It reads like a novel. Some days, a tragedy; others, a comedy, but always a volatile plot line.
A friend, observing the action, said, “You should make a sitcom about your life.” I think I wailed something like, “But I live in one!” before lying down for an extended nap with happy dreams in which no one was hitting anyone else, burping loudly or needing stitches.
On a popular cable news network, they have a segment called News by the Numbers. In it, a professional newscaster in a tailored Italian suit with an expensive silk tie faces the camera. Perfectly positioned in a spotless, perfectly decorated studio, he peers out at the viewers. Every follicle is in place, his eyes are clear and his smile is blinding.
Using his perfectly straight and whitened teeth, he brings it. Hard news in decimals and numbers, including the current federal deficit, the price of gasoline and the latest burger count at the Golden Arches.
Watching him, Mr. Perfect Suit and Hair, I can’t help but imagine how my version of News by the Numbers would look. There I am, facing the camera in my not-spotless house. Someone, I see, has spilled milk on the counter. There’s a chocolate smear on the refrigerator, and a pair of sneakers on the floor. The pantry doors stand ajar (of course, they do), and the sticky glob beneath my sock bears witness to a recent PBJ. That No One made. Of course not.
My newscast, I know, would involve no Italian suits or silk anything. Every follicle would not be in place, my eyes may not be clear and the vat of coffee in my right hand is part of the wardrobe. Then, using my normal teeth, I’d bring it, hard news in decimals and numbers.
I’m not sure, really, if they’re ready for us. When the national average is just under two kids under 18 per family, it’s clear that we’re not average. Judging by the camera man’s shocked expression, there aren’t many families of six having picnics in Central Park where he jogs with his iPod, bottled water and purebred Corgi.
Wait ‘til he hears the age spread of our not-average brood. It’ll put his eyebrows up in his hairline when I announce that College Kid is 23, Kid Kaboom’s 19, Inspector Gadget is 14 and Little Caboose is 6. Shoot, my own eyebrows are up in my own hairline, so I understand his surprise.
Then there’s this number. We’ve been married for 25 years. Mr. Schrock, God love ‘im, hasn’t traded me in for a fresher, wrinkle-free model, and I’ve not put him up on Craig’s List. While we’ve both considered murder (briefly, alright?), we’ve not pulled that trigger, and divorce has not been an option.
Speaking of four boys, since this segment is about numbers, three of them were in three different schools. At the same time. For three years. I’m wondering if my eyebrows will ever come down again. Just recalling it has me shaking my head and reaching for the Motrin.
BK (Before Kids), there were no ER visits. Then those jumped to six, and life took a more, well, expensive turn. An infant gets pneumonia and, later, whooping cough. Someone needs his head stitched up. Someone Else gets medical-grade Liquid Nail on a lip, and yet another Someone swears his eyeball is about to pop out and fall in his lap from a sinus infection that’s settled.
Then there was the little machete incident last summer that sent us back in. When the bills for five stitches arrived, I nearly blacked out and headed for ER myself. Thinking of the bills that would come, I went with putting my head between my knees and counting to 10.
In other number news, I’d chirp, we’ve moved six times. We’ve owned 1 Ford, 2 Hondas and 6 Toyotas. We’ve had roughly 10 different bikes, 2 scooters, 3 ripstiks (causing 1 broken thumb), 2 pogo sticks, 1 unicycle and 2 trikes.
As the camera guy turns pale, thinking longingly of his pristine Manhattan brownstone, I’d keep reporting. “We’ve had two baptisms, two high school graduations, four proms and two teenage drivers. We’ve paid for summer camps and winter retreats and sent kids on foreign mission trips.
“We’re on our fourth washer,” I would sigh, “a large-capacity machine that can launder 16 jeans or 2 medium-sized boys. We keep the peanut farmers in business all by ourselves, thanks to all that peanut butter we eat, and those boys and their dad have eaten their weight in cookies. Chocolate chip.”
As the producer gives me the high sign, I’d bring it in for a landing. “We had graduations in 2008 and 2012. The next one, Lord willing, is in 2017, and we’ll celebrate the last one with fireworks and an air show in 2025.”
While the camera guy, clearly shaken, heads back to New York with, I note, two feet on the accelerator, I’d head for bed. For another nap that will last ‘til, oh, say, 2025?