Too short and just right

By Mir
April 22, 2007

For those of you keeping score at home, there are now less than three weeks remaining before The Big Day. (I am referring, of course, to my first manicure in a dozen years. Truly a cause for celebration.)

So, after our difficulty securing the desired plane tickets, Otto rearranged his life so that he could be here this weekend, and then we also went ahead and bought his plane tickets for the wedding weekend. Because it would really suck to get everyone together only to hear the pastor say, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today for a wedding that’s been postponed because the airlines have jacked up the prices again.” Not that you would be able to hear him, over my cursing sobbing.

We had some real excitement here headed into the weekend. Aside from my unbridled joy at the state of my internet (it’s on! it’s off! they’ll send someone! they can’t send anyone!) and the state of my basement (it’s dry! it’s fine! it’s… a little damp! it’s filling up! it’s drying out!), I especially enjoyed how I regularly gnash my teeth and wring my hands over my daughter’s seeming belief that I live to torment her, and then what do I do? Happy day-after-your-birthday, baby! Let’s go have gum surgery!

The periodontist didn’t see the need for gas. Chickadee didn’t see the need for all those big needles, and felt that if she screamed loudly enough maybe they wouldn’t put them in her mouth. Because I am the meanest mother ever, I held her hand and tried to sound soothing while I explained that if she didn’t let them finish, we were just going to have to come back and do it all over again, anyway. In the end, she got her gum graft.

I took my mind off of her screaming and squeezing all the bones in my hand to dust by watching the periodontist delicately filet my daughter’s lower gums, slice off a hunk of the roof of her mouth, and sew it over the newly-opened carnage on the bottom. (Whoops! Sorry, that loud thud you just heard was my father passing out. He doesn’t do gore.)

On Friday as I sat at Panera trying to get two days worth of work done in two hours so that I could go pick up Otto at the airport, the school nurse called. She just wanted to let me know that Chickadee was being a real trooper, truly, but she was having some pain, and one of her stitches had just fallen out, and maybe I’d better take her back in. (In the end she didn’t have to go back in, but at least she is terrified to brush her teeth, now.)

So by the time Otto arrived, I was sorely in need of a break. From… everything. We did manage to secure first a certified copy of my divorce settlement (turns out you need one of those to get another marriage license, and I had somehow never gotten one), then the marriage license. Being the together woman that I am, I managed to set off on this particular little adventure with exactly $1.32 in my wallet, so Otto ended up paying for all the paperwork. When I offered to pay him back, he said, “No, no I like that I can say I paid for your divorce paperwork. I think that’ll make a good story.”

Later, Otto attempted to take the kids to Home Depot on an errand (Chickadee was feeling better) so that I could finish up some work. The children proved that they are now thoroughly comfortable with him by getting into a screaming argument with each other before they even made it into the store. They returned home quite contrite (the kids, not Otto; he was mostly bewildered), received a talking-to (again, not Otto), and then Monkey stayed home with me while Otto and Chickadee went back and completed the task at hand. Otto gets a gold star for Handling Things and was rewarded with slavish, puppy-like devotion from Chickadee the rest of the evening.

This was interrupted only long enough for her to get into a snit with ME, and after being reprimanded for sassing and sent to her room, she tossed a “WHATEVER!” over her shoulder that drew a second lecture from me (“When you have your own job and house and don’t need me to pay the mortgage or feed you or drive you to your friends’ houses, THEN you can ‘WHATEVER’ me, young lady! Until then I CONTROL YOUR DESTINY and it behooves you to BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY!”) and a bemused “We’re totally screwed when she’s 13, huh?” from Otto.

After a belated birthday dinner followed by ice cream sundaes, we dropped the kids off with my ex and came home and tried to stay awake. Both of us had been up since the wee hours, so we were quite the pair, slumped together on the couch. We went over some wedding stuff (sorry, all of you who expressed support for Song of Solomon… I don’t want anyone calling my hair a flock of goats at my wedding) and then went to sleep. Because we are party animals.

On Saturday we laid around like slug people before running a few errands and then heading off to have dinner with Otto’s family. I am shamelessly trying to ingratiate myself with my soon-to-be nephews, both because I am a sucker for children and because I figure it will improve my family standing. The 4-year-old isn’t too interested in me, but the 2-year-old is my very favorite age (I love toddlers as long as they’re not mine) and a very friendly little beastie. When we arrived he and Otto had the following conversation.

Otto: Hi!
Him: HI!
Otto: How are you?
Him: GOOD!
Otto: Can we come in?
Him: YES!
Otto: Do you remember who I am?
Him: WHAT!
Otto: I’m your Uncle Otto. Remember, I was here at Christmas?
Otto: Right. And do you remember who this is?
Him: WHAT!
Otto: This is Mir. She’s going to be your Auntie Mir, she was here at Christmas too. Remember?
Me: Close!

So my usual strategy to win over small children is to ask if whatever they have is for me, and then if they don’t melt into a puddle of indignation they generally giggle and it’s a good way to start off an interaction. Unfortunately, this child is so friendly, it didn’t really go as planned.

Me: Oh, you’re eating pretzels! Are those for me?
Him: YES! *tries to stuff a saliva-soggy pretzel into my mouth*
Me: Oh! Um! Ha! Well, you can have that. Thank you for sharing, though.

We were all sitting around talking after dinner, and I was picking at a sliver of cake I really did NOT need because I’d already had a piece of pie, and along came my friend the pretzel slobberer. He reached out one chubby little fist and pointed at my plate. “ME?” he asked.

“Oh, I think you already had dessert, honey,” I answered. He frowned and shuffled away to cry at the deck door, because he’d been trying to escape the house all evening. I quickly asked his mom if he could have a little more cake, and she said yes, so I called him back over and got him to sit on my lap with promises of cake. He let me feed him 4 or 5 mouthfuls, and after each one I asked him, “Who’s the best auntie in the whole wide world?”

He would answer—around a mouthful of cake—“MEEEEEEEEEEWW!”

Otto says he was saying “ME” and I think he was saying a (heavily frosting-ed) “MIR” but I suppose we’ll never know for sure. The kid has about 20 aunts so just let me believe that in those few sugary moments that I was the best one.

After dinner we stopped to visit some friends who are going to have a baby any day now. I am looking forward to having another smushy little baby to dote on but whom I can give back and then go home and sleep all night. This is a good phase of life to be in, I think.

We had a long drive home and it was Sunday morning by the time we got back on Saturday night. We went to bed late and then had to get up early to take Otto back to the airport.

I remembered my manners and thanked him for coming instead of bitching about the shortness of the visit.

“You know,” Otto said, “I’m getting pretty tired of the hassle of the trip just to come up here for a day or two.”

“Oh, SORRY,” I answered. “But I think you’re going to need to do it one or two more times, y’know.”

He considered this. “I’ll do it ONE more time,” he conceded. “But if I have to do it past that, that’s it. I’m taking you home with me.”

That made it a little bit easier to let him leave.


  1. mcewen

    Children – I envy your powers of reciprocal exchange, so envious that I see your page tinged with green.

  2. ChristieNY

    HA!!!!! Hilarious! Auntie Mew! ::: snort :::

    My 3 year old will gladly proclaim you the best Auntie, and probably do a little cake dance for you if you offered him – gasp – chocolate or ‘vallilla’ cake, or donuts, or anything sweet for that matter! ;oD

    Glad Otto will be taking you back with him, soon enough. Poor Chickadee though, I sure hope she heals up soon!

  3. Contrary

    The child was OBVIOUSLY referring to you. I happen to speak toddler-ese, so I know these things. Otto’s just jealous because you weren’t hand feeding him some of that cake. It’s okay, though, his day is coming. (please excuse me while I squee quietly because OMG y’all are getting married soon!)

  4. Heather

    “That’s it, I’m taking you home with me.” *swoon* Dreamy, strongman talk lol.

  5. jess


    There are some great passages in Song of Solomon! (And they don’t even talk about your hair, teeth, or breasts either! *grins*)

    Here are the ones we fell in love with: and

    The second one was actually written in Hebrew on my chastity ring, so we incorporated both that ring and the verse into our wedding (slyly…most people who were there didn’t even notice the ring exchange that we planned so only we would know it was going on. You know, since that’s kinda of a private moment anyway.)

    Maybe those wonderful verses will change your mind about using SoS in your wedding? I hope the planning goes well!

  6. Cele

    I’m so original these days.

    What Heather said.

  7. Lady M

    He definitely said your name. Frosting obscures many pronunciations.

  8. Kimberly

    Poor Chickadee. Mean dentist. Bad dentist. I kinda wish Chickadee had kicked him in the shins (although I’m proud of her that she didn’t).

  9. dad

    I would have written you last night but I just regained conciousness from your excellent, explicit explanation (how’s that for alliteration?) of Chicadee’s surgery.

    I think you should go home with him.

  10. Randi

    That’s it! Daddy’s given his blessing – the wedding can now commence!

    Sounds like you had a LONG weekend!

  11. hollygee

    Oh Mew! I understand completely. I am usually Hawee in toddler-speak.

    I’ve been lucky enough to have Stephen complacently accept my three cats (and me) into his life; how lovely that Otto has stepped into his role so elegantly with your kids. Not that kids and cats equate. Well, somewhat, they do. Cats taking up the bed, puking on the floor under Stephen’s chair where he puts his bare feet, making him (because he sits closest) doorman for an hour or so during their morning routine before naps. Walking across the keyboard. Oh, maybe not like kids at all.

  12. Aimee

    Oh, please! He was totally saying your name.

  13. The Other Leanne

    Sliced off a hunk from the roof of her mouth?! WT#? Who invented that very special form of torture? I don’t blame her a bit for screaming.

  14. Liise

    Um, no gas at the dentist? Is he a masochist? because no, bad dentist BAD!

    I love toddlers too, they are crunchy and taste most excellent with Ranch dressing.


  15. jenn2

    OH MY SWEET BABY JESUS! I am going to have nightmares about gum grafts. If I ever get to sleep, because, hey, I can’t give Big Red away. Thanks for rubbing it in.

  16. Heidi

    Whoa, so glad your dad checked in–I was concerned about his well-being. That was WAY too much info regarding gum surgery for me, a complete stranger, so I can completely understand a non-gore grandfather keeling over. Here’s to Chickadee healing quickly–for all our sakes!

  17. Juliness

    Owie on the surgery!

    I think your Otto is a brave, strong man who is an ideal compliment to your gracious, sweet self.

  18. BOSSY

    “… then you can ‘Whatever’ me…” – Lord, Bossy is rolling around on her floor laughing. Oy!

  19. Mom101

    I can hear it all in your post – the anxiety, the excitement, the craziness, the frenetic pace of your life right now. All good things are ahead…not the least of which is that manicure which I’m exceedingly proud of you for scheduling.

  20. rachel

    It’s good to hear that Chickadee is enjoying being with Otto. And even though it’s annoying for them to fight – it does sound like they are accepting him.

    Best wishes for getting through the next few weeks!

  21. Jenny

    Atta girl. Desserts do equal Best Auntie status.

    Otto is so manly and hott.

  22. Katrina Stonoff

    I just had the skin graft thing done–twice since January, in fact. I think it is ABSOLUTELY INSANE to even consider doing it on a child who is awake, much less gasless. I’m 46, and I wanted it done, and I still nearly crawled out of my skin when they did the needle thing on the roof of my mouth.

    And I haven’t the slightest idea how you stayed vertical. You are an amazing woman and deserve to have a trumpet fanfare greeting you every time you leave the house. I’d have passed out.

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