to get your numbers to come in than to drown the ticket they're printed on. So I called the geek.

The rest of the night wasn't too bad, except for when I spilled a whole basket full of soggy coffee grounds on the kitchen floor I'd just washed. Right after that, I managed to pull a wire bookcase full of books down on myself, when I tried to straighten out a particularly heavy art book. It hit me on the head, just before it fell on my toe, but after it hit my knee. I have to say it made quite an Impression on me. (Sorry. I couldn't resist. )

By the time I went to bed, I was frazzled and half-convinced that my daughter was developing anorexia, the cats had gotten some soon-to-be recalled cat food and would die from kidney disease, the baby at the restaurant would grow up to go on a shooting rampage at the local high school, and the dog had left a deer tick on the bed and the geek and I would soon have Lyme Disease. That's when I decided to think about something else and I let my thoughts drift off just long enough for “Sylvia's Mother" to slip into my mind like a steak knife through jello. Just in case this ever happens to you, here's a link to where you can find the lyrics to the song that's driving you crazy.

Lill Hawkins lives in Maine and writes about family life, home education and being a WAHM at . Get the News From Hawkhill Acres: A mostly humorous look at home schooling, writing and being a WAHM, whose mantra is “I'm a willow; I can bend. "


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