children


So does nobody remember that skit from Sesame Street where the mother sends her son to the market and makes him memorize the list? A loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of butter. He repeats it all the way there, mixing up all the items, over and over again. I don’t know why I remember that.

I woke up this morning a little cold, but ready to try to get something done today. I don’t clean very often, and it shows, so I had decided to make today the day. I would get the living room tidied, get the mountains of (clean) clothes out of all the bedrooms, scrub the bathroom sink (for the first time since we’ve lived here, I know, ew), and do some laundry.

I hate having a messy house, but it seems so futile to pick something up, only to turn your back for 5 seconds and have something else appear where it was. Or even to have the same item reposition itself from whence you took it. I hate explaining to my kids how to hang up their towel, or their coat, or the dishcloth, and having them forget before I’m finished speaking. I hate cooking and not having anywhere to put the dirty dishes, or not having anywhere to chop, because of the dirty dishes. I hate following the tornado trying to repair the damage in it’s wake, only to look behind me and see another tornado following me.

My poor kids have suffered my wrath this morning. I think I might be more stressed on the days that I try to clean than on the days I just let the piles pile. There comes a point where my blood starts to boil. It’s usually around the time when I’m making lunch and instructing the kids to get dressed, because they never get dressed after all the millions of times I ask them to all morning. Inevitably, there are no socks in the drawer. Because someone has worn four pairs of socks per day, and discarded them in various corners of the house, and someone else just can’t be bothered to look in the drawer where we pretend the clean socks live. And a third someone’s socks are just the right size to plug up those pesky holes in the heating vent grates.

Because I’m too lazy to clean up after breakfast, that youngest someone is adept at finding whatever vessel is teetering on the edge of the dining table, ready to empty it’s inevitably liquid contents onto the floor and/or very small someone’s person. Inevitably soymilk.

Because we don’t have any shelves, but we do have too much stuff, the piano is covered with junk again. Piano music, a digital camera, library books, movies, several knitting projects, a big box with a few tiny homemade Christmas tree ornaments, lotion, magazines, a tiny violin, some framed photos wrapped in bubble-wrap, and a hunting horn.

I think I’ve grown up with an inflated notion of the importance of my own talents, and finding ways to use them. House cleaning is not one of my talents, so it feels like such a colossal waste of time, when I should be getting a PhD in music, translating at the UN, finding a vaccination for AIDS, painting masterpieces, writing novels, hosting my own show on the Food Network, working as a forensic anthropologist at the Jeffersonian, designing low-income housing with no environmental footprint, and knitting washcloths.

In the meantime, does anyone know of a support group for people who love their kids, but HATE being a stay-at-home mom?

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I don’t remember when this happened, but it was only a few weeks ago. I had made roasted mushrooms for dinner. My boys hate mushrooms, for who knows what reason. They used to love them, but suddenly they despise them. Anyway, both Derek and I LOOOOOVE mushrooms, so I make them sometimes, sauteed or roasted, with butter and salt and lots of yum.

So I made mushrooms one night a few weeks ago. I had quartered them, seasoned them with salt, pepper and thyme, and roasted them in olive oil. They were vaguely triangular and dark brown. I invited both my boys to try them. Calvin abjectly refused, and Zeeb, ever more adventurous, though still susceptible to peer pressure, eyed them suspiciously, but nevertheless sampled one. As he bit in, he grimaced and shook his little head rapidly.

“Ewww, Yuck! They’re pigs! They’re noses!”

When viewed through the eyes of a 3 year old, perhaps cooked mushrooms do actually resemble pig snouts. But really? Not that much.

If you didn’t get the reference in the title, it’s all about the pig’s feet.

Mom, you’re making nonsense.

Oma, I love you, I’m just not interested in you.

I want some Saag Paneer!!!

Mom, I can’t put my underwear on. I have a smiley face on my butt that’s wet.

I found something way grosser than putting a pen in your mouth to find that it tastes like potato chips. I just poured myself a glass of water from our Britta pitcher, and it tasted funny. I couldn’t quite place it. I looked in the cup, and there were black floaties. I looked in the pitcher, more floaties. I asked who put dirt in the water. Nobody fessed up. I took the pitcher to the sink, poured out the water, and noted that the floaties weren’t floating, they were stuck to the bottom. I then realized where I knew that smell from. The aquarium I had as a teenager.

Algae? I think there was algae growing in my pitcher, which had been left out overnight. Ugh. I swear, I’ve cleaned the thing, but obviously not in the last couple of weeks. Ugh. I went and got the most acidic thing I could find, which was a can of root-beer. Ugh. Algae with a root-beer chaser. UGH!

After I was finished being grossed out, Zeeb asked for some salt on his mashed potatoes and gravy. This conversation ensued:

Z: Mom, if you eat playdoh, it tastes like salt.

Me: Who eats playdoh?

Z: The playdoh-eating-man eats playdoh. Star-man and Live-guy.

Me: Why does he eat playdoh?

Z: Cause he likes playdoh to eat.

C: He doesn’t eat salt chips cause he only eats salt and playdoh.

Very interesting.

Another person told us the other day that Calvin is going to grow up to be a CEO by the time he is 18. He certainly has a few qualities that I don’t think I had when I was 5. He started with brainwashing, and has developed more skills as time goes by.

We were at a gas station, buying treats that I had promised. Calvin had a 6-pack of AirHeads, and I had a bag of Circus Peanuts. He began while we were still waiting at the register for the cashier to notice us. “Mom, I’ll give you one of my AirHeads for one of your peanuts.” Then, a few seconds later, “Mom, actually, I’ll give you one of my AirHeads for 6 of your peanuts.”

The cashier looked at him, and said, “Good bargaining!”

Today, he asked me for a chocolate. I said he could have one, and like we practiced, said “OK, thanks.” Then, “Can I have two?”

He really wanted a shower this morning, and Derek said he could have one later tonight, after mud box. That’s what happens when you get a sand box, a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a hose. Calvin said he didn’t want mud box. Five minutes later, he came in the house, naked and muddy, and said, “I’m ready for my shower now!”

What do I do?

The Salt Lake City Public Library is a glass house. A tall glass house. I took my kids there yesterday, along with my parents in law and Derek’s 3 youngest siblings. We first went to the frog exhibit at the University of Utah’s natural history museum, which was great fun. Then we headed down to the library, which was moved to a new building a couple years ago.

The new building is a beautiful structure, with a grand staircase on the outside that leads right up to the roof, ending at the pinnacle, where you can look out over City Hall and downtown Salt Lake. There are native Utah plants on the roof. It’s really lovely. The inside has a court with small stores, tables, and a glass wall that looks into the library portion, about 4 floors worth. The elevators are not in a shaft, and they are also glass. The glass elevator doors, when closed, look out into the court.

There is a purpose to my description. I was anticipating a fun outing with my family. I hadn’t been to the new library, even though the old one was my favorite haunt as a child, and I cannot resist libraries. I love reading. Love it. So I thought it would be a fun and exciting trip. Little did I know that vertigo would take hold of me and threaten my sanity.

We climbed to the very top of the roof, and there, my little sister in law tried to lift 3 year old Zeeb up to look out on Salt Lake. Terror. Then, when I reached them, I noticed the stairwell that went into the building, and down 6 or 7 flights in a corkscrew. I leaned my head over to look down, and was immediately seized by the vision of my baby girl leaping from my arms, and her little body being battered by the armrails as she fell to the cement below. I had to get down and out. I tried to make Calvin hurry, but he wanted to slide his feet on the metal rail that ran on the outside of the stairs. He wanted to climb.

We had to walk across a bridge to get back to the elevator, and I had to cling to my Kiki and stay exactly in the middle of the path. I begged Calvin to keep up, and finally Grandpa, who hadn’t noticed my unease, steered him in the right direction. Inside, we took the elevator, looking through the glass walls down on the stone floor of the court4 stories below, and came out on the second floor. Both little boys took off to climb the railings and go under the indoor waterfall. I had to stay in one place for a few minutes. Soon, Calvin returned to me and decided to try to pry the elevator doors open. The ones that open to nowhere. I knew, intellectually, that this could not be done, especially by a scrawny 5 year old. Nevertheless, I started to hyperventilate and cry.

More stairs, more glass elevators, and more begging and crying. I managed not to drop Kiki. Calvin and Zeeb did not fall to the depths. We didn’t even lose anyone. The ringing in my ears subsided, and my brain stopped the kaleidoscope of inventing ways my children might die.

The guilt of having imagined it is still there.

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