Melody Lumpkin


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An Apple A Day

On Monday, I packed nine year old E an apple with her morning snack.  She didn’t eat it.

On Tuesday, the same apple went back to school in the snack bag.  She didn’t eat it.
She said, “Don’t pack another apple for my snack.”
I answered, “It’s not another apple.  It’s the same apple.”

On Wednesday, the apple went back to school in the snack bag.  She didn’t eat it.
She said, “Mommy, I told you not to pack another apple in my snack.”
I answered, “It’s not another apple.  It’s the same apple.”

On Thursday, the apple went back to school in the snack bag.  She didn’t eat it.
On the way home from school she said,”Mommy, why do you keep sending this apple to school?  I’m not going to eat it.”
I said, “Okay, hand it to me.  I’ll eat it.”  I ate the apple.

On Friday, before she left for school she asked me, “Did you put an apple in my snack?”
I answered, “No.  I did not put an apple in your snack.”

Then I laughed.  I had put an apple in her lunch.

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Leveling Up

This year my littlest started school.  To complicate things, she and her sister are at different schools.  The schools are only about 5-10 minutes apart (depending on traffic) and the start times line up perfectly.  C has to be to school before 8am, E before 8:15am.  It’s a little tight, but doable.

This morning, things seemed to be going relatively smooth and I relaxed for a minute.  The girls were eating breakfast, lunches were packed, backpacks were by the door ready to go.  I felt on top of things, so instead of just combing their hair, I decided to style it.  I took an extra three minutes to put ponytails in their hair.  They looked cute. I admired my handiwork for a brief second before glancing at my watch and breaking the spell.  Those 3 minutes were ones we didn’t have and we had to GO.  Shoes on, out the door, down to the car, all in a blur.

As I’m pulling out of my parking space, I look at the clock and we are less than 5 minutes later than normal.  We should be fine, or so I thought.  I had one girl finishing her breakfast, the other doing her homework.  This all still seemed under control, if not a little pleasant.  I was helping the eldest work through her times tables (should have reviewed those more over the summer) and engaging the youngest in conversation.  It was a supermom moment.

And then we got stuck behind a city bus.  After several blocks, I was able to get around it, but we had already lost another couple of minutes.  This still didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me, until I realized I wasn’t factoring in school traffic.  C’s class starts 20 minutes before the rest of the school, so as long as we are on time, I don’t have to contend with the other 400 families bringing their kids to school.  When we got to the four-way stop that feeds into the school, I was behind a long line of cars.

C’s school is on the side of a mountain.  When I finally turned into the school’s steep parking lot, I realized there were no close parking spaces left.  I made a quick decision to look for spaces at the top of the hill where it’s not technically part of the parking lot, but much closer to the gate.  When I got up there, the only spot available involved driving over a curb.  The girls enjoyed the bumpy ride more than our car did.

I jumped out and started to unbuckle C when I noticed her face was covered in her breakfast.  As I grabbed a wipe and cleaned her up, E asked if she could just stay in the car and work on her homework.  I wanted to say yes. It would take me less than 5 minutes to walk C in.  I knew she would be fine, but all the stories about parents getting in trouble for leaving their children unattended in cars played through my mind and so I said, “I think 9 is old enough to stay in the car for 5 minutes, but I don’t know what the law is and I don’t want to get in trouble with the police.”  Of course, another mom overheard this whole conversation and shot me a judgy look.

As we ran C in, I remembered that today is the day that she is has substitutes (she has two teachers).  I forgot to remind her about it this morning.  Walking up to her classroom I said super cheerfully, “Remember, today is the day you get to meet the substitutes!”  I gave her a hug, shoved her in her classroom and ran back to the car.*  Of course, judgy mom was standing behind me for this great parenting moment as well.

E and I got back in the car, backed off of the curb and drove on to her school, with her finishing her homework along the way.  She finished the last problem as we pulled up into the drop off line.  I helped her stuff everything back into her backpack and she jumped out–at least 3 minutes before the tardy bell rang.

Only 170 more school mornings before summer.

*”Shoved” is strong language.  Maybe “physically encouraged” would be a better term.  Also, C loves school and was excited about meeting the substitutes when we talked about it a few days ago.


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The Oven Saga

 

Not long after we moved into our new home in March I noticed that a lot of heat was escaping the oven when I baked anything.  In particular, the front panel (where the knobs are) would get extremely hot.  After my four year old touched that panel once and burned her fingers, I started researching if there was a way to fix it.  After several unsuccessful Google searches, I ended up emailing Whirlpool for advice on how to handle the situation which set off a series of complicated and extremely frustrating events.  Below is the timeline for your enjoyment.

 

March 3: Move into new home, relish the new (to us) appliances.

May 9: I emailed Whirlpool to ask if they can help me, mentioning the four year old’s burned fingers.

May 12: Marti from Whirlpool emails me back and asks me to call her.  I spend 30 minutes on the phone with her.  She tells me that since this is a safety issue the cost of the repair will be covered by Whirlpool.  She also lectures me on how to keep my children safe in the kitchen.  I bite my tounge.  I set up an appointment for someone to come look at the stove.

May 16: Carlos from Whirlpool Factory Service comes to my home and diagnoses the problem as the oven needing new hinges.  He spends most of his time on the phone with someone trying to convince them that I should pay for this repair.  He tells me that there is no reason for Whirlpool to cover this, but because Marti said they would he doesn’t charge me.  He orders the parts for me and tells me to set up another appointment for someone to come and do the repair work.

May 20: Nick from Whirlpool Factory Service calls to say that the parts were delayed due to the fires around San Diego and I will need to reschedule the repair.

May 27: A nice man (I forgot his name) from Whirlpool Factory Service comes, takes the oven door completely apart and replaces the hinges.  He also compliments my parenting.  He wins my favor.  Unfortunately his work did not.

May 30: I’m baking bread and my oven falls apart.  The front glass falls onto the floor.  Then handle comes off in my hand.  It’s a Friday evening, so I email Whirlpool and attach a picture.

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June 4: Anne from Whirlpool emails back and asks me to call her.  I do.  She schedules someone to come back to put the oven together.

June 5: Carlos from Whirlpool Factory Service comes back.  He looks at the oven and tells me that the previous work done on the oven and the oven falling apart are not related.  He tells me that “ovens that are 10-15 years old like this one” will need repairs.  I remind him that the oven is 6 years old.  He says that if I want it fixed, I will have to pay for it and it will cost $278.  After trying to convince him that the two incidents were related and him being rather rude to me, I tell him I will think about what I want to do next.  He leaves and I call Anne back.  She is astounded as to why he would try to charge me, gives me an authorization number for the repair, orders the parts that Carlos said we needed, and sets up another service appointment.  Anne was very helpful.

June 13: I wait at home through the 8-12 appointment window.  At the end of the window, I call Whirlpool Factory Service.  After 20 minutes on hold, the person tells me that the repairman is running late and should be there by 1:30.  A few minutes later, the repairman calls and says that he will be there around 3 or 4pm “but definitely today.”  Around 3pm he calls back and says that he will not be able to make it that day and I will need to reschedule.  He tells me that there was some sort of accident and another repairman was injured.  I call to make another appointment and am on hold for another 20 minutes.

June 19: Joon from Whirlpool Factory Service comes to fix the oven.  He gets here and tells me that he doesn’t have the parts needed to fix it and that he will have to order them.  I work very hard to not strangle him, as he is very polite and seems to feel bad about the situation.  He says he will order the parts and have them shipped to me and when I get them I should call to set up an appointment for the repair.

June 21: I host a party without baked goods.  A birthday party without cake.  A bit of my soul died. My 8 year old created a party game called Pin the Repairman on the Oven. It was a big hit.

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June 24: I come home to a box on my doorstep and am excited about the possibility of finally getting my oven in working order again.  I open the box and find, instead of a piece of trim and a handle, two pieces of trim.  One of the pieces was cracked.  I called Whirlpool Factory Service and was told that they couldn’t help me, but I should call back in the morning.

 

 

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I’m not sure if Whirlpool is really that incompetent or if they are starting to troll me.  Everyone that I have dealt with (except Carlos) has been amazingly nice, but nice won’t bake bread.  I really, really want to bake some bread (and cookies and potatoes and cupcakes and muffins and lasagna and pizza and brownies).

***edited for update***

June 25: Call Whirlpool Factory Service again, after 15 minutes on hold, I explain the situation briefly to Beverly who puts me back on hold to try to figure out what’s going on.  She says that the technician ordered two pieces of trim and that the handle should be coming today.  She also said that they will send another piece of trim to replace the one that is cracked.  I explained to her that there is only space on the oven for one piece of trim.  She replied that the technician ordered it so they must need it.  I decided not to argue.


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The Indignities of Motherhood

This morning my oldest daughter made me a necklace.  She couldn’t find a jewelry fastener, so she improvised.  She handed it to me with pride, waiting to see my delight, then added, “It might be a little pokey.”

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I oohed and awed over the necklace, then started to set it down.  Little questioning eyes looked up at me, “Aren’t you going to wear it?”

“Of course, I’m going to wear it,” I said as I fastened it around my neck.

As I walked across the street to the grocery store with a bright pony beads held together with hardware fastened around my neck, I fought feelings of self-consciousness.  I started thinking about all the times that being a mother has made me look silly, crazy, or just undignified.  Like when strangers point out that I have a large red “Only $2.99!” sticker on my rear.  Or when I found a toy frog in a bra I was wearing.  Or the many times I’ve carried a child kicking and screaming out of a public place.  Or the things I say (“Get your finger out of Jesus’ nose!” or “Don’t lick the toilet!”).  Or using a public restroom with a small child who always comments on various aspects of the experience and/or opens the stall door at the worst time.  Or being peed, puked, or pooped on.

While I was thinking on these indignities of motherhood, I thought of the Fistula Foundation— an organization that helps women with childbirth injuries.  When you make a donation to the Fistula Foundation, they send you a gift, a dignity scarf or a dignity necklace.  In places where women (girls) are married young, malnourished, and maternal care is not readily available, childbirth injuries are common.  These injuries result in a fistula (hole) that allows urine or feces to leak constantly from the woman.  The Fistula Foundation has hospitals in 19 countries, offering surgeries that restore dignity and hope to women.

Every year on my girls’ birthdays, I try to donate to the Fistula Foundation.  Mother’s Day seems like a good day to do so as well.  And their dignity necklace is a little more, well, dignified than the one I received this morning.

 
If you have 53 minutes and want to learn more, there is a short documentary on Nova called A Walk to Beautiful.  It is a beautiful story of hope and healing.


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“This Is Your Uterus on Chlamydia” and Other Things I Heard in Chapel

Tonight I was reminded of a particularly spectacular chapel service from my time at Ouachita Baptist University.  OBU is a small liberal arts school (for real) in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  I loved my time there.  Students at OBU were required to attended a weekly chapel. I’m sure they still are.  I generally liked chapel, but there are a few that have really stuck with me over the last decade.  Tonight I was reminded of those outstanding chapel services and felt the need to share my memories.

1. The Kanukuk chapel

Once a year, a guy who was somehow related to Kanukuk Kamps would come and speak.  I think his name was Joe.  One year, he decided to do a dramatic piece.  The set up was that he was a cross maker in Biblical times.  He sent a couple of college guys out into the woods surrounding our university with the instructions of bringing him a log that he could use as a prop.  I don’t think he was very clear on his desired dimensions.  They brought him this huge tree.  When it was time for him to speak, he entered lugging that giant tree.  I’m pretty sure I was not the only person scared for his safety and the safety of those around him as we watched him struggle to get the tree onto stage and then to catch his breathe enough to say the lines he prepared.  After he got the tree on stage, he got out an ax and started chopping to make notches for the cross beam.  Later there were rumors about damage to the stage and carpet.  I remember nothing that he said.  Probably something about Jesus.

2. The Sex Ed Chapel

This is the chapel that is most clearly seared in my brain.  It was my freshman year and I was newly dating my now husband (Matt).  I was a few minutes late, which meant instead of going to my assigned seat, I went up to general seating in the balcony.  This day, I was happy that Matt had been late too and had a seat open next to him.  I quickly sat down and looked up at the stage to see who was speaking and heard something like, “This is what a uterus looks like when it is infected with chlamydia.”  There behind the speaker was a very graphic picture of a diseased uterus.  For 20 minutes she continued to speak in gross detail about how horrific sex was and how it was almost impossible to engage in sexual activity without your genitalia falling off.  She had the slides to prove it.  At one point she put on a pair of gloves that had velcro on the palms.  She kept clasping her hands together and pulling them apart again, the velcro ripping, saying something like, “when you have sex with someone, you are attached.”  For years, the sound of velcro triggered all sorts of flashbacks.

3. The Chicken King Chapel

The last chapel that sticks in my mind was one where the speaker was a chicken tycoon from Texas.  Again, I remember almost nothing that he said, but at the end of the chapel he had student workers hand out little New Testaments to everyone.  Inside each New Testament was a crisp new twenty dollar bill.  I remember doing the math and realizing that he had put somewhere between $25,000 and 30,000 into those Bibles.  To this day, when I pass by the meat section in the grocery store and see chopped up chickens, I think of this generous man.

As I was remembering my time in chapel at OBU, I realized that if you want to get a college student’s attention, there are three good ways: threat of bodily harm, diseased sex organs, and/or money.


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Girl Scouts and Flying

I pulled up in the carpool line yesterday and saw my child waiting with the widest grin.  She came bounding over to our car waving an envelope, barely able to contain her excitement.  She was yelling, “I can learn to fly!  I can learn to fly!!”  For months, she and three of her friends (dubbed the Fearless Flyers) have been trying to figure out a way to fly.  I was eager to hear of her latest plan.  Most of the plans up until this point have involved balloons, cliffs, trampolines, feathers taped to cardboard wings, or any combination of the above.  I’ve gently discouraged the more dangerous trials.  Today’s plan was different.  Inside her envelope was her Girl Scout cookie sales form.  One of the prizes for selling cookies was lessons at a trapeze school shown with a picture that said, “Learn to Fly.”

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Of course to get this prize, one has to sell 1,500 boxes of cookies (at $4 a pop, that’s $6,000 dollars worth of cookies).  We talked about what that would look like.  Last year she sold sixty-ish boxes of cookies, her entire troop sold around 1,200.  I told her to sell that many cookies, she would actually have to talk to people, maybe even people she didn’t know really well (which has traditionally been very hard for her).  She thought about this.  As soon as we got home, she was out of the car and asking neighbors to buy cookies.  She has plans to reach her goal.

When I got a chance, I put a status on Facebook announcing that she is selling cookies and her (outlandish) goal.  Then something amazing happened.  People started messaging me, and sharing on her behalf and cookie orders started coming in.  My child is surrounded by people who believe in her and want to see her succeed.  This overwhelms me and humbles me regularly.  Thank you friends.

While I don’t really expect my kid to sell 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, it wouldn’t surprise me too much.  She’s kind of amazing, and she’s got a great support team.

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Train Ride

I was sitting in the Hollywood/Highland Metro station, reading and waiting for the train that would take me home.   Giggles and movement behind me drew my attention, the kind of giggles that sounded like teens who were doing something wrong and laughing at their boldness.  I started listening.

Two girls, young teens, were trying to get the attention of a man sitting directly behind me (we were back to back).  I listened as they claimed to be strippers and offered him a “private show.”  He enjoyed their attention and gave them contact information for sending pictures.  They claimed to be 18 and 21 years old, but I’m pretty sure they were much younger.  As I sat and listened, my mind raced, trying to figure out what to do.

The train came and the girls got on the same car as me.  They turned their attention to a new man and did something that resulted in him giving them three one dollar bills.  Then they moved to the seats directly across from me.  I watched as they turned all their attention to the young man closest to them.  He was not interested.  Just before they got off at the next station, we briefly made eye contact.  They saw the pity and sadness in my eyes and they laughed.  It wasn’t a laugh of mirth, but a hard laugh of fear and defiance.

The rest of my ride home those two girls dominated my thoughts.  I wish I would have said something, done something.  I wanted to tell them, “You are worth more than this.”

When I got home, I scooped up my two young daughters and told them again that they are smart, wonderful, and full of potential.  I snuggled with them as they watched the end of Ice Age 2, listened as they recounted their favorite parts.  The difference in the two experiences was jarring.  What I didn’t say to the girls on the train, I say to my girls.  I hope the girls on the train have someone who will say these things to them, over and over until they believe it.