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He’s Trying

From Dictionary.com:

trying [trahy-ing]

adjective
1. extremely annoying, difficult, or the like; straining one’s patience and goodwill to the limit: a trying day; a trying experience.
irritating, irksome, bothersome, vexing.

try [trahy]

verb (used with object), tried, trying.
1. to attempt to do or accomplish: Try it before you say it’s simple.
2. to test the effect or result of (often followed by out): to try a new method; to try a recipe out.
3. to endeavor to evaluate by experiment or experience: to try a new field; to try a new book.
4. to test the quality, value, fitness, accuracy, etc., of: Will you try a spoonful of this and tell me what you think of it?
5. Law. to examine and determine judicially, as a cause; determine judicially the guilt or innocence of (a person).
6. to put to a severe test; subject to strain, as of endurance, patience, affliction, or trouble; tax: to try one’s patience.
7. to attempt to open (a door, window, etc.) in order to find out whether it is locked: Try all the doors before leaving.

Considering the week we’ve had, I find the first listed definition of “trying” interesting and possibly prescient. Does Dictionary.com know my life?

First definition of trying, adjective. Extremely annoying, difficult, or the like; straining one’s patience and goodwill to the limit:

I woke to a loud slam: our refrigerator door. Checking the baby monitor (which keeps me from having to roll out of bed at 6 am if the boy’s just getting a snack), I could tell he was “sneaking” whatever it was. I trotted downstairs. He heard me coming and hightailed it to his room.

“What do you have?”

He produced an egg.

“Why do you have this?” Still bleary-eyed, I thought perhaps he assumed it was hard-boiled. “Do you realize this isn’t cooked?”

“Yes…I wanted to throw it at a tree.”

UGH. He’d behaved well all weekend, so we allowed him general free rein of the picnic junk food. I was surprised at his lack of reaction, thinking maybe his intolerance of sugar had waned…nope. Heeeeere it is.

I replaced the egg and noticed another was missing (I’d just bought the carton).

First definition of try, verb. To attempt to do or accomplish:

I walked into his room and found that he’d had an “accident” and tried to clean it up himself. Yes, junk food is still a bad idea.

Second definition of try, verb. To test the effect or result of:

The good news? He used the appropriate smell-killing enzyme liquid to such excellent effect that his bedding had no smell at all, in spite of the obvious…incident. Efficacy of Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer even on non-urine accident = confirmed.

(Chewy.com is not paying me to advertise.)

Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer, 1-gal bottle

The bad news? He dumped the entire bottle on it. Ah, well…at least he tried.

Third definition of try, verb. To endeavor to evaluate by experiment or experience:

I gathered his bedding and found the other egg swaddled in his blankets. Hatching a chick? Nope. He just wanted to throw it to see what would happen. My little mad scientist (ok, let’s be real; when he does “science,” I bring the “mad”).

Fourth definition of try, verb. To test the quality, value, fitness, accuracy, etc., of:

I feel the quality of my ability to mother in appropriate ways is often tried and found wanting…Egg Incident #1 (because I’m sure it won’t be the last) is a perfect example. Instead of praising him for attempting to clean up the mess himself (which, in hindsight, was a monumental accomplishment), I freaked out over the ENTIRE BOTTLE dumped on his (thankfully waterproofed) bed and over the egg—a potential mess—swaddled with care in the clean end of his bed.

Fifth definition of try, verb. To determine judicially the guilt or innocence:

Rather than give him props for attempting a clean-up after his incident (which is probably what triggered the need for crazy), I judge-and-juried him for the potential egg mess and for not coming to get me for help with the cleanup. Then, I found that he’d tossed his soiled shorts in with my CLEAN LOAD OF LAUNDRY and started the washer again, which meant I had to run the entire load on “sanitize” and couldn’t dry the load for another two hours. I know it’s my own fault for packing a schedule too tightly, but I had a limited amount of time in which to complete several tasks that day. The last straw (last shorts?) sent me over the edge of my sanity.

Sixth definition of try, verb. To put to a severe test; subject to strain, as of endurance, patience, affliction, or trouble; tax: to try one’s patience:

In my defense, we haven’t had respite for more than a couple hours in almost a year and I’m completely drained. If the boy isn’t getting into something he finds interesting (which means items broken, a mess to clean up or some other form of work for me), the girl is intentionally tanking her grades or sabotaging the boy.

My endurance is shot, my patience is tried and worn.

I’m exhausted.

So is Hubby.

But, being sapped and weary is no excuse for bad behavior. How can I expect him to do the right thing when he’s spent, if I don’t provide the example?

A few hours after the egg-in-the-bed trick, I apologized.

“You know better than to be wasting food and creating a mess, but I am sorry for overreacting. You did a great job trying to clean up after yourself. You even started the washer correctly. I wish you’d put the clean clothes in the dryer so we’d have room for your bedding, but I know your intent was good. I appreciate the hard work you did to clean up after yourself. I am very sorry for losing my mind and yelling.”

 

Seventh definition of try, verb. To attempt to open (a door, window, etc.) in order to find out whether it is locked:

We do what we can. Some days we fall down. But if we keep trying the locked doors, sometimes we find that they’re open.

He hugged me. 

“It’s okay, Mama. You’ve had a rough month.”

Ah, yes. Rough.

Sometimes, all I can do is laugh. At least he’s aware. That’s progress. And even though his behavior is trying (first definition of verb, adjective), I do believe he is trying (first definition of try, verb) to improve.

And yeah, it’s a waste of food, but maybe not a waste of connection: I think I’m going to schedule an egg-throwing contest.

Outside.

Casey Alexander is Dead

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From the Progress-Index, November 1, 2015:

Casey Alexander and her husband passed away yesterday in a one-car crash.

They are survived by their children, ages nine and eleven, three parents, six siblings and ten nieces and nephews. Witnesses from vehicles behind them say the two were heading north around a highway ramp in his Mustang when the car lost traction in the rain, spun a 360, flipped and crashed. The car landed at the bottom of an eight-foot embankment. No memorial arrangements have been announced at this time.

That almost happened.

Yesterday, Hubby and I left the kiddos with our favorite babysitter (the only one who didn’t run away screaming in those first few years) to take a much-needed day to ourselves. We haven’t had a “date day” in…well, I can’t remember the last one.

Right before we left, our daughter hugged me and said, “I’ll really miss you while you’re gone.” This has NEVER happened. Usually, when we leave, she has one of two reactions:

  1. Ignores us completely.
  2. Communicates (by dancing around, giggling wildly or running through the house) that she is thrilled to be rid of us. Or, for the sake of accuracy, me.

I was happy (and slightly flabbergasted) at the demonstrative-for-her comment. Our boy kissed me on the cheek, also a bit out-of-the-ordinary when others are present, but he’s familiar with the sitter.

Ten minutes later, we zipped down the road in his red Mustang. We’re a Mustang family; in fact, a Mustang led us to the kids.

Side note: I just had a song flash through my mind, to the tune of the Addams Family theme. The Mustang Family (bah dah dah duh) *snap snap.* Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the rest.

Almost seven years ago, Hubby called me. “I found it! Can I get it? We saved the money; we should have enough. It’s the one!”  For the record, he knows he doesn’t have to ask “permission,” but he always does. And I always say yes, of course.

A certain special Mustang eluded him for years; on that day he found “the one” for sale on a road near our house. When I arrived home, Hubby stood in our driveway with a new-to-us old Mustang and a tall young man, the previous owner. “I’m pastor at the brick church down the road. We’d love to have you visit sometime,” he said.

The following Sunday, we attended.

“You’re here!” he said, surprised.

“You invited us,” we said. After three years of looking for a church where we fit, the gentleman who said the closing prayer added, “Remember, a visitor is just a friend we haven’t met yet!” Hubby and I looked at each other, smiling. The man had echoed our former pastor, a beloved friend lost to cancer. This was home.

Soon, we met Kay, her five biological children and several foster children. Two years later, Kay welcomed two small children into her home for a weekend of respite care, and introduced us to our future kids.

Five years down the road, in a different Mustang, we head off on a day of respite for ourselves.

He took the curve of the highway ramp no faster than usual. Hubby has always had an innate grasp of driving mechanics, and several years ago I surprised him with a stunt driving class (which he aced). He knows exactly how to handle power.

I grinned over at him as we headed for the highway. Then, we hit a bump. In other conditions, the jar to the tire wouldn’t matter, but this time the road was wet and slick.

Autumn colors spun around me, and for a moment it felt like a dream. I thought, “Pretty. Like a kaleidoscope.”

Snapping back to reality, I saw the clear problem. Skidding wheels, spinning car, deep ditch fast approaching. I thought, “Oh, hey, are we going to die? I think we are.”

My life did not flash before my eyes. I had only one thought, outside of the certainty we’d soon be dead. “Dang it. She just started to care whether we come back!”

The car slid to a stop inches from the edge of an eight-foot drop. We’d made a complete 360. I peered down to our no-longer-certain doom.

Cars approached, so he pulled out to the highway and took the next exit.

I leaned on the hood as hubby checked each tire and wheel, pronouncing everything fine. “Let’s go,” he said. I assumed he meant back home. Nope. He headed out to the highway, ready for our date. My man.

We both started laughing. “Sorry,” he gasped, “I don’t know why I’m laughing, but I can’t stop.” I guess it was the adrenaline. Neither one of us could rein it in for several minutes.

You’d think a near-death experience would change everything, but this morning, I woke up cranky and spoke sharply to both kids. After they went to school, I realized that although they had managed to disobey before 8 am (and before my coffee) on a Monday, I could still have handled it better.

After all, today is a gift. Tomorrow isn’t promised. And I’m thankful to have one more day to try to do things a little better, like being more patient and thankful.

Speaking of thankful, I texted our sitter and thanked her again for being a consistent good influence in our kids’ lives. She replied that she told her mom about our near-miss, and her mom said, “That’s so weird. I had this worrying feeling yesterday that they might die, so I prayed for their safety.” I’m sure she just thought it was an odd thought, but hey, we’re still here, so maybe that prayer saved our lives.

I’m also pretty sure that after they dusted off their robes and wings, our guardian angels requested re-assignment. “Those two are crazy. They’re wayyyyyyyy too much work. Let someone else have a turn!”

We have such a tenuous connection to life. Let’s take a moment to consider the opportunities we’re given, to appreciate the individuals around us. Complain less. Endure more. Hope more. Love more.

Today, I’ll focus on living as though Casey Alexander is dead. If I think about what I would wish I’d done on my last day, maybe I’ll be nicer. More patient.

Imagine you know you’ll live only 24 more hours. What will you do?

***

Photo Credit: Casey Alexander

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