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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

What goes around, comes around.

This story began many years ago when I was just a wee lad.  Actually, I was a wee pain in the gluteus maximus to be more precise.  (Some things never change, they just get bigger.)  I was a wee spoiled brat, more than a lad.  Anyway, you get the picture.

My parents were vacationing in Florida.  In a moment of temporary insanity, one of them must have thought it would be a good idea if I went along.  (Either that, or they had exhausted every relative and babysitter in the tri-state area.)  My dad was going to meetings and my mom was going to take me to Sea World, and then on a boat excursion.  She got very seasick.  But I digress, since that has nothing to do with this tale.

At dinnertime one night, we went to a fancy buffet at the hotel we were staying.  Mind you, I am telling you this from what has been told to me, since I was wee and don’t remember any of this.  Not the buffet, not the seasickness.  I don’t even remember Sea World.

As my parent’s put it, there was a selection of 10,000 odd things to eat at this buffet.

I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich.

That wasn’t one of the 10,000 things available to eat.

“Wouldn’t you like a shrimp cocktail?”

I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich.

Well, to make this story shorter and perhaps even keep your attention, my parents drove around Fort Lauderdale trying to find a grilled cheese sandwich—just to shut me up.  I don’t think I ever got the grilled cheese sandwich.  I never got to go back to Florida either, for some odd reason.

Fast forward to the not so long ago present.  I now have wee, spoiled brats of my own.  My wife is out-of-town, and it is up to me to feed them.

So I meticulously prepare three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them for lunch.  My youngest (the wee-est and brattiest) declares that he is not eating this.  Apparently, he is on a hunger strike.

I wish.  He is hungry, but he wants a grilled cheese sandwich (although he sounds like he wants a girled cheese sammitch.)

Like any loving and caring parent, I tell him to eat the damned peanut butter sandwich.  I didn’t use that adjective, and I don’t know where he learned it.

My son is apparently as stubborn as my father’s son, and he will not eat the sandwich.

How hard can it be to make a grilled cheese sandwich?

There is a fine line that exists between sanity and insanity.  (A fine line or two letters, depending on how you look at it.)  The very fact that I allowed myself to ask that question indicates that I had now crossed that line.  I moved from the sane world where I comfortably, but with a significant mess, make peanut butter sandwiches, to the other side where I believe I have the power to make a grilled cheese delight.

Obviously, I had forgotten that no one in Fort Lauderdale knew how to make a freaking grilled cheese sandwich.  But I thought I could.

It’s basically just toast and melted cheese, right?

Never mind that I have some difficulty with toast.  I put in the bread.  I take the charred remains out.  If I pop it up early, it’s never done, and not even hot enough to melt butter, let alone cheese.  I just can’t get the timing and electrical voltage down just right.

Where there’s smoke, there’s me.

Today would be different.

So I shoved two slices of bread with a slice of cheese between them down into the toaster.

Now I fully realize that ‘toasting’ something is not the same as ‘grilling’ something.  But I have heard the sandwich referred to as a Toasted Cheese sandwich in some parts of the country.  I’m not sure what country.  Maybe Elbonia.  Or Iowa.  But if I can do a hamburger in the toaster, then why not a cheese sandwich?

Unfortunately, the football game had started and I was distracted.  The smoke alarm brought me back to the kitchen and the small inferno in my toaster.

To this day, I don’t know what went wrong.  The fireball was jammed down in there too tight.

It didn’t turn out quite right, and my son refused to try it.  Our toaster has two slots, so I thought I’d try it again.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Shame on me.  We’re going to need another fire extinguisher, as this one’s almost empty.

My son’s still hungry.  So, I try the stove.

“That’s the dishwasher,” my daughter informs me.

Well, of course it is.  Shouldn’t we have clean plates to eat our charcoal off of?

I had a little trouble figuring out how to get the burner lit.  But, my eyebrows will eventually grow back.

My helpful daughter showed me how mommy butters the outside of the bread before putting it on the stove—on a skillet, and not directly on the flame.  Curse mommy.  So many things to remember, so few eyebrows left.

I think the gas fumes and the smoke are getting to me.  I threw the smoke alarm out the door since I couldn’t get it to stop wailing.  My fingers were too burnt to pry the battery out.

The butter made the bread slippery—it kept falling on the floor.  I ran out of cheese.  So I sprinkled some parmesan from a can.  Cheese is cheese.

Where is that smoke coming from now?

Finally, I present to him a sandwich.  It’s not charred, but golden brown (my daughter actually did it, but I fully intend to take the credit.  I paid not in talent but in sweat and eyebrows.)  I don’t know what’s in the center, but it’s melted just right.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” the little moron informs me.  He ate the peanut butter and jelly sandwich ten minutes ago.

My parents thought this was funny.

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It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I’m not sure why.  That is the way bad ideas present themselves—as good ideas when you least know it.

While my wife took our kids trick-or-treating, a sanctioned pastime that teaches our children extortion, I would stay in the mansion and pass out candy to the various ghouls, goblins, and neighborhood brats.

Nearly every good plan that fails does so because of poor planning, poor execution or just plain bad luck.  I think I scored the Halloween trifecta.

In the past, when we lived in a galaxy far, far away, we would take the young ‘uns out together as a family, leaving a bowl of candy on the front porch.  That wasn’t really such a bad idea, and I’m not sure why we ever deviated from that plan.

I was originally very leery about leaving a bowl full of candy unattended on our front porch.  The way I figured it, the first punk that comes by scores a mother lode, and the second schmuck dressed like a Teletubbie finds an empty bowl.  Within fifteen minutes, the unruly masses that trudged all the way up to our porch to find a disappointingly empty bowl will band together as a riotous mob to soap our windows and hang facial tissue delicately from our trees.

But I was wrong.  When we arrived back home, there was still candy in the bowl.  My wife had crafted a sign which she hung on the bowl that said, “Please take no more than two. . .God is watching.”

I think we ended up with more candy in the bowl than we started with.  Some of the little demons must have sacrificed their own candy in an offering at our Halloween altar.  I guess they figured it was like paying a penance or something.  Apparently, the little renegades from a travelling circus must have actually bought into the theology that the Almighty has nothing better to do than to sit guard over a bowl of candy.

But it worked.

And it was a much better plan than having me hand out candy all night long.

I watched my family head out with empty bags and high hopes, as I lit a fire in the fireplace (no easy task, since I actually had to get up and cross the room to turn on the gas switch.)  I then settled in to watch a horror flick on TV.

The opening credits hadn’t finished, the opening theme hadn’t faded away and not a single drop of blood had been shed before the first band of merry ghosts rang my doorbell.

I eagerly took up the bowl of candy and headed for the front door.  I pretended to try and guess who the little hooligans were, acted amazed at their pathetic little costumes, and then passed out treats.

It then struck me, that I was passing out perfectly good candy that I would really enjoy while watching my movie, to people I don’t know or care about, for reasons that were quite beyond my comprehension.  And I knew full well that my kids would return without enough loot to cut my losses.  Worse yet, while I’m handing out peanut butter cups—nature’s most perfect food—my kids were probably procuring stale popcorn balls or lumps of hard candy and stale chewing gum in return.

I began to stuff my face, reasoning that any candy I managed to put away, was candy the little heathens at my door would not get.

The movie hadn’t even made it to the first commercial break, and already my bell had rung five times.  The movie was just getting interesting, by the sound of the music someone was about to meet their death, and I was almost halfway through the Reese’s cups.  I ran to the door with chocolate dripping from my mouth and quickly passed the treats out slick as a Las Vegas dealer palming cards from under the deck.

I hadn’t even got a chance to sit down, when the cursed bell rang again.

This time, I threw open the door and tossed some candy out, shutting it quickly behind me.  I think I hit a witch in the eye with a Mounds, but I didn’t wait long enough to hear if she screamed.

I went to the kitchen for a beer. I needed something to wash down the glob of peanut butter in my throat. Believe it or not, the bell rang again before I had even chugged the first bottle.

“What do you want?” I screamed as I opened the door.

A little girl dressed as a princess fell off the stoop backward, surprised.  Unfortunately, a yew broke her fall, and she came back up for more.

I was running out of candy, and the doorbell kept ringing.  I would rather hear the screaming of the lambs than that incessant ringing.

I think some of the little devils were coming twice.  It was hard to tell for sure, but the costumes looked familiar, and some of them were ducking before I even opened the door.

I opened up a pack of cookies, and started passing them out.

But they kept on coming.

I drank another beer, and said a prayer.

I passed out potato chips.  The first couple of times, I actually took the time to put them in some plastic baggies.  After a couple more beers, I just dumped them in their Halloween sacks.  It’s hard to throw chips.

Apples worked pretty well.  I got rid of the rest of the oranges in the crisper.  There was also an onion, some broccoli and a stalk of celery.  I cut the head of lettuce up into pieces, and offered some salad dressing on the side.

I discovered some little bottles of liquor in the cupboard, left over from some airplane trip.  I didn’t give those out.  But they’re gone now too.

There must have been over 200 kids that came to my door.  I gave out the empty bowl.  I wrote out some IOUs for candy.  I haven’t been able to find my slippers.

Next year, I’ll just put another bowl out, and leave it at that.

NB:  I wrote this article 11 years ago for another site, but have reprinted it here because I got some requests for it.  OK.  I GOT ONE REQUEST.  If you consider my multiple personalities, then it seems like multiple requests.  The title is a quote attributed to Ogden Nash.  Then Willy Wonka.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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