Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Color of Bizarre

www.melindawentzel.comOf all places, it began in an obscure corner of a local pharmacy, with child in tow. My incapacitating infatuation with a certain hue of green paint, that is. Who does that? What sort of deranged mother follows a late night visit to an urgent care facility (due to excruciating ear pain of the youth variety) with a spontaneous and completely self-serving foray into the realm of household décor? This sort of deranged mother, apparently. One who was less concerned with the prospect of obtaining a curative pharmaceutical for her dear daughter than with the intoxicating possibility of acquiring said paint for a certain someone’s writing lair.

For the record, I didn’t intend to become smitten with the aforementioned hue whose algae-inspired essence was splashed over the entirety of the prescription drug enclave, beckoning to me unremittingly (like only pond scum pigmentation can). It just sort of happened and I could do nothing to resist. Indeed, the paint spoke to me.

Oddly enough, it spoke to my 11-year-old, too, whose blinding pain somehow evaporated as she stood before the wall of green, mesmerized by what appeared to be the world’s largest harvest of guacamole. Or seaweed. Possibly both.

“Mom, isn’t that the most awesome color you’ve ever seen?! It looks like frog spit and it would be PERFECT for your office! Plus it would cover up that lilac you’re so sick of, wouldn’t it?”

And at that, I was silenced. For this was the child who had refused to embrace the notion of change for as long as I can remember. The child who, on occasion, had launched visceral tirades in response to the mere suggestion of rearranging our living room furniture, never mind reordering her sock drawer or straightening the cushions upon our cussed couch.

God forbid we PAINT.

This could possibly explain my addled state and why I then became a disturbing source of fascination a terrible annoyance to the pharmacist, likely creeping her out with my shameless curiosity involving, of all things, latex paint.

“Can you tell me, ma’am, what shade of green that is?” I asked, pointing at the celebrated wall. “I know this sounds crazy, but I have to know. I’ve been wrestling with everything from gecko green to almost avocado, and now that I’ve gotten the go-ahead from our self-appointed Rule Captain,” I said, gesturing to my daughter who was clearly convinced that we should drop everything and paint, “I’d be stupid not to.” Translation: If I don’t jump on this project in the next ten minutes, my child, who is frighteningly obsessed with sameness, will forget she ever expressed an interest in said endeavor, dooming me to the horrors of a purple workspace for all eternity.

For a time, the woman stared blankly at the wall and then at me, probably wondering how I had eluded security at the mental hospital from whence I undoubtedly had come. She then shook her head (possibly making me appear less deranged and more pathetic), picked up the phone and dialed someone who might be inclined to house peculiar data involving the whereabouts of little known paint swatches. Naturally, I was taken aback, yet mildly intrigued by her willingness to help.

Then things got weirder. She began firing a barrage of questions in rapid-fire succession. What sort of room did I intend to paint…how many windows were contained therein…what sort of ambient light existed…had I ever considered using a complimentary color? Of course, this rendered me patently delirious. Here was a woman who recognized the desperation in my voice—a woman who could sense the dysfunction in my home—a woman who, at least on some level, understood what it was like to live with a tiny tyrant who stifled my every whim. Whims related to change, that is.

So when she actually tore a small chunk of paint off the wall, I was aghast—but in a good way. “Here, take this to the paint store. Maybe they can match it,” she offered, defining for me in so many glorious ways, the color of bizarre.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (poised to paint). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom. The content of this article, as it appears here, was previously published in the Khaleej Times.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Normal is Relative, Project Schmoject, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Have You Hugged a Book Today?

www.melindawentzel.comWe have a library in our house, which sounds slightly more impressive than it actually is. The area in question is far from a sprawling expanse littered with overstuffed chairs and an abundance of narrative gems. More correctly, our so-called library occupies a modest corner of our home—a place where a blue-checkered playpen once stood seemingly forever. Nevertheless, it is a space devoted to all-things-bookish. A small yet infinitely important enclave that exists for the sole purpose of fueling my children’s passion for reading. As it should be—during this National Reading Month of March, and always.

More than a decade has passed since we began gathering a hodgepodge of titles and piling them into some semblance of order there upon the floor of our living room. Tallest to smallest. Favorites within easy reach. A perfect mélange of new and not-so-new tales—thanks to having traversed this parenting path once before.

Naturally, said books would spill out into the room after a certain couple of somebodies (read: Thing One and Thing Two) raided the cache, leaving a trail of literary goodness in their collective wake. Never mind that only yesterday pillows and great herds of stuffed animals were dragged there and commissioned for the purpose of building reading “nests” and whatnot. Only recently have we been able to place the prized entities elsewhere (i.e. upon the honey-colored bookshelf that now inhabits the aforementioned corner—the one that boasts a cavernous www.melindawentzel.comwindow through which the morning sun pours almost without fail).

It is perhaps a bit more special given that the shelf itself was one that my husband had designed and built back in 1969. It was the high school shop project that seemed destined never to be finished. Lo and behold, the four-tiered wonder was completed and for some 40 years it lived in his childhood home. That’s where I first ogled its glossy, maple finish—along with a handful of teakwood carvings that sat upon its top shelf. A one-humped camel and an Asian elephant with a missing tusk. Keepsakes that hailed from afar. Treasures with which my children were enamored each and every time we visited Grandma.

I guess I never really thought about the notion of my mother-in-law not being there to witness their growing curiosity. Nor did I entertain the possibility of adopting her wooden bookshelf when she died—complete with the coveted carvings. Of course, they still sit atop the shelf, nodding approval with each book selection my charges make. Grandma would be pleased, I’m sure.

Likewise, I think she’d be pleased to learn of the strides her granddaughters have made since kindergarten, and how their love of books has flourished during that same wedge of time. No longer do they reach for bedtime favorites like Goodnight Moon, the brilliantly penned Where the Wild Things Are, the infinitely tender Guess How Much I Love You and the exceedingly palpable Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. Even Dr. Seuss (who would have been 109 this year!) has fallen out of favor with my brood.

Indeed, the pure and simple joy of picture books has been replaced by the all-consuming nature of chapter books—ones that invite my progenies to dwell for a time, deliciously entangled within the words on a given page. Needless to say, their tastes have grown more sophisticated, as has their command of vocabulary. That said, Thing One is completely smitten with The Hobbit, all-things-Harry-Potter and that which is disturbingly terrifying while Thing Two is fond of cookbooks and craft books, although she went through an interminable phase during which she would read nothing unless its plot somehow involved a godforsaken dog, a horse blessed with the ability to speak or a wretched hamster. Of course, they both feast voraciously upon the celebrated Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, practically anything ever written by Roald Dahl, Barbara Park or Kate DiCamillo, and sadly, the idiocy that is Captain Underpants.

All things considered, I deem my children’s journey as emerging readers to have been nothing short of remarkable, and I can’t help but feel indebted to those who’ve helped cultivate their enduring love of books—during this National Reading Month of March, and always.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with an abundance of books worthy of hugging…and barely able to breathe ever since a request was made for Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Bookish Stuff, Growing Pains