Stop Touching My Melon Balls: Why My Children Must Go Back to School

Recently Blondie and I were invited to a friend’s house for a little luncheon get together, so naturally I asked what we could bring. Fruit. Right. No problem. In fact, this was the perfect opportunity to teach Blondie how to shop for, prepare, and transport a lovely fruit tray to share with others.

So we loaded up into the mobile oven some call a car, and headed to the store. We pondered all the choices. We pressed gently on skins to see if they yielded under light pressure. We sniffed the hind quarters of cantaloupe. We scrutinized the underside of the carton of strawberries as if we were trying to determine the gender of a puppy. Yes. I was a good mom. Teaching my girl about the things that really matter. A good-no magnificent-fruit tray to present at a luncheon.

Next we headed to the floral department to choose some flowers to offer as a little hostess gift-also a part of any Southern girl’s education-never show up empty handed to a luncheon. There were lovely little nosegays of herbs and roses, beautiful bunches of lilies, but my girl spotted the neon-dyed daisies bedazzled with silver glitter. Inside I longed for the sweet little tussy mussies, but a voice inside said, “Remember, you are the good mom. Remember? Let her pick the flowers. LET HER PICK THE FLOWERS, ALREADY.” And so it was settled.

Once we got home I decided, yet again, to be the good mom and let her arrange the platter however she pleased. I gave her all the tools she needed, a little lesson on the anatomy of a pineapple, and left her to it. A few minutes later she called me to to the kitchen to ask about the melon baller, so we dug in. Remember, I’m the good, patient mom. Blondie worked and worked, preparing the fruit for her friends as if her life depended on it.

Then we moved on to Floral Arranging 101. After a short tutorial she whipped those neon daisies into a glitter infused masterpiece. “That’s my girl,” I thought, and a satisfied smile crept across my face. That girl deserved a snow cone. Yes, good mom, she deserved a snow cone! And her brother who sat there the whole time watching episode after episode of Psyche.

We were all deliriously happy. Me from my parenting prowess, the kids from their giant icy tubs of sugar. All was well.

You do know, dear readers, precisely where pride cometh, right? Insert the fall here. Here’s how it went down.

After all that hard work being such a great mom, a relaxing bath was just the thing, complete with lavender bath salts (the kind you actually put into the water, not up your nose-I’m not that desperate). Ahhhhh. Sweet relaxation. Until I heard the words, and I quote, “Mooooooom, the Dude won’t stop touching my melon baaaaallllls!!!!” What the what? Are those two really going to make me leave this cocoon of warmth to settle their dispute? No way. So I hollered something back through gritted teeth and stayed put.

I finally emerged, ready to continue my day as the best mom ever, now new and improved with a relaxing soak. Then I saw it. The bright red snowcone that had been abandoned on the dining room table. And subsequently knocked over and mauled by a certain four-legged member of our family who has been known to climb there and do what ever he pleases. And have I mentioned that there is a wool rug under this table? Never mind that that may have not been the best choice (a tarp, perhaps?), someone spilled a bunch of crap on my wool rug.

Breathe deeply, mama. It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff. It’s just….what is that on the other corner of the rug? It’s so shiny! And so much of it! And why is my bottle of Martha Stewart extra-fine glitter sitting on the sideboard???? Apparently the neon daisies were not quite as bedazzled as Blondie thought they should be.

I could feel the tears burning as thoughts of people touching other people’s melon balls, bright red snowcones, and glitter swirled in my head. That was it. Good mama had left the building. It was time to mop.

No, not mop up the myriad of messes I’d witnessed, I mean time to “mop.” Here’s how it works. First, with all the fake sweetness you can muster, shove your kids out the door. Next, lock it behind them. Then go check every other possible entry point in the house and make sure they are secure, too. Now add in a little Gloria Gaynor. And I mean loud. You need to find some way of drowning out their sweaty cries. Now, grab your mop (or anything with a long handle-they can’t see that well through the filthy windows) and start “mopping.” And by mopping I mean a half hearted waltz from time to time in any room with a window.

So they spot you and start tapping on the window relentlessly. What do you do? Don’t panic. Just mouth the words, “Sorry, kids. Wet floors,” and keep moving. Better yet, find a corner of the house where they couldn’t possibly see you. And take a giant bag of puffy Cheetos with you. You may be there a while.

Now, I’m not one to lie to my kids, so I did do a little “mopping up” with a damp dishtowel, and there where technically “wet floors” there for a minute or so, but you know what desperate times call for, right? Besides, I was actually doing them a favor. That “mopping” saved their lives.

Why must they go back to school? Sheer survival, people. Yes. It takes a village and I shamelessly am calling upon that village to help a mama out. Teachers, attendance officers, lunch ladies, coaches, to every last one of you, thank you. Often yours is a thankless job. In this mama’s eyes, you are a lifesaver. Really.

PS Staples has no idea who I am. Just one of my all-tim fav commercials. Ya feelin’ me?

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