At Least the Hair Looks Good

A few days before Thanksgiving, my twelve year old told me he was out of toothpaste. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, however, I forgot to buy more.

Then with family returned to the east coast and supplies low, I announced that I was heading to the store. “Anybody need anything?”

The usual requests… chocolate Oreo ice cream and Froot Loops from the kids, and almonds and anything protein from my husband.

And then…

“You still didn’t get me my toothpaste.”

I started to add it to the list.

“I haven’t been able to brush my teeth for three whole days.”

Now, wait a minute!

There are multiple bathrooms in our house that have plenty of toothpaste. He is twelve. There were six times in three days when he likely stood at the sink and made the decision to do nothing about the lack of toothpaste.

No toothpaste. Shoulder shrug. Start the day. No toothpaste. Shoulder shrug. Climb into bed. Still no toothpaste, but the hair looks good. Start the day.

Learned helplessness? Laziness? Or is he just gross?!

Santa, the Pope and the Birds and the Bees

My six year old niece asked my sister why the Virgin Mary is a saint. As is often the case, talk of Mary led to the question of how babies normally get in the mommy’s tummy. My sister explained in six year old terms – the dad plants a seed in the mommy.

Perfect. Conversation done. Six year old seemingly content.

But my niece was still noodling over the facts, and with the last crumb of Thanksgiving pie just eaten, she couldn’t help but think of Santa.

“What about Santa? Since he’s magic, is he a saint too?”

“Yes,” replied my sister, thinking she was still on safe ground, “St. Nicholas!”


“But did the Pope guy say he was a saint?” Or was he “born” with no seed?

When Boys Cook the Turkey

A few days before Thanksgiving, there was a proclamation made at our house that the guys would be in charge of the turkey. So my husband and our twelve year old prepared it for brining.

“Get the liver and stuff out,” father said to son.

“Where are they?”

“Just reach into the hole at the end.”

“Wait, that’s his butt! I am not reaching into the turkey’s butt!”

We all looked up from whatever newspaper article, book or teacup we’d been focused on. Grandpop’s eyebrow arced in amusement.

“No really? It’s in his butt?!”

“Yep,” said my grinning husband.

“That’s disgusting!” But like any respectable twelve year old, he reached inside.

“Ewwww! I can’t believe I’m doing this!” giggling as he pulled out the neck. “What’s this?”

“His neck.”

“Oh my God, is this his heart?” he asked, triumphantly holding up a purplish blob.


“Ewwwww!” as he pulled out the kidneys, then liver.

“I can’t believe I just pulled them out of his butt!”

As my husband washed out the now hollow turkey, our son played with its innards – squishing them, poking at them, sliding them along the countertop. “What does its heart look like inside?”

“Cut it open and see.”

The readers and tea drinkers paused. More eyebrows raised.

“No,” said his grossed out grandmother.

Our ten year old showed up suddenly at his brother’s side, and he did it anyway. He dissected the heart. Then the kidneys, which were much harder to cut. “Not that interesting.”

Solid purple.

Then the slimy liver. Not much for a boy to celebrate there either. “But I can’t believe you made stick my hand in the turkey’s butt!”

Then the turkey was brining, and the guys left the kitchen, content with their work – red-purple turkey juices still oozing across the counter for respectable ladies to clean up.

And I wondered why, after 47 years of turkeys, it had never dawned on me to look inside their hearts.

Fortune Cookies

The funny thing about fortune cookies is that they either fit the person and the moment perfectly, or they seem purposefully ironic – if you stretch your imagination a bit.

Recently, while trying Thai food again, hoping my sons’ taste buds would be more appreciative, they mostly enjoyed splitting open their cookies.

The sixth grader read, “You will let people free.”

Hmmm…He wants to invent the time traveling machine, so maybe that will do the trick.

The fifth grader read, “Your dream must be bigger than your fear.”

He grinned, “Oh yeah, already on it!”

“Why? What’s your dream?” I asked.

“To be a linebacker in the NFL.”

Given that he has always been in the 5th-10th percentile for weight and is the first to get hurt in any outdoor play, if he is smart, his fear will grow and grow.

The first grader, who recently got sent home for shoving a friend to the ground at recess, had me read his to him, “Your kindness and generosity will be appreciated by others.”

Not this week maybe, but one day….
….if you believe in fortune cookies. Which I do this one time.

For the Tooth Fairy

When my kids lose a tooth, they always want to keep it. And since they lose a bunch as they are learning to write, we have a tradition of writing a note to the tooth fairy, as practice, asking to keep it as a treasure.

My youngest wrote his last night with an elaborately illustrated, colorful scene – his zzz’s rising to the ceiling from a red pillow with a giant winged tooth fairy decked in blue. His note read:

Deere, tuth faree
I lost mi tuth
Pev dote tak mi tuth.

Political Reporters: The View from Fifth Grade

“It’s so funny,” said my fifth grader the morning after the election. “Those news reporters all pretend they’re on the NFL Channel. Like the election is as good as a football game.”

Later in the day, I attended a lecture by former Colorado Governor Bill Owens, who joked that the only news he watches is on ESPN.

Perceptive little fifth grader, eh?

A Long, Long Time

Tonight, my twelve year old said, “I have a question about something that is really weird.”


“When you have your birthday, you will be 48 years old. That’s four times as old as me.”

Here we go.

“What does it feel like?”

“Creaky,” I responded, suddenly grumpy.

“I mean twelve years feels like a really, really long time. It must feel strange to live as long as you have.”

So I told him that it feels like you have led a few back-to-back separate lives, each as a totally different person with the others wrapped inside of you somehow. The first eighteen, then college and the twenties, then kids. It’s like it wasn’t you before, even though the previous you made you who you are now… and you remember every minute as if it just happened. Like you are still twelve. Not four times that.

“That’s so weird.”

“I know.”