December 7, 2018
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
As the kids have gotten older, their ability to express themselves has become more detailed and intricate. They’re able to use a much more expanded vocabulary to pinpoint what they feel and why. They’re able to reason and rationalize complicated ideas.
And then sometimes…
While driving them to their music lessons on Monday, somehow the girls entered an unspoken agreement to let their conversation devolve into the Realm of the Ridiculous. The following is the exchange as it happened. One minute we were chatting about every-day things. The next…
Twelve: “Mamma, she’s paining me!”
(Me: No response.)
Twelve: “Mamma, she’s paining me!”
Ten: “You’re a pain!”
Twelve: “You’re a pain!”
Ten: “No, you’re a pain!”
Twelve: “You’re paint!”
Yes, I’d managed to stay quiet throughout the entire conversation. If we can call it that. I think we can. According to the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a conversation is: “[an] oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas.”
This fit—kind of. But wait! There’s more.
After a few seconds of silence, Twelve took her turn. In a stage whisper, to her sister she said, “How come she isn’t saying her lines?”
“Maybe that’s not the scene we’re doing today,” Ten replied.
“But that’s the one we decided on,” Twelve said.
They kept going back and forth about what “scene” had been chosen. I didn’t say anything. After another exhortation by Twelve, I finally responded.
“In the parenting world, if you can learn to ignore the kids completely by the time they turn five years old, they give you a gold medal.”
“Where’s yours, huh?” Twelve said, a touch of snark in her voice. “Oh, wait, you didn’t get one, did you?”
“Oh, I did, but we’re not allowed to display them,” I quipped. “It’s not good for the kids’ self-esteem.”
That, and it fell behind the fridge when I was trying to hide my medal for “Tolerating absolute craziness.” But I didn’t to tell the kids that. I’d hate to, you know, take the conversation in a wild direction.
Last week, as I took Ten to her cello lesson, she made a confession.
“Di-Di doesn’t want me to tell you this, but she really doesn’t like the fruit rope thingys you give us,” she said.
Confession, tattling; two sides, same coin.
Her admission surprised me, though. The “fruit rope thingys” in question come from the Clif Bar company. The last time I tried one of their nutrition bars for adults, I wondered whether eating the cardboard from a shoebox would taste better.
Their kids’ products taste MUCH better. Why do kids get snacks that are so yummy, and yet adults don’t? It’s like we’re being punished for growing up, despite the fact that we’re the ones who possess the spending power.
But I digress.
When the kids were younger, they loved the bars for kids from Clif as well as their fruit rope. We went through dozens of boxes through the years, but they are pricey so I don’t buy them too often. I found the fruit rope on sale recently, however, and picked up a few boxes thinking Twelve and Ten would ravish them again.
Now I was hearing the dark secret from my younger daughter: her older sister had relegated an item from her childhood to…well, her childhood.
“Why doesn’t she want you to tell me?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Ten said. “But now that I’ve told you, maybe you can keep putting them in her lunch.”
“If she doesn’t like them, why would I do that?”
“So she can give them to me,” Ten said, smiling in triumph. I heard it in her voice as we pass through an intersection and realized this was as much a ploy to claim the fruit rope for herself as to tell on her sister.
“But don’t tell her I told you,” she went on.
“Okay,” I said, “but I’m not going to put them in her lunch just so you can have them.”
“Aw, man,” she said at the thwarting of her plot.
This week, after a long day of school, homework, and extracurricular activities, we gathered to eat dinner and share what happened during the day. Twelve found herself tripping over her words a few times. At one point she grinned at me across the kitchen counter.
“I can’t English today,” she said.
I know how she feels. There are plenty of days I can’t English either. In fact, there are too many days where I can’t at all; that’s why I write.
Since reading the entire Harry Potter series, Twelve has become obsessed with the books. She thinks and talk about Harry Potter. Lately she’s also been begging for Harry Potter “merch,” although why she can’t just say “merchandise” is beyond me.
I’ve ordered a couple of things for her for Christmas, but like anything hot the prices rise pretty dramatically when the items become more unusual. Thanks to the good folks at Pottery Barn and their set designers, every piece of Harry Potter-labeled merchandise looks incredibly attractive. When I turned Twelve down on some of the pricier items, she came up with a new game plan: homemade merchandise. Or merch.
On Wednesday morning before school, Ten picked up a small squat bottle I had rinsed out to put in the recycling bin.
“This is such a cute bottle,” she said.
“I know, right?” I replied. “I would have kept it, but I can’t figure out what to do with it.”
“I could put feathers in there and say they’re my phoenix feathers,” Twelve added helpfully.
I gave her a Look. “Um, no.”
“Hey, it’s better than me filling the jar with water and calling them phoenix tears.”
“Better, yes,” I said. “Still, no.”
Of course, she’s not aware of the fact that friends and family will most likely shower her with her beloved “merch” this holiday season. She’ll get to enjoy it soon enough. And water from a tap turned into phoenix tears? Really??