Thanks to J.K. Rowling…vomit, booger, sausage, and earwax-flavored jelly beans already exist. Having recently reread the Harry Potter books and visited the Jelly Belly Factory, I started wondering if there were flavors that could never be made into jelly beans. I know the box says “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans,” but surely there are lines which cannot be crossed. Continue reading
Forty-five days ago my father died.
Shortly thereafter, the following advice magically appeared in my inbox: “Free-fall into what’s happening.”
I didn’t want to do that.
I’ve been afraid to think or digest or write or talk or feel. Luckily, I haven’t had time to do so.
I could fill today, too–with my stupid, endless lists and obligations–but for once, I put wallow on the list.
I’ve tucked my box of grief into a corner and left it to fester, to rot, to multiply and mutate. it’s time to bring it out in the daylight and examine its contents.
- Drink lots of decaf and eat something lovely and chocolate.
- Listen to beautiful, sad music.
- Make something I like.
- Go for a walk. Sit in a tree.
- Watch a Very Sad Movie. Bring lots of tissues.
- See what happens.
But first, let me move the car. Parking tickets are not therapeutic.
I have a handy little alarm mechanism: if I find myself desperately searching for a bathroom in my dreams, I can promptly rouse myself to take appropriate action. I am exceedingly grateful for this–as is the Spouse, undoubtedly.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a variety of embarrassing sleep behaviors, this afternoon serving as a case in point.
I lurched into consciousness, suddenly aware that my jaw was stretched into a silent scream and a large bubble of spit ballooned from my gaping crevasse. Since the cup and napkin had magically disappeared from my tray table, there was no doubt that my Munch face had been witnessed.
The circumstances of this last-minute flight to my childhood home are too recent and too raw to probe at the moment. Instead, I will tell you why I was so dang tired. I will divulge the wisdom I found at 3:28 last Sunday morning:
I am done hosting slumber parties.
The only caveat which might possibly allow for a future overnight posse of midgets would be a signed affidavit from the parent or guardian of each participant, asserting that the potential attendee would not, under any circumstances:
- Yell or whine for prolonged periods of time as if the Disney Channel had come to life.
- Pour copious amounts of the host’s toiletries into dozens of Kleenexes and toss the soggy blobs into the shower.
- Dump three quarters of the contents of her plate onto the floor, survey the carnage, and proceed to stroll through it in her tights.
- Break off a sofa leg.
- Say things like, “you’re terrible at this game,” and “there’s no room for you in here,” to the birthday girl until she cries.
- Interpret the words “no” and “stop” as encouragement to continue on course.
- Have a complete meltdown over music selection and then hide in the attic.
- Have three subsequent crying jags clothed only in underpants, making all the other guests fight to sleep in another room.
- Yell “I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!” in host’s face as she attempts to soothe you.
- Sneak downstairs and retrieve forbidden technology after bedtime, then keep a few guests awake all night with inappropriate garbage from the internet.
- Lock herself in the bathroom in the middle of the night and proceed to pound relentlessly on the door while the host hunts frantically for a screwdriver.
- Offer culinary critique such as, “I like waffles, but not when they taste like this.”
In the case of a breach of contract, the parent or guardian of the offending party would be fined an amount commensurate with an overnight sitter, lodging for two at a nearby resort, plus a couple of therapy sessions. Better yet, let’s collect the fee up front as a security deposit. Who knows, we might even return it if your child comports herself appropriately.
Just stumbled across this. Enjoy!
Originally posted on The Ugly Volvo:
I’m not super pro-tattoo or anti-tattoo. I’ve debated getting one in the past but never that seriously. But my mother is vehemently anti-tattoo. Listed below are the reasons my mother has always given me for why I shouldn’t get a tattoo.
And I understand that she’s from a different generation. And I love my mother very much. She’s a really wonderful person and I’m not saying none of them is a legitimate reason, but I’m saying that after having a child, I find it really hard to take any of them seriously.
And so in case you were headed out to the tattoo parlor as we speak, here are:
10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER GET A TATTOO ACCORDING TO MY MOTHER (but having a baby is fine)
1. “A Tattoo is Forever”
Yes, a tattoo is forever. Totally forever! Except that a tattoo can, if needed, be erased with a laser.
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I noticed something at your place: a lot of things are missing.
Specifically, where do you keep:
*stuff that is broken and needs fixing?
*the item that is the wrong size, and must be exchanged?
*the sweater you just removed, but might need in five minutes?
*the glass/plate/spoon someone just used?
*that package that needs to get to UPS ASAP?
*the referral slip to take the kid to the orthodontist?
*the papers that need to be filled out and returned to school with your kid tomorrow?
*the empty bottle of Advil/detergent/deodorant/milk that is on the counter to remind you to buy more?
*your kid’s diorama project that is half-finished and due on Friday?
*the laundry that is clean and waiting to be folded?
*the dishes that are clean and sitting in the rack?
*the dish rack!
*the clothes that are waiting to go to the cleaners?
*the clothes that are too small for your kid, but might fit your friend’s kid–and you’re not sure when you’ll see them next?
*the items that someone left at your house last weekend?
*the gigantic art projects your kids bring home and want to display?
*the clothes that need a button/patch/hem job?
*the gift certificate that you have to remember to use before it expires?
*the library books that you meant to return yesterday?
Seriously, where do you put all of this stuff? The toaster? The coffee maker? Why is there nothing on your counter or in the hall or on the stairs? Why–when I open your coat closet to hang up my coat–does nothing attack me?
My oldest brother built a tree house nestled in the power lines, about twenty-five feet off the ground. It had glass windows, plus who knows what other amenities; I never went up there to see. By the time I was old enough to climb trees, his fort wasn’t in the best of shape anymore. Also, I was kind of a chicken.
But I would gaze up at it, and wonder how in the world our mother could watch her boy shimmy up that tree with hands full of nails and saws and glass. There he was, teetering outside her authority, outside her ability to keep him safe.
“How did you know he would be OK?” I asked her once, long before having kids of my own.
She thought for a while before answering.
“Being a parent is hard,” she said finally.
This was my first glimpse into the gray area of parenting, but it was years before I figured out that most of parenting is spent meandering around in the unknown.
There is a game called “Why is Baby Crying?” which consists of a set of dice printed with phrases like “dirty diaper” “sleepy,” and “hungry.” I didn’t understand the premise at all–let alone the humor of it–until I was holding my own wailing newborn, wondering what in the world was wrong.
“Why is she crying?” I asked my mother, since I had tried everything I could think to soothe her. My mom had had four kids, after all, and we were alive and well. She must know something.
“I don’t know,” she said.
Maybe the dice should have said “I don’t know” on every side, or offered suggestions that frazzled, sleep-deprived parents might neglect to try. You know, such as: “put baby down and take a deep breath,” or “have a glass of wine,” or, even better, “find a friend to watch the tiny tyrant for an hour.” There is no secret path around the gray area, just a few tools to clutch while you fumble through there.
Now that my kids are eight and ten, I’ve learned to tolerate some of the gray area with a little less anxiety. However, if I had the chance to sit someone down who KNEW ALL OF THE ANSWERS–someone like Dr. Spock was supposed to be–I would have a few questions.
Here are a few that have crossed my mind lately–feel free to add yours in the comments section.
*How do you know when to head to the emergency room, and when to say “walk it off?”
*How do you balance everyone’s needs so that your kids feel safe and loved, and you don’t lose your cool, identity, relationship, or mind?
*How do you quickly restore domestic harmony when your spouse gives your child three or four times the recommended dosage of Milk of Magnesia?
*What’s the nicest possible way to explain to your child that her favorite jacket and uncombed hair make her look like a homeless person?
*How do you guide your kids to make better decisions without them noticing and becoming resentful?
*What’s the best way to survive a child’s birthday party with a hangover?
*How do you keep your sense of humor when you get a flat tire, the brakes go out, the hot water heater spontaneously combusts, and you get a parking ticket all in the same weekend?
*How can you warn your kids about the dangers of the world without terrifying them or–worse–getting them excited to flirt with disaster?
And, last but not least:
*If child #1 has a fever of 104, has been crying and moaning for hours, but finally gets to sleep, and then her older sister leans over and vomits all over her bed, do you wake her up and change the sheets, or wait until morning?
Before the avocado linoleum was replaced, our kitchen table sprang from it on one hefty leg, like a flattened tree. We gathered round in our designated seats, though I can’t recall how or when they had been assigned. My mother sat closest to the fridge for handy mid-meal retrievals, with my sister and me to her left. Next was my father, followed by my two brothers, their backs to the window, completing the circle. I didn’t envy them; it was often chilly on that side, and accompanied by a view of the sink and the dirty pots on the stove. From my position, I could watch the flakes fall, or the morning glories creep up the strings that dangled over the window–our homegrown awning.
In the absence of some or all of the others, the seating plan still applied. My mother and I often leaned our elbows on the creaky oak to talk about books or logistics or ideas, one eye scanning the backyard.
Mid-conversation, it was not unusual for her to yelp and leap from her chair, grab pots and lids, and run outside, clanging like crazy.
After a minute or so, she would return to her seat, contrite and subdued, but the moment was gone, our thoughts dispersed.
I learned not to take this personally.
Her beef was not with me, but the squirrels who continually ransacked the bird feeder, leaving the cardinals, sparrows, and chickadees to forage elsewhere. No one pitied the greedy blue jays, at whom my mother clucked disapprovingly. They got any scraps the rodents left behind.
My mother greased the pole of the feeder, then sprinkled birdseed on the ground, either as a peace offering or to make the squirrels too fat and lazy to attempt the slippery pole. Nevertheless, the fuzzy little gluttons somehow always managed to shimmy up to the feeder.
Now that I am grown, I have a feeder out for the hummingbirds, but it hangs near the house, pole-less, in just the right spot to torment the cat. The squirrels and I co-exist quite amiably.
And yet, I see myself behaving like my mother, minus the pots and pans.
Half-listening to my girls, I am hyperaware of any unusual activity just past the membrane of our home-space. I’m there, but not fully; I’m coiled to spring.
why is it so very hard to be in a single moment,
instead of watching vigilantly
on the periphery of our daily lives.