Wanna hear a joke? Me too! What a coincidence. Funny how things work out when you write the script. I can’t tell you how much I need a good laugh. It needs to be a deep, from the toes, full-body, laugh until I cry kind of thing. When I laugh too hard my ears pop. That’s what I need. I can’t express how much I need it right now.
So, um, do you know any good jokes? I’m flipping through the archives but nothing’s jumping out at me. For some reason, the only ones I can think of are really nasty or involve a poor, unfortunate, chicken. Not funny haha. More funny ew or aw. Actually, most of them would make an adult groan and a prepubescent blush.
I need funny haha! These last few months have been really heavy and it doesn’t look like it’s going to ease up anytime soon. 2020 has been a monster and we’re only in June. We’ve got a long way to go before it’s over and who knows what next year will bring.
Damn, that’s depressing. I just brought the room down several degrees, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. All I wanted was a joke. A real good rib-tickling haha kinda joke but I’m not really up to date on the latest knock knockers or chicken crossers.
Google! That’s what we should do. Google knows everything! Oh no! Wait. Parental permission. Google it with parental permission if you’re under the legal… Googling age? I don’t know how the fuck these things work.
Oh crap! If you’re not old enough to google then you’re not old enough for cursing. I don’t know much, obviously, but I know we’re not supposed to use “bad words” around impressionable minds. That’s detrimental for…things. For some reason. I think it’s science. Maybe? Or, is it superstition? I don’t know but I’m sorry I said a bad word. Kids, don’t do what I do. Seriously! You can do better. Easily. You can easily do better than me. You’re probably doing better than me right now. Good on ya. Keep it up!
Here’s a shocker: I have no child-rearing experience. I know mind blown. Egads! I’ve always wanted to use that word. Egads! Check that one off the bucket list.
Puppies. Kittens. A tiny, little blue parakeet. A couple of goldfish but they only lasted two weeks so forget I mentioned it. I have plenty of animal rearing experience but I’m told it’s not, “The same thing” or something like that.
I had to get up every two hours with a puppy. Pick up poop. Wash bottoms and bathe the rest. Hold the thing when it cries. Teach it right from wrong. We can’t have the kid, or pup, chewing on the sofa now, can we? Do kids chew on sofas? No idea.
Sure, animals grow out of it a lot faster and kids need other… Stuff?
Yeah, clearly I don’t know a baby from a pre-teen. Then again, given my proclivity for profanity maybe you shouldn’t entrust me with the lives of anyone under the legal googling age. Unless, of course, they love sarcasm, offbeat humour, and don’t repeat anything I say. Then we’re good to go. But to be safe let’s have a responsible teenager take over. That’s the age right? Babysitters. A kid enters the double digits, and they get paid to watch other people’s offspring. That’s how it works, yeah?
Don’t look at me like that! I know I should know this stuff, but I didn’t have a normal upbringing. I wasn’t a normal kid. Sure, I had a child-like viscosity but in every other way, I was the farthest thing from normal. From here on, it’s safe to assume that I didn’t learn what you learned, at the age, you learned it. Just because everyone is supposed to know it, doesn’t mean everyone does.
For example, I never babysat. Ever.
No, I’m lying! There was one time, but I was helping a friend take care of a couple of kids. The kids were old enough to be cool, and I basically played video games with them until bedtime. My friend was the “responsible” one. I was just there. Which is why she got paid, and I got snacks.
Wait! Was she babysitting me too?
I know babysitting is a right of passage. Especially for girls because society loves stereotypical gender roles. Hit a certain age and start earning some money looking after small children. The fact that a teenager’s frontal cortex isn’t fully formed is a minor inconvenience. After all, who needs complete control of the decision making part of their brain when looking after tiny, breakable, people? I’m sure everything will be okay.
Babysitting is a normal part of growing up. I should stop using the word normal. What is normal? Not gonna say it’s a setting on the thingy. That would be cliche. I’m a lot of things but, damn it I don’t want to be a cliche. Then again, not being a cliche is a cliche. Huh, is life one giant cliche? No! I’m getting on a tangent. Don’t worry, I’m reeling it in like a teeny, tiny baby tuna because I have very poor upper body strength.
Where was I?
Not normal. Right. Okay for those of you who are new, hello, and welcome. I’m not always like this but sometimes I can’t help myself. I haven’t slept, the world is too banana pants for sleep, and I had two sips of coffee. Coffee doesn’t agree with me so now I’m talking a hundred miles an hour in a ten-mile zone. I’m gonna get pulled over any second now.
I have kidney disease and I was diagnosed when I three years old. The disease was managed with medication and diet for most of my childhood. Right up until those pesky double digits. When I turned 12, my health problems blew up. We knew it would. The doctors told us that my kidneys wouldn’t be able to handle the stress puberty put on my body. Those damn hormones!
My kidneys were already fragile. They did the job but barely. Once my body started to change, they couldn’t keep up and they crashed. Complete system failure. Turning it on and off again didn’t work. A swift kick? Nope, didn’t do a damn thing so I went on dialysis, that’s fun, and started the workup for a transplant.
Between school, hospital visits, and dialysis there really wasn’t time or energy for normal things like babysitting. Not that I wanted to do normal things like babysitting or standing in front of a 7/11 looking all emo. I wanted to climb trees or go sit in my closet fort and read a book.
What? You didn’t have a closet fort? You’re telling me that you never went into your bedroom closet to clear out some space. Brought in blankets, comfy cushions, and a nice little tray for your favourite beverage. Oh and a flashlight. When that door closed, it got dark. Wait! Never shut yourself inside something. It’s probably bad. Look at me being maternal. Safety first kids!
Okay, maybe it’s weird. Going into a closet, nesting down with a book, and reading by flashlight. Most kids don’t do that right? That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking. You didn’t do that? Yeah, it was strange, but it was also kinda perfect.
Almost as perfect as climbing the tree in our front yard in my church clothes. That’s a special feeling. Knowing it’s wrong. Knowing I shouldn’t. The look on my mom’s face when she found me sitting on the biggest branch. Her long, exasperated, sigh.
“We don’t have time for you to change!”
Then you shouldn’t have made me wear these ridiculous clothes. Oh, the look she gave me! I definitely didn’t want to come down after that look which was kind of the point. I liked my stains. I liked the quiet of my closet fort and the solitude up in the trees. Does that make me weird? I think we both know the answer to that one.
Weird kids like me don’t do normal kid things. Sleepovers, softball teams, taking care of other peoples kids. Yeah, I’ve never changed a diaper or chiseled Cheerios off of a kids face. I didn’t do any of that stuff when I was a kid. This might be why I, as an adult, have no idea how to actually take care of a child.
It doesn’t come up that often but it has, recently, become slightly problematic. See, I’ve been told that it’s a good idea to do some inner child work. I told them I couldn’t do that because I have no child-rearing experience. Pause for laughter. Huh, they gave me the same look you’re giving me now. What a coincidence!
I might’ve promised you a joke so there you are. At least I tried. I think it was moderately funny. Not roll on the floor, receive fifty stitches, funny but worth a giggle. Not a pity giggle either. No? Okay, fine, I’ll take your pity giggle but our relationship is off to a rocky start.
The problem is, my inner child has always been a ninety-year woman sitting in a closet fort. Flashlight tucked into the neck. A half-empty glass of milk on a wobbly try. A stack of books that have been read a dozen times. Her clothes are covered in stains. Her knees are scared over from climbing a little too high. She’s stuck in her ways and a little hard of hearing.
She’s also kind of a bitch but that’s what you get when you live in a closet fort for eighty years. Not saying she’s antisocial. Out of practice? Yeah, that seems more polite.
Who can blame her? The outside world is scary, mean, and it hurts. There’s a global pandemic. Countries are on fire. Threats of world wars and nuclear fallouts. People are being killed because of their skin colour and the good guys look a lot like the bad guys. All we’re missing are dragons and trolls but hey, it’s only June.
None of that stuff exists in the closet fort. Nope. It’s not allowed. There’s a sign on the door and everything. Monsters and cooties have to stay out. Cookies and milk? Yes please! Supplies are running low.
Every once in a while my inner child peaks through the crack in the door to see how things are going. Nope, the outside world is still too scary! You can try to beg, coax, or bribe but nothing will convince my inner child to come out and play.
Do I distract her with shiny objects? Maybe I should bounce her on my knee until she vomits. Guess I could try to put her on top of the tumble drier until she falls asleep but that doesn’t seem safe.
Kinda feels like inner child abuse. Is that a thing? Seems like a thing. A very bad thing. Damn, there is so much to learn about parenting my inner child. It’s been five minutes and I’m exhausted. I need a nap. Maybe I should sit on top of the drier. Do inner child parents get to take naps? Please tell me there aren’t any diapers. I just can’t handle that right now.
There is so much I don’t know about nurturing my inner child. I don’t even know where to begin. It almost seems like a shame to pull her out of her comfy little closet. She looks so peaceful and safe. You’re not supposed to wake a sleeping kid right? Maybe I can let my inner child sleep a little longer. Tucked away in her closet fort.
You know, just until the world finds its way and life becomes a little bit safer for everyone.
Wish I could help you, but I’m kind of out of funny at the moment. Did you have brothers? We made extremely dangerous forts in the dirt, with tunnels and trenches and boards for ramparts. We threw dirt clods at each other and gave each other semi-serious injuries with our home-made weapons. If somebody got captured, they were tortured. Poor mothers having to deal with ruined clothes and injured filthy kids and clogged up bathroom drains. Oh, what memories. Children can be difficult and scary and heartbreaking and inspirational. Kerri-Lee, you are so much closer to being a child, but so far away at the same time. It’s not fair people aren’t reading you, you are really good, and funny, and interesting. Usually nobody reads me, fewer than you, but lately…….
Oh yeah I forgot to ask. Did you make that picture? It looks just like me when I’m not wearing my glasses. Chasing misbehaving kids in their nightmares.
So when can you “babysit” my 14-year-old? Just build her a closet fort & you’ll both be fine for hours! Hope you still accept milk & cookies as payment.
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Sorry, just one more, but you asked for it. Thanks alot Keri-Lee, for reminding me about diapers! The thing about changing diapers is, you never have to change one until you do. Then you have to change lots of them. For some reason your wife keeps having more babies, and before you know it the whole darn apartment is full of diapers (with three babies Pampers were too expensive). Diapers soaking in stinking buckets. Diapers being washed. Diapers being changed at all hours of the night and day. Diapers being rinsed. Diapers hanging like (supply metaphor here) in their dozens from the two clotheslines taking up the patio space (paying for the laundromat washers and dryers would have also ended up costing too much). Dry diapers covering the bed waiting to get folded, put away into the closet, retrieved from the closet, unfolded, and reused. Sounds like fun, don’t it?
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I’d say you have an inner you.
Neither child nor woman. Simply Kerri-lee, sharing herself as deep as she can reach, shining with the colours and textures she finds there.
Sharing the heartbreaking and the funny and the beautiful and the unspeakable.
One of my very favourite places to be…
the Kerri-lee place, living in the vast painted spaces between everything you share.
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