No Good, Very Bad Hour

It all began so beautifully – and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Yesterday was glorious, that late fall kind of day when the sunlight filters through the almost-leafless trees, creating a hazy kind of magic everywhere you go. The temperature flirted with 65 – unheard of this time of year – and felt so glorious, it made you forget that winter is coming.

The girl and I had the entire day to ourselves (with many, many thanks to our veterans), and we filled it to the brim with things that gave us genuine happiness and joy. We ate breakfast at a local dairy/bakery (their hot chocolate is unbelievable). We went on a bike ride – we hadn’t been on one in ages – on a gorgeous bike trail right near our house, marveling at the scenery and stopping for a picnic lunch right by a wooden bridge overlooking a river. We took in Big Hero 6 in those newfangled (they may not actually be new, but I get to the movies so infrequently, they feel new) reclining chairs that allow you to lie back and settle in and feel like you’re the only ones in the theater (except for when your daughter crawls into your seat with you because the sweet little animated film becomes SO RIDICULOUSLY EMOTIONAL she cannot sit by herself, but you don’t mind because the seats are big enough to cushion both of you while you’re holding one another and SOBBING, THANKS SO MUCH DISNEY).

It was, by all rights, the perfect day… set to end the perfect way, with breakfast for dinner (waffles with blueberries and real maple syrup). Yes, the movie didn’t end until 7 p.m., but waffles are quick and easy; surely we’d be done with dinner by 8:00 and then we would listen to the newest Percy Jackson tome (we’re onto the fourth in the series now) and the girls would settle into bed at a reasonable hour and I’d have the evening to myself and it would be… heavenly.

Until all hell broke loose.

I really don’t know what happened, because one minute we were cheerfully discussing teleportation (as though I actually know what I’m talking about, la la la) and how everyone grieves in different ways (yes, heavy talk for a FREAKIN’ ANIMATED FILM) and the next, pancake batter was bubbling up from the bowl and onto the counter, there was blood all over the floor, and there was wetness everywhere I turned.

It all started when I realized that the waffle mix we had in the cupboard might not be enough to feed the three of us, so I set out to making batter from scratch – which should have been no biggie, but we were missing a couple of the ingredients, so I needed to improvise. Twenty minutes went by as I scrounged for applesauce and milk and eggs when all of a sudden there was this noise – this terrible, hissing, shrieking thing – that I soon discovered was coming from our dogs, who had somehow gotten into a scuffle in the middle of the kitchen. I managed to pry them apart, but not before one clipped the other (with his teeth? Claws? I don’t even know), something we learned when little drops of bright red blood began appearing all over the kitchen floor.

Given that time was rapidly ticking by, making the waffles would normally have taken highest priority – but, let me tell you, when there’s a trail of blood across the kitchen, dinner prep pretty much comes to a halt. Another twenty minutes later, the bleeding had stopped, the floor was clean, the dogs were separated, and I finally got down to the business of making the waffles. The first batch went into the waffle iron at 8 p.m…

… and at 8:10 (yes, it took ten minutes to cook all the way through), that batch looked like this:
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Hmm. Deconstructed waffles. How nouveau.

I don’t know if it was that the batter was gluten free, or if it was my improvised ingredients, or if it was the fact that my waffle iron is old and endorsed by Emeril and actually says BAM! across the front, but these suckers would neither cook nor come out of the iron once they were done. As much “fun” as it was painstakingly picking the pieces out with a fork, it was clear that dinner wasn’t happening any time soon.

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How d’you like THEM waffles? BAM!

By 8:15, it dawned on me that however much baking mix remained in the cupboard was probably enough for dinner – by now, we were all so hungry and tired, our appetites had vanished – so out came the ingredients for the generic GF Bisquick. Meanwhile, the original waffle mix had tripled in size in its bowl, rising like a yeast-filled dough (maybe it was because I guessed at the amount of baking soda and baking powder?), and as a result had slid down the outside of the bowl and was forming a puddle of waffle soup on the counter. As I went to clean up the mess, I knocked over the milk that I’d neglected to put away (and which, of course, was not closed), which sent it sloshing onto the floor.

Thankfully, the new batch of waffles cooked much more efficiently than the first (and they came out of the waffle iron successfully, too), which was a relief because I didn’t have time to tend to them once I noticed that the dogs’ water bowl-system had somehow spilled from  its container into the “protective” plastic bin in which it sits and had somehow overflowed from that bin, too, completely soaking the (other) counter and all of the dogs’ leashes. (The water is kept up off the floor so that Fenwick can’t monkey with it. ‘Cause that would really be a mess.)

By the time we sat down to eat, it was 8:45 – or, as we like to call it, bedtime. IMG_8956A well-balanced dinner includes loads of syrup and overcooked edamame. Strive for five, y’all.

As I lamented each unfortunate turn of events, the girls sympathized but largely stayed out of the kitchen (probably to spare themselves from becoming the target of any further mishaps). At one point, however, Annie strode purposely into the Danger Zone to tell me that she had the perfect name for what was going on: Ella, Annie, and Mommy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Hour.

She was right. If it could have gone wrong, it did – but in the end, it was only an hour. We were so fortunate to have had the perfect day that came before; surely one bad hour wouldn’t spoil it. I’d like to think it actually helps us become more grateful for the good that we do have – you never know when things are going to change, so you’d better appreciate and marvel and wonder while you can.

Indeed, today it was gray and 40 degrees and so brisk and windy, I still haven’t quite warmed up from volunteering on the playground. That didn’t stop me from having ice cream for dessert, though – topped with crumbled bits of super-toasted leftover waffles. You know what they say – when life gives you extra, rubbery waffles, make waffle cones. BAM!

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Look, Ma – November 12th and no coats necessary!

I’m Funner Than That Now

When we lived in Denver – around 1999 – Nick and I saw Paul Simon and Bob Dylan in concert. We were huge Paul Simon fans and decided that, so long as Dylan was there too, it might be kind of cool to see such a legend perform – but we definitely didn’t attend the show because of an abiding love for ol’ Bob. When all was said and done, it was kind of cool to see him perform (and kind of fascinating/scary to see his fan base losing their minds when he came on stage), but we still felt the same after the show that we’d felt before going in: he’s one heckuva songwriter, but we could do without having to listen to him.

One of my favorite Dylan songs is titled “My Back Pages” whose chorus contains the lyrics,

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

When I first heard them in high school, I thought those words were deep and meaningful and poetic, so I latched onto them because it seemed the intellectual, teen-angsty thing to do. As I grew, I learned to appreciate the song lyrics from a different perspective (and lo, I’d thought I was so wise back then… but nay, now realize how foolish I was… IRONIC JUSTICE, MR. DYLAN).

I don’t necessarily feel younger now than I did when I was, well, younger, but in many ways, I do feel more fun.

Case in point: at Emi and Matt’s wedding, I got drunk. I could phrase it nicely and say I was over-served or that I had too much to drink, but if I’m being honest, I got drunk. I was silly and loud and danced in ways that I didn’t know my body could move (and maybe shouldn’t have moved) for hours on end, all the while having an absolute ball. Later, I apologized to my mother-in-law for my nutty dance moves, and remarked that this was the first time she’d ever seen me even a little bit tipsy — the first time in twenty years. (That’s not because I hid my debauchery from her for all those years, but rather because, up until quite recently, I rarely drank at all, and certainly didn’t get drunk.) Her response? “You were having so much fun out there. I loved it!”

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Yep, that’d be me on the floor (in the lei) doing… I have no idea what. But I was having a fabulous time, that’s for sure.

Back in high school, it never crossed my mind to have even a sip of alcohol. This wasn’t some moral or religious stance, nor was it something my friends and I discussed – we didn’t head up the Substance Free committee or sit around denouncing the evils of beer – but it just didn’t happen when we were hanging out. I knew other kids drank, sure, but I wasn’t into it. When I got to college, I had the occasional drink – and even, on very rare occasions, drank enough that I could be considered more than slightly buzzed – but, overall, I really wasn’t interested.

In fact, I was sort of proud of not wanting to have alcohol. I don’t need to drink to have a good time! I can do all of the other absurd and moronic things that college students do without alcohol to fuel it! (And, oh, I did…) But there was more to it than that; although I never said so out loud, I definitely looked down on people who did drink. Oh, you’re getting together and having a few? Hm. Too bad you can’t enjoy one another’s company without it revolving around libations.

And so it continued through my twenties. I drank every so often, became marginally inebriated maybe once every three or four years, and quietly passed judgment on everyone who consumed alcohol – including my family and friends. Certain circumstances warranted the booze, of course – weddings and bachelorette parties, for example, so long as you never drank to excess. It was also acceptable to have the infrequent glass of wine or beer with dinner, provided that you drank it slowly and stopped well before you began to feel the effects. I’d thumb through Hallmark cards for friends’ birthdays and would scoff at how many of them contained casual mention of wine. Is this really the way that people connect? How sad.

Then, around ten years ago, something began to change. Maybe it was the birth of Eleanor, maybe it was just growing up and meeting more people who looked at life differently than I do – but who, I discovered, were (miraculously!) still good, smart, honest, hardworking, likable, trustworthy people… but I no longer began thinking that it was so awful to have a drink every now and again. My knowledge of alcohol was limited to what I’d known in college and shortly thereafter – Boone’s and Natty Lite and wine coolers and frou-frou girly drinks – which tasted like perfumed bath water, so I took it upon myself to become more knowledgable about all manner of spirits.

Nick was really into craft and local beers, so I learned about those. Realizing how woefully ignorant we were about wines, we took a couple of wine courses; we’re hardly experts now, but we have a pretty good idea of how wines are made, what the different varietals taste like, and – most importantly – what we like (and don’t like) and why. We took cooking classes specifically geared toward how to pair alcohol with food, learning how each brings out the goodness of the other (if you pair them correctly). It was… really fun.

As I discovered what alcoholic beverages I enjoyed (no more Bartles and Jaymes, thank God), I began to drink more often, too. A glass with dinner went from a semi-annual occasion to a semi-weekly occasion. I started to find the wine-themed birthday cards funny. I also began to understand how fabulous it could be at the end of the day, when I’d been puked on and broken up three fights and dropped the milk in the checkout line and both girls had a fever, to sit down with a drink. A drink drink.

Necessary? Nope. Delicious and wonderful? Oh heck yes.

Finally, I learned that it is sometimes just really damned enjoyable to drink enough to feel it. I’d never understood that before – why on earth would anyone want to lose themselves? To feel wobbly or spinny or crazy? To not be in control (which, quite frankly, seemed scary as hell)? Well… maybe because it’s (wait for it)… fun. It can be incredibly freeing to lose yourself for a couple of hours, to momentarily forget what’s bothering you. It can be wonderful to have your pain temporarily lessened, your heartache soothed, your worry eased. It can be simply marvelous to laugh more quickly, to smile more often, to make connections with everyone around you. It can be delightful to let go of your carefully-constructed control, like releasing an enormous breath you didn’t realize you were holding.

(Lest I give you the wrong impression, I’m not, in any way, saying that I now think you need to drink alcohol in order to have a good time, that drinking to excess on any sort of regular basis is okay, or that relying on alcohol is okay. Drinking problems are not something to be taken lightly; alcoholism is a serious and heartbreaking disease, much like depression. Drinking and driving is never, ever acceptable. Just so we’re clear.)

To many (most?) of you, this is ludicrously obvious. Um, yep. People drink because they enjoy it. People sometimes drink too much on purpose because they like it. You’re just figuring this out now?

Well, not now now, but more or less, yes. I am just figuring it out, and it’s one helluva realization. More importantly than discovering that I like Sauvignon Blanc, however, I have (finally) stopped thinking negatively of everyone else who’s out there enjoying their wine and beer and cocktails. And, as a result, we have a lot more fun together! Not because I drink more often than I used to – the alcohol isn’t really the point – but because I’ve stopped being quite so uptight and judgmental, in general.

For years, I’d been so caught up on Doing The Right Thing and Following The Rules that I didn’t even realize how much those were, ironically, doing just the opposite. By attempting to Do The Right Thing and Follow The Rules, I wound up judging everybody around me about just about everything that differed from my Right Things and Rules. These days, I’m working on taking that judgment out of every single thing (although, I’m not gonna lie, it’s totally still there, just not everywhere). It’s hard and it’s shitty sometimes because, damn it, being all judgey is easy and, in a crazy way, makes me feel good because it’s neat to feel superior (ew). But it’s so worth it because, frankly, living atop that high horse was awfully difficult; the view sucked because I was so far away, and the balancing was exhausting.

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Getting down on my knees and…serenading?… was also exhausting, but for different reasons.

It used to be that Annie and Ella had to eat a certain way, all the time. The Right Way, of course, which included specific amounts of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and an avoidance of nearly all crappy foods. I hid veggies in baked goods and watched them like hawks around relatives (so they couldn’t be slipped anything unsavory). My sisters-in-law still recall how I was so determined to get my kids to eat “right,” I used to call fruit purees “special sauce” so I could trick the girls into eating them. I WAS A TOTAL BLAST, AMIRIGHT?

Then, it became too much. And, in truth, I just plain grew up. So now, yeah, their diets are still pretty darn healthy. They read labels and avoid HFCS and even count grams of sugar. But they also have dessert every single day. They eat anything they want all day long at the Minnesota State Fair each year. They – gasp! – order soda when we go out. And they’re allowed to have full-on junk food days when they’re with their relatives. Screw The Rules! Which, hands down, is a helluva lot more fun.

The girls used to have to go to bed at a certain time; we were militant with our bedtimes and nap times, and I certainly judged anyone who took their still-young-enough-to-be-strapped-into-the-cart child to Target with them at 9 p.m. on a school night. (Well, I guess they just don’t care about instilling proper sleep habits. Tsk tsk.) Now, Ella and Annie still have a bedtime – it’s not just a free-for-all over here – but it’s more fluid. They stay up later some nights and go to bed far earlier on others. And it is FUN, I tell you. FUN! (Except when I allow them to stay up too late reading Harry Potter and they’re emotional disasters the following day; oops.) I don’t even look twice anymore if someone has their infant in the grocery store at midnight (well, maybe I look twice, but that’s mostly because I’m doing a double take wondering what the hell I’m doing in the grocery store at midnight). FUN, FUN, FUN.

I used to be absolutely un-budge-able with our Christmas traditions (nearly all of which I’d adopted from my own childhood, with Nick’s approval). This is how we do it, because it is always how we’ve done it, end of story. The mere thought of altering tradition made me break out in a cold sweat. But then, one year, things weren’t going to plan (Christmas will be ruined!) and Nick suggested another way and I got down off the horse just enough to actually listen to him and, whaddya know, change can be good… and it can make Christmas much more enjoyable for everyone.

I know that I’ll ever stop passing judgment; it’s an all-too-human trait and I accept that about myself, as much as I’m trying to do better. But I do know that it feels really nice to become less uptight and unfaltering, to realize that my perspective isn’t the only one that’s valid (although it usually is pretty fantastic), to try to be a little less narrow-minded. Instead of feeling scary and uncontrolled and wild, it feels freeing and relaxing and fun.

Sometimes, growing up has its perks.

If only I could stop looking down on anyone who misuses “nauseous” or “literally,” or on any kind of reality TV that involves a Kardashian, a bachelor(ette), anything set in New Jersey, or a real housewife, I bet I would be a freaking HOOT.

 

 

 

There is no WE in Girl Scouts

Like most parents, I openly support my girls in their chosen extracurricular activities. I cheer them on at swim meets and soccer games; I clap enthusiastically at recitals and performances ; I turn over their latest pottery camp creations in my hands, commenting on texture and color and shape and how the pieces seem to have multiplied like rabbits. When Ella announced that she had been elected to her school’s student council (Nick and I hadn’t even been aware that she was running), I applauded her determination and go-get-‘em attitude, promising that I would pick her up at the end of meetings. If our girls are into it, we’re into it – or, at least, into them being into it.

(This is all within reason, of course. If either girl requests to do an activity that is somehow outrageous – joining the Let’s Ban Chocolate club, for example – or that completely doesn’t fit into our schedule or that we really, really don’t approve of, we’ll have to reexamine things. For now, though, everything’s cool.)

Supporting them in doing their activities means just that: they’re the ones doing things; I’m the one on the sidelines. While they’re standing on the blocks in their caps and goggles, I’m watching – poised, ready, nervous – but I’m not getting into that water unless I can be magically transported to an infinity pool in Jamaica. I’ll whoop wildly for a great goal and hide my eyes after a blown save, but I’m not running around on that field with them unless I’m being chased. We are not doing chorus; Ella is. We do not attend aerial arts camp; they do. This seems like a simple enough concept.

When it comes to Girl Scouts, however, all bets are off. I’ve already talked about how I’m a slacker mom when it comes to Scouting – the one who drops her daughter off at meetings but doesn’t stay; the one who accompanies her on clean-up hikes (and gamely picks up trash) but steps back so Annie can roast marshmallows on her own; the one who safety-pins the badges onto her vest because sewing is way beyond my commitment level. Annie enjoys it, and I’m happy for her that she does. But let’s be clear: Annie is the Girl Scout, not I.

Perhaps I’m missing a crucial Girl Scout gene, having never been a Girl Scout myself, but I seem to be one of the few moms who feels this way (save for the other slacker moms in Annie’s troop; thank God we have each other. And wine). I knew we were off to another uncomfortable year of Scouting at the very first event we attended, only a week after school began. It was advertised as a visit to the Rochester airport and sounded quite promising – a tour of the facility, checking out a plane and the cockpit, talking to pilots. It was understood that moms were expected to accompany their daughters, and I was pleased to do so – to observe Annie as she participated, to help herd her and the rest of her troop where they needed to be.

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Yes, Annie’s in her pjs – the older girls were spending the night camped out on the airport conference room floor but the young’uns had to leave early, THANK GOD oh well.

In large part, the visit delivered: we were, indeed, taken through the airport, with the girls giggling through the security checkpoint as one of the guards – clearly tickled at being able to take a break from looking for dangerous materials, and clearly taken with the girls’ enthusiasm – high-fived everyone as we went through the metal detector, including all of the parents. As we prepared to take a tour of the most recently-landed aircraft, we were greeted by the plane’s crew, including a female captain (who identified herself as a pilot) who essentially told the girls that they could do any damn thing they set their minds to, including flying planes. It was pretty rad.

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This captain hopped right off her plane and gave a wonderfully inspiring little speech to the girls. It was quite impressive.

The girls explored the (empty) cabin, buckling seatbelts and examining tray tables, lifting the window shades up and down as though doing aerobics, and spending an uncommonly long time in the cockpit – longer than I’ve ever been allowed, certainly.

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Good grief, there were so many dials in there!

 

Some of the airport’s firefighters met us at the terminal, bringing their gear and stickers for each girl and giving us demonstration of how they put on all their equipment while they told us some rather fascinating tidbits about airport emergency crews. (Did you have any idea that each airport has its own designated fire crew that lives on the premises in a station house that is required, by federal law, to be located so that the trucks can reach anywhere on airport property within three minutes? See; fascinating.) All of that was well and good, and I was actually kind of glad that I’d accompanied Annie on this little fieldtrip.

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When not touring the facility or hearing from employees, there was a lot of downtime, however, and the other troop leader(s) wanted to fill that downtime by singing Girl Scout songs. I can get behind this, as both a music teacher (hello) and the parent of a child who does not appreciate hanging around with nothing to do. Singing is fun! Singing is inclusive! Singing requires active participation, which means that fewer kids get bored! Yay, singing!

But the Scout leaders did not just want the Girl Scouts to sing; no, they wanted everyone to sing – including the parents of the Girl Scouts – and when we did not stand from our chairs and join in the jubilant chorus of “Hermy the Wormie,” we were called out.

Now. I’m all about singing. I loooove me some singing, even crazy group-style. I love ridiculous camp songs and have even taught my own girls the camp songs from my childhood, smiling like an idiot every time we burst into the one about the farmer and the maiden and their laundry. When I go to the sing-along showing of Grease, you can bet your ass that I’ll be belting out “Summer Lovin’” because that’s my jam. I will out-harmonize any of y’all on a holiday caroling expedition, even one with the Girl Scouts. So it’s not about the singing.

It’s about this being Annie’s activity, one to which I feel no particular attachment aside from taking pleasure out of her liking it. If it were a parent/kid kind of thing, if we signed up together as a mommy/daughter team, I would be all over it. But we did not. Only Annie’s name was on the registration form. Only Annie’s vaccination records were required for participation (I, on the other hand, could be rabid and they wouldn’t know).

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In this here house, the resident Girl Scout is even in charge of ironing on her own badges. With some minor supervision, just for safety’s sake, of course.

 

I fully understand that some parental participation in her troop is not only helpful but necessary. There are the logistics, of course – attaching badges to vests and procuring snacks and providing transportation to and from the activities. There is also the simple fact that Annie’s troop has only one leader and so we, as parents, have each volunteered to run at least one meeting; I’m totally down with that and will be Googling like mad to make sure that whatever activity I’m in charge of is all kinds of fabulous.

But when the moms got together at the parent meeting, I couldn’t help but notice the use of the word “we” in describing all of the things that would take place this year. “We’ll sell cookies!” “We’ll learn how to make healthy snacks!” “We’ll earn these badges!” And I didn’t want to be a spoilsport, but I kept thinking, “This had better be the royal we, because ‘we’ are not Girl Scouts.” Is that not why we have troop leaders (thank God for troop leaders)– to actually do the activities with these girls??

It’s all just a bit much. Case in point: the badges. Y’all, there is a Girl Scout badge for absolutely everything under the sun. The badge booklet was more than an inch thick – like a college textbook – and contained over THREE THOUSAND different patches. THREE. THOUSAND!! Fed the homeless? There’s a badge for that. Provided relief to hurricane victims? Hurricane relief badge right here. Knit a sweater? Knitting badge! I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a badge for keeping the apps on your smartphone updated.

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Annie’s first Brownie badge… lest you thought I was kidding…

 

I know that families these days are strapped for time and it’s The Thing to devote hours and hours of your attention to your sons’ and daughters’ interests. There is now some societal expectation that one must be really into your kids’ activities in order to be a good parent. Moms and dads join their children on playdates well past the age where their supervision is necessary. Parents get into physical altercations at ballgames because they become so overinvested in what’s happening on the field. Their dance competition is your competition. It’s crazy-making.

 

If you want to become a Girl Scout troop leader, I applaud you. Nay, I salute and revere you, because my kiddo enjoys this activity and, by golly, she needs awesome people to run it – people who are genuinely invested, interested, and really dig singing about Hermy the Wormie. Dedicated, enthusiastic, and fun Girl Scout troop leaders are a wonderful thing.

 

Likewise, if you are the parent of a Girl Scout and you find yourself with a burning desire to build a teepee alongside your daughter, visit the animal shelter, or learn how to make a papier mache hat – and your daughter doesn’t mind you tagging along – then go ahead and join her. Rock on with your bad mom/daughter duo.

 

Don’t worry, I’ll still see you occasionally – at the beginning and end of troop meetings, at the monthly activity I’m running (it’ll be incredible, I promise), accompanying Annie and her fellow troop members when they drop off clothing to underprivileged kiddos or ring the bell at the mall. I hope you won’t think I’m rude when I allow Annie to dole out the hand-me-downs or ring the Salvation Army bell rather than rushing in to do so myself; it’s just that I’ve already had the opportunity to see how such kindness can change people’s lives and I really want Annie to have that chance without me hovering over her and influencing her experience.

 

I mean, after all, how can Annie rightfully claim her Helping Others badge if I’ve done half of the helping? No, this is for her to navigate, to enjoy, to learn from; I will accompany and support her, but we are not doing the Girl Scouts.

 

Unless one of those 3,000 badges happens to be for mixed drinks or wine tasting or a Moms Night Out. In that case, bring that catalog a little closer, please.

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While ironing on her badges, Annie was dismayed to discover that she had misplaced one of the numbers for her troop (after having opened the baggie in which they’d been kept, the baggie she’d been told not to open). I actually think it’s kind of the perfect representation of our Girl Scout experience at this point.

Pretty Little Liars

Dear Ella and Annie,

You really put on a good show today. If I judged your relationship solely on the performance you put on as you walked in the door from school, hissing at one another that “You started it!” “No, YOU started it!” “You shouldn’t have said anything!” “You shouldn’t have hit me!”, I might have assumed that you cannot stand one another, that you are enemies. Come to think of it, when anyone asks you if you think of your sister as your friend, your immediate response is to wrinkle your noses in disgust, raise your eyebrows as if to question their sanity, and quickly respond with a “No way!” or “She’s awful!” or “Well. sometimes…” or, if they catch you on a particularly good day, “I guess so.”

I’ve got to give you an A for effort; you certainly do try to verbally convince everyone that you don’t think the other is worth the ground she stands on. As a parent and an educator, I realize that it’s important to listen to what kids say and all that, but… well… how do I phrase this?

You’re full of crap.

I know, you hate that word – and rightly so – but in this case, it’s true. You’re absolutely full of beans. Liars, really.

Don’t believe me? That’s okay. I’ve got proof.

Sure, you refuse to share the bathroom sink because merely standing beside one another while brushing your teeth results in such pushing and hip-checking, the NHL might consider allowing women to join their ranks. But then, when you’re getting ready separately, one of you will take extra time – and time away from bedtime reading, a treasured evening activity – to dutifully prepare the other’s toothbrush, face toner, and water, complete with labeled note.

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The water isn’t filthy – it was just a wee bit bubbly after being freshly filled.

When you’re left to your own devices, you’re all buddy-buddy (when you’re not threatening to strangle one another). You create together, you seek each other out to make new games, you giggle and spirit yourselves away, just the two of you, refusing to let me – or anyone – into your private sister-world. When we went on the Disney Cruise, you spent ages in the kids’ club using one of their computer typing programs, sometimes apart and sometimes together – like this.

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It’s long, but if you’re actually curious, it’s larger if you click on it…

You started out like gangbusters, clearly working together and sharing happily. But then you must have realized what you were doing – admitting that we like one another? The horror! – and took steps to clarify.

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“(Ella) I think she is really annoying sometimes but it’s one of those things that if something happened to her, I would be very very sad.
(Annie) I think Ella is an annoying stink bomb but also the same thing she said about if something happened or whatever.”

How very diplomatic and charming of you.

I couldn’t help noticing, however, that despite your acknowledgments that you each think the other is a pain in the ass but you’d be bummed if she, like, got maimed or whatever, you still deliberately mentioned your relationship in your sign-off.

sisterlove1a
If “By: Ella and Annie” didn’t suffice, you could have added another disclaimer. “By Ella and Annie, two kickass rockstars.” “By Ella and Annie, two wicked smart gals.” “By Ella and Annie, the world’s most awesome daughters.” But no! You chose to highlight your sisterhood. Curious, no?

Publicly, you sneer at each other when there are struggles, mocking your sister’s difficulties or pooh-poohing her accomplishments. And yet, when one of you reaches a personal goal three nights in a row, you are the first to offer up homemade signs of congratulations, immediately and genuinely with nary a condescending word.

turkey
I was unfamiliar with a “turkey” meaning three in a row, but your father swears it’s true.

Similarly, you will swear up and down that the other’s passions and interests are bogus; that you don’t give two hoots about the things she likes, that she goes on and on about the same old nonsense, that you couldn’t care less if she succeeds or fails at her most hard-fought endeavors. How, then, do you explain the signs of encouragement that you draw up, cheering on her current attempts by reminding her of the other things in her life that mean the most to her? WHAT SAY YE, LITTLE FIBBERS?

cheering on
Those are glasses and lightning bolts surrounding Harry’s name, obviously. To the left… a quidditch broom, maybe? Artistic license, yo.

One moment, you’re offering your sister an olive branch – let’s play! You worked so hard on that drawing! That dress looks awesome on you! You’ve really improved on that piano piece! Want to make a fort in the backyard? You’re sweet and adoring and kind.

sisterlove2

The next, you’re spewing vitriol, talking about how your sister is THE WORST, how you can’t even be in the car next to her, how all you want is TIME ALONE for God’s sake, how you’ve NEVER liked each other. Your barbs are sharp and quick and aimed to hit right where it counts, even when you’re just being silly.

And yet… right beneath it all (in this case, literally)… is the unmistakable love.

sisterlove3
At least you’re using your manners. 

‘Cause here’s the thing: deep down, deepest down, you are crazy about one another. You think your sister hung the moon. You think about her when she’s not around, bringing her the extra goody bag from the birthday party, saving her the last piece of cake instead of eating it yourself simply because you knew she’d like it. You know one another so well, better than I know you, that you practically breathe together. You are, unquestionably, each other’s best friend.

You’ll deny this with every fiber of your beings, stiffening your bodies and huffing – actually huffing, pushing air out your nose in indignation – that I am wrong, wrong, wrong. But then, like last week, Ella will volunteer to be the first (secret) Mystery Reader for Annie’s class. Her teacher might be contacted to ask permission for Ella to miss class in order to read to her sister’s class, and such permission might be granted. There might then be some hemming and hawing, with Ella perhaps insisting that she didn’t really want to volunteer at all (“People change their minds, you know!”), and some choice words being said (by me, *ahem*) about commitments and following through and not going back on one’s word – but all the while, I will know the truth: that, in her deepest down, Ella so very much wants to surprise Annie as the Mystery Reader, but she is terrified of reading aloud in front of all those kiddos, and so she is faced with an awful choice: her sister or herself.

In the end, she will choose her sister (agreeing at the very last minute, of course), and will walk down the hallway on wobbly legs, the book held in shaking hands. She will take deep breaths and steady herself before entering the classroom on Annie’s teacher’s count, awaiting her sister’s response when she realizes who the surprise reader is…

… and, upon recognizing her, Annie will respond from her deepest down with joy that radiates from below and up through her absolutely delighted face, smiling so broadly she can barely contain herself.

sisterlove5
I’d videoed the grand reveal but, because I was several paces behind, had missed recording all of Annie’s reaction (plus also she was hidden by the desk partition), but I did manage to take a screen shot (during those first moments of recognition) and enlarge it. 
It may be blurry, but that smile doesn’t lie.

And then, as Ella takes the seat that has been placed at the front of the room and prepares to read to the class, Annie will come and sit beside her and… will realize that she has been displaying an unacceptable show of affection – for her sister, of all people – and will adjust her visage accordingly.

IMG_8615-1
Oh. It’s you – how special. Not.

That’s your story and you’re sticking to it; anyone who asks you will get the same answer. And really, so long as you’re not rude about it, that’s okay with me because I know the truth. Hell, the whole world knows the truth because the two of you are lousy liars. Although I don’t think it’s always the case, in this instance, your actions drown out your words a million times over.

In the meantime, feel free to keep on insisting differently, and I’ll keep on saving these moments to show you later. (I’d love to pretend otherwise, but when that day comes I will totally say, “I told you so!” because I am nothing if not mature.)

With that said, if you could please save your arguments until at least a few minutes after you come home from school, that would be fantastic; I go from really excited to see you to awfully damn grumpy when you slam the door shut behind you and continue the sparring you’d apparently started on the four-minute walk home.

I do appreciate the work you put into attempting to convince me of your dislike for one another, though. At this rate, you could have stunning careers as actresses, and I’ll be second in line for tickets. After your sister, of course.

xoxo
Mom

IMG_8618

 

Summer Vortex

So.

Remember when I said that I was totally looking forward to summer? To all of us finally having a true break, to days with nothing on the docket, to really kicking back and just enjoying?

And remember how I said that I’d undoubtedly look back on that post and chuckle at my naiveté?

Well, HERE I AM. Looking back. And laughing my ass off. With also some tears maybe thrown in. This has only taken seven days*, which is actually a little longer than I would have predicted every summer prior to this one.

Now, let me qualify: this has been a good summer so far. All seven days* of it. And, to my pleasant surprise, I am still continuing to enjoy the doing nothing aspect of it. Which is kind of a misnomer, because we have definitely been up to a lot more than nothing

We have picked snap peas at the farm at which we joined a CSA.IMG_7355Those tasted infinitely better than the ones from the store. Go figure.

The girls created their Summer Fun List….summer fun list
… and have already checked off a good many items.

We, alongside my cousin, Andrew, celebrated my grandma’s 94th birthday by taking what might have been her first-ever selfie.IMG_7373And then I posted it to Facebook. And tagged her in it. Because of course she’s on Facebook.

We’ve been swimming in the lake, which is finally warm enough to not kill the girls.
IMG_7357
‘Cause anaphylaxis would be a bummer of a way to start summer.
Hooray for global warming!

Our garden has already yielded food for the harvesting.
IMG_7379
Those would be radishes.
Annie’s lost another tooth since then, so her smile is even more wonderfully gap-filled now.

The sprinkler has been pulled out and run through…
IMG_8936
… while fully clothed, of course.
In their/my defense, it was a bazillion degrees out that day, so whatever.

First-time sleepovers have been realized.photo_1
And she was still standing the next day, so – success!

Whilst said sleepover was occurring, Annie and I made butter in a jar (de-lish) and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
photo_2
We are enjoying said lemonade. Also de-lish.

We picked deliciously ripe strawberries at the little farm just five minutes from our house.photo_3
Yup. They were as good as they look here. And as big, too. 

We have slept beyond our normal school-day wake-up times. We have enjoyed gobs of ice cream (yes, already). We have plans to make zucchini bread (with zucchini from the garden, holla!) and to see a concert and to hurl water balloons at one another with abandon.

So, summer? It’s going splendidly. That Fun List is getting checked off left and right.

You know what’s not getting checked off left and right, however? Anything on MY to-do list. Every night, I glance down at the ever-growing scrawl of things that need accomplishing — weed the garden, mow the lawn, sort through the art cabinet, remove the dried-up highlighters and discarded stickers from the bottom of my piano bag, make phone calls, vacuum — and notice that none of it has been crossed out. And so it’s moved over to the next collection, carefully laid out and rewritten, and when I wake up the following morning, I look at the list and promise myself that today – today, by God! – I will groom the dogs and reorganize the Tupperware and purchase the bathing suit online that I’ve been meaning to get for, oh, an entire month so that I have something that isn’t at least four years old and, like, see-through to wear to Puerto Rico.

Given that it’s summer and all, I have not had to make any lunches. I have not had to run around taking kids to practices or managing homework or planning lessons and organizing childcare.

And you know what else I have not done? ANYTHING.

In just seven days*, the yard seems to have taken on a jungle-like persona and the floors on our main level look as though they’ve never been cleaned. It’s amazing what falls to shit when you’re off berry picking and refereeing and running through sprinklers.

Well, just do that stuff on your list while the girls are occupied, you may think. How quaint!! Let me tell you, it’s damn hard to take care of anything when the girls are around and wanting it to feel like Summer! Yay! all the time. It’s difficult to make phone calls when they are reenacting the climax of Maleficent – in period costume – in the background. It’s not easy sorting through boxes of old clothes when they run through the carefully crafted piles while playing particularly raucous games of “baby.” It’s damn near impossible to do the dishes when slingshots are being fired in your direction (trust me, I’ve tried). And let’s not even talk about the sibling sniping that occurs at regular intervals throughout the day; they are taking button-pushing to levels I did not know existed. In some ways, it’s actually quite impressive.

Simply put: it is neither “fun” nor “easy” for anyone when real-life crap has to be accomplished while the children are tagging along. Not for the girls, not for me. And so very little gets done until it has to or something terrible will befall us because it’s just not worth it making life hell for everyone.

Plus also, I don’t want to be the summer ogre. Come on! Lighten up! SUMMER! SQUEE!!!

Today*, when I announced to the girls that, so sorry, they needed to accompany me to not only Target but also the grocery store AND the pet store, Annie announced that I must think it’s my job to torture them all day long.

She had me. Right on the nose. BINGO.

When I attempted to reason with her, explaining that, on Monday, we did not leave the house for even one minute – despite being woefully out of every essential pantry staple and subsiding on stale dried cherries and shriveled baby carrots – and, instead, made tinfoil rivers and chilled out in the playroom because she and Ella really just wanted to lounge around for a bit, Annie piped up,

“Yeah, well. It’s summer. That’s what’s supposed to happen.”

I then tried to explain that, although it may, in fact, be summer, that does not mean that we can survive without groceries or prescription medications or dog food, and because such goods do not magically fall from the sky (not even Amazon Prime is quite that magical), we occasionally need to go and fetch them. Meaning that they need to come with me, because staying home for hours at a time is kind of, like, illegal… And, unless they’d prefer to live in filth, the house needs to be tidied from time to time (they opted for filth, but this is not a democracy, people) and the laundry needs to be done and all that jazz… So, every so often, Summer Fun Squee!! needs to include real life, too.

This went over very well.

So, to recap: summer is great for laziness and eating and splashing and getting freckles on noses, but can kiss my rear in terms of anything even remotely productive. You gain time laughing but lose sanity. Somehow, in the fresh delight of SCHOOL’S OUT FOR ALL OF US! I actually thought my days would be perfectly balanced between tie dyeing, water slides, reading lakeside, paying the bills, and cooking a nutritious dinner with ingredients grown in our own weed-free garden (because I’d have all sorts of time – and a burning desire – to weed).

Which is kind of like how, pre-Ella, I envisioned Nick and me sprawled on our bed on weekend mornings, our newborn cooing between us, while we read the Sunday New York Times, sipped decaf, and ate lightly toasted bagels. In other words, I’d basically imagined giving birth to an iPad. (I’ve always had a very lively, if completely ludicrous, imagination.)

Instead, summer it is a vortex of disorientation (what day of the week is it again??), mysterious dirt stains (have those socks been changed since school got out?), unidentified rashes (is that poison ivy or a mosquito bite gone awry?), and boxes of popsicles. And flying kites.

So, if you’ve sent me an email since school got out and have been waiting for an answer, or if you noticed that I didn’t “like” your photo on Facebook, or I haven’t managed to pay that bill in time (I think I’m pretty much up on this, but vortex and all), I apologize. Summer Fun! is taking way more brain power and time than I’d anticipated, and even if I attempted to reply to your query, it would probably come out jumbled because of the children putting together a marching band in the kitchen.

* To wit: I began this post nearly a week ago, aka seven days after school got out, and it has taken me an additional six days to find the time to write. I still can’t promise it makes sense, and the items on my To-Do list have not yet been crossed off, but I do know that the glens we hiked this morning made for some great photo shoots. Summer Fun. Squee!

 

 

Look away, baby, look away

Welcome to today’s session of What Life Looks (Or Sounds) Like Through The Eyes (Or Ears) Of Someone With ADHD. Thanks for your attention! (See what I did there?)

Listening is a challenge for me. No, not just because talking takes precedence over listening (although there’s some of that, sure; it’s definitely something I’m working on, that whole You Don’t Need To Think Of An Immediate Response – Just Listen! thing). And no, not just because I’m easily distracted because of my ADHD – well, okay, that IS it, but probably not in the way you might think.

It’s not that I don’t hear things; it’s more that I hear everything. Television at normal volume often feels like it’s screaming at me. If Langston comes in after a particularly exhausting session of ball-fetching and is panting like a maniac, I hear his frantic breaths more loudly than everything else in the room. Last weekend, we went out to The Melting Pot to celebrate the girls’ – and my students’ – successful piano recital. The empty fondue pot was warming up, waiting for the mouthwatering cheese to be placed into it by our server, and the heat from the burner was causing the pot to rattle ever so slightly. Once I noticed it, it was essentially all I could hear; I absolutely could not block it out, even though I tried (I mean that literally – I held my hand coyly up to my ear to attempt to muffle the sound). It took superhuman effort to focus on the conversation we were trying to have, and only once the pot was finally full – and, mercifully, quiet – did I turn my complete attention to Nick and the girls.

I don’t want to be hearing these random noises so loudly – I just don’t really have any choice. It’s part of my wiring, a portion of the ADHD code that is who I am. A lot of times, it’s actually a good thing. I can make out someone’s voice from around a corner before anyone else even knows they’re coming and I’ll be the first to realize that the faucet is dripping, thereby saving our house from devastating flooding (go, me!). Others, it’s a real nuisance because it’s not such fun when you can’t read a sentence in your book (or on your Kindle, although I don’t have a Kindle, but whatever) because you can hear the ticking of the watch so loudly – the one being worn by the person three seats over – that it’s making you develop an eye twitch.

There are ways that I help myself tune out those extra sounds. Let’s just say that we don’t have any wall clocks in our house and Nick knows to hold any potential wristwatches-as-gifts up to his ear to ascertain whether or not I’ll be hiding them in the bathroom closet ten seconds after opening the box. (True story: our bathroom closet really does hold, like, three clocks.) I also sleep with an extra pillow so that I can put it over my head in case some random noise is keeping me awake, and I am super fun on family vacations.

I would really like to drown out the extemporaneous nonsense; I simply can’t.

It may seem like a contradiction, then, that I really prefer to do work – or make dinner, or clean, or mow the lawn – with music on, what with the music-being-a-distraction and all. But if I have the right kind of music, it actually works to cover up other potential distractions (the “right” kind is almost impossible to pin down; my Pandora list is really varied, although Nick just was scrolling through my iPhone and announced with genuine disparagement that a “shockingly high percentage of these songs are Christmas songs”). When the girls are playing and giggling and shrieking at one another – even happily – it can make me lose focus almost immediately if I have a task at hand… so I just crank up that play list and, suddenly, I’m able to refocus. Until someone’s bleeding. Or hanging off my back like a monkey. That’s harder to ignore.

These funny little “tricks” have been hard-earned over the years – trial and error, success and failure, melded into one. But one of the favorite tools in my ADHD box is the very purposeful act of not looking at someone when they’re talking… so that I can hear them better. On some level, this makes no sense, I know; why would you look away from someone who’s talking? If you’re really paying attention, shouldn’t you be taking visual cues, looking for facial expressions and body language?

Well, yes and no. Obviously, those things are really important and can contribute tremendously to understanding what someone is trying to say. But also? They’re really distracting. When someone is waving their hands to emphasize a point, my eyes are drawn to their fingers – but unlike most people without ADHD, I don’t just take a quick glance and then look toward their face again.

No, suddenly I’m noticing that her fingernails are painted a really neat shade of plum – and don’t I have one like that in the cupboard? If not, maybe I should swing by Target on the way home… Which reminds me, oh crap! I never got that birthday present! Wait, is the big day this Friday or next Friday? STOP, EMILY. FOCUS. Right, right. What was he saying again? Oh, yes. Field Day is coming up, the girls need to bring sunscreen… Speaking of which, now that I’m looking at his face, maybe he could use a higher SPF himself. Is that a mole or a freckle? Who was that actor again in the Austin Powers movie with the “molé molé molé” thing? Kevin Savage? Wasn’t he in The Wonder Years?

kevin savage mole
“My mole-stake..”

And then I’ve completely lost the thread of the conversation and instead of remembering what she was telling me about her son’s recent softball game, all I remember is that Ms. Starbucks Barista has really lovely eyebrows.

Hence, when something is really important – when I really want to hear what someone is saying, or the film dialogue in a crowded movie theater, or whether or not the woodwinds or the brass are responsible for the eighth notes in this section of the symphony – I look away. Not just anywhere, though, because there are myriad other distractions lurking everywhere, just waiting to grab my (already fleeting) attention — the blinking EXIT sign, the way the kid in line to the left is picking his nose, how the poster on the wall is missing a pushpin. Bueller? Bueller?

Thus, in order to really listen, I’ll look down at my own hands (which is also part of why I rarely wear nail polish – because the chipping and uneven color distracts me even when I’m trying not to be distracted, for crying out loud!). Or, if I’m not actually holding a conversation with someone, I’ll close my eyes. Yeah, I may miss the lead actor’s facial expressions, but at least I’ll hear what he had to say.

I have no idea if other folks with ADHD do the same thing, but I’m a fan. Concentration and focus, FTW!

So. If we’re having a chat, you and I, and I suddenly look down – or you see me working fervently to give make appropriately polite eye contact while also, oddly, glancing at my own fingers from time to time – don’t take it personally. Actually, do take it personally, because it means that I care enough about what you’re saying to really listen, and this is the best way I know how to do it. And if you’re a teacher and that highly distractible kid is looking out the window instead of staring at you? Sure, maybe she’s not listening. But, then again, maybe she is. Maybe give her another chance.

Also? You might want to check a mirror when we’re through, just in case the thing I was finding the most distracting was the salad stuck between your front teeth. You’re welcome.

 

Some questions are best left unanswered

A couple of days ago, one of the girls had a friend over. (I won’t name names so as to offer said daughter some kind of anonymity, but there are only so many guesses to be had here, people.) They played in the playroom for quite a while, with what I wasn’t sure – Barbies? Dress up? Legos? – making very little noise or fuss, perfectly content. I didn’t even stop to check on them because they seemed to be having such a good, quiet time… Why mess with a good thing?

That evening, I had a load of laundry to do – which takes me right through the downstairs and into the basement – and, as I navigated the toy explosion/obstacle course that is our playroom, I glanced briefly over to notice that there were a bunch of dolls set up in some kind of purposeful formation. It dawned on me that this was what our daughter and our neighbor must have been doing while they played, but I didn’t really think anything of it.

IMG_7223
Camper? Check. Corvette? Check. Beach cruiser? Check
Semi-circle of perfectly, creepily posed dolls? WEIRD. Check.

A little while later, Nick, too, ventured down into the basement (we do laundry separately here; I highly recommend it) and asked me if I’d gotten a look at the “set-up” in the playroom.

Oh, yeah. You mean they’ve been doing the Jonestown thing again?
(It is not at all uncommon for the girls to set up dolls in freakish-looking ritualistic poses all in a row on the floor.)

“No. It’s more like a peep show Cirque du Soleil.”

What are you talking about? They’re just dolls in formation on the floor!

“Uh, I think you need to take a much closer look.”

And so I did, fully expecting to see that Nick had over-exaggerated… and discovered that what I’d thought was a cutesy – if bizarre – doll collection was actually…

Um. Wow.
IMG_7204You’ll definitely want to click on this to make it larger.
That is, if your filter at work will allow you to do so.

WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON HERE???

As I wrote on Facebook:
(parenthetical observations were added by me after the fact)

I don’t even know where to start with this…
The semicircle of onlookers…?
(Because, seriously, why is everyone watching?)
Bringing the children…??
(This event is family-friendly?)
Only two males in attendance…?
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)
Downward facing dog (doll?) OVER the other doll’s face…?
(There are names for these kind of moves; or, um, so I’ve heard…)
The starfish Aurora in the middle…?
(Sleeping Beauty 
is FLEXIBLE, y’all.)
The doll on the purple door on the piano bench…?
(Some kind of pre-show seance?)
I just… Um… I didn’t realize that’s how it was in our family.
.
Since the girls were already in bed, it didn’t make sense to awaken them to find out what the hell was actually going on in the playroom, but I made a mental note to ask them about it later. Mental notes are the reason I have a to-do book, however, so naturally, I forgot all about it.
.
Last night, Nick and I split up reading with the girls before bed. As he headed upstairs to change out of his work clothes, he called over his shoulder (to our offspring, not me), “Come on into the bedroom! You can read to me while I take off my clothes!”
.
I chuckled at his choice of words and called back, “So that IS how it is in our family!”
Which prompted me to remember the burlesque show in the playroom. I immediately began my interrogation.
.
Sweetie, you know those dolls in the playroom?
.
“Yes, Mommy. I’ll clean them up tomorrow!”
.
No, it’s not that. It’s just… What’s up with the set-up?
.
“Oh, THAT.”
.
Yes. THAT.
.
“Well, the lady was becoming president. Or maybe the principal. It was a big party.”
(OMG, presidential inaugurations make so much more sense now)
(Also: DOLL BURLESQUE MYSTERY SOLVED)
.
Which lady?
.
“The one in the black and red fancy dress.”
IMG_7222
Resembling a scene from Disney’s “The Princess and the Strip Club”, a movie which – apparently – was scrapped before it hit the theaters. Which is a shame, because New Orleans definitely has a brothel-y side.
From this angle, the “performers” are so… symmetrical…
.
That’s Tiana, but it’s not her dress.
.
Um, okay, sharing is good. But what were… the rest of the people… doing around her?
.
“That was a dance. It was part of the party.”
.
Fair enough. But how come they weren’t really clothed?
.
“Well, they had their underwear on.”
.
Semantics, but that still doesn’t really explain why they weren’t dressed.
.
“They’re going to be wearing clothes later. Really fancy ones. Like, all matching and stuff. Skirts and things.”
.
Just skirts?
.
“We’ll see what’s available. This was just the dress rehearsal.”
.
That’s a misleading choice of words.
.
“They were practicing. They’ll get dressed up later.”
.
Why was everyone watching?
.
“Because it was a show!”
.
Of course. They were watching the mostly naked performers doing their dress rehearsal for the president-principal lady?
.
“YES, Mom.”
(duh)
.
And they even brought their kids?
.
“Yes. It was a show for families.”
.
Maybe in Vegas.
.
“What?”
.
That Aurora sure is… flexible. She was like a starfish.
.
“I know! She’s the fanciest performer!”
.
That’s one way to put it.
.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got it all planned out. Their final performance is going to be great.”
.
Does this little number have a name?
.
“Yes. It’s called the Naked Ballet.”
(pronounced it like ballette, rhyming with palate, not ball-ay, rhyming with… ballet)
.
Ballette?
.
“Yes. That’s the French word for ballet.”
.
Tres nice.
.
Naked Ballette.
.
I heard you the first time. But thank you for sharing.
—————-
So. To sum up, our child – and a friend – created pretty much exactly what Nick had described: a peep show Cirque du Soleil. In our playroom. With Barbies.
.
Awesome.
.
Our girls love playdates! Do be sure to send your daughter over any time.
.
On the bright side: their president/principal was a black female. We may be raising risqué nudists, but at least they preach equality. Holla!

 

All together shattered

Right after Nick and I went on our juice diet (in a word: don’t), I began to add dessert back into my daily regimen as soon as my stomach could handle it. One of the juicing websites I’d been looking at had a recipe for a yummy (enough) sounding smoothie using a banana, ice, almond butter, almond milk, and some cocoa powder – basically all of which were “good” ingredients: no dairy, no grains… Nothing to make anyone jealous, in other words, but basically nirvana after five-plus days consuming only liquified vegetables.

It was delicious, and not just because I was going through chocolate withdrawals. No, actually really tasty – so tasty, I began making these smoothies for dessert on a fairly regular basis. (If you frequent Pinterest, you might notice them called a “healthy” Wendy’s Frosty. They don’t really taste like a Frosty, but I don’t have the heart to tell anyone that.) I have a thing for snacking after dinner (pretzels and a bowl of ice cream and some almonds and cheese puffs and a handful of dark chocolate? Don’t mind if I do!), so I’ve been trying to hold off the bingeing in favor of these frothy beverages. My blender and I are real tight.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, the stupid juice diet kind of ruined breakfast for me, by which I mean that if I consume anything more than a small piece of fruit in the mornings, I feel ridiculously, uncomfortably full until well past lunchtime and then my blood pressure drops and I’m like a foraging truffle pig by mid-afternoon. So I still juice each night and then Nick and I drink up in the mornings (although I no longer even consider “green” juices because that stuff is nasty, man).

One night several weeks ago, I had just finished creating my veggie-fruit masterpieces and was about to pour them into our juice glasses when I somehow lost control of the glass pitcher (who, me?) and accidentally tapped the side of the cup as I added the liquid. Meaning, naturally, that the glass now had a large crack running all along its side and needed to be thrown away.

Strike one.

broken glass
Don’t mind the orange-y funk. That’s what happens when carrots get pulverized.

After filling new glasses and getting on with the rest of my evening, I was taking out the ingredients for my nightly smoothie when the almond butter… slipped… and knocked into the container of the blender, sending it toppling to the kitchen floor. In a feat of contortionism far beyond my abilities, I attempted to catch it mid-fall (which, I’m sure, looked as comical as it felt), but I wasn’t in time.

Strike two.

Have you ever dropped the top part of a heavy glass blender onto a tile floor? If not, let me save you the trouble of guessing what it looks like: INSANITY. Tiny glass bead-lets everywhere, under appliances, in crevices ten feet across the room, on top of furniture (wtf?). The poor dogs didn’t know what on earth was going on (GET BACK! LEAVE IT! GO LIE DOWN! DON’T! FOR GOD’S SAKE, KENNEL – KENNEL!!) and it took me at least thirty minutes of sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping to feel that the floor was finally safe again.

Without a functional blender, you might think that my smoothie dreams were over… Ah, but then, you’ve got another think coming. In no time at all I’d hauled the Cuisinart onto the counter – if it can chop salsa and essentially liquify salad dressing, surely it could make quick work of a banana-chocolate-almond smoothie!

Quick work, kind of.
Effective work, not really.
Ridiculously messy work: OH HELL YES.

See, apparently a Cuisinart isn’t really meant to hold lots of liquid at a time, and as a result, nearly as much of the smoothie wound up on the counter (and cabinets. And coffee maker. And toaster) as remained inside the machine.

Strike three.

broken glass2
I have no idea what the spatula is for. Perhaps to scrape bits of smoothie off the counter?

And so you might, logically, think that this would have stopped me from drinking said smoothie that night. YET AGAIN, YOU WOULD BE WRONG. After all that work, there was no way in hell I was going to let everything go to waste. I drank that damn smoothie, all right… except, I kind of chewed the damn smoothie because I guess Cuisinarts and ice don’t really get along so well.

Strike… Oh, forget it, I’m already out.

Knowing that I wouldn’t last long without the ability to blend things (and seeing that the Cuisinart was clearly not up to the job), I immediately went on Amazon to search for a blender… with a plastic container, because obviously, with my track record, I’d be destroying the new one before I’d even removed it from the box. This one seemed to have the best reviews and was nicely affordable, so if I did happen to, you know… slip up… it wouldn’t have cost me too dearly.

Plus also: it’s name is Ninja. ‘Nuff said.

(Side note: I ordered these pub glasses at the same time because Annie just might have broken another of our original ones the day before, making our glass “collection” look a little like something you might find at a flea market. I prefer to look like a well-stocked bar.)

My Ninja Prep Master arrived two days later (Amazan Prime, holla!), and – whaddya know – it rocks. This thing blends like nobody’s business, pulverizing my smoothies into delicious silky goodness as quietly and swiftly as, well, a ninja. If a ninja blended things. I was immediately smitten and have been using it nightly ever since.

ninja blender
Mine isn’t quite this clean, nor have I made guacamole with it yet, but I’m in love nevertheless.

This past long weekend, we’d planned to go to the lake on Saturday and Sunday nights, but, at the last minute, Nick suggested that we head down on Friday instead. I was hesitant – Ella had a birthday party to attend that night, the girls needed to wash their hair, and we wouldn’t even be at the lake for twelve hours before returning for Annie’s soccer game in the morning. We also needed to do some cleaning and yard work before just heading off for the weekend.

The girls were – naturally – totally psyched to go, and Nick seemed ready to take on the mayhem, but I wasn’t convinced. I hemmed. I hawed. I grudgingly gave my “okay.” But I didn’t really want to go. It was then that Nick – perhaps not entirely seriously – informed me, “You know, you don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I can just take the girls by myself.”

There was a time when I would have said absolutely not. A time when I wanted to be there, both to spend the time with the girls and Nick, and also because maybe I like to be in control just a bit. Besides… staying in the house overnight all by myself?

But the more I thought about it, the more the glorious possibility stretched out before me: I could stay overnight in the house ALL BY MYSELF. No one needing to be read to. No one needing mid-night checkings-on. No one waking up at ungodly hours and tromping downstairs to play “Let It Go” on the piano. No one snoring next to me (well, Jambi snores, but that’s different). No one to help make breakfast for in the morning.

THE HOUSE ALL TO MYSELF. ALL NIGHT LONG.
Sign me up!

The girls were a little concerned (for me) that I wasn’t going with them. Would I be okay? Did I mind staying alone? I assured them that I did not mind staying alone (with three dogs, you’re never really “alone” anyway) and that I would be very, very okay… and off they went. And so I did what any part-time stay-at-home, part-time working, full-time mom would do when faced with twelve hours to herself: I spread mulch. I ran an errand at The Home Depot. I made my juice for the morning. I tidied up.

Okay, okay. And then I curled up with Pinterest and several episodes of “Modern Family” and my ubiquitous, Ninja-made smoothie… except, this time, I added Kahlua. And Bailey’s. Yes, both. Together. And, oh my sweet baby Jesus, if that wasn’t the very smoothest, creamiest, most amazing beverage I have had in a very, very long time.

Batter. Up.

This time, I didn’t even break the glass.

photo-73
Looks like a milkshake. Tastes like awesome.

 

The One Where Nothing Happened… But It COULD Have!

Yesterday, the most terrifying* thing happened: my girls were unexpectedly home alone** for over 90 minutes! Their babysitter never showed!! I wasn’t home!!! Nick wasn’t home!!!! THERE WAS NOBODY HERE OMG OMG OMG.

* Except… It wasn’t actually terrifying at all.
Isn’t that the weirdest thing?

(** Also, they weren’t alone. But they could have been! More on that in a moment.)

Lemme ‘splain.

On Thursdays, I teach piano lessons, so our babysitter, S, gets the girls from school, supervises their homework-doing and snack-eating and backpack-emptying and sometimes-playing, generally makes sure they don’t maim one another, and does awesome babysitter-y things with them. We adore her.

The girls walk home from school, but Ella likes to go independently, so S and Annie walk together, while Ella comes at her own pace. Yesterday, when Ella arrived home shortly after 3:00, as usual, she noticed that S and Annie weren’t here yet. After a few minutes, she began to consider that Annie was just sitting at school alone, so she hightailed it back, found Annie, and the two of them walked home together. They then said “hello” to the new lady who has been cleaning our house (I’d avoided the mere thought of a cleaning woman for years, but my recent sleepless balancing act caused me to count my blessings and reexamine my priorities; she comes once every two weeks, this was her fourth visit, and she’s been superb), and then pondered that they were, for all intents and purposes, home alone.

They tried calling my cell phone – three times, Mommy! – but the call wouldn’t go through, because they’d forgotten to dial 1 for an out-of-area number (yes, I still have my phone number from before our move seven years ago. I KNOW, I know). They also tried to text me from their iPads, but again, nothing went through because they “needed a password, but you won’t tell us the password, Mommy, because you don’t want us buying stuff whenever we want to.”

At least I know my meager parental controls are effective. Those in-app purchases can really be a bitch.

Because they weren’t technically alone – our housecleaner was working upstairs – they decided all was well, so they did what they always do: followed their checklist. Within an hour, they’d emptied their backpacks, brought their papers into the kitchen, helped themselves to a snack, and completed their homework. (Ella did technically bend the rules by reading aloud to Annie instead of a responsible adult, but hey, the cleaning lady was still working, so I can’t really fault her.)

kickass checklist
Man, it was nice out yesterday!

When everything was checked off of their list, they headed out to play in the backyard around 4:20 – just as our housecleaner was finishing up. She, too, noticed that S was nowhere to be seen and contacted me, catching me mid-teaching. Given that this is a rare occurrence, I thought maybe something was up, so I asked my student to go ahead with her piece while I took a moment to check my phone (something I never normally do during lessons)… and had the following exchange with our cleaner:

kickass text1

I knew that something was seriously awry; S has never just not showed up, not once in several hundred afternoons and evenings spent babysitting our girls. So I apologized profusely to my student, explaining that now I needed to make a phone call, and dialed S, hoping that she’d answer, hoping that she was okay. The moment she picked up (people don’t really “pick up” anymore, do they? You know what I mean) and heard that it was me, she gasped with recognition. “Oh my God. I am SO sorry, Emily – my grandmother is in the hospital, and I’ve been with her all day, and I just completely forgot about babysitting.”

She then explained that she would leave the hospital immediately and get home to the girls. I tried to protest – Was she sure? Was it an emergency with her grandma? I could cancel lessons; I could call Nick? – but she was practically already out the door. So, after a failed attempt at contacting a neighbor, some more distracted instructions and critiques to my very patient piano student, and a few more communications with our cleaning lady, it was determined that she – the housecleaner – would remain at home with the girls until S could arrive.

kickass text2

When S got here, fifteen minutes later, I’m told that Annie and Ella essentially looked up from playing and said, “Oh, you’re here!” and then went right back to what they were doing. The cleaning lady went home. S played with the girls, fed the dogs, threw the ball for Langston, and then apologized even more when I returned home, promising this would never happen again and refusing payment of any kind for the time she was with our girls.

And… that was that. They played outside until just before dinner and got absolutely, deliciously filthy. They cleaned up, ate dinner, made their lunches for tomorrow, had dessert, read books, went to bed. The end!

Sounds terrifying, right?!

For so many families these days, though, this would have been terrifying. The What If game would have begun: What if they’d gotten abducted on their way home? What if they’d choked on their snack? What if they’d gotten hurt? What if there was a fire? What if the cleaning lady wasn’t actually a nice lady after all? What if she’d molested them? What if she offered them poisoned apples? What if they’d gotten scared? What if they’d gotten into an argument and knocked one another to the ground? What if they’d gorged on candy? What if a Jehovah’s Witness came to the door? What if aliens landed and tried to beam them up into their mothership?

Never mind that none of these actually happened, and that the girls were calm and happy and safe. Something could have happened. And those Could Haves and What Ifs are often so omnipresent – no matter how unlikely they might be – that panic and hysteria and anger frequently take over. Children – fending for themselves, not relying on an adult or being under constant supervision?? Unthinkable! Something awful could have happened! Fire the babysitter! Quit teaching piano! NEVER LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT AGAIN!!

At least, that’s how it so often seems these days.

But – and maybe we’re strange (okay, we’re definitely strange) – neither Nick nor I felt that way, not even a little. Yes, I was upset… but not that the kids had been on their own, nor that they spent time “alone” with someone we don’t know very well, nor that S hadn’t remembered to get them. (On the contrary – at first, I was worried that something had happened to her, and once I learned about her grandmother, I was heartbroken for their family. It never dawned on me to be upset with S.) No, I was upset that our lovely new housecleaner rearranged her afternoon in order to make sure my girls weren’t alone – upset for her, because I’m sure she had somewhere else she needed to be, and watching my children certainly wasn’t part of our original hiring agreement.

You can read stories left and right about how children are becoming less and less independent; how often they’re supervised; how little they play outside; how playgrounds are being closed because they’re “dangerous;” how college students are completely flummoxed when faced with doing laundry because they’ve never had to do it before; how recent college graduates bring their parents with them to job interviews (omg!); how every person who ever comes into contact with any child for any reason needs a CIA-grade background check.

It’s just… Nick and I haven’t bought into it. And, for the most part, our neighborhood hasn’t, either. Step into our yard and you’ll see loads of kids of all ages outside – with no adults in sight – riding bikes, running from yard to yard, roller blading, playing baseball in the cul-de-sac. Our girls are growing up where walking to school is encouraged, ironing isn’t just for grown-ups, and playing with hammers is par for the course. They earn and spend their own money, bake their own cakes, order for themselves at restaurants and stores, and sometimes even cook meals. Maybe it’s some kind of retro Pleasantville… but I’m so freakin’ glad that we’re a part of it.

photo-72
Seen at school today. Helmets? Check. Crossing guard? Check. Walking bikes safely across the street? Check.
Parents? Nope.
(Yes, I recognize the irony that I, a parent, took this photo… Carry on…)

About five years ago, I came across a book and website by Lenore Skenazy titled Free-Range Kids. Although I hadn’t realized it, Nick and I have been “free range” parents all along: we believe that Ella and Annie are smart and capable – not, to quote Ms. Skenazy, “invalids who needs constant attention and help” – and we treat them as such. We think that the world has way more good people than bad, and that the best way to allow our kiddos to grow into successful, happy, healthy adults is to give them the tools they need to do so… which does not include our hovering over their every move.

After attending a (funny, well-spoken, generally fabulous) talk given by Ms. Skenazy (one of my fellow mom friends was so taken in, she called out and asked if Lenore would marry her…), I was even inadvertently featured in one of her ParentDish articles, which resulted in commenters calling me a ridiculously irresponsible parent who did not deserve to have my children; some even called for my death (!). A year later, I wrote to Lenore to let her know how my parenting had changed – or not – since that incident. She posted my letter on her website, part of which read:

But also?  It made me think.  It made me re-assess how I DO parent, and made me look more carefully at WHY I parent as I do.  And the outcome?  I’ve become even more Free-Range!  If  THAT’S the mentality of others out there – paranoid, terrified, helicopter-ish to the max – then I know I *HAVE* to continue with Free-Range thinking and parenting more than ever, to ensure that my daughters grow up to be confident, strong, and capable, and to look at the world knowing that dangers do NOT lurk around every corner, that most people ARE good, and that they, themselves, are competent.

Confident, strong, capable, and competent.

I may have written those words over three years ago, but they are just as true now as they were then.

Did Nick and I want our girls to fend for themselves for nearly 90 minutes? Nope. Did we want them to be stranded by the babysitter? Of course not. But life is not perfectly in our control (if it were, there would be a Starbucks on my corner, believe me), and sometimes these things happen – and when they do, we’re doing our best to ensure that our kids posses the skills and the confidence to navigate the changes.

Ella and Annie could have freaked out. They could have completely panicked, worried themselves sick, and been utterly unable to determine what to do next. They could have been taught that predators and molesters lurk around every corner, and might have been terrified for our housecleaner to be with them. It could have been one of the worst afternoons of their lives.

Instead, when I got home and found them playing in a pile of dirt out back, reveling in one of the first warm days of the year – covered head to toe with filth – and said to them, “So, I hear you had quite the afternoon!”, they looked up with delighted eyes and said, “Yes, we did! We found dinosaur bones!” And then proceeded to hold up some kind of… bone… that is certainly not from a dinosaur and so I don’t even want to think about what it really is and why it’s lurking in our backyard.

kickass digging
God only knows what they’re digging up…

When prompted, they admitted that they were worried… But not about themselves. They were worried that something might have happened to S. The rest? S being missing, walking home alone, taking care of their snack and homework and unpacking, chatting with the cleaning lady, and ultimately waiting for S to arrive and play with them? So unworrisome, they hardly even acknowledged that it was unusual.

But it was unusual – because it’s never happened before, because of how they handled it, and because of how so many other kids and parents would have handled it.

For a moment, when I first received the call from our housecleaner saying that S wasn’t home, I nearly did go down my own list of What Ifs… But then a strange feeling came over me, and it became so powerful, it drowned out everything else: gratitude. I was so grateful that our cleaning woman cared enough about our girls to contact me. I was so grateful that she was able to stay with them a little while longer. I was so grateful that S cared enough about our daughters to leave her grandmother and race to the house to babysit. I was grateful that she fed the dogs; that she played with the girls; that she took such ownership for her mistake. I was humbled that she refused any payment.

Sometimes, it really does take a village. Our village is tremendous.

When I took another step back, though, what I was most grateful for and astounded by was my children. Yes, Nick and I hope that we’re teaching them to be confident, strong, capable, and competent… but it’s rare that we have an opportunity to see whether or not our efforts are effective. But, you guys! HOLY CRAP. They walked themselves home. They fed themselves (a healthy snack! Not just junk! [Well, they did ‘fess up to eating some chocolate, and Ella squirted whipped cream straight from the can into her mouth… but it would have been disappointing if they hadn’t bent the rules a little, right?] They even put their dishes in the sink!!). They did their homework. They played nicely together and did everything that they normally do after school, flawlessly – so much so, our housecleaner didn’t even realize that S wasn’t here until it was time to leave. And throughout it all, they remained calm and happy, because they were confident in their own abilities and knew they were badass enough to smack this unexpected curveball out of the park.

They’re hardly perfect, and we’ve still got a helluva lot of parenting to do… But, yesterday, Annie and Ella were pretty much the biggest seven and nine year-old rockstars in existence. Hell, maybe we don’t even need a sitter anymore! Holla!

(Don’t worry. We’re not letting S go anytime soon.
But it’s nice to know that, in an emergency, Ella and Annie are the ones you’d want on your team. Take that, Jack Bauer!)

We learned something else, too: that we need to have our phone numbers written somewhere that’s easily accessible. S could have been contacted much more quickly had the girls been able to reach Nick or me immediately. Or maybe I should just change to a local cell number… Nah.

So, there you have it. The terrifying afternoon that was anything but. Nevertheless, we thought that ice cream was in order – not to comfort our “traumatized” daughters, but to let them know how proud of them we were, and to celebrate their levelheaded stupendousness. I can’t think of a better way to start Mother’s Day weekend.

Except maybe with the wine I had last night after I finally got home. Nothing may have happened, but wine is usually a good idea.

kickass icecream
Yes, they wore their pjs to get ice cream. All the rockstars are doing it.

 

 

They’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do here

On Thursday, Nick and I went out to dinner to celebrate twenty years of being together. We found a new (to us) gem, a little Cuban spot with scrumptious food and festive decor, leaving the girls with a sitter, B, who is also (relatively) new.

Upon arriving home – stomachs uncomfortably full, but feeling quite content – we relieved B of her responsibilities and got to the rest of our romantic evening. Meaning that Nick went upstairs to use his iPad while I tidied up downstairs and edited some photos.

See? After twenty years, that spark is still fresh.

Nick hadn’t been gone more than a few minutes when he called me up, saying I needed to see something. I obliged, assuming that perhaps the girls had fallen asleep in some strange or adorable way, and was surprised when he led me to the master bathroom.

“Look!”

Um… What am I looking at?

“All of this stuff is out!”

Uh, okay… 

IMG_7039
Judging by the brightness outside of the window, you can probably tell that this is a dramatic reenactment. I do strive for authenticity.

“I think that B was going through your jewelry.”

What? 

“Your jewelry is all over the counter!”

I can see that, but I really don’t think…

“She must have heard the car and run downstairs in a hurry.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not what actually happened.

“She’s a lousy thief if she thought we wouldn’t notice.”

That’s because she’s not a thief at all.

“Then how…”

I think that the girls must have been in here, playing around with my earrings.

“Why would they do that??”

Because they’re girls? 

“?”

Ella, especially, really likes to try on my earrings.

“But why would she have come in here instead of using the other…”

I don’t know, but… Yes, look! That’s it!

“What’s it?”

Those earrings, the big hoops. They were in the girls’ bathroom and now they’re in here.

earrings
Exhibit A: Dun dun DUNNNNN.

“And that means…?”

It means that Ella brought them in here and was trying them on. B wouldn’t take the time to rummage through the earrings in another bathroom and then bring them in here if she was just going to steal them.

“Okay, fine. But why are the cabinets open?”

Uhhhhh… Maybe I left them open after I got ready? I sometimes leave things open and don’t remember…

“Yeah, but I was in here after you. They weren’t open.”

Well, I’m not sure why they’re open, but…

“Do you think B was going through our prescriptions??”

Yes. She was probably trying to steal my Xanax…

“Do you think we should…”

… which is a bummer for her because I don’t keep my Xanax in here.

“… check to make sure everything’s okay?”

No! I’m telling you, B had nothing to do with this. The girls were here. I don’t know how the cabinets got open, but I’m sure that it wasn’t B. 

—————–

Later that night, my assumptions were confirmed when I discovered that my makeup – which is kept in the girls’ bathroom (it’s confusing, I know) – was scattered all over the place and nearly every one of my hair products had been moved. At first, I thought that perhaps everything was missing (and, I’ll sheepishly admit, I had fleeting thoughts that perhaps our sitter was, in fact, a cosmetics thief), but a closer inspection found everything still in the cupboard – just in a completely random spot from where I’d left it.

Ella and Annie were all over this. I knew it, but I needed to hear it from them, and I was concerned that if I accused them of being messy boors, they might not ‘fess up after all. (I’d love to say that they’re honest and forthcoming all of the time, but… well… I’m trying to model such behavior by not lying, myself.) So I decided to try a different approach.

Hey – how was it last night with B? Did you all have fun?

“Yes, it was great!”

Awesome! What did you do?

“Oh, you know. The usual. Ate dinner, watched a show, played a couple of games.”

“We also tried on some nail polish, but we used the wrong kind – you know, the kind that peels off instead of regular? – and so now both of us lost all of our polish while we were sleeping, so that’s kind of a bummer.”

That is a bummer. You know what else is a bummer?

“No, what?”

We don’t think we’re going to be able to ask B back to babysit anymore.

“Why not??”

Because we think she was stealing things from us.

(In case you’ve ever wondered – yes, people’s mouths do actually drop open in surprise. I saw it with my own two eyes. Twice.)

When we got home last night, all of my make-up and hair stuff was in new places. B must have gone through the cupboard looking for things.

“Um, mom…?” (eyes down, voice quiet)

Yes?

“B didn’t go through the cupboard.”

How do you know?

“We… might have… been looking for more nail polish remover. So we might have moved your stuff.”

“By accident.”

And you didn’t think to put any of it back?

“I guess we just forgot. But B didn’t do it.”

Okay, well that’s good. But I’m still concerned about the stuff in my bathroom.

“Your bathroom?”

Yes. My earrings were all over the place. I think that B was rooting through them.

“Actually… (even quieter than before) That wasn’t B, either.”

Why not?

“Because it was… me. I was in your bathroom. With the earrings.”

You were? What were you doing?

(* crickets *)

Were you trying them on?

(still crickets from Ella)
(rapid, vigorous head-nodding from Annie)
(*side note: only Ella has pierced ears)

Is that why you were in my bathroom?

“Yes. I’m really sorry.”

Have I ever let you try on my earrings before, just for fun?

“Yes.”

Exactly. You just had to…

“Ask you.”

Right. And when you were done, you needed to…

“Put everything away.”

Yep. 

“I’m sorry about that.”

Well, I’m glad to know that it wasn’t B, but I’m still concerned about my medicine cabinet.

“Your what?”

The cabinets in my bathroom – the ones with the mirrors – were wide open. I’m glad to know that B wasn’t in my jewelry, but it looks like she was in my cabinets.

“Well… Uh… That’s not true, either.”

Then why were my cabinets wide open?

“We, um… We miiiight have been looking for more nail polish remover.”

“And we miiiiight have looked for it in your bathroom cabinets.”

“And we miiiiight have forgotten to close them when we were through.”*

I see. (*mystery solved!)

“But B didn’t do any of that. She didn’t go through the cabinets or your jewelry or your hair stuff or your makeup.”

“She can still be our babysitter.”

I’m really glad to hear it. That was a close call. Phew.

——————

So, on the bright side, my children were unwilling to let the babysitter take the fall for their indiscretions. They owned their behavior, apologized, and said they’d do better the next time around. All good things.

On the other hand, there was a little stretching of the truth. Plus ransacked jewelry. And remodeled cupboards.

But perhaps most disappointing of all: they weren’t even remotely capable of covering their tracks. I mean, if you’re going to root through your mom’s earrings, open up your parents’ medicine cabinets, and rummage through and rearrange your mom’s cosmetics in the search for illicit nail polish, the least you could do would be to hide the evidence, you know?

Ah, well. There’s always next time.

IMG_7028
This wasn’t taken the night we discovered their shenanigans, but it may as well have been, because they sleep this way all the time.
They may be lousy rule-breakers, but they do have good taste in nighttime headgear.