Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
“Uncle Blackie, Uncle Blackie!” shout the young voices of four fabulously funny females bursting through the front door. “Are we still going sledding?”
Don’t envy your position, pilgrim, drawls Screen Three, mimicking John Wayne. Poorly.
I discreetly peek through the kitchen window. Friday’s late-afternoon sun beams more solar kilowatts this one day than it has all winter. That’s a bad thing.
Yes, agrees One. Just two days ago you shoveled your way through a Level Three, emergency-vehicles-only blizzard. And you claimed this –
“Snowbundance will serve me!”
– then phoned the Montgomery moppets’ mommy to –
“Pack every bit of snow gear your little girls have. We’re hittin’ the slopes!”
I don’t get it. We’ve been snowbound all winter. The last two storms saw us – first time ever – throwing snow over the fence and into our yard.
Yet the latest weather alerts, Five needlessly points out, are for floods!
“Noooo!” I quietly moan. “Four mini-Montgomery moppets are here for the entire weekend. Those little ladies were supposed to have the time of their lives, riding saucers and steering sleds and guiding toboggans and – ”
Madly rafting flooded streets? asks Five.
Keep ’em occupied, whispers Six. Won’t miss what they don’t see.
We swap vehicles so we can transport everyone in a single trip. Mom Carol (right) gratefully drives off with my car – hey, is she laughing? – to join her husband as we unpack the van. Bringing all that luggage in and setting up sleeping quarters takes just enough time for Miss Laura to whip up a splendid supper.
Afterward, I clean enough dishes to have fed an army –
Do your stuff, o Magic Kitchen! mocks Three.
– and we all sit in front of the movie screen for a postprandial –
Is that Prancer’s brother? asks Two.
– movie (parent-approved, of course), freshly made popcorn disappearing faster than a post-tax check.
We’re gonna make it, whispers Three as that sighing quartet of cuties wiggles into sleeping bags. I’m kissing each forehead goodnight when second-born Abigail murmurs, “We are still sledding tomorrow, right?”
The place roars back to life. Fully five minutes later, they quiet back down and drop off, a restful gift not granted my restless mind. How will I ever find something to replace the daredevil sledding?
Morning arrives, announced way too early by excited chipmunks huddled in the living room and plotting their high-speed adventures on The Hill. We keep them entertained in our toy-filled basement for hours. But by 1pm, and on their own, they’re dressed in boots and mittens and hats and 10-below snow clothes.
“C’mon, Uncle Blackie,” they chant tirelessly. “Time to sled!”
We step outside into sun so blinding I must retrieve sunglasses. Coats come off warm little bodies faster than gloves in a hockey game. My beautiful brown-eyed bride sneaks off to survey The Hill we’d planned to conquer. “There’s more snow in our postage-stamp backyard than that entire slope,” she says softly, not looking me in the eye.
Screen Six barks with authority. Listen carefully, Black. Four and Five performed careful measurements of the backyard, including snow depth. Follow what we’ve worked up … you’re a hero. Disregard our scheme … you’re a zero.
“Come on, ladies,” I shout, handing one shovel to a wary-looking Miss Laura as I thrust the other into the fast-melting snow. “We’re building castles!” Three buckets get placed in the hands of all but tot Eowyn, the youngest. Over and over, we fill the pails and mold round towers we stack three high.
Meanwhile, my clever wife tosses scoop after scoop onto a heap she’s building just 10 feet beyond us. Using her shovel as an indelicate scalpel, Miss Laura carves a mighty mini-fortress.
“Guys,” I comment to six screens, “she seems to know my unspoken plan. I thought men and women couldn’t communicate.”
Soon two snow structures stand in a yard showing more green than white and I choose Miss Laura as my teammate. Three kids deem this unfair – “Adults against kids?” howls Brianna the Elder, third-grader and apparent legal counsel for the moppets – but Laura’s surprise snowball barrage ends the discussion.
I pack a beauty and fling it toward daydreaming McKenzie, perhaps 12 feet distant. The cold orb crashes to Earth without ever catching her attention.
But there are more ways than one to attack the pack. In crafting the children’s bucket-built fortress, I purposely used up all the snow in their area. They must either run out in the open for more –
Thereby making them easy targets, applauds Six. The snow packs perfectly for lovely Laura’s laser-sighted lobs!
– or they must steal snow from their own structure, rapidly diminishing its size and their safety.
Age and treachery over youth and skill, laughs Five.
Brilliant, admits Three.
The sun-drenched battle rages nearly two hours. My arms scream in protest. Finally Brianna the Elder, whose gattling-gun throws and accuracy punish my backside, mentions being rather wet and a tad cold.
Can the same person play both Good and Bad Guy? wonders Two.
At bedtime, our four declare the day a rousing success. Abigail tee–hees at having supplied Brianna the Elder with huge snowballs to launch at my head, but even she sighs, quiets, starts the slippery slope to sleep.
I drag myself toward a bed calling me –
Since the third snowball, reminds One.
– and settle heavily into it. As I wonder how the children feel about not sledding, the little voice of tiny Eowyn pipes the phrase she quickly learned while we watched online clips of the “Frozen” theme song.
Moments later, six joyously exhausted humans – and the same number of screens – do just that.
Postcript: Until the blizzard unexpectedly roared in, I had planned to run a column about an event that occurred 40 years this week. I won’t tell you the topic because the story is set to appear next Thursday.
But I will tell you one of the story’s prime characters passed away March 11. I also will tell you that the world somehow becomes a shade less bright in the absence of Michael Francis Carey, former principal of New Providence High School.
The timing is too coincidental, decides Screen Two. Think he knew you were gonna mention him, Black?
“If he did – and likeable Mr. Carey was a most intuitive man – then he knew I’d write about him only as the blessing he proved to be in my life.”
You, my friend and mentor, are missed. Readers, stay tuned.
* * * * *
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