|William Henry Harrison, Ninth U.S. President, 1841|
"See Mine Eyes?!"
"But you're a moooommmm!! You HAVE to tell me what to do!"
That mantra was whining out of every mouth of every body writhing painfully on the floor and couch hoping that I would come up with something to put it out of its misery.
Playdoh? Coloring? Can I read you a story? Watch a movie? Do some homework? Sleep? Eat? Take a bath? Play with shaving cream? Clean the house? Your room?
NO! NO! NO!
"Well, then you're on your own." You'd think I'd sentenced them to 10 years of hard labor.
About 16 years ago, when we had only four children I ordered trophies for each family member and had them engraved with a unique personal trait or attribute, one for everyone.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! Know what I chose for mine?
Well, this week I quit the job. And they're all going through withdrawal. Betsy awesomeness withdrawal. It's NOT pretty!
But I have plenty to do. I want to write. Right? I love to write. Don't I? I'd even decided to continue on with Uphard and Elizabeth Johnson's children. The couple was featured in the last post, "Sweet Fifteen". I had nine new research projects and plenty of time and nowhere to go! What fun!
I got nothing. For days and days on end.
When I complained to a friend about my dilemma I was shocked to hear, "You're just not feeling them yet." Yeah. I was. And they were boring me. How do you write a story that you can't connect to? That doesn't excite you at any level?
I left for the bus stop for the second time today with no story yet. And that was draining me. Kindergartners won't be dropped off until the smiling face of a parent is seen. That had already happened once this year (poor Kenny!), so I hustled myself down the sidewalk, bracing myself against the bitter wind, thankful to have something to do.
And I promptly got lost in daydreams of the Johnson family.
Who names their child Benjamin Franklin? George Washington? Or William Henry Harrison? Uphard and Elizabeth Johnson. That's who. But why?
That was my question as I walked.
Elizabeth nearly knocked me over with her "Duhh!" "Betsy!" she scolded, "You of all people should understand!" Elizbeth is very cute and full of energy. Too young to be cooped up inside with nine babies if you ask me!
The thoughts started flooding in. "Uphard is out with the horse and buggy. Again." "It's wintertime and I can't get anything done even though I have nowhere to go!" "I'm supposed to keep them all busy so they don't kill each other. But I've run out of ideas." And finally, "This is great! Getting outside was just what I needed!"
I did understand. Finally.
Why the names? Why not? It was entertainment. Something to talk about. To be moved by. William Henry Harrison, America's ninth elected president and the Johnson's first baby's name, was sworn in and dead a month after Elizabeth's first child was born. Imagine. New baby named after a new president. Then the guy dies and the nation grieves every time you tell someone your baby's name. Not funny. I know.
This little family was beginning to amuse me. Benjamin Franklin showed up twice. First as Uphard's brother and then his son. Either they were very patriotic or they were forward thinkers.
"Honey. Just think. On those long, cold winter days you can tell them ALL about good old Ben and George! You can warn them to wear a hat and coat in the middle of winter, or else...well they might end up like, you know, William! Dead and gone!" "Sweetie! Imagine! You'll never run out of things to talk about with them!" "The kite story! You can teach them about lightning and electricity!"
I stood shivering at the bus stop waiting and listening, trying to conceal my smile. I was cornered. Young, sweet Elizabeth. So direct.
"As if THAT was going to help!" "Names!" "Hmph!" "A horse! I want a horse. No buggy. Just room for me. A one-seater if you know what I mean!" I did.
She swished her skirt and we both looked down the sidewalk towards the school an half a mile away. That look. I've seen that look. "See mine eyes?" she winked. A little mischievous. But never serious. Freedom was at the blinking lights beyond the school.
For a moment we were both out of there. On a cruise. Laughing.