COLUMN: Busted! The perils of living in a small communityWhen my children were really little, they used to be amazed when I would count down the seconds to when the traffic lights would turn green.
By: By Julia Ybarra-Young, New Richmond News
I like to develop my “mother mystique.”
When my children were really little, they used to be amazed when I would count down the seconds to when the traffic lights would turn green.
They would audibly wonder how I knew they were opening the ceramic cookie jar when I was sitting in the next room.
I would astound them when I opened their door after bedtime, saw them frantically scurry back to bed and said, “Stop playing and go to sleep.”
“How did you know we were out of bed?” they would ask wide-eyed.
“I’m Mom – I know everything.”
Cue the mysterious music.
Now that we are living in small community, I have even more ways to amaze them.
I have a lot of spies.
When we first moved here seven years ago, I did not know a soul. My husband at least knew some of his co-workers, but since I was staying at home with my young daughters (“watching TV with the kids and eating bon-bons” as my husband called it), I had to make an effort to go out and meet people.
This was accomplished by working a few hours at the YMCA (now The Centre), joining the New Richmond Mom’s Group, becoming involved in church, volunteering at school, running a Girl Scout troop, becoming a regular at the library and just about anything else I could find.
Add my stint at working for the newspaper and pursuing some personal interests, it would not be unreasonable to say I know a lot of people.
In this case, spies.
For example, not too long after I started working at the YMCA, my husband was at the checkout line in Wal-Mart. His long hours at the office limited his ability to go out and meet other people, so he was amazed when the cashier asked, “You’re Julia’s husband, aren’t you?”
I wish I could have seen the look on his face.
Where we came from in Kansas City, it was a minor miracle if we saw someone we knew in a store, let alone having a cashier identify one of us through our spouse.
One week, we pledged to tighten our spending. So I packed a lunch for him to take to work.
I got a call from one of my friends later that day, who casually mentioned she saw my husband in the drive-through line at Burger King.
Let’s just say we had a nice “talk” when he got home.
Even my kids think I have lookouts posted on every corner. My oldest daughter was out walking with a friend, when the friend suggested they go someplace that my daughter knew she wasn’t supposed to go. She later told me, “I knew I’d get busted because you know EVERYONE in town, Mom.”
Sometimes I don’t have to use spies. Because of my job flexibility and being involved in a lot of things, I can “show up” anywhere.
I could drive by the school playground at recess and see my kids playing. When I would say something to them about who they were playing with, they would do a double-take followed by “how did you know?”
Back to those lunches that I painstaking make for my husband to take to work…
There have been times I’m out on errands around noon and I see my husband’s car parked outside Subway, the Mercado or Family Fresh. With an appropriately incredulous look across my face, I confront him eating a sandwich that I had not made.
Being a bit swifter than my kids, he knew I had seen his car when I was out “gallivanting around.” (Since the kids are in school and I work part-time, he has amended my job description to “laying around, playing on the computer and eating bon-bons.”)
Never mind the fact that I’ve never even tasted a bon-bon, but apparently that is beside the point.
In all fairness, the small community setting has worked to my disadvantage.
My husband works only two miles away from home, but he is usually so busy that he doesn’t come home for lunch and works late hours.
One Tuesday morning, I had risen early to finish an article about a meeting I had attended. The meeting had started at 7 p.m. the previous night, and did not end until after 11 p.m. Because I was so tired when I got home, I decided to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next day to write it for the deadline that morning.
After getting the kids off to school and my husband off to work, I continued working until 9:30 a.m. I was so tired by then that I decided to set my alarm for a two-hour nap and went back to bed.
My alarm went off close to noon. As I lay in the bed, trying to motivate myself to get up, I heard a thump downstairs. Now, my heart skipped a beat. Was I hearing things, or was someone/thing in the house?
I was just about to sit up when I heard a noise at the open bedroom door. I looked and saw my husband framed in the doorway, with an appropriately incredulous look on his face.
“A-HA!!” he cried triumphantly. “Busted! See, I was right! You do lay around all day!”
Dang it. At least he didn’t ask where the bon-bons were.