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Ugh. I really hate the smell of ketchup. Especially ketchup that’s been sitting out for a while – such as with the remnants of last night’s hot dog that somehow mysteriously ended up tucked in some random closet. I never use to have such animosity toward ketchup. After all, it’s high in lycopene. It’s red. It’s good on French fries and cheeseburgers. The bottle generally makes a sound that the children laugh at and my husband blames on me in public places. Ketchup and I were ok in each other’s company. Not soul mates, but not mortal enemies. Until Lena. And then the nails were hammered in to the bin of revulsion with Emmeline.
My father-in-law introduced ketchup to Lena. I was trying to keep her away from condiments as long as possible for a few reasons: 1. I wanted my kids to taste what food should taste like (otherwise why bother cooking? Just slap some ketchup on a bun and call it a meal). 2. Lena seems to think eating involves smashing whatever she is eating pretty much over all 36” of her skinny, blonde self. Adding condiments is simply adding a bath to the conclusion of every meal. 3. My nephews put many, many condiments on food and it just seemed like too much work to remember that “hot dogs need ranch, Tracy, not relish (duh, eye roll)”.
Then, Grampy stepped in and introduced Lena to the red siren and she can no longer resist its call. Our condiment free lifestyle quickly went out the window as Lena began to insist on ketchup with eggs. And, if you look up "Monkey See, Monkey Do" in Wikipedia, you will see a picture of Emmeline. So, now I have two lovelies destroying wonderful meals with ketchup. Ketchup on crêpes. Sacrebleu! Crêpesavec ketchup??? Napoleon is still rolling over in his tiny grave from this. Really, at this point you would think I weigh 37 pounds from the mere thought of this delicious food genocide being committed in my home. But, worry not. Somehow I power through to consume my decadent breakfast. I drown my revulsion in extra helpings of whipped cream and strawberries. I mean, it would be wrong to not enjoy crêpes. And, we wouldn’t want to insult the French, or anything. They may come after us with a baguette. And, me with no brie? For shame.
So, ketchup is not my battle to fight with my kids. You want ketchup for your goldfish crackers? Fine. Ketchup on salad and pizza? Sure, it just blends in with the preexisting tomatoes. Ketchup on fresh blueberries…ok. I draw the line there because that is just disgusting. But, overall, ketchup is not my fight in my home, especially since I am living in a world where my little Spartacus is planning an uprising to overthrow the Romans Republic on a daily basis.
The rule at the end of a meal at my house is that the girls may not be excused until they put their dishes away. All of the sudden – my burden of responsibilities has been lightened (even if it requires Emmeline throwing out several pieces of silverware and breaking a few dishes like we’re at some kind of Greek rave). I thought that I was making progress in increasing their responsibilities, taking an active part in the chores and teaching them some basic rules about working as a team. I felt like I was doing something right –since I seem to be skating through this Momaical life of mine by the seat of my Seven for all Mankinds trying to figure out how not to raise a flock of assholes. Wow. There really is so much less to do after dinner. So. Much. Less…. It’s almost too easy. Clearly – something is not right.
Apparently my tiny people have figured out how to beat the system, again. She says we have to clear the table. But she didn’t say we had to put the dishes in the sink! Ha! Caveat venditor! Random things were missing; several sippy cups , the Holy Grail of plates (the one with the monkey on it), several pink spoons. I again blamed it on the fact that only sometimes do my smattering of brain cells manage to bang together to spark a memory. I probably put it somewhere –but where? Until one afternoon, right after lunch, I spy Emmeline sneak off around the couch with a pink paper plate in her hand. Since she gets her nice, gentle ways from me, she opened a cabinet door and slammed it shut so hard that the pictures on the mantel shook. I waited another second to see if there were any aftershocks (we are in California, after all) and then walked over to the television stand, unprepared for what I was about to unveil.
For the love of all that is holy. I had opened the doors to Pandora’s Cabinet of Hideous. I sat there, mouth agape for what felt like an eternity as I looked at my own private episode of Hoarders. There, tucked among the unused VHS cassettes were many, many missing items. Dishes, cups, baby dolls, binkies, toothbrushes, hair brushes, the coveted purple baby doll shirt, stuffed animals, rotten sippy cups, a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter (Kidding about the last three– Sesame street flashbacks).
Lena: “Ooooooooh Emmeline. You are in SO MUCH TROUBLE! Mommy is probably going to give you away to another family now! Like all the three thousand Chinese people in the house next door! You’ll have to live with them FOREVER and then I will get to play with all your toys and you will be so sad. See ya!”
I am beginning to recover slightly from the shock of this pig sty. “Emmeline. What’s up with this?” “I cweanin’ Mommy.” “I see. Is this where these things belong?” “Yeah. It away.”
Mommy lesson #6,748: Kids are literal. Remember to give them explicit instructions even when they roll their eyes at you and say OKAAAAAY! I GET IT!
I begin to pull the remains of a few meals - all adorned in a sheen of curling ketchup remains. I am trying to gag down my revulsion as Lena yells - "She didn't finish her lunch, Mommy! For like a year! She shouldn't get any frozen yogurt today." And, for once I agree. Because she'll probably put ketchup on it. And then store it, in my undergarmet drawer.
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