Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Still Life

Ever since he was a toddler, Rollie has had an unusual habit.  At least, I think it's unusual.  It could, in fact, be the most normal thing a kid does, only I wouldn't know it because I try to ignore children as much as possible. Especially my own.

Rollie is really into arranging things in a line.  Usually it's toys, but I've also seen him do this with food, shoes, gum wrappers, blankets...anything that comes in multiples, he likes to line up neatly, like a little parade of peas is marching across his plate.  And onto the floor.  And into my dog's stomach.

I'm thinking this habit might actually be genetic.  Jeff is kind of OCD in a neat, orderly, anal, borderline-Sleeping-With-The-Enemy-But-Without-The-Creepy-Mustache kinda way.  It's not necessarily a bad thing....unless it's 8 o'clock at night and I'm dealing with Overtired Miserable children and instead of helping me carry out the threats I've had to resort to, Jeff has decided that it's the perfect time to give our pantry an Extreme Makeover.  And that's precisely when I feel like snorting a bunch of coke and screaming at him through a megaphone.

Anyway, Jeff is all about arranging things in an orderly fashion.  He is the neatnik in our family.  So perhaps he has passed this charming little trait onto our son.  Whereas I passed along my goofy sense of humor and propensity to run around without any pants on.

Over the months I've taken a few pictures of Rollie's masterpieces, mainly because they were so meticulously arranged that I had to keep some sort of record of his work for future reference...when he's found to be incredibly gifted and they need photographic evidence of his genius.  Or he's declared insane.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Here we have a young Rollie, being schooled under the tutelage of Jeff...not unlike Obi Wan and Anakin Skywalker...except that neither Jeff nor Rollie is a Jedi (although they are perhaps better actors).  Notice the perfectly aligned magnets?  I can almost hear Jeff's voice, carefully coaxing Rollie to align the next one just so.... That's it, Rollie.  Put it neatly right there on the floor.  See how neat and orderly the row of magnets is?  How pleasing to the eye?  Soon you will master the ways of the force.  Gooood....Gooood....

Here's Rollie's animal still life.  Instead of taking a nap, he was creating a marching menagerie.  These animals all have tiny little feet and getting them to stand up on the carpet is a giant pain in the ass. Instead of giving him a timeout for not staying in his bed, I gave him props for being so patient.  Which is probably why he has a rebellious, mischievous, manipulative little streak (although he could have inherited those traits from his Auntie Carrie).
Fun with chopsticks!  And straws!  And ice cream!  At least he wasn't screaming his head off at Benihana's.  That was Elsa....
Here is his latest opus.  He was quiet for about twenty minutes working on this one.  Him being quiet and out of sight for so long used to make me worry that he was either a.) putting something in the toilet that didn't belong there, b.) putting something into a bodily orifice that didn't belong there or c.) taking a dump.  Now his silence usually means he's busy arranging something in a row, or he's smothering Baby Els with her own wubby.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Milk I'd Like To WHAT?

My parents are visiting me this week, which means that I've been keeping a running tally in my head of all the off-beat, quirky or just plain freaking weird things my mother has said over the past several days.

Keep in mind that the woman gave birth to six children.  And I am one of them.  And I am one of the normal ones.  So I think she's allowed a few strange, goofy, non-sequitor comments here and there.  It's when they start to run together in a conversation that sometimes makes me wonder if she slipped some acid into my coffee when I wasn't looking (the only reason I know she hasn't is that my mother can't even look at my coffee maker without the thing exploding in a shower of little black grounds and shards of plastic...see the Slacker! entry for clarification).

So think I'll just list some of the more memorable exchanges here.  And bear in mind that if some of these sound incredibly random and out-of-context, that's because they are.

Me: So I guess Jeff and I should hurry up and have another kid....
My Mom: Oh, I'll help you!
Me: Umm.....
My Mom: Oh, tee-hee, I mean I'll help you with them.  I'll watch them for you!

My Mom (loudly as we walk through the middle of the mall): Sorry I took so long in there (meaning Victoria's Secret).  I had such a hard time finding ones I liked that weren't total granny panties.

My Mom: Pissant.  I like that word.  It's so...evocative.  It evokes a sort of...I don't know what.  Pissant.

My Dad (after looking through the onscreen TV guide and reading some titles out loud): The MILF next door.
My Mom: The what next door?
My Dad: MILF.
My Mom: Milk?
My Dad: MILF! M-I-L-F.
My Mom: What does that mean?
My Dad: You don't want to know.
My Mom: Why not?  Why can't I know?
My Dad: Mom I'd Love To...Fornicate.
My Mom: Oh.  Ew.

My Mom (as I'm unloading the dishwasher for the twenty-seventh time in two days): Oh, she's so charming.
Me: Who is?
My Mom: That freaky little girl.
Me (thinking she's talking about Elsa, who is walking around the family room with a blanket over her head and running into walls--her new favorite passtime): What freaky little girl?
My Mom: Lindsey What's-Her-Name.
Me (still clueless because I haven't been parked on the couch watching Nancy Grace for the past five hours like some people in the room): Lindsey Lohan?
My Mom: What is she doing?
Me: I don't know, lots of drugs, I guess?
My Mom: Isn't she going to bonk her head?
Me: ....I don't know...maybe...if she's high enough....
My Mom: Is she pretending to be a ghost?
Me: ....What?
My Mom: Your daughter.
Me: ...I thought you were talking about Lindsey Lohan.
My Mom: I am.  She had F You written on her fingernail.  I can't even write that small.

And then today I took my parents to The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine.  On the park grounds are all these peacocks--big blue-chested males and beautiful snowy albino peacocks and female peacocks.  The female peacocks are actually called pea-hens.  Which apparently my mother loved saying, because she kept repeating it over and over and over to my children whenever a female peacock wandered by.  Look Elsa, a pea-hen!  Ooo, here comes a pea-hen, Rollie.  Maybe that pea-hen wants a Goldfish cracker, Beck.  Pea-hen, pea-hen, pea-hen.  I seriously think the word cock, even when attached to pea, makes her uncomfortable.  How she came to have six children I will never understand.

Disclaimer: My dad and I had an extensive discussion about whether I should have added the preposition 'with' after 'fornicate' in the above transcription.  We didn't really come to a conclusion, mainly because my father wanted to know what my question was in reference to and when I told him he said, "...maybe you should leave that part of the blog out." So my apologies if that section of the blog is grammatically incorrect.  And my apologies to my dad for not removing the aforementioned section.  That's the beauty of being an adult--I can defy my father and not worry about getting grounded.  I'm sure he'll come up with another form of punishment.  Like making me watch Nancy Grace with my mother for five hours.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crack Is Whack

I have apparently lost my mind.  Completely.  It's the only explanation I can think of as to why I've decided to take it upon myself to start potty training Elsa.  Me.  I'm actually taking the initiative to turn my child into a functioning, somewhat independent human being who doesn't pee on the floor.

With Rollie, Jeff was the one who kicked him out of our bedroom the day he turned 3 months old.  Jeff was the one who encouraged me to buy Rollie a potty seat, reasoning that I wouldn't want to be changing two sets of diapers all day long.  It was Jeff who decided when to take Rollie's pacifier away, and when to buy him a Big Boy Bed and when to have Rollie take over the check book duties after I sufficiently proved that I suck at basic math.

Yet here I am, letting Elsa run around without any pants, asking her every five seconds if she has to go pee-pee.  What the hell am I thinking?  I'm attempting to get a person who thinks crayons are a food group to be in tune with body cues that are sometimes so confusing she can't tell the difference between a full bladder and a stuffy nose.

It all started when I was talking to some of my other mom-friends and I mentioned that Elsa keeps taking her diaper off.  One of my friends, whose daughter potty-trained herself before she'd shed all of her lanugo, told me that this was the sign that Elsa and the potty are ready for their introductions.

"Really?" I was pretty fascinated.  "Already?"
My friend, who'd suddenly bumped Professor Dumbledore from the number one slot on my list of Wisest People Of All Time, nodded.  "If you don't do it now, she won't be ready for potty-training until she's around two-and-a-half."
"Two-and-a-half!"  Slowly I did the math.  "....That's like....a whole year from now."
"She's telling you she's ready."

Holy Crap!  I looked at Elsa, who was busily removing her hair bow and trying to eat it, and suddenly I had visions of her sporting a pair of girlie undies, announcing that she had to go pee-pee, and then dutifully marching into the bathroom, climbing up on the toilet and actually going.  Clearly I had been smoking lots of crack.

Still, when I got home I removed her pants, allowed her to remove her diaper, and sat down to look her in the eye.

"Now Elsa," I said.  "You have to tell me when you need to use the potty, okay?"
"I'm serious.  I don't want to clean pee-pee up off the floor all day long, okay?"
"Make sure you tell me when you have to go pee-pee?"
"Do you have to go now?"

Since I have learned from experience that 'Mmm' means 'yes', I took her into the bathroom and put her on the toilet.  She sat there for a few seconds, looking as incongruous as a toad on a throne, and then I heard the beautiful sound of tinkling.

"Baby Elsa!" I gasped.  "You're going pee-pee!"
"Pee-pee," she said.  And smiled.
"Yay!" I clapped and beamed.  This is going to be a piece of cake!  I thought.  It took Rollie a year--a year--before I felt confident enough to let him out of the house without ten emergency outfits stuffed in the diaper bag.  It was like running errands with Cher.  Elsa was already on her way to being diaper-free by preseason football.

So for the past week or so, I've been letting Elsa run around the house sans pants.  It's been going well.  She tells me she has to go...sometimes even before she's already gone on the carpet.  The only problem with this arrangement is that she is veeeery interested in her girlie parts.  Over the weekend, Jeff asked me if I could please put some pants on her.  I guess he's not quite used to the sight of our 19-month-old daughter playing Ponce De Leon with her own body.  Which I can understand.  I'm hoping that as soon as she is potty-trained, she'll jump right back into her clothes without any fuss.

Stay tuned ten years from now for an upcoming blog: Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nudist.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Illogical Conclusions

I love the logic of children.  It's so backwards and full of fallicies, yet they believe in it so earnestly that they are willing to shamelessly share it, angrily defend it and sometimes, in the middle of a crowded department store, even throw hysterical tantrums over it.

I was walking through Target a few weeks ago with Rollie and Elsa, absently remarking about how I needed to buy this and that for the houseguests we were expecting.  I picked up some towels and said something about how Uncle Jack would like them and Rollie got really quiet for a minute.  After we continued on our way, he started whining in that wordless nasal moan...kinda the way I imagine a ghost from Long Island might sound.

Me: What is the matter, Rollie?
Rollie: Uuuuuuhhhhhhh
Me: You'll have to use your words--I have no idea what you want.
Rollie: Uuuuuuhhhhhh
Me: Come on, Rollie.  Stop whining and talk in your big boy voice.
Rollie: Put them back.
Me: Put what back?
Rollie: Put them back, Momma.
Me (sighing): Rollie, I have no idea what you're talking about.  Put what back, Hon?
Rollie (now getting teary-eyed): The towels, Momma.  Put the towels back.
Me: The towels? Why?
Rollie (stopping in the middle of the dog food aisle and stomping his feet, something he never does, believe it or not): I just want you to.  Please, Momma!  Please put the towels back.
Me: Rollie, you're being silly.  We need these towels.  The ones we have are ratty and old.
Rolle: Pleeeease, Momma.  Please put them back!
Me: But why?  I don't understand why you're freaking out about the towels.
Rollie (now red-faced, tears streaming, breath-hitching so hysterically that I'm worried he's about to throw up into a display of birdseed): Just put them back, Momma!
Me (feeling like I'm talking someone down from a rooftop): Rollie, you gotta caaaalm down buddy.  Tell me why you don't want the towels.
Rollie: I don't want Uncle Jack to use them.
Me: ....What?  Why not?
Rollie: I don't want Uncle Jack to come stay with us.
Me: ....Ooooooh.  I get it.

Finally.  Uncle Jack is Jeff's uncle through marriage.  Nicest guy in the world.  Except Rollie has never met him, and now the idea of some nebulous, unfamiliar Uncle Jack coming to stay at our house is turning Rollie's safe, little world flowing with chocolate milk and Nick Jr. upside-down.  And so he logically concludes that if I don't buy guest towels for Uncle Jack, Uncle Jack cannot possibly stay with us.  I guess what Rollie doesn't get is that Uncle Jack will stay with us regardless of which towels he uses--new ones from Target or old thread-bare ones we use to wipe off Ollie's paws.  Geez, Rollie would so bomb his LSATs if he took them now.

But that's the thing with 3-year-olds.  They are able to bridge certain gaps in logic:

If Baby Els scatters my puzzle around the room, I'm going to hit her.
If I hit Baby Els, she will cry.
If she cries, Momma will come to investigate and discover the welt on Baby Els's arm where I hit her.
If she discovered the welt on Baby Els's arm, she will know that I caused said welt and hence I will be sent into Time Out.
Therefore, I will hit Baby Els somewhere that won't leave a visible welt.

But they are unable to make sense of other things that I take for granted.  Like yesterday when he was in the bathroom doing his thing.  I heard the toilet flush, the lid slam, and then the awful sound of him screaming.

Because I'd recently read something in Parents magazine about a boy who had a toilet lid fall and crush his penis, I dropped everything and ran into the bathroom, certain I was about to find the kind of carnage that makes men everywhere hiss through their teeth and curl up in a fetal position.

"What happened?" I asked, barging in on Rollie.
"My thumb!" he cried, holding is hand against his tummy and bawling.
"Let me see it," I gently held his thumb, expecting to see gushing blood, a fingernail hanging by a shred of skin or, at least a throbbing blister.  But his thumb was fine.  A little red, but fine.  "What happened?" I asked again.
"I wasn't paying attention and I closed the lid and it bit me on the thumb," he sobbed.
"Oh, Honey." I sat down on the floor, my heart still pounding against my chest.  "I thought the lid slammed on your penis."
"Why did you think the lid slammed on my penis?" he asked, the tears instantly gone.
"Because I heard that it happened to a little boy once, so I thought it happened to you."
Rollie thought for a second, then asked, "Is that what happened to Baby Els?"

I laughed.  I had to.  I love how he thinks.  I could almost hear the thoughts following each other like a line of blissfully uninformed rail cars:

If a toilet lid were to slam on my penis, my penis would probably fall off.
Then I would look like Baby Els.
Baby Els has no penis.
This must mean that Baby Els had a penis when she was a tiny baby, but a toilet lid fell on it and now she no longer has a penis.  Eureka!

I remember thinking like that.  Hell, sometimes I probably still do.  Thoughts and conclusions I made during my formative years are only recently being decimated by the fact that I can actually look things up online now.  LIke, I'm just now discovering that the earth actually revolves around the sun.  For the longest time I swore the earth revolved around me.  Weird.

So there you go.  My thought for the day.  I'm gonna go tether the toilet lid to the tank now.

Monday, July 12, 2010


So the other day after the kids were in bed and I began my nightly ritual of lounging on the couch with a beer and pretending I don't have kids, Jeff hopped on the computer to do a little uninterrupted surfing.  I was deeply engrossed in a show of cultural and historical significance (I think it was Footloose), when I heard Jeff groan from the kitchen,

"Bekah.  That is so disgusting."

I almost jumped up, convinced that he'd caught me taking a swallow of beer that was three weeks beyond its Born On Date.  (Because he works in a brewery for a living, Jeff has turned into somewhat of a snob when it comes to a bottle of suds.  If beer came from a cow, he would insist on drinking only that which came fresh from the animal's udders.  I think his career has somewhat ruined his appetite for anything but recently bottled Anheuser-Busch products.  Thank God he's not a gynecologist.)

"What's so disgusting?" I asked.
"This!" He pointed at the computer screen, where I could just make out my One Mom's Trash blog onscreen.  "You actually dug through the garbage at the doctor's office?"
"Oh.  Well, yeah.  I mean...it wasn't really full."
"Still, you willingly put your hands in a biohazard?"
"Good grief, Jeff, it wasn't a biohazard.  All it had was crumpled up table paper."
"And used ear speculums."
"It really wasn't that gross.  Our garbage here is much grosser."
"People put rubber gloves and snotty tissues in there."
"I didn't see anything like that in there."
"And then you went and blogged about it."  Jeff sounded appalled, as if the only thing worse than the woman he married rolling up her sleeves and rummaging through a pediatrician's trash can was her announcing this to the blogosphere.  If he only knew what I rescue from our toilet on any given week....

"So what?" I asked.  Yes, I was starting to get defensive.  Because I was suddenly growing paranoid that my readers don't find my weekly epitaphs about my children's bodily functions and exasperating antics nearly as endearing as I'd thought.  I began to doubt every word I'd ever written about my children--the book, the articles, the blogs, the stories I've been collecting for months and months like a stand-up comic preparing bits for various shows--and wonder if it's entertaining at all.  My God, do people think I'm really that revolting?  Does no one else out there let her dog lick spilled macaroni and cheese from the floor?  Does anyone else pinch her children when they try to run from her in the toy aisle at Target because she doesn't want to shout and have everyone within earshot judge her for being a bad mom and losing her temper?  Are my words just echoing out to an empty universe where I am the only Occasional Bad Mom floating around in the void?

But that I thought about all the other moms out there who have left me comments or told me in person that they totally understood such-and-such entry, about how they have Been There, or Are There Now, or Can See There looming on the horizon like a bratty storm cloud blowing toward them.  And I realized that if my husband wants to think I'm disgusting for digging through a garbage can to find my son's matchbox car and my hair clip, then I'll let him go ahead and think that.  I know many of you out there would have done exactly the same thing as me.  We are Moms, dammit.  We dig through garbage to retrieve toys.  We paw under carseats to scrounge up enough quarters for our kid to ride a merry-go-round.  We drink our kids' backwash because they want to taste our iced tea.  We blow on food that's too hot and apply the proper amount of sunscreen and offer up the last M&M or bite of ice cream.  We do everything we can to make sure our kids are happy, healthy, and will grow up to be functioning members of society (although sometimes our efforts result in our kids being whiny ingrates who can't wipe their own asses until they're 9...but we still do our best.  More or less.)

That being said, I would like to throw out the disclaimer that we were at the doctor's office early in the morning, when the garbage can was pretty empty, and I didn't come in contact with any rubber gloves, used tissues, diapers, hypodermic needles, old bandaids, raccoons fighting over chicken bones, or Oscar the Grouch.  And I washed my hands thoroughly afterwards.  And if we had been in a gas station restroom and flies had been buzzing around the garbage can and Elsa had thrown away something really important, like her pacifier or the car keys, I likely would not have pilfered through the trash for them.

I would have made her do it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Banjos, Lollipops, and Cat Poo Tea

Sometimes I wonder if Jeff uses his brain.

I know...I know...He's a chemical engineer....He's a giant nerd....He watches shows like How It's Made and Star Trek while simultaneously reading Popular Mechanics and taking apart the dishwasher.  He once asked me to get him an Organic Chemistry textbook for Christmas.  He carries a laminated periodic chart in his wallet.  So obviously he uses his brain (and was likely robbed of his lunch money on more than one occasion).

What I mean is, sometimes I wonder if he thinks about the short-term effects of say, giving our kids giant lollipops at 8 o'clock at night.  Like he did yesterday.

Don't get me wrong; Jeff is a wonderful dad.  And after a long day at work, all he wants to do is lie on the floor and let our kids climb all over him as they giggle, squeal, play with his work phone and accidentally call his boss to shriek the word 'Poopy!' at him.  Jeff only gets to see the kids for one or two hours tops, and he's determined to squeeze in every bit of goofy fun as he can out of the little buggers before bed time.  When he comes home, he isn't in Wind-Down Mode (unlike me, who has been in Wind-Down Mode since two in the afternoon).  He isn't desperately trying to coordinate the bath, the jammies, the storytime and the night-time walk perfectly to avoid complete and total Chernobyl melt-down.  He'd rather use this time to crank up the stereo and dance around the house, build a couch-fort, play hide and seek, or dole out giant lollipops and quarts of strawberry Quick. The closer to bedtime this happens, the better.

The other night, after I'd done three rounds of battle with Elsa to brush her teeth and was ready to throw her in her crib and keep her door locked for the next three days, I went into her bedroom to find Jeff and Rollie sitting on the floor with my old clarinet case.

Me: What's going on, guys?
Jeff: Momma, will you please play a song for us?
Rollie: Yeah, Momma....Pleeeeaaaase?
Me (sighing): Really?  You want me to play for you now?
Jeff: Yeah.  I don't think Rollie's ever heard you play, have you Rol?
Rollie: No, I've never heard you play before, Momma.
Jeff: And Momma plays the clarinet really well.
Me: Yeah, like ten years ago.
Jeff: Try ten days ago.  Pleeeease play something?
Rollie: Pleeease?
Me: Why do I suddenly feel like I have three kids?

So because I don't want to look like the irate bad-guy here, I obligingly assemble my clarinet and squawk out a few songs to the delight of Rollie and Elsa, who seem fascinated that I can do something other than wipe their bottoms and make Macaroni & Cheese.

But the fun doesn't stop there.  Oh no.  After a few minutes, Rollie leaps up and starts digging through the closet, emerging with his plastic recorder my parents bought him for his birthday. Then Elsa starts whining until Jeff finds her an old set of maracas to shake around and beat Rollie in the stomach with.  Not to be outdone, Jeff drags out the old, battered case from the back of the closet and removes his tenor banjo, which he spends about twenty minutes tuning because he hasn't touched it in a year.  This only further fascinates the kids, and they forget making their God-awful sounds just long enough to listen to Jeff make his own.  Meanwhile, I make a quiet exit, taking my clarinet with me so the kids won't try to play it and end up with splinters in their lips.

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about, though.  God bless Jeff for wanting to spend quality time with our kids, and introduce them to various musical styles (from rusty, out-of-tune Big Band to even rustier and more out-of-tune Bluegrass), but sometimes I just wish his timing were a little better.  Like maybe he could decide to hold a music appreciation class for our kids on a Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Or any time that isn't 8:30 on a weeknight when all I want to do is veg on the couch with him while we keep a running commentary on how gross Andrew Zimmern is.  (Side Note: I'm sure Andrew Zimmern is probably a perfectly nice guy, but anyone who drinks Cat Poo Tea--yes, it is exactly what it sounds like--probably does not, at the very least, have the freshest breath.)

I really shouldn't complain too much. There is nothing more adorable than watching my kids sprint down the hallway and yell, "Dadda!" as soon as they hear the garage door opening.  And when I see him scoop them up and give them kisses and ask them about their day, I remember how blessed I am to have such a good husband, a good dad to my kids, and a good person all the way around.

But still...the day he starts bringing home Pixie Stix for a before bedtime snack is the night he starts sleeping on the couch.  With a banjo on his knee.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Liar, She Wrote

So I'm in the kitchen the other day, listening to the dulcet sounds of my two darling children squawking over a Little People set.  Things are calm, somewhat controlled, until I hear the inevitable sound of Rollie roaring at Elsa in his fiercest lion voice and Elsa subsequently bursting into tears.

Me: Rollie!  What's going on in there?
Rollie: Nothing!
Me: Why is Baby Elsa crying?
Rollie: I don't know.
Elsa whines something unintelligible, yet oddly indignant.

Sighing, I put down whatever it was I was doing and stalk into the playroom, where Elsa is on her back, hair in her eyes like a sheepdog, her chubby cheeks apple red and tear-streaked.  Rollie is stationed by one of many Rubbermaid toy bins that have been multiplying like dirty laundry around our house, his fists triumphantly clutching a plastic car and a toy dog.

Me: What happened?  Why is Baby Els on the floor?
Rollie: I don't know what happened.  She just fell down.
Me: No way, Rollie Scott.  That is not what happened.  Did you push her?
Elsa sits up and rubs her head, still whining in that expository babble.  She sounds like a hysterical drunk lady trying to recount a bar fight.
Me: Did you hit Elsa on the head?
Rollie looks around the ground as if trying to come up with a convincing story somewhere within the carpet fibers.
Me: Rollie?
Rollie: I guess she just knocked herself down.
Me (kneeling down in front of my slippery little worm of a son and looking him in the eye): Rollie, I am trusting you to tell me the truth.  Did you hit Baby Elsa on the head?
Rollie: ...Well...I guess Elsa bumped her head on my knee, but my knee is all right, Momma.

I try not to smile, mainly because I am in the midst of a quickly growing trend that I am trying to nip in the conniving little bud:  Rollie is turning into a liar.

As you know, the lies kids tell start out small.  Initially, all they lie about is whether or not their diaper is dirty.  And once they start potty-training, they will lie about whether or not they have to use the bathroom.  These lies are automatic, inherent, and seemingly harmless. "Oh, you don't have to use the potty after drinking fifteen juice pouches?  Okay.  Fine.   No skin of my back if your bladder is crushingly full, kid.  I'm not the one doing the Pee-Pee Dance.  I can wait all day for you to finally admit that you'd like to use the bathroom.  Except after awhile I might make you take your lies outside so I don't have to clean anything up off the carpet."

Rollie finally past all that.  Finally.  Now his lies are branching out into uncharted territory.  Now I have no real means to verify his tales.  Now I am venturing into the realm of actually having to trust him to be honest.  This is a scary place.  I've never had to rely on the veracity of a preschooler before. And it's a bit terrifying.  Sorta like a gas station bathroom...the kind you have to get a key from the cashier for.

Sometimes I have to piece together the crime scene to deduce what has really happened.  Like today when Elsa and Rollie were playing in his room.  I heard Elsa crying and I went in to find her sitting on his bed rubbing her head, and Rollie sitting on the floor across the room, innocent as a lily.  At first I figured Elsa must have just bumped her head on the top bunk, but she was babbling far too angrily to have sustained a self-induced injury.

Then I noticed a few objects lying on the bed that looked out-of-place.  A shoe.  A lego.  A bouncy ball.  They all looked like they had been thrown there.  By someone from across the room.  Someone right-handed.  About 40 inches tall.  Last seen wearing a pair of Diego undies and a look of calculated ignorance.

Me: Rollie, what did you do?
Rollie: I don't know.
Me: Why is Elsa crying and rubbing her head?
Rollie: She hit her head right here. (He walks over to the bunk bed and taps it on the side, where it would have been physically impossible for her to reach.  Man I feel like Columbo.  Jessica Fletcher.  Matlock.  And suddenly like a 63-year-old shut-in.)
Me: Rollie, I want you to tell me the truth.  I'm trusting you.  Did you throw something at her?
Rollie: Wellllll....maybe.
Me: Not maybe.  Did you throw a block at her and hit her on the head?
Rollie: No.  The shoe hit her on the head.
Me: The shoe you threw hit her on the head?
Rollie: Hey Momma, shoe and threw rhyme.
Me: That's great, but that's not what we're talking about.
Rollie: But they sound alike, Momma.
Me: Rollie, why did you throw a shoe at Baby Els?
Rollie: I didn't want her on my bed.
Me: Rollie, that is no reason to throw anything at her.  You never throw things at Baby Els, or anyone else, either.  Do you understand?
Rollie: Baby Els and else sound alike, too.
Me: Sigh.

So I'm thinking about creating a new board game for moms.  Kinda like Clue, where the players have to reconstruct various crimes based on evidence, excuses and whether or not the perpetrator has taken a nap that day.

Crime One: You walk into the bathroom to discover the toilet paper is completely unrolled, the bathtub faucet is running and your box of tampons is scattered all over the floor.  Your two children are in the other room watching TV; one of them is wearing a wet shirt and the other is sucking on a tampon wrapper.  Which of them is the guilty party?

A: Perpetrator A--The one in the wet shirt.
B: Perpetrator B--The one sucking on a tampon wrapper.
C: Neither--Perp A's shirt is wet from spilled juice, Perp B pulled that wrapper from the garbage can.  You were the one who turned on the bathtub to draw your own bath, only you were interrupted by the dog blowing a snot rocket all over the floor and in your haste to grab some toilet paper to wipe his nose you pulled too hard and unraveled the entire roll.  The tampons spilled out of the box when you angrily rifled through the bathroom cabinet for some disinfecting wipes to clean up dog snot from your tile floor.

I bet we could even turn it into a drinking game.  Now there's an idea....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

One Mom's Trash

Elsa has developed a fascination with garbage.

Our kitchen garbage can sits beside the sporadically utilized Swiffer in our pantry.  Lately I've been catching Elsa in the middle of either pulling something from the trash or putting something inside it that doesn't belong.  I've found my sunglasses in there, covered in coffee grounds and banana slime.  I've fished out bottles, bracelets, and stuffed animals, and caught her removing empty packs of gum, rotten fruit and used tissues before, examining them as if enthralled that she's managed to score something so valuable that the rest of us had overlooked.

When I do stop her mid-raid, she'll look up at me and present her newfound treasure so proudly that I almost feel bad telling her how disgusting it is as I put it right back in the garbage can.  I almost want to say, Oh Elsa, what a beautiful half-eaten GoGurt!  What is it doing in the trash?  A piece like this belongs in the Smithsonian!

Now, when something goes missing, I automatically assume my little dumpster diver has deposited it in the garbage, and I will then have to decide if it's worth digging through the diapers and potato peelings to retrieve it.  (Unless of course, the missing item is either my iPhone or my keys, which I am now convinced are being constantly usurped by a herd of trolls that resides in my garage).

Sometimes, however, this presumption of mine is way off.

The other day I took the kids to the pediatrician for Elsa's 18-month well visit (as opposed to our visit two days prior, during which her doctor assessed--one hour and $25 later--that she was well enough for her well visit....?).  We were in the sparsely equipped and echoey-as-hell waiting room for a while, then relocated to the smaller waiting room with a paper-covered table and even fewer distractions and more forbidden objects.  Elsa proceeded to scream because I wouldn't let her stand in front of the heavy, might-burst-open-any-second, death trap of a door.  I let her carry on a bit longer than usual, hoping that perhaps the doctor would see us a little more quickly, but all this strategy did was cause Rollie to start yelling at her to be quiet.  And so I dug through the diaper bag for some entertainment.  I came up with a ubiquitous Matchbox car, a hair clip, a lollipop and an empty box of raisins.  If she were MacGyver she could have fashioned an explosive.

Then I turned my attention to Rollie, who was begging me to help him figure out how to work an app on my phone.  When I turned back around, I realized that all of the items I'd given Elsa had mysteriously disappeared.

Me: Elsa, where's the little car?
Elsa: Mmm?
Me: Elsa, where'd Rollie's little car go?
Elsa: Vroom vroom.
Me: Yes, I know that's how the little car goes.  Where'd it go?
Elsa pointed to the garbage can against the wall.
Me: You threw it in the garbage?
Elsa: Mmm?
Me: What about Mommy's hair clip?  Where's that?
Elsa pointed to the garbage again.
Me: You threw my hair clip away, too?
Elsa: Mmm?
Me (now striding across the room): Elsa, that wasn't garbage sweetheart.  You shouldn't throw stuff in here that's not garbage.
Elsa: No no no.
Me: Yeah.  No no no.  Little late for that.

I pushed down on the lid and peered inside the trashcan.  All I saw were balled up sheets of table-paper and discarded otoscope speculums.  On the gross-o-meter this was about a four, but still....I mentally crunched the numbers to see if the Gross-To-Want ratio is too high.  I hadn't used the hair clip in about a month, but that was because it had been buried in the bottom of the diaper bag.  Would I use it if I were to fish it out of this garbage pail?  Would I have to disinfect it first?  If I place it in boiling water, would it melt?  Would the fumes be toxic?  Would it ruin my cooking pot?  Ah, the questions a mom must ask herself at the pediatrician's office.....

I decided to go for it.  I mean, seriously, digging through crumpled paper and waxy ear speculums is probably the least disgusting thing I've done lately.  This is coming from a woman who recently cleaned up dog puke, kid puke and a dried frog carcass from her living room windowsill, all in the past week.  I removed the lid and began picking through the trash, figuring the hair clip and toy car must have sunk to the bottom.  But after rifling through every bit of garbage, I came up empty.

Me: Elsa, I thought you said you threw my hair clip away.
Elsa: Mmm?
Me: Well, it isn't in here.
Elsa toddled over the can and peeked inside as well.  Then she extended her chubby arm to start expertly digging through the garbage herself.
Me (pulling her arm back and replacing the lid): No no, Els.  No touch.  This is yucky.
Rollie (who suddenly decided me disciplining Elsa was far more interesting than the Light Saber app on my phone): Where's my car, Momma?
Me: I think Elsa threw it in the garbage, but I can't find it.
Rollie: Find it, Momma.
Me (sighing): Rollie, you have like, fifty million cars at home.  It's okay to lose one once in a while.
Rollie: But that was my favorite.
Me: You don't even know which one she threw away. Elsa, are you sure it's in the garbage?
Elsa responded by running back to the unguarded and grabbing at the handle.
Rollie: Baby Els wants to get out, Momma.
Me: I know.
Elsa screamed again.
Me (feeling like I was about to lose my freaking mind): All right, let's read a book.  Get over here right now and sit down and we'll all be civilized human beings for a change.

Of course, the doctor walked in as we were all seated, my children listening raptly like little angles as I read to them about how much fun the doctor's office can be (who writes this stuff??).  He probably figured we'd spent a perfectly happy forty minutes having story hour, and hadn't even noticed the passage of time.  I almost wished I'd had an ear speculum stuck in my hair, just to prove him wrong.

Oh yeah, as I was packing everyone back up to leave, I found the car and the hairclip in the front pocket of the diaper bag (along with the empty box of raisins and a now sticky, hair-covered lollipop).  Guess Elsa was just trying to screw with me, leading me to think she's tossed everything in the trash when I was busy paying attention to Rollie.  They sure learn the art of Jedi Mind-Manipulation early.  Must be all the cow hormones.  We are buying all organic from now on....