I don’t want to build a snowman

by emily on April 16, 2014

In keeping with my commitment to being the last family in town to get whatever it is all the other families are buying, I held out for a long time against getting the soundtrack to Frozen.

(In case you’re wondering what other things my kids insist we’re the last family in America to get, we don’t have an Xbox, a wii, cable TV, or a football. We do have Netflix, so the kids are getting to watch the entire Little House on the Prairie series—starring the inimitable Michael Landon—from the beginning. I still cannot figure out why it is my children aren’t considered the coolest kids in their grades.)

Lilah’s kindergarten teacher was playing the soundtrack in the classroom, so the frenzy was getting stoked, regardless. Lilah was incessantly babbling about an eternal winter and telling me she got the feeling I didn’t know. Finally, I took the hint and, nudged on by the fact that Zachary’s Glee! class is performing Frozen, downloaded the soundtrack.

I was rewarded for my capitulation by glancing in the rearview mirror on Sunday and seeing them singing “Let it Go” together, although I’m pretty sure that Zachary was singing his parody, entitled “Let it Rip.” He’s nine.

It’s about twelve kinds of adorable to watch Lilah sing these songs, and fifty-seven kinds of sweet to watch Zachary actually interacting with his little sister. (Benjamin, the surly one, maintains a staunch opposition to said soundtrack being played in his presence.)

Every morning, after the boys head out to walk to school, I drive Lilah to her school with the soundtrack playing blaring and her shouting, “Stronger than a hundred men!” in the backseat. When we arrive at school, we sit in the parking lot with the engine off, finishing out whichever song we’re on. When you own the Frozen soundtrack, every moment is a Driveway Moment.

Then I take her in, and she reminds me: “Mommy, when you get in the car, can you please turn it off so that… you know…” Yes, yes, I do know. You want the soundtrack to pick up exactly where we left off when I get you in the afternoon, so I shouldn’t listen to it on the drive home.

Because after getting three kids ready for school and listening to you sing about how love is an open door, what I really want to do is get back in the car and listen to the Frozen soundtrack all by myself.


Darwin awards

by emily on April 9, 2014

“What’s this,” I asked the employee striding through the produce section. I thought I knew, but I’d never seen it for real before.

She smiled. “It’s sugarcane.”

“So, um, what do you do with it? I mean, how do you eat it?”

“You have to peel it, but then you can suck on it. I love it.”

I tucked it into my cart. Benjamin has been asking a lot about sugarcane, and short of a trip to the Dominican Republic, this was his best chance to try the stuff.

When I got home, I put it in the fruit basket. For the rest of the day, as I did this and accomplished that, I had the tiny tingle of a surprise waiting for my kids, nestled up against some pedestrian apples and a few tired bananas. I expected Benjamin to notice it as soon as he got home. He’s pretty much always looking at or rooting through the fruit basket. But, the weather was nice, and he and Lilah wanted to play outside, so it was only when I told him to look at the fruit that he saw it.

“Is it bamboo?”


“Sugarcane! You got us sugarcane!”

Right there, in that delighted realization, I became the whimsical mommy, the one not afraid to bring home a totally irrational treat, just for the sheer what-the-fuckness of it. Sure, I run a tight ship and mornings around here are sort of like a live reenactment of a spreadsheet, but I bought the kids sugarcane! Just because.

After dinner, I tried to figure out how to peel it. That’s a thick damned piece of sugar with some really thick skin on it. And tough. Did I mention the tough thing?

I decided a sharp kitchen knife would be best. I wondered whether it was foolhardy to be trying to peel off this tough, thick, hard skin with a kitchen knife. I, in fact, worried I would cut myself. I’m not sure whether that makes it all better or worse.

Because, of course the knife slipped. And of course I cut myself. Badly. Deeply. On the knuckle. But not into the knuckle, so that was good. Silver lining and all of that.

“Zachary, go upstairs and find a Bandaid in my bathroom. Get Daddy out of bed if you have to.”

My husband, as luck would have it, had come home early from work with the flu. This turned out to be fortuitous when I started bleeding through the Bandaid. And then found myself feeling woozy, nauseous, and faint. I kept applying pressure to the rag on my finger while I sat on the couch for a few minutes. But then I got up. Because, you see, I still had the sugarcane to peel.

I want to state for the record here that I attended a very good college and have three graduate degrees. I’m hoping that mitigates some of the stupid you’re labeling me with about now.

Having decided that a knife wasn’t the best way to get the peel off, I proceeded to chop off the almost peeled section and then use my fingers and my teeth to pry off the rest of the peel. While trying to stanch my own blood.

After I’d shoved the piece I’d peeled at the children, I went and sat on the bathroom floor. In case I threw up. With my hand elevated above my heart. Wrapped in a rag.

“When you guys are finished with that, go up and brush your teeth,” I stammered through the door.

My husband tried to move into action, but I told him to get the hell away from the kids. See above: flu. I dragged myself upstairs and went over their teeth brushing with my right hand, because my left was still wrapped in a rag and elevated. Then I went and started calling people to take me to the doctor’s. Since driving while woozy seemed unwise. That’s where my common sense lies—somewhere between peeling sugarcane with a knife and driving while woozy.

My neighbor shoved his two kids into the car in like 12.5 seconds and came and got me. We could have done the same with our kids were either of us in any state to operate a motor vehicle at this point.

“Stay away from the kids,” I told my husband as I walked out the door. “Let them put each other to bed. You just do the dishes and communicate from a distance.”

The very nice people at my doctor’s office cleaned my knuckle, sewed it, and gave me a tetanus booster. Because you don’t realize it’s been six years since your last tetanus shot until you slice open your knuckle with a nine-inch kitchen knife.

So, here I am, two stitches later, in the same category as that fucking tool who gets third-degree burns on Thanksgiving when he deep fries a turkey. I’m also sleeping on the goddamned couch. See above: flu.


Luna Lovegood

April 8, 2014

She has decided of late that I should braid her hair in the mornings. “Without elastics at the top,” she specifies. “Like Laura.” “I don’t know how Ma did this every morning,” I said one day as I grappled with those slippery bits of hair attached to a wiggling child. “She had all those chickens […]

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March 14, 2014

Last year, a letter came home with the third-graders informing us that children were allowed to chew sugar-free gum during the MCAS, our own special state version of the Almighty Test, in order to help the kids concentrate. This year, Zachary came home delighted to inform me that not only would they be allowed to […]

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Wonder of Wonders

February 26, 2014

Something strange is happening around our house. Something strange and wonderful. Mysterious, too. Let us not forget “mysterious.” Something so weird, so unexpected, so—dare I use the word—magical that we’re afraid to trust it, to talk about it, even to look at it. Yes, that’s right. You guessed it. Zachary—star of the popular dinnertime show […]

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Read Across the House

February 24, 2014

“Just let me do your hair,” I told her. “And then you can keep reading.” She got up and obediently walked over to the bed, where I sat perched on the edge with a brush and some elastics. “Pigtails or pony?” I asked. I got no answer. She was reading. So, it’s official. I’ve pulled […]

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Small packages

February 23, 2014

There are three things—and possibly only three things—that my children have in common. They are very verbal, they are good readers, and they are little. I mean, tiny. This combination means that random strangers used to look at Zachary in bookstores and comment, “That book is bigger than you are.” Benjamin, our giant, tops out […]

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One of these things is not like the others

February 17, 2014

The snow was too heavy for the kids to shovel and the wind was whipping sizeable chunks of ice through the air, so I left the little people inside with the admonition that anyone who demonstrated that he couldn’t get along with his siblings would be brought outside to shovel with me. I’m going to […]

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I’m uncool

February 3, 2014

We went to Las Vegas to celebrate my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday a decade ago. Rose Aline loved Vegas, and until the day she died she played cards on a daily basis. Some people are just born cool. I was born uncool, and so what I saw in Vegas was not the excitement or the […]

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January 29, 2014

“That’s your territory,” I hear them telling her. The kids are in Benjamin’s room, building with Legos. There are Legos in other rooms of the house, but they all build in his room. Why have they all tacitly agreed that his room is the Building Zone? Most likely because it is the only activity pursued […]

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