Tuesday, January 04, 2005

‘A Moment of Clarity’

Yesterday I had one of those “moments of clarity” you’ve heard about (when something is realized in its full context). I’ve had these moments before, as I’m sure you have. At these moments we pause and stare into space… the full impact of the moment no longer too abstract to comprehend as we face the affect, overwhelmed.

I remember once standing in the grammar school cafeteria, in the evening, as coaches were choosing kids for the Bantam League Football teams. I had a moment of clarity then too when I realized I was to be the last kid chosen.

Another time was when my oldest son was born and all of a sudden I realized that my life would be completely changed (how this didn’t occur to me beforehand… I have no idea).

So… what was the big moment yesterday?

Yesterday, while I was doing html for the wife’s web site (a brain drain), the kids were goofing in the kitchen. Over the holidays, my wife had procured — in one of her many coupons deals — a giant sausage.

Now, the children have been attacking this sausage over the past week or so, with my youngest, Matthew (a sausage freak), getting by far the most of it. But, yesterday, the sausage was no longer “giant,” and had been reduced to one large hub.

Naturally, this caused dissention.

My older two, LA and Sheyanne, had been experimenting with the remaining sausage in the microwave. They especially liked that the sausage sizzled afterward (a non-child will likely clean the inside of the micro-wave). The experiment also produced grease on the plate, which they immediately gave to the dog, which caused the dog to start barfing… necessitating her expulsion to the backyard.

Matthew had been sneaking into the kitchen and swiping slices of sausage, which, of course, caused the others to complain. This all went on for a while. In between html fields with my wife’s coupon entries, when I could no longer take the commotion, I hollered…


That’s when I started staring into space in my “moment of clarity.”

Why is this a big deal?

When was the last time you had to stop working at something to holler out “LEAVE THE SAUSAGE ALONE!”? When did you ever have to utter this sentence at all?

Unless you have children and giant sausages you’ve NEVER had to say something so damned stupid.

What’s more… the children did not leave the sausage alone. When they noticed me simply sitting at the desk staring into space they went back to slicing, micro-waving and bickering.

While I had my “moment of clarity,” I could only think of all the idiotic phrases I’ve uttered, over the years, since the children came (and you thought I was new to this only in articles).

For instance, I’ve probably said “stop it” several-hundred-thousand times in 14 years.

“Stop it” is probably the most common parental utterance. We say it a lot. We say it in movie theatres. We say it at the grocery store. We say it in crowds and when everyone is looking. Say “stop it” to the children and it rarely has an effect. Say it in a crowd of people and heads turn. I have to say “stop it” many times each day. I’ve said it already today and the kids aren’t even up yet.

Even though it doesn’t do much good to say “stop it” to children parents say it anyway. It’s like an automatic reflex or something.

The only thing that ever changes with “stop it” is the inflection; “stop it”… “Stop it!”… “STOP IT!” Sometimes parents say it rapid fire like, “stop it, stop it, stop it!” and it takes a few moments to be alright again.

I said “stop it” once in my sleep and, for several weeks, Michelle and I slept left-to-right.

I was in a department store with the children once, shopping for clothes (for myself that time). I was the only one who could be seen above the racks by half a dozen other shoppers. I knew what I was doing. I was trying to get my kids’ hands off all the clothes and had to say “stop it” repeatedly, while wrestling with their hands. What everyone else saw was this grown man saying “stop it” to himself and doing something with his hands below his waist.

Another idiotic phrase in the parental vernacular — and I’m sure parents of more than one child can back me up on this — is “quit fighting.” Not that I am a Henry Kissinger or anything but I say “quit fighting” every day or so. I’ve said “quit fighting” so many times it does not have the desired effect. So I guess I’m as useful toward stopping a fight as Henry was.

There are many common and idiotic things I’ve had to say over the “years of children” but the most ridiculous lines are the ones regarding special circumstances.

For instance — thank God only once — I had to say, “Put the shit back in the toilet!”

“Dammit! Get your sister’s Barbie out of the tree!”

“You cannot go outside without pants!” (actually, I've said this one more than a few times).

“Leave the sausage alone!” Astounding that anybody has to say such a thing. Yes. Believe it or not this was a defining moment.

Other people are promoted to company president for their “moments,” others win gold medals or rescue hundreds from a fire… they are elected to political office, they are retired to the Hall of Fame or they save B-Company in a firefight.

My life is clarified when I say, “Leave the sausage alone!”

So, I’ve reflected on all the nitwit things I’ve had to say to the children.

These things are not always declarations. Many idiotic utterances from all parents are phrased like questions…

“Why did you cut the eyebrows off ALL the stuffed animals?”

“Didn’t you realize that you cannot cook Play-Do?”

“Didn’t Mom teach you to put the butter on AFTER the bread is toasted?”

I should mention that the only response you hear to any question you might ask your child is “I don’t know.”

But… that’s a whole other article.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger pale ale said...

that was great. i needed a good laugh. All my cousins around me are getting married or working on having their 2nd or 3rd kid. I have been very firm on expressing my desire to stay single and childless, but i have to admit that recently I was starting to soften to the idea. Maybe I should settle down, have some babies....then i read your article. Youre moment of clarity is now my monment too. Thanks.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Ellie said...

Wait till they become adults and you have to bite your tongue....you can't scream stop that and quit fighting over the sausage. And you may still have to ask inane questions like "didn't you know you have to have money in the bank when you write a check", "Wouldn't it have been wiser to find a new job BEFORE you quit the old one?, and "did you check the oil or bother to stop the car when the engine light came on" Life is always fun and gets more and more interesting in weird ways.

Your blog is great fun. Ellie

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was another good read, my friend. Hope all is well with you and yours and this will be a wonderful year for all.


At 11:52 PM, Blogger esclava said...

"Get your hands out of your sister's pants!"
"Stop it!"
"No toys in your beverage!"
"Stop it!"
"Leave my boob alone!"
"Stop it!"
"Dont wash your doll's hair with toothpaste!"
"Stop it!"

Yes...I know exactly what you mean.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Cop Mom said...

how funny and how true, I heard a comedian the other day say, why do kids say stupid things, well b/c their parents do, for example, while driving, you say, don't let me have to come back there. Well, what if the kids say, well dad pull over and come on back here. Another one we always say, "You can't come out until you "act" right." Well what if they take some acting lessons, and they really do learn how to act. Thanks for the laugh...

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great post. You had me seeing myself.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger FoFuSa said...

Great post! I giggled like a maniac the whole way through!

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Peralta said...

Hello Mr. Clarity!
I've been working with 9 preschool children whose ages range from 3 to 5 years and it can be pretty complicated. How do we get the little squirms to do what we want? To them "no" means "yes", but unfortunately we can't just exchange these 2 words because "yes" also means "yes" in their dictionary! All I can say is that today I was exhausted after 90 minutes of being with them - there was food all over the floor!
I guess I'm lucky because these 9 kids are with me only for the lunch period (90 minutes)- they'd drive
me bonkers if the lunch programwere any longer. I love them anyway, but it's a blessing to get away!

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Sister Sunshine said...

Kerry, my friend, you hit the nail on the head with this one, for sure. Remember Cosby's diatribe on "Brain Damage"? Same thing. LOL

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Kerry R. Fox said...

"Remember Cosby's diatribe on "Brain Damage"? Same thing. LOL"

Yes, Sis, I not only have the video of which you speak but I watch it with reverance about every year or so. There is no better preperation for parenthood than that video. Dr. Cosby is not just a parent but a good one. The man has paid his dues and knows of which he speaks.

I especially enjoy the line, "We have FOUR children. The reason we have four children is because we did not want FIVE!"...:-)

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Tricia said...

LoL! That was inspired! Thanks for the laugh. :)


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