Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'm going to hell

I'm serious. Where the bad people go, there go I. I am evil.

I got a crank call on my cell phone. Some teenage girl was panting and moaning into my ear. Gee, how...special.

I should have just hung up. Or maybe said something “mother-ish” like, “Is that the mouth you kiss your mother with?” or “I know your mother, and when I tell her…”

But oooooooooooooooooooooooooooh no. My sense of humor ran away with me again. Pitching my voice as low and husky as I could, I cooed into the phone: "What're you wearing?"

The panting and moaning stopped abruptly. I could still hear her stunned breathing, so I knew she hadn't just hung up. "What're you wearing?" I asked again, still with the husky voice.


"I like thongs myself...what are you, a size 6? 8? What're you wearing?"

Another pause, and then a little squeak of "ohmigawd!" followed by a dead line.

Yeah, I'd say she was maybe fourteen, fifteen - and a Class A1 rookie at the crank call thing.

And I am SO going to hell.

Because I told a lie. I hate thongs. They run up my…well, they run up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Banquet Is Spread Before Me

For about as long as I can remember, it has been loitering in my freezer. Hanging out with an insolent sneer across its face, mocking me every time I opened the door.

America’s #1 Frozen Brand, Banquet
Select Menu, no less.
Barbecue Chicken Meal (hmm, can we get an official definition of ‘meal’, please?).
Barbecue Sauce over Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Corn.
330 calories with damn near nothing of value in them.

When and why I bought it, I know not (although I can pretty well guarantee there was a rock-bottom sale price involved). I know only that it has been in my freezer since approximately 1918 – the same year I bought the tennis shoes I’m wearing today. I have looked at it just about every day since then, grimaced, and chosen something, anything, else for lunch.

“Yeah, that’s right, you just keep lookin’,” it would snipe at me, as I peered between the frozen blocks of ground beef and pork chops. “You ain’t woman enough to eat me! G’on! Pick something you’d like better, like maybe that little dainty portion of tamale casserole, or perhaps a Tupperware of onion soup!”

I’d glare at it, choose something else, and slam the freezer door while it howled with laughter.

But today, I finally did it.

I took it out, nuked it up, and ate it.

Scoff at me will ya, punk?! Well, take that! I’ll even mix your corn and mashed potatoes together, then scoop the barbeque sauce into the whole mess before I chomp them down! Bwa-hahahaha!


Pardon. Did I mention I’ve also polished off the last little going-flat bit of a liter of Diet Dr. Pepper with that? Well, I did. In about four seconds and without the benefit of a glass. CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!

Both were equally vile. Semi-flat Diet Dr. Pepper, and a Banquet frozen meal.

Oh, yum.

But now they’re both gone, consumed rather than thrown away, and I can get back to my life. The only thing mocking me in the freezer is a six pound bag of gourmet hotdogs, which like to throw the fact that my Mutant Alien Children will not eat hotdogs.

Bastards. But I’m getting even with them, oooooooh yes, I’m getting even with them.

I’m taking them to my niece’s birthday party this weekend. 30 adults, 15 children (not including my Mutant Aliens), and a red-hot BBQ grill.

They will be eaten.

Oh yes, they will be eaten.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can't claim I'm bored...

My plan for the day: Drop off the three older kids at (pre)school, go to the bank, go to physical therapy for my tendonitis-inflicted wrist, goof off until 2:30, then carry on with the picking up, ballet-lessoning and so forth of offspring until the husband eventually returns home.

Instead, I got to drop everybody off, go to the bank, go back to preschool to get Boo Bug, who was ‘very grouchy and complaining that her ear hurts’ and drag her along to physical therapy. She was 100% fine earlier that morning, ate a hearty breakfast, played and frolicked and in no way gave me any indication that she was sick. So I’m chalking it up to a combination of not wanting to go to school in the first place and maybe a headache.

For the first twenty minutes of my session, all was fine. She settled in with a coloring book and crayons and was quietly drawing away. Bacon Bit was fine, chewing on Gerber fruit snacks and ogling back at the nurses. The therapist is going to town on my wrist, doing the stuff that hurts like hell – this is the stuff I consider to be my payment for the part that actually feels good, later.

Then suddenly, the man sitting across the table from Boo diligently using his recently-surgically-repaired fingers to move pegs around a board says, in tones of great uncertainty, “Uh…she’s sorta…throwing up…”

SORTA throwing up? The kid is hurling up three times her own body mass! AAAAAAAAAAAAH!!

In all the chaos, I:

♠ Hyper extended my wrist trying to grab paper towels
♠ Made it go ‘crack!’ when I tried to pick her up off the chair in an attempt to get her over a trash can
♠ Topped it all off by toppling over, landing on the sore hand (naturally) and letting out a yelp that is probably still ringing in space

THEN, I had to strip my little girl nekkid right there in front of God and everybody, wrap her up in an adult-sized hospital gown, pick up Bacon Bit and put his sister into his stroller, carrying him with one arm and push the stroller with the other (hmm, which hurts the bad wrist more, holding the baby or pushing a stroller?), maneuver my way through the various doors and around corners, over hill over dale, back to the van, get them all loaded in and buckled down.

Oh, and right in the middle of the crisis, my cell phone starts going off.

So. My wrist hurts more than it did before, I have an extra kid at home (currently running around playing ‘mermaid princess Barbie’ and feeling 110% fine, TYVM), and all my plans for goofing off? Out the window. The closest I might be able to get is if I load up my video game and attempt to thwart the Minions of Darkness for a while.

But at least I can’t claim that I’m bored, right?!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Instinctive respect

Some reactions are purely instinctive. Like if something whooshes over your head, instinct will make you blink and duck – even if you realize within a nanosecond that it isn't going to hit you. Or that it's a Nerf ball or something equally innocuous.

Some reactions are purely physical. If you accidentally set your hand on a cooking surface while it is in use, your hand will jerk away from the heat.

Some reactions are a bit trickier. I've been reading the Torah in my copious free time (ahem), and had last left the volume sitting on the little table beside my computer desk. So I finished my leftover pasta from last night and started to set the bowl down – right on top of the Torah.

You would have thought I had burned myself. I jerked that bowl away from the book just as it was about to touch. The spoon went flying, speckling my wall with pasta sauce (swell, just swell). I almost dropped the bowl.

But what was the first thing I did? Clean up the sauce? Pick up the spoon?


I checked to make sure I hadn't gotten sauce on the Torah. With a kind of frantic, “Oh GEEZ!” usually only seen in teenagers who suddenly realize they've got mere moments before mom and/or dad come back through that door and they've got beer cans all over the floor.

It was instinct. It doesn't matter that it isn't a holy writ in my religion – the fact that I know it is god's-almighty-word-holy to some group of people gives it a kind of sanctity. A certain 'handle with care' stamp that I'm afraid Stephen King's works are just never going to get from me.

Of course, being me, I immediately started pondering how nice it would be if we as a species could somehow manage that kind of respect live and in person with each other; to engage and examine each other's religious, political, financial and ecological views without turning into rabid pulpit pounders.

To agree or disagree and go our own ways saying, “Best of luck!” instead of “What a nuckin' Baptist fat head! He's going to burn in hell for all eternity for driving that Hummer and eating brand-name ice cream purchased with the same credit card he used to donate money to the Republican party!! I'm going to start pounding the drums of war until I gather a lynch mob together to go after him..."

But I guess it is asking a little much. After all, it is very difficult for those of us who are always right to put up with the legions of ignorant savages doomed to Doing It All Wrong because they just won't listen to us…

New blog: The Great Washer / Dryer Experiment!

I made the idiotic mistake of asking myself just how much time I spend doing laundry. Fourteen loads a week, each taking about 1-1/2 hours to go from washer through dryer, folding and putting-away, I make that to be 21 hours. Twenty-one hours.

You know, it’s funny how sometimes things will blindside you. When I decided to have four kids, I was braced for things like ‘very noisy house’ and ‘going through a lot of groceries’ and ‘in my van chauffeuring an awful lot’ and ‘having to save diligently for college funds’.

Two things that have really smacked me in terms of grim, unexpected reality: that I will be doing a full load of dishes at least twice per day (and that for us, ‘service for 12’ is precisely half as many as we need), and, that I would spend 21 hours per week, half of a more rational person’s total work week, standing around either folding laundry or waiting for more laundry to fold.

I have decided I need a new washer and dryer. I need the Big Ones, the ones that can handle about three times the capacity of my current washer/dryer set.

They cost $3,000.

Did I mention I’m a stay at home mom with four small children, no income to speak of and a pretty damned tight budget?

But! Undaunted, I forge on!! I’ve started a new blog to track my progress, which may well take years! I’m going to be using every trick I’ve garnered over years of debt and income reduction to squirrel away cash out of my discretionary spending toward these washers and dryers.

However, unlike the times when I’ve done it because it was a matter of eating or not eating, keeping a roof over our heads or using the van as a mobile hotel, or staying just on the other side of the Bankruptcy Line – this promises to be kind of fun.

This time, it’s a game.

C’mon over if you have time.

I’ve got $8.57 so far. I'll be at $3,000 in no (geologic) time...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Common Luxury

I once read, in a rather dated cookbook, the suggestion that it was only proper for the cook to eat leftover roast chicken for her own lunch the next day rather than attempt to stretch it further by making casseroles and so forth – a kind of reward for her hard work and dedication.

Last night, I made a roast chicken. Took one lemon and one lime, cut them into quarters and stuffed the bird with them, sprinkled salt and pepper over the top, and roasted carefully until it was precisely done. Not a centimeter on either side of ‘done’, but right smack on the nose.

At the same time, I boiled up some potatoes, mashed them with butter, milk, a little salt, a little pepper and a generous dash of garlic powder. Add a bag of steamed sweet corn, and you’ve got Americana on the hoof. Even my kids, who have apparently decided that everything that comes out of our kitchen is ‘icky’, ate pretty well.

Ordinarily, I’ll take any leftover meat from roasts and freeze it for end-of-month potpies or casseroles. And there wasn’t a whole lot left. Half a breast, the wings, and the back meat – that was about it. It was easy to take the little scraps from the wings, the thighs, the back, the shreds of clinging breast meat…but that one beautiful breast medallion…

So darned toothsome, so delicately juicy and citrus-scented flavorful…it seemed a thousand pities to put it into the freezer, to be lost in Worcestershire-driven sauce.

So this afternoon, I sat down with a Tupperware containing half a chicken breast, a small serving of potatoes and a smaller one of corn. While my kids cheerfully downed PB&J and milk, I enjoyed my leftover luncheon with a little glass of not-at-all-bad white wine, followed up with a homemade cookie and a cup (or two, or possibly three) of strong-brewed French-press coffee.

Luxury is so very relative.

I have had a very luxurious day, thus far.

And you…?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Valuable bits of worthless information

This has just been added to the List of Stuff That Is Mildly Irksome: companies who confirm your order and assure you that it will arrive ‘shortly.’

‘Shortly’? What the heck does that mean? I just gave you eleven bucks to ship something that weighs about four ounces to me, and it will arrive ‘shortly’?


No no no no no no no. No.

I happen to know that the major carriers permit you to instantly let people know exactly when things will arrive. I know this because, as a very small-time Seller of Stuff on eBay, I use said technology. Shoot, even the USPS can do this.

‘Shortly’ my beeeeee-hind, folks. Gimmie a tracking number or something. Because otherwise? I’m gonna call you. Four, five, ten times a day.

You have been warned.

Don’t give me ‘shortly’. Give me something in days. Or preferably hours. I have a short attention sp-

Organizational Bulimia

I have decided that I am the organizational equivalent to a bulimic.

First, I gorge. This is the cycle where stuff piles up. The closets begin to overflow. The ‘junk drawer’ becomes the ‘junk desk’ and eventually the ‘junk desk, cupboards, built-ins, closets and Every Flat Surface In The House’. The laundry is piled up all over the house. The ironing hasn’t been done in three weeks and the husband is wearing “KISS ME – I’M IRISH!” shirts to work (which is silly, because he isn’t even one little drop Irish). The kids haven’t had a bath in a week because there is no soap and no clean towels; and besides, the tub is so dirty that it is arguable whether their bath is cleaning them, or the tub.

Then suddenly, with little or no warning, I purge. In a week (or two) long frenzy, I work ten, twelve, fifteen hours a day or more. Cleaning. Organizing. Tossing trash, filing paperwork, donating worn out clothing. The house is sparkling from roof to garage. The roses get pruned, the lawns get mowed, the children are suddenly dressed before breakfast, from their brushed hair to their neatly cleaned shoes. Bag after bag of outgrown clothing has gone to Goodwill, a hundred bucks worth of books has been sold on and suddenly I can find all my knitting supplies the instant I need them.

It is very, very good. And it stays that way for a month or two, or even three.

Then, one non-recycled newspaper or spot on the bathroom mirror at a time…it begins to grow.

And it grows, and it grows. Knitting needles get left on top of the shelves instead of getting put away in their holders. Balls of yarn get tossed into a pile that quickly begins sliding onto the closet floor. Craft supplies get shoved into drawers until they won’t close anymore, and then are simply dumped onto the floor in front of the chest on the theory that I’ll put them away ‘in a minute’.

First I dismiss: When I get a second, I’ll deal with that.

Then I deny: It’s no big deal, it’ll take me, like, five seconds to snap that room back together.

Then I defend: It isn’t like I’m not doing anything here. I’ve got four little kids to keep amused all day, every day. That’s a lot of supervising. That’s a lot of work, right there. I’ll take out the trash when I get a damned minute – right after I finish reading this article about General Motors’ loss of market share and research the bond market a little bit…

Then, I get mad: Why the HELL is this MY job? Would it kill people to pick up a dish once in a while? And why is it that I’m the only one capable of hauling a trash bag out to the trash can? And while we’re at it, how come I’ve got to clean the damned bathrooms all the time and iron HIS shirts? His legs ain’t broke and I know he’s not stupid, so how come he can’t do his own damned laundry and his own damned shirts and maybe JUST ONCE take out the damned trash?!?!

Then, I sulk for a while: I’m not doing it. Not. Doing. It. I’m not picking up even one (1) more thing in this house. Hell with it. I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. I’m sick of it. Besides, there’s a new article at…

But then, one morning, it happens. After a week (or two) of having to walk through the house as though it were a minefield, stepping over toys and boxes and whatnot, a bit will suddenly flip. I will literally wake up one morning full of vinegar, jump out of bed and start scrubbing. One room at a time, one task at a time, doggedly, grimly determined, ignoring all else and letting my children watch TV or play video games literally all day for a week – I clean.

And then I vow, solemnly, that I will never let it get that way again. I will never set trash down on the kitchen counter when the trash can is right there, under the sink. I will never decide to give Laundry Day a miss, even if it does happen to fall on a perfect ‘let’s go for a drive’ kind of day. I will do the ironing every Tuesday, so that it only takes about twenty minutes instead of becoming a two hour ordeal. I will not allow my discarded newspapers to pile up in my knitting basket, or permit coffee to pool up on the counter behind the coffee maker. Ever again.

And I won’t.

For a month or two, or three.

But then, one crumpled up envelope of Equal left on the kitchen counter at a time, it begins again.

I’m on the beginning of the downward spiral right immediately now, as I write. And I swear, I am not going to let it get out of hand. I’m going to get all these books that have mysteriously entered the house via some mystic portal (a.k.a., UPS deliveries from Barnes & Noble) out of here, and I’m going to file all those bills and shred all those unsolicited offers of credit and I’m going to clean the coffee off the kitchen counter and put away the laundry and go through the toys currently carpeting the floor upstairs from the bedrooms down the hallway.

But first…I understand there may be some upheaval in the bond market right now due to the high price of oil and the rising interest rates. And the bond market, as we all know, waits for no one – not even a Domestic Goddess who has dust bunnies the size of goats under the bed.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Stupid stupid Glow Worm!

We had just arrived home from the park. Bacon Bit was very, very tired. And like most very, very tired babies – he was fighting sleep with every ounce of his remaining strength.

He wailed while I got his sisters settled with coloring books and art buckets. The brief silence after being picked up was quickly replaced with more wailing as he realized I intended to {gasp} rock him to sleep!

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes tick slowly past. Gently and slowly, back and forth, crooning and cuddling, until his shell-pink eyelids dimple themselves closed and his death grip begins to slide on my collar.


Five more minutes. Eight minutes. Ten minutes – OK. Time to try for the crib…

We ease out of the chair. We glide up the stairs. Tip the baby into his crib. Watch him settle down, with a quick glance around, a sigh, a shrug, and back to sleep. Ah. I have the same feeling I suspect Olympic gymnasts have upon completing a perfect dismount from the parallel bars…

…and then…

……turning to leave……

………I stepped on the garble-fraggled-hazenfefferin’-blister-burbled Glow Worm some {beep honk} relative decided Bacon Bit simply had to have. How the stupid thing got on the floor or why people will insist on buying such things for tiny babies (who are not allowed to cuddle anything in their cribs at night and aren’t afraid of the dark in the first place) is moot right at this moment, because…its cute little face lit up and it began to LA-LA to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. LA LA, LA LA, LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! It does this loudly.

!pop! goes the little head, straight up, eyes wide open. Whoa, that was a close one! Almost fell asleep there, almost actually took a nap! Whew! Thanks for getting my back there, little wormy dude…OK, now, where were we? Oh yeah. {ahem} WAAAAAAH!!!! I DON’T WANNA GO TO BED! WAH-WAH-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Aw, {garbled expletive}!! I grabbed up the Glow Worm and stuffed it under my shirt in an attempt to silence the cheerful la-ing – which is exactly what is meant by ‘closing the barn door after the horse is already out’. It is just SO too late. But I try anyway. And then I start trying the ‘well, I’ll just let him cry for a few minutes, maybe he’ll go back to sleep.’ Uh-huh. Hasn’t worked in the last five months, but maybe, magically, he’ll do it this time.

I hate that Glow Worm. I hate it with a mad and abiding passion. I hope that the Glow Worm rots under a thick coating of dust up there on the top shelf in the closet. No, wait, I take that back.

I hope that Glowy is Bacon Bit’s absolute top-favorite toy…right after his teeth start coming in.


Signs of Intelligent Life

I love babies, don't get me wrong. But those very early days can be a bit...trying. You know, when they mostly lie around having a rest between squalls and don't give you a whole lot of feedback on things. When you wonder, "Is there anybody HOME in there?" as they stare fixedly up at something only they can see on the ceiling while you're trying to engage them in some brain-stimulating game guaranteed to make your three week old a genius by age two.

But then suddenly, with little warning, they begin doing things like cooing, smiling and laughing, and otherwise reacting to the world. And you think, "Hey, there's hope for this kid yet!"

And then, glory be, they begin to take a very active interest in the world around them. They struggle to move themselves over to objects, instead of lying there like slugs waiting for a servant to bring the object to them. They begin to express emotions in a wider range of ways, from crying to laughing, even the occasional pointing or hand-wave-in-the-general-direction-of.

Bacon Bit has moved into the ‘crawling with a vengeance’ stage now. After being stuck in reverse for a few weeks, he suddenly threw it into drive and is now able to go just about anywhere he’d like in a remarkably rapid fashion.

A point of definite interest in his world is my knitting basket. Each child has had to learn this basic rule of the Den of Chaos: the knitting basket is Off Limits. Now obviously, I don’t expect my eight month old to understand the whole concept of ‘no’ or ‘off limits’ or anything like that. I just move the knitting basket out of his reach when I’m not actively using it, and redirect him whenever he attempts to get at it while I am using it.

So yesterday, he saw me take it down from On High to begin working on my project. He threw it into high gear and bustled over to attempt a reconnoiter of the contents – he is a great lover of paper (good source of fiber, interesting flavor and texture) and string (fun to wave about and chew upon), and he knows I have some of both in there.

“No-no-no,” I said gently, picking him up and setting him back down on the floor some distance away. I handed him a couple toys and reminded him how they worked.

First, he shouted his outrage. I will not be balked!! It didn’t last long, though, and he moved on to idly banging the plastic truck on the floor while mulling things over. He watched me for a moment, then crawled nonchalantly over. He sat up. He looked up at me and gave me a charming little smile as he rested one hand, ever-so-lightly, on the edge of the basket.

I heard what he was saying, loud and clear. “I’m checking to see if the sound ‘no-no-no’ means what I think it means, Mommy. And whether or not maybe I can use charm to get away with it anyway…”

A little later that same day, he was sitting in the middle of the playroom floor chewing on a teething ring and watching me from the corner of his eye. Hmm, I thought. Wonder what he thinks he’s up to…?

Sure enough, he set the ring down and began hightailing it out of the room. Out of the playroom, behind the sofa, and out into the hall. Grumbling, I set down my knitting, heaved out of my chair to go after him…and found him sitting up in the hall, bright-eyed and expectant, waiting for me.

The instant he saw me coming after him, he let out a shrieking giggle of pure glee, flopped back onto all fours, and began crawling away as fast as he possibly could. “Chase me, momma, chase me!!”

When I swooped down on him, he let out another shriek of joy, seized hold of my face in both hands and got me a good one in his baby version of a kiss (open mouth as wide as possible, work up some slobber, then rub vigorously back and forth across any exposed skin on the kissee). He was just so darned pleased with his servant’s ability to figure out the new game!!

He’s showing himself to be a fun-loving young man with a good spark of intelligence, a physically active child with a love of games and a deep affection for Servant #1, a.k.a., Mommy. He is also very persistent – we played the ‘chase me’ game at least six hundred times in the next hour, before he finally tired of it and moved on to demanding food and a nap.

Every day now, he shows me a little bit more of the person he is going to be. I’ve been blessed so far with three older children that I not only love (which just sort of comes along with the Mommy gig) but also like (which can be a bit trickier – some kids are pretty, well, uh, obnoxious and easy to dislike).

And it’s starting to look like we’re going to be four for four. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Now I just need to remember that right after he’s drawn on my tax return with crayon or used Play-Doh to decorate the sofa.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


I am SO unfair

Eldest has been indulging in one of the uglier behaviors available to children: she has become something of a bully. She’s turned into quite the petty tyrant, shrieking at her sisters, pitching fits when she doesn’t get her way, telling them “I won’t be your sister anymore!” (like THAT’S a good threat!) or “You’ll never be a princess!”

I’ve been working on this for a couple weeks now. Let’s see. We’ve gone through the ‘that’s not nice’ discussion. We’ve had the ‘go sit on the sofa for a minute and think about it’. We’ve talked about thinking before we speak, and discussed thinking about how we’d feel if these things were said or done to ourselves.

Well, today, I finally blasted right on through ‘discussing’ and ‘time outs’ and everything else and went straight for the jugular.

I have just been Unfair. Watch for Eldest in front of the house with a picket sign, soon.

We have an old laptop that is being used for the kids’ games. I set the kitchen timer for half an hour, and each kid gets one (1) turn per day during ‘quiet time’.

Eldest was twenty minutes into her game when the laptop froze up (a common occurrence – did I mention that it is old?!). Normally what happens next is, I’ll come in, unfreeze the thing, and bump the timer up a couple minutes.

So, right in the middle of the reboot, Danger Mouse says to me, “Mommy, I wish it were my turn soon.”

Before I could say anything (such as, ‘only about ten more minutes, honey’), Eldest whips around, thrusts her tongue out at her little sister and shrieks, “Well, you CAN’T play a game – EVER! It’s my turn FOREVER!! Because it’s MY computer and MY games and I SAID SO, NYAH!!”

Excuse me? EXCUSE me?

I froze, looking at my eldest child in disbelief. She froze, realizing that she was getting the patented Stare of Doom™ from her mother. Danger Mouse froze in mid-wail, realizing that if she didn’t hush up, she was going to miss the show. Even Boo Bug gasped, looking up from her LeapPad.

I sat there with my mouth open, searching for something to say. The first few things that came to mind really weren’t things I’d like to hear repeated, and the next few really weren’t harsh enough. I’m way past ‘discussing’, ‘debating’ or ‘exploring our feelings’ on this deal. Finally, I went with, “OK, that’s it. Out of the chair. Danger Mouse, it’s your turn NOW.”

Nooooooooooooooooooo!! Oh, the angst! The agony! The promises of good behavior! Never again! Wailing, screaming, flinging herself to the floor in excesses of grief. “I’ll never say anything mean again!”

Yeah, right. I’ve heard that one at least twelve times in the last two days. Besides, I haven’t found it to be a good idea to backpedal away from disciplinary measures around the Den of Chaos – if you say you’re going to do something, you’d better do it. Every punishment you threaten and don’t follow through on seems to result in three more punishments you DO need to follow through on to get back to where you were, Respect For Your Authority wise.

So, the timer has been set, Danger Mouse is playing Reader Rabbit, and Eldest has been couched to watch the stupid antics of the stupid Bear in the stupid Big stupid Blue STUPID House. She has also been told, just put to the cherry on the Unfair Sundae, that if she so much as whimpers about it even one more time (or tries to take it out on any of her siblings when she thinks I’m out of earshot), she will also forfeit tomorrow’s game time.

I am unfair. So unfair. She wants to go live at Grandma’s house FOREVER.

I’ve got news for her: my mother, her adored grandmother, cornered the market on ‘unfair’. I could tell you many hours of stories about the unfairness of my life as her eldest child.

Years of this unfairness taught me how to control my temper, so that I didn’t simply backhand my snotty-brat-child (which, believe me, also occurred to me as a potential course of action). It taught me the discipline that enabled me to get through college. I learned not to snark off at the wrong time, thus avoiding getting my face beaten in by irate peers.

And I will continue to be unfair until she, too, has learned; so that, someday, my grandchild can run to me with sobbing tales of how unfair her mommy is…