Hide and seek

I enjoy another pointless conversation with my children now that we have conversations, pointless and otherwise. “Come on you two, let’s play hide and seek with Fred.” My older son looks pleased at the prospect, his younger brother thinks I am a fool, “why we play hide and go seek wiv a tortoise? Are you nuts mom?”
“Not at all. Come on it’ll be fun.”
“Not fun.”
“Yes it is. Anyway it’s not fair as Fred’s already hidden himself and unless you go and find him he’ll be hiding for ever.”
“Dat’s not good…..if no-one comes lookin for ya.”
“Right! So come into the garden and see if you can find him.”
“He is losted?”
“No he’s hiding.”
“Oh…dats o.k. I already seened him when I came home from school.”
“Yes but now he’s in the pen outside but you won’t be able to find him as he’s hiding.” They’re less enthusiastic than I would wish but still compliant. I wax lyrical, “it’s quite amazing how he’s camouflaged himself, in the grass, he’s invisible. We peer into the pen to see four square feet of grass and no tortoise, or at least, I can’t see him. “May be he sneaked up the down pipe like the incy wincy spider?”

“He ain’t no spider mom. Anyways up down……he’s dere. We found him. Wot now?”
“You can see him, already? Point to him. Show me where?”
“Dere!”
“Can you see him too?” I check with his brother.
“Sure! He right dere.”
“Point to him dear.” He steps over the fence, reaches in and pulls out Fred, just like that! “Iz o.k. mom wiv your old and mold eyes.”
“!”


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Questions of an existential nature

There are the big ones, like 'why does autism exist?' and then there are a whole host of other scientific issues, such as 'how can a four foot square cushion disappear?' although that is probably a physics question, or maybe a physical one. I think it's a mathematical problem involving 'cubic metres of child'[ren] versus volume of cushion, but weight to strength ratios would be a contributing factor or maybe a variable?

This is not some namby pamby lightweight fluffy American cushion. Oh no! This is a heavy duty, won't dent if you punch it, dead body weight kind of a British cushion and probably pre-war although I can't authenticate that.

If your pincher grip is fair, the average cushion can be picked up by a corner and tossed through a gentle arc to the sofa. Our version is more like a collection of house bricks with a fabric coating for the sake of appearance and about as comfortable too. It doubles as a step if you need to reach a high cupboard. A building contractor or body builder might be able to heave it up and lob it, but on impact it would kill the victim stone dead. Even if this were not true, it's shear bulk means that you can't stick it up your jumper and pretend to be pregnant.

We could be critical and list it's many faults as a household item, but the main point is that this is not something that is easy to lose. You need to try very hard to lose it. If we ignore it's deficiency of purpose, why would you want to lose it in the first place? Maybe the real question is 'who' would want to lose it, which in turn begs the question 'who' would be sufficiently motivated by 'what' to lose it?

This is a variation of what the experts tell us to do for determining the cause of meltdowns, the antecedent, and it's a good one that I would highly recommend, it's just that it's not so easy to put into practice. This time I'm in luck. I find the cushion. It has a couple of Pokemon on it which tells me the 'who.' I find the 'who' so that I can enquire as to the 'why.'

“What are the Pokemon doing on the cushionshttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif? Are they playing?” It is supposedly helpful to suggest an answer in the hope to trigger a response.
“No dey are not playing.”
“Oh. Having a little rest maybe?”
“No dey are not dah rest.”
“Asleep?”
“Not asleep.”
“O.k. You tell me, what are they doing?”
“Dey are camouflaging.” Are they really? Not bad. Good colour match, if a little obvious now he comes to mention it, easily picked off by a sniper. There again, it's his brother that colour obsessed. Junior's “visual acuity” is usually second to none.
“So they are!”
“It is camouflage like “Gecky.”” Good follow up comment matey, and voluntary.
“Good job Pokemon, they blend in so well with the colours.”
“No stoopid! Dey are just being dah friends of dah dat one, Serviper.”
“Which one is Serviper?”
“Dah lickle guy dat looks like dah zig zag.”

Well, this is the planet that we exist on. Not everyone is as gifted as him at “pattern recognition.”


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Vegetables win, even though tomatoes are a fruit

I've never been a very good cook, something to do with beating sauces anti clockwise, I believe, but it never made much sense to me.

To this day I can't understand how you can hold a wooden spoon backwards, but apparently I am guilty of this crime also. I've never been one for labels, so if my soup turned into a solid, then I'll call it a stew. If my dessert turned itself into a liquid, I'd just give a different name. It's remarkable how often you can call something 'Surprise Fricasse' and no-one is any the wiser. Never mind if it was overcooked, just chop off the burnt bits. Underdone, never mind, nuke it in the microwave, who cares if it's a bit rubbery, you can bluff it out: “Yes, that's right, I said 'Goodbody Flan,' it's an ancient recipe to line the stomach of miners when they were down the pits, very nutritious.”
It's very handy for desserts that refuse to set, as modern appliances such as the cuisinart or magimix mean that you can just whiz it to a liquid and you have pudding soup. It still tastes o.k. It's all about expectations.


These days, cooking and catering is so much easier. All I have to do is shake out a cup full of Goldfish crackers for the children and a bowl of fishy bites for the cats and I'm all finished.

I figure that this just makes them all vegetarians by default. Whilst we are making great progress in the food department, fruit and vegetables are not 'preferred foods.' The 'make your own packed lunch' campaign has been a moderate success and my older son will volunteer to make his own sandwich at other times to ensure that he can use at least 2 ounces of butter on each slice of bread.

At this stage, compliance and task completion are paramount. Coronary heart disease is low on the agenda.
Thus when I hear a squeak of surprise from him, I walk over to determine the cause. “My sandwich!?” he bleats.
“Yes, that's right. It's a sandwich. Well done for making it on your own. You must be very hungry to have made one now?” Less than an hour before supper.
“But it is tasting, er, not quite right.”

I look at the sandwich with one perfect semi circle missing because he skipped the wonky teeth gene.
“What's not quite right dear.” He pulls a face and bares his teeth, arching his back as he hunts for words. “It, it, it……I dun know, but it is tasting funny.” I peak under the top slice which reveals chunks of too hard butter, dollops of peanut butter and a bright red smearing of something that isn't jam or jelly.
I glance back to the kitchen counter, the scene of devastation following his 'cooking' session. I step closer as the bifocals aren't up to the task. I trickle of oil seeps from the up turned lid; Tomato pesto sauce. I rearrange my face and return to the table where he is on his second mouthful.


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In the eye on the beholder

I do my best to ignore the revolting bowl that I've just brought back from the studio. I shall never be able to support the family with this particular hobby. [translation = craft] Pottery is too time consuming a hobby for me anyway, not in the least therapeutic, more a source of frustration. The shape is good. The weight is acceptable, you don't have to be physically fit to lift it. The rim is about as perfect as I'm capable of. The bottom is neat and not too heavy. The glaze coverage is smooth and bubble free. It's a fair size, bearing in mind that they shrink in the kiln by about 12%, a figure that I find difficult to visualize. It's not too small to be useless, nor too large to be cumbersome. Not that I'm picky, it's just that I ever so carefully painted fish all over it, shaped like goldfish crackers. [translation = American snack food] An oval with a '<' for a tail, but for some reason, a great number of the fish icons have chipped off. They have missing chunks, which means that the white clay beneath shows through. Ruined, completely ruined, just typical! I can't recycle it, nor even give it away. I nudge it away and continue the washing up as senior son comes sauntering up. He leans against my body as one would a lamp post, idle and content, his line of sight aligned with the kitchen counter. He startles. “You have made me a new bowl?” he gasps. I lean on the edge of the sink and examine him. The arrival of new bowls, usually with the children's names emblazoned upon them, to avoid ownership disputes, are soon smashed within a few days of entering the household. The bowls I make are a challenge for those with poor fine motor skills and the strength of overcooked spaghetti. They are never a cause for comment, let alone interest. He rocks back and forth, heel to toe, hands covering his mouth, which means that either he is about to explode into a hideous meltdown or he is experiencing excitement. Under the circumstances, I err on the side of caution, anticipating a meltdown as I answer, “Yes. Why? You're not into bowls all of a sudden are you?” “In? Into? In? I am not in the bowl, I am near the bowl,” he explains to his mother, the idiot, as there are so many literal word traps for me to fall into. At least this is an indication that speech therapy is having a positive effect.
“Can I see it proper, prop, properly?” he asks breathlessly.
“Sure.” I lean over, grab the bowl and swing it towards him in one easy movement, even though he is now crouching for some unaccountable reason? “Be careful!” he warns, “you might be breaking it!” Each additional word confuses me further. He cradles it gently in the palm of his hands examining the fish on the inside of the bowl, screwing up his eyes. He sighs, “I know Orca whales are the best if you don call them killer whales, thank you Mum.” He lollops away, leaving me confused, but calls over his shoulder, “you can call it my Orca bowl, I use it for supper tonight. O.k.?” I re-examine the bowl and the chips with a different viewpoint.

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