Eat the Yummy

 

Last night I phoned my stepmother from the bathroom. This is where I make my important calls. I block the door and turn on the fan to muffle sounds from the other side. Sometimes I go to the basement, but invariably the water pump will come on and the other person will say “What’s that noise? Where are you?” Besides, it’s cold. And we all know what’s down there. I am afraid of two things in this world: big, black spiders and hypodermic needles. Also crocodiles. And chat rooms. And dentists. And my daughter.

What would happen if you ate a box of Lactaid?

The whole box? Who would…

Guess.

Oh.

Lactaid is “a natural enzyme that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk, to help you digest dairy products without discomfort”. Because I had previously thought it was an actual drug not to be consumed in large quantities by four year-olds, the box was kept hidden on the very top shelf in a basket with things like razors, foot powder, and Tiger Balm. All the things the pixie had sampled before or I was afraid she would. The medicine cabinet may only contain things with childproof caps. Pixie-tested and Mother-approved. Another rule is that she is allowed no privacy – especially in bathrooms. It’s not that we don’t trust her. We just don’t trust her. The doors are not to be closed. She has filled the toothpaste tube with water, scrubbed the toilet with her toothbrush, bandaged her sister’s skinned knee with a feminine hygiene product, eaten my lipstick (yes, I said ‘eaten’), rubbed herself all over with IcyHot (after which she ran through the house howling in pain for the entertainment of dinner guests), covered the floor in foot powder, and painted the sink with nail polish. This is just in the bathroom. It’s not that we don’t trust her… but last week she tried to eat Krazy Glue.

I told my stepmother all this and more. I wailed.

I don’t deserve this.

silence

I don’t!

Are you sure?

What? No! Yes, I’m sure!

laughter

I took a quick inventory of things she might remember – vividly. Nope. Nothing of this caliber. I don’t think.

When I’d burst in on the pixie after two minutes with the bathroom door closed I took a suspicious look around. Nothing looked out of place. Not more than usual. I knew she’d done something; I’m her mother. I know that smile that pretends innocence. I invented it. A few hours later my suspicions were confirmed by the pile of empty Lactaid packets hidden behind the sink. I asked why she had eaten them and she shrugged. “They were yummy.” And how can you argue with that? I told a friend and he laughed. “Damn straight. Eat the yummy.”

Well. Luckily I’m not lactose intolerant. And luckily there are no narcotics in the house. And luckily some good things happened this past week.

 

Among them, I finished reading Logue’s War Music which was nothing short of magnificent. I tried to pick out a few passages to copy here for you, but it’s too hard to choose. I’d wind up transcribing the entire book and that would be silly. Go buy your own. If you have any interest in Homer, Greek history, poetry, or being moved by the music of well-crafted words – Do it now!

 

Page 1:

Picture the east Aegean sea by night,

And on a beach aslant its shimmering

Upwards of 50, 000 men

Asleep like spoons beside their lethal Fleet.

 

Now look along that beach, and see

Between the keels hatching its western dunes

A ten-foot-high reed wall faced with black clay

And split by a double-doored gate;

Then through the gate a naked man

Whose beauty’s silent power stops your heart

Fast walk, face wet with tears, out past its guard,

And having vanished from their sight

Run with what seems to break the speed of light

Across the dry, then damp, then sand invisible

Beneath inch-high waves that slide

Over each other’s luminescent panes;

Then kneel among those panes, beggar his arms, and say:

 

 

 

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Readers

 

My pixie is a reader! Well, technically she’s a writer; She only reads what she herself writes. She has no interest in reading published material. I’m still supposed to hold the book and read aloud while she relaxes, sucking her two middle fingers thoughtfully and picturing the story in her own way. Who needs illustrations? But she writes. She carries a little notebook pilfered from my desk and whenever inspiration comes she writes a word or two. The other day she announced “I’m going to write HOT” and she did. She knows all the letters and she sounds out whatever she’s decided to write. Her funny accent makes for some odd combinations, but when she says the word it makes sense phonetically. Four is spelled F-U-R, store is spelled S-T-U-R, and floor sounds distinctly French, as in F-L-E-U-R.

It was important to her to learn to write her siblings names as soon as she learned her own. She listed them in large, perfect print on an oversized sheet of paper. A bold border gave the list a poster effect and she taped it to the wall. “There” she announced. “Now you can stop calling us the wrong names.” It’s an easy mistake. Their names all start with the same letter. Try saying “She sells seashells down by the seashore” a few times. Try it when, instead of selling seashells, she’s stolen your lipstick and painted her sister’s face with it or systematically broken a dozen eggs to see what’s inside. 

My son reads voraciously. He reads before school, on the bus, at lunch, after school in the tree house, while swinging on a rope, at the dinner table if I let him, before bed, in bed… A week ago he came home from the book store beaming with three new books in his hands. Now he needs more. I came home with new books as well, but I’m still savoring Kirk Curnutt’s short stories in Baby Let’s Make a Baby and I’ve started War Music, which is Christopher Logue’s very fine account of Homer’s Iliad. It’s a book I’d like the luxury of reading straight through, all at once. It’s poetry, after all. The pixie picked it up yesterday and flipped through. “Your books are all filled up with words! Cool. S-E-E. See. Is this a story about the beach?” I was reminded of a quote by Victor Hugo: To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.

Very cool indeed.