The End of Innocence, or How to Crush the Hope Out of Your Child In One Easy Lesson

In an attempt to distract myself from the fact that putting a Feedjit map on my site was probably a HUGE mistake (where is everyone?  why aren’t there more red dots??  I MUST HAVE MORE RED DOTS!!!), the embarrassing knowledge that I have absolutely no idea what the hell post-modernism is (thanks, Jane!) and the rant building in me brought on the by posts of a couple of other bloggers (just exactly what I think of that so-called “television show” The Biggest Loser and whether or not size-discrimination is a real issue), I figured I’d tackle another vitally important issue.

The Tooth Fairy.  And her assorted cohorts.

I ran across a post recently by a woman whose 10-year-old daughter still believes in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, et al.  This child found a container with one of her baby teeth and confronted her mother with the discovery.  The woman proceeded to lie like a rug and told her daughter the tooth was her own.  Depending on your status as a parent and/or disposition, you may find that silly, if not appalling, but I have the benefit of hindsight and can understand it completely.

Beloved and I have 5 kids between the two of us – their ages are 25, 21, 20, 16 and 13; the oldest and youngest are boys and the middle three are girls.  We’ve been through this, and while I can’t vouch for Beloved, the most traumatic of the “There is no Santa Claus” conversations for me have been the first and last…probably because they were the first and the last.

When Oldest Son was about 8 years old – maybe as young as seven – his father and I told him the truth about Santa Claus.  I don’t really remember why; perhaps he’d heard something from the kids at school, or maybe we’d just decided he was old enough to know the truth.  Telling Oldest Son anything has always produced one of two reactions – grave contemplation, characterized by a slight frown and furrowing of his brow, or complete skepticism, denoted by the downturn of one corner of his mouth and the raising of the opposite eyebrow.  (As a teenager he expanded on that repertoire with a completely blank stare that was surprising in its eloquence:  “Yeah, Mom – just keep yelling at me…it’s all going in one ear and right back out the other…”)  The Santa Claus Revelation produced the Grave Contemplation response, whereupon he immediately retreated to his video games to mull it all over.

Maybe two or three hours passed when he approached his father, and with a completely hopeless and dejected countenance, said, “Dad…the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too?”  We felt absolutely awful until we found out that he turned right around and – you guessed it – spilled the beans to his 4-year-old sister.

It wasn’t anything, though, compared to that same discussion with his little brother.  Fast forward 12 or so years, and The Young One and I are in my car, driving from Euless, a suburb of Ft. Worth, to downtown Dallas to pick up Oldest Son and bring him back to our place for a couple of days (probably so he could do his laundry).  If I remember correctly, it was early October and the initial “Holiday Season” onslaught of toy commercials was just beginning.  The Young One was 9 years old, and happily chattering away, something he does exceedingly well to this day (both the “happy” and the “chattering”).  Before I knew it, the subject of what he wanted for Christmas came up and somewhere in there the words “I hope Santa Claus brings me” were uttered.

I was a little taken aback – somewhere, somehow, my middle-aged and over-tired brain dredged up an obviously false memory of having laid this subject to rest the year before.  I shot a quick glance at him as we bulleted down I-35 towards the Mix Master, and uneasily said, “Uh…dear?  You know there isn’t really any Santa Claus, don’t you?”

He turned a startled and stricken face to me.  “Huh?  What???”

“Honey, you know Santa Claus is really Mommies and Daddies, right?”

He gave me an incredulous stare for maybe five seconds and then burst into anguished, wracking tears.  I was at a complete loss – never in my wildest dreams had I thought I’d get such a reaction, no matter how wrong I was in my assumption or how disappointed he might be.  It took him a couple of minutes, but he finally calmed down enough for me to say, “Honey – I’m sorry!  I thought you knew!  Haven’t the other kids in school been telling you there isn’t any Santa Claus?” (He was, after all, in the fourth grade.)

“Yes – but I believed YOU!” he cried, and began sobbing uncontrollably again.  “I’ll NEVER be able to trust you ever AGAIN!”

I have to tell you – I’ve had people say some truly horrible and crushing things to me before (*cough*ex-husband*cough*), but nothing has ever made me feel as awful as that did.  I had visions of being dragged, against my will, on Oprah and having Dr. Phil declare me the most insensitive and unfit parent in recorded history while the audience beat me with copies of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.

Fortunately, Oldest Son and Darling Daughter have a marvelous relationship with The Young One, despite their age differences, and he adores and worships them both.  Once I had Oldest Son in the car, he was able to begin damage control and had The Young One calm enough for Darling Daughter (master of the “Let’s See How We Can Use This To Our Advantage” school of thought) to take over by the time we got home and really work on him (I’m sure it was she who pointed out to him that Parents are far more easily manipulated accessible than Santa Claus could ever be).

I think he even learned to trust me again.  Or at least wrangle an XBox out of me.

Memorable Memorial Day

Not.

Beloved is gone and it’s been no fun without him. I’ve worked all day. I’ve cursed Internet Explorer to no avail – it still sucks like a bucket of ticks and now I have a headache.

The Young One has been tormenting Darling Daughter endlessly the way only a younger sibling can. She’d walk by him and he’d say very softly, “You’re gay.” The computer desk is right next to her room, so if she wanted to leave, she had to walk by him and he’d say, very softly, every time, “You’re gay.”

She tried to avoid him, either staying in her room or coming downstairs to watch TV, so after awhile, he’d either knock on her door or bound down the stairs, bellowing, “Hey Sis! Guess what?” Then, softly, “You’re gay.”

Darling Daughter – who, by the way, does an amazing impression of Eric Cartman – began responding to this harrassment by screeching “Maaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhmmmm! Make him stop!”

Why my mother did not have me sterilized before I reached the age of consent, I’ll never know.

I baked two loaves of bread and they both sank on the top. *sigh*

It’s been threatening to rain all day, so I cooked our burgers indoors. Come to think of it, I’d have done that anyway; I do not know how to operate our grill and am intimidated by outdoor appliances hooked up to large tanks of explosives.

The Young One pestered me for an hour by whining, “I’m hungry – when is dinner going to be ready?” When I finally gave him his burger and fries, he ate half the burger and three french fries and declared, “I’m full.”

I made three kinds of burgers tonight – I know it seems like overkill for three people, but we’re talking lunch that I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week, and that is always a GOOD thing. Bacon cheeseburgers, requested by The Young One and then a couple of experiments – Luau Burgers and Thai Burgers with Cucumber-Mint Relish. The Luau Burgers need work, but oh, my – those Thai Burgers were to die for.

So here’s the recipe. It would make a great meatloaf, too, with the relish on the side, if you’re so inclined.

Thai Burgers with Cucumber-Mint Relish

Relish

1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, chopped at about 1/2″ dice

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Burgers

1 pound lean ground beef

2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped*

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fish sauce**

the zest of one small lime

1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (such as srirachi) or more, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Dice the cucumber; place it in a bowl, wrapped in a paper towel, for about 30 minutes, to drain. Remove it from the paper towel and combine all of the ingredients in the bowl; refrigerate for at least half an hour, preferably longer.

Combine all of the burger ingredients together, taking care not to over-handle it or the burgers will be tough. Shape it in to 4 generous or 6 smaller patties, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about half an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Grill over medium heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once. Serve with cucumber-mint relish.

*If the lemon grass is very dry, soak it for about 20 minutes in a little water before chopping. If no lemon grass is available, substitute 1 – 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel.

**If you don’t care for the taste of fish sauce, soy sauce can be substituted (but it won’t be quite the same)

Quatro de Mayo and Other Weekend Plans

Happy Friday, all. I’ve been wanting to post for a couple of days now, but I’ve been in the midst of that wonderful phenomenon known as Perimenopausal Brain Fog. This, for me, is the worst thing about the whole process (the second worst thing being the mood swings and accompanying crying jags) – I can handle the hot flashes and the erratic periods and all of that, but I hate not feeling like I’m in control of my emotions and I REALLY hate not being able to think clearly and concisely all the time. At any rate, I’ve found that doing something that requires some modicum of concentration often helps so I’m making myself post, even if it is drivel. Okay, so my posts are usually drivel anyway, but that’s beside the point.

I’d really like to leave work early today so I can go get a manicure and pedicure and finish painting my latest project at the pottery store (a candy dish to match the utensil holder), but we took off early Wednesday and drove down to visit Yoder Miller’s Authentic Amish Fruit and Vegetable Tourist Trap. And tomorrow will be consumed with cleaning the house to get ready for Sunday.

Being what I refer to as “texpatriates” we are probably the only people in the entire state of Ohio who celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Since that falls on a Monday this year, we have decided to celebrate Quatro de Mayo instead and have several of our friends over Sunday afternoon for fajitas, homemade guacamole and pineapple upside-down cake (which is absolutely wicked – I’ll post the recipe later). I was going to make my renowned Molé Enchiladas, but they are such a pain in the tookus – and I can’t guarantee these days that I’ll feel up to making something that includes a sauce that will take half the friggin’ day – so fajitas it is.

Beloved will also make his Lamp Shade Margaritas; I call them that because after you’ve had one, you’re apt to parade around wearing a lampshade on your head – after two you’re passed out on the floor, and after three you should have your stomach pumped to avoid alcohol poisoning. Needless to say, they are VERY popular at our get-togethers (we’ve had people request that he make them at Christmas parties). I’m not sure I’ll have one…alcohol consumption makes me feel completely crappy these days. Another side-effect of perimenopause? Or maybe just my increasingly wonky blood sugar?

Since I’m going to be preparing for guests on Sunday, there will be no Sunday brunch (we’re going to a little family restaurant for that), but I want to post a recipe anyway. I don’t know what, though. Waffles? Baked Cheese Grits? Spinach and Onion Quiche? Monkey bread? Coffee cake? Blueberry muffins?

Suggestions?

Happy April Fool’s Day

April 1st isn’t the same once your kids are too old to jump up and down and scream “Mom! Mom! There’s a spider on your head!!”

However, I have just spent the day dealing, largely, with my most difficult client, better known as Queen Bitch of the Universe, aka That Bubble-Headed, Pea-Brained Bimbo. Perhaps her inability to read and then understand the most simple of statements is all just her idea of an April Fool’s joke? That never ends?

You know, people spontaneously combust all the time. Why can’t she?