Monster Man

Papa’s a Monster Man.

That’s my dad.

He “rescues” monsters from under beds, detangles them from closets, and saves them from the horrors of dark, drafty basements, then returns them to their natural habitat – The Dump.

Haven’t you ever seen Nickelodeon’s classic cartoon “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters!” ??


When EldestDaughter was little, she adored this show, & lived its tenets religiously. Monsters lived at the dump, and went to school there. They only came to human homes to practice their scares, and if they were still there by daylight – well – they had to be rescued – of course.

When EldestDaughter ended up with one caught under her bed… She knew.

Time to call Papa.

And of course, he came right over. Because what else do Papas do when their granddaughters call? I ask you?

So, he “rescued” the monster, stuffing it deep in his pocket (so the daylight wouldn’t hurt its eyes…duh…), and EldestDaughter then announced that she simply had to go with him to the Dump to make sure the monster was properly released.

Uh… Ok… 

Well, he took her, anyway, & they released the monster, which promptly scurried off into its proper hole to get back to “class”. 

Or so EldestDaughter informed me when she got home. I’m trusting her imagination on that one.

But the tale doesn’t end there…

Papa’s reputation as a Monster Man was solidified when EldestDaughter retold the story to one of her friends.

Cut to a couple of years later….

Papa gets a phone call from said little girl’s mother. 

(By this time all the kids in town called my dad Papa because EldestDaughter called him that. It stuck for many years until he retired from his janitorial position at the local school)

*Mother of Girl*: “Papa? I need you to come to the house”

Papa: “Oh, MoG? What’s the problem?”

*MoG: “Seems there’s a monster in the basement, and Girl says you’re the only one who can rescue it. I can’t get her to go down to the basement -at all. Please?”

Papa: (laughing) “Sure, MoG, I’ll be right over.”

When he got to the house, he had Girl stand at the top of the basement stairs with a laundry basket.

Papa: “Now, Girl, don’t you move. You stay right here at the top of the stairs. I’m going down there, and I’m gonna catch this monster…but if it gets away from me and runs up here – you be quick and catch it with this laundry basket…OK? But whatever you do…don’t come downstairs!”

Girl: “Ok, Papa. I’ll wait for you!” 

So, Dad clomped down the stairs, banged around some, hollering & clanking things together for a few minutes…putting up a fight, you know.

And when he came upstairs…lo and behold, there was a suspicious lump in his coat pocket, which he kept confined with his hand, telling it to “settle down & behave” because he was “taking it home”.

Girl was all smiles, & made sure to watch as Dad drove away in his pickup – and HE made sure to drive in the direction of the dump, and stay away from their house for a little while before returning. (They were close neighbors, had to make the timeline believable!)

Another satisfied customer of the Monster Man.

But the story still isn’t over…

The Dump closed a couple of years ago.

And Girl is now a grownup…who recently got married & lives out of state.

And my dad likes a website called ThinkGeek.

Ever hear of the Eviltron?

Well, its a tiny, magnetic speaker. That makes various, creepy noises.

Dad built a small box, & attached this doohickey to a rare-earth magnet inside the box.

And mailed it to the unsuspecting new, young bride.

After turning it on…of course.

He included a note telling her that, since the Dump had been closed, SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO BE ONCE AGAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HER MONSTER – SO HE WAS MAILING IT BACK TO HER.

Is 20 years a long enough time to dedicate to a joke?

My father received a beautiful thank you note in the mail later, telling him that this was the single most memorable and original wedding present ever received.

And she would be opening it far…far…

Far…from the house.

Thank you very much.

Signed – Girl, and her Boy.

I am now in possession of the last of my Dad’s eviltrons, and having used it on all of my coworkers, successfully…

I think it’s time to return it to Dad.

Seriously – I think he needs to build one more monster box – for EldestDaughter.

The originator who gave the Monster Man his reputation to begin with.

Get her, Papa. She’ll love it.

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Empty the Nest?

How long do I tend the nest for a child who has already flown?

Here I sit, feeling like the worst mother in the world, right now. Tears pooling in my eyes as I type this, because I told OnlySon that I am planning on leaving North Dakota in a year, and he’s angry, albeit trying not to show it. 

He wants everything to remain the same forever, but that can’t happen. Life stagnates if left to sit too long with no forward motion.

And I have been sitting still for many years now, waiting for something to change.

I’m not happy here, anymore.

Too many heartaches and heartbreaks.

Not enough reasons to look forward to getting out of bed every morning.

So, why should I stay?

For a son who has moved in with his father & is now going to be starting a new life of his own, getting a job, being busy with that & dropping by when he needs a shower or to pick up something else I’m storing in my basement or his bedroom?

For a job, which, yes, I enjoy my work – but, let’s face facts, isn’t a life?

Let’s see… Hmm…

What else does North Dakota have to offer me?

Two ex- husbands, one within city limits, and the other an hour away… No, that’s OK.

I’ll pass.

No one has been able to come up with a compelling, or even logical, reason why I should stay beyond my timeline.

I can’t live for my children’s benefit forever. There comes a time when they have to spread their own wings and leave the nest.

This is the way of life.

Why should I stay?

Tell me. When I feel as though there’s nothing left here for me…

Why?

Exit Strategy

Graduation approaches swiftly, & I’m heavily in planning mode.

OnlySon has his cap & gown, & is eagerly awaiting the day he can kick high school to the curb.

He has requested Texas chocolate cake (a much-beloved recipe of our family’s) for his graduation party, which will be held at my house after the ceremony.

And…it’s going to be a joint party for my son…with his father, my ex-husband.

I know the ex really only wants to do a joint party because he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to plan a party, buy the supplies, host the damned thing, clean up afterwards, yadda, yadda, yadda… It’s always been his MO, to make me do all the work when it came to this sort of thing, while taking a share of the credit. Asshat. 

He says he’s bringing a second cake (he works as a baker at a grocery store here in town, so OnlySon requesting a homemade scratch recipe has wounded his pride, I’m sure), but I know his family… I’m making 2 of my cakes, just to make sure there’s some left for my family.

All the while, my anxiety has me in heavy emergency exit-strategy mode.

Except…

How do you get away from someone when they’re at your home? And they bring their family with them? Their very loud, very confrontational, very Greek, family? (If you’re picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in your head…Yep, you’re seeing the right people).

If anyone gets up in my face, I’m going to have a tough time holding my cool.  I will try, for my son’s sake…

But, as I’m passing out pieces of cake, I might be tempted…

Living For One

I’ve never lived alone.

Oh, I’ve lived in places, and in situations, for short periods of time, where it might be said that I was alone, but even then, I really wasn’t.

Obviously, I lived with my parents for the first years of my life, till I went to college.

Then I lived with a roommate, in a dorm, for the year & a half that I spent at college.  

Then an apartment with 3 other girls for a handful of weeks.

When I left there, I went back to my parents’ home through the summer, until I moved to New Jersey for 2 months to live with a family as their nanny.

Until I found out I was pregnant with ElderDaughter, and, once again, moved home for a short span, until I could get a place of my own.

The remainder of my pregnancy, I lived in a small house that my parents owned.  That is probably the only time most would call it living alone. But even then, I wasn’t really, because I was carrying another human being around with me.

Ever since then, I’ve always had kids, and lived with 2 different husbands at different times, for the different spans of our marriages. 

Yes, my Onlyson still lives with me, at least until he graduates from high school next spring. But he spends a good amount of time with his father – most weekends, and the lion’s share of the summer.

So, you might say, this summer I’m practicing living alone.

And I can’t decide whether I like it or not.

I get to do what I want, when I want.

But I do it alone, with no one to talk to.

I can stay up as late as I want, and be as loud as I want.

But there’s no one to enjoy the fun stuff with.

I control the remote, and I can keep the house exactly how I want it.  Things don’t get up and walk away when I leave the room.  (Unless the cats decide to get ornery)

But there’s no one to share the chores with, I’m responsible for all of the work.

I can buy exactly the food I want to eat, and nothing else.

But there’s no reason to cook, because I’m eating alone.

The dog is always happiest when I come home.

But…I can’t share my day with her & have her tell me funny stories about hers. (The cats are whiners. They only bitch about the food bowl being too low, or why don’t I ever let them outside?)

I like being on my own, sometimes. No “Moooooommm! Mom. Mama. Mommy!” No demands & needs, no asking where this or that is. 

But…no one to hug. No one to smile with. No one to cry with. No one to joke around & be sarcastic with.

There has to be more than this.

And now, for the news…

ElderDaughter is going to make me a Gramma×2! It’s been confirmed, and we can expect our newest bundle of joy in late February, or early March! We’re hoping for a visit at Christmas, when they’ll come from Washington to collect all the baby things they left here. It’s been so long now, since I’ve seen her and Schnicklefritz, I’ll probably burst into tears as soon as she tells me they’ve hit the city limits…oy.

YoungerDaughter has gotten a promotion & a raise, and will soon be teaching preschool at the daycare where she works. She’s also found herself a new apartment, which will be much better for her, as right now she’s living out of her bedroom in a house with 8 girls. Oy. She’s also coming home next weekend for a visit, and I can’t wait to see her! We’re going to have to do a movie marathon night, just to catch up.

OnlySon has finally gotten his driver’s permit! Oy. The boy who hates to drive will now be forced to practice with me in the passenger seat…or maybe in the backseat, where I can pretend to be chauferred around town in the style to which I hope to become accustomed, someday when I win the lottery. He’s going to hate driving AND me by the time he’s able to get his license, but at least he’ll have plenty of practice! 

As for me? Well…still here, still waiting…still wondering what the hell I’m going to be doing. Otherwise, no news is good news, right?