I got back from Africa Thursday night. Of course I have stories to tell, but I don’t want this column to become the equivalent of inviting you over to see my vacation pictures while you sit miserably, looking at scene after scene of zebras and wildebeests until your eyes glaze over and you start begging for mercy. Instead I’ll relate a few of my adventures from time to time as I get my thoughts and pictures in order.
I had not been back more than 36 hours before I realized nothing had really changed at the Glamore house. The first day I was back from Africa the boys went to school. That was a blessing. The trip home was rough– it involved forty-six hours, six plane
rides and countless layovers. Nairobi is nine hours ahead, so
overcoming the jet lag has been quite a challenge. I forgot to pick up carpool and got a call from the school that they had five extra boys and could I please come quickly?
I did, but I wore my Zombymom T-shirt so that anyone who saw me would realize that I was in no condition to make decisions or carry on a coherent conversation. Here is a picture of me in Africa wearing my Zombymom tank and my cheetah bra.
The best part about the shirt (besides its incredible softness) is the definition of Zombymom written on the back: female, usually sleep-deprived, delirious, hormonal, without the ability to think, dazed, confused and absolutely worn out. That certainly described me. Once I got the boys home, I dropped back into bed.
Saturday morning I had to jump back into action and act like a real mom despite my stupor. Bill took Drew and Porter to their soccer game while I went to Finn’s baseball game. We all came home and had lunch, and as we cleaned up, I announced, “Guys, I’m beat. I’m going to take a nap, and I don’t want anyone to bother me until I get up.”
“I think I’ll go on a bike ride,” Bill said. “Mind if I’m gone for a couple of hours?”
“Not at all,” I said. “The boys can play outside. If I’m not up when you get back, wake me up.”
Bill put on his skintight biking outfit and left. I was about to head for the bed when Drew came running inside, breathless with excitement.
“Mom!” he yelled. “My ants for the ant farm came! Can we please please please put them in the farm before you take a nap?”
My brain was getting swirly from jet lag and I was feeling more like a Zombymom than ever, but Drew got the Uncle Milton Ant Farm for Christmas and we had been anxiously waiting for the ants ever since.
“Of course,” I said. “Go get the farm and the sand and the instructions and tell Porter and Finn that it’s time.”
In moments the boys were in the kitchen, ready to populate the farm. The ants came in two test tubes, and the instructions advised us to put them in the refrigerator while we put the sand into the farm so the ants would be a little sleepy when it came time to put them into their new home. Drew stuck the tubes in the door by the butter and then we started filling the different sections of the farm with sand, which we then moistened with water.
Finally it was time for the climactic moment: introducing the ants to their new home.
I don’t know what kind of ants you have where you live, but we are used to little black ants that are so small they are easily squishable if you are not careful. That was not the type of ant that came in the test tubes. These were much bigger and reddish, and looked a lot like fire ants, but I felt sure that the ant farm folks were not going to send us fire ants as part of a Christmas present. After some googling, I am guessing that they were big-headed ants. They were the size of houseflies and looked menacing.
Placing the ants into their new home was supposed to be simple. We were to unseal the special openings of the ant farm and pour the chilled ants, who would be suitably sluggish, into their new habitat, seal it up, and watch them form trails.
Perhaps we were exceptionally efficient at assembling the ant farm, or maybe our refrigerator is not as cold as that of the average Uncle Milton’s customer, but when we opened the test tubes the ants dashed out like it was the Daytona 500. We managed to get the majority of them into the farm, but several hurled themselves out of the tube and onto the counter and began zooming in all directions.
“Get the ants before they run to the pantry!” I screamed.
“Mom, I can’t pick them up,” Drew whimpered. “They’re huge and they are running really fast.”
“I’m outta here,” Finn said, and he left. A second later I heard the sounds of a thunderous drum solo coming from the basement.
“Maybe they don’t want to live in the farm,” Porter said. “Maybe they want to live in the cabinets.”
“That’s not an option,” I said sharply.
I’m no fan of picking up any sort of critter with my bare hands, but the thought of these huge ants invading my house repulsed me, so I found myself grasping them between my thumb and forefinger and dumping them into the farm as quickly as I could, until there were no more escapees.
“Fasten the seals!” I yelled, and Drew quickly snapped down all the plastic frames and stoppers. The three of us sat back, gasping, and looked at the farm. Porter was crouched on the counter, and he crept forward to get a closer look.
Just then there was a huge crash and a scream and a clatter. I jumped up and saw that Porter had fallen on the floor. A huge puddle of blood surrounded his head. The ant farm had tumbled off the counter onto the floor as well, and several seals had popped off. Big-headed ants were running in every direction– toward the pantry, through the blood, up my leg. I swatted at a couple and their carcasses rolled to the ground.
“Drew, you take care of the ants while I deal with Porter and the blood. I don’t care if you stomp them or you pick them up, but you either kill them or you get them back in the farm immediately,” I said in a supernaturally calm voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, and he overcame his fear of the ants and rapidly plucked them from the floor and stuck them back into the farm.
I rolled Porter over and saw that he had a nasty gash above his ear that looked like it needed a few stitches. I yelled for Finn, in vain, as he was still drumming, so I sent Drew downstairs to get him. Finn came upstairs and had a short bout of lightheadedness upon seeing Porter dripping with blood.
“You can not faint or vomit right now, Finn,” I said. “I need you to get a new towel for Porter’s head. This one is too bloody.” Finn got a new towel while Drew called Chatty Mom, who dashed right over and picked up Finn and Drew. She promised to let Bill know where everyone was if he ever returned from his bike ride.
I set off for the hospital with Porter. I was barely out of the driveway when I had to return to the house to get the original bloody towel. Over the years I have learned that the amount of visible blood you bring into the emergency room has a direct relationship to the speed with which you are treated, and it doesn’t hurt to have the patient cry and moan a little, either.
Two hours (record time!) and several stitches later, we returned home.
Needless to say, I never did get my nap, but I did go to bed at 7:15. For a Zombymom, I had gotten a lot accomplished my first real day home.