The first egglien spaceship arrived in the docking bay. Close behind it was a second, this one with a more elaborate antenna, and an eye :
The hatch opened.
The eggliens had arrived,
bringing with them a unique and unforeseen dilemma:
How do you convince your kids to eat an egg that is looking at them? An egg upon which they painstakingly placed the eyes and hair themselves?
And am *I* going to have to eat twenty-two hardboiled eggliens in secret, all by myself?
“We never, NEVER go potty in the cup holder of the car seat!”
* * *
(And for those of you trying to imagine Gbot dropping his pants in the backseat on I-10, I’ve transcribed a play-by-play account of what actually occurred:
1. Husbot brings a car seat from truck into the house. Its final destination: the Bot-mobile. Husbot exits.
2. The bots and I make a special-day chocolate pudding & marshmallow pie. I had no idea what a special day it would be. The bots crush the graham crackers for the crust with spoons in a large plastic bag. “Are we done yet?” “No.” “Now are we done?” “No.” “Hey,” notes Mbot. “This looks like diarrhea.” The pie goes in the fridge to cool.
3. The bots and I go to the pool to cool. We splash, we swim, we pretend we are all Batgirls. “No I’m Batgirl and you’re Batboy,” says Gbot. “But I’m already Batgirl,” says Mbot. “I know! We can be sisters.”
4. Retransformed into bots, we go back inside. I instruct bots to remove sandals and swim trunks at the door. Not so easy: there are ties to be untied and many distractions. Like the car seat on the floor.
5. I drop my wet suit, throw on dry clothes, and rush to the kitchen to whip the cream for the top of the pie while issuing instructions to go potty before we go to Grandma’s.
6. I tell Mbot eight times to put on his underpants. Gbot is singing a song about Mr. Rabbit whose ears are mighty white.
7. I tell Mbot to put on his underpants again and rush across the room to rescue the pie from crashing to the kitchen floor under his adventurous fingers. I issue only one of apparently two necessary orders: “Do not touch the pie.”
8. I try to get Gbot into a diaper instead of underpants, just in case. He is babbling something about pottying in the cup holder. The statement lodges loosely in my mind on top of the information about Mr. Rabbit’s white ears.
9. I pull Gbot’s shorts and t-shirt on. I make the executive decision: no shoes. We are in a hurry, and who needs the extra work?
10. I help Mbot into his underpants. I pop a shirt over his head. He sits down on his shorts. I pull them out from under him and hold them out. He puts them on.
11. I rush back to get the pie. I open the door. I sling my bag over my shoulder, pick up the pie, usher bots out the door, quickly now, because we don’t want the 98 degree heat to rush in, and pick up the car seat by the top of its two shoulder straps. I take two lurching steps over the threshold. My leg and foot are doused in lukewarm liquid.
12. Gbot’s statement about pottying in the cupholder is flushed to the fore. I drop the seat. I make sure the bots aren’t running into the parking lot. I return inside to put the pie down in an ant- and bot-free zone. I approach the car seat.
13. Gbot, good for his word, has filled the cupholder half full.
That’s when I said those words I never thought I’d say, and go stick my foot in the sink.
The rest is denouement. Although I wiped it down with rubbing alcohol, I made Gbot sit in the pottyish car seat. He said he liked sitting in the pottyish car seat.
I wanted to remove pie-eating privileges, but what good would that have done? Pie and potty. Potty and pie. If you sing it to the tune of “Max and Ruby,” the morning after, it’s actually kind of catchy.
But I’m left cringing, wondering about the next thing I’ll say that I’d never thought I’d say.
It is fascinating to me that when I search Google Images for “tomatoes smashed on a door,” pictures of homemade bruschetta, a bowl of soup, a hornworm, and a mean-looking cartoon Viking come up on the first page, but no actual tomatoes smashed on a door.
After I purchase the memory chip to put in my phone to replace the one that disappeared from my desk last week, I will change all that. The appearance of tomatoes on my door and the disappearance of electronics from my desk help to explain where I’ve been for the past seven days, which is obviously not in front of my computer posting tips and tales from parenting, writing, and life, as my business card promises.
For the past seven days, I have been attempting to adapt to just-turned-four-year-old Mbot’s second week of his second year of preschool. For Mbot, it seems to be going very nicely. And for that I am thankful. For me and almost-three-year-old Gbot, some days are better than others. Some days, we build impressive MagnaRepTiles (I would show you a picture, but it’s stuck in my phone.) Some days, we go to the Y, where I am summoned off the treadmill prematurely because my younger half put his tooth through his lip under a table in the playroom. Some days, we play in the pool, where Gbot wants nothing to do with actual swimming, or even bobbing, but instead insists on playing catch with a SquiDiver for an hour from the cooling comfort of the steps. Other days, I try to work. Like today.
I had a lot to do. I was behind. Very behind. Husbot was in the bedroom getting dressed for a meeting. I let Gbot play by himself while I stared into my computer screen begging it to take me back.
Over the monitor, out of focus, I saw Gbot playing handball against the bedroom door with the half-deflated mini soccer ball I’d thought I’d left in the car. “How good he is at entertaining himself!” I thought, pleased. “And thank heavens, because I’m so behind.” I listened to the rhythmic, gently “Thump. Thump. Thump,” as he played. Every once in a while it would stop, and I’d see him race across the living room, out of sight because I didn’t bother turning my head, and then it would start again.
I was deep in mid-edit when Husbot opened the bedroom door. “Did you see this?” he asked in what seemed an overly alarmed tone.
“What?” I asked. “Gbot’s been playing ball against the door.”
“With tomatoes,” he replied.
I snapped to attention.
Had I already forgotten that earlier that morning while signing Mbot into school, and while all the other children had been milling around interacting with other humans, the Bots had gotten double time-outs for conducting a hands-on investigation of the office paper cutter?
I leapt to the scene of the present crime and yes! It was true! The vine-ripened tomatoes that had been on the high counter were now splattered up and down the bedroom door and across the floor. It looked like a murder scene.
The slipcover on the arm chair which he climbed and on whose arm he stood to reach the tomatoes will have to be removed and washed.
The velvet and beaded silk throw quilt responded surprisingly well to dabbing with water.
We will have pasta sauce with canned tomatoes.
I will have a glass of wine.
And I will continue working–and working toward serenity tomorrow. Thank goodness the tomatoes are gone.
Readers know that I’m not generally one to hand out recipes. There’s always someone out there who knows more or figured it out more scientifically.
But I find that I’m becoming, quite to my surprise, a pancake expert. I add things to pancakes: Bananas. Applesauce. Carrots. Zucchini. Yams. Wheatgerm. Flaxseed. Ground oats. Ground almonds. I think only one experiment was an unredeemable disaster but I can’t remember which one. Although, in an uncharacteristic turn of discipline and documentation, I usually write down the recipes while the bots are making them disappear, and I usually write them down accurately.
This morning, faced with half a sixteen-ounce container of spinach from last week’s Costco run (do you KNOW how much a pound of spinach is? It’s roughly a billion servings. More when I’m the only one eating it. Eating it alone was not the plan), I decided that I would no longer eat my spinach alone.
So I got out my trusty Joy of Cooking, the one with fifteen different variations scribbled on the “pancakes” page. If I had been in charge of naming this book, it would be called The Necessity of Cooking: Striving for Gratification. As I’ve mentioned (see Muffins McBot, Or, You’re Stepping On My Habit), I enjoy baking much more; it’s zennish, except when it’s punctuated with battle cries and calls for Dora bandaids.
Pancakes fall somewhere between cooking and baking. They’re cakes, but they’re cooked in a pan. What makes them a good target for slipping in nutritious, vitamin-filled ingredients the bots have shunned in other contexts is simple: sugar. I add honey–preferably local honey, because it’s supposed to help with allergies. Makes sense to me. Then I dab them with Vermont maple syrup. Which isn’t supposed to help with any allergies but really, who cares?
Even A.A. Milne wrote a poem about eating peas with honey. If he’d thought of it, I’m sure there would be a follow-up verse about spinach with chocolate.
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- About 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach (or 1/3 cup frozen), cooked & pureed (as my nut grinder has coffee beans in it and my food processor is too big, I just used a pizza cutter to slice-‘n’-dice the hell out of it).
- 2-3 T honey (or brown sugar)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (these proportions can be varied)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- a few dashes cinnamon
- a handful of chocolate chips
Stir together the liquid ingredients, stir in the dry ingredients. Heat griddle on medium-low with a tiny bit of butter on it. Ladle the batter on, then drop 4 or 5 chocolate chips onto each pancake. When bubbly, flip and cook for another minute.
These don’t even need any syrup. Gbot’s review: “I yuv dese pan-cakes.”
After breakfast, I pile the leftovers into stacks of four and freeze. They reheat fabulously in the microwave. And leftovers are my new favorite food. Look ma, no cooking!