Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The naked truth: This is why my friends always invite me back

You wish you had a friend like mine, or maybe you do. She goes to the local farm every week and walks around thinking things like, "Wow, the strawberries look great, what a good price, too! I bet Julie would sure like some!"

Then, magically, with no effort, you have awesome fresh produce, lots of it organic, for better quality and price than in the grocery stores.

Even better, when you drop by to pick up said produce, apologetically late in the day, she invites you to stay for dinner, which includes grilled salmon with ginger, soy and Japanese bread crumb crust and crunchy noodle salad. Not only delicious, but Weight Watcher friendly. And loads better than the left over gumbo you were going to eat...again.

So this is us on Sunday.

As I took my quart of gorgeous looking strawberries and other assorted yummy produce, all the while effusively thanking her (again) and trying to do things like wash the dinner dishes to make myself worthy...I asked what she was doing with the two other flats full of strawberries.

"Well, in advance of the ice storm coming," we both laughed heartily at this idea, ice...here, where the average winter temp hovers around 70, "They cleaned out their fields so produce was plentiful, fresh and cheap. I got the strawberries to can into jam."

Fresh canned strawberry jam? Yum! Fun!

"Oh wow!" I exclaimed, impressed. Not enough she cans pickles and other vegetables, but she also makes jam! "Hey, the kids would love that, if you want any help, call us over when you're ready to make jam, and we'll help. Well I will, they'll add kid help."

She said sure, and so yesterday----a school holiday and day of climbing the wall stuck in the house willies---she calls and says, "Come on over, let's make jam!"

The kids had been torturing me with their new favorite game: Test Boundaries Until Mom Blows Her Top Because It Sure is Fun to See Steam Come Out Her Ears (TM) (not available in stores, by special erratic order only).

So you can imagine my joy at the thought of Getting the Hell Outta Dodge aka the house.

The kids were all very excited about making strawberry jam. "It sounds like fun," they exclaimed, "We love strawberry jam," they yelled, making it into a song, "We love jam, we love making jam, we love strawberry jam, going to make strawberry jam!" The apple, or berry in this case, doesn't fall far from this singing tree.

Except, it is actually work. There's a lot of chopping and washing and squishing and boiling.

So they lost interest.

They began torturing the baby with too much love, so I intervened and told them to go upstairs and play in the playroom. I swooped in, rescued the overstimulated and now crying baby, and fed him a bottle while my friend caried on with the jam-making.

The children obeyed---with alacrity no less---my request that they go upstairs to play.

This should have been a red flag.

It was not.

Instead, I was pathetically grateful after a hard day already of bartering and threatening to have cooperation with no argument.

I plead battle-fatigue. I plead PTSD.

Here comes the fun part, the part wherein my children show how grateful we are to be invited to our friend's house and get to take part in the jam-making...and the reason why we are just always so welcome in people's homes.

My friend had so many strawberries that once she added in the ingredients, she found herself in a pickle (no pun intended) for space.

"I'm calling across the street to run get a bigger pot since all my big pots are in use," she told me, "Are you okay to watch the kids by yourself for a couple of minutes?"

"No problem," I said to her, feeling confident.

Again, this should have been a red flag. It was not.

"He's almost finished with his bottle," I said, admiring how efficiently a just-past-newborn can suck, and how cute his little cheeks and chin looked working, "I think he's tired...so I'll let him finish and then put him down to nap."

"Sounds great," she said, whisking out the door to run across the street.

After the baby finished his bottle, I set it down on the table, and moved to sit in the living room to soothe him into a sleepy state. A few minutes passed. Then a few minutes more.

Persistence was none too glad to see her mom involved with another baby. She decided to regain my attention by kicking the dog.

I tried to verbally stop her, to no avail. My attention only encouraged her.

Every time I spoke, the baby opened his eyes. I wished I could hop up and handle the situation face-to-face with Persistence, but I hesitated to disturb the baby. Luckily, just then, my friend returned.

"Everything okay?" she asked.

"Well...can you put Persistence in the time out chair for kicking the dog?" We both turned irritated eyes to Persistence, who was giggling as her foot reached out once more towards the dog. Just a stage, I reassured myself, not a sign of future sociopathy.

I added, "Other than that, all seems fine. The girls are in the playroom...listen...you can hear them thumping like a herd of elephants now," she and I laughed, "And the baby is just about asleep."

My friend picked up Persistence and said, "You are going into time out for kicking. We use NICE feet to walk, not kick." She placed her in the chair, turned back to me and said, "Sorry it took so long...you know how chatty she can get!"

"Sure," I said.

"Okay...I'm just going to mix up the rest of the strawberries and get them cooking."

After another minute, I decided it was calm enough upstairs and the baby was asleep enough that I could go put him in his crib.

As I climbed the stairs, it occured to me that it was too quiet, and the kids' voices were too muffled. Oh no, I thought, they've gone into the office, my friend will not be happy about that.

I carefully laid the baby in the crib, then covered him with a quilt. I made sure he was fine, closed the door quietly, and adjusted from "calm gentle mom who can put babies to sleep" to "you've incurred the wrath of the mean mom now."

I opened the office door. This, this horror, I did not expect.

My friend's office was trashed.

This ain't no paint party, pals. That's what we call an unsanctioned art project.

Her middle daughter was sitting in a puddle of paint pooled on the white carpet, with scissors in her hand, and hair all around her.

Patience was nowhere to be seen, but I heard her and my friend's youngest daughter giggling. Under the desk, I thought.

"Patience," I said, trying to hide my anger from my voice, "Patience, you have until TWO to come out."

Patience and her friend emerged from under the desk. I gasped. They were naked, and each held a container of dot paint, which they had apparently---in a sort of strange homage to a Celtic battle tradition I guess---been painting on themselves and each other.

The other child took my moment of distraction to attempt an escape.

"WHAT THE OH MY WHAT WERE YOU HOW THE," I gasped and struggled for words, completely past coherence, "Okay, you two," I said, pointing to the Celtic Warriors, "In the tub, pronto." I snagged the Escapee, "You, pick up the dot paint and put it away."

I called my friend, with trepidation, "Ummm, I think you need to come up. There's a little situation in the office."

When she walked in, her face reflected the horror and exhaustion I think my own face held.

My friend's carpet? Ruined.

The mess? Cleaned up.

The children? Still alive.

My husband and I decided to punish them all night with our absolute and full attention, which apparently they are screaming for, although I think now they have decided to be careful what they wish for.

Oh, yeah and Persistence? For once her survival instincts kicked in. She heard the commotion upstairs, smelt Mom Anger, and sat, still and silent, the entire time, in the time out chair. And never uttered a word of complaint when I finally remembered her and set her free. She just gave me a hug, patted my cheeks and said, "Mama otay?"

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert, aka
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Baroness Maven the Erudite of Hopton Goosnargh
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Mad Hatter said...

Oh. Dear. Lord.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Mad Hatter took my comment.

jen said...

Mother of God. I know it was probably hell, sister...but this is a freaking roller coaster of hilarity.

I SO want to hang out with you.

Syd said...

Julie, Julie. WOW. Aren't kids amazing? What little stinkers. You are such a fabulous writer. That's one of the (many) things I've always admired about you. I loved how descriptive you are!! And thanks for your post below. It hits really close to my heart. I am excited about that website. You're awesome. Hey, are you going to get any of that jam? :)

Julie Pippert said...

Syd, LOL, the jam, I'm afraid, was ruined. In the midst of solving the crisis, we forgot to add the pectin and well...it's a good strawberry sauce LOL. Thanks for the compliments. :)

Jen, you are welcome any old time (I highly advise against summer though.) I'd pull out the bells. :)

Sarah and Mad, LOL, I only wish my language was so non-potty about this LOL.

kim said...

This was so funny and vivid.

heath5197 said...

Oh, that was hysterical! And a little scary.

Sandy. said...

How in the world did you refrain from using potty mouth? Ugh.

The worst experiences always make for the best stories though. It's all about story-material, baby.


boogiemum said...

Hi, I have been lurking for a bit and decided to finally comment. I love your blog and can totally relate to this post. I think I could write an entire blog on instances, like the one you mentioned, on things that my 3 kids have done.

Julie Pippert said...

Sandy, my potty-mouth...errr, well let's see...I have one, a (not) nice sailor-y one at times if I'm honest. However, probably 85% of the time I'm able to use what I call Creative Cursing Euphemisms. My sister hooked me on SHEEE SHAAWWWW (which is a good save from Shit) and dog dog dog dog dog (which is a good save from damn) and my husband and I liberally use AHHHH FARFENUEGEN (sp? which is a good save from oh fuck!).

In this particular case, I was so overcome with the surreal feeling of horror that I wasn't willing myself to NOT curse I just was past being able to form a full sentence, and as luck would have it, my mind fell away just at the spot of HELL, GOD, FUCK and DAMN.

So you see, it wasn't restraint, just shock. LOL

Of course yesterday, as I arrived at school, a good friend of both of us involved in this story walked up to me and said, "HA!" then could barely speak for laughing so hard, "BWAHAHAHAHA I hear YOUR KIDS ruined FRIEND'S carpet HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA I'm just glad we were NOT THERE! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"

I must have looked shellshocked because she said, "OMG SO KIDDING!"

And I said, "No, no I was willing to cop to it. Except I needed to correct you, it was just Patience, as Persistence was in a time out for KICKING FRIEND'S DOG at the time, so she has an alibi."

And, of course, this sent her in to further gales of laughter. Still, she let her son play with my kids after school so I guess our rep didn't suffer too badly. ;)

Actually, I think it enhanced their street value at school. I heard one kid say to my friend's daughter, "You cut your OWN HAIR? With SCISSORS? Again?" in a tone of awed horror and wonder. Then my daughter said one girl in her class said, "Wow, you got to LOSE a TOOTH and PAINT CARPET."


She must feel SO COOL.

I said, "Patience, I hope you were TOO ASHAMED to even answer. I can't imagine feeling PROUD that you ruined Miss Friend's CARPET!"

Julie Pippert said...

Kim, yes, funny in a "she'll never live this down and I get to tell it to my grave" sort of way, LOL.

My parents STILL dine out on the story of the time that I was 2 and used whiskey to "polish" the coffee table (FYI, whiskey is an AWESOME stripper). Apparently I was trying to "help" and mistook whiskey for furniture polish.

They'll hear nothing against it such as, "How the heck did a two year old have access to both liquor and poisonous cleaner?"

They just always said, "Someday you'll have a child JUST LIKE YOU and THEN you'll understand BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"



Julie Pippert said...

Heath...see above comment to Kim, what my parents always said to me about my own kids. Just kidding, promise! I still maintain to you that it will be okay. :)

Julie Pippert said...


First thanks for delurking! So glad you did! And thanks for the compliment.

Second, oh my goodness God love ya for commiserating! I tell you, you write it, I'll read it. I don't so much thnk of it as rubbernecking, more so as a support group. :)

Julie Pippert said...

Boogiemom, you got me thinking, so I looked and LO and BEHOLD, I have, more or less, made a blog out of my children's adventures, LOL. I'll do a quick recap, save me since my post for today isn't finished and my time is tight. :)