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Parenting Stories: There’s a Cossack in My Roof Box

Published on: December 29, 2013

garage1This is our garage.

Like the rest of this house, it’s almost 100 years old. Which means it was designed for a car whose dimension cannot rival those of the dreaded minivan. Frankly, unless we’re driving a Model-T, we’ll never get any contemporary car inside it. What we can get inside it is all of the gear we can only use for about 2-3 months here in Seattle, like bikes, kayaks, sand toys, etc. And this, our very own yes-we-live-in-the-Pacific-Northwest-at-least-for-now roof box, so we can get in the car, go where we like, and cart most of our belongings with us.

One day, before the box came into our lives, we were parked at a ferry terminal, waiting in line to drive on. Our car was jammed with children and stuff. Everyone was wedged in between strollers, bags of food, various equipment, more bags of food and loose diapers, just in case. We were only headed to the Olympic Peninsula for the day, but we looked like we were headed out of town for a month.  Actually, we couldn’t fool anyone. One look at us would instantly reveal that we were in fact descendants of people who had fled an angry mob of Cossacks, and scores of years later, we still traveled as though they were at our backs.

Suddenly, a car, the exact same make and model as ours (minus some dents and scrapes), pulled up next to us. The car was spotless, and the two children inside (one boy, one girl) looked cool and comfortable, not sardined and pissed off.  Our eyes immediately lifted to the heavens where we saw a roof box perched above the car, and we immediately concluded that all that lay between us and car-trip sanity was this marvelous roof-box (Ah! So that’s where they store all their stuff!), and the secret to sanity did not, in fact, lie with having three less kids, or being descended from people who were on the right side of a pogrom. Go figure.

Once we had the roof box we couldn’t figure out where to put it... until M proudly constructed a pulley system to hang the roof box from the top of our Polly Pocket garage. Most of the year this works just fine. But yesterday, when I went to get my bike down to accompany the boys on a promised bike ride, I discovered that my bike was sandwiched in between the roof box and the wall.  I do so love my husband, and he is incredibly resourceful and creative, but often his solutions are the kind that can only be worked by people equally as resourceful and creative. Which is why I had Bennett help me. But even with the man-child’s help I couldn’t get the pulley to work, so I still had to have him hold up the box so I could sneak in between the box and try and yank the bike down. I was alright until Bennett let go and the box smacked me in the back of head.

I’d like to say that I didn’t swear and say nasty things about my husband, but I can’t. Nor did I refrain from swearing when I couldn’t get our deck umbrella to work. Obviously in Seattle, a deck umbrella gets about as much use as a pinata in a pogrom, but the sun came yesterday so we all raced outside. When I couldn’t figure out how to open the umbrella, I called M at work, and spat out some nasty words about his insistence on buying the cheapest umbrella he could find. (It does not help matters that the umbrella he chose happens to resemble a giant soiled diaper.)

Needless to say, it’s going to be a bumpy few days of summer around here.

I did successfully pull a pink Huffy princess monstrosity out of the garage so I could accompany this on a ride around the Seward Park loop today:


She’s still on the training wheels, and she probably will be until she’s about 16. She biked at a snail’s pace today but was pleased with herself. Every so often she’d yell out, “Good job Frances!” and then, because she cannot do two things at once, she’d stop her bike. It then took a few good minutes to get the bike started up again. We were out for a rather long time.

Day two of summer vacation was a full one, and the various boot camps I’ve signed the boys up for don’t start for a week or so, so we are all together. A lot. Which means that when I get woken up by Fiona at 3 a.m. (what kind of nightmares does a 3-year-old have anyway?), instead of going back to sleep, I sneaked down to the office to get in an hour’s work. Hell, I’m up anyway, and it’s near impossible to find time to work with a full house. My inability to go back to sleep wasn’t helped by this piece, which lit up the blogosphere yesterday, and which I made the mistake of reading right before I went to sleep. Apparently, Anne-Marie Slaughter has stumbled upon the newsy tidbit that women really cannot have it all. I think the most troubling thing about this article is that while it’s not news to any mother I know, the piece is still being greeted by a ridiculous amount of pomp and circumstance. While I think Anne-Marie Slaughter is rather fabulous in general, I think this piece is at least 15 years too late in coming. The idea of having it all is laughable. Just about every mother I know has had to make some impossible decision, some trade-off. I applaud Slaughter’s suggestions, but I think the perfect work-life balance is something of a white stag, or a pinata at a pogrom — I can read about one, or even write about one, but I’ll be damned if I ever see one.

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lea_geller1About Lea Geller
I’m a part-time lawyer, full time mother of five (ages 9 and down)… Currently in sunny Seattle. People ask how I manage it all, and I like to say that I do lots of things, but none of them very well. That’s my secret…. In a house of seven strong, distinct personalities, I always seem to have a story to tell. I suppose I got tired of people telling me, ‘You have to write this down!” So, I finally did, and blogging about our large mishaps, small triumphs, and other adventures, has helped hold my sanity together, albeit loosely. Check out the rest of Lea's family's adventures on her blog, This Is the Corner We Pee In.

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