I'm going to write about a memory. After yesterday, I need to focus on something other than my current dilemma. Before typing the Tall Man story, let me briefly explain why I'm sad; I got a call from The Scribe's teacher. I worried it had something to do with her "blog" or another "kick me" note on someone's back, but it was worse--much worse! The teacher said she had a meetings with the reading specialist and if The Scribe doesn't improve, they might put her in reading resource next year. She's reading two grades behind where she should.
"Really?" I asked. "She's a fantastic reader at home. She's even reading books above her level."
"I know this might be hard to accept, but we've been talking about this for a few months, Elisa. They've given her tests and everything. Just keep working with her. Something needs to click. She's a bright, imaginative girl, but she daydreams a lot and she's just not reading well. I thought I'd give you a heads up before parent teacher's this week. You need to think about this. We need a plan."
So, despite the fact that The Scribe can write one Hell of a blog, she's not reading at the level she should. I just don't understand it. She really does read great when she's home. But at the same time, maybe I'm just being one of those mothers who can't see the coffee for the beans? The whole conversation made me want to cry into one of my nice, orange-flowered pillows--and I don't even let people sit on those!
That's why I'm writing about a memory. I'd rather focus on something that happened two years ago, than completely tackle what's going on now.
I only had three kids and all of them screamed in the backseat of the car.
"She's touching me!" the seven-year-old Scribe said.
"Well, she won't play with me!" The Hippie yelled back and stuck out her lip. I saw her chubby cheeks and couldn't believe she'd start kindergarten that next month. But with all the fighting, maybe school wouldn't be such a bad thing. "And the baby threw his truck at my nose! And . . . And . . . " The Hippie's mouth ripped into a cry and tears shot across her cheeks. "My baby doesn't love me and my sister doesn't want me touching her!"
I strangled the steering wheel. Driving is supposed to be a pleasant, SAFE thing--Hell, some people go driving JUST FOR FUN! I shook my head and sighed. It's not fun when you're in the car with a million kids who cry for a living! All I wanted was to jump from the vehicle and go to a day spa.
I looked in my rear view mirror. My boy's mouth vibrated with seismic activity. He'd opened his chompers so wide, I almost saw into he squash-loving soul! The Scribe swatted The Hippie's arm and my daughters started a game of chicken, right in the middle OF THE INTERSECTION!
That's when I knew the situation had gone from bad . . . to apocalyptic! It was time to do the only thing I could. It was time to summon Tall Man!
Have you ever sung Where is Thumbkin? If you have, then this story is for you. If not, you might want to watch this video:
When you sing Where is Thumbkin, you hold each finger up in turn and then sing about it. It's a cute song--one that had saved my life several times. Too bad it almost killed me on this particular day. As I sat, waiting at the light to the freeway, I started singing this song.
"Where is Pointer? Where is Pointer?" My kids wiped their eyes. They practically changed from Hulk-ish terrors to darling human children with empathy for their mother's feelings. My boy sniffled and all seemed right with the world. He cooed. My girls sang with me--even harmonized. It was pleasant--I even thought the car ride was turning . . . fun.
"Here I am. Here I am. How are you today, sir? Very well I say, sir."
I smiled. Is that what Heaven's like? I was so happy, I didn't even notice the light was about to change. "Where is Tall Man?" I stuck my middle fingers up and let them dance all around. I'm sure I looked like a seventies dancer with disabilities. I watched my fingers moving all around my head and my kids laughed. "Where is Tall Man? Here I am. Her I . . . " My voice trailed off. I still kept my middle fingers up, but next to me, in a HUGE TRUCK, sat the meanest looking man I've ever seen. I swear that lightning cracked in the sky. Clouds clustered above our cars. The feeling around went from orangy-peach to a dank gray!
The man looked liked Colonel Sanders, only deep fried and smothered with hair. He glared at my tall fingers and then my face. I felt my cheeks go as red as his blood-shot eyes.
Seriously! Was this seriously happening? I'd just gotten my army of kids to stop crying only to discover some jerk thought I'd flipped him off! I rolled down my window and laughed really loud as I stuck one Tall Man out for him to see. "Oh no. This is Tall Man!" He revved his engine and scary music thundered around us. I'd just taunted an angry bull--maybe a bull with a gun.
My kids stopped singing . . . they got very quiet and listened to the music. "Black, death and doom. Heavy power crashing through the night."
He turned down his music--at least that was a small miracle! "You're gonna pay for that, B*@!*&%! No one flips off The Undertaker! No one!"
"It's Tall Man!" He revved his engine. "I was singing . . ." my voice faltered. "A song." Had he just called himself "The Undertaker?" I had to admit, the name fit. But anyone who refers to themselves in third person is a narcissistic fool! I still worried about the gun thing, but at least I didn't call myself "The Undertaker!"
The light turned green, but still the death on wheels refused to move. He motioned forward in a "ladies first" motion. That's when I hit the gas and started the scariest freeway chase I've ever been in. I know it's horrible because I had kids in the car, but what was I supposed to do? I didn't have my cell phone. All I had were a few kids and some Tall Men who'd gotten me into trouble in the first place!
The truck got so close to my bumper, I thought he'd plow me off the road. Still, that stupid Undertaker didn't know who he'd messed with! He'd enraged a Mama. I swerved, weaving my way into a mess of traffic. I cackled, actually cackled--like a villainous witch--it would be nice to see him get past those cars!
"Who is that man?" The Hippie asked. "He looks mean and he said a bad word."
"He is someone who's about to lose!" I said, but I was wrong. My victory was short lived. He hauled past the traffic and pulled right next to me. I worried he'd jerk to the right and send me into the old driver next to me. I saw it in The Undertaker's thirsty eyes. I knew what he wanted--he wanted the death of Tall Man.
That's when I caught my opening. An exit rested two lanes over. Dozens of cars clogged my path to freedom, but I knew I'd get there if I remembered my driving skills from high school.
I took a deep breath, hit the gas, then slammed the brakes and just barely made it in time to swerve onto the exit. I watched The Undertaker's truck speed past. I flipped him off that time--actually flipped him off and laughed. He had a set of balls hanging from the back of his truck and a sticker that said "I love dark Opera."
Well, let me say, those balls should have been blue and I HATE Opera even more than I did before seeing that sticker. We drifted off the exit and after getting to a safe location (one I knew The Undertaker would never find,) I got out and leaned against the car. I thanked God we were all okay and prayed that He'd forgive me for singing about Tall Man, getting in a high speed chase with children and for flipping the bird!
I looked at my darling children who sat quietly in the back of the car. They didn't fight; they didn't whine; they sat staring with big orbs of amazement. That's when I knew the truth! There are two ways to get children to stop crying. You can either sing about Tall Man, or simply get in a high speed chase with an opera-loving undertaker! Thank God for Undertakers!