“Procaffeinating” mother roars into summer, hates rabbits, eats dessert

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Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

I’d not heard it before. It was a new one for me, and I knew right away I was an expert. Procaffeinating. That was the word. Procrastinating while caffeinating. And shouldn’t Webster be all over this? Yes, he should.

If this was a course, then I was the prof. Any number of things, I’d learned, could be put off when one was busily caffeinating. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, typing; all of it could wait while one mustered one’s gumption and found fresh giddyup. Which was found at the bottom, not the top, of the cup.

As a girl with strong language skills, I could see multiple layers of meaning in this one word. Just as I was prolife, I was also procaffeine. “Pro” as in “for.” Two thumbs up, one hundred percent, and a great big yes to the yea.

Mr. Schrock, he knew it, too. It was on a recent family trip that he’d seen the way the wind was blowing, sensed a rising desperation and took the nearest exit. “Oh, good,” read the caption beneath the photo later on. “Now I won’t have to kill anyone. Close call.”

Yes, I was strongly procaffeine. In my lexicon, prolife and procaffeine were closely tied, and so true love took the exit.

It was Little Schrock who threw another new one at me. There I was, getting ready to leave, and here he came, knock-knock-knocking on the bedroom door with one grubby paw. “Wanna see me?” he said, eagerness coloring his voice.

“What’s up?” I said, for one never knows what one will encounter when boys run wild and free in the summer.

“I did a ‘spring clean’ on my clothes,” he chirped altogether cheerfully from his side of the door. “With the sprinkler.”

I sighed, remembering that sprinklers were magnets; mud puddles, too, and a boy could never resist them. To sell it as a spring cleaning was a clever bit of marketing, a public service, and surely Mom would be grateful.

I opened the door to find him standing there, soggy, beaming. An attractive little package for sure, though I couldn’t help but note that it hadn’t been a deep cleaning, exactly, as he’d missed his socks and superhero undies.

“Maybe he needs a more thorough sprinkling,” said a cousin who heard about it. I swallowed a grin, knowing better than to suggest it aloud, and sent him off to the showers.

Spring cleaning aside, we are roaring full throttle into summer, both feet on the gas, now that school is out. The garden has been planted, and the vegetables are growing apace. A bold, new variety of impatiens marches in riotous color before the chicken coop, and the loudest birds in the northern hemisphere have made their annual return. The bullfrogs, feeling the heat, have stepped it up, croaking in full-throated abandon from the neighbor’s pond next door.

“The animals are yelling,” I say darkly, peering at Mr. Schrock. He shrugs, looking helpless. It’s barely 6 a.m., and a veritable creature cacophony clatters through an open window.

Unfortunately, the hoppers are back as well. “Do not even say the word ‘rabbit’ to me,” I tell my friends. “I’m feeling a bit bitter. They’ve treated my flowers like a salad bar.” My friends commiserate, and The Mister takes action, stalking about the property like Davy Crockett with his Acme rabbit eliminator. Mama’s not happy, so Peter Rabbit has to go.

Easing the rabbit resentment issue has been the discovery of a new recipe, Rhubarb Custard Bars, from a friend named Esther. Somewhere, a quail-fed Israelite weeps in envy, and a new dessert finds its way to Heaven’s smorgasbord. Kid Kaboom, upon first taste, could scarcely find the words, finally cobbling together four, “Can I have seconds?”

Meanwhile, as the green things keep growing, so the Schrocklets do as well. Last week, Little celebrated his birthday, and his family celebrated him, the holy interruption not planned by us, but by God. A prolific story writer, he’s reading books, slugging like George Brett, drilling outs at first base and shadowing his brothers. And, when the need arises, “spring cleaning.”

His other Big Deal last week was summer camp, which meant his very first overnighter. Mama reported doing fine, but it was touch-and-go with his dad. It was Faithful Daddy who embraced his surprising arrival, helping to care for him gently. Then, when Mama began to write, he would pack him up, tuck him into the Big Red Truck and keep him at his office until Mama came to get him. There, he’d play with a vast collection of cars, stamping and stapling papers like a businessman.

Then school came, and Breakfast Burrito Fridays and fun at the office were a thing of the past. Now, it’s on to summer camp and baseball with second grade straight ahead. Daddy’s eyes soften when he looks at his growing boy, and Mama keeps right on caffeinating, savoring every moment and praying for time to stand still. Just for one, short summer.

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