Monday, September 7, 2009

Banishment Works

We call this the Mormon Pantry. A lot of houses in Utah have a set-aside space for big-time food storage, in keeping with LDS doctrine. Ours is a luxurious concrete room all its own in the basement, complete with customized shelving. The previous owners (who were Mormon) had this crammed to the gills with canned goods sufficient to survive the second coming. You can see that we just have some paper towels in there. Actually, this is also where we keep the beer. You just can't see it - it's around the corner. Sometimes when there's surplus ketchup, that'll go there, too.

I'm bringing this up because my kids have been skating on thin ice with me lately. Particularly with the squabbling. And the way Nathan whacks Sara. And the way she provokes him to hit her. And the mouthy stuff. And they were such cute babies...

I know a lot of this is normal sibling stuff. They are actually not as bad as my younger brother and I were. No one has suffered any blood loss, after all. Simon and his brother were also at each other's throats. But now, I'm the parent.

Other signs that my kids are on the slippery slope to Hell:
  1. Nathan was playing with Sara and one of his little friends in the back yard, and Sara would not help him climb into a tree. He screamed, "YOU BITCH!!" at her. Hooo, boy. I had to send him into the house. I let his friend stay and continue playing with Sara, though, hoping that it would rankle. Then Sara went and stood under his bedroom window and threw paper airplane at it, to taunt him.
  2. I had a house full of guests and did something clumsy - spilt something or dropped something. Nate said, "Can't you do anything right?!?" As Si said later, "Great. Now everyone will think that I talk to you that way!"
  3. The final straw was "A Prairie Home Companion", when Garrison Keillor was describing "Why Every Parent Should Buy the Children a Kitty Cat". This is what you will get from a child who is not given the opportunity to cuddle a sweet little kitty cat. The there was a voice-over of this obnoxious, rude, foul-mouthed teenager.

Oh. My. God. And Simon is allergic to cats. So there is nothing to be done except to bring the thunder.

So, the next day when they were fighting on the way to Target, I pulled the car over (remember the crunch of gravel that meant your mom had really pulled over and you were going to GET IT?) and gave them what for. I scalded them with my searing tongue (Actually, to a grown up, that might sound kind of fun...No! Minds out of the gutter and on the task at hand.) I was mean. And I told them that there was to be no time-out in their rooms. Rooms are too fun. The next time one of them needed to be isolated from the light of humanity, exile was to be in the Mormon Pantry.

A-hah! That did it! I could see the fear in their eyes. So I added that I would not be sweeping the spiders out beforehand.

Nate whispered hoarsely, "Of all the rooms in our house, Mom, the Mormon Pantry is my least favorite."

And you know what? It worked! I am reminded of my friend Mary who told her kids all the years they were growing up that she had a wooden spoon in her purse that she would use to beat them. She managed to keep that going for about a decade.

They have been little darlings. Of course, I was waiting to prove that I was serious. Finally, Nate got carried away and smacked Sara's bum. I marched him to the Mormon Pantry and made him sit in there for 7 minutes. He sat quietly (I was a little bummed that he didn't whimper), while I waited out in the rec room.

Afterward, he declared it, "not so bad." He told Sara that it was nice to sit there and look at the soda cans. Maybe I should turn off the lights next time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chocolate Requires Instructions?

We were sharing a chocolate bar in the office today. Chocolate so fancy it comes with rules of engagement. We followed them to the letter. We did not want to miss out on any subtleties due to crassness or insensitivity. Here are the instructions.

Breathe...Engage your senses. Take three deep breaths, quiet the chattering mind, (Chattering mind? What chattering mind? Who has a chattering mind? Why do they want to quiet my chattering mind? Is this a death panel?) and be in the present moment. (Huh? Oh. Right.)

See... Don't be deceived by the looks of this bar - it's a milk chocolate of a new variety, blended with a bit of dark chocolate and forest green matcha to deepen the flavor and color.

Smell...Take three deep breaths. (Someone asks if two breaths would be OK. She is shouted down.) Rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the aromas. (This also helps to melt the chocolate, and no permission to lick fingers is granted.) Inhale deeply. (This is the third time we've been admonished about our breathing. Geeze.)

Snap...Break the bar in two places. Hear a crisp, ringing pop, which indicates a well-tempered bar of chocolate. (We leaned in to hear it. It sounded like any other chocolate bar when you break it. Pretty much inaudible.)

Taste...Place a small piece (or a large one) of chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty secondss, the chocolate square will begin to melt around your tongue.(Realize that this chocolate tastes bad, and no amount of ritualizing of the experience is going to change that. Rinse it down with coffee.)