Sometimes You Just Have To Be a Girl

We have been trying to finish the basement for the last 12 years.  It’s been done in stages and we are finally reaching the home stretch.  Everyone wants it done.  No one wants to work.  It always seems like the “perfect” day to work on the basement is when I already made plans to do something else.  Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I hate changing my plans and at the same time I feel horrible guilt sticking to them.

I end up having a conversation in my head that sounds like this:

What if I stayed home and caved into that guilt that I should be helping lay that carpet in the basement?  I could relinquish my own agenda.  After all, going to my ladies’ writing group seems selfish even if it is only once a month.  Right now, following a dream, nourishing a craft or creating art doesn’t seem as practical as putting carpet down on cement while negotiating the arguments of teenage boys.  I should stay.  They need the help.  Who will make lunch?

Nah.  I should go.  I need to grow.  I need to learn.

My creativity needs to be fed.

Still wafting between my decisions I walk downstairs.  “I hate this carpet.”, “I thought we were getting shag.”, “Your son isn’t responding to my texts.”   That basement was teeming with negativity.

What if I stayed?  I’d get sucked in, that’s what!  I would move the pen and paper from my writing group hand and put on the white glove of a diplomat while I explained over and over the wisdom of practical carpet.  I’d calm down an old man at the end of his rope.  I’d make sandwiches.


I’m going.


I need to be fed too.  No way are carpet squares going to trump an opportunity for growth.  I might not have an epiphany, I’ll be late as well but I’ll also be me.  Today l am not mom, not negotiator, not chef, not maid and not home.

Sometimes you just have to be a girl.

Wrapped Up in Due Time

Guys have an internal clock that works on a different gravitational pull than women.  When I request something from any member of my brood, I have had to learn the fine art of mastering these interspecies recognitions of how long things take and what the word “now” means.  Simply saying a phrase like “Hey this garbage can is so full, I can’t fit anything else in it.  Could you take it out right now?” is usually interpreted as “The garbage is full but I’m not gagging from the smell of it, I’ll wait an hour or so.


My husband went out of town for the weekend for work and I wanted to surprise him by painting the bathroom.  I could use some help.  Most projects that involve teenage boys need to have the added interest of getting dirty or getting fed.  Since painting is messy I was hopeful that they might be in favor of it. However, I knew that the idea of “weekend project” was subject to interpretation.

Sons #2 and #5 were immediately up for the challenge so I went to the hardware store, purchased a bucket of paint and some clean rollers and headed back to the house.  It was a Thursday around 2pm.  Pulling out the roll of blue tape I announce that as soon as I had the trim, tile and other items covered it would be time to start painting.  Son #2 has a friend over and realizes that “weekend” has started but he will have to wait for the friend to go home, which is followed by asking if the same friend could spend the night and further encroaches on the weekend.

Now I am down to one assistant in the painting project.  This assistant is the shortest one in the house so I let him know that I will have to squeeze into the tiny bathroom with the ladder and get the areas that are too high for him to reach before he can start because son #5, myself and the ladder cannot fit in a 4×4 ft space.  He is not only game, but is chomping at the bit.  He is constantly peppering me with inquiries as to when he is finally going to be able to paint.  I tell him about 10 minutes.  Approximately 2 minutes later, again I am asked when I will be moving out of the bathroom and handing over the paint brush.  I tell him about 8 minutes.  Three minutes later he asks why I’m taking so long.  I tell him to go to the basement and get a screwdriver.  I don’t need the screwdriver, but it removes him from the bathroom for about five minutes.

By the time he returns with the screwdriver I send him back to the basement for a tarp, which allows me to remove the ladder and place it in the hallway.  We spread out the tarp over the toilet and the tub and he gets to work painting.  His painting technique is slightly different than mine.  It requires holding the roller brush stiff-armed while jumping up and down.  Odd, but miraculously it not only works but burns calories at the same time.  After about 20 minutes of painting blue splotches on the top of the ceiling where the jumping got a little more vertical than expected,  #5 announces he is done and leaves the bathroom.

I finish the first coat of the bathroom and call #2 to come get the ladder and bring it back to the garage.  “I can’t right now, I’ll get it in a bit.” I hear.  “No.” I say, “I really need this out of the way now.” He protests, “But I can’t.”

Really?  What could he possibly be doing that will not allow him the ability to move a ladder.  I go downstairs to the office where he and his friend decided to use an entire roll of scotch tape to tape #2’s hands together and see if he could figure out how to get out of the scotch tape entrapment, Houdini style.

Of course he can’t move the ladder.   And now I need more tape.

About an hour later, unable to sleep over, the friend goes home, the tarp is cleaned up and the weekend project is completed.  Freed from scotch tape bondage, son #2 brings the ladder back down and offers to do any touch-ups on the paint job the next day.  I take him up on the offer.  I hope he realizes that tomorrow has a 24 hour time limit.