Just When You Think You’ve Got It Figured Out

Hal has always preferred to eat his pizza cold.  Anytime we have leftover pizza and I pull it out to put in the oven – the rest of us preferring the crispy result of the oven better than the microwave, he insists he wants his cold.  So I shake my head in resignation and plop the cold, hard pizza on his plate.  And he nibbles away contentedly.

Well, between Daryl’s birthday party and a church pizza party, we ended up with a lot of pizza at one point.  Hal decided to pack some in his lunch.  Daryl helped him select two huge slices of cheese pizza.  He already had a Caprisun, bag of barbeque chips, and some Oreos in his lunch box, also all leftovers from recent festivities.

I suggested that he only needed one of those slices of pizza since he already had all that other food lined up.  But just like all kids, Hal did not feel that he was a big kid unless he got two slices of pizza.  No matter the size.  I started looking for smaller choices, when I suddenly realized that we also had some pizza left over that he had made for himself at a make-your-own pizza place.

He responded positively and we started shoving everything into the little metal box.

“But I want it heated up,” he said.

What?!

“Honey, there’s not a microwave at school.  You’ll need to eat it cold.”

“But I want it heated up!”

So what’s up with that?  For three years – at least! – he’s wanted to eat his pizza cold.  No amount of encouragement has made him budge on that point.  And now… now that the pizza is going someplace where it cannot be heated up, he wants it… warm.

 

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Why Do They Call Them SLEEP Overs Anyway?

Daryl had his first sleepover party Friday night, with four of his closest friends.  The last sleepover party (being distinguished from just having a friend or two over) was 3 or 4 years ago for Jane.

Let me just say that boys are waaaaaaaayyyyyy different from girls.  The biggest mishap with the girls was when someone dropped their nail polish bottle and some of the polish splattered out all over the we-don’t-care-about-it-30-year-old-linoleum floor in a room marked for remodeling.  And it was easily cleaned up.

The boys…  well… the boys had a lot of energy.  And they were loud.  They opened presents while my husband and I were back in our bedroom trying to get a little quiet time while we ate our pizza.

They went outside before it got dark.  I stepped out to check on them just in time to see a boy throw something that made a clunk as it stuck into a piece of plywood on the ground.  The other two exclaimed in delight and I began to suspect that… surely not…

“What are you guys doing?”

“Oh, just throwing a sharp piece of wood to see if it’ll stick.”

“Are you sure it’s not a sharp piece of metal?”

Yep.  They were throwing a knife.  A long, former kitchen knife whose handle had seen better days that they found… somewhere…  After that, they moved to pushing a large tub of water down the slide to see what would happen.  Eventually, they returned to the house.

Where a boy promptly got himself trapped in the bathroom.  A mechanism in the doorknob had broken.  We tried to disassemble the knob from the hallway but weren’t successful.  My husband then went outside and instructed the boy to open the window.  He then fed tools in to the kid, who followed his instructions to finish disassembling the knob from the inside.  The door still wouldn’t release, until we saw what part was broken and compensated for it.

Freed from the bathroom, he rejoined the others, who were having yet another epic battle in that slated-for-remodel room that suffered a nail polish spill a few years earlier.  There was a rubber Minecraft sword, a rubber Minecraft pick ax, a couple of thin plastic swords, a wooden sword, and a “whip” that was actually the long plastic tube for some toy.  There were also projectiles: a football and my two exercise weight balls.  I quickly reminded them that there was pottery and glassware all over that room and I’d appreciate them not throwing heavy objects at each other.

The office chair that sits at our computer was used as a tank of sorts, with kids using it to glide quickly across the battlefield.  Until it broke.  When someone jumped on it.  We hated that chair but we weren’t necessarily ready to replace it.

During the night, they decided to add ice cubes to the bowl of Hershey almond nuggets.  So much for using the leftover candy for party favors for Hal’s party.  They also spilled stuff – just water, I think – on the rug and scattered candy all over the place.

And made a lot of noise.  I mean, a lot.

We told them at midnight that we were going to bed and they needed to try to keep it down.  I went in and reminded them again at 1:30.  And 2:00.  And 2:20.  And 2:55.  And 3:10.

By 3:30, I was fed up and desperate.  I stomped back into the living room and said, “Look.  I’m sorry.  But it’s time to turn off the TV, turn off the lights, and be quiet.  I mean, quiet.  No sound.  I’m done.  I have another birthday party to run today and I need my sleep!”

Of course, they were dead to the world the next morning.  I was dead to the world for the entire day.  Shoot, maybe the entire weekend.  Somehow, though, I managed to pull off Hal’s party that afternoon with only a few minor mishaps.  Like buying cups when I was serving Caprisuns.  And forgetting candles and a lighter.  And not bringing bowls for the grapes and cheese crackers.  Yet bringing forks even though they were eating cupcakes.

By the end of the day Saturday, I had also managed to confirm that none of the boys from Daryl’s party had accidentally ended up with one of the other boy’s Xbox controller.  And it was definitely not in my living room.  So it looks like the cost of the party will be increased by the cost of replacing the controller.  And the office chair.  And the bathroom doorknob.

Oh, well.  At least he had a good time.  And I truly wish him the best of luck in convincing me to ever do it again.

Last Chance

Another car ride conversation with Hal.

“Mommy, Preston had his last chance to come to my birthday party. He can’t come anymore.”

“Why is that?”

“Because he had his last chance!”

“But why is that?” I’m trying to figure out if Preston is moving away. That’s the only reason I can think of for Preston being unable to come to Hal’s next birthday party, which is still six months away.

BECAUSE HE HAD HIS LAST CHANCE!!

“OK, Hal. I understand he had his last chance, but why? Why can’t he come to your birthday party?”

“Well, he can come to the one where I stop being five.”

“Why can’t he come to the one where you stop being four?”

“Because he had his LAST CHANCE. He was mean to me today so he’s not going to come to my birthday party where I turn five. But if he starts being nice to me again then he can come to the one where I turn six and all the others, as long as he keeps being nice, but not the next one. He had his last chance.”

Obviously, Hal was a bit put out by his interactions with Preston at school today.

Germs’ll Make ‘Em Tougher

I have a dear friend who is a new mom and very concerned about germs. She dutifully followed the doctor’s instructions to keep the baby at home for the first six weeks. She also kept him away from children until he had his 3 month shots. And don’t even think about touching him if you haven’t washed your hands!

These may very well be good precautions that all mothers should take. In fact, I think more and more mothers are exceptionally careful about sanitizing their children’s environment. I am not one of them. Never have been, not even with my first child, and my children are almost never sick.

Daryl was born on a Wednesday, two days before Jane’s third birthday and three days before her party. Some of our friends assumed the party was cancelled. But, really, what is a mother to do? Tell her excited toddler that she doesn’t get to have her birthday party after all because of this little beast that she’s not sure she wants to accept into the household anyway? Take time away from cherishing my newest bundle of joy so I can try to remember who has been invited so I can call and tell them no?

Nah, party’s on! I even took him with me to Wal-Mart the day we got out of the hospital. I needed (wanted?) some things that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) let anyone else get. And of course, I couldn’t leave Daryl at home. What if he got hungry?

The day of the party, he was passed around and around. Every adult and even some children took a turn holding him. It didn’t occur to me to ask anyone to wash their hands first. It just didn’t.

When Jane was in preschool, her teacher took me aside one day. “Jane keeps spilling her Cheerios on the floor and then crawling under the table to eat them! I keep telling her to stop but she won’t listen.”

I flashed back to all the times I had picked up Cheerios from the freshly vacuumed carpet and put them back in her bowl. Oh, shoot. Who am I kidding? The floor wasn’t vacuumed! When we got home, I had a very serious talk with Jane. “Jane, when you are at school, you need to not eat food that you’ve picked up off the floor. Okay?”

I come by my “germs’ll make ’em tougher” attitude honestly. For one thing, I’ve been an avid backpacker for many years. It’s a little hard to worry about germs and cleanliness when you are not showering for a week or two, conserving water, swallowing your toothpaste, picking up food from the ground and either eating it or packing it out, pooping while squatted against a moss-covered log. Some of that necessarily lax attitude is bound to seep into my front country life.

It’s not just the back country lifestyle, though. As I said, I come by it honestly. I seriously do not remember my mother being terribly concerned about germs. I can remember playing behind the backstop at her softball games. I would build intricate farms from whatever I could find on the ground. Sticks formed the fences that separated the animals. Rocks were the cows. Cigarette butts made excellent sheep, especially if the outer covering had come off. My mother always smiled and listened to my descriptions. She never yelled not to touch that stuff and go wash your hands right now, young lady!

She and I are outright germaphobes compared to my grandmother, however. I’ll never forget the day that I complimented her on this scrumptious gourmet bread being served at a family meal. “Where did you get it, Grandma?”

“Oh, that? I got it out of the dumpster behind the 501 Cafe.”

I spluttered, “You got it where? What were you doing in the 501 Cafe dumpster?”

“Well, I was checking the day old bread store’s dumpster next door and noticed that they had dumped some bread in this other one so checked it out. It’s perfectly good bread. It’s always wrapped in plastic. They just throw it away after it’s a couple of days old.”

I can assure you that I have never been dumpster diving and have no plans to try it out. But I’m also not going to fret over my child continuing to eat his ice cream after the dog licks it or finishing off that slice of pizza after it hits the floor. I do not expect everyone to be like me though, so I promise not to snicker (too much) if you exercise more caution with your own children.