Cooking Dinner is Not Necessarily Part of the Job Description

In the true spirit of Mother’s Day, I will do absolutely nothing that is not required of me and I will let this golden nugget speak for itself.

Thanks to nickmom.com (via passive aggressive notes) for the laugh.

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Things That Do Not Belong in My Washer or Dryer

Dear Kids,

I have found some of your personal belongings in the washer and dryer. I did not make this up. You can never ever have them back and I refuse to replace them. They are categorized by genre for your convenience:

A watch. Earrings. Rope bracelets.

Temporary tattoos.

Hair clips, ponytail holders, headbands and a comb.

Belts. Several. In many colors. For any occasion.

A cell phone.

Your bus pass for camp. Your library card.

A diaper! That must have been my fault when I was very, very sleep deprived and mistook the laundry basket for a diaper genie.

A Magic Treehouse Book.

Lip balm. Tissues. Tissues. Tissues. (Sadly, these items made it all the way to the dryer.)

Emery Board.  Nail clippers.

$14.81 in spare change.

Gum. Starbursts. Tic Tacs. Wadded foil chocolate kiss wrappers with little white Hershey tails.

A pencil, eraser, and plastic sharpener full of shavings. All nice and tidy in the side pocket of your cargo pants.

And while we’re on the subject, two pockets full of rocks in your purple coat that was washed, put into storage, and then came back out with the rock collection intact.

Legos. A dreidl. Chess pieces. Dice. Happy Meal Toys.

The Pokemon cards you absolutely HAD TO HAVE.

Stickers. Crayons. Notepads. Paper clips. Rubber bands. A tape measure.

Flip flops. Goggles. Sunscreen. Seashells. Not all on the same day. Really.

Leaves. Grass. Sticks.

A Soccer Medal.

Mini Golf score card (with mini pencil).

The shirts you dribbled olive oil/Gatorade/butter/popsicle juice/chocolate milk all over without bothering to ask for stain remover.

But never once have I found, in the washer or dryer, the socks you take off in the kitchen every day to leave behind as your personal calling card. Hi mom. I’m home.

Would somebody please come downstairs and pick the sunflower seed husks out of the dryer lint screen? Thanks.

Love, Mom

Come and See the Baby Parrot

Teaching is an act of perpetual motion. You must constantly decide what to say, how to react, which direction to pursue, which direction to abandon before all hope is lost, and how to control your impulses, lest you blurt out something like, “you already told me that ten times, what do you want me to do about it?” to a defenseless youngster. But that never happened to me personally. Ahem.

Sometimes I am at a loss, sometimes shockingly intuitive, sometimes ridiculously oblivious, and sometimes I surprise myself with a burst of well-meaning, though generally ill-advised, inspiration.

Yesterday morning, one of my less inspired lessons: Three students met with me at the reading table in the hall outside our classroom to enjoy the titillating best seller, The Baby Animals.  “Come and see the baby puppy. Come and see the baby chick…” You get where this is going. Controlled vocabulary, repetitive verse and cute pictures = successful early readers. Yada, yada, yada. So we read the compelling story and wrote our own little version on the whiteboard tabletop easel. “Come and see the baby parrot!” Yay! Reading time is done.

Later that afternoon Ms. Promise, the real teacher, and I discussed how to get this whole class of boundary-challenging (UNDERSTATEMENT) kindergartners to cooperatively participate in a measurement activity. As outlined in the Teacher’s manual, the children were supposed to use connecting cubes to build measuring sticks to measure the length of various body parts, limited (IN THEORY) to heads, arms, legs, feet and hands. Hmmm. Risky, to say the least. We puzzled over how to set up parameters that would limit unapproved physical contact (TOUCHING NO-TOUCH ZONES, POKING, SQUISHING, SHOVING, GNAWING, SNEAK ATTACK WWF PILEDRIVERS… need I go on?).

How about we have a pair of kids do a body tracing of third student, a la CSI, on a giant piece of paper and then all three can measure any and all extremities of the paper homicide victim? That way, there would be a lot less risk of unwanted body contact and no one student would be required to stand still (IMPOSSIBLE DREAM) for an extended period while being poked with poorly constructed connecting-cube-measuring-sticks by his peers.

Let’s give it the old college try shall we? The lesson was in full swing, with seven life-sized colorful paper victims strewn about the room, getting their eyes, hair, clothing, tattoos and piercings colored in with some degree of realism by small gangs of courtroom sketch artists. But wait. Ding, ding. I’m off the clock. I leave well before dismissal each day to pick up my own kids at school three towns over. Sweet deal, right? See you Ms. Promise. Good night and good luck.

This morning I tentatively greeted Ms. Promise and asked, “Were you cursing me after school yesterday for leaving halfway through the body tracing extravaganza?”

“No. The tracing was fine. I was cursing you because I had no idea what anyone was talking about when 20 different people came in here after school looking for the baby parrot.”

The Cat Wants Cheese Pizza

The following is an email exchange confirming the logistics of a long neglected trip to the jeweler to remove links from a too-large watchband and the negotiation of dinner plans for two parents, three kids and one cat:

From Mr. Snark to Mrs. Snark @ 12:56PM

You said 4 links, correct?

From Mrs. Snark in response @ 4:34PM (long delay due to work, after school karate class, trip to CVS to secure entirely necessary half-priced easter candy assortment, and trip to the local food pantry with kids to drop off food, not candy, donation.)

Um, yeah, four hours later.

You said you wanted pizza for dinner, correct? (He said no such thing. This is just representative of a day in the life, married to Mrs. Snark.)

From Mr. Snark in response @ 4:35PM

I’m getting a haircut at 6:00. Means won’t be home till about 6:50 or so. Do you want to wait or get it yourself? (Time for some audience participation here. Can you guess? Does Mrs. Snark get off her butt and go get the pizza?)

From Mrs. Snark in response @ 5:05PM

have lost the will to live which includes losing the desire to pick up pizza. (Caps withheld to subliminally convey desperation and malaise. Mr. Snark is no stranger to this unspoken message and knows when there are no caps, there will be no negotiating. The man is a saint. Completely and totally, a saint.)

you’re it. onions and peppers?

the cat is eating that red headband i rejected this morning. i hate that cat.

headband snack notwithstanding, i think he wants plain cheese, thanks.

you are the glue that holds this rotten family together.

From Mr. Snark in response @ 5:56PM

What’s today’s existential crisis? (Did I say saint? I meant tolerant but still lovably imperfect, and snarky of course.)

If the kids can keep from chewing the furniture, I’ll bring pizza as soon as I can.

Aw, now I feel bad. Easter candy and pizza for everyone. Even the cat. If he takes off that damn headband.

I’m Not Done, I’m Just Fixing My Underwear

Our bedtime rituals of bathroom prep, mismatched pajama choosing, general dawdling, and book selection are done. Sprite joins me on my bed for some storytelling and sympathy. She is nursing a cold/cough/whooping situation that has just begun. She wonders aloud, several times, when it will go away.

“My throat feels scratchy like there are scratches in it. My eyes are getting tears. I don’t want to have a cold anymore.”

Her cold is about two hours in. We have a ways to go.

Sprite snuggles into the comforter and we commence to read a really poor synopsis of The Little Mermaid and two rip roaring Elephant and Piggie stories. We take turns doing the dialogue. I am always Gerald (the elephant). Sprite is always Piggie (the pig). Because Piggie is a girl pig. And girls rule.

Downstairs I hear Mr. Snark arrive home early from Red Bull’s indoor soccer practice.  Have they been unable to gain entry to the labyrinthine school/high security prison in which pre-season practices are being held for the second week in a row? Last week the coach’s son literally had to commit a felony break in to gain access to the airtight facility. Hopefully, the incident has been stricken from the record in the name of good clean fun. No one waited outside the barbed wire fence for late arrivals. So, last week, after a thorough sweep of the grounds yielded no sign of life, no practice for Red Bull. There is no swearing downstairs, so I can only assume Red Bull got into tonight’s practice without breaking the law. Time will tell.

Back to the bedroom. Story time is done and the ceremonial hair detangling begins. I take my turn working through the nest of knots in Sprite’s ever-growing curly mop. Soon it is time for Sprite’s revenge turn. She takes the brush and digs in with a good amount of vigor for an ailing child battling a lung condition as evidenced by her increasingly dramatic coughing fits. She brushes around in circles, ignoring my part, my pain receptors, my ears and eyelids.

“I’m like a real barber, Mommy.”

After my part is suitably obliterated and an angry twister of dreadlocks has begun to form over my left ear, Sprite artfully gathers six strands of my hair with a butterfly clip and perches it atop the highest point of my skull. Then there is a lengthy pause. I wait expectantly with my back to her, wondering if she is about to cough, sneeze, cut off three inches of my hair with a concealed weapon, or vomit. I hope for the first or second. Not the third. Please, not the fourth. There is some rustling behind me. Then it all becomes clear.

“I’m not done. I’m just fixing my underwear.”

Well that makes perfect sense. My barber says that all the time. I would imagine it’s a job related hazard, being on your feet all day.

Now Sprite is tucked in. I am tucked in too and am secretly enjoying a private screening of Nanny Mcphee Returns. Mr. Snark comes upstairs to check on the hacking cough episode going on across the hall. Then he pokes his head in to see me.

“Nice hair.”