It has come to my attention that my perception of “normal” may be… a little off. Weird, right? I—and my family/home—am the picture of boring normalness, surely. (Voices in my head: Yeah, no. Also, don’t call me Shirley.)
For some reason, this morning, I started thinking about all of the weird little things which happen around here and strike me as perfectly normal even though it’s POSSIBLE that they’re not. Or maybe they are and I’m just really confused. That’s also a plausible explanation because let’s face it, I spend a lot of time being really confused. A day where I’m NOT confused is probably… a day when I’m asleep. (Wait, is that an option? I would like to be asleep right now.)
So for my own amusement (and maybe yours?), here’s an assortment of things which I’m sure are perfectly normal:
I bake a lot. This is not news. I bake weekly for Nerd Night so that when I send my rotten children to someone else’s house to slay orcs for the evening, they have enough sugar power to complete their conquests. I bake for IEP meetings. I bake muffins and keep them in the freezer for when one of my children “can’t find anything good” to have for breakfast. I bake whenever I feel a little added comfort is required; we had an emergency friends sleepover this weekend due to their family dealing with some crummy stuff and I got up early and made cherry coffee cake because I couldn’t do anything about the crummy stuff but coffee cake seemed important. Stuff like that.
Food, examples 1 and 2: Because I bake a lot, I usually buy a sizable bag of sliced almonds at Costco a couple of times a year and keep them in the (inside) freezer. The last few times we went to Costco, they were out. Finally I ordered some sliced almonds from Amazon, but I either wasn’t paying attention or somehow convinced myself that a year’s supply was necessary because I received AN ENTIRE CASE OF ALMONDS in half-pound bags, which means I now have 1 small bag in the inside freezer and an entire door full of almonds in the garage freezer. It’s fine, they’ll get used, because I use almonds in NEARLY EVERYTHING. But:
1) Every time someone goes to the garage freezer, now (spoiler: that’s where we keep the ice cream), they come back inside and say WE SURE DO HAVE A LOT OF ALMONDS. It was hilarious the first twelve times, I assure you. But it’s wearing a little thin, now. And it’s particularly interesting because…
2) … Monkey insists that he hates almonds. WHY DID YOU PUT ALMONDS IN THIS? he’ll complain, if there is VISIBLE ALMOND. No matter how many times I say to him I LITERALLY PUT ALMONDS IN EVERYTHING I BAKE FOR YOU (“Nuh uh,” he countered, with a smirk, “Did you put almonds in that pizza crust you made? DIDN’T THINK SO.”), he is undeterred in his insistence that HE HATES THEM HE SWEARS. Sucks to be him, because I have fifty pounds of almonds in the freezer.
Food, example 3: We had a scheduled IEP meeting and I whipped up a batch of carrot cake muffins (YES, WITH ALMONDS) the night before because I’m an excellent planner. Except… they came out sort of ugly. They didn’t rise quite right; they rose, but the tops were kind of flat, and I wasn’t sure why. They tasted great (according to my taste testers) but they were not visually pleasing, is the point. “Should I make something else?” I asked my patient husband. “These are FINE,” he assured me, and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that it was already quite late. We went to bed. And then I got up super early and made scones, instead. (Don’t worry, I’ve been feeding the muffins to Monkey. He says they’re great except for the almonds.)
The dogs continue to be a rich source of entertainment for us. Licorice, at 9(ish) years old, and therefore getting along in years by canine standards, still continues to embrace her inner gazelle and leap up to impossible heights, landing in a lap at the dinner table, unannounced, or scaling the back of the couch just for the heck of it. Her new favorite thing is to get up on the couch with a human and then snarl at Duncan if he tries to come up, too. Because she’s a jerk.
Duncan, for his part, now that he’s decided we’re not so bad and he’s really okay here, seems to have completely let down his guard and become gentle and goofy in a way I always suspected he might be. If I take him outside in the rain, he is patient and cooperative when I need to towel him off. He’ll sit in my lap rather than eyeing me from across the couch. And the children have taken to crooning to him loving things like, “Wow, buddy, it’s been quite a long time since you bit any faces! You’re just a sweet puppy withOUT a taste for flesh, huh?”
Both dogs are, as the parlance goes, “highly food motivated,” but it wasn’t until one day when I was filling water bottles at the ice dispenser and a chunk of ice went skittering across the floor that we discovered something interesting: Duncan LOVES ice. He not only pounced on that ice cube, he took it into the other room because he was afraid someone would take it away from him. He settled himself in the center of the family room rug and CRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCH chewed up that ice like he’d just made off with a leg of elk. I don’t know that I have ever seen him so happy. The kids started randomly giving him an ice cube before we sit down to dinner, or any time he looks bored, and it had gotten to the point where it was more ice than he was interested in consuming, so we were all periodically stepping in little puddles (and when you have dogs, Mystery Puddles have to be investigated, and sure, if it’s just a melted ice cube it’s not so bad, but still), and so because I am SO MEAN I told the kids to please stop giving the dog ice all the time.
Duncan is not the brightest bulb on the marquee, you understand (Duncan’s tagline: Cute, but cranky and also sort of stupid), but a couple of weeks ago he had his own personal lightbulb moment when he put it together that LOUD SOUND MEANS TIME FOR DELICIOUS ICE. Each morning as I fill up water bottles, he runs (understand, Duncan RARELY runs) into the kitchen and stands at my feet, wagging, staring up towards the ice dispenser. I’m only human, and I’m not immune to adorableness, and so now we have a routine.
I fill the water bottles with ice and water. He sits and waits while I do so. When I’m done, I offer him a single ice cube. Duncan removes that ice cube from my hand with the gentlest of delicate nibbling—the dog who has bitten everyone in this house and then some, who used to growl if you looked at him funny—and takes his treat into the other room to enjoy in the center of the rug. When the crunching ends, he returns; I kneel down and ask him for a kiss. He licks my nose with a subzero flick of his tongue (it tickles) and I tell him what a good dog he is; he then wanders off for a nap when he realizes this isn’t going to get him a second ice cube. While I know this is all straightforward conditioning, I choose to believe that 1) the morning Ritual Of The Ice Cube is totally normal and 2) he really does love me and not just the ice.
This one seems like it’s about food, but it’s not, not really. I was packing lunches this morning (post ice cube ritual) and informed the children that I was packing them fresh vegetables—because if I pack, say, carrot sticks and green pepper pieces without saying anything, these veggies may return home unopened and a certain child will INSIST they DIDN’T REALIZE they had them, but oh no, they’re warm and limp and no good now, too bad, so I have to INSTRUCT THEM—and it went about the way I expected.
“Children! I am putting FRESH VEGGIES IN YOUR LUNCHES. Please eat them!”
“I always eat mine,” my youngest, my darling suck-up, responded.
“OKAY, MIR!” came the other response, from the one who doesn’t suck up so much as she just pushes the envelope of how much she can make that little vein in my neck pulse. “I WILL!”
“That means you eat them YOURSELF,” I added. “Not that you feed them to your friends!”
“My friends don’t like vegetables, don’t be silly,” Chickie answered. I zipped up lunch bags and set them on the end of the counter as she breezed out of the kitchen.
“I’m packing YOU veggies, too,” I told Otto, who was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper, seemingly oblivious to our standard morning drama.
“Thank you,” he said. I tossed the container into his lunch bag. “I’m going to feed them to my friends,” he added, deadpan.
I’m surrounded by smartasses, but they’re my favorites.