Before my kids left for Florida, I gave them three simple rules to adhere to.
1. Be good.
2. Listen to your grandparents.
3. Don’t get eaten by a shark.
So, imagine my dismay when I checked Facebook yesterday and found the following status update from my son:
Rusty almost got attacked by a shark today (not joking).
That’s the problem with kids these days (especially teenagers) – they never listen to their parents. They think nothing of skipping homework assignments, slipping in past curfew, and swimming with sharks. This generation, I tell you.
I immediately picked up the phone and called Rusty. Maybe this was all some twisted post-April Fool’s Day joke he’d concocted in order to get a rise out of his friends and family? If so, it was working.
Me: What’s this about you almost getting attacked by a shark?
Rusty: Yeah, I couldn’t believe it.
Me: You’re making this up.
Rusty: No, it really happened. Ironic, huh? After you told us not to get eaten by a shark.
Me: Yeah…that’s something, alright. Let me talk to your grandmother.
The phone then switched hands, and my mom came on the line.
Me: What’s this about Rusty almost getting eaten by a shark?
Mom: How’d you know about that?
Me: Through the power of Facebook. What happened?
Mom: Oh, it was no big deal. The kids were swimming in the water and your father spotted a shark. He hollered, and they all got back to the beach in plenty of time. The weather’s fantastic, by the way.
Me: The weather’s fantastic. Great to hear. Can we get back to the close encounter with a shark?
Mom: Like I said, it was nothing. The shark was a good distance away, and they were able to scramble to safety in time. Hey, we had a delicious key lime pie for dessert tonight!
I’m just glad my kids survived long enough to enjoy that key lime pie, although I might need to ground them when they return for so blatantly disregarding the rules and nearly getting eaten by a shark after I expressly forbid that. My mom went on to reassure me that they wouldn’t let anything happen to the kids and I shouldn’t worry, but if a run-in with Jaws occurred on their first full day in Florida, and they’ve got five more to go, there’s no telling what other sorts of Facebook posts I may see this week. I also warned them to watch out for alligators, so you never know.
Near-shark attack notwithstanding, I’m glad they’re having fun in Florida. The kids would normally be with their mother this week, so I wouldn’t see them anyway, but they did leave my care two days early and, surprisingly, I missed them when they left. I say “surprisingly” because we share custody evenly, the kids with me one week and with their mom the next, a routine we’ve been doing for over four years. I’m used to my kid-free weeks and I enjoy the quiet and freedom. But I’d had my parents over on Friday night for a big send-off Italian feast (bruschetta, Caesar salad, homemade ragu) and they left with the kids after. The moment everybody was gone, it was like somebody flipped a switch. All the noise and hustle and bustle were replaced with silence, and it took me a little while to adjust. We missed out on our normal Saturday night stovetop-popcorn-and-a-movie ritual, and that felt weird, but I drank some wine and got over it pretty quickly.
The rest of the weekend I ran errands and hung out at home. Sunday, I finally bit the bullet and did my taxes. Normally I’m finished by mid-February at the latest, but this year I had an almost paralyzing fear that I might actually owe money, so I’d put off the task much longer than usual. Actually, I’m always afraid I’ll owe money, but this paranoia is unfounded; I’ve gotten a refund every year now since the mid-90s. Still, there’s always the chance that I might owe, especially with the change in my employment status, and last year my refund was a whopping $18, so yeah…I was nervous. I even played Enya on my iPod while toiling away, in the hope that her lilting, ethereal Celtic melodies might make the whole occasion less stressful. It seemed to work. Somewhere between Caribbean Blue and Only Time that dreaded red box in the top right corner of the Turbo Tax screen – indicating I owed the Feds dough – switched to a more soothing shade of I’m-getting-a-refund green. Because I started working on a freelance basis in December I had to complete a Schedule C and figure out the square footage of my home office and add up my utilities for the year and yadda, yadda, yadda – bottom line is, Orinoco Flow came on as I hit the e-file button, and I was $379 richer for the experience. Whew! If I’d known I was getting money back, I’d have filed a long time ago!
Next year’s going to be a bitch, though. With all the freelance work I’ve done and no more childcare expenses to deduct, I bet I’ll wait right up until April 14th to do ’em.
I hope Enya puts out a new CD by then…
- Sharks in Florida Swarm by the Thousands (VIDEO) (blippitt.com)