Thursday, December 17, 2009

Classic Kid Questions/Parent Repartees

What’s for dinner?
Whatever I make, that’s what.

Are we there yet?
No. We have ten more hours.

Can I watch tv?
No. It kills your brain cells. Go outside.

What’s for dinner?
Oysters.

Are we there yet?
No. Do you want me to stop the car right now? Stop asking.

Can I watch tv?
Stop asking.

What’s for dinner?
Oysters, like I told you.

Are we there yet?
NO! Stop asking!

Can I watch tv?
What’s wrong with outside? When I was a kid I spent whole days outside walking uphill to school in an avalanche.

What’s for dinner?
I could have been a contender.

Are we there yet?
If I’d chosen to stay single and write that novel.

Can I watch tv?
(silence)

Can I watch tv?
(deafening silence)

Can I watch tv?
(resentful silence, then the sound of ice cubes in a rocks glass)

Can I watch tv?
(slurring) Sure. Whatever. Mommy is resigned to the truth: you darlings are all I have.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Four Year Old Son Tells The Story of Our Love

Once upon a time, before Mommy was big, like she is now, like a triceratops, Mommy was small, like a baby. Like my baby sister, Bea. And Daddy was always Daddy but in another country like a man. When I grow up I will be a man. In another hour.

It was in Boston. A town that is not our town. Anymore. We had a red house but not anymore. Now we have carpet and we don’t eat on it. Time out. We didn’t go to the zoo there. When we were at the zoo here I didn’t see ducks. We have to go back. When are we going back to see the ducks?

That was like it was. Ducks. Mommy and daddy. Can I have a snack? I want chocolate milk! Not that kind. Not that kind. The 2 per cent kind like at Nannie and Grandad’s. Waaaahhhh! I’m not your friend, Mommy. I’m only Daddy’s friend like this, watch this Mommy, Daaadddyyyy!

(Big pause for naptime.)

Then they met. I like birthday parties. Do you like birthday parties? I do. It was John Michael’s last week and he was four like me. He has another mommy. Mommy is my mommy. We had the cake. At school there was the cake. Like daddy when he saw mommy.

When I was born mommy was fat. I was born in her stomach then I came out and I cried, then I read the book The Stork Does Not Bring You, for Christmas. Let’s read it again. Let’s read the Art Book where everyone is naked. One time I saw Daddy doing art. Or crafts. It was in the bathroom. I’m not allowed to do art in the bathroom, only at the kitchen table, only with Mommy.

I like all things that bite -- like tigers and owls. I don’t like princesses; Daddy is a man. Mommy is a girl. A woman is a woman. Woman can drive planes. And trucks. One time Daddy drove mommy crazy and she got fat again. I have a baby sister, Bea.

When is Halloween going to be here again?

I am hungry for chocolate milk and crackers. I want to play monster. Let’s play monster! Again! More! Why not! I’m not your friend anymore. (Meltdown into the couch.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Childhood Foods That As An Adult, Disgust Me

Macaroni and cheese made according to the directions on the back of the package of Velveeta, the Velveeta purchased by my grandmother at Kroger’s, out Route 8, in Pittsburgh, in 1987 or 1988.

Bone marrow sandwiches with butter, smeared onto homemade white bread made by the same grandmother, the bones purchased at the Kroger’s, but from the store’s downtown location.

English muffins, split, and toasted with generic margarine melting down into the nooks and crannies. I learned English muffins had nooks and crannies from the commercials they aired during Sunday morning cartoons and I haven’t been able to forget.

Chicken in a Pot Nine Days Hot, a dish made up by my mother in the big yellow pot consisting of chicken, carrots, and potatoes. Some weeks the potatoes would turn black for reasons only science could explain, but we didn’t think to ask “why” back then. We just ate and gave thanks.

Generic fish sticks with frozen French-cut green beans, also in the black and white packaging of the Generic Isle. They left what I thought then was a good mouth-feel in the mouth. Now I know that was hydrogenated hella oil or something, possibly made in New Jersey and not any fish known to man.

Communion wafers. So crisp and crunchy and yet also melty. Like the water crackers my fancy Episcopalian grandmother (my dad’s mother, not the Kroger’s grandmother) served with Boursin cheese as an appetizer during her famous, daily, pre-dinner Borboun Old Fashioned Cocktail Hour.

What was creamier than 7th grade field trip to Hidden Valley Ski Resort hot chocolate that came spewing out into a Styrofoam cup from a vending machine nozzle? If you had packed well and had parents who were lenient with the breakfast cereals you could add the marshmallows you had hand-picked from Lucky Charms cereal box.

Cheese in a can at Calvary Camp, packed by an older camper who, for a week in 1985, found me cool enough to share with, both of us aiming the cheese canister at each other and then licking it off each other’s fingers in a confusing, sensual manner.


In England when I was twelve, my host mother made me meat pies from scratch, with gelee from the pork bones, that when I ate them hook line and sinker, I thought were like delightful savory Jell-O. Why didn’t we have savory Jell-O in the United States? Why no Marmite? And, why couldn’t an adolescent American like myself drink in America?

My lunch bag staple for eighteen years was the sliced turkey sandwich, slice of anemic Kroger’s tomato, wisp of wilted lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise. It gave me all the energy I needed to fail Chemistry.

Peanut butter breakfast cereal was off limits to us except at other people’s houses. MI didn’t even know what Cap’n Crunch was until I was old enough to sleep-over at Amanda Holland-Minkley’s.