‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

It’s a simple task, really. A friend of mine made glass tumblers out of Rolling Rock beer bottles for Britt. I’ve got the tumblers, she’s got the check. We have to meet in town to swap, and then I’m on my way to BigCity, NC for the weekend.

Simple – Really?

Three kids, two just walking on their own, the oldest in preschool and clever as can be. One mom. Make that supermom, Britt. Add a minivan, and they are on the road, ready to meet up.

Except that every time Vaugh sees me he is terrified.

“Mama,” he is screaming, a mat of blonde curls pressed against his forehead. “Help me!” His face glows, red as a radish, tears race down his cheeks.

“Hi Vaugh,” I say.

Screams of terror. Screams of uncharted decibles. Screams of unforgiveness and irrational human tendencies. Sceams to top all screams. Screams for mothers and fathers and all the happy people of the earth or whatever it will take to make this scary, tall, strange person go far away RIGHT NOW.

“Nice to see you again.” I smile at Vaughn. He seems unswayed, relatively speaking. I look at Britt. “I didn’t even wear a baseball cap this time. And my hair isn’t in braids. But it is tied up, hmmm, maybe that’s it. Gosh, I don’t know.”

“Oh Vaughn,” Britt says, turning to the backseat and trying to calm him.

“Help!” he screams again, then begins clawing at the window. His mannerisms at this point are unprecedented. I check the side view mirror. Am I wearing a mask? Devil horns? Dracula fangs? Smeared mascara? What? What?

Maxwell, on the other hand, is enamored with me because I am new and I am adult and I can give him attention. He loves attention.

“Knock, knock,” he says, then shoves his fist into his mouth. Drools. Smiles a toothless smile.

“Who’s there?” I say, loud enough for him to hear me over Vaughn’s helplessness.

“Katey!” he says, then laughs to himself.

Britt and I get down to business and swap the check for the glass, but oh, I want more! We hardly see each other and there is so much to catch up on. But really, in this instance, our two worlds couldn’t crash more. She with kids screaming and I on my way for a weekend retreat. She asks about my father, who’s laid up with the flu: “Is he taking taraflu, though? That can help.”

I shake my head, no. “He’s taking a tincture and seeing the acupuncturist tomorrow.”

We nod at each other. Her husband is a doctor, as in MD, as in western, as in years of school and bigtime education costs. We could laugh, really, at our different philosophies – respecting each other’s but also fully sticking to our own. But there is no time…Vaugh’s screaming heightens. The child seems desperate to escape the very air we breathe.

“Ahh! No, no, no, no.” This time, it’s Drew. She is covering her ears, rocking side to side in her car seat. Vaughn’s screaming has gotten to her. “No, no, no, STOP!” Her sweetness fades with her patience, and I can’t blame her. The sound billows from the car. I wonder if passers by will be alarmed, wonder what I’ve done to these small children in this hard, sad world.

“Look. Sorry. I gotta go. I gotta save you from this. Sorry! I’ll see you soon!” I say to Britt, then close the door and dash back to my car.

Whew. On the road again.

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