As a kid I was fascinated by the process of making cartoons. Although my mom started me early on E. H. Shephard’s drawings of Christopher Robin and Pooh, I grew especially to love the work of Charles Schultz and, a little later, Bil Keane.
My dream of becoming a cartoonist was interrupted by what I now think of as temporary insanity. I got it into my head that I didn’t want to be a “starving artist,” and opted for pre-med in college instead of design.
About 15 years later and $200K poorer, I left my Internal Medicine practice to be a full time stay-at-home mommy. Now, when I’m not writing or illustrating or working on the Molly books, I teach my kids cartooning.
I get asked a lot if I’ll go back into Medicine when the kids are grown. And, when I think of all that debt, I feel guilty that I hated being a doctor so, so much! But the truth is, I seriously hope not.
So, I’m going to wrap up this brief post of procrastination and get back to squeezing in 100 Continuing Medical Education hours that are due Jan. 1 so I can continue to pay the AMA and remain legit.
Each night I thank God for all my blessings, especially for my truly amazing and awesome husband who supports me and all my career whims. “What am I putting down as your wife’s job this year?” asks our accountant each January.
And when I wake in the night sweating and trembling, fearing that I failed to wake up to my pager and missed a Code Blue, or that I am getting my 20th ICU admission of the (36-hr long) night, or any number of what can only be called post-traumatic-stress-disorder flashbacks that all physicians suffer as a result of residency training,
I close my eyes and picture colors, paints, pencil sketches, and brushes.
And breathe again.
Yep. That’s about right.
The sweetest piece of fan mail arrived today from Indiana. Tommy, a Catholic dad and campus security officer at a Catholic college, was very moved by Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper. He wrote to me that reading about the school uniforms brought back some very clear memories:
“I remember one incident when we were out playing, this big boy was mocking me, making fun of me behind my back. This was before I got my hearing aid–I was deaf. But this girl (God bless her!) jumped on that boy and knocked him down. Her name was Nancy, but I secretly called her my Joan of Arc. From then on nobody ever poked fun at me again. Nancy followed me throughout school, all the way up to graduation. I keep my graduation picture up in the computer room, and there’s Nancy to remind me of 3rd Grade so many years ago at Immaculate Conception School.”
And just like that, I could picture a flash of plaid as a brave, heroic girl named Nancy rescued poor Tommy. But in my mind, there were streaming locks of unruly auburn curls mixed with the mess of gray-and-navy. It looked something like this: “Maybe, Jean, you can write a Molly McBride story about bullies in school.”
God bless YOU, Tommy. I’ll see what I can do.
From the get-go there have been rumors that Molly would be doll-ified, and so it is that sewing has resumed in the household.
This takes me back. My mom and I made a large rag doll complete with yarn pigtails and fabric-painted face. That seems like centuries ago. But I still remember how to do it. Well, with the help of Pinterest.
I also decided to cover this funky chair. Funky as in, I am making a funky, faux-leather-and-fur covered chair out of what is truly a funky, old, beat-up…heck it was a free cast off from Southern Ohio Medical Center’s furniture graveyard back in 2004! Here is the seat:
and here it is, nearly finalized:
Have you ever made a rag doll? Or made anything funky lately? Feel free to share!
I have no idea where to start. Perhaps I could give you a visual from my husband’s point of view, for he was blissfully unaware of the latest installment of “This Crazy House” as he lay soaking in the jacuzzi tub in our bathroom. I come in and motion for him to turn off the jets so he can hear my explanation of why I am wielding in my left hand the enormous, meaty, remains of our Easter ham, shreds still clinging the bone, and gesturing frantically with my right hand.
How’s this for a beautiful end to Jo-Jo’s 8th birthday? Headline: “7-Year-Old, Previously Well-Adjusted Girl, Turns 8 And Suddenly Cannot Sleep In Her Own Room.” Or, alternatively I could title it “What’s The Weirdest Thing You’ve Ever Had To Clean Up Out Of Your Child’s Bed?” I mean seriously, it was like Ham-ageddon in there. Poor girl. Will she ever be the same?
Here’s the story. There were footsteps on the stairs, only halfway down since it’s past bed time: “Mommy. Mommy, I need you.”
Big sigh. “What is it, Jo-Jo?” (Translate, “What fantastic reason to delay your bedtime have you invented tonight?”)
“No, Mommy, you have to come up here.” Ok, there is real emotion in her voice. More real than just little-kid-trying-to-stay-up-longer emotion. Her voice is small and shaky. “Mommy, please. You have to come up now.”
Then she really got me: “There’s something in my bed.”
Spider. “Ok hold on, now,” I’m on my feet. “This sounds like a Daddy thing. You need Daddy. Go get Daddy. Jay! Jay? Where are you?” Nothing.
“No, Mommy, I need you now. Come now! Please! You have to come now!” It sounded like panic. Now I’m panicking. Probably a wolf spider. Seriously need Daddy. And a shot gun. And someone to shoot it. I now have one foot on the stairs and the other one headed towards the bathroom where I hope Daddy is. I see the dog on the couch, so I know they aren’t out for their evening walk.
“Mommy, this is not an insect or….. something.” Tearful. Panicking. Fretting. Bizarre.
Big Sis pokes her head out of her door. Even she is curious now.
“Jo-Jo. Get ahold of yourself. What is it? What. Is. In. Your. BED??!!!!!” Oh, the images that flashed through my paranoid mind. Raccoon? Snake? Fire? Fallen-in roof? Person? Dead person?!!!!!
“It’s not, it’s not, it’s….” she is struck dumb. She makes a face that has more than fear in it somehow. What is it? Disgust? Disgust! Yes! The dog went up there while we were watching LHOP! We thought it was kinda strange! The dog was acting kinda strange!
“Ohhhhhhh! Oh, oh, oh, no. Did, did Josie….you know, did she….?” One time she had pooped in the play room to show us she was mad at us for leaving her. Strikes again.
“No. No, Mommy. I don’t know what it is.” Sobbing.
Sometimes I like to think I’m that person who can just live without knowing what’s in the basement calling you at midnight in scary movies. I’d be the one who buys that house but hears the raspy-voiced, “Get out!” and I’d just, you know, get out. No, I never picture myself the heroine of the horror film, the girl who has killer curiosity and ends up just facing Freddie Kruger or Jason or whomever. I’d just pick up and move to Canada. End of story.
But I climbed those stairs and went into that room. And what I saw in that bed, well, I can tell you quite honestly, if I were a just-turned-8-year-old girl, I’d never be able to get back in that bed again.
It all began to click. We went out for birthday dinner and came home to find the lid off the trash can and a very thirsty puppy. I assumed she just, you know, ate the rest of the ham. I didn’t go digging though the smelly trash.
Then the weird trip upstairs during tv time. She’s a big dog and doesn’t really like going up and down the slippery wood stairs. It was fairly unusual. Not alarmingly so, but unusual.
Apparently, our dog had attempted to bury the Easter ham remains in Jo-Jo’s bed. Right up there next to her pillow, up against the wall. Our dog’s weird ascent during Little House had been a hambone inventory check. Poor Jo-Jo gets ready for bed only to find what truly appears to be a mauled carcass right where she is to lay her sweet head.
Now that she realizes what it is, and what that smell is, she refuses to even go in her room. I go in and strip the sheets as carefully as I can (I’ve already thrown away the ham bone since I am finished relishing over my husband’s bath) but still some bits of ham spray across the room, behind the headboard, down into the tight space between the mattress and the wall and the frame, down into the trundle bed mattress and frame. I try to move the bed over and, of course, the ceiling fan begins to bang loudly against the bedposts. I run to shut off the fan then return to attempt to remove the ham juice, grease-soaked mattress pad, only to find it is one of those zip ones that encases the entire mattress. Whose great idea was that? Yeah, mine. Go me. I won’t be able to fit all this into the washer in one load anyhow.
So Jo-Jo is having a little birthday sleepover in her Big Sis’ room tonight. I’m sure we’ll all get plenty of rest as we face a day of cleaning the ham bits from Baby Girl’s room tomorrow. And laundry.
You know what? I take it back. I can totally live without anyone else sharing what is the weirdest thing you’ve ever cleaned out of your child’s bed.