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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

"For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind, if you're young at heart."-Frank Sinatra

To call this post my triumphant return to blogging would be assuming two things: 1) That I will once again write and post here consistently. 2) That this post is good enough to qualify as triumphant. I can't make any promises regarding #1. The mood just struck me, so I wrote this. As for #2, you dear reader will be the judge of that. So without further ado...

It's the end of an era. The turning of a page. A rite of passage. And whatever other cliche you wish to ascribe to what happened last week. We loaded Peanut's play kitchen into the swagger wagon and drove it to my brother-in-law's house in Vermont. What once stood at the center of Peanut's make-believe universe and a key part of our home for nearly a decade will now provide years of joy, laughter, and memories to our nephew and niece in a far-away place, only to be seen by us once or twice a year.

While I am all for de-cluttering and organizing - a place for everything and everything in its place, I like to say. (Actually, I never say that. That's a Ben Franklin quote if I'm not mistaken. And despite my above-average intelligence and moderate professional success, I am no Ben Franklin.) But I digress...

Christmas morning 2008: Peanut discovers Santa's surprise
Despite the utmost desire for order and harmony in our home, this was a melancholy moment for both me and My Director. We stood there in the driveway, staring longingly at the kitchen unceremoniously lying on its back after we placed it in the swagger wagon...in repose, if you will. We looked at each other and simultaneously gave the pouty face...lower lip outstretched...eyes wrinkled...a faux frown that wasn't so faux. This was the kitchen's final resting place in its original home. But our period of mourning didn't last too long. We held firm and stood strong. For our sake, and for the good of the empire. And to show Peanut we mean business.

You see, purging relics from the past does not come easy for her. In fact, she resists at every turn. It's always a fight. Let's face it: she's a hoarder. To describe her room as a disgrace would be an insult to actual disgraces like our country's current political climate, the final episode of The Sopranos, and the New York Jets. This child's bedroom is a monument to chaos. It needs an exorcism. Her room is so dysfunctional that I now require her to meet me in the hallway to kiss me goodnight, for entering puts me at risk of an immediate case of agita. And so help me if I step on another piece of Calico critter furniture, the entire God-forsaken neighborhood is going to end up on the curb.
A small glimpse of the agita-inducing chaos
from an otherwise lovely sunny morning 

I know what you're probably thinking: I am the parent, she is the child. It's my house and she's living in it. (I actually say these very things to Peanut all of the time.) Therefore, she should clean her room. Right? But you need to understand something: the force is strong in this one. And My Director, just as organized and OCD as I am if not more, is a willing enabler. She, the stronger one of the two of us, has succumbed to the madness. So I am outnumbered. I choose my battles, and I have opted out of this one. I avoid the madness.

Relinquishing her kitchen did not come easy. We planted the seed at least a year ago. We were planning a home renovation that would turn what was Peanut's playroom - the longtime home of her play kitchen - into a seating area just off of what is now our new actual kitchen. Before this process, we moved Peanut's toys to the basement and set her up down there. And she embraced this change. She's 10 now. And while she is still clinging to remnants of her childhood innocence like a real-life Andy from Toy Story, she had definitely long outgrown the kitchen.

We will wage the bedroom battle one day in the near future, the three of us converging in an inevitable war to decide who sits upon our proverbial Iron Throne. (I think I'm gonna win that one. Does that make me Khaleesi? Or Jon Snow? Does is make Peanut Cersei? Perish the thought.) For now, while we rummage through what remains of Peanut's playful preschool past, and decide what stays and what goes, sentimentality overtakes my need for household efficiency. That's because Peanut herself, in a moment of honesty bereft of any toy-hoarding, purge-preventing agenda, said something that caused me to tap the brakes on the de-cluttering.

She was talking to My Director about one of her good friends. This particular friend is, according to Peanut, "in a hurry to grow up." An astute observation from a 10-year old, if I do say so myself. I think at this age you get a lot of that: the fine line between kids who want to be preteens and those who want to cling to childhood for as long as they can.

"She hardly ever wants to play with toys," Peanut lamented.

My little girl is growing up. But she doesn't want to grow up so fast. Her kitchen is gone, but her childhood is still here. There's plenty of time for social media, makeup, and God knows whatever else lies ahead. For now, she's going to be the little girl she wants to be, until she's ready to move on.

And I'm fine with that.

She still has to clean her room.

One day.

Stay tuned...

Back in the day, my first post to go viral - as the kids say - was about holding onto Peanut's innocence for as long as possible. The trolls of the internet let me have it, if I remember correctly. You can read it HERE if you're so inclined. And judge for yourself.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jim Dandy to the Rescue

"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate." -Thornton Wilder

There are few greater joys in childhood than when your parents announce the family will be going out for ice cream that night. Immediately, visions of combinations of flavors and toppings flood your head like sugarplums on a sleepy Christmas Eve. Oh, the wondrous, endless possibilities. You dream of multiple scoops with multiple sauces, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. You even venture to imagine what it would be like to order and consume the Stanley Cup of ice cream sundaes: The Jim Dandy.

Five scoops of ice cream, marshmallow, strawberry, and chocolate topping, walnuts, bananas, sprinkles and whipped cream served in a massive goblet. A confectionery paradise that my siblings and I would clamor for any time my dad would agree to take us to Friendly's. We'd pile in the back of the car - four of us crammed in, dreaming of Jim Dandy's frozen goodness, vocalizing our wishes.

 Until...
"YOU"RE NOT GETTIN' A F*CKING JIM DANDY."
My dad had the ability to go from zero to maniac in less than six seconds. More like three. That's how little time it took him to crush our chilled dreams and dash our ice cream spirits.
"IT'S TOO MUCH. YOU'LL NEVER FINISH IT."
Ok... but do you have to yell like a madman? Ice cream was YOUR idea, crazy person. Excuse us for getting excited. Of course, we'd never say these things out loud, out of fear of a solid smack from Mr. Not-so-Softee. We'd end up getting a scoop or two. Maybe one topping. Two max. While DAD got a Jim Dandy. The hypocrite.

This little passion play took place so frequently that it has become part of my dad's legend. So for the first time, My Director and I decided to perpetuate that legend, and took Peanut for a Jim Dandy on Saturday.

She approves of this obnoxious concoction.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

My Mid-Blog Crisis

Perhaps you've noticed. I hope you have, but fear you haven't. It's been a while since I posted here. In fact, I've gone 0-for-October, some of September, and half of November. If a blogger in an infinite sea of them stops blogging, does he make a sound? The answer is a resounding no. But for those of you who are wondering, I do feel the need to explain my absence.

I seem to have hit a wall. There are several reasons. I will try my best to articulate them below. But as one of them is DOUBT, I am no longer sure that I can. Here goes...

Trolls: The internet is crawling with nameless, faceless, spineless cretins who will twist your words, call you names, take you out of context, and not give a shit they're doing it. They disagree with you and degrade you. They call you a bad parent and a worse person. They do it, of course, anonymously. I used to be better at ignoring these people, rising above them, or shutting them up with my own brand of non-anonymous snark. But it's tiring. And unnecessary. I have better things to do.

This is my hobby. It's supposed to be fun. A release. Like running. Except when I'm running, I don't encounter asshole hecklers telling me I'm fat or slow or have bad form or ugly sneakers. If they are there, I don't notice thanks to my earbuds. Good old earbuds. But alas, there are no eyebuds for the internet.

I'm not here to fight. I'm not here to battle the trolls of the web's middle earth. This isn't about having thicker skin. I am the youngest of four in a no-holds-barred loud-mouthed Italian family. I got thick skin. It's about exposing myself and my family to unnecessary ridicule. For a hobby. Because, like my friend recently wrote here, too many people are unwilling and unable to just scroll by something with which they disagree.
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