|“Where the hell are my keys?” It’s more of a tortured scream than a question.
“Well, maybe you could get off your PS3 and help me look a little?” Again, not so much a question as an ultimatum to continue living.
“Where’d you leave ‘em?” My blood pressure rises as I realize my fourteen-year-old son is the picture of apathy.
“For God’s sake, Reese! If I knew where I left them, would I be looking for them? I swear sometimes you ask the stupidest questions.”
I know I’m wrong; taking out my frustration on him. But then he’s apathetic, he won’t even remember, right?
“There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” I’m in awe at how calm he can be while it’s clear from the bulging vein in my neck and my crazed eyes that I could stroke out at any second.
“Bull crap! There are plenty of stupid questions. And whatever teacher told you that hasn’t been teaching long. Now get up off your happy hiney and help me look!”
“Maybe they’re in the car.” Though his voice has deepened with puberty, it still maintains the naivety of a child.
“Reese! How could we have gotten in the house if I left them in the car?! Please, Son, think before you speak. I’m a little stressed here.” It happens. I do the very thing I’d have to restrain myself from resorting to physical violence if any of my students or children had the nerve to do it to me. . . I roll my eyes.
It goes unnoticed. After all how can my tantrums compete with NFL Madden 2011?
“A little?” He glances up from the screen long enough to see if I catch his sarcasm.
“That’s it! If we don’t find my keys in five minutes, you’re grounded from that PS3 for an entire month.” Even as I the words tumble out of my mouth, I regret it for a variety of reasons. Number one: My keys really aren’t his responsibility. Number 2: I would never be able to stick to a month of him having no PS3, because that’s my quiet time. But, he doesn’t need to know this.
He stands as if molasses is pulling at every cell in his body, this boy who is now a head taller than I, looking as if I just threatened to cut his tongue out and feed it to his dog. But God bless his soul, he begins to look. Kind of.
A light bulb goes off; I see it all over his face. “Don’t you have an extra set of car keys in the silverware drawer?”
Closing my eyes, I count to five. I can’t make it to ten. “Yes, but how are car keys going to get me into WORK!”
“Oh.” No aggravation, no urgency. Just apathy.
As I reach down to look under a jacket for the hundredth time, I feel him bump into me.
“What’re you doing?”
My question is met with a look of exasperation. “You’re right, there are stupid questions. What do you think I’m doing? I’m looking for your keys.”
“By following me around? Hmmmmmm. . . Perhaps it would be faster if we looked in DIFFERENT places!”
“Jeez, okay. You don’t have to yell.” Insuring his safety, he moves out of my reach. In my mind I relive the morning ritual of helping this same kid find his shoes. And I do mean every morning. Yet, somehow he is as appalled as he's capable of feeling that I can’t find my keys.
“You found them?!” I so love my son.
“No. I was wondering what’s for lunch today.”
One of my best friends once advised me to memorize the Serenity Prayer. I think this would have been a perfect time to recite it had I heeded those words of wisdom.
The sarcasm spews out of me like projectile vomit from a newborn. “If you don’t concentrate on finding these keys, I promise you the only thing you will eat until you can drive your own dang car is spinach flavored peas!” Yes, I know that didn’t make sense, but I was more focused on how much the value of our house would decrease if my brains exploded all over the kitchen walls.
“Maybe we should get several sets of keys made for everything, Mom. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve been through this.” The voice of calm and reason strikes again.
“Thank you, Einstein.”
I know it’s crazy, maybe even clinically insane, but tears now creep down my face – all because I can’t find my keys. I’m frustrated with myself for being irresponsible, for being mean to the one person who brings me the most joy, and for wanting to curl up in the fetal position and pretend the world doesn’t exist.
Reese yells, “Mom, did you look on the nail?”
“Nail. What nail?” Why am I so sure that I’m not going to get an intelligent response?
“The one by the front door.”
“Reese, please. How in the world would my keys get on a nail that I don’t even know exists?” I’m passed yelling; I’m pleading. The world is silent for a moment. I’m assuming my distress level and the importance of these keys have finally been comprehended.
“Ummm. . . I might have hung ‘em up there last night after I went and got my backpack outta the car so that you could find ‘em this morning.” For once there’s evident emotion in his voice, a mixture of panic and fear, yet still hopeful that he’ll be the hero for knowing where my keys are.
The only thing I’m shocked by at this point is that I don’t hear his feet pounding the hardwood floor in an attempt to escape, or the lock of the closest door to keep him barracked away from a mother who does not have the capacity to find humor in the situation. Yet.
The jingle of the keys coming off the elusive nail brings a momentary sigh of relief. Everything is right once again in the universe.
"Alright, hurry! We're late." On foot is out the door as I say this.
"Just a sec."
"We don't have a sec! What's the problem now?"
"Have you seen my shoes?"
I smile realizing the planets are now aligned, and life has resumed to normalcy, or as I think of it, "comforting chaos".