Rat on a Wheel

Rat on a wheel. The December hub-bub snagged me. Then, a pop on my backside from this summer reared its head and sent my sciatic nerve into high gear. “Do you want Valium for the pain?” No! How would I function on Valium? I want a magic wand waved over my butt and leg. Instead, I wear black pants every day. My three pairs of black pants are more comfortable than jeans. Consequently, I look pretty darn good. I look like I’m dressing up every day. Heck, one day I opened “Real Simple” magazine and saw I was wearing virtually the same holiday outfit as one of the models dressed in turquoise and black. And big earrings just like a model in the same spread. I didn’t have black feathers decorating a slim black skirt, but my pants were black and my chicken feather earrings matched my turquoise sweater. Rockin’ it.

Back from Iowa after Thanksgiving, Liam and Will were finishing last minute projects the night before they returned to school. Liam had to make a personal box: select a container that represented his personality and put 5 or 6 items inside that reflected what he liked. The biggest challenge was the container. Minecraft is his thing now. While in Iowa, he decided to make a Minecraft drawing and tape it to the side of a box. We went over the list of items he had decided to put into the box; I was at the ready to help locate the maze book, the football, a picture of bacon, chess game, etc. But his vision was different. He was going to draw a maze, a football, a self-portrait, another Minecraft scene and put the drawings in the box – with a picture of bacon I printed off the Internet. I walked away and sat on ice.

The next day, Tuesday, we took his box and his Benjamin Franklin poster to school. I handed the poster to the teacher. I placed the box on a low bookcase where we usually leave projects like this. Leaving for school Thursday morning, he was upset with me: Why hadn’t I taken his box to school? I did. You need to look around your classroom for it. Leaving for school Friday morning, he remembered he was still upset with me: I need my box! Why aren’t you helping me? I took it to school. I will help you look for it this morning.

Dressed in one of my magazine spread outfits, I went on the hunt after seeing that the box really was nowhere in the classroom. The only place I could imagine a box going was to the recycle bin; afterall, there were no things in there – only papers. A teacher gave me the hint of checking the teachers’ lunch room, that’s where all the recycling was stored. My heart sank at the sight of two small boxes on the floor in the corner. Neither was Liam’s. It looked like the recycling had recently been picked up. Three giant bins against the wall were also marked recycling. I lifted the lid on the first one and dropped my chin inside to look. Empty. The second one. Empty. The third one. A pizza box on the bottom. Wait… AND a familiar postage stamp on a box below it! The bins were pushing 5 ft. tall. I grabbed a chair and hinged my upper body into the bin. Flipping the pizza box up, there was the Minecraft box!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Even standing on a chair, my 5’4” body’s torso was two inches short of reaching the box.

I stepped down and looked eye level at the hump of the bin lid. Only one way. I flipped the lid back on its hinge and, squatting carefully, dropped the bin forward onto its side. On my hands in knees, I peered into the chamber. It looked even deeper lying down. No choice. I crawled into the bin. Feeling my toes bump over the edge confirmed that my whole body was inside the recycling bin.

Ecstatically, I found the flattened box and all of the drawings in perfect shape. Then, I had two thoughts: First, what a “selfie” shot this would be from the outside. Second, if this thing rolled, my simile of rat on a wheel would no longer be a simile. I shuffled backed out. A little dust on the black pants. A little static in my hair. I heard someone in the room. I stood and brushed myself off; I didn't’ recognize the woman who met my butt before my face. Ignoring this, I said, “Hi, are you a new teacher?” “Yes, I’m helping in the 2nd grade classroom.” “Oh, you must know Liam – I’m his mom.” “What a sweetie he is!” she smiled. I smiled, “Yeah…” He really is. I would go to the ends of the earth for him. Or even farther, to the bottom gut of a recycle bin.

Did I really say “no” to Valium?

(Taking a break from the wheel, our family headed to England for Christmas.  That's where the English Laundry Maven hit high gear.)