I expected yesterday to be a rough day. But I had no idea. There are some things that I just never get over. Maybe I'm deficient; I honestly don't know. I do know that it's hard to be parents to disabled kids. Most of the time, I ignore their disabilities. I love my daughters wholeheartedly. No matter what their deficiencies. But some things trigger grief... like annual reviews with disability services.
Hopefully, you've never experienced this phenomenon. We receive county services for our daughters. So every year, the county caseworker has to come to our house and review to make sure our kids are still disabled (apparently, our government, at all levels has great faith in miracles). We sit around the dinner table and talk through all of their disabilities... all of the things they can't do. And that gets painful. Our kids are 17 and 19, but in many ways, they're toddlers with grown up bodies. Going through all of those details in black and white is depressing. Last week, the caseworker came to renew a service plan, but this week, there were more forms to be filled out for the state as well (with apparently less faith than the county, they only require these reviews every few years).
So I expected it to be a rough day.
One of the ways our kids are like toddlers is in their desire for independence, whether or not they are capable. Our nineteen year old decided to make herself a sandwich, which normally is in her realm of accomplishment. Now, if you have typical fine motor skills, that's a simple enough task. But for her... not so much. She struggles with bread bags. Not the bags themselves, the closures. Twist ties are impossible. Bread bag clips are beyond her. Ziplocks don't zip for her. So rather than ask for help with the closure, she rips the bag open. And yesterday, apparently, the bag was stubborn. So she yanked harder... and half a loaf of bread ended up on the floor... this bread being inedible due to its hitting the floor, she dutifully and quietly picked it up and put it in the compost bin. Ten minutes later, her grumpy dad noticed that half of the fresh baked loaf of bread was gone and asked what happened to it...
About all the credit I get for that interaction is that I didn't raise my voice. I grumbled and growled... yes, I growled. I added more bread to my baking list for later in the day. And I put a chicken in the oven to roast for dinner.
When the caseworker arrived, she didn't have the plan printed out from last week as she'd promised us and she hadn't saved the answers from one of the reviews from last week, so we had to relive part of that nightmare in addition to the state questionnaire. Silently fuming the whole time over the bureaucracy and incompetence, I responded graciously the entire visit. But afterwards, my wife asked why I was so grouchy.
I told her it was the emotions of the reviews and I was honestly trying not to take it out on anyone, but I needed some processing time. I added that I needed to go to the coffee shop for some time-sensitive paperwork. She expressed the desire to go along to make her specialty coffee drink. Our younger daughter decided at that time that she'd like to make herself a cup of hot cocoa... that's usually not a problem either. She doesn't really know how to use the microwave, but she knows if she puts the water in there and hits some buttons, then it will start. After she thinks it's been in long enough (which given her level of patience usually means it's lukewarm) she opens the microwave and adds about three times as much cocoa powder as the package recommends. She kind of stirs it and then stands over the sink to drink it. Once finished, she usually has a face completely smudged with chocolate.
To avoid all of that, my wife decided to help with her cocoa. At this point, our older daughter announced her desire to go to Dutch Bros to get --- a cocoa. Yes, MY daughter thinks of Dutch Bros as her idea of a treat. I informed her that after I got back from the coffee shop, I'd be happy to drive her there.
And that was that. The remainder of our day was planned out... or so I thought.
We were gone less than forty minutes, because I wanted to hurry home to get back to my Christmas baking. I pulled up out front. My wife went in, my daughter came out. We drove toward the neighborhood Dutch Bros. We'd traveled just a few blocks when my phone rang. It was my wife. I figured she wanted me to pick something up while I was out. So I answered.
"I'm so upset right now."
"I am just livid. I have absolutely no idea what to do."
"Your daughter is coated head to toe in cocoa powder. There's literally cocoa mix ALL over the kitchen floor. It's in the dining room. It's all over her. I have no idea how to clean up this horrid mess!"
"Just get her out of those clothes and into the tub and I'll take care of the kitchen when I get home."
When I arrived at home, I discovered that there was no exaggeration in her telling. I asked our older daughter what had happened there, since she'd been home the entire time. She had no idea, because she'd been on her computer watching Judge Judy videos.
Since there were no witnesses and the perpetrator is nonverbal, I'm going to play CSI here, working from available evidence.
Our lovely younger daughter had apparently decided that one cup of cocoa wasn't enough, or maybe that mom didn't make it as well as she does, or that the chocolate covered face is an important part of cocoa. Whatever the motive, she had attempted to make another cup of cocoa. The cup was still on the counter, half full of water, with some powder dropped in on top of it. From my best guess, something startled her as she was opening the tub of cocoa (have I mentioned that I buy everything in bulk??) resulting in her jumping and cocoa mix flying everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. It was in front of the sink. There was a drift (yes, I said drift) in front of the stove. A sprinkling in front of the refrigerator and a light dusting in the dining room. Probably a pound of cocoa mix spread.
Being responsible and well trained, she determined to clean up the mess she had made. She knows that you clean kitchen floors with the swiffer wet jet (you see what's coming next, don't you?). So she headed down the hall to the utility room to get it... leaving a trail of cocoa snow down the hall carpet, and along the utility room floor, and cocoa fingerprints on the light switch and handprints on the freezer. She then took said wet jet back to the kitchen where she used it to push cocoa mix back and forth across the floor, leaving trails and ensuring complete coverage. Finally, she discovered the push button that causes mop fluid to spray out of the head. You can imagine what that fluid did to the cocoa mix on the floor.
And THAT is when my dear, unsuspecting wife walked in.
Once I returned home, I grabbed some kitchen towels and got down on my hands and knees. It took about an hour for the first pass. I swept up the drifts and scrubbed the floor with kitchen cleaner. That left a fine film on everything. But it was dinner time. So I mashed some potatoes to go with the roasted chicken. We ate dinner and I headed out for Bimart to replace our swiffer wet jet, which we'd decided was a complete loss to the cocoa (to be fair, it was already having problems with one of the spray jets).
I mopped the floor two times with that swiffer before the evening was over. And my wife will mop the whole thing again today. I think we've got it all cleaned up now...
Sometimes it feels like we live in a sit-com...
That's the funny part. As I cleaned the kitchen, I started mentally composing this post. As I could see the humor in it, the stress and pain and grief melted away. I anticipated the pleasure I'd have in telling this story.
So I hope you've gotten a good laugh from our discomfort... but maybe not in front of my wife... it's still a little too soon for her...