entertaining little ones


When I was in Europe with my brother Icecat, my BFF Sheila, and my cousin Liz, we had the usual stupid ways of amusing ourselves while on the road. We had rented an Opel Corsa. This little car I will never forget. It was so tiny that we had to pack our luggage in a certain way every time we got in, and we all had saved seats so we would fit. I got the most space, since I was the designated driver. I can’t get into the damage we did to that car right now, because I have another story to tell that’s not remotely related to anything under the sun.

We made up poetry. I’m referring to the stupid ways of amusing ourselves. We had this one poem that came about after entering a charcuterie (I’m not positive that’s the noun form, but it’s a place where you get different kinds of cured meat and sausages.) We had sampled various hard sausages: saucisse, saucisson, chorisson. As we strolled through downtown with our saucisson, walking when we were permitted by the “pieton” signs (that’s pedestrian, for you pedestrian non-speakers of the Language of Love), we invented this little beauty:

I do not like your saucisson!
I do not like it, Pierre Pieton!
I will not eat it in the Louvre.
I will not eat it on the move.

I do not like it in the park,
I will not eat it after dark.
I do not like your saucisson.
I do not like it, Pierre Pieton!

I think there might have been some other verses, but these are they which survived the ages. There was another, notably less witty, poem that Icecat and I made up after viewing a commercial in London, wherein a block of cheese falls onto a bare surface. “Cheese!” I chimed. Another block fell on top of the first. “More cheese!” called Icecat. A third block fell. “Three cheese!” and after the last, “Four cheese!” This wonderful poem had another incarnation when, as we were driving through the wild and winding roads of the Italian Dolomites, we spotted the carcass of a victim of the road. Then another, and two more.

Roadkill!
More roadkill.
Three roadkill.
Four roadkill.

You could really use that form with just about anything. And you have my permission to do so.

I am reminiscing about these marvels of our invention because, a short while ago, I overheard my two boys, 6 and 4, poetically discussing their own love of cheese.

“Mmmm, blue cheese!”
“What kind of cheese is that?”
“Colby-Jack.”
“I like head-cheese.”

I swear by all that is holy that I have never, ever, ever fed my kids head cheese.

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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?

We’re home again. I think I might be able to start reading other blogs again. I feel like I’ve deserted all the wonderful people who have supported me in my time of need *sniff sniff* and neglected them and their blogs.

Thanksgiving is over, soap making is complete, one lovely Christmas present has been knitted, and our sweet, yellow house is a wreck. I swear I cleaned it before we left for Indiana, but I think the laundry had a party while we were out. In the car, on the 4 hour drive home, Kiki got pretty mad, so Calvin shared a Kit Kat with her and sang, “You are my Sunshine.” Uncle Paul lent us a 1/2 size violin, so Calvin will be able to start learning even before Santa shows up with a new one.

Last of all, it’s official: Trader Joe’s is my everyday market. There’s only one market closer than TJ’s, and it’s one of those local/organic/elitist markets that’s good but expensive. It takes me 4 minutes to get to TJ’s, and that’s with all three stop lights red.

I’m sitting here listening to the cello quartet going on in the other room and trying not to be desolate. My family always does this. When they all get together, they break out the cellos. Sometimes there are violins and violas tossed in for variation, but it’s still string quartets. I don’t play any of those, and I get feeling so left out.

It’s not an exclusionary thing. I know how they feel, they just love playing together. But something in me just wants so badly to play with them. When I was studying trombone, I brought my horn to Thanksgiving that year and played the bass part. It was fun(ny) but not the same. Trombones can’t really do justice to string quartets. They sort of overpower everyone else.

My little Calvin found a 1/8 size violin and has been practicing his sawing technique all day. I think we might let Santa know that Calvin would appreciate a violin for Christmas. Someone asked him last night what he was going to ask Santa for, and he replied, “I will just be happy with what Santa wants to give me.” No lie. Good thing Santa is personally acquainted with one of Calvin’s grandpas that makes violins for a living.

“Mom, if I eat my fingers, I am candy.”

Discuss.

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