Riddle Me This #6

What do you do when your sweet-faced six year old baby girl extends her chubby little finger and accurately reads aloud (and by that I just mean loud) the popular expletive carved into the seat back in front of her chair in the crowded, silent auditorium at the fourth grade orchestra concert?

Do you:

A. Slap your hand over her mouth and give her the cut it out now, I mean it look.

B. Tell her she’s such a great reader! This is the ironic downside to reading everything from gum wrappers to board books to the Wall Street Journal to her since birth. Okay, I never really read the Wall Street Journal to her, but her father probably has.

C. Glare at the family at the other end of your row with chagrin and pretend she belongs to them. But, too bad, they are already glaring at you in a pre-emptive strike, pretending their farting kid belongs to you.

D. Explain that it’s a swear word and tell her to stop because it’s never okay to say that (or at least wait until your parents and most of the neighborhood are out of earshot), and offer to give her a mani-pedi at home tomorrow to get her off the subject speedy quick.

Which one do you think ole Rack of Ribs chose? Be kind.

Just Wait Until You Have Kids of Your Own

It is a commonly known fact that your kids will always be more polite, obedient and just plain nice when dealing with complete strangers than they will be with you. They will engage in casual banter with the UPS man and regale the McDonalds cashier with a humdinger about how they lost a tooth last Thursday and the tooth fairy forgot to leave a dollar under their pillow. When you ask them a simple question or make a small request, there is eye rolling, stomping, whining, and finger pointing followed by a series of false accusations, an angry swearing of a loathsome pox upon you and a finale of door slamming.

When you’re a teacher, the kids in your class can go either way with their allegiance and/or willingness to comply. At the beginning of the year, when their teacher is a stranger to them, they smile brightly, listen intently and put on a good show. There is a honeymoon type love-fest of cooperation and a desire to please. The students are bright-eyed sponges, willing to take pretty much anything you say at face value. Sure, they say, I’ll sign that class contract agreeing that I will always try my best and have an excellent sense of personal space and a sweet disposition. At about week two or three, you get a sense of who’s going to test the dark and murky waters down in the deep end of the pond. And they do. Put on your life jacket and flippers.  It’s a necessary evil of going to kindergarten. They test limits. They try patience. It’s in their job description. You are now a familiar, trusted adult. And they know they can try their best to make you very sorry you ever thought this teaching gig might be a good idea, but that you will love them and take care of them no matter what.

My kids, like (most of) yours, are great kids. We get plenty of positive feedback from acquaintances, peers’ parents, coaches, and elderly strangers in restaurants who say “Your kids are so well behaved.” But that last one was a long time coming. So I know this “evil twin” phenomenon holds true in our little family. But what of everyone else’s?

Last weekend there was a spectacular outdoor event at my kids’ school. It was a “Go Green” community-building extravaganza complete with all the kid friendly bells and whistles. I volunteered to work behind one of the many crafts tables, helping small children plant marigold seeds in little plastic flower pots. Between me and the two other moms facilitating this activity, we assisted hundreds of little gardeners as they followed the multi-step directions to put together the necessary elements of about 400 marigold plants. This is what I do on my day off from teaching.

Without exception, every child who came up to our table was polite, attentive, and able to interact with us (strangers to most of them) respectfully and appropriately. No one sprayed her brother with the water spray bottle. No one complained that they didn’t get enough fertilizer in their cup. They accepted help when necessary and followed steps independently when encouraged to do so. Everyone said thank you. And then they all went home and screeched like spider monkeys, threw themselves on the floor, and demanded pizza for dinner from their exhausted parents.

So it is clear to me now that everything my mom warned me about will eventually come to pass. Mom always said, “Don’t stand downwind from 200 pounds of pulverized potting soil on a gusty day unless you want to be the victim of sudden onset emphysema, AND just wait until you have kids of your own who act just like you did when you were their age.” Which is just a terrible thing to say. Because I was a real pain in the ass.

What Happened in My Brain Between 2:20 and 4:45 This Morning

Adele. Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Rumor has it. Must find Mello Yello’s cell phone. Is it in the car? Her backpack? Under her bed? Find out who has the tablecloths for the Faculty Appreciation Luncheon and get them back tomorrow. Must have for Wednesday. Where are my kitchen gloves? In the kitchen I suppose. What is with the flock of excessively loud birds outside my window? Is there a Hitchcock thing going on here? I need a haircut. So do the kids, Mello Yello (a little messy), Sprite (bangs or no bangs?) and Red Bull (like, right now or I think he might be mistaken for a yeti and get picked up by an animal control officer). Do they still have animal control officers? Do we pay taxes for that? Do they ride in small paddy wagons with cages in the back like on The Little Rascals when Petey the dog got taken to “the Pound”? That was a sad one.

A little nap… Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Rumor has it.  Awake again. Should I go do a Jillian Michaels exercise dvd and make good use of this time? Nah. Quiet now. What happened to all those birds? I have to pee. Too tired. It can wait. Okay, it can’t wait. Back again. Here comes Gotye. You didn’t have to cut me off…. I don’t know the rest. How can I not know the rest? It’s on the radio every 9 minutes. My memory is getting so… what was I saying? Did we have any leftover steak from dinner? Grocery shopping. Must go grocery shopping. Don’t forget the juice boxes again. Do not buy more Oreos. It never ends well. Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Rumor has it. Bomp Bomp. Did Jessica Simpson have her baby yet? She’s not so big. I could have taken her in a sumo match when I was 9 months. I think I have a hairball. Can’t. Stop. Coughing. Mr. Snark, your snorfling snores are so soothing beside me. You’re sleeping so soundly. I hate you. For that reason only. Otherwise you’re all right.

Adele. Let’s make a deal. You sleep at your place tomorrow and I’ll sleep at mine. Bomp Bomp.

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

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.”