The 5 0’Clock Train May Be Temporarily Delayed (6/15/2015)

We had somewhere to be at 5:30 p.m.

Our destination was approximately 20 minutes away, but for some reason, my husband decided he needed to hurry me along.

“We need to leave in 15 minutes,” he announced.

I was putting on my makeup in my office/dungeon of girliness/former hiding place of candy.

He poked his head in.

“Did you hear me?”

I paused, eyeliner in my hand. Did he not know that a kohl eyeliner could double as a mini-spear?

“Daddy….” Cole cautioned from the couch in the living room. “Don’t make her angry.”

“I heard you,” I said, giving him a warning glance.

“I don’t want to be late. We may have to park and walk a block or two, so we need to make sure we leave with plenty of time.”

“Daddy…..” Cole said, a sharp whistle sounding as he took in air.

I gave him a heady stare until he backed out and then returned to my makeup.

“I don’t like being late,” he said again from the other room.

“We won’t be late,” I said.

“We will be if you don’t hurry up, you are still in your robe.”

“I can get ready if you would stop fussing,” was my reply.

“I am not fussing, I am simply telling you we need to leave in 10 minutes and you are not even dressed.”

It’s impossible to apply eye liner or eye shadow when you are fussing with someone. I was going to be late and you know what? It was his fault.

This, from the man that when I tell him I want to go somewhere by a certain time, will make me late. Normally, Cole and I are sitting in the van, wondering if he decided not to go and just laid down. Or, he will say he’s ready to go, then can’t find his wallet, his glasses, the keys, or he needs one more drink of water.

He also is good about walking all the way out to the van, where Cole and I are sitting, normally sweltering from the heat, to announce he forgot something and go back in. “He’s not coming back, is he?” Cole will ask from the back seat. Sometimes, I wonder myself. We spend an eternity sitting in the van ready to go before his daddy finally gets out there.

“Five minutes.”

I couldn’t find the pants I wanted to wear. Where were they? I went in the bedroom and they were not where I had last put them.

I didn’t want to wear jeans – it had to be cooler in the shade of Hades than it was on this evening.

Should I wear a dress, or would that be too dressy?

No, no dress. Never a dress.

What in the world was I going to wear?

“Go get in the van,” I heard Lamar tell Cole.

“I hope you aren’t going to Ray Barrone Mama,” Cole said, heading out the door. “That will not end well, you know…”

He was referencing the episode where Ray left Debra when she got the curling iron stuck in her hair and went to the awards ceremony without her. Here was my child, wondering if his own mother was about to get left behind.

I heard the van crank. “He better not leave me,” I muttered under my breath.

I found a pair of dress pants and a shirt I didn’t really like anymore but it was short sleeved and didn’t require me finding some tank top to wear underneath it – that’s another thing. Since when did every woman’s blouse require another shirt underneath it to wear? Geesh.

I started to slip on my heels then thought if we were late and I had to walk I’d be better off in flats, so I slipped on sandals.

I paused to make sure I could still hear the van outside; I did.

I grabbed my phone and my purse, made sure Doodle was behind the couch, Pumpkin was on it, and Ava was secure on her spot on the bed.

I ran out the door, and saw Lamar sitting in the driver’s seat, window down. Even with his sunglasses on, I could see his annoyed stare.

I realized I didn’t even have on my earrings or my necklace but locked the door anyway.

“Five minutes after 5,” Lamar said as I climbed in my seat.

“You’re going to make me not want to go anywhere with you, you know,” I said. “We’ve got plenty of time.”

He set his mouth in a tense line and backed out.

“We are going to be late,” he stated.

I rolled my eyes and adjusted my AC vent.

A few miles down the road, just as we approached a stop sign, a truck took the turn too fast and hard, and came into our lane, barely having enough time to get control. Lamar was thankfully able to avoid us being hit.

“Wow! If we had left a few minutes earlier, he would have hit us,” Lamar said.
“So Mama being late was a good thing!” Cole said, patting my shoulder.

“Even when Mama’s late, she is always on time,” I said.

We rode in silence the rest of the way.

And we got there, with three minutes to spare.

The Chocolate Concealment (6/8/2016)

Some of you may judge me for this. I know that ahead of time.

But, a few of you will understand.

And maybe you do this yourself from time to time.

It started a few years ago, when Cole was around 4.

I locked myself in the bathroom, hoping for privacy.

Cole, being part cat, tried to paw me out from under the door.

“What are you doing?” he wanted to know.

“Nothing!” I cried.

“I can see your feet! What are you doing?!”

He frantically started hitting the door. ‘Let me in!”

His howls were now becoming far too loud and would soon draw attention.

I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to let him in.

“What are you doing?” he asked again.

I swallowed. “Nothing.”

He sniffed the air then shot an accusatory glance at me. “I smell chocolate,” he declared.

I couldn’t hide it any longer.

I had hid in the one room with a lock to eat a candy bar.

A precious, precious candy bar.

Without sharing it with anyone else.

Cole readied himself to wail – what kind of horrible person hid to eat a candy bar and didn’t share with her child?

It wasn’t that I was necessarily hiding to keep it from Cole.

But maybe I was trying to hide it from someone else.

Like his father.

I quickly promised the child his own candy bar, or maybe a trip to Dairy Queen if he would keep it on the down low. He lowered his eyes and agreed, already plotting to get both.

Over the years, I found other hiding places but they have not been nearly as effective.

I thought my office would be ideal, in all of its cluttered confusion.

I successfully hid bags of Dove for a while, until my hiding spot was one day discovered.

When I reached under the carefully placed envelopes and magazines in the basket, the bag was empty.

Except for a few wrappers, evidence of the transgression that had occurred.

I gasped.

He had found my candy. And ate it.

How did he find my hiding space? How did he even know I had candy?

I asked all these questions aloud to the empty bag of Dove milk chocolate.

“I think he noticed you kept coming in here,” a voice answered.

It was Cole; not the bag.

“You kept getting up and walking in here for a few minutes. I think he wondered what you were doing.”

And, I foolishly didn’t hide the wrappers I put in the trash.

Had I really gotten so lackadaisical I didn’t cover up my tracks?

“I will have to find another hiding spot,” I said, sinking into my chair.

“He will keep looking until he finds it,” Cole whispered.

Much like Liam Neeson hunting down his daughter’s kidnappers in Taken, Lamar would sniff out every square of chocolate I had until it was no more. And he would eat it, shamelessly.

I have known for over 13 years now that I have to strategically hide chocolate from him. Lamar doesn’t know it but we almost broke up once over a Girl Scout cookie. Well, two actually. He came over one night – to eat leftover pizza—even though I told him I was near death and shivering on the couch. “I am just coming by to eat the pizza and watch some TV,” he promised. How romantic, I thought dryly as I hung up the phone. I snoozed on the couch while he ate the leftovers and watched some bicycling documentary on cable. Before he left, he had kissed my head and told me had already taken the evil beagle out and for me to lock my deadbolt.

The next morning, all I could think of was Thin Mints and Samosas – the fresh boxes I had bought on my way home and had been too sick to eat.

Surely, cookies and coffee would make me better.

There was one each left in the box.

Lamar was dangerously close to be permanently single that day.

After we married, he ate my birthday chocolate bar that our neighbor brought me.

I had hid it, too, mind you, tucked behind some condensed soup and other stuff that I knew he wouldn’t even give a second glance to. But he knew there was a chocolate bar in the house and he had to eat it.

Now, he was not only finding the stuff in the cabinets or pantry, he was brazenly coming into my office, rifling through the papers and stuff to find the chocolate.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I hide it in plain sight? Or maybe get one of those hollow books that people hide their valuables in?

“Mama!” Cole cried one day as he looked over the shelves in the pantry. His box of Little Debbies was gone, or rather, the empty box was sitting on the shelf.

“I put my name on them,” he said forlornly.

“Your daddy doesn’t pay attention to that,” I said, empathizing. “I don’t think he cares, either.” If he would eat a king size chocolate bar in a bright pink wrapper that read, “For you, Birthday Girl!” I don’t think a sticky note with the name “Cole” in permanent marker was going to stop him.

“You’ve got to start hiding food,” I said simply. “You need a hiding spot – one better than mine – and you need to hide your treats. Your daddy is worse than a bear.”

Little Debbies, root beer – anything Cole put back to enjoy later, like during one of his favorite shows, his father would find and eat.

A few weeks later, Cole found a small Coleman cooler at the store. It was just big enough for a six pack of Barq’s and some Strawberry Shortcake rolls.

It worked, too, for about two weeks. “Hey, this is a neat little cooler! What’s in it?” we heard his father say.

The other day I found a wrapper in the bathroom trash. I didn’t say a word, I just helped hide the evidence.