“In our house we eat one bite of everything. That’s what we do in our house,” Random Granddaughter told Grandma and Grandpa, shortly after they had arrived for a weekend of partying. The Barely Extended Family was partying to celebrate Grandpa’s 64th birthday (just passed), RG’s 4th birthday (arriving next month), and Random Daughter’s acceptance into graduate school (for the second time).

RG can spout the party line, but she still has trouble with the party. That night, RD had fixed broccoli and cauliflower (thereby mixing foods, a practice that offends RG’s culture, but she let it go because she had greater offenses to her culture to do battle with), pork medallions (which RG and everybody else thought were splendid) and scalloped potatoes. The troubles began with the abused potatoes.

RG likes potatoes. Potatoes should be white. RG likes cheese. Cheese should perhaps be in little pieces or between a couple of crackers. Mama (Random Daughter) had decided to mix white potatoes and red potatoes just to see what happened. Of course RD had improperly mixed cheese in with the potatoes, which now looked very strange and mottled. The adults said, “Those potatoes look very strange” and then happily ate them. As RG would happily inform you, “Adults will eat anything and adults are dangerously insane.” Nobody pays any attention to her, of course.

RG looked at the scalloped potatoes on her plate with great disfavor. “Take a bite,” birth mother Mommy urged. RG had forgotten the party line. Reluctantly she put a forkful in her mouth. She made a face. I believe moue is the correct term. She sat that way for a while.

“Chew it up. Wash it down with your kid wine” Mommy said. (The adults were drinking champagne in celebration of Mama’s acceptance into graduate school. RG was drinking apple juice as “kid wine.”)

RG’s moue got firmer. It became a mouerrrrrr or something. Eventually Mommy said, “If you decide to spit it out, please don’t do that at the dinner table. People don’t want to see food coming back out of your mouth at the dinner table. That’s not good manners. Go to the bathroom if you are going to spit it out.”

RG got down from the dinner table and headed for the bathroom. While she was gone, Mommy said, “She’s such a drama queen.”

Eventually RG came back to the table. Eventually, we got to chocolate cake and blowing out candles. RG thought chocolate cake and candles was a much better party line for a queen of the drama.

In a Flash

January 28, 2008

Mommy placed five candles on the birthday cake and lit the candles.

“I can blow out the candles,” said Random Granddaughter. She began to puff. It took several puffs, but at four years old, who is counting?

As she got to the last couple of candles, she bent closer to make sure they puffed out. As she puffed, a few small flickers of flame started to sizzle up her long blonde hair. Mommy and Grandpa, closest to the scene, gasped in horror and then, with the same instantaneous reaction blew hard at the tiny tendrils of flame on the strands of hair.The flames went out in a second. The adults all breathed a sigh of relief and told RG to back away from the cake a little. She puffed out the last of her candles.

I blew out my candle.I didn’t need to make a wish; I was happy enough with nothing much happening to a little girl who hadn’t even really noticed what had not happened.

Hurry Up

January 28, 2008


“Mommy is making a birthday cake for us,” said Random Granddaughter. “She wants to know what kind of frosting to put on it, banilla or chocolate.”

I thought about it. Vanilla frosting is fine, but chocolate is chocolate. “Chocolate,” I said.

“Grandpa wants chocolate frosting,” RG called to the kitchen.

A few minutes later she came to the table with a plastic bag containing candles. She pulled out a candle. “I want this candle.” The candle was pink. RG thought a little more. She pulled out three more candles. “I get four candles.” I will be four years old. “

“Pick a color for your candle, Grandpa,” she said. I pulled out a candle, more or less at random.

“You picked a blue candle. I have a pink candle,” RG said.

“How original,” said Grandma.

“How old are you, Grandpa?” she asked.

“I just turned 64,” I said. “There aren’t 64 candles in your bag of candles. I will use one candle 64 times.” I held the candle up and counted, “One.” I put the candle down. I picked the candle up and counted “Two.” I put the candle down. I continued picking the candle up, counting, and then putting the candle down.

By the time I got to eight or so, RG was laughing. I made a mental note, This joke gets a laugh. It’s hard to do comedy for preschoolers. I need all the good jokes I can get.

RG is pretty good at counting. I hear her counting all the time as she plays with her dolls and stuffed animals. She thought about the number 64. Even though it’s an even number, it sounded odd and incomplete to her.

“You need to hurry up so you get to 65,” she said.

“That’s quite all right,” I replied. “I got to 64 quite fast enough. I think I will stop and rest a bit.”