It’s sad but true. I feel safer staying home with my two children than I do staying home alone. Translation: The first and third graders are my protection.
But they are finally old enough to go off to deer camp for a night or two… leaving me alone. Very alone. And here’s what last Saturday night looked like for me:
No kids, no Star Wars, no Beyblades. Freedom? Wrong. It felt more like a setup. It was too quiet. I could see the carpeting and the entire length of the dining room table. No one was screaming. No one was accusing me of backtalking. Someone was putting me on, no doubt. What better way to get killed than to be relaxing in your own home?
I was on edge, waiting for nightfall. I drifted around the house. There was plenty TO do, but it felt wrong spending, what might be my last night on earth, on dishes or laundry. No, it had to be something fantastic, remarkable. So I got crazy — I rented a movie, ordered a pizza and drank a forbidden Mountain Dew.
This felt quite awesome for the first stretch. I felt like a college kid again, illicit, fat and happy on the couch. I watched Three’s Company for the first time in 10 years. Two episodes. I felt reckless and safe.
I grew antsy before long though, the feeling of relaxation foreign and mighty on my conscious. But I persevered. I dug my heels in. I watched, I ate, I tied into a Lifetime movie. Look at me go! Then. It took a digger. The movie turned out to be about a guy who stalks his girlfriend. And just when she thinks he’s gone, she goes to bed to find him sitting there. Waiting.
This, as you can imagine, brought the party to a screeching halt. Every door in the house shifted in its frame and something scampered across the basement floor. I found myself a corner of the couch, papered it with cold sweat and fear, and watched the remainder of the movie, and the back door, with as much courage as I could.
Well, with that raging success, I figured a second movie was in order. This movie turned out to be about alcoholism. A Will Ferrell movie with a moral theme? Major disappointment. But I pressed on, watching the character fall into a daze, sitting in his chair, alone and shaking, much like myself.
And that’s when things got out of hand.
Suddenly I noticed that my left arm was numb. OMG, heart attack. I leapt from the couch, shaking my arm and patting down my chest. Panic rose. There was no one to help me, no 7- or 9-year-old paramedics on hand. I was completely, utterly alone. I would die here in a pizza and peanut butter stupor.
Then I lay down on the couch. Yes, I had ridden hard that day on the trails. That’s right, SO maybe it was like tennis elbow, but of my entire biking arm. It was just overtired, overused. I lay there and waited for the arm to reappear on my nerve database.
Then I discovered this: The left side of my face was numb too. A stroke! Sheer terror walked in as I slapped my face a few times and smiled repeatedly, making sure my mouth moved. I could have gone to the mirror but instead I stayed on the couch, helpless, no children here to save me, again. I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable.
Just then, I saw it was 10 p.m. Finally, I had killed enough time to go to bed. I slipped under the covers with my hammer on the nightstand and closed my eyes. Now all that was left was another eight hours of darkness. What I wouldn’t give for a couple tough, dangerous little kids to cuddle up with and keep me safe for the night.