Zack stopped me from grading to ask if I wanted to see his "boundaries.

I laid the stack if papers aside and followed him to his cookie cake.

"I marked my boundaries. All the cake inside the candles is mine. The rest is for anyone else."

My Night in Paris.

I dreamed it was dark cold drizzly night in Paris and I was in a hotel suite looking out the window enjoying the city lights and peopLe.
I do not answer the phone.

I ignore the knocks.

Soon enough the quiet returned.

I stay by the chilly window peacefully enjoying the view and trying to remember something.
I wake up enough to remember what it was.
I still don't have a passport and also apparently I don't have a secretary who will help me with it.
For less than a minute I focus on reasons I'm sure I totally can have a successful happy complete life without ever leaving the US, but I was too tired to lie to myself very creatively so I let it go.
After that, I stayed awake, unable to slip back legally into my own quiet Paris night.

Catch 22

And then last night she blurted it out, trying to make me understand.

"Daddy feeds us much better because he feeds us what we LIKE, not what we ask for...."

Having explained that, she walked away, unburdened, unaware she'd give me a great excuse to never spend a half hour hunting for spare change from my car and the bottom of my purse to buy her a frappaccino again, no matter how much she begs.

Caribbean Escape

Today after school I turned my back for one minute, noticed "it was too quiet" and found Zack sitting outside pounding an aerosol can with a hammer and a screwdriver trying to find out what was inside and how it emitted that wonderful chemical cocktail room spray "Caribbean Escape."

Squatted down right outside the door and laser focused on his task, he reminded me of my brother and I using a similar tactic to crack open orphan coconuts. 

There may or may not have been a machete involved.

I'd like to think my parents were too on top of things to leave us with a machete.

I stopped Zack before what I imagine was going to be mid-scale chemical explosion and redirected his attention to something super special that he loves more than science -- I brought him to the kitchen and wordlessly pointed at the floor.  

His eyes lit up, and I nodded. 

Yes, yes you can swiffer, I told him, and hugged myself with realization that in this one single day I both saved my son's life and I would have a clean floor.  

Before I could get too smug I tiptoed over the wet floor and hid Zack's hammer and screwdriver above the refrigerator, behind the leftover Christmas candy, saying a silent prayer that I might remember -- for once -- where I put them.

That Awkward Pause

We are at Chickfila for our Friday treat.  Last week it was Zoe's turn to choose - Zack wanted Chickfila, Zoe wanted Subway, we ended up at Wendy's.

It was a fiasco.

This time things were going well.

We settle down and while I'm drawing a line of ketchup on my beautiful golden waffle fry, Zack punches the peace with an accusation towards his sister, "I thought you HATED this place...."

She exhales, squares her shoulders and (I can tell) is ready to fight back.

 I stop her and him from going any further with a wave of my lemonade.

"That's how she felt last Friday. And this is how she feels today. People are always changing, and the things they like change too. That's life, you have to let people change and grow, you have to expect them to have new feelings and want new things....."

Both kids stare at me in an extended awkward silence.

"It sounds like I'm breaking up with you both, doesn't it?"

Zoe nods.

 I pop my perfectly ketchuped waffle fry into my mouth and tell them not worry about me breaking up with them, not today at least.

Mall Mom

We are home in a quiet house after a 24 hour romp of pizza, sleepover and a trip to the mall where Zoe wanted me to let her roam the mall with her friend and be given a large fat wad of cash from some stash she imagines I have access to.

At the mall I ignore their request to "pretend I didn't know them" and stuck to them like glue, trailing them quietly (it killed me), standing at the back of awkwardly dark, loud stores cheered on silently by my facebook friends.

I was on my Best Behavior.

For an Entire Day.

Now, home and back to normal, I feel rested up enough to torture her like a good mother should, especially now that she has no witnesses or allies.

"Zoe! You forgot to put sweetner in my coffee!"

I get up off the sofa's warm hug and walk to the kitchen where she says (after a sensible pause) "I didn't make you coffee, Mom..."

I shake two packets into my hot coffee with my back to her and remind her sweetly, "You're right. You didn't even offer to make your sweet mother coffee. And now you feel AWFUL for not doing more for me after ALL I've done for you. I *forgive* you."

She rolls her eyes and I kiss her on the forehead before returning to the warm deep sofa, planning my next move.