Chart Number 225

August 19, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

We all have them, those pet phrases that come out of our mouths so often at our kids that it’s almost on autopilot. Sometimes the phrases can come out at the funniest of times.

In an effort to encourage the kids to start taking more responsibility in the kitchen, I tell them to help themselves at mealtimes instead of waiting for someone to hand them something. If they want another helping or need a napkin or a bowl for something, my response usually is, “Can you please get it?” If the girls are having a hard time listening for whatever reason, I usually follow up my request with, “This is not a restaurant.”

They’ve heard me say this so often that sometimes I wonder if the words really do register. But I found out that they actually do. On a Saturday afternoon during our recent trip to South Carolina, we went out to lunch with my parents and some of their friends. The meal was buffet style, and Ten followed her father to the end of the line. She hung back, and my husband grabbed a plate and started to hand it to her.

“[Ten], you can get your own plate,” I said, “this is not a…”

She grinned at me as did her sister who stood right behind her, and I had to grin back.

“Really, Mommy?” Ten jibed. “This is not a restaurant? All right-y then.”

“Mommy says this is not a restaurant,” Eight said with glee. “I wonder who made all this food then.”

Yeah, yeah, everyone’s a comedienne.

*****

We’ve watched the Olympics with the same keen interest as the rest of the country these last couple of weeks. In particular the girls have enjoyed the gymnastics, swimming, and diving events. But even I didn’t know just how closely they’d been watching the diving until we drove to their music lessons on Monday.

As I usually do, I put my purse on the passenger seat when we got into the car. I forgot to hook the straps of my purse over the arm rest, so when I pulled the car to a stop at a red light my purse tipped forward and did a perfect somersault onto the floor.

“I give that a ten-point-oh,” Ten called from the back.

“Really?” I asked. “Thanks!”

Because the red light was a little long, I reached down and grabbed my purse. This time I put it on the seat and managed to hook the straps before the light turned green.

“Yes, that was an amazing dive,” Eight said, picking up her sister’s commentary. “Let’s see what the purse does for its second dive.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s going to be able to go for another one,” I said.

Neither of them listened to me, extolling the virtues of that first and only dive in the Purse Olympics and wondering just what great feats the competitor next to me would perform next. Maybe the lesson is that while not everyone can become an Olympic champion, the roles of armchair judge and commentator don’t require the same level of skill. Or even attention to detail.

*****

On the way back from music that afternoon, Ten made an announcement.

“I want to be in the news. I want to do something that will make me famous.”

I didn’t know what to say for a moment. I mean, I know my older child likes to perform and thrives onstage. But I had no idea she harbored this ardent desire for fame.

“Well, do you want to be famous for who you are or what you do?” I asked.

“What’s the difference?”

“There are some people who are famous because they’re related to other celebrities or who they know,” I said. “After a while people kind of forget them and then they have to do crazy things to stay famous. People who are famous for what they do…”

“I want to be famous for what I do,” she said right away.

“Then you should do something to help the world,” Eight said right away.

“Um, okay,” Ten said. “But what should I do?”

We talked through some ideas for a little while. Ten tossed out one idea after another. Before I could say anything to most of them, her sister reminded her that the whole idea was to perform acts to benefit society as a whole.

“What if I helped a little old lady across the street?” Ten said.

“Where are you going to find a little old lady?” I asked, trying to suppress a chuckle.

“What if we put something in the news to ask for all the little old ladies in the world to show up in the same place, and then when they come I can just help them across the street one at a time?”

Something about the thought made all three of us giggle, and for the next few minutes we joked about Ten’s grand scheme to help the senior citizens of our small town make their way from one side of a pedestrian walkway to another. Soon enough Ten got tired of joking and went back to her scheme to become a celebrity. I hope, though, that if she does persist with the idea of fame, it’s for what she does. What she contributes. For how she helps others.