My husband had a rather wild adolescence, so whenever our youngest child does anything remotely sneaky, I blame my husband.  Now, one could argue that my husband had a rather normal adolescence, and I had a completely abnormal one.  I was, in fact, so straight-laced as a teen, my freshman year in college I received the nickname the pure one, or simply Po for short.  Not only did I never get drunk, I never drank at all.  I never smoked, did drugs, stole anything, or snuck out of the house.  I never cheated on a test, and I never lied.  I skipped school once and after fifteen minutes of sitting with my friends at the donut shop, I found a pay phone and called my mom to tell her I was skipping school.  I was concerned she would worry if the school called her to report my absence.  The truth is, I was well into my thirties before I was even in the same room as someone smoking pot.  I am not entirely sure how I avoided all the normal pitfalls of puberty, I was either very naïve or wise beyond my years; I am still not sure which.

My youngest, who takes after her father in many ways, has a keen understanding of the moments she is left unsupervised.  The second I step into the shower, the moment I go to retrieve the mail, the very instant I answer a phone call, she bursts into action.  I call this behavior doodle-poppin’.  My definition of doodle-poppin’ is exhibiting mischievous behavior which is too funny to punish.

Monday, while I was weeding the yard, Ella made “soup,” which basically means she filled my stock pot with water and dumped in ten dollars worth of paprika and oregano.

Wednesday, while I was in the shower, Ella took all the wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift bags out of the closet and wrapped up stuff she owns.  When I discovered the mess spread from one end of the hall to the other, Ella began giving me these wrapped up items as gifts.

“This is a present for you, Mommy.”

How do you yell at a four-year-old who just handed you a stuffed rabbit wrapped in Christmas paper with the ears sticking out?

Then she handed me a gift bag.  I pulled out yards of ribbon and sheets of tissue.  “I don’t think there is anything in here,” I said.

Ella surveyed me with a disdain one might feel for a spoiled child asking for candy.  “The ribbon is the gift, Mom.”

“Of course it is.  I love green ribbon!!”

Today, while I was answering emails, Ella took paint and markers and colored all her doll furniture.  When I discovered the messy project, Ella could see the frustration on my face.

“I know you think this is doodle-poppin’,” she said.  “But I think it is art!”

PS  I went to take a photo of my daughter’s “art,” but my oldest daughter has taken my photo memory card out of the camera.  She did this a week ago to complete a school project.  I am certain I will never see my memory card again.


best game of all time

I have two daughters.  Meg is seventeen, and Ella is four.  Despite the thirteen years between them, they are, in some ways, peas in a pod.  They both love Mexican food; they both love tormenting their brother; they both love watching reruns of Scooby Doo (sometimes I think these shows are too scary for Ella, but she always reminds me that the monsters aren’t real; they are people in masks). Still, Meg being a sophisticated teen doesn’t always indulge Ella when it comes to fun and games.

Yesterday I walked in to the toy room to see the two of them playing together.

“Hi, Mommy,” Ella said.

“Hi, Baby.  Whatcha doin’?”

“We are playing the best childhood game of all time,” Meg replied.

“Yeah,” Ella said.  “Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground.”

“Hmmm,” I replied.  “Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground is a very good game.”

“Yes,” Meg said as she tapped the pink balloon in Ella’s direction.  “It won best game of all time by a slim margin, narrowly beating out the second best game of all time.”

“And what is the second best game of all time?” I asked.

Meg popped the balloon in the air and looked at me like she could not believe I even needed to ask this question.  In a tone full of superiority and the wisdom of ages, my seventeen-year-old replied, “The Ground is Lava!”