Thursday, January 26, 2012

Texts, Lies, And Boobs Made From Ballistics Gel

Something fishy is going on here.

So I went away for a night. Just me. No kids. No Jeff. Just a nice relaxing getaway with a few other people who also haven't had a good night sleep since the Clinton administration. And while we still didn't get much sleep, at least our insomnia was the result of bar-hopping and having to pee in the middle of the night, and not the result of being startled awake by a mini-person appearing at our bedside and insisting that Cookie Monster was scuttling around the house and making ridiculous demands for Oreos at 2 in the morning.

I wasn't really that worried about Jeff being alone with the kids for 24 hours. He's a pretty capable person. Were he dumped onto a deserted tropical island, armed with nothing but a shoelace, a broken lighter and an empty paint can, he would find a way to either sustain himself for the next ten years, or fashion an elaborate escape plan that would land him on another tropical island, this one inhabited by voluptuous Pacific Island women bearing pineapples and pina coladas. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nuggets Of Wisdom

And then there are times when you find yourself locked in a knock-down, drag-out battle of wills with one of your children, a battle which will only end when one of you ends up eating dog puke.

Sorry. Hope you weren't just eating your dinner. Especially something brown and chunky, like stew.

Actually, it wasn't real dog puke, merely implied dog puke. Elsa's the one who ate it. And while I've been wondering where my baby girl gets her little stubborn streak from, I know for a fact I didn't pass along any dog-puke-eating gene to her. That trait is supposed to skip a generation.

On the night when my daughter proved to me that while sometimes my cooking is unfit for human consumption, a steaming pile of animal vomit hits the spot just fine, I had purchased some chicken fingers from the store and cut some up for the kids, keeping the rest to put on a salad for Jeff and me. And let me preface this by saying that lately I've been trying to work on instilling better table manners in my children. By manners I mean things like like saying the blessing before they eat. Saying excuse me after they burp. Keeping their hands to themselves. Making sure the objects they insert into their noses are retrievable. You know...the important ones.

So one of these things I've been struggling with is having them stay in their seat until they are finished eating. And this one is probably my fault, since I used to allow Rollie to eat just about anywhere--the couch, the floor, the bathtub, while perched atop my shoulders--so long as he actually ate. Man what a battle that used to be.

This time Elsa got up from the table and wandered off to cause destruction somewhere else, leaving one chicken nugget piece on her plate. She had cleaned her entire plate save for that last piece, practically licking the Lightning McQueen decal from the plastic. And so as I cleared her place, I grabbed that last piece of nugget and tossed it in our dog's bowl. (Who says I don't love my dog? Take that, Anonymous!)

A few minutes later, Elsa came flitting back to the table and, noticing that it had been cleared, asked me what happened to her nugget.

Me: Oh, I gave it to Ollie.
Elsa: But I wanted it.
Me: Well you left it on your plate and got up from the table, so I assumed you were finished.
Elsa: But I wasn't finished.
Me: Well, I'm sorry about that. Next time don't get up until you're all finished.
Elsa: Where is my nugget?
Me: I just told you. It's in Ollie's bowl.
Elsa goes to investigate, then pops back around the counter.
Elsa: It's gone.
Me: I guess he ate it then.
Elsa: But I wanted it.
Me: Yes, you made that clear. I'm sorry I gave it to him. Next time I'll make sure to ask you first.
Elsa (quickly whipping up some crocodile tears): I want my nugget.
Me: Seriously, Elsa? You're crying about half of a chicken nugget?
Elsa: I'm still hungry.
Me: Well you can have some grapes or something.
Elsa: I want my chicken nugget.
Me: Elsa, there's nothing I can do about it now. It's in Ollie's tummy.

That seemed like a rational end to the discussion: No matter how badly you want this nugget, it is now housed within the gut of our 12-year-old dog. Case closed.

But 'rational' and 'three-year-old' don't exactly go together like Mario Lopez and cheesy TV.  Because even as I sat on the couch with Finn and started nursing him (my children's cue to start behaving like they've been raised by jackals), Elsa followed me, repeating that she still wanted her damn nugget.

Me: Elsa, I don't know what to tell you. You can't have it. Ollie ate it up and now it's sitting in his tummy waiting for him to poop it out.
Elsa: But I really want it.
Me: Elsa, listen, the only possible way you can have that nugget would be if Ollie threw it up outside in the yard and you went into his puddle of barf and got the nugget out.
Elsa: ....Ewwww!
Me: I know. So trust me, you wouldn't want to eat it after Ollie had thrown it up.
Elsa: Yes I would.
Me: No you would not. It would be all gross and chewed up and covered in doggie throw up. Why would you want to eat that?
Elsa: Because I'd want to. (Her debates are often impossible to trump).
Me: I don't think you would.
Elsa: Yes I would.
Me: Really? So if I took Ollie outside right now and made him throw up your nugget and brought it back inside, you would eat it?
Elsa: Yes.
Rollie (who has been listening this entire time and seems quite intrigued by the conversation): Ew!
Me: Yes, exactly. Thank you, Rollie. Ew. Why would you do that?
Elsa: Because I'm still hungry!
Me: Elsa, there is plenty of food in this house that hasn't already been eaten by our dog. Go get a squeezey yogurt. Go get some crackers. Go get something that doesn't need to be regurgitated.
Elsa: ...But I want my nugget.

And since this was quickly becoming a very disgusting rendition of There's A Hole In The Bucket, I finally decided that the only way to get my daughter to realize how grossly (and I do mean grossly) mistaken she was about still wanting her nugget was to demonstrate.

Me: Fine. You wanna eat doggie throw-up? I'll let you eat doggie throw-up.

I called Ollie, took a detour through the kitchen where I grabbed a piece of nugget from my salad and brought it and the dog outside to our darkened back yard. Elsa and Rollie stood on the other side of the back door, their noses pressed to the glass as they watched. I positioned myself in front of the dog and leaned over, pretending first to assist in Ollie puking, and then retrieving Elsa's beloved piece of nugget from the puddle. Because as a parent, if you want to make a point, sometimes you've got to pretend to force the family pet to vomit.

Was I being immature? Sure. Was there a better way to resolve Elsa's insistence on getting her nugget back? Probably. Was I thinking that this would finally put an end to Elsa's obdurate attitude and turn her into a compliant, agreeable little cherub? Foolishly, yes. Did I need Jeff to hurry up and get home so I could hide in the closet and drink a beer? Does a bear poop in the woods? Or, in this case, does a dog puke in the backyard?

I turned toward the door and help up my chicken nugget like a pearl I'd just harvested. Rollie and Elsa looked amazed, and...did I detect a slight look of wariness in Elsa's big blue eyes?

Me (flinging the door open and almost crowing): Here it is!
Rollie: Did Ollie really throw that up?
Me: Yep.
Rollie (looking at Elsa and grinning): Eeeewwww!
Elsa (examining the nugget): Did you wipe it off?
Me: Yep. I wiped it off on the grass. You ready to eat it?
Elsa: ....Is it clean now?
Me: I wouldn't say it's clean. It was just in a pile of barf.
Elsa: Can I eat it?
Me: That's what you wanted, isn't it?

Elsa doesn't respond, but she carefully takes the nugget from me, examines it for a moment, then places it in her mouth.

Rollie: Ew, Elsa! You ate it!
Elsa: Mmmmm...
Me: I can't believe you just ate that. What are you, Andrew Zimmern?
Me (sighing): Elsa, I would never really let you eat something that disgusting.
Elsa: ....
Me: That wasn't really the piece Ollie ate.
Rollie (seemingly disappointed): It wasn't?
Me: No. I would never have given you that, Elsa. I gave you piece from my salad. But I didn't really think you'd eat it. I just figured you'd be so grossed out you wouldn't want it at all.

Perhaps Elsa wants some dessert, too.
Shows how much I know. Score one for Elsa in the stubborn column. And the really really disgusting column.