When Children Learn to Read

Or, what really happens now that my children are reading.

My seven-year-old, Squishy, loves to read.  He is at the point where he reads everything. He will read over my shoulder.  He will read labels.  He will read t-shirts.  He will read basically anything.

There is a fun print my sister-in-law gave The Captain for his birthday.  He likes to make (and drink) martinis.  Squishy now knows how to: 1.  Say martini and 2. Spell martini.

Squishy has become a reading machine.

He also likes to read over my shoulder while I am on my Kindle.

“Mom, what the crap is wrong with this lady?”

“What lady?” I ask, “and don’t say crap.”

“The lady in your book named Anne.  She is a freak.”

I am reading about Anne Boleyn.  “She is not a freak, Squishy, she just had some issues.”

“Like what?” he asks as I wonder briefly how far to take this.

“She was married to a famous king of England and it didn’t end well for her,” I strategically answered.

“Why?  Is his name Henry?”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I read it over your shoulder,” he grinned triumphantly, “See ya, I am going outside, OK Mom?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I answered.

Yesterday, heading for a quick grocery store stop, Squishy said, “Mom, the truck next to us has a bad word on a sticker.”

“What does it say?” I asked, trying to navigate through the zillion traffic lights in our small town.

“Will I get in trouble if I say it?” he asked.

“Just read it to me,” I said, with the patience and kindness of a women with mild road rage.

“Bad ass,” he said, “It says bad ass.  Why is he a bad ass, Mom?  He doesn’t look like a bad ass.”

“OK,” I said, using the mom voice, “You can stop saying it now.”

“Well, he doesn’t look like one anyway…Hey, Mom, the sign over there says not to text and drive.  And that one says the service begins at 10, and that one says…”  And so on, and so on.

I think I may need that martini.  Stat.

Kitchen Cluelessness

Richard Nixon’s most famous line was, “I am not a crook.”  My most famous line is “I am not a cook.”

My kitchen is not mine.  The Captain, my husband, is the chef at our home.

Wine. The one thing always in my kitchen.

When we first met, I had some leftover Chinese food and some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in my fridge.  I may have had mayo, but I don’t think so.  I do know that I had plenty of wine in my apartment along with a box of Velveeta Cheese and Shells.  I am not a cook.

My dad and stepmother bought me a recipe book called, “Help! My Apartment has a Kitchen!”  but I didn’t read it.  I didn’t have time for it, and I hate grocery shopping (but that is another post entirely).

Good thing The Captain is addicted to cooking or my family would go hungry.  He loves watching The Food Network and the show Chopped in particular.  He gets three recipe magazines – Everyday Food, Food Network and Bon Appetite.  He loves to cook.

I asked him to sum up my cooking abilities.  He looked at me as if it was a trick question.  I said, “Be honest.  Be harsh.  It’s OK to tell me the truth because after you do, I am going to put it directly into my post about cooking.”

He responds, “Why would you ever consider writing a post about cooking?”

“Come on,” I begged, “Tell me what you think about my kitchen abilities.”

He looks over, studying my face as if to see if I am serious.  He finally answers by saying, “Clueless and in a state of despair,” and turns back to the latest episode of Chopped.

Well.  That sums it up pretty nicely.

My nemesis.

The thing is, I really just don’t like cooking.  I feel like spending hours in a kitchen for the food to be devoured in less that a commercial break is depressing.  I also find that I get frustrated in the kitchen.  It is not simple – there are so many things to get out and put away.  Ugh.  I wish the kitchen was more like my laptop.  Everything there – right under my fingertips.

Touching raw food is also difficult for me.  I hate touching raw chicken, hot dogs, or basically any meat including lunch meat (it is slimy – gross).  The Captain says this is typical.  Ha.  I think if I had to cook for myself, I would surely be a vegetarian.  I can handle vegetables and fruits.  They are nice in the kitchen.  Nice fruits and veggies.  Good fruits and veggies.

Some of the more vivid memories of my lack of kitchen prowess:

  • When dating The Captain, I made his entire family shrimp jambalaya.  It was so spicy that only his brother (bless his heart) finished his.  Everyone else seemed to be very intense on drowning their salads in ranch dressing.
  • When promising my dudes chicken fingers, I did not really understand how to do an egg dip mixture.  We ate chicken fingers ala scrambled eggs that evening.
  • When making a casserole, I didn’t notice the recipe mentioning that I had to cook the rice before adding it to the casserole dish.  It was crunchy, and not in a good way!
  • When trying to make potato cheese soup, I let the soup boil over the pot and I still have remnants of soup between the glass panels looking into the stove.  I don’t know how the soup got there, but I do know that I am reminded of the fiasco whenever I turn the oven light on.

I can happily say I haven’t once caught the kitchen on fire.  I have, however, burned some bread in the oven.  The Captain said broil it, and I thought that meant for 15 minutes.  Apparently broilers are quick and dirty cookers.  Who knew?

So, for now, I will stick to using the beloved microwave and my debit card at food establishments and for quick grocery trips.  Farewell, kitchen!  Until we boil again.

Mom, teacher, wife – not necessarily in that order

Do you remember the Lily Thompson movie “The Incredible Shrinking Woman”?  Mom took us to see it at the movie theater sometime in the 80s… Anyhow, that is me now. I am Lily Thompson in that movie.  But not exactly in the same context of cleaning products, but with the exorbitant amount of information I am holding onto.  I feel swamped, not in a medicated way, but more of a “how can I remember this because it, like 99 other million things in my life, is so important?”

That’s how I feel today. Too much on my plate – my plateth overfloweth.