Broken Home–In Which the Pig Wore Lipstick

Dear Lily June,

The expression “to put lipstick on a pig” is one meant to indicate that someone’s trying to trick or cheat you by taking one thing and dolling it up until it looks like another. But, as they (the purveyors of fine cliche everywhere) also say, you can’t “polish a turd.” Why am I teaching you these expressions now? Because your parents almost purchased a Pig, and worse, might have gotten stuck investing in a lifetime supply of turd polish.

We lost the house, Lily. The truth was that the Pig needed $15,000 worth of foundation repairs. The Pig had had water leaking into its crawlspace for years that remained untended to, soaking into the stones and eventually cracking the corner of the house right off, shifting the masonry blocks and making the center of the whole home’s floor get soggy like a piece of wet white bread. One thing your parents have already learned as aspiring homeowners: Always take care of your gutters and downspouts!

The Pig’s owners had done what they could to hide it: They re-caulked a window and painted over the patches to hide how the walls had shifted around its frame. They replaced the soffit and re-mortared the brick. They made it look like the home was standing where it had always stood. In other words, they applied a generous coat of lipstick to their Pig, and put it on the market. And your parents, dreaming of giving you a home to form the foundation of your life, fell for the Pig owners’ ruse and were about to spend all the bacon we bring home on a turd that could never shine like silver.

Luckily, the foundation inspector wasn’t so easily fooled, and all told, across the inspections, we lost about $500 (at least once we get our earnest money back) to learn a $15,000 lesson. We know, going forward, how to better look beyond the seemingly luscious lips to spot the snout underneath.

***

Of course, that doesn’t stop our hearts from breaking now, especially after we’d already wallpapered our imaginations in dreams of this particular house. But there’s something to Langston Hughes’ pondering about where a deferred dream goes. He posits, at the end of the poem,

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I think of that house’s floor, Lily, that lost the opportunity to hold up your pitter-pattering feet, and I know that the floorboards sadly sag a fraction of a millimeter more for it. I think of the fireworks we may see this weekend and imagine that the splintering sparks might hold their own metaphor: Sure, one dream has to burst, but in doing so, its fire lights the darkness, illuminating other possibilities.

Or maybe I’m just trying to talk myself into feeling more positive than I do, less burned out on the whole process, less bitter that we might have been hoodwinked, less hurt that the system (from the realtor to the lender) is built to work against folks like your dad and I who are the (hard-)working poor, who were sold a dream of what education would do for us, and woke to a reality of back-breaking debt.

It’s times like these that call for a hardcore perspective shift. It’s times like these to tuck the future up into a shelf on the closet, Lily, and deal with the present you’ve been keeping in a drawer. It’s time, my darling daughter, for an updated Happy List because focusing on what brings you joy, right here, right now, reminds me that the world can be a simpler and more forgiving place than I tend to make it. We did a list when you were four months old. We did it again when you were ninth months old. Now, at thirteen months, I think we’re overdue for yet another. So it goes…

***

The Top Ten Things that (Currently) Make You, Lily June (at Thirteen Months Old), Happiest:

13 mo Smile
That smile of yours is definitely at the top of my own Happy List.

1) Shambling

In your last Happy List, you had just started to stand. Now, Lily, you’re a full-blown toddling toddler. Except, it would be more accurate to call you a “shambler.” To navigate your world, you throw both arms out and drag your legs, toes down sometimes, like a zombie dazed for brains (if by “brains” you mean “tubes of Go-Gurt”).

Zombie-156055.png
It’s especially cute when you’re biting a sippy cup between your teeth as you do it.

 

2) Greeting the Morning in Song

At four months, you inexplicably loved AC/DC. At nine months, you were content with hearing the softer sounds of “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.” Now, Lily, you’re not satisfied unless you’re making the music yourself. This generally consists of you belting out a note and holding it for as long as it takes your little lungs to empty. The lyrics of your dawn-song are simple–“Laaaa. Laaaaaaa-uhhhhhhh! Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”–but I hear Adele started similarly.
And when I join you–like on the days your dad drives me to work, and I sit with you in the back while you’re strapped into your carseat–your face curls into a smile like a Jack-O-Lantern’s if he’d been huffing nitrous oxide at the pumpkin dentist’s again.
3) Testing Your Baby Gate’s Defenses

For Christmas, your Grandpa Eddie got you a Super-yard, an extended wall of baby gates all connected into each other that can be made into a circular pen. Once you outgrew it, we ran it the length of our entire living room wall, effectively creating a kind of adorable toddler prison. As a stop-gap measure for the other side of the room, we’ve crammed heavy boxes topped with car seats between furniture.

We’ve had to be creative as jailers, because you’ve found a way to scale over, scamper around, squeeze into, and chew through almost every defense we put up. I swear I once saw you flatten like a cat and limbo under a recliner. I can only imagine that once you’ve gotten the hang of language, you will turn to us like former U.S. President Ronald Reagan (figuratively) turned to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and you will demand that we “tear down this wall.”

 

4) Abusing Your Parents

In all fairness, all the weird attacks on us (including but not limited to hair pulling, nipple-pinching(?!), face-slapping, fingernail-scraping, scaling us like human ladders, spinning around like a sun-dial and accidentally kicking us when you nap while we’re holding you, etc.) seem entirely incidental to your development, and not like intentionally malicious cruelty.

In fact, when, after you’ve accidentally hit me hard in the face, and I correct you by grabbing your chubby hand and rubbing it over my cheek softly saying, “Gentle…gentle,” you often bury your shy smile into my shoulder and attempt to give me what feels like a conciliatory hug, exactly like the gif seen here.

 

5) Eating G0-Gurt

You’ve broken with tradition (only eating foods that end in -eez, like peas, cheese, Jell-o cut into the shape of an isosceles, etc.) and have opened your heart to America’s favorite mobile dairy dessert, Go-Gurt. If this, too, creates its own trend, I can only imagine that the Walking Taco is next in line.

Frito_pie_at_Five_&_Dime_General_Store_(Santa_Fe,_New_Mexico)_001
I think we need a bigger bib.

 

6) Splashing in the Tub

You went from being afraid of grass and the bathtub to thrashing around across the one and splashing around in the other. Add this to the ongoing list of things I am SO GLAD your Daddy taught you. And I’d bet dollars to donuts that the neighbors who live below us in our apartment complex are SO GLAD, too.

 

7) Communicating through Your Diaper

We should have guessed that the house we were trying to purchase had major problems when every single time we visited there for another inspection/estimate, you dropped a dookie in your diaper. Like some cross-breed of Carrie and Cassandra, you were trying to use your psychic abilities to doom-cry through your dumper. But your curse is that your diaper is never to be believed.

I think I speak for your dad as well when I say we can rarely believe what you’ve done in there.

In the meantime, though, you’ve learned a new adorable habit, too. When your dad or I ask you, “Did you poop?,” you now pull up your shirt and tug at your pants in order to give us a better view of your diaper. It is absolutely fantastic, right down the poo-eating grin you sport in pride when we laugh at your efforts to direct us.

 

8) “Helping” with Laundry

In that same vein of helpfulness, it can’t go unnoticed that you’ve recently tried to get in on the laundry-action we have going at home. You jump into the freshly dried basket o’ clothes and repeatedly fling items–socks, burp clothes, pj’s, towels (you name it, you chuck it)–around the room.

If it didn’t make you so happy, I might have to insist that you find a pile of leaves to leap through instead. But considering that we don’t have a yard or a tree, and it’s not Autumn, and you don’t speak competent English yet…

Dhobi_Ghat,_Mumbai,_India_(21203969071).jpg
Yeah, this looks like about the amount of laundry we do per day, give or take a sock.

 

9) Driving Your Car

You may recall that your first birthday brought you your first set of wheels, a Cozy Coupe. Though I’m not one to toot my own horn (and you’ve only just figured out how to toot yours), I’m really proud of this purchase, given how much time you spending climbing into it and moaning when it’s not being pushed.

Technically, Lily, in the state of Indiana, you’re not supposed to drive until you turn sixteen. And yet, not only did I purchase you a vehicle, but I also allow you, under the clandestine cover of summer sunshine, to drive it all throughout our apartment complex’s parking lot. I don’t know how we get away with it, but I’ll be reminding you of this when you’ve hit puberty, and you find yourself wanting some way to escape.

We’ll keep this puppy in the garage for you (if we ever get a garage), and I’m willing to bet you’ll look just as cute (if not more so!) climbing into it at 16 years of age as you did at 12-13 months.

 

10) Giving Yourself a Round of Applause

Speaking of tooting horns, you’ve developed your own distinct pride-smile that I find intoxicating. While your dad and I compliment you with “Good job, Lily!,” you’ve learned to grin AND clap for yourself, not needing anyone else’s external validation or praise. My darling dear, in all seriousness, I can’t tell you how happy it would make ME if you keep this quality forever.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but being able to celebrate yourself is a skill that will pull you through hard times, like when you’re kicking yourself for picking a home with a $15,000 foundation repair. I have to remind myself that I had the foresight to call in a foundation expert–just in case–and I ended up saving us a lot more money and heartache in the long run.

I’m not ready to clap for me quite yet, Lily, but I am so proud of you for being proud of you, and it definitely makes me want to give you the standing ovation you deserve just for being every ounce of who you already are, apartment-dweller and all.

***

Picture Credits:

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15 thoughts on “Broken Home–In Which the Pig Wore Lipstick

  1. BarbCT says:

    1. Lily is just sooooo cute! That smile is definitely killer. She’s going to learn to use that on you when you get mad at her in the future.
    2. As a native Texan, I must point out that Frito Pie is not a “walking taco.” If you must call it something other than Frito Pie, made in the wrapper like that it is a chili pie.
    3. Thank you, Lord, for revealing the pig behind the lipstick. I was growing increasingly concerned. The “helper” part of my personality caused me to do some checking on what Indiana laws are compared to Texas laws regarding home buying. Aside from the laws, the realtor was unethical in representing both the seller and buyer, and the seller (the realtor was obviously implicit in the deception) violated the Indiana laws of disclosure when selling a home.
    4. I can tell how determined you are to achieve a better life for Lily. Did you realize that you most likely qualify for a program from the Indiana state government that will help you with your down payment, thus enabling you to get a better home, especially as a first-time home buyer? Two websites you should definitely check out: http://www.in.gov/ihcda/2421.htm and http://www.indianahousingnow.org/Resources.html. The second site includes a checklist for home buyers.

    Thank you for always sharing Lily with us. I look forward to the day we read that you have closed on a home and then the day you move in.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Hey Barb,

      I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your words and advice.

      1. Yes, Lily’s gonna get us with that grin. I can feel it.

      2. Maybe it’s a regional difference? In New Mexico, that picture was supposed to represent a Walking Taco. Not having had that OR Frito Pie, I’ll defer to your expertise. I only Googled it so I could’ve gotten ripped off there, too!

      3. Yes, Indiana laws are TERRIBLY seller-favorable, which scares us to bits. That’s WHY we arranged for extra inspections. And we knew the risk going into the sale with the realtor we did, but because we’ve made offers with her in the past, we had to sign an exclusivity contract, which means we’re stuck with her until we purchase a home (or quit looking). We took a risk looking at a house she was representing, but it was a calculated risk. It didn’t work out, but trust you me, we did our due diligence! And now we emerge with bruised egos, but a little wiser for the wear.

      4. I WISH WISH WISH we qualified for the home loan assistance you’re referring to. Our financial position is weirdly precarious. We make too much money (technically) to qualify for that aid, but we have too much debt (medical, student loans, etc.) not to need it. We’re caught between a rock and a poor place, but we did look into it. Thank you, though, for looking. That kind of kindness is what’s truly invaluable.

      Wishing you well and extreme gratitude for your caring about our family!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. BarbCT says:

        I understand about the rock and the hard place. Been there before and I’m there right now in another situation. It’s never made sense to me why all of these programs work off of gross income instead of net. After all, it’s not our choice to have income tax and other things taken out of our checks. I also think they should take student loan debt into consideration, but obviously I’m not the one making the rules.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. BarbCT says:

        As to the Frito Pie, you’re missing out. New Mexico claims they invented it in the 60s(?) but it was created by a member of the family of the man who created Fritos. It doesn’t have to be made in a bag. Just put some chili in a casserole dish, cover with chopped onions, crushed Fritos, and cheese. Bake at 350 until chili is bubbling and cheese is melting. (I often wait to put the cheese on until the chili is bubbling so it doesn’t get burnt or rubbery.) Serve plain or with salsa.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. bitsfromheaven says:

    Sweet DLJ and family. I’m so sorry that those dishonest @$$hats went and shat in your fruit loops. I hope you are able to get some of your hard earned sleepless hours (maybe?) and wages back.
    LJ looks more and more like you every day, and yes, stubborn friend, that is such a compliment! Your smiles light the room/blog/world.
    There is always a turd somewhere in our lives DLJ, please look on the bright side – your figured out where yours was before the flies started to gather. Love you friend💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Free Bird says:

    First, I am so sorry that you didn’t get the house…
    Second, I absolutely love your beautiful list that you’ve created to have as a keepsake. It will remind you someday of the treasured moments that will seem to have faded in the blink of an eye. I can hardly remember what my son was like at 13 months old. (He is 7 now). But always remember, your daughter is what matters and you are her hero no matter where you live 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Bun Karyudo says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the house, but in the long run, it’s really not that important. You have something far more precious shambling about, pulling your hair and leaving you little messages in her diaper. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. El Tries New Stuff says:

    Oh no! Sorry to read about your house! How disheartening!
    If all else fails, I’m sure Lily will have no objections to attaching a little caravan onto the back of her car for you all to live a mobile life fuelled by Go-Gurt. Or possibly she might consider employing her new psychic diaper abilities to earn a bit of extra cash to help out?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stacy says:

    I am both sad and relieved for you. Mostly relieved, because I have polished a few turds in my day…

    Here’s to finding the right one.

    Stacy

    Like

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