Did y'all have a good time while I was away? Everyone else seems to have. Not only did a couple of teenage pet-and-plant-sitting mice play while we were away, but one of my co-workers is suspended for getting friendly with a vendor in the supply closet! I think my contribution to the world will be to visit populations of endangered animals that are slow breeders, such as pandas and manatees, then go away. We'll have bunches of new cubs and calves enter the world!
How did it go with the kids? Better than you'd expect. Certainly better than I or L'Ailee expected. I did most of the talking, but she made it up in glaring. First, the 15-year-old called, just as perky as you please, asking when she could come pick up her money. "We need to talk when you get here," I told her. (I remember that setting off fits in me when I was a kid. Still does, actually.) I got her to confess to "borrowing" two CDs as well as meeting the 16-year-old. (Which wouldn't have been so bad if, you know...) And then I made the 16-year-old squirm in a similar fashion. They tried to be very cool. And then they waited. And then the 16-year-old's mom called. The neighbors have talked to her, too, and she suspected that her daughter was using our place as "some kind of party house." That broke the ice a bit.
So the 15-year-old and the 16-year-old came together, with the 16-year-old's mom and everything that had been missing. I'm afraid the fifteen-year-old's mom is a spectator parent--she knows now, but nothing will come of it, and she didn't care if her daughter stayed for dinner or not. The 16-year-old doesn't have that problem. So at least one of the mothers got to meet her daughter's new g/f, which will serve them well after she stops being grounded for two weeks. We also did not pay either one the other half of the money we owed them.
Both of their mothers know now, at least. And both of them understand why we won't hire them again. And neither one got the rest of the money.
However, both of them, and the mother, stayed for dinner! It was so strange--it morphed into one of the best dinners I've had in a while! We had lots of good fresh produce from the farmers' co-op, and so I made traditional Southern vegetable dishes like fried green tomatoes and corn on the cob with buttermilk biscuits. Then L'Ailee's two best friends decided to invite themselves over for dinner, because they missed her crazy, and brought some fried chicken to supplement the meal. Then TutorBoy's mom called, and was feeling a bit lonely. When I told her what I was making, she wanted some, so I invited *her* over. It was just such a weird and random mix of people in our lives, but such a wonderful result. Everyone laughed and talked and ate for hours. It was just terrific. It's the last great night the 16-year-old will have for a while, of course, but fantastic anyway. L'Ailee and I were just amazed at how things went!
She insisted on washing dishes, since I "did so much cooking." She looked at me like she was in awe, and I wondered what it was about. "Things like this never happened before you came," she said. I just felt warm all over!
This time last year, I felt homesick. This year, I feel just fine about watching the Pepsi 400 on TV and fireworks in NYC. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. This isn't home yet, but it's really getting there. It feels wonderful.