Monthly Archives: January 2006

GS Cookies

I don’t want to scare anyone, but it’s here: Girl Scout cookie season. Considering the fact that I am just now able to fit into my jeans after the havoc last year’s cookie season played upon my butt, this is, for me, very bad news indeed.

Usually I don’t have a problem with cookies (my weaknesses run towards all thing fried), but Girl Scout cookies really are a breed apart. For one thing, they’re really, really good; and for another–they’re in my house. Yes, my real problem with Girl Scout cookies is the delivery system: me, which means that all of those cookies that other people have ordered from my daughter, Clementine, have to pass through my house before they can be delivered to their rightful consumers. Hopefully, they will only be visiting my house briefly–milliseconds would be optimal–but if not, if they linger, they run the risk of falling victim to “the opener”.

My son, Clyde, is “the opener”. In a way this is my fault: when I think back to his first few Christmases, and how I laughed and applauded in encouragement every time he managed to pull a single ribbon off of one of his presents, I could easily kill myself. But honestly, who could know then that something he showed so little aptitude for in the beginning would become, in the end, his life’s ultimate passion? But that’s exactly what has happened, and now, Clyde is the Opener. He opens the mail. He opens other people’s presents (especially after I have just finished wrapping them). He opens boxes of spaghetti, bags of charcoal, and tins of loose tea. He also, to my great horror, opens Girl Scout cookies.

Not the Girl Scout cookies I have hidden in the cupboard for my late night Do-Si-Do fix, nor even the ones I have hidden under my desk for my mid-morning Thin Mint inspiration, but rather, (unfortunately), the boxes upon boxes of cookies that are stacked all over the house waiting to be delivered to other people. And not just one or two boxes, but all of them. I’ll never forget how this time last year I came around a corner only to find Clyde sitting on the floor surrounded by a pile of open Tag-a-Long and Lemon Cooler boxes taller than his head. It was not so much knowing that I would have to replace them all that did me in (at three bucks a box I wasn’t too worried about breaking the bank), but knowing that I would now be living in the same house with hundreds of loose cookies.

As everyone knows, a cookie, while still in its unopened box, is mostly harmless. It’s like a grenade that hasn’t had its pin pulled or a bullet that hasn’t been fired. Sure, the potential for harm is there, but for now, and for as long as it remains inviolate, everyone is safe. Open the box, however, and all bets are off. Open twenty boxes, and, well, you might as well plan on spending the rest of the year wearing your husband’s old sweat pants.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I have no self-control; in fact, I have a box of cookies in my cupboard right now that are in no danger whatsoever of my molesting them. Of course, they’re also in no danger of being molested by my husband, the kids, the neighbor’s kids and any stray dogs that might wander through the house–I think they’re some pre-Chernobyl Ukrainian sand tart I bought at the 99¢ store a couple of years ago–but still, the point is I can leave them alone. (You’d be surprised how seldom you have to buy cookies if all you ever get are brands like Carob Clusters and Prune Newtons).

Unfortunately, it is this very proclivity for buying the world’s cheapest cookies that has put me in twice the danger that a normal person–one who has been desensitized by years of Oreos and Chips Ahoys–is in when really good cookies like Samoas come into the house. Especially when they are laying around in open boxes by the caseful.

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In the Pink

This column is usually written on Monday mornings; given the “special” nature of my family, ideas are generally not a problem–although, every now and then, an entire week will go by without any ideas at all. That was why, as I went to bed on a Saturday night not long ago I found myself in the unique position of wishing for an idea sometime soon. As they say, be careful of what you wish for: the very next morning I woke up with pink eye.

Of course I got it from my son, Clyde, who had been sent home from daycare the week before with a slightly red right eye: one antibiotic prescription and 24 hours later he was back at school, none the worse for wear. As for myself however, things played out a little differently: my eyes became so puffy and swollen that my husband started calling me “Rocky” and saying “Cut me Pauly, cut me” whenever he saw me; it soon became obvious that, yet again, what had manifested as a minor childhood ailment in one of my children was destined to become a major adult trauma for me.

If only I had remembered what had happened with my last bout of childhood illness I would not have been so surprised this time around: a few years back, when Clyde brought home a case of impetigo, not only did it put me in the hospital for three days on IV antibiotics, but it also caused my face to break out in nickel-sized pustules. (It is perhaps a testimony to the fact that old dogs can learn new tricks that my husband, upon seeing enormous whiteheads covering my face, limited his comments to: “Um, did you know? You’ve got a little something right there.” It’s good to know that seven years of husband training had not been in vain.)

Even with that preview, however, once again I was not prepared for the startling and immediate effects of another “benign”childhood illness, not the least of which was the effect it would have on other people. Take, for example, the first sign of the coming storm: a pair of bright red eyes. While I discounted these visible symptoms as a somewhat trivial inconvenience–certainly nothing that would stop me from picking up the food for Clementine’s upcoming birthday party–I neglected to foresee the effect a pair of the brightest red eyes this side of a Cheech and Chong movie would have on other people, especially when combined with the pushing of a shopping cart full of Sweet Tarts, Pringles, chocolate bars and tater tots. Of course I ran into someone I knew–on her way to teach Sunday school, no less–and of course it wasn’t until she started to walk away that I made what must have been for her an immediate connection.

“Wait!” I shouted after I had realized what she must have been thinking. “I’m not stoned! I have pink eye!” Surprisingly, she just kept walking: if anything, I think she walked a little faster.

It got worse. As the day progressed my eyes went from being just red to red, watery and gunky. (It was at this point that even ten years of husband training failed him, and my husband said, “Um, did you know? You’ve got a little…my God, that’s disgusting.”) By the time the guests for Clementine’s party had arrived I looked so awful that he wasn’t even trying to fake it anymore, and in fact was talking openly about getting a digital camera so he could sell pictures of me online. (“There’s fetishes for everything, right?” he kept saying. “Surely there’s some pink eye porn site out there that would pay big bucks for these babies.”)

As I went to bed that night humiliated and miserable, at least I knew that come the next morning, a Monday, I would have plenty to write about. And I would have, too, if only for one little thing: by the time the morning came around, I could no longer see the keyboard.

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I.P. Freely

The last time I was in the hospital was when my son, Clyde, was six months old and my daughter, Clementine, was five (they’re now four and nine); and even though several years have passed since then, I still lovingly refer to those two days in the hospital as “my time in the spa.” Really, it was lovely: people brought me trays of food (ok, my first dinner consisted of pureed gristle, but at least it was gristle that had been pureed by someone else); I had complete control over the remote (although the nurses did make me turn off the TV after the seventh episode of Law & Order one night); and, even though it was January, for once I could be nice and warm without worrying about the gas bill (of course, with a temperature of 104, I had been plenty warm at home as well). But by far, the thing that elevated my hospital stay into a pampered spa-like experience was the fact that for the first time in nearly five years I got to sleep in a bed all by myself.

I know what you’re saying: what difference does it make if you get a hospital bed to yourself when the nurses are coming in and waking you up every hour? And, while I suppose that is true, I do have to say that the difference is this: to the best of my knowledge, not once did a nurse ever wake me up by climbing into bed with me and peeing on my leg. (Although, as I said before, I had a pretty high fever, so who knows if my recollection of events is completely accurate. Still, given the professionalism exhibited by the nursing staff under all other circumstances, I’m willing to go out on a limb and reiterate my previous contention: at no time during my hospital stay did someone come into the room and pee on me.)

This cannot be said of my bedroom at home.

At one time, my goal was to have Clyde out of our bedroom and into his own bed by the time he was three; after that deadline passed,(with no appreciable movement towards success) my goals were correspondingly revised downward: first to having him spend the majority of the night in his own bed, then to having him spend a few hours there, finally to having him just agree to touch his head to his own pillow briefly sometime during the early evening. In the end, however, my goal was reduced to one little point: even though as far as I am concerned Clyde can now sleep in any bed he likes, for as long as he likes, I would appreciate it if he would at least agree to get up and go pee in his own bed.

Amazingly, at this point in our relationship that’s all I ask anymore; I’ve resigned myself to every other aspect of “co-sleeping” (more commonly referred to as “no-sleeping”): waking up clinging to the edge of the futon like an opossum to its mother; never having a blanket cover anything above my waist (so as not to smother the shorter members of the bed guild); even having my buttocks occasionally used as hand warmers–everything, in fact, except the nightly golden showers and their accompanying forlorn little cries of “I peed!”

I know: even though he’s now four we could still put Clyde into some sort of a pull-up, but having done my “happy to be free of the diapers dance” nearly a year ago when he potty-trained, I find the thought of this extra expense rather daunting. After all, crossing diapers off of our monthly budget meant we could finally start buying good beer again, which in many ways helped alleviate the whole “sleeping through the night” problem for us all. After all, no one could be expected to make it through the night with a bladder full of Old Milwaukee.

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Birds ‘n’ Bees

Before I even had children, I dreaded the dramas of parenthood: the arguments over curfews; the disagreements about what constitutes “appropriate” attire (as someone who wore a pair of Tevas on her wedding day–albeit a new, blue pair of Tevas–I sometimes feel slightly hypocritical about forbidding the wearing of flip-flops in the snow, but forbid it I still do); even the standard childhood accusation of: “you like him/her best” filled me with a certain degree of trepidation. By far, though, the parenting drama that I dreaded the most was “the talk”.
(Actually, there are several “talks” that I dreaded: the “sex” talk, the “drug” talk, and the “why is ok for you to sneer at that woman in the SUV when you drive your car two blocks to the library every time it’s a little windy?” talk). To my great relief and surprise, however, I found that the last two talks really could be covered by the “Do as I say, not as I do/Because I’m your Mother, that’s why” umbrella, and, as far as the first one is concerned: not only has it never come up, but at this point I am beginning to doubt that it ever will. After all, why would I ever need to explain something to my children about which they are so obviously well informed already?

Ok, so they probably don’t know everything. (Even I don’t know everything; for instance, I still can’t believe that after all these years they’re inventing new stuff–anal bleaching?). But, anyway, obviously they already know enough stuff to make the whole “birds and the bees” talk completely obsolete. Think about it: if they didn’t know at least the basics, how else would you explain the fact that they never, ever let us sleep alone?

In fact, my children are so diligent about making sure that there are always at least three people in the bed that I sometimes wonder whether or not this behavior was indoctrinated into them at an early age at some secret training camp they attended on the sly. (I can see it now: first they were pulled aside in Jumping Bunnies and told how to attend the next secret meeting of the parental separation society: “The time and location,” they were informed, “ will be hidden on a piece of paper deep in the bottom of the cat litter box; maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon; dump it out daily from now on just to be sure.”) Then there was the meeting itself:

Supreme Leader: Ok troops–you know the drill! These people are never to be let out of your sight! They are never to be left in a bed without at least one incontinent child sleeping between them at all times! Is that clear?

Foot Soldier: But I’m tired of sleeping with them. They snore. They smell funny. They eat hummus and then forget to brush their teeth…

Sergeant: Pull yourself together there–don’t you remember what happened the last time we let them have a night alone (looks significantly at nearby baby, drooling on a Lego tower)–hey! Those are mine!–anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, we don’t want another mistake on our hands, do we?

Front Line Troops: Sir! No Sir!

You could, of course, argue that if this were true then no parents (myself included) would ever have more than one child; this, though, would be ignoring the fact that in some cases, cases where parents are especially persistent (or sneaky), reinforcements need to be sent in. Maybe one, maybe a dozen: it all depends on the parents. (In our case, age, sleep deprivation and late night hummus have all taken their toll: all it takes now is two children to keep us apart–one to cover the bed, and one to cover the couch). Which reminds me–there is still one part of “the talk” they probably haven’t heard yet: the part about, if they ever want to have anything to “talk” about, lay off the garlic based dips after 10 pm.

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