Maybe if you just listened to me

(scene opens along dark suburban sidewalk)

Me: So what do you think of your potential Jr. High? Excited?
Beta: Yes!
Me: So why did you sign up for AVID as an elective? I’m glad you want study skills, but its geared for kids who’ll probably be the first generation of their family into college.
Beta: Exactly.
Me: (considers) …Daddy and I both have college degrees.
Beta: (astounded) You do?!? I didn’t know that!
Me: Clearly I have failed to impress upon you that I might know a thing or two.


Doc, can you help me?

(scene opens in ophthalmology exam room)

Doc: (clicks on the eye chart) Can you read those letters?
Gamma: Nope. I need glasses

(repeat through four different lines of various sizes)

Doc: (studies clipboard) Has she been complaining of not being able to see the chalkboard?
Me: Not really. She came home about two weeks ago and claimed to have failed both vision and hearing test, but the school never sent home anything or called me for a retest.
Gamma: I need glasses.
Doc: (winks at mother) Well, let me try something. (pulls out a pair of ophthalmology glasses, removes lenses, settles them on Gamma’s face) Is that better?
Gamma: It is! (reads four lines perfectly at 20/20)
Doc: That’s what I thought. See you guys in a year.
Me: Thank you, Doctor.


Shameless promotions: Mint Edition


Beta accused me of being “overly jolly” the other day. In the doom and gloom of a withering 2017, with no hope that 2018 is going to be much of an improvement, and terrified for the future of my spawnlings, I spent a little more on Christmas than was probably necessary. I’m especially susceptible to magical holiday eats, the more festive the better.

A bit of backstory on this impulse buy: I had caught Alpha spiking his hot chocolate with peppermint extract and only just stopped him before he poisoned himself. While it smelled lovely, I’m sure that the digestive horror caused by a tablespoon of extract doesn’t bear thinking about. A week later, during a Thanksgiving baking extravaganza, I discovered I had no vanilla extract. Why you ask? Because Alpha had drunk it in his hot cocoa. How my children stay alive is a mystery. Please don’t report me.

I was forced to explain the existence of flavored syrups for just such a thing, Torani’s for example, but had not yet brought any home despite continued begging. So just regular, boring, plain old cocoa – until I found Bobs Sweet Stripes, peppermint flavored stir sticks! I know, stir sticks. What sort of ridiculous extravagant thing is this? Just stick a candy cane in the cocoa! But no – these are so much better.

First, they come in a variety of flavors. I brought home to my precious darlings the standard peppermint and a chocolate mint as my budget allowed for only so much whimsy. I had seen a cinnamon on the shelf as well, but hadn’t brought it home for fear of its being too cinnamon-y in the aggressive God Hates You kind of way that cinnamon candy tends to be, thus no one in the house would eat it. Contrarian Beta, however, objected to this executive decision, declaring that he hates mint in all its forms and prefers cinnamon.

Long story short on that is that I brought him around on the chocolate mint sticks and converted him. Both minty flavors are gentle and subtle, not at all overpowering, with the chocolate mint being less of the pepper variety, giving way to a stronger chocolate. Who doesn’t like more chocolate flavor in their hot chocolate!?!

The major difference between these stir sticks and just sticking a candy cane into your drink is that they’re soft. The kind of soft of those weird old butter mints that always seemed to be at weddings when you were a kid. Or in that crystal candy dish on grandma’s coffee table. I’m a sucker for weird old lady melt-in-your-mouth candy and this fits the bill. It doesn’t dissolve instantly, but will erode quick enough that if you linger on your drink it will have have disappeared, flavoring your hot cocoa.

I give this a Carrot’s “Its taking a lot of self control just to eat them straight up” and recommend it to you – and your obnoxious smalls – this holiday season.


History is a spiral

(scene opens in dim basement, closing credits of Atomic Blonde playing)

Me: Man, that movie made me sad. I can’t believe I’m nostalgic for the Cold War.
Husband: You mean back when we knew who our enemies were? Don’t worry, the Russians as still the bad guys.


Someone who understands

(scene opens in brightly lit festive face-care aisle)

Helpful Target Lady: Can I help you find anything?
Me: Yes. I woke up yesterday to discover I had teen boys covered in acne and now have to teach them a skin care regimen that’s not too girlie. There used to be a St. Ives blue clay face mask?
HTL: I haven’t seen that in a while. I can recommend some other brands if you like. How many boys do you have?
Me: Three. (Points to Delta, hiding his face) He’s the youngest. The other two are just 12 and about to hit 14. They haven’t even gotten to the serious acne age yet and we’ve already hit gross levels. Like they still stink getting out the shower.
HTL: I called those the Gangrene Years. I had five boys.
Me: (Helpless laughter, touches arm in sympathy) You are a woman of strength. There’s hope for me?
HTL: Yes. But it’s going to take a while.


Its his only defense

(scene opens in pediatric exam room, mother aggravated)

Gamma: (climbing on exam table, jumping down. Repeat)
Delta: (clad only in a diaper, runs in circles)
Nurse: (enters) Okay, guys! Let’s get some height and weight!
Gamma: Yay! (jumps down, runs to scale)
Delta: (stops cold, lays down on the floor)
Me: C’mon, Delta, let’s go. (slithers bonelessly out of grasp)
Nurse: That’s okay, we can lay him on the baby scale.

(scene cuts to Delta motionless on baby scale)
Nurse: Okay! Time to see how tall you are!
Gamma: Yay! (runs to measuring marks on the wall)
Delta: (remains slug like, eyes the only thing moving)
Nurse: (slightly daunted) Okay then. We can just lay him on the table and measure there.

(Scene cuts to Delta on exam table, eyes tracking measuring tape)
Nurse: Time for flu shots!
Gamma: No! (runs, cowser in the corner)
Nurse: (Grabs Delta’s arm, gives vaccine)
Delta: (doesn’t move, doesn’t flinch)
Nurse: That is amazing.
Me: I think his spirit animal is a fainting goat.


I’ll show you weeping angels

(scene opens in empty parlor, deep cleaning in progress)

Me: (sweeping under couch) Gamma! Come here and get your books! (repeat several times, turns to look)
Gamma: (perfectly still, posed on a footstool)
Me: Gamma, come here please.
Gamma: (no response, immobile)
Me: Gamma! (grabs arm)
Gamma: (resists while keeping pose)
Beta: (with derision, from dining room) She says she can’t move while I’m looking at her. (stare intensifies)
Me: (incredulous and with murderous intent) Maybe you could stop looking at her.
Beta: (callously) Fine. (breaks eye contact)
Gamma: (bright and spritely, turns to mother) Did you want something mama?
Me: The tears of the innocent.


Placing bets

(scene opens up in dining room, adults obviously syncing up after long day)

Me: (sifting through a stack of paperwork) Oh, by the way, Girl Scout cookie sales start in a month.
Husband: Dear gods.
Me: Did you know that if Gamma sells 3,000 boxes of cookies, she and I get a trip to Disney World?
Husband: I don’t think I can eat that many Thin Mints.
Me: You’re not trying hard enough.


Speak, friend

(scene opens at the top of the stairs)

Gamma: (playfully blocking the way) What’s the password?
Alpha: (considers in best sullen teen) I can come in any time I want.
Gamma: (pause, bows him in with a flourish) Best password ever!



(scene opens in rarely clean kitchen)

Me: (sipping coffee) I’ve noticed you’ve been eating in the cafeteria more.
Beta: (proudly) Yes. You’ve been wanting me to try new things. Aren’t you happy?
Me: (pointedly sipping again) I’ve noticed that your willingness to try new foods coincides neatly with you being responsible for making your own lunches.
Beta: (defensively) I’m trying new foods!
Me: I’m happy you’re trying new foods. I’m a little put out this adventure is rooted entirely in laziness.


Where men are men

(scene opens at cluttered dining room table)

Gamma: Will you sign me up for Girl Scouts?
Me: You’re already a Girl Scout.
Beta: Scouts isn’t something you just sign up for, its something you do.
Gamma: I mean for sleep away camp.
Me: Oh, yes, I’ll sign you up for sleep-away camp, but that doesn’t happen for a few more months.
Beta: Don’t you have to go with her?
Me: No, because the Girl Scouts are more hard core than the Boy Scouts. Oh yeah, I said it.
Beta: (makes a face) Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are the same thing. Except we have the Cub Scouts.
Me: Exactly. We just have Girl Scouts. (makes definitive knife hand)
Beta: Girl Scouts, where girls do manly things. No, they do girlie things. In a manly way.
Me: (sips coffee approvingly)


Desperate times

(scene opens in cluttered dining room, phone ringing)

Me: (considers caller ID, decides to risk it) Hello?
Phone Lady: Hi, how are you today? We’ve been trying to get a hold of you about qualifying for a lower rate on your credit card! Let me take moment to ask you a few questions…
Me: You could start with telling me what credit card this is for.
Phone Lady: (pause, nervous laughter, tries to get back on script)…because this is our last chance to…
Me: Which credit card is this for?
Phone Lady: …see if you still qualify before we close this file.
Me: I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify, so go ahead and close my file. OKAY! THANKS! BAI! (hangs up)
Alpha: (observing) You were much nicer to her than dad would be.
Me: Times are hard, Alpha. Just because she sold her soul in order to put dinner on the table doesn’t mean I have to be a dick about it.