Look, I overreacted. It happens.
Still, it was an egregious miscalculation on my husband’s part. He knows that now, having been schooled in a rather dramatic way.
Those of you who read my stuff know I have been low-carbing it for a couple of years. It’s a nutrition style I have found easy to adopt. However, finding a true treat can be challenging. There are some things that are marketed for low carb diets, but by and large, those are phoods.
As in, fake food. Like the “ice cream” bars that scream “3 NET CARBS” on the front but don’t back that up with the nutrition label on the other side. Plus those have an odd texture and taste that tells your tongue this, too, is a low-carb fairy tale.
Dark chocolate though? Surprisingly, the darker the chocolate, the lower the carb count. Hence, really good dark chocolate has become my go-to when I can no longer fool myself that a good mug of tea is like dessert.
Recently we stopped by our friends’ house on a child-free Friday night. Ann and Leo offered us glasses of excellent red wine from their own vineyard and gave us delectable morsels of chocolate heaven. Camo Man and I each had one, then Ann — too generous, always — bagged up two more to take home.
We agreed to hide the candy from the teens and enjoy it on a later day.
That later day was Wednesday. We had done a mid-week clean that was nearly painless thanks to the wonders of a new delight in my life. Less than 90 minutes after starting as a group, we were all done and Camo Man and I settled into the couch to catch up on some TV shows we love.
We had just congratulated ourselves on a fine job of coordinating the teen slaves and no drama for cleaning night. Perhaps our most successful yet.
“Oh!” I said. “Let’s have our chocolate now! Perfect!”
Camo Man’s face was inscrutable. He sat there, sort of like a rock. “C’mon, go get it. I can’t reach that high,” I urged.
“I can’t. I ate it.”
I knew he was teasing. He knows, knows, knows that chocolate is my second love. Well, third on a day the kids have all been angels. So he would never deny me that little tiny treat I can legally partake in.
He rose from the couch, a rusty crane firing up. Sloooooow. He walked into the kitchen like he was fighting off some kind of sedative. Lion tranquilizer maybe.
I followed, officially worried by now.
He looked in our hiding spot. Showed me. Empty.
Something inside me snapped.
I love this man so much. He is great fun, a wonderful father to my kids, a rock for me to lean on. He makes me laugh and he is not afraid to let me cry. He’s not afraid on my crazy days, either.
But Camo Man never saw the crazy that comes out when someone has eaten my chocolate. Not before Wednesday night.
I’m going to spare you the details, but I will say his T-shirt was soaked by the time I calmed down.
Because we’re talking about really good chocolate and a breach of trust.
We made up, of course we did. But Camo Man still owes me what he owes me. I anticipate quite the mother lode of yumminess coming my way. I’m licking my lips.
What I said last week in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin:
Building schmuilding, what counts is inside
Camo Man and I are exhausted. As I write this, we are fresh from school conferences at McLoughlin High School.
We arrived on Friday, running hard from an overbooked teen schedule. Three teens, only one of whom drives, and you can see the problem. There is something nearly every day that requires shepherding of one sort or another, for one kid or another.
Unless it’s all three at once.
Our sweaty cluster arrived in the school gym for arena-style conferences already looking at the clock. We had one hour to fit everyone in.
I sent the senior, Martha Stewart Jr., off to talk to her teachers alone. She’s doing great and, really, if those teachers need her to do something different, it is best it goes from their lips to her ears.
With Hunter Boy and Miss Tall and Blond to be seen to, Camo Man and I divided forces. We raced (well, speed walked) to the first station manned by a teacher and went from there.
Can I just say something? I live in Oregon and my state has some big issues with education funding. So does my town of Milton-Freewater, having voted down a new school. Five. Separate. Times.
There are reasons on all sides of the picture, of course there are. When Walla Walla voted down a new high school facility, I could only nod knowingly.
The issue is complicated and heavily seasoned with emotion, whatever box you mark on the ballot. It’s about property taxes, teacher performance, program expectations, how the football team did. Or if you liked the most recent concert.
The arguments wax and wane all over social media, with comments getting more and more heated.
It’s frightening how child-like adults get when fighting about kids.
You would never know any of that in our aging school gym on conference days. Without exception, every educator there seems absolutely determined to help my family grow our teens into healthy and capable adults.
And we’re not getting cookie-cutter advice. Take the science teacher, who was so sick that we sat back five feet from his makeshift conference desk. As he scrubbed at his red nose with a tissue and blinked his watering eyes, the man meticulously explained what my student needed to do to get off house arrest — in the parental sense.
That’s how I deal with unacceptable grades, because I am old school and I don’t really care if harsh sanctions are in a child’s best interest — if I have to go over miserable academia on his or her behalf, they can be equally miserable. Seems fair enough to me.
It was the same story all the way around the gym. This was the tail of two long conference days and I know every person there longed to see the day end. But no, here was a quiz that could be redone, there was advice on Future Farmers of America projects. Everywhere an offer of support, including daily check-in emails, administering a test during lunch, opening the gym at 7 a.m.
I don’t know if this is because Milton-Freewater is a small town or what, but I’ll take it.
The kids at my house deal with a lot. Everyone has lost a parent and all are learning to mix in a blended family. There are emotional, social and intellectual struggles that can shoot off the charts. If Camo Man and I didn’t have Mac-Hi — we would need a lot more wine and a lobotomy or two.
Not that every situation is dealt with to my liking. I know this will shock you but I can be really, um, forthright. That’s the word people use when they say it to my face, anyway. Sometimes I need perspective and maybe some administrative muscle, so to speak.
That’s when I call Ralph.
Ralph Brown is the principal at Mac-Hi and our relationship is interesting. He would politely decline to comment on this, but I recall one argument between us that escalated to whispered, frenetic shouting, the sort you carry out when each of you is in a professional setting and fighting over the phone.
We were a fine sight, I am sure, huddled over and spitting fire, each of us determined to show the other who said what and why. Not my finest moment.
That was then, this is now. We’re both older and wiser and each of us is well versed in educating kids who don’t fall into typical student molds. Whatever those might be.
These days it’s Ralph I call — and Camo Man is following suit — when I just can’t bridge the school gap myself. Or when the two parents at our house are no match for any one teen. Indeed, our family takes up some hefty chunks of Ralph’s day at times.
Yet he never fails to call me back. Not taking action, not taking me seriously, “schooling” me in how to parent — that’s not Ralph’s style.
This is the stuff I think maybe people aren’t hearing enough about. Teachers who teach, administrators who administer, no matter how decrepit the heating system is or how much the budget is chopped with hatchets.
We’re tired, it’s true. And happy for the crimson and black life preserver we’ve been tossed. Go, Pioneers.
the other day. We were on a mission to grab some staples to shore up the laundry supplies and paper products at our house.
Going to Boxmart is on par with driving 13 miles to work at 5 a.m., realizing you forgot your key card, racing back home and driving to work ALL OVER AGAIN. It’s that much fun.
When I get inside the store, my goal is to power walk and get it over with as fast as I can. Camo Man has learned this (I lost him behind me at Ikea when we first began dating, and found him wandering amongst bookcases with indecipherable names) and has become adept at the “divide and conquer” system.
So, you know, we’re going down aisles at a fast clip. We slowed when it was time to buy the Tide and dish soap, however. There in the aisle was a mom who looked to be in her mid-60s, judging from the beautiful silver hair that cascaded down her back. Her son was close behind in a wheelchair. We weren’t about to bomb past those two.
We heard the young man telling his mother about joking with a friend. “Yeah, I said ‘If you run over my legs, I won’t be able to feel anything again. Oh, wait, I can’t now.’” This was followed by a hearty laugh.
Camo Man and I slid our eyes at each other, silently marveling at this young man’s ability to cope with what must be devastating at his age. At any time, sure, but to be mobility-disabled in your 20s, having to use the store’s in-house wheelchair…
We felt really differently as we drove out of the lot, however. We had stopped to let some people exit the sidewalk when that silver hair floated past. Followed by the young man, upright and bounding all around his mother. Who looked completely bored and detached from her son’s antics.
“Wow,” Camo Man said. “I sure hope no one who actually needed a wheelchair didn’t get one because of that Bozo.” His face was tight with disgust.
We talked about stopping and speaking to the village idiot, but decided not to embarrass the woman who was pushing the cart by herself. I have a feeling she does a lot by herself. She didn’t need one more reminder that her son could perhaps be using his life — and wit — in better ways.
Maybe next time he can push that wheelchair for someone else, for example.