Same Old Grind

Advanced bruxism – that’s what it’s called when you clench and grind your teeth in your sleep. I didn’t know I had it until my dentist noticed my worn lower teeth at a check-up. She made me a mouth guard to save them. I know when it all started. It was in the big house by the two schools.
My husband wanted to add a second story to our house on the slopes of Mt. Diablo. We’d already added on a bedroom and bath, bumped out the laundry room and bumped out and gutted the kitchen. Now he wanted us to live there, with three young children, while contractors came over and added another level to our home.
I said no to the dust, the noise, and the men peeing in my powder room. The third child’s bedroom would’ve become the staircase.
“The driveway still won’t be flat!” I argued.
When my husband had tried to play basketball with our son on our steep driveway, the ball rolled down the court, then rolled onto the cross street and didn’t stop rolling for blocks.
I found a big two-story house when out going to garage sales one Saturday morning. The people were about to list it. It had a long flat driveway with a half court by the side garages. It backed up to the high school and middle school. Two of our kids could walk to school, eliminating four carpool runs a day to pick them up.
The price for the bigger house equaled the price to add on to the current house, and we’d have no construction mess. I was sold. We moved in when the kids were 6, 11, and 14.

Reasons Not to Buy a House Next to a School
1. Football games
2. La Crosse practice
3. Soccer tournaments
4. Pee Wee Football
5. Little League Baseball
6. Summer School
7. Trackathon fundraisers
8. Fireworks, kids making out in dark places, Kids Doing Wheelies in parking lot, etc.
9. Parents driving over the baseball diamond to drop off their football players for practice

Reasons To Buy a House Next to a School
1. You can open the slider and hear the football game score.
2. You can listen to graduation while you make dinner. “I know that kid, his sister is in my son’s class.”
3. You can be Party Central after school for all the orphan kids who need milkshakes, video game time, piano time, or just a place to crash until the parents get home.
4. Your kids learn, on their own, how to make it to school on time.

But the big problem was the size of the house – 4700 sq. feet, built by a plumber, so everyone had their own bathroom (who had time to clean five bath tubs?). My family became compartmentalized and only saw each other at mealtimes. This was a problem when husband missed 17 of the family’s weekly meals together. To say he was a workaholic was putting it mildly.
So the night he came home early so I could go to physical therapy for my clenched jaw, I told my husband I’d be back in an hour and a half.

My husband took our son to the middle school to shoot hoops and only told our oldest daughter. Our oldest daughter went off to the high school to see a play and told her little sister, assuming I was there in the house somewhere.

When I got home at 8:00 p.m., the now seven year old was sitting on the couch watching TV with the two dogs. The front door was unlocked, the garage door was up, and the back slider was open.
“Hi, Mom,” she said.
“Where is everybody?” I asked.
“I don’t know,’ she said. “Upstairs?”
I went upstairs to check. Every TV in the house was on in every room, but no one was home. My husband’s latch key childhood flashed before my eyes. His only company back then — dogs and TV. But that was in Omaha in the 60’s, far from earthquakes, fires, and transients.
The reality of what could have happened undid my previous hour of jaw therapy. When the family members came home, they all blamed each other for the huge miscommunication. I scolded my husband for his carelessness.
“She’s fine!” he said without apology.
I double checked my mouth guard that night, because I knew I was going to clench extra hard.

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda

If we would’ve stayed put at the old house and added a second floor while we lived there through it, we would’ve gotten divorced ten years sooner than we eventually did. So the big house was a good place for the kids to grow up for a decade.

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