Greetings from the Holiday Inn, also known as MomBrain HQ. Please do not call us if you are looking for lodging; our hotel is fully booked through the New Year.
Our seven guests are delightful: two Parental Units (PUs, which of course I mean in the nicest of ways), Sister N and Sister K (my sanity and my heart), two 14-year-olds (whose sole purpose is to make me feel old and creaky), and an 8-year-old (a delightful entertainment for the Little Guy).
Of all our guests, the teenage girls have done their job the best. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel older, fatter, and uglier than going downtown with two lithe, gorgeous sweeties in their size 0 jeans and straightened hair. This is especially true when you are unshowered and wearing an oversized sweatshirt with a big ketchup blob on your left breast. It is even more true when said ketchup blob rides around on you all day without your noticing it.
Even after ketchup removal, the teens just have a way. Dinner that night included a killer salad with many choices of Newman’s Own dressing. The conversation went like this:
Teen 1: Boy that Newman guy sure has a lot of faces.
MomBrain: Well, he’s an actor after all.
Teen 2: He is?
MB: Haven’t you heard of Paul Newman?
T1 and T2: (in unison) No.
Sister N: He’s only one of the most famous actors of all time.
MB: You’ve heard of Robert Redford, right?
T1 and T2: No.
MB: Tom Cruise?
T1 and T2: Yes!!!
Sister N: Paul Newman was in a movie with Tom Cruise – “The Color of Money.”
T1: Ew, he was that gross old guy.
Sister N: (sighing) Pass the salad please.
When the Little Guy was born, his previous owners had thoughtfully stapled a User’s Manual to his umbilical cord. Now, I am not one of those scary, sentimental women who likes to bury placentas in the garden or preserve body parts in mason jars of formaldehyde. So out went the cord, and, I fear, the manual that was attached.
For the most part we’ve been able to figure things out as we go along, staying half a step ahead of LG and managing to prevent severe bodily injury or psychological harm. But occasionally we find ourselves a step behind LG and running at a breakneck pace to catch up. It is at these times we long for the LG User’s Manual and its well-thumbed pages. How else, for example, could we have known that it was a huge mistake to set up the Christmas tree on December 1? Four-year-olds have no concept of time. Advent calendars only mean chocolate. “24 more days” could mean tomorrow, or it could mean when LG is a grownup living at the firestation and letting mommy visit only when there’s no emergency. All he knows is there’s a sparkly tree that he is not allowed to touch, covered with fragile ornaments that he is not allowed to touch, sitting atop a pile of presents with his name on them that he is not allowed to touch. Within an hour of setting up the tree, LG was on his third meltdown. Two days later he is still begging to open “just one present.” So. We have emptied the stockings. Hidden most of the gifts. Moved the fragile ornaments to the top of the tree and lifted the ban on touching.
It seems to be working. He spent the afternoon helping me wrap gifts for friends, playing with tape (bless you, whoever invented tape), and begging to go to McDonald’s for dinner. But all the angst of the last three days could have been avoided if we just had that dang manual.
Pardon my absence, my ducks. MomBrain has been recovering from Thanksgiving, which thank goodness did not devolve into a turkey-tastrophe (unlike past years). And the minute the guests departed and the dishwasher was running for the fourth time, I began a 24/7 practice regimen for The Crawdad Song and Other Favorites. The big performance was Monday night, and except for one jarring ouchie, I rocked. I remembered not to chew gum. I remembered to cut my fingernails. And I remembered that ritardano is an actual musical term and not an insult.
And now for some holiday cheer. Special props to the following elves, who have made me laugh hard in the last few days.
- The Salvation Army bell ringer in front of the drugstore, who yelled “Shit!!!” when a car alarm went off right in front of her.
- The downtown street musician, dressed like Santa and playing Jewish klezmer music.
- The Santa’s Photo Santa, who I saw smoking behind his little red house even though the sign on the door distinctly said that Santa was taking a break to feed his reindeer.