Tag Archives: madness

Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, I Think I’ll Eat Worms

Purely for the sake of argument, let us just say that I have a difficult child. One that unwittingly, yet ever-so-skillfully, drives me to the brink of lunacy as a matter of course—or to the recesses of a closet, where the din cannot follow and some semblance of my sanity can be reclaimed.

Granted, I love this child—and for the past nine years I’ve appreciated her uniqueness, her special gifts and her uncanny ability to make my heart smile even on the darkest of days. Oddly enough, though, she has trouble finding her smile at times—which is the crux of what makes her difficult, methinks.

Indeed, the aforementioned child is periodically consumed by negativity, self-loathing and doubt—not to mention the belief that pretty much everything in her life is decidedly horrible. From hair that won’t remain perfectly parted and math facts that refuse to be summoned to the wrinkly socks and days of the week that ostensibly hate her, she is tormented by all that is even remotely frustrating to the average fourth grader. And although she hasn’t explicitly uttered the phrase, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…I think I’ll eat worms,” most assuredly, she has thought it.

Needless to say, the local worm populace and I have seriously entertained the notion of fleeing to a faraway place so as to escape from the torrent of intolerableness that lives and breathes here whenever PESSIMISM comes to call (i.e. the epic meltdowns during which the seething child in question stomps and shrieks and writhes about in a fit of rage—whenever failure and disappointment lurk, whenever flexibility is in desperate need, whenever the Homework Monster rears its ugly head, making demands and finding fault). Moreover, the above-mentioned creature is disturbingly obsessed with sameness, given to self-contempt, to catastrophizing and to hostility—practically imploding while tackling that which is deemed too difficult or smacks of change. And alas, much of the time I am unable to pull her from the wreckage—demonstrating (yet again) my woeful ineptitude as a parent.

To be sure, that is the point at which I feel like a failure, fumbling around in the dark for a perfectly hewn snippet of speech that promises to remedy all that is ailing. The right words, as it were, are elusive at best, buried beneath volumes of discourse and drivel that fail to deliver. Granted, I’m not the only parent on the planet faced with such a challenge, and I need only turn to Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to be reminded. Given the title’s enormous popularity, I know that I am not alone as I endure the doom-and-gloom assertions that riddle my child’s thinking: “My life is ENTIRELY HORRIBLE!”, “My socks ABSOLUTELY HATE ME!” and “I’ll NEVER, EVER understand math, Mom!”

But, I am happy to report, what I’ve spelled out in horrific detail exists only in the distant past. The meltdowns that occur beneath this roof in the here and now are very nearly manageable—mostly, I’d surmise, because the gods have been smiling upon me this past year. Indeed, so many individuals (near and far, through church, school and the like) have had a hand in leading us to a better place—so much so that I can’t begin to express enough gratitude for their efforts.

Furthermore, I’ve been able to employ the sage advice of Dr. Tamar E. Chansky, author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking, which has been nothing short of a godsend. Translation: I devoured it three glorious times—gleaning something new and different with each successive read. In sum, it is a 295-page, 11-chapter gem-of-a-parental-resource jammed with a host of insightful observations, pragmatic strategies and user-friendly language that even I can exercise and understand. More specifically, my dog-eared copy (the one I keep at my bedside) has provided me with the tools necessary to better manage the daily barrage of “I’m stupid…my life is stupid…even my stupid hair is stupid” commentary to which I had grown far too accustomed. Further, Freeing Your Child has given me an abundance of skills—enough so that I might teach the smallish being I love so completely how to quell the angry beast within—even when I am not by her side, poised to pluck her from the unmerciful depths of negativity. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

That said, it’s likely the worms in this particular region are now safe—at least as it relates to human consumption.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (giving thanks to the locals who’ve been indescribably helpful and revering Tamar Chansky and her invaluable book, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Bookish Stuff, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, School Schmool, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Call Me Quirky

Contrary to popular belief, no one on earth is immune. Evvvvvverybody’s got ‘em. Quirks, that is. Some stranger than others. Some stranger than fiction.

Personally, I find the whole topic of idiosyncrasies remarkably intriguing. They fascinate me. What can I say—I’m easily amused. Good grief, I found being hurried to death in a restaurant so incredibly amusing that I was moved to write about it. So to be humored by good old-fashioned oddities almost makes sense. Almost. Call me quirky.

Perhaps my biggest curiosity stems from wondering where they come from in the first place. Do we arrive on the planet pre-wired for the development of certain eccentricities? “Okay, let’s see…this one will have blue eyes and will forever dot her i’s with little curlicues.” Is it somehow genetic? (Weirdness simply breeds weirdness). Or is it mostly influenced by our environment? (Monkey see, monkey do).

Who knows where such peculiarities originate? I don’t pretend to know. But what I can say for certain is that quirks are very real and are utterly brimming with entertainment potential. Think: “Felix Unger” (The Odd Couple) or “Monk” (of Monk). These guys have literally defined (and some would even argue, “glamorized”) the concept of quirkiness. Popularized it to a degree.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe each of us is eager for the limelight—striving for a slice of uniqueness that will set us apart from the throngs of ordinaries. Public bizarreness—that’ll definitely do it—famously, if done right. The next time you carpool for instance, try holding your breath and raising your knees to your chin whenever you cross a bridge WITHOUT anyone noticing. That’s just plain strange—quirkiness at its finest; but it’ll surely get you noticed. Or try this one: While standing at a busy checkout, lovingly ogle your stash of wheat-backed pennies and painstakingly organize all your bills, so that those stoic-looking characters you cart around in your wallet are all right-side-up and facing the same direction—not one-another. No doubt, you’ll get some queer stares—with or without a three-dollar bill.

Another one that gets me is when people meticulously wipe their silverware while dining out—which goes WAY beyond checking for dried food particles. If you ask me, it borders on the obsessive; as does the practice of methodically arranging individual lunch items in the same manner day in and day out…sandwich at six-o’clock, carrot and celery sticks at three and nine-o’clock respectively and Red Delicious at high noon. And how about those who can’t bear to consume anything “out of order?” Or those who won’t tolerate the peas and potatoes touching at dinnertime? We can’t have chummy vegetables now, can we? I suppose it’s no different than refusing to allow the blues and browns to mingle in a sock drawer. People would talk.

I especially enjoy watching individuals like my husband, who are absolutely compelled to “erase” a mid-air sketch, lest someone bump into it later—just hanging there in all its imaginary glory. It cracks me up each and every time I see him do it. Just for fun, I’ll scribble a “note” on this so-called canvas merely to watch him squirm when I leave it there. It kills him. I know it’s cruel, but I can’t help myself. Nor can I resist the temptation to hand Captain Quirk a plain, old ordinary pencil every so often—just to watch him cringe in disgust. You’d think I had offered a bucket of spiders or something. The man won’t go near one (mechanical variety excluded), since he finds them positively repulsive. Sharp, dull, freshly gnawed or in mint condition. Doesn’t matter. Won’t touch ‘em. In my opinion, it simply defies logic. Welcome to Quirkville.

Even dogs and cats suffer. Poor things. Ever watch them settle down for a nap or try to poo? Can’t do it unless they spin themselves into the ground first. Idiots. Even my kids have begun to show signs of budding peculiarities. One won’t run. Only gallops. Another didn’t blow her nose till she was 10. And the third strange child of mine refuses to eat sandwiches—period. Until yesterday, that is. Captain Quirk apparently offered up something so tasty even She-Who-Thrives-On-Rebellion couldn’t resist. Potato chip and jelly, in case you wondered.

I just HAD to snap a photo. It’s a quirk of mine.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (quirks and all).

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

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Filed under Captain Quirk, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Lipstick on a Pig

Today is Election Day and I am reminded, yet again, of the political poop that surrounds us. That said, it seems like only yesterday that the idiocy I am about to describe occurred.

Once again, the silly season is upon us and much of the voting public is consumed with all-that-is-political—namely, the dirt. As predicted, the media has succeeded in joining the fracas, muddying the waters by capitalizing on our inability to filter out the noise and by feeding our insatiable desire for entertainment. In sum, those self-serving spin-factories have made something of nothing yet again (i.e. an offhanded comment about slathering some swine with lipstick mushroomed into a circus-like event last week, causing an uproar which served to detract from the vat of filth that would ordinarily command our collective attention).

Naturally, the nothing (which is now officially something) was plastered everywhere imaginable—on the Internet, on my television screen, in my newspaper, in my car…across my kitchen table (Gasp!). Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

Most of my displeasure centered around the thoughtless nature (read: evil-spirited glee) with which newscasters delivered the juicy sound bites day and night—fueling the fire that would surely lead to mayhem in homes everywhere. Homes in which impressionable youths reside—the ones who would willingly (and oh-so-joyfully) embrace the notion of putting lipstick on a pig—or anything else, for that matter. As if my kids needed that gem of a seed planted firmly in their twisted little minds! “A PIG! What a marvelous creature to festoon with lipstick!” they likely pondered upon hearing it—scheming and dreaming of how such a clever ploy might be acted upon.

Good grief. Those tactless twits may as well have suggested flushing a bar of soap down the toilet (like my brother did!), putting rocks in the dryer or hiding a gallon of milk in the bowels of a closet—all completely absurd (yet infinitely viable) possibilities that exist among the gamut of that-which-is-downright-naughty.

That being said, my heathens have painted nearly every surface imaginable with (among other things) lipstick. Pink and purplish hues, more specifically, harvested from a make-up kit that I (in a moment of great weakness) purchased for them. Thus far, hapless targets have included the dog, our cats, their dolls, bears and Beanie Babies “…to make them more beautiful, Mommy, so they can get married.” Of course, I resisted the urge to inform, “A dab of lipstick does not a beautiful bride make,” tabling it for a later discussion. No doubt, at some point I’ll also be charged with explaining the infamous hockey-mom/pit bull commentary to my daughters as well as demystifying terms like glass ceilings and penis envy.

Joy.

As an added bonus (thank you very little), all this newsy-schmoozy foolishness regarding lipstick and whatnot has unearthed a bit of ugliness for which I am truly ashamed. Said mommy meltdown (which occurred several years ago and involved mass quantities of lip gloss, rouge and enraged shrieking) easily qualified as one of those utterly hideous events I’d prefer to put behind me. Forever.

Needless to say, it was not my finest hour when I happened upon my wily charges merrily decorating furniture, stuffed animals, mirrors and their entire bodies with the aforementioned sinful materials. I later learned that there was a method to their madness: the lions needed to wed (see paragraph five), certain penguins needed pink underpants, a select group of dinosaurs needed purple slippers, and because they had barricaded themselves in their bedroom and their hands were too slippery to turn the doorknob, they wiped all the glimmery, glammory gunk on their dressers and smeared it deep into the carpet fibers, careful to try and match the colors of the gunk with the colors of the rug. “How brilliant!” I should have recognized—only I didn’t view it as such then.

Up until that point in my parenting career, I didn’t know one could injure one’s throat by screaming. Nor did I expect the solid walnut slab of wood I slugged in my fit of rage to be more solid than the knuckles of my right hand.

However, I didn’t need X-rays to prove my idiocy. That was painfully clear. Even still, I am reminded of it each time I glance at my mismatched hands, one being a tad lumpier in the knuckle department than the other—now and forever. To add insult to injury, however, I had to hear, “Yep, it’s probably broken—but it’s too late to do anything,” from my friend, Drew, who also happens to be a doctor. “Ice should help,” he advised.

Perhaps you can put ice on an idiot. But it’s still an idiot.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, Political Poop, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

My Dog Ate My Homework and Other Tales of Woe

The afternoon began uneventfully enough. My motley crew leapt from the school bus like every other day and flung their backpacks into a crumpled heap at the curbside—a practice I’ve grown to tolerate over the years since it usually grants me a few delicious moments to myself. Moments during which my sole function on the planet is simply to watch them run circles around each other, screaming like a couple of banshees, weaving in and out of a grove of trees—ones that are routinely summoned to participate in their latest and greatest make-believe pirate or superhero drama. Indeed, it makes perfect sense to encourage said purging of the vat of pent up energy with which they seem to arrive home each day, and to be patient while they soak up every glee-filled ounce of childhood that is humanly possible. But on this particular day, it was all for naught.

Shortly after the beasts within were presumably tamed, the wheels flew off my Parenting Bus. Hubcaps and all. In perfect chorus, there were demands for snacks and demands for my attention, squabbles to settle and hostilities to halt, messes to manage and hurts to heal, slips to sign and studies to support. And all the while I tried to attend meaningfully to a conversation with a certain co-ed who decided to make landfall in this crazy place at this crazy hour—a hurried conversation about borrowing a sleeping bag due to the ridiculous prospect of driving hundreds of miles to a huge city where she’s never driven, to pitch a tent in Godknowswhatforest and CAMP IN THE FREEZING COLD with a bunch of like-minded bohemians she’s never met “…because it will be an adventure, Mom, and besides, I know at least one of them and I guess I’ll get to know the rest.”

Naturally, the toilet paper debate surfaced.

“You’ll need to pack some toilet paper, you know. And wool socks. Do you even have wool socks? How about long underwear? Have you thought about that?”

“No, Mom. I won’t need toilet paper. I have wool socks. And I won’t need long underwear in Virginia.”

“Yes you will.”

“No I won’t.”

And so the drama in our kitchen continued—until she had had enough of my former-resident-of-Virginia motherly advice and I had had enough of trying to deal with multiple crises of epic proportions. In retrospect, the crises themselves probably weren’t all that horrific or exceedingly unmanageable. But clustered together, into a consortium of tiny tragedies, they certainly felt genuinely oppressive—as if my world were collapsing all around me. Then the dog entered the fray (removing all doubt that my world had indeed collapsed), taking a sizeable chunk out of someone’s book—a book that belonged to the school—a book that I would ineptly try to resuscitate with massive quantities of tape and resourcefulness the next day. However, my resourcefulness met its match when I foolishly inquired as to where the rest of the gnawed upon morsels were.

“They’re in his belly, Mom. I was reading to him and then I went away and that’s when Jack decided to taste my book.” I only wish I had been present in school to witness the blow-by-blow explanation she surely offered her teacher, detailing the fate her hapless book had met. Clearly, any sentence that contains both the words dog and homework can’t hope to be well received by any teacher—even if those words happen to be delivered by a second grader with little or no expertise in the realm of conjuring lame excuses.

Unfortunately, the dog wasn’t alone in striving to complete his mission of destruction that afternoon. Apparently, my heathens were also bent on ruinous behavior. Case in point: while hurling their smallish bodies into oblivion (i.e. flinging themselves into an enormous leaf pile in the back yard again and again), not surprisingly, and horrendously, they collided. One cranium and one chin famously intersected in what appeared to be a valiant attempt to occupy the very same bit of earthly airspace. The laws of physics prevailed, however, resulting in equal and opposite reactions, largely manifested by an impressive-looking goose egg and a set of rattled teeth. After being smothered with kisses that were sure to cure all their ills, my sniveling combatants headed straight for the freezer to remedy their stupidity. Ice would be their companion for quite some time.

Even still as evening approached, said idiocy refused to leave our happy home. Our brood had settled nicely into what we assumed would be a civilized game of Jumpin’ Monkeys. But in a fit of rage, Thing One viciously stomped upon Thing Two’s brand spanking new glasses (that were lying on the floor AGAIN!)—twisting them hideously into a mangled mess, necessitating an immediate and gloriously lecture-filled trip to the eye doctor’s (read: our saving grace).

“She smooshed them, Mommy! On purpose! Just because I threw her stupid, stinking monkey!”

And so our tales of woe continued. Thankfully not every day is so abundantly eventful.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

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Filed under Bookish Stuff, Daily Chaos, Doggie Diamonds, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Rantings & Ravings, Smother May I?, The Woman-Child, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to October

September’s here—and almost gone. The kids are back at school now, merrily soaking up all the bookish stuff their impressionable little craniums can possibly hold, making friends, making adjustments and making sense of this nonsensical place. And they’re eager—oh-so-eager—to share that brimming cache of newfound information, to enlighten those of us who might not otherwise know that “Infinity’s the biggest number there is, Mommy; but you can’t count that high.” I’ve also been informed that a certain lad attempts to burp at least as many times before the school bell rings. Color me enlightened yet again.

Quite honestly, the best part of my day involves listening to their exciting exploits as first graders. There is a certain richness and innocence to it, and a quality of mystery and intrigue beyond being privy to all-that-is-meaningful and newsworthy to a six-year-old. In the past several weeks, I’ve learned about new additions to the playground. New faces on the bus. Automatic “water spencers” in the restrooms. Sightings of a beloved kindergarten teacher in the hallways. The cafeteria food and its ever-frenzied mass consumption. Usually our discussions take place over something meatloafy or potatoish at the dinner table. My husband chimes in, too, adding yet another element of adventure to the mix. Life as a high school principal is far from dull, I’ve been told; although nothing thus far has topped the Sir Burps-A-Lot blurbage. I doubt that anything will before June.

The highlights of my day, however, often pale in comparison. Tales of wading through Legos and laundry, both in dire need of being restored to their rightful places in the Universe, seem dreadfully uninteresting by contrast. Sprinkle in the vast array of irksome conversations I’ve held with telemarketers, the meltdowns I’ve had over computer difficulties and the countless tirade-like soliloquies I’ve delivered to the Barbies and plastic dinosaurs that reign supreme in this household and you have a rough estimate of just how stimulating my day truly is. The mornings I wrestle with writer’s block or the notion of dusting a piece of furniture or hauling the lost but not forgotten vacuum from the bowels of a closet (many times, just for show) are particularly exhilarating. Add to that my duties as Flip-Flop Finder and it’s hard to imagine I’d ever be bored.

But amidst the tedium I have reclaimed my freedom—that priceless commodity for which I longed all summer. Yes I have. And there is something to be said for that, despite the homework, the crammed-to-capacity after-school calendars and the impossible bedtime routines each school year brings. June, July and August—home 24/7 with my needy charges—serve to remind me that I love autumn. Oh yes I do. Crisp mornings, sun-baked afternoons, soccer games (a new wrinkle this year!) and children (mine especially) boarding that bright and shiny school bus each day are wondrous events. Off they go to the glorious Land of First Grade—situated conveniently near the Land of Kindergarten, to which we all grew so fond just a short time ago.

So for all intents and purposes, I am thrilled with what has transpired in the past month. Euphoric over my current liberated state. Reunited with my marbles—yet again.

But a funny thing happened on the way to October. As I trekked that familiar path, I discovered something quite remarkable—there is bitter amidst the sweet. Indeed, I am torn between feelings of sheer joy and elation over my newly bestowed chunk of non-mommy time and abject woe over the realization that I miss my kids beyond all words and understanding. There. I said it. I’m a guilt-ridden, mawkish piece of milquetoast who ought to remind herself of the times her children drove her to the brink of lunacy and despair—one gray hair at a time. But what I ought to do and what I can do are often two entirely different things.

Truth be told, I want the best of both worlds—to have in my possession unmitigated freedom from mommy duties AND the opportunity to be a mommy to my children at the same time. Unfortunately, that’s not an option in this world. Nor is rewinding September.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, School Schmool

Finding the Right Words

So much of raising a child involves dissemination. Of wisdom and information, of values and inspiration, of penalties and praise. And let us not forget the mother of all parental offerings: Car keys and cold, hard cash. 

Band-Aids, too. Lots of Band-Aids are meted out over the span of two decades or more.

But it seems the real challenge for parents involves finding the right words and ensuring that our messages are, in fact, delivered—especially when fate hands us the tough stuff. Death and disappointment. Failings and frustrations. Tension and turmoil. Indeed, the stormy seasons of life are when we are tested most.

And so often I feel shamefully deficient in this department—as if I can’t string a coherent sentence together when it really counts. Like when my kids are consumed by negativity, self-loathing and doubt, or when I’m riddled with a barrage of questions for which there are no answers. That is the point at which I fumble and fish for a snippet of speech that promises to soothe what is unsettled, to mend what is broken and to provide what is sorely needed. The “right words,” as it were, are elusive at best, buried beneath volumes of discourse and drivel that fail to deliver.

Case in point: One of my charges became hostile and practically imploded while tackling her homework not long ago. And alas, I was unable to pull her from the wreckage—demonstrating (yet again!) my woeful ineptitude as a parent. The outburst from hell unfolded thusly.

Evidently, my child left the Land of Composure and in a fit of rage choked the life out of her pencil while attempting to obliterate what was apparently a mistake on her homework paper. I watched in horror as she very nearly rubbed a hole in the place where a poor, defenseless math problem once lay unsullied and without fear of retribution. As her face grew redder and her utterances more guttural, I realized then and there that my parenting skills (or lack thereof) would soon be called into question. I needed the right words and I needed them fast.

I paused briefly before saying anything inordinately daft, hoping against hope that I would somehow stumble upon the perfect parental response to such belligerence. Would a bit of humor, compassion or punishment do? Perhaps ignoring her hideous behavior made more sense. Or a distraction—maybe I needed some sort of outlandish distraction in order to effectively calm the beast within. At any rate, I hadn’t a clue what would work. So I took a stab at the impossible task, wending my way through the tangle and torrent of emotions.

Me: “Hey, what’s with all the erasing? You’re going to light the place on fire if you keep that up,” I teased—all the while wondering how long it would take before her eraser neatly ate through the varnish on my table.

Child: “I’m STUPID,” she groused. “It was an ADDITION problem and I did SUBTRACTION. So now I have to erase it and start all over again. Grrrrr….”

Me: “Oh, I see,” I offered lamely. “So you messed up. Anyone can mess up,” I continued.

Child: “Yeah, but I had to borrow and trade and all this other stuff FOR NOTHING. I did ALL THAT WORK…FOR NOTHING! It was a big waste of time!” she spat, literally seething with anger.

Me: “But think of the benefit of practice!” I cheered. “You practiced your subtraction skills! Which helps you improve! So it wasn’t a waste after all!”

Child: Silence.

Me: “You practice dribbling a soccer ball, don’t you? And that makes you better. You practice gymnastics routines, and that makes you better, too, right?” I quizzed, banking on pure logic to drive home my point.

Child: Rolls eyes and gives me a dour look—one that suggests she’s thoroughly annoyed with my existence.

Me: “Tell me I’m not right,” I challenged. “Practically everything you do in this life could be classified as practice and helps you improve!” said the self-appointed Glee Club Captain.

Child: “Oh, yeah, WHAT IF I CHEWED ON MY TOES?! Is that PRACTICE, huh?! Does that make me a better TOE CHEWER or something?! Hrrrmph.”

At this I was stumped—and likely agape. I had no snappy comeback on the tip of my tongue, no nugget of wisdom lurked in my mind and there were no viable arguments that could be summoned in my defense.

Once again, the right words were nowhere to be found. So I crawled back in my box, wondering how much more PRACTICE I might need to get this parenting thing down.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (forever searching for the right words).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Rantings & Ravings, School Schmool, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Small Potatoes

My husband and I argue over some of the most inane things on the planet—like the cubic circumference of vegetable chunks I add to meatloaf. Like whether or not ketchup ruins said meatloaf. Like whether to twirl or cut (Gasp!) linguini. How to open an envelope. Seriously. To tuck (or not tuck) sheets. How the bills ought to be arranged in one’s wallet. Whether one should carry a wallet at all. How the lawn ought to be mowed. The laundry, folded. The driveway, shoveled. Whether it’s eggshell or ecru. Let or leave.

It’s small potatoes really. All of it. So is the idiocy at the very core of our latest and greatest debate—the matter of dealing with poo. More specifically, dog poo. Round and round we go each day—wrangling over the wisdom of carrying a trusty Ziploc bag, a wad of Kleenexes and a teensy-weensy bottle of Purell on our jaunts with Jack, “just in case” he makes a deposit where he ought not to make a deposit (i.e. in someone’s lawn, driveway or smack in the middle of our heavily-trodden street).

I, for one, think it’s ludicrous to lug said poopie paraphernalia around. It’s entirely unnecessary, completely assumptive and downright spineless to plan for the disaster that may, in fact, never occur. The Boy Scout I married, however, begs to differ. Mister Preparedforanythingandeverything insists that traveling with hand sanitizer and a sandwich baggie (turned inside-out for added convenience) is one of the most sensible and socially responsible things a dog owner can do. So much for living on the edge, throwing caution to the wind and prudence under the bus. And never mind the off chance that Mister Fuzzypants could indeed do his business right where we want him to—making the whole blasted issue a nonissue.

Unlike the man who could likely produce anything in an instant (from biodegradable camouflage toilet paper to a fingernail file), I’d like to think I identify more closely with the rebels of the world—like the cool jocks in tenth grade who never wore coats, brown-bagged it or carried an extra pencil to class. They traveled light to and from their celebrated lockers. So do I—at least when I walk the dang dog. No namby-pamby foolishness encumbers me. Nope. What’s more, I refuse to be hampered by a pooper-scooper device (i.e. a glorified burger flipper in which the “gift” can be both housed and transported efficiently). Besides, I’m resourceful—some would even argue eco-friendly—when it comes to dealing with poo, and I don’t need some fancy-schmancy gizmo to master the mess my dog makes. Not when perfectly good oak and maple leaves are at my disposal.

At least that’s what I used to think—before disaster rained down on me like a scourge during one of those merry excursions around the block late last fall. As luck would have it, Jack felt compelled to unload in someone’s immaculately manicured lawn; and despite my insistence that that was not an especially good idea, the little miscreant did it anyway. I was then faced with a supreme challenge: to somehow scoop it up (with leaves that were nowhere to be found), move it across the street (careful not to drop it or the leash which was tethered to the dog, now wild with delirium over his recent doo-doo success) and fling it deep into the brush—where no one, ostensibly, would trod upon it. It was a tall order, indeed. And although I doubt there was an audience, the scene had to have been indescribably amusing as it unfolded frame by humiliating frame.

Frantically I searched the vicinity for the leaves that were EVERYWHERE just days before, settling for what I could find—some pathetic-looking scraps of leafy matter with which I planned to wrap those nuggets of repulsiveness, still warm and disgustingly steamy. Of course, nothing went smoothly. The foul matter in question refused to cooperate, hideously fusing itself to the grass and failing to remain intact as I gathered and scraped in vain. Naturally, this necessitated that I shuffle across the road not once, but SEVERAL times, hunched over my stench-ridden prize as if it were the last lit candle on earth.

All the while, my silly dog danced and pranced alongside me, hopelessly entwining my legs with the leash, thoroughly convinced that I was playing some sort of twisted version of Keep-Away. Needless to say, pieces of poo kept dropping onto the pavement behind me—a Hansel and Gretel trail of repugnance that mocked my efforts, sorely lacking though they were. I had no choice but to painstakingly pick them up and hurl them into oblivion along with the rest of the gunk—all the while preventing the dog from snatching them out of my hand or chasing them into the brush. Eventually, the deed was done. There was but a tiny reminder of the episode lingering on my fingertips and aside from the humiliation I suffered, I had escaped relatively unscathed.

Indeed, small potatoes.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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