‘Are you sure you don’t need a hug?’

Are We There Yet? • LORI CLINCH

Writing a weekly column in a house such as mine is no easy task. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to get in the right frame of mind. While a better person would use yoga, Pilates and perhaps a moment of meditation, I have to get my mojo on by pre-treating stains, freaking about piles of mud and cursing dirty toilets while guzzling as much caffeine as humanly possible. And if a dirty coffee pot won’t give me a creative edge, I don’t know what will.

Take last night, for instance. I had been cleaning up after slobs, summoning violators and giving my ever-so-famous demonstration on proper dishwasher loading. I was just about to see if a hammer and a chisel would remove lasagna off the ceramic cook-top stove, when the mood to write hit me.

With my coffee in tow, I raced toward the office. I was almost there when a kid appeared before me with arms flailing and doing a slow-motion rendition of kung-foo fighting, complete with sound effects.

Getting past him with my coffee was hard enough. Getting past him while keeping my writing bubble intact, was quite another. I ducked under his faux slow-motion maneuver, spun on my left foot and swiftly rounded the corner only to find Little Charlie at the computer and engrossed in an online game of Bap the Duck.

“Charlie, darling,” I said with more patience than I felt, “Mommy needs to write.”

“But I was here first,” he said without so much as throwing a glance my way.

“I know that, honey, but I have to write right now while the mood is with me.”

“But I was here first,” he said again, as if he didn’t remember saying it the first time.

“I know you were, precious,” I explained, “but I have been working on my mood all day and if I don’t write right now, I’ll lose my mojo.”

He was apparently so engrossed that he failed to grasp the severity of my situation.

I could have argued the point endlessly. I could have explained how tos, where upons and whys, but instead I chose to pull rank. “Charlie, I’m going to need you to get off the computer.” Anticipating his next question before he asked it, I promptly added, “Because I said so!”

I felt a little sad as he got up and walked out of the room. Not terrible, you understand, but just a tad bad.

In an attempt to get things just right, I adjusted the chair, flipped my hair, moved the monitor and was about to put my fingers on the keyboard when I heard Charlie tell his father who was in the next room, “Dad, mom is mad at me.”

“Lori!” his father called out, “why are you mad at our little guy?”

“I’m not mad at Charlie,” I said as I rolled my eyes, “I just wanted to write while I was in the mood.”

“Well,” Pat called back as he surely pulled his little darling onto his lap, “you didn’t have to get mad at him.”

“Don’t go into the office,” I heard only a moment later, “Mom is mad.”

“Why is she mad?” young Lawrence asked.

“I don’t know,” Charlie answered, “but it has something to do with a mojo and if I were you I wouldn’t go in there.”

Some kids might run from a mother who is rumored about the abode as being annoyed, but not this one. No sir, if ever there was a kid who liked to pick at a wound, it would be young Lawrence and it was only a minute before I felt his presence over my shoulder.

“Do you need a hug?” he asked. “No,” I answered without turning around.

“Are you sure? Because I think you need a hug.”

“What I need is just two minutes to myself so that I can write.”

“I’m still pretty sure that you need a hug.”

I turned and stood and shared an embrace that I didn’t really feel and as if he sensed my insincerity, Lawrence held on all the longer.

“Are you done?” I finally asked.

“I think so,” Lawrence said as he finally relinquished the hold. He then turned and walked away. I heard him say to yet another brother as he passed him in the hall, “Don’t go in there. She’s ticked today!”

“Mom’s in a bad mood,” Huey informed his father in the room next to the office.

“Lori,” his father called, “Why are you mad at Huey?”

It’s enough to make one wonder if a mojo is even worth keeping around.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at www.loriclinch. com.