This is our family calendar.
It’s one of those 15″ by 12″ jobs that came with a bulletin board and a pen holder. We’ve been using this model for years now and I’m still pretty happy with it. I had great plans for this calendar when we bought our original one years ago and it held a prominent position on our old white refrigerator letting us see at a glance what everyone would be up to for the next month.
But the bulletin board became a breeding ground for a plethora of crap which constantly fell to the ground when the one remaining pushpin became incapable of holding up fifty times its own weight. Although the pen holder remained sturdy, the pen itself went missing approximately 7 seconds after we hung that baby up and since it’s next to impossible to keep a pen that actually works somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen, we eventually bagged the entire bulletin board ensemble. Now we keep just the calendar on top of the fridge which makes Nate very happy as he is not a calendar-on-the-fridge kind of guy, especially since we went the route of stainless steel last year. Stainless steel is not meant to be contaminated by a calendar in Nate’s world … it messes with his neatness obsession and causes him to twitch.
I tried really hard to be hip by using a day planner at one time. I so wanted to be one of those cool moms who whip out a black and pink toil covered planner and schedule dentist visits, teacher conferences and play dates neatly within ½ inch borders in perfect penmanship. You should see our girl scout leader’s planner. That thing is truly a work of art and I am mesmerized every time she opens it up. I used to have perfect penmanship. I also used to have a waist. I miss those days.
A planner just wasn’t in the cards for me because there simply wasn’t enough room in one of those things to write down, cross out, write down again, cross out again, scribble in, underline, circle and arrow as much as is required by this family. So we went the mongo sized route. And even if it is big and doesn’t fit in my purse, it’s still portable, much to my eldest daughter’s acute embarrassment. I held it like a suitcase and took it with me to her physical therapy appointment the other week and heaved it up onto the receptionists’ desk to schedule the next appointment. My daughter stepped far away from me and became completely engrossed in a poster of a foot, while the receptionist just stared, transfixed by the calendar covering her counter. It is a sight to behold.
In order to maintain my sanity, I was forced to establish ground rules for the calendar early on. Everyone in this house knows the rules. And may God have mercy on your worthless soul if you break one.
RULE #1: The calendar is the most sacred object in this house. It must not be defiled by melted chocolate or doodles or math problems or vocabulary words or wet drinks or be used as scratch paper to see if the pen you found under the couch still works. And while I’m grateful you made the effort to not only answer the phone but to take a message, haphazardly scribbling “Jen called” on April 4 when it’s currently June is not helpful.
RULE #2: I am the only one allowed to write on the calendar. Otherwise, we have incidents like this:
Apparently Zoe is a bit concerned that we will forget her birthday, even though her birthday is a celebrated event that lasts approximately three weeks, spans two counties and is reported on by CNN. There is no need to violate the calendar like this, especially when I fill in all birthdays immediately upon purchasing the calendar every year. And if that is not enough, it is physically impossible for me to forget something that is chanted incessantly in my ear for months on end. I HEAR YOU. Now, go away and leave me alone.
RULE #3: If it’s not on the calendar, you did not tell me about it, I know nothing about it and therefore, it is not happening. THIS RULE IS STRICTLY ENFORCED, NO EXCEPTIONS. VIOLATORS WILL BE PUT TO THE CURB AND SOLD FOR A QUARTER. Do not try to weasel your way out of it by telling me I forgot to write something down. I do not forget to write things down, unless you count Weight Watchers points and then, who asked you?
RULE #4: Do not under any circumstances tell me of any event, happening, outing, appointment, etc., during Lost. Things told to me during this time never reach my ears and will be deemed never to have been uttered in the first place. While I am trying in vain to wrap my head around the concept of time travel and trying to figure out why Ben’s beaten and battered face has not completely fallen off, I do not need you blathering on about a skating party. I do not hear you.
RULE #5: Just because you are tall, dark and handsome and bring in the bacon and fry it up in the pan and … never mind. Just because you are the man of the house does not mean that you are exempt from these rules. You are not. So do not try to bamboozle me with a foot rub while you explain that by some freak accident, the calendar does not show that you have a golf outing the next day when both girls have to be in two different places in two different time zones at the same time. Time travel and I don’t get along – see Rule #4. So stop with the foot rub. It’s not going to work. It’s not. It’s not. It’s … oh yeah, right there. Sigh.
RULE #6: When you are done looking at the calendar, place it gently on the top of the fridge. Do not fling it will nilly on top of the fridge, causing it to hit the back wall and slide down into no-man’s land. I simply do not have it in me to listen to your father’s wails of pain from the hernia he will undoubtedly believe he has from moving the fridge. And I also don’t appreciate having to dust off all the God-knows-what that will inevitably be covering the calendar upon its rescue. I don’t do dust, or haven’t you figured that out by now?
RULE #7: If the calendar is not on top of the fridge, it better be in either my hands or in the hands of someone standing immediately next to the fridge. It better not be in the washing machine, under the coffee table, in the garage, on the driveway or used as teacher’s art pad in Helena’s School for Gifted Children. Mommy cannot be held responsible for what happens when she is forced to deal with a calendar that is missing in action. This rule is established for the good of the entire household because who’s going to cook dinner while Mommy is incapacitated in the hospital from an exploded head?
RULE #8: I will only write as many things as I can fit in the space allotted for that day so all activities proposed are on a first come, first serve basis. I cannot fit a soccer game, softball game, band concert, awards ceremony, book fair, swimming and fundraiser on Wednesday and even if I could, I wouldn’t because that would be lunacy and I stopped doing lunacy last week. There will be no arguing about this BECAUSE I SAID SO.
RULE #9: This list stays attached to the calendar at all times. If you have this list but not the calendar, or vice versa, that is a problem that requires your immediate attention. Figure out a remedy before I find out about it and yelling WHO’S GOT THE CALENDAR is not a solution as I might hear you and become suspicious.
RULE #10: Do not ask me anything unless you have checked the calendar. This works like the “shortest distance between two points is a straight line” theory. We can save a whole lot of time in this family if you just follow this rule. See below:
YOU: Can …
ME: Are you asking me something?
YOU: Ummm, yes?
ME: Did you check the calendar?
YOU: Ummm, no?
ME: Then why are you talking to me?
YOU: But …
ME: No buts. You know the rule.
YOU: Is …
ME: Am I speaking Braille? I already told you. Go check the calendar.
YOU (one minute later): OK, I checked it.
ME: Now what did you want to ask me?
YOU: Can you help me with my math?
YOU: After dinner?
ME: And what does the calendar say for tonight?
YOU: It says “go grocery shopping.” There’s a picture scribbled next to it … I think it’s someone crying.
ME: Have a seat, we’ve got all the time in the world.