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 schools.
My husband wanted to add a second story to our house in Alamo 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 through street and didn’t stop rolling for blocks.
When out going to garage sales one Saturday morning, I found a big two-story house for sale in our school district. The people were about to list it. It had a long flat driveway with a half basketball 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 for me to pick them up.
I was sold. The price for the bigger house equaled the price to add on to the current house, minus the construction mess. 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. Fireworks
8. kids making out in dark places,
9. Kids Doing Wheelies in parking lot
10. 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 are on their own to make it to school on time.
But the biggest 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 21 meals together. To say he was a workaholic was to put it mildly.
So the night I went 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 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?”
Every TV in the house was on in every room, but no one was home. My husband’s accounts off his latch-key childhood flashed before my eyes. His company back then — dogs and TV — Omaha in the 60’s, far from earthquakes, fires, and transients.
The reality of what could have happened to our youngest child 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!” was his response.
I double checked my mouth guard, because I knew I was going to clench extra hard that night.

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda

I should’ve been a dentist so I could get the $400 mouth guard for free.

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