The Blame Game

In 2010 we owned two homes for about six months.

We closed on our now home in May, spent the summer fixing it up, and finally moved in September.

During that spring/summer we were trying to sell our old home. It took 5 1/2 months to find a buyer. During those months, we averaged 2-3 showings per week. This meant we had to keep the house clutter free, pretty much, all the time.

This left a huge impression on Steve. He loved the way being clutter free felt, and is now somewhat obsessed with clutter. He hates it. And when the mood strikes him so, he goes on a clutter clearing rampage. I know to stay clear. I let him do his thing.

Most times this is a good thing. He will get to a stack of papers that I had been meaning to address, but never got around to. But, sometimes he will be so focused on his cleaning rampage, that he will move shit that shouldn't be moved. Or he will move shit to a place that doesn't make sense to me. Or he will move shit, tell me when two other humans are talking to me, so my brain can't process what any one human is saying to me.

It's the worst feeling when I'm desperately trying to find something, but know that Steve must have moved it because of a recent cleaning rampage. In cases like this I will call Steve, pissed as hell, and ask where something is. Maybe he remembers, maybe he doesn't. Maybe it was actually me that moved the item, and I'm the one that doesn't recall. This is when I am digging through things, trying to find this-or-that, and mumbling under my breath, "what the hell did Steve do with this?"

Unfairly, I've been conditioned to blame Steve. Unfairly, the kids have picked up on this.

Ben recently got a Nintendo Switch. He has already defeated his Mario game, so he is onto something new. He wanted the Legend of Zelda game, and he recently saved enough money to get it. Part of the funds were from a gift card we gave him for Valentine's Day.

As Ben was gathering his funds so that we could run to GameStop, he couldn't find the gift card. We looked and looked. Nothing. Fortunately Steve was accessible, so Ben called him. "Daddy, what did you do with the gift card?"

Steve assisted as best he could, but his suggestions fell short. "Ben, I really don't think I did anything with it," he calmly said, while waiting at a gate for the inbound aircraft.

I then got on the phone, not pleasant. Short. Steve and I went over certain spots in the house. Nothing. I got off the phone...I didn't need to be engaged anymore since he wasn't helping. There is only so much he can do when he is thousands of miles away.

It wasn't until I was talking with Cici about it, that we figured it out. I had taken all the kids Valentine's candy and cards and put them in gallon sized plastic bags. Cici's went to her room. Ben's went to the pantry.

To the pantry we went.

There, in the full plastic bag, was his shiny gift card. Found! Ben exclaimed.

On the way to the store I called apologize.

I often blame him for missing things. He's easy to blame when he isn't home. It isn't fair.

I will try to do better.


Speaking of apologies, Steve's trip this week has been a doozie. Late nights, like into the early AM late nights. Which then means late van times at hotels. Waiting around, even in beautiful and sunny Cabo, can be tiring.

Steve was good for nothing Wednesday morning. We spoke briefly on the phone that morning. I could tell he was exhausted. I can read him like that. And, when he's like that I don't push anything. I just let him be until it passes. I know it's part of the gig. I know that he will eventually get over it, and seeing how he was on the road, he wasn't impacting me by being cranky. "This, too, shall pass."

A little after the call, Steve texted me to apologize for not being incredibly engaged during our phone call. No apology was needed, and I made sure he knew that.

I've also made sure to give warning to the kids that Daddy wasn't going to be in the best mood Friday morning because the trip was hard on him, so they needed to beware and understand.

...just part of the gig.


I'm pretty open with the kids. I want them to have a global outlook on things. I want them to see the full picture of things. I don't want to shelter them from things.

With the Parkland shooting, we have had discussions. The last one took place the other night when we were eating dinner.

I asked about the intruder drills they do at school. Ben gave me a step by step about what happens in the classroom...bearacade goes on the door, lights off, quiet, ect...

After Ben finished sharing his points, Cici chimed in, "and if you are in the bathroom, you need to stand on the toilet so they don't see your feet."

This I knew.

I knew this because when Ben was in K, he was having trouble having bowel movements at school, which led to further issues. The reason he was having trouble? He was afraid to be "occupied" while an intruder drill started.

This struck me hard. My little guy was so terrified that he would be caught in a drill, that he didn't even go to the bathroom when he needed.

His teacher and I discussed things, and Ben was able to work through his issues.

But, then Cici continued with her account of an intruder drill, "...and since our toilets are automatic, we need to put our hands over the sensor so the toilet doesn't flush."

I lost it.

I put my fork down, looked down as tears filled my eyes, and tried by best to stay composed.

"Mommy, are you crying?" both Ben and Cici asked, as they stared at me.

It took me a minute to respond, I was so choked up.

I made sure they knew that it was great that they followed the drill (because Cici had a brief thought that my tears meant that she was doing it wrong), and that they needed to continue to listen to their teachers.

Cici has trouble staying seated while eating dinner. Typically she is standing, and we have to constantly reminder her to sit down. So, when she was recounting the drill, she stood on her chair, as if it were the toilet at school, and she turned around and put her little hand over the place where the sensor would be. The visual of it got to me. My sweet, little, innocent, 8-year-old girl has been taught how to not be noticed if an intruder comes into her school.

Right then and there I transported to a school bathroom, where a child would be scared as hell, having to rush to stand on a toilet and hand over the sensor. It was too much. So much so, that writing this out now is the first that I have "talked" about this, for fear of bursting into tears. Even writing this out now, I have tears in my eyes.

When Sandy Hook happened Ben was in K. I didn't watch the news for days. I couldn't. It was too real for me. It was too much.

I was able to watch the news last week. One video image that stuck with me was when a SWAT team came into a classroom to release the room. The moment the black clothed bodies came into the classroom, led by their guns, the kids all put their hands in the air. One hand was shaking, trembling.

This image will probably always stay with me.

If you've been following this blog, you know I'm Polish. My maternal grandmother's youngest brother wasn't quite a teenager during the war. The first time I went to Poland, I recall sitting in his block apartment building when he shared a story from the war.

He was sitting around a table playing cards with friends and siblings (the exact details are fuzzy). While playing cards, the Germans busted into the house, guns pointed, voices shouting.

While recalling the story, my Uncle mimicked his exact motions from that event...he calmly and slowly put his cards on the table, and hands into the air. He was 10.

Innocence is stolen from our kids when things like this happen. It breaks my heart.

I went on the explain to Ben and Cici that I got upset because I never had to do this when I was a kid. And that I was sad that intruder drills is something that they practice. I wish they could keep their innocence a bit longer...


On that note, have a good weekend. I'm off to visit a dear friend to help celebrate her 40th birthday. Steve will be home with the kiddos. Hopefully when I get home I get a big bouquet of flowers with a card that reads something like "this was damn hard. You are fucking awesome for doing this every week, year after year."