Latest Spurts: Plot twists and backseat radio complaints

January 13, 2017

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

Since coming back from the holidays, we’ve all struggled just a bit to get back into our regular routine. Staying up late at night with family and friends during vacation means it’s been hard to sleep at school-day bedtimes. Which means all of us at some point or the other have walked around complaining we’re tired.

Or just offering evidence of it.

The other morning the girls sat at the counter eating their breakfasts before school, and I trotted around the kitchen assembling ingredients and items to pack their lunches. I went into the pantry, took two steps past the pantry door, and realized I’d forgotten something. When I turned back to re-enter the pantry, I misjudged the distance between the door and me. So I almost ran into it, and I’m sure my face showed just how confused I felt that the door was clearly not where I thought it should be.

“Wake up, Mommy,” Ten said, a huge grin stretching ear to ear.

“I am awake,” I grumbled good-naturedly.


On Tuesday as I drove Eight home from her group cello lesson, we listened in companionable silence to the radio. Both girls know how much I love Adele. Ten will tolerate my turning up the volume at any Adele song, but Eight makes sure to express that she doesn’t approve. As much of the loud volume as the choice of song itself.

(I guess it doesn’t help that she knows I’m totally making it up when I say that Adele is my best friend, that I talk to her regularly on the phone, and that she sings the ridiculous songs I make up for the kids on the radio. Only, of course, when the girls are in school and can’t listen to the radio to hear Adele singing my songs.)

When Adele’s Water Under the Bridge came on, for once Eight didn’t say too much as I sang along. The song after that didn’t really interest me, so I switched stations and immediately found Richard Marx’s Right Here Waiting. So I stayed on that station—I managed to catch the song just as the chorus was beginning for the first time!—and sang along again.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Eight said. “You got to have your second pick of a song.”

Okay, maybe it was a little unfair. But…it was Richard Marx. And Right Here Waiting.

Besides, I was driving. Driver gets to pick the radio station. Everyone knows that.

“This sounds like an old song,” she said, her voice approaching whining territory.

Right after Richard Marx, we heard the waterfall-like opening bars of Human Nature by Michael Jackson. Another great song. Another great opportunity to sing.

Another chance for Eight to complain. Maroon 5 started Misery, but I finally gave in to the wishes of the back seat and switched the radio station. She piped down after that.

Just wait until she starts driving and I get to complain about whatever noise she and her sister will be listening to at that point.


This weekend we’ll be hosting some of my husband’s work colleagues. Yesterday as we drove to school, Ten asked, “What time is the dinner party?”

I told her, and Eight said, “Oh, great. That’s when everyone will be pinching my cheeks again.”

“No, they won’t,” I said. I refrained from saying that cheek pinching is generally what happens to younger children—as in, four or five years old—but I knew that might lead into a discussion about the cuteness factor of young little kids versus older little kids. Given that we would reach school in less than five minutes, I didn’t know if I had enough time to get into it and reassure Eight that she was still adorable at any age.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to say anything else. Ten explained everything perfectly.

“They won’t pinch your cheeks,” she declared confidently. “Pinching cheeks is so last year.”

Here’s hoping all of the guests know of the possible social faux pas they’ll be committing if they raise a hand with fingers shaped like pincers.


One morning the girls and I talked about our favorite Charlie Brown characters.

“Lucy,” Ten said, kicking off the list. “Even though she always gets so frustrated. And do you know one time Schroeder sent a Valentine to his piano?”

“I like Sally,” Eight said, and I could hear the smile in her voice from behind me in the car as we drove to school.

“We know who she sent a Valentine to,” Ten said.

“My sweet Baboo!” I replied.

“You know what would be a plot twist?” Ten said. “If she only liked Linus for his blanket.”

“That would be a plot twist,” I said.

We’re thinking plot twists already. Oh my. Anyone have a nickel I could borrow? I might need to see Lucy for a consultation.


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