My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, two nieces and nephew are skiing. Or snowboarding. The jury was still out when they left. Their third daughter is here, reading Twilight and playing with my boys. So I used Kaylie, the built in babysitter, as an opportunity to take down Christmas (insert frowny face) and balance my checkbook. Because "built in" and "babysitter" are two words we don't hear around here. Ever. And now, well, The Rock Star is running an errand with his daddy and The Little Buddy is supposed to be resting but is, instead, whispering loudly in his room about all manner of nonsense.
So, back on Thanksgiving Day, my husband took our oldest and also my father and went on a mysterious errand. Apparently it involved a Christmas present for me. Now, I do not like finding out what my Christmas presents are ahead of time because, while I can feign surprise well enough (my $80,000 Theatre degree bought me at least that much, I hope) I don't like doing it because it's one thing to be an actress and quite another thing altogether being a fake and a phony.
In another life I'm a detective. Or maybe an interrogator. Because I can't stand not having all the information. So when they got home from this mysterious errand, I heard my mother whispering with my husband. The word "awesome" came up. I also heard, "So that was him on the phone?" I wasn't trying to overhear, honest I wasn't. I just did. And those two pieces of information were enough to make Another-Dimension-Detective-Lori go on high alert.
And so I did what any normal, rational person would do. I interrogated my husband who told me that he went to a farm and bought me a cow. I quizzed my mother who told me to, "just leave it alone!" I berated my son who stuck to the cow story.
I looked through the log on our phone, saw a number I didn't recognize and reverse googled it. That led to a dead end. I stopped short of calling that number and finding out more information because my prying has limits. I let a few weeks go by.
Then, not wanting to actually discover the secret but wanting, indeed, to gather more information to satisfy the investigative reporter inside, I tried a new approach with my son.
"Remember when you and daddy and Grandpa went to the farm? Was it Winder Farm or Wheeler Farm?" I asked him, nonchalantly, over lunch one day. I didn't really think they went to a farm and I was fully expecting Garrett, when caught off guard, to say as much. So, I'd randomly chosen the two farms in the area that Garrett is familiar with.
He wrinkled up his face. "I'm not allowed to tell you."
"Well," I said, suspicious, "I won't know what the gift is. Just tell me if it was Winder or Wheeler?" This went on for quite some time with him refusing to tell me and me continuing to ask.
Finally, he stammered, "Fine! It was Wheeler Farm!" Now I was really confused because, WAIT! WHAT? THERE WAS REALLY A FARM INVOLVED?
This led to me doing an extensive Internet search on what Wheeler Farm had going on during Thanksgiving. Nothing, it turns out, absolutely nothing. "Did you go anywhere else?" I asked Garrett.
"Did you meet someone there?"
"Yeees," he drawled slowly with a look on his face that said, My father is going to kill me and I'm planning to take you with me.
"Did you know the person?"
"Yeah," he replied. "Now stop asking me questions or I'll get in trouble."
So I let it go.
For that day.
I decided that they'd met someone in the parking lot at Wheeler Farm and made some sort of exchange. You know, Troy handed over some money, another person handed over some merchandise. But not, like, a drug deal, which is kind of how I just made it sound. I'd come to the end of my research.
Except that, two days before Christmas I went out of my mind crazy with wonder. And curiosity. And I HAVE TO KNOW RIGHT NOW WHAT KIND OF GOODS WERE EXCHANGED AT WHEELER FARM. Because I'm really a terrible, horrible person. Will the defendant please tell the court why she tried, extensively, to get her six-year-old to crack? Because she's a Terrible. And a Horrible. The end.
"Garrett, did daddy really buy me a cow?"
"Mommy, I CANNOT talk about it!" God bless that sweet child. I don't deserve him. I'm going to ruin him for sure. He's going to be on a couch someday and, before the doctor can even ask him what's wrong he's just going to blurt out, "My mother!" And he'll be right.
"Just tell me if it was a cow or not," I commanded, knowing full well that my husband did not buy me a cow.
"I can't tell you," he said, loyalty lying fully with his father.
"Was it a goat?" I asked. He glared at me.
And then the most terrible thing happened. His eyes widened quickly and then narrowed. His mouth twitched at the side. He was the metaphorical deer. I was the metaphorical headlight. "I can't...I'm not supposed to-- oh, mommy. Please don't tell daddy we talked about this."
I'd completely stumbled into my present. My boy had been cornered. With no where to go, his face told me the whole story. My husband had bought me chickens for Christmas.
"It's chickens?" And, ever so slightly, he nodded. "Why did you tell me?" I asked gently, feeling like the thirty feet of chicken poop that lies just beneath being the worst mother in the whole entire world from the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee. Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea, including, even, Asia, France, and most of Canada.
"Because," he said. "You wouldn't stop asking me." It was like a dagger to my Terrible and Horrible heart.
It was all so confusing. Was there a coop involved or were these things just going to wander my house? Did he actually buy me chickens or, like, a year supply of eggs? There had to be a logical explanation because I want chickens about as much as I want a root canal and you all know my fear of dental work.
Why? Why, on God's beautiful green (sometimes covered in freezing cold snow) earth had my husband bought me chickens? And how, exactly, was I supposed to act excited about it?
****To be continued****