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On My Forehead

I would tote water for a cat who could do this. I would tote water or gold or sushi grade salmon or whatever he wanted.

Lydia Netzer is currently holed up at her farm in PA, trying to write 2K words a day with both her children present, and AS A HELPFUL BONUS, all water, ALL, the kind for drinking AND the less pure kind for bathing, and the any old kind full of poison or bugs for flushing, has to be toted in by hand in gallon jugs from the crick (or from whatever place has these kinds of water in Pennsylvania…) (YES, REALLY). She recently posted THIS to Facebook:

I’m totally ready for people to stop bellowing “MOM?” before they say anything. If I am in range of you bellowing “MOM?” then I’m in range of hearing whatever you plan to say next. You don’t have to send out an alarm to alert my ears that you’re going to speak. Ears don’t work that way. It just means I have to say “Yes?” before you get on with saying what you were going to say in the first place. And that extra “YES?” is adding rage wrinkles to my forehead every time I have to do it.

On the one hand, I have a working toilet that does not have to be handfed gallons of crickwater just to flush. SO there’s that. But on ANOTHER HAND I am trying to finish a book in the next 5 weeks, and I am DEEP in the end game and things are trying to connect to other things and slot into their fitted slots and I need the TIME and SPACE to let this happen, and OH! and OH! how deeply how I WISH my children would do the EXACT thing her kids are doing.

Because here is what my children did, all weekend:

Me: *Earnestly typing WITH HEADPHONES ON the Pandora Channel I named Redemption Radio because it exclusively blasts either Christian-Pop-Love-Grace-Forgiveness-Ballads or Lesbians-With-Accoustic-Guitars-Calling-For-Social-Justice into my ears, and those headphones, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, are the universal sign for, “Please ask your father who is right outside NOT pursuing his life’s work because he pursues his at an office FAR AWAY like a GENIUS and HERE he is only trimming some hedges and therefore mentally and emotionally SUPER AVAIBALE to be of parental service.”*

Either Child: Mom? Can I ask you a question.

Me: Yes.

Either Child: I’m not sure how you will answer it, but I just wanted to ask.

Me: *louder* OKAY! Well, I am working so can you please just ask?

Either Child: Oh. You are working. Never mind. I will ask later.

Me: I already took the headphones off. I already stopped working. My head is OUT of the book. Ask.

Either Child: I will go ask Dad.

Me: NO, YOU HAVE ME NOW. ASK IT.

Either Child: But now you are not in a good mood.

ME: I WONDER WHY. PLEASE JUST ASK THE QUESTION BEFORE MY BRAIN LEAPS OUT MY NOSE AND FLOMPS AWAY JUST TO NOT BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.

Either Child: Can I —

Me: NO. And if you had simply asked it, without ninety zillion prefaces, I would have said yes. EVEN IF YOU WERE ASKING TO KILL AND EAT A NEIGHBOR. I totally would have let you. And your DAD would have let you because I specifically told him before I came in here and put the HEADSET on and opened MS Word that you were ABSOLUTELY allowed to practice cannibalism today. But now you can’t kill and eat ANYONE. EVER.

*We blink at each other for a moment, and then I put my headset back on.*

Either Child: Mom?

Me: YES????

Either Child: Can I ask you something else?

Me: *silence because I have hung myself from the tallest, tallest tree.*

You know the rage-wrinkles she is talking about? I HAVE THEM. I used to have TWO, right between my eyebrows, running vertically. I named them My Rage Horns as a collective, but they had individual names, too. The first was named SAM and the second one was named MAISY JANE. NOW? I am growing a THIRD RAGE HORN and yet I am out of children.

There are MANY things I think novelists really need to be productive: flushing toilets (that could just be me), a modicum of quiet, possibly some really good bourbon, some dogs to lie fecklessly around approving of everything, even your crappiest rough drafts, because they are mercifully illiterate and non-judgmental besides, a nose-bag full of candy to put your whole face in. NOVELISTS NEED A LOT OF THINGS.

You will notice “A Third Rage Horn” appears exactly NOWHERE on that list.

So, how was YOUR weekend?

26 comments to On My Forehead

  • Karen in Ohio

    This too shall pass. I promise.

    When my sister-in-law had two kids around your kids’ ages she told them she was going to change her name (from “Mom”) and not tell them what it was. That still cracks me up.

  • HAHAHAHA! I love you. Just when I’m about to have an anxiety meltdown, you save my ass. I’m just having my usual firsttwoweeksofschoolanxietyattack. Calendar hyperventilation. Trying to figure out how to time turn myself to three places at once while my husband goes out of town for the next two weeks. The three day jury selection in the first week of school didn’t help. But horns? Hmmm. I’m going to have to see if I’m growing some. Probably. I had a sore throat from screaming at my son last night. See I hide my rage in my throat.

    I’m going to forward this post to a whole bunch of people who could use it to drag themselves out of their malaise.

  • Carrie (in MN)

    Oh boy. I’m not trying to engage in birthing a creative brain fruit, but I am trying to get my work done from home rather than an office so that my lovely children aren’t locked in the house during these last days of summer – so I feel you, sister. That phenomenon, of prefacing every request with a “Mom?” that must be answered first? Yes, I have been known to yell “stop ‘Mom’-ing me!” But I do have flushing toilets, a feckless (farting) dog, and good gin, so I’ll quit griping.

  • Kathy

    Hahahaha! Kids! Ya gotta love ’em. But sometimes, sometimes you understand species who eat their young.

  • Nascent rage horn? OMG. I love it. So that’s what I have. Now I know. And no amount of botox will ever de-ragify me, unfortunately. LOL

  • beth thrift

    The only difference between my week and my weekend is that my “co-workers” are a lot shorter and cry louder when I have not met all my “deadlines” in a satisfactory manner..

  • Jen

    I see you have met my children.

    Also, “Third Rage Horn” would make SUCH a great band name.

  • I laughed so hard at this. I’m not going to check in the mirror for nascent rage horns because I simply don’t want to know how many I might be developing. I was all excited about the French doors that lead to my lovely new office. Oddly enough, they don’t even slow the kids down. *wipes away tear* Oh, I needed that laugh today.

  • CJ

    ZOMG! I have TWO things in common with TWO FABULOUS NOVELISTS: 1) rage horns, and 2) children who cannot articulate a thought without the “Mom?” preface. My day has just been made! I should go write something.

  • I was having one of those mornings. Instead of writing, I’m trying to unpack a complete house in five days before my husband arrives and puts everything in the wrong place. I laughed until I cried…because I can thoroughly relate. I no longer count to one hundred. I’m up to one thousand. Thank you for sharing this and making my day a lot brighter.

  • OH – and when I had my house built – I put the office off the master so the kids have to navigate two doors to get to me in hopes that the extra distance will encourage them to go…”DAD??”

  • Boggart. It is a boggart rage horn.

  • Did you have to remind me?
    My ADULT daughter is the best person in the whole wide world and time spent with her is a pleasure. “Mom” is a welcome address.
    After reading this, however, I’m sure that tomorrow when I hear Mom, my brain muscles will tie a hard knot, anxious what demand is being made on me now. I’ll have to remind myself–she can tie her own shoes, drive herself to wherever she needs to go, pay her own bills.
    They do grow up and you live happily ever after, if you are as lucky as me.

  • I feel sort of ashamed to write this – I have no kids. I’m sure the rage horn I have from living with my mother (whom I love dearly) is nothing in comparison. But I emit a little steam from my ears every time I hear, “Sandi? Can you come here?” My sewing/computing/tv watching space is in the basement. I’ve tried asking what she needs, or why she’s calling me, but it’s always, “Just come here.” So I pause the tv show I’m watching, set aside the quilt block, tromp up the stairs, all so she can say, “Did you see the Facebook post from your cousin?” Or “How do I pause the DVR?” Or – my favorite – “Look at the hummingbird on the feeder!” I suppose you all have something to look forward to – you can give your children rage horns someday.

  • Linda J

    OMG I so agree it is a Boggart.

  • I can’t write with lyrics playing in my head. So I listen to instrumental music to drown out the fights I should probably referee. Noise-canceling headphones are on my ultra-long wish list. My kids love to set up complicated board games (like, say, Monopoly) a mere three feet from my writing desk and then proceed to argue loudly over Every. Single. Move.

  • JMixx

    I have no children; however, being married for seven years (yes, we got hives) was enough for me to develop “The Look.” A slowly-swiveling head with The Look in place seems to communicate to those around me, “I will eat your soul and flay you alive, not necessarily in that order, if you continue to speak.” I have stopped complete strangers in their tracks with The Look.

    Didn’t they issue that with the kids when they were born? Or are you just too kind to perpetrate it against actual family members? (Because, you know, they were the ones that The Look was actually designed for…) I try to use it only for good (and to blow up the people who park on the sidewalk at the grocery store. We have those here. Handicapped people have to walk around SUV’s to get to the grocery store’s front door. It is an @%&#*% outrage.)

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I think I actually developed rage horns just reading that conversation, especially since YOU NEVER TOLD US WHAT THE QUESTION WAS. Argghhh!

  • elswhere

    I held out until you got to the cannibalism and then I laughed so hard that my spouse, who normally hates being read aloud to from the Interwebs, demanded that I tell her what was so funny. Then I lost it again reading it out loud. Now I do not have a rage horn but I have a stomachache from laughing. Thank you.

  • LeeAnn

    You just made my crappy day at work disappear!! “Kill & eat a neighbor” is the best. Thank you for the laugh & the fabulous books. 🙂

  • This really made me laugh. I have four kids: 19, 19, 14 and 9 and I have been telling them to “STOP MOMMING ME!” for about . . . um, 17 years. Why must every question to me start with . . . “Mom?”

    STOP MOMMING ME! (I see Carrie in MN) has yelled this very same thing. I sense a t-shirt slogan.

  • Jennifer Kepesh

    Those are not lines of fury. They are reading lines.

  • Elizabeth

    And now I understand why I get irritated when EVERY INTERACTION with my dear, sweet and kind husband, who is THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, starts with “Hey, Honey?”

    What happens if you have your kids after you already have rage horns? Do you develop rage antlers? Very afraid.

  • Laura Lippman

    I returned home after eight days on book tour to a house that looked like something out of Mr. Mom. Early in Mr. Mom before LESSONS HAD BEEN LEARNED. I just needed to share that. Also, there is a reason we have diaper pails & throwing dirty diaper in kitchen garbage so not recommended.

  • Petunia

    But – what did said child want????

  • Jenn

    I need the first “mom” because I have auditory processing issues and I’ll miss the first half of the request otherwise. It’s the second and third “mom” that also proceed the question, when she has my complete attention, that drive me crazy.

    I learned that you need to be really vigilant in cleaning out all vegetable matter before going on a long vacation or you get some truely nasty smells and lots and lots of fruit flies. And an entire house to clean. Fun!