Hiatus

Hiatus…a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series or action.

We see it ever so often around us. The series we are watching on T.V. does not go on forever, as I used to imagine when I was a child until I saw re-runs. Then I heard the term season. So this Season of The Flash ends at such and such date. Of course, it was not welcome – I always wanted to know what happened next.

Another place I have seen it is with my teachers in school. There were there for a couple years and then all of a sudden, poof, they were not. I was told they were on a much-needed vacation – which is what I thought they went on when we had Summer and Christmas holidays. Or a lecturer has taken a Sabbatical.

So I figured, why not me. I know I just started back on RyteIt – one article does not count for much after I promised myself to be writing more often.

WrtingWriting makes me happy…that is why I do it.

Then an opportunity came along. Actually, it was something I had applied for months ago and found out that I was selected for a PMP training through my day job. Whoppeee!!!

That was two weeks ago. Then it hit me this morning that I had completely abdicated and broken my promise.

I figured a way out – I cannot say I am on vacation. I am after all going through training at every available free time I have (its online and self-paced with a December 25 deadline). So – I am taking a hiatus. Yes, a break, an interruption in what was set up to be a regular contribution to blogging on my own website. I just need to complete this training and I am back on the gun, the run, in business – however, you may choose to say it. I will be back.

With this training I am doing I will have better insight and understanding and may just share some with you!

So until we meet again – So long, farewell…it’s time to say goodbye. Adieu, adieu to you and you and you!

And most of all Have a Merry Christmas!

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Daily Prompt: Chaotic

via Daily Prompt: Chaotic

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Just wondered what my world would be without the chaotic sound of my children. Right now, anytime there is complete silence while they are awake, I take an indicator that something may be happening that is wrong, some mischief is afoot and someone may be getting themselves in trouble. From the crying three-year-old who complains that her brother just took away my expensive perfume bottle she had first to my seven-year-old who complains that she just acquired a new teeny tiny bump on her finger (that I cannot see) and how it hurts – my world is sometimes topsy-turvy.

On a regular morning, I sometimes feel that children can be a real pain – their innocent looks are deceiving and their charming smiles a warning sign of trouble to come. The dutiful mother I am tries to keep everything in place – comb hair for all three girls, address the complaining five-year-old who refuses to eat the nutritious breakfast I just rustled up because his tummy hurts. Mind you his tummy hurts because he is hungry and no amount of persuasion and explanation gets him to eat. He soon drops his shoulders, sticks his fingers in his mouth and looks absentmindedly into space while you reprimand the eight-year-old for leaving her homework at school yet another day. By the way, she just remembers that she needs to take a picture of animals – but she does not remember if they should be mammals, reptiles or birds or all three.

Mind still swirling as I make a mental check of the lunch bags and that the pencils and crayons the three-year-old needs for school that day is still sitting on the desk from the night before. Husband sticks his head in the kitchen with a broad smile of memories of last night’s endeavors and asks for the fifth time – I have answered each time – where are his socks.

Just as I am about to blow my temper at my five-year-old son who is still staring into space as if watching an interesting cartoon, my phone rings and it is my sister who wants to know if we can go shopping come this weekend. Then it dawns on me that I have not yet paid credit card bill for that month, and its past due and now I will be facing the expensive late fees.

I stop and take a deep breath and try to disconnect from the scene I am in and then exhale with my only consolation that within just ten minutes, the children will be off to school and I will have the house to myself. I just need to get things done just so and this chaotic scene will be all over.

Something clicks in my mind and I have found the right thing to say and my son reluctantly and then hungrily hunkers down his food, smiling when it is done that he likes it. Go figure! The girls are all dressed and ready to leave and my husband places a kiss on my forehead wishing me a great day. Then off they all go and I am alone in the silence.

I sit in my easy chair and think what I lucky woman I am to have the awesome responsibility of taking care of five persons who love me to the moon and back. I remember each person’s smile and the cute things that were said and done that morning. Mental notes of family outing plans are to be made, and then I rise, get ready and go off into the chaotic world of work where I know I will be tried and tested once more at the thing I love to do.

goodbye my love

 

 

Nit-Picking Negotiator

My five year old had discovered that he could negotiate. He has in his little mind, a plausible reason why he should not have his nutritious dinner – but there is nothing wrong to have a far less nutritious snack. At first, it was, to say the least, cute. However, after awhile, it has become just a tad bit annoying. But hey, what to do – he is developing his cognitive skills which just shows he is developing normally.

Nutrition at Five

A recent visit to the doctor helped to allay my fears that my rambunctious little boy was developing normally physically too. The problem we faced was that he would refuse to eat. He had no interest whatsoever in eating delicious home-fried chicken, or the baked from scratch macaroni and cheese. At breakfast or dinner when the plate was placed in front of him, he could often be seen hands on head looking down at his food. It was almost as if he had a mammoth task to tackle the food and he did not know how to tackle.

He even declared a couple times that he does not like food. That was the strangest thing to my ears. My eight-year-old was a picky eater – but she would eat. My other girls had healthy appetites, no problem there. However, here was this little negotiator declaring that he had no use for food. Of course – we recognized it for what it was. He was just trying to find another way to get out of his meal.

What had the doc said?

‘That’s perfectly normal.’

When he said it, I looked at him as if he had grown another head. He repeated for emphasis and went on to explain that some children were just like my son. When he has growth spurts, we would also see a change in his appetite. He even went on to let us know that, we may eventually have to warn him about eating too much.

I am still looking for that day. However, I can say he has had times when his appetite swung in the other direction. He would have his nutritious dinner, which was flatly refused on another occasion and then asks for more or some other food that held his interest. When I first saw this, I breathed a sigh of inward relief…thanking God that there was nothing at all to worry about.

This is something that I realize that more parents have to contend with, rather than trying to ensure our children do not eat too much to protect them from becoming obese.

Here is a list of reasons why our little ones will not eat

  • Some children are just picky eaters. And this nit-picking rolls in when their growth is on the rest phase. The best thing to do is to do our best to persuade or leave them alone. Those little bellies will be grumbling soon and will take the food willingly the next time around.
  • Sometimes though our persuasion to getting the children to eat turns into pressure which the children resist. Nagging them into eating will actually do just the opposite. So be patient on that next growth spurt.
  • Children with diet restrictions due to multiple allergies find their meals boring and are less likely to gobble down what is ‘safe’ to eat.
  • Illness is another thing – but this is normal for anyone. Our appetites are generally diminished when we are sick but bounce back once the illness passes.
  • Eating disorders generally show up when a child is 13 or 14 years old. Here peer pressure as well as other environmental and social, help to contribute in the way a child sees himself and what he wants to identify with.
  • A tiring day of activities may mean your little one may just miss a meal. There is no worry about this, as they usually make up for what was missed in the next meal.
  • Preference for only one type of food. This does not mean there is any appetite. Nevertheless, our growing bundles of joy just want that food for awhile. [My son had for a brief time, an affiliation for corn flakes which he called breakfast. ‘Breakfast’ was requested morning, noon and night.]

How to get our children to eat

  1. Be patient. If you recognize that your child is in between growth spurts – just wait. The appetite will naturally increase as your child grows.
  2. Children love routines for play, for school work, for just about everything. Routines for eating should be part of that list. Regular mealtimes will be looked on by the child as that time to recollect what had happened to them that day or share something of interest.
  3. The last point is related to this point. Making your mealtimes, the time for the family to sit and eat is a great motivator to do just that – eat.
  4. Pleasant meal times that children look forward to being the best meal dates.
  5. Make a list of what your child loves to eat and what he or she dislikes. Then build balanced and healthy meals around what your child loves to eat.
  6. Be an example to your child. If your child sees you eating a variety of foods, more than likely they will follow suit.
  7. Give the child healthy snacks in between meals. However, not too close to the next meal time. They will simply not be hungry.
  8. Give your child the appropriate serving amount for his or her age.
  9. Introduce new foods gradually.

“I can’t eat my dinner because…” begins my little negotiator when trying to explain why he should not be having his dinner. I’ve come to learn work my way around every little argument put forward. What’s important, more than the fact that he is not eating, is that when he is ready to eat, he will be given nutritious and delicious meals, which we bond at meal times and he knows whenever that appetite turns up – I will be there for him!

© Shernette Whyte, 2016

 

Wrong Decision

“She was found in an alley two nights ago. It seems her father killed himself after beating her mother’s horribly. He thought she was asleep the whole time. She ran out and was hiding from him behind a dumpster truck parked in the alley. She thought he would come after her.”

Mami sucked in her breath and looked at the little creature who was hugging a raggedy old cloth doll. It had buttons for eyes and a scarf around its head.

“Poor child,” she whispered. “So how’s her mother doing now?”

“She’s in intensive care. She has a fifty-fifty chance the doctors say.”

The social worker pushed the glasses further up on her nose bridge as if it were about to fall off. “We can’t find any other family member, so the court has committed her to your care if her mother makes a full recovery.”

“Hi baby,” Mami bent over and put her face close to the little girl. “What’s your name?”

The girl looked up and then looked away. “Marissa Jacobs. Can I see my Mommy now?”

“Your Mommy is in the hospital baby. She has to stay there until she gets better okay?”

Marissa nodded.

“I’m Mami and you’re gonna stay with us until that happens.”

Mami extended her chubby hand to Marissa. Marissa looked up into her fat face again and then at her extended hand, and placed her small hand into it.

“Mami gonna take real good care of you Marissa. Come and meet the others.”

The social worker gave Mami a small duffle bag in which Marissa’s clothes were packed.

“Mrs. Foster,” the social worker called after Mami as they walked towards the house. “A psychiatrist will be coming in once a week to counsel Marissa.”

Mami waved her hand without looking back as she spoke to Marissa in low tones.

Carol was the first to meet Marissa. She sat in a rocky chair that Mami sat in every afternoon to rest her weary bones. She eyed Marissa and wondered what her story was and why was she there.

“Marissa this is Carol. Carol, get up out of that chair and come and meet this dear child.”

Carol rolled her eyes and got up out of the chair. Everyone was a ‘dear child’ to Mami.

“What’s up?” Carol said to Marissa.

“I’m glad I saw you Carol. I believe there is an empty bed in your room. It’ll be Marissa’s until she leaves.”

“Until my Mom gets better?” Marissa asked wide-eyed.

“Yes baby, until your Mother gets better.”

As Carol took Marissa inside, Mami sighed as she thought of another troubled soul being brought to her doorsteps.

Carol and Barny loved to go to the Soda Fountain at the corner of East Elm Street every Friday evening. Carol would change from her usual slacks to a pair of jeans and a tee. Barny tried to copy Carol and would wear the same special outfit he set aside for the occasion. They sometimes walked with other children and sometimes they were alone.

On this particular afternoon, they were alone. Barny spoke of the teacher who some of the children in his class played a prank on that day. As he did so, they walked by a well dressed, dark-skinned man, who stood watching every passerby.

“Hey you!” he called to Carol.

Carol stopped and looked at him. Barny suspicious, held onto her hand and urged her to continue walking. He did not know him, but he did not like the look of him. He was sure that he was bad news waiting to happen.

“Do you want to earn some extra money after school?” He called out again, flipping a coin again and again in the air. “You really look as if you could use the help.”

“Come on,” Barny whispered urgently. “The other kids are waiting for us.”

Carol gave him another glance and continued on her way with Barny.

They had had an enjoyable evening eating ice-cream with their friends. Barny had forgotten about the man on the corner and had decided to stay longer with his friends to play video games.

Carol did not mind. She could take care of herself, she thought; after all she was all of thirteen and a half. Her breasts had swelled considerably over the last year and she was looking more like sixteen than the mere thirteen.

She walked back the way she came and saw the same man standing on the street corner. Seeing that she was alone, he wasted no time and this time walked with her.

“Hey, you seem interested in earning some extra money,” he said again.

“What kind of work are you talking about, Mister?” she asked curious about the offering.

He pulled out a card and pushed it in her hand.

“Oh, its entertainment!” he said hurriedly.

“But I don’t know anything about entertainment,” Carol retorted ready to push the card back in the man’s hand.

“You would be trained. Anyway, I see potential in you. You would be a natural. I know, because I’ve trained many. And they are doing very well for me. So call me when you are ready.”

He quickly disappeared from sight.

Carol stuck the card in her pocket and thought about what he had said. The word potential resonated in her mind.

Two weeks later Carol was invited to a party by one of her classmates. She lived on the other side of town. She was from an affluent family whose parents were both doctors with their own thriving private practices. All the girls who were invited were excited and spoke of nothing else. It was to be the main event of the year. They spoke of what they would wear and who would be accompanying them.

For the first time in a long while Carol felt out of place and desired a different life. Her mother had left her in a garbage bin shortly after giving birth to her. No trace of her mother could be found. A social worker checked in on Carol once every year to ensure that she was doing fine. That was the only external interest she had outside of Mami who raised her as if she were her own.

Carol sighed as she had thought again of the upcoming party. The slacks she wore on Friday were the only special clothes she had. Mami had bought her a dress the year before, but she had grown in special places with the onset of puberty. Barny had said that he would take her, but he was in a similar position. Now she needed money. Money that Mami could not give her.

One Friday she got dressed as usual for her Friday evening outing and found the card that slick man had given to her.

Randy McDermott

For all you personal ex-tertainment needs

Call 210-5521

Mami had not wanted anyone using her phone, so Carol had to sneak into her room and make the call.

“Hello, Mr. McDermott, are you still hiring for entertainment?” Carol whispered. “I need to make some money quick.”

The man at the other end did not sound like the man she had seen on the street the other day. His voice was deeper and his speech seemed more eloquent that that man on the street.

“If you are really serious, meet me at 392 Trowers Street,” the voice responded to her.

Carol snuck out of Mami’s room and had forgotten to take up the card from the table where she had placed it when she made the phone call. She walked right into Marissa who had been sent for Mami’s slippers.

“Hey Marissa, are you okay?” Carol asked guiltily.

Marissa nodded and fetched the requested item and returned to get them to Mami.

Carol decided that she would not wait on Barny today and instead went quickly through the door before anyone missed her.

It was not hard to find the address she had committed to memory and soon found herself inside the house of that address.

“How old are you little girl?” A fat man with two chins asked her when she was taken to Mr. McDermott.

“Thirteen and a half,” she replied. “I really need this entertainment job to raise some money for myself and my friend,” she explained in earnest.

“Naw, you’re too young! Go home! Go wash some cars or something!”

“Look I’m almost fourteen and I can learn any trick or gimmick real fast. I’ll work every evening after school if I have to,” she pleaded.

The fat man looked at her through half-closed eyes. “Marty, you heard her with her own mouth!”

“Yes sir!”

“Did I force her?”

“No sir, she practically begged you,” Marty said with a wide grin on his face. He was the opposite of Mr. McDermott. He was pencil thin and short.

“Listen Missy.”

“Carol,” she said. “My name is Carol.”

“You’ll do exactly as I say, and nobody is to know of this job that you’re doing. You’ll be paid at the end of the week. One hundred dollars a day if you do your work well; and nothing if you cop out on me and try to run away.”

“You won’t regret it sir.”

Both men looked at each other and laughed.

“Marty take her to the training room. And give her a drink. She looks thirsty.”

Carol was taken to another room where she saw the man who had given her the card weeks before.

“Let me pour you a drink little one,” Marty said. He gave her a glass with brown liquid in it.

“Is this Pepsi?” Carol asked as she looked at it.

“Pepsi blend,” Marty explained still smiling.

Carol drank it and was asked to sit down in an armchair. Marty promised to come back with training material for her. As Carol waited she began to feel weak and sleepy. Soon she passed out as the other man looked on.

Three days had passed and there was no sign of Carol. Mami was beside herself with worry. It could mean that she may lose her income as an authorized home of safety. And she would also lose her ‘dear children’.

Mami sat crying as she recounted yet again to police officer Martinez how she had always insisted that when Carol was leaving the house, she was to be accompanied by Barnaby, a sixteen year old resident of the home.

Barny was later questioned, as well as some of the other children of the home. Officer Martinez had even spent time speaking to the group, advising them not to speak to strangers and look out for one another. Posters were printed and distributed in the community and at the school. Everyone was looking for Carol.

Shortly after Officer Martinez left and the children were put to bed, Mami had gone to her room to cry some more. She noticed a strange card on her table with the name Randy McDermott on it. She called Officer Martinez and explained to him what she had found and did not know if it had anything to do with Carol. He promised to look into the information she had provided.

“Mami.” It was Barny.

“Yes dear child,” Mami turned and looked at Barny.

“I remember some weeks ago there was a man that had offered Carol a job. I don’t know if maybe she went back and hooked up with him.”

“Thank you, child. Go back to bed now.”

Mami made sure she provided that titbit of information to Officer Martinez, and silently said a prayer for Carol.

Seductive Stranger

He was tall, lean and handsome. His strides reminded her of her father who towered over her as a child. Her petite form and size was a stark contrast to this man who seemed to reach into the heavens like a tree. He flashed her a smile and his teeth shone like the morning sun. So engrossed was she in his features that she missed what he was saying to her. She had to shake her head to be brought back to reality.

“I’m sorry sir, what did you say?”

He smiled again knowingly.

“I wanted to know the cost of these ties if there is a discount on them. It does have the sticker on them, but there’s nothing here indicating the size discount.”

Jean shook her head again. His voice was so smooth that she felt as if she were being serenaded to and not being asked a simple question. She took the ties which were pinned together and pointed to the lime green round sticker on the front.

“The green means that you’re getting twenty-five per cent off. The guide is posted on every other pillar around the store,” she said pointing to a few posters on different columns.”

What do you think will happen next?

 

Home Sweet Home

Here is a story I wrote recently for a client. It was part of a book of short stories entitled, ‘Husband Alone At Home’. I hope you enjoy it.

“Do you think I am some kind of fool Mattie? I put the document on your desk just five minutes ago. Where could it be?” I looked frantically for the report I had just completed and placed on my supervisor’s desk. “But no one came into to office!” I exclaimed, “Where could it be?”

Mattie sighed. “Did you put it in a folder of some sort?” With one hand she began shifting the papers on her desk, while deftly taking a swig at the cup of coffee with the other. The aroma filled the room, betelling the chocolate flavoured beverage with just a dollop of cream.

“Yes, I placed it in a red folder with a clear plastic cover,” I joined her in shifting, moving and lifting some of the papers and folders that were in disarray. Then I found the prize – “Here it is! I know I wasn’t getting off my rockers.”

“You sure about that? You’ve been moving around like disenfranchised robot. You must have placed it there with the newspaper,” Mattie rested on the side of her mahogany office desk. “When was the last time you went on leave?” she asked me peering over her burgundy -wear. “This is happening far too often now.”

“Look Mattie, I’m fine. I’m just a little jittery. Maybe it’s that time of the month, you know.” I truly hated being caught off guard like this.

“Jitterbug, smitterbug. Time of the month! That’s what you said last week!” Mattie moved now into her plush executive chair and placed the cup on her luxurious desk. “Maybe you need to see a doctor, because it is affecting your job. You didn’t answer me, when was the last time you took some time off, vacation, sick leave, day leave – something?” Now she was looking at me intently over her rims, with pressed lips and her jaw firmly set.

“Well, I took some time off five years ago, and…”

She cut me off, “Five years ago! You’re joking! Five years ago I was just completing my Master’s degree. Five years ago my mother got married to a goat of a man. She’s divorced and remarried since, but now she married to her very own Bugs Bunny. He’s always asking, “What’s up doc?”” She looked at me incredulously. “How much time are you due?”

“I don-n-t,” I stammered, fidgeting uncontrollably.

“How much?” Her voice demanded an immediate answer. She began rummaging through the clutter on her desk again.

“Three months,” I said flatly, wondering how in earth I would manage to remain sane if I was not occupying myself with something.

“Janice, you need to rest. Didn’t you know that that is part of productivity? An employee who does not take the time to rest and enjoy life is not at their highest potential. So,” she finally found what she was looking for and held it up in front of her face to look at it, “I am not going to send you off for three months. With the Conference coming up, I’m going to need you right here to help me prepare for it. So, two weeks now and three weeks after the Conference should be enough time. And Janice, this does not affect what is due to you this year. So, I’m expecting to see an application for leave come in later on in the year, understand?”

“Yes,” my eyes glistened.

Mattie quickly wrote on the paper she found. “I’m gonna send this to HR, with a note that I am putting you on leave that you’ve acquired over the years.”

“Mattie what about the meeting with the investors next week?”

“I’ll worry about that.” She now lifted her head with a sheepish smile on her face. “Don’t think I can manage? I like you Janice – and as your friend and boss, I am saying you need this. You’ll thank me for it when you get back.”

“I guess I don’t have a choice do I?”

“No.” Mattie opened a desk drawer and pulled out her Louis Vuitton hand bag. She handed me a card. “This is the place I stayed on vacation last year. My advice, go alone. You’ll be able to clear your head and get some rest.”

“Thanks,” I slowly examined the card, and raised my eyebrows. This place is expensive. “And I can’t afford this though.”

“No problem. Don’t worry,” she said ignoring my first comment. “I’ll call and make the reservations myself. You pay for nothing. And, I’ll take care of the bill.”

I coughed in unbelief, “You’d do that for me?”

Mattie got up an approached me with her arms spread. “Of course I’d do it for you. For the time I’ve been here – you’ve made me and this company look good and I owe it to you for all the hard work and sacrifices you’ve made.” Mattie hugged me with a little squeeze. “Your leave starts now. And don’t call this office for anything, or I’ll have you back and work you like a horse. I’ll see you in two weeks.”

With that she escorted me out of her office and gently closed the door. I stood there in disbelief. I not only get leave on two separate occasions, but I can apply later on and I also get a paid vacation. I was shocked.

 

 

At dinner that night, I announced my good fortune to the family. At first, they just looked – there was silence. And then all of a sudden, everyone spoke at once, offering congratulations and that I should go. The only person who was silent was Robby, my husband. He remained quiet for the rest of the meal, and only spoke as we were getting ready for bed in our room.

“Robby, you haven’t said a thing since I made my announcement.”

“Well duhhhh! Who would give up such an opportunity! I think it’s great. But are you really going alone?”

I looked at him, “What do’ya mean Robby? Of course I am going alone.”

“You’ve never been away. I mean, you could have some tall, dark, good-looking hunk as your companion. Maybe I need to give you a lap dance before you leave.” He walked over to me and gently brushed his finger on my chin.

“Why Robert O’Mally!” I smiled, putting my arms around his neck and snuggling closer to him. “You should probably pack a bag.”

“Well I’m also due for vacation, so why not. I’ll keep you in sight and protect you from men looking to prey on my beautiful snookums. After all I can hardly keep my hands off you.” He held me and looked into my eyes with a playful gaze. He dropped little kisses on my forehead and cheek. The butterflies in my belly fluttered with each tender kiss. “We could both take the time to rest together.”

“I would love you to come with me. But,” I whispered, “Who would we get to stay with the children?” At that he groaned, and threw me down in the bed. “Are you ready to dance?”

 

The place was very peaceful. I really rested – both my mind and my body. I felt good to have been pampered this way. The cabin had a single bed with warm comforters. The bathroom was simple with hot and cold water in the pipes. The view from the window was great. At first it was hard to relax. My mind was racing at times as I thought of the different responsibilities I had. By about the third day the tension began to ease. I would go for long walks and sometimes jogged in the area of the cabin. This was all too surreal. I often wondered how Robby was managing with the children and work.

I didn’t call Mattie, but I called home occasionally. Once, when I called, I thought I would run back home. Mike, my eldest, told me they hadn’t had a good meal since I left. But I resisted the temptation. I returned home two days before reporting back to work.

 

“Judy.” I called, “Mike! Cassandra! Is anybody here.” I pushed open the front door to see a quiet and peaceful living room. There was faint laughter. But I was not sure where it was coming from. I called out again, “Is anyone home?”

I went into the kitchen. There I found Mike and Robby in aprons with soot on each other’s face. The kitchen reeked of burnt food. Judy had her head stuck in the oven, while Cassandra sat at the island, earphones plugged in each ear, as she cut some vegetables.

“Oh my God, what’s going on?” I rushed over to Mike as he rubbished something from one of the pots in the garbage bin.

“Mom!” everyone chimed and rushed over to me with hugs and kisses. “Are you just coming? We didn’t hear you.”

Robby gave me a peck on the cheek, then stood back and said, “Didn’t you say you’d be back tomorrow?”

“What happened here?”

“Well, it was all Dad and Mike’s fault,” chimed Cassandra.

“Mom, you’re gonna want to sit down,” insisted Mike.

“Tell me,” I sat reluctantly.

“You’re gonna laugh honey,” Robby also scraped his burnt items into the trash.

“Mom, Mike and Dad decided they were going to surprise you with a four course meal tomorrow. Only they decided that they’d go gourmet. They have spent the last two weeks practicing.”

“Practicing?” I asked, taken aback.

“Yes,” Cassandra piped in. “Everyday for the last two weeks, its been one dish or another.”

“We’ve burnt all the meals this week,” said Mike.

“Charred is more like it,” Judy said sarcastically. “I don’t know what they’ve been doing. They’ve been at it – over and over again.”

“We’ve seen charred beef, charred roasted chicken, charred you name it, they’ve done it! We need to call this kitchen, Charred.”

I laughed so hard that tears began to fall from my eyes.

“It doesn’t stop there,” Robby came in. “We men,” Robby said grabbing Mike by the neck, “well we wanted to know what it was like to walk in your shoes around here. I mean, once you’re here, you’re taking care of everything. So, we did the laundry for starters.”

Everyone started protesting. “No dad you did the laundry!”

“Mom,” Cassandra came up and held me by the shoulders. “Dad,” she stressed, “Dad reduced a number of our sweaters.”

“Our sweaters!” I knew exactly what happened.

“Our clothes have moved,” Cassandra continued, “from their respective sizes to size two. My doll Maggie will be very trendy for the summer.”

“No Cassie,” Judy chirped. “Size one and a half.”

I started bubbling again. “You could have called you know.”

“Nah,” Robby sat now on one of the stools by the island. “Then it would not have been a surprise.”

“So what are we going to wear now that you’ve shrunken our sweaters! Don’t forget that you also burnt my very good pants with the iron!”

“I’ll get you all new clothes,” Robby said coyly, “With my prize money.”

“What prize money!” everyone exclaimed.

“On one of the evenings, I ordered out, and the restaurant I got the food from was having a promotion, called, “Good cooks Bad cooks!” I knew my cooking was mediocre, so I did my best worst and provided them with a sample of our ‘charred chops’. And…I won first prize for the worst tasting meal. I even went on television without the children knowing it. I won five hundred dollars. So you gals will be going shopping .”

We all jumped around Robby, excited for the time of shopping.

“Well,” I said to everyone, “I missed you all so much. It’s really good to be home.”

 

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