Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Communication, the Occasional Consummate Failure of

A conversation I had with Pete today:

Me: Would you like to read a book?
Petey, assertively: DUCK.
Me, proud as can be: Oh, you want to read about a duck? We can read about the duck. Why don't you go get the book about the duck and I'll read it to you.

When the object of my pride and affection made no move to fetch the duck book, naturally I offered to get it for him and put it on a silver platter. 

Me: You want Mommy to get the duck book?  I could go get the duck book and we could read it. Shall I go get the duck book?
Petey: Duck.

Taking that as a yes, I began a mental review of the options: We could be talking about the one book we own that is actually about ducks, or, and less auspiciously, it could be any of the three dozen others that include ducks  in their subject matter, as does anything ever written by Sandra Boynton.  I made the trek and came back, my arms piled high with books about ducks (fish, geese, cats, rabbits, and Curious George).  

And it was at this point, as I hefted my unbudging offspring without result, that I found out his foot was STUCK in the recliner arm and, presumably, had been for the entirety of our conversation

Monday, May 30, 2011


With the advent of self-checkout lines at the supermarket, are you concerned that all those nice checkers could lose their jobs?  Don't be. I am here to assure you that so long as mothers take their children to buy toys and groceries in one fell swoop (and whose bright idea was this one-stop-shopping business, anyway?), checker jobs will be secure.  This is because self-checkout never goes smoothly.  More often than not, some sort of Green Beret style rescue extraction becomes inevitable before the ill-fated shopper can be released from her scanning process. Don't believe me? Picture it like this, and let's just pretend it's me we're talking about.

Scene: I arrive at the final leg of a two hour pilgrimage around Huge-mart.  I am surrounded by my whizzing offspring like a nucleus is plagued by its electrons.  Mona is perched in the cart, high atop a pile of merchandise, her skirts spread decorously around her.  I'm not sure how she is keeping her balance up there on that box of diapers.  All the lines are full.  My heart quails at the thought of having to wait even thirty seconds to get to the car--we already had one potty trip despite all my sinister threats, and another one is looming in the probable future.  Suddenly struck by a flash of creative genius, I swerve left and pull smugly in at one of those empty lanes.

I confront the colorful touch-screen, which recommends that I scan my first item.  After only two or three minutes of searching for the barcode, I successfully swipe it across the counter and am rewarded with a beep. At this point, a Voice gets involved. "Please place the item on the bagging platform," it kindly instructs me.  At the same moment I realize my son is sucking on the cart.  Prying him loose with my left hand, I lob the bag of onions vaguely in the direction of the bagging platform with my right.  My other son sweetly maneuvers himself around so he can help me bag and, in order to make himself more comfortable, takes a seat on the platform.  At this point we find ourselves transitioning into more of a dialogue between me, five kids, the Voice, and (ultimately) the Professional Associate who arrives to save us from ourselves.

Voice, a little panicky: THERE IS AN UNFAMILIAR ITEM ON THE BAGGING PLATFORM. (It doesn't say so, but I know the unfamiliar item is a heavy one.)  PLEASE REMOVE THE ITEM FROM THE BAGGING PLATFORM.

Me: Lewis, don't climb on that. Pete, stop sucking on that.
Voice, somewhat mollified: You may scan the next item.
Michelle: Hey Mommy, where is my new dolly?
Mona: Hey Mommy, I need to go potty.
Lewis: Hey Mommy, what is the bagging platform?
Inge, revolving gaily around me: Hey Mommy, here's the money for my new jump rope.
Me, waving a bunch of radishes and calmly restoring order: EVERYBODY HOLD STILL AND...hey, where did this onion come from?

Let me pause to explain something I have just learned: That (although this onion was a refugee from a previously scanned bag) when self-checking you must never simply set something on the bagging platform because it confuses the Voice. This is, of course, precisely what I went and did.

Me: I know, I know.
Voice, disapprovingly: Please remove the item and wait for assistance.
Michelle, skipping back and forth with her dolly: I really love my dolly, Mommy, I really want to get this dolly.
Inge, referring back to a (much) earlier conversation I thought we had put to bed: Mommy, do you think Sea-monkeys have legs?
Lewis, considering deeply: Hey, Mom, I think maybe I should go back and get that fish.

At this point I notice that Lewis has drifted around to the non-bagging-platform side and is trying to scan his fingers.  Inge leans conversationally on the bagging platform to ask a question, and Michelle wonders aloud whether those chips on that display over there might not be a good thing to get as well.  Meanwhile, I still cannot find out how to scan radishes. I send Lewis to fetch the Professional Associate.

Voice, growing a little weary of this: There is an unfamiliar item on the...
Me: Inge, get off of the bagging platform.
Inge: What is the bagging platform?

The Professional Associate arrives, also looking blase.  I am not the first maladroit customer she has helped today, and I will not be the last. She helps me scan my radishes, but I have become disillusioned with this system, and I am ready to go home.  I scan and bag from this point on, to the Voice's evident discomfiture, with a sort of desperate abandon: tomatoes, shoes, toilet cleaner, dollies--all mingle in bags together on that persnickety bagging platform.   I swipe my card and collect my rowdy electrons, and we spin on our merry way out to the car.  I wish I could say that the Voice and I parted on good terms, but that might be stretching the truth. I think next time I'll stick with the regular line.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If you don't know us...

... you might be a little confused by the name changes that just happened.  Explanations can be found on the "us" page.  In summary: we just feel funnier when we go by our proper names.

Notification System, on the Frequent Failure of the:

Having noticed a certain sluggishness of response with the toilet, I approached a group of bystanders--likely suspects all.

Me: Kids, did something get dropped in the toilet?
Nelly, looking like somebody who has suddenly remembered an item likely to be of conversational interest: Oh!  Yes!!
Me: Well? What was it?
Nelly: It it was one of Inge's headbands.
Me, suddenly aware that there might be more than one time sensitive problem on the table: Which one? Where is it?
Nelly, deep in thought: Hmmm. Well, it was the one...the one that is...well, you know, it was the one that...

She paused, clearly stuck for a description.

Me, ramping up the intensity: Where IS it?
Nelly, suddenly achieving clarity: Oh! It's the one on the bathroom counter that looks a little moist.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Captain Disaster in the Pantry with the Can Opener

When Captain Disaster disappears for more than thirty seconds, a rescue party has to be dispatched to find him. Their stated goal is to learn just how much of the house he has destroyed at speeds worthy of a special ops team, and to recover him bodily to the home base.

Often the process of location is prolonged into a series of tantalizing discoveries that may be either hopeful or sinister. For instance, it may happen that he is neither climbing the pantry shelves in search of edible goods nor in the bathroom; better yet if there is no water on the floor. Check those finds off on the hopeful side, but a choice then lies before you. You must next determine whether to hone in on the back of the house (death by electrocution, death by falling off the horse, the bunkbed, or the stairs, and death by choking on legos), or the front (with its knives in the dishwasher, its climbable tables and bookshelves, and--most horrifying of all--its litterbox).

Weigh the choices carefully, but not for long.  It will always be worth your time and division of manpower to send a scouting party upstairs.  Meanwhile, he isn't messing with the bird cage.  That's good; shut that door behind you and check the girls' room off the list.  Astonishingly, he isn't on the stairs. That leaves Mama's room and the boys' room.  In this particular instance, a glance in the latter reveals our missing man, wearing a flamboyantly guilty expression, holding a bar of soap he swiped from the bathroom, and hastily plugging in the fan.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Nap

Today I thought I would lie on the floor and take a little nap.  Not really a nap, properly speaking; more of a horizontal hiatus in between activities.  The only potential glitch was the company I was keeping.  And indeed, during the course of a two-minute rest:

Buttercup climbed on my back (in my sleep I told her to get off).

Columbus climbed on my back. (I ignored him because telling him to get off does no good.)

Buttercup and Columbus together climbed on my back.

Columbus made me a gift of several crayons, and since I didn't seem to be appreciating them he tried to poke them into my eyes, evidently reasoning that that way if my eyes ever opened up I would see the crayons first thing.

Buttercup gave me a nice back scratch, and coincidentally, Columbus discovered that the pastime of nipping my shirt up by about six inches and putting his cold fingers on my back elicited an attention-grabbing response.

Columbus found a brush and brushed my hair while Buttercup finished my spa treatment.  Naturally this involved both of them sitting on my back.

The nap ended when I felt a small body snuggle endearingly up against me.  It was Buttercup. She nestled against my side so that we were essentially nose to nose.  Then, oh so delicately: "Mommy?" she breathed.  I opened my eyes to see her sparkling and not-at-all restful ones, only about an inch away.  "Yes?" I asked resignedly.  She smiled. "Your lipstick's comin' off."

Monday, March 21, 2011

A find!

I really, really like this book.  We don't own it yet, but we will:


Friday, March 18, 2011

Books You Should Read

Book time!  Here is a recommendation from each of my people:

From Columbus, his favorite book. If he sees you standing still, chances are good that he will coming running with this:

Fifteen Animals!

From Buttercup. We gave her this for her birthday and it kept all five children and me riveted.  The illustrations are beautifully drawn--gorgeous, in fact; and the fearful dragon as horrid as could be hoped. We all have a new respect for St. George, and (what's even better) got a new and non-Disney princess to add to our repertoire of princesses we want to be:

Saint George and the Dragon

From Tinkerbell, who read this all by herself during naptimes. It is a fun, simple story with sweet, line-drawn illustrations.

Little Pear (Odyssey Classics (Odyssey Classics))

From Luigi. A book he just finished, and liked almost as much as Tintin and Asterix:

Om-Kas-Toe Blackfoot Twin Captures Elkdog autographed 1992 paperback

But for the sake of a good picture, here's another:

Asterix the Gaul

From Petunia, who is working on this right now. To my surprised delight, it actually has the same illustrator as St. George, above.

Caddie Woodlawn (Fiction)

We have begun to acquire quite a library, and at the moment I'm glad to have it chock full of recommendations from this curriculum supplier/advisor, because their book lists are invariably top-notch.  But we always stay on the lookout for more, more, more to read.  I hate nine out of ten books the kids find at the library, so in my book (heh heh) personal recommendations are really a must.  What are some of your favorites? And which of your kiddos has you chronically challenged to find something new? Petunia keeps me hopping, because she can casually knock off two or three books per afternoon rest.