When in doubt…Do

This is the normal morning routine:

Wake up at 6. Get coffee. Make sure boys are awake…

(This invariably involves some form of physical rousing as one of our sons – I won’t mention which one – sleeps through the alarm…all 4 of them. I am now trying to find a converter that will work so that I can use the super sonic boom alarm I bought in the U.S. that has a special vibrating disc that you put under the mattress. If having an alarm as loud as a jet and a mattress shaking violently doesn’t do the trick, then I am giving up.)

…Drink coffee. Make breakfast. See boys off to the bus. Go exercise.

Actually, I lie. I have stopped seeing the boys off to the bus.

It was too stressful for all of us.

(I.e. me).

First of all, I was so paranoid about them missing the bus, that I set all the clocks in the house fast. At first it was 5 minutes, then it was 8, then 10. The buffer time expanded as did my paranoia of the kids missing the bus.

(Because you know who would have to make the 50 km trek across the city to the school if they missed the bus…a drive involving fighting traffic and dodging highway drivers who seem to think that merging as close as possible to your car at 7AM is a thrilling replacement for a stiff Turkish coffee.)

The buffer time was meant to give the boys a chance to let the mental wheels turn after looking at the clock…”Oh, it says 10 minutes before I have to leave. I guess now would be a good time to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, pack my backpack…”

Of course, this just led to confusion for those of us who actually looked at the clock.

Then there was the whole countdown drama. At 10 (really 15) minutes before the bus came, I would yell upstairs where the boys’ rooms are “10 minutes until bus arrives.” I would repeat this at 5 (10) before. Then 2 minutes before. And so on.

Without fail, panic would set in as too often we (they) would be savagely eating into the buffer time I had so carefully built into our routine, and instead of sending them out the door with a  calm kiss and smiling “I love you, have a nice day” as I always intended, I would end up shoving them out the door with a grimace and screeching “RUN! You’re going to miss the bus!” farewell.

Recognizing that I was a bit too, ahem, involved in the whole morning routine…

(Okay, who hasn’t over-parented at one point or another…or another…or another…?)

…I decided to take myself out of the bus-catching equation to make it easier on everyone.

(I.e. me.)

(Because the boys, bless their tolerant hearts, always remained quite calm in the eye of my freaking out storm.)

So, the routine now is actually that I make them breakfast and then get out of the house well before the it’s-getting-close-you-are-going-to-miss-the-bus-and-I-am-NOT-driving-you-and-you-will-SO-lose-ALL-computer-privileges-so-help-me time.

Things are much more serene now.

I get to give them a calm kiss and smiling “have a great day” farewell and start my workout early. The boys get to exit the house with minimal fuss. Then, after my workout is done, I get to enter a quiet house in a calm, peaceful state.

(Because, amazingly, the boys somehow manage to make the bus without having me breath – screech – down their throats. Imagine that.)

After I return home, I let Zoya outside to lounge in our backyard while I eat breakfast.

And so that was the routine a few days ago.

I did my workout, let Zoya out and started making my breakfast. As I was rummaging through cupboards and refrigerator, I thought I heard some yelling, but I just ignored it.

When I turned on the microwave to heat up soy milk for my coffee and hit the coffee bean grinder button, I again thought I heard some yelling. It seemed a bit more panicked, almost a shriek. Still, a building across the street from us was being torn down, so there was a lot of noise and voices.

I did – just to make sure nothing was on fire or other major event that it would behoove me to be aware of – glance out at Zoya to see if she noticed anything amiss, but she was sprawled lazily in the grass snoozing. So, again, I just ignored it and went on my merry way.

Then, our internal compound phone rang. I answered it, received some Turkish back, and then the person hung up on me.


Oh, well.

I had just started tucking into my breakfast and checking out Yahoo! Finance to see where the markets had closed the previous day. Hum dee dum.

The phone rang again. The voice on the other ends sounded a bit strained and asked for Olga.

(Olga is of Moldavian origin but with a Turkish passport. She helps out at our house and also is the one who babysits Zoya – or the boys – when we travel. She speaks Russian and Turkish, so we communicate in Russian, and she helps me with anything Turkish. Not a great motivator for me to learn Turkish, but it’s great for my household Russian.)

I got Olga who took the phone and listened attentively as some fast Turkish was spoken.

(I could hear the raised voice on the other end indicating some urgency.)

Then Olga looked out the back patio door…

…and I looked out the back patio door…

…and we opened the door…

…to see two men on the other side of our backyard fence, clinging to its rail for dear life, their eyes big as saucers.

(Our yard is fenced in, and there is a steep slope just behind the fence. If you are on the other side of the fence, you either hold onto the fence or fall down the hill.)

(Although, come to think of it, they seemed less concerned with the hill than with Zoya.)

Apparently, the two men had been working in our yard when I let Zoya outside.

And thought it would be more prudent to jump over the fence than to be discovered by our 125-pound Beast from the East.

(Their attitude may have had a bit do do with a wee tiny incident that happened the previous week. One of the gardeners decided to enter our backyard without calling to inform us, as we have asked that they do. After all, Zoya is a nice dog, but she IS a guard dog and she IS big. If she sees us bring people into our house, yard, etc. no problem. But if she is surprised by them, well, she does her job. Which is what she did when the gardener showed up unannounced. She barked and growled at him, holding him at bay, until we came to give our approval.)

(She doesn’t bite, by the way.)

(Which is good because there was that other time that I let a computer guy into our house and sent him up to my office without me so that I could make us some coffee. Unfortunately, I belatedly realized that I had left Zoya in the office. I belatedly realized this when I heard her серьезные собаки – serious dog – bark followed by the sound of footsteps pounding down the stairs accompanied by a high-pitched “Mon dieu!”)

(It’s true that fear makes your voice go up an octave.)

(The man was very nice about it, by the way.)

(Although it still gives me a guilty giggle when I picture his face.)

(I know, very bad of me. And it was all my fault.)

(After all, Zoya IS a very nice, social dog. If she is outside her territory, then she’s totally approachable. Which is a good thing because people are all the time coming up and throwing their arms around her face, petting her, putting their heads down by her face to pose with her for pictures, without any warning or inquiry to us if she is friendly. It’s only if you’re in her territory that you definitely want her to know that you were invited.)

In any case, the story ends happily. I brought Zoya inside, and Olga helped the men climb back over the fence.

(Zoya was still completely oblivious to the men. As I said, if you’re outside her territory or given permission to be on it, she is totally at ease.)

And the good news is that I now am quite confident that the men will without fail call to check on Zoya’s whereabouts before entering our yard.

I learned an important lesson, too:

When in doubt, go with your first instinct.

Especially if screaming is involved.

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