Monday, October 24, 2005

With presents like these....

When Cara was really little, Mike started an insane tradition of buying her a present whenever she got sick. I thought it was a waste of money, considering the amount of junk she had, but he perservered. "She deserves it," he'd say, and go buy her a coloring book and new crayons, or a $5 Kelly doll. These days, she's hardly ever sick, and when she is, she's old enough that she's not asking for anything; she's just grateful to be consuming massive quantities of non-educational TV.

I told Mike the present gimmick should have been dropped when Cara was old enough to not care about getting something, and Ryan was too young to realize the practice ever took place. "But he deserves something, too," Mike would say. So, here we are these days with Ryan--who goes for the jugular.

Ryan was sick last Thursday and Friday with a mysterioso fever that led to nothing. But I still couldn't send him to school. Or to a friend's house. By 10 a.m. Thursday, he was pressing the present button, incessantly.

Ryan: Since I'm home sick, can you get me a present?

Me: Maybe I'll go to Rite-Aid later, okay?

Ryan: No. Go to Toys R Us. They have a big white robot there that's...

Me: That robot is $100! You're not getting a hundred-dollar toy because you have a fever!

Ryan: Well, then go to KB Toys. They have a plane with a remote that really flies...

Me: That plane is $100!

Ryan: Well, I'm sick.

Me: You're crazy.

It's funny how Mike started the tradition, but I ended up carrying it out. Not this time, though. By late afternoon, Mike had to go out anyway, so he said he'd pick something out for Ryan. I'm thinking Spiderman bath bubbles, or a twirling lollipop--something I can throw away when it's gone.

Mike came home with SpongeBob Gooze.

What is Gooze? It's only the one item I've said NO to about 4,000 times. In all its forms. At all its retail venues. There is to be no Gooze in the house. The kids actually had ALMOST stopped asking for it. Sometimes they'd hold up a package, wordlessly plead with a pathetic look on their faces, and I'd just say, "Don't even try." And they'd knowingly put it back. That's how anti-Gooze I am.

Because, Gooze is pretty much what it sounds like--an oozing, gooey mess. That feels wet when you touch it (which every parent must, because every kid seems to think it's funny to get it all over the place).

When Mike walked in with the Gooze, I was like, "What are you nuts? That's going back!"

He's like, "Why, what is it?"

Cara and Ryan ran over, took one look and yelled, "It's Gooze!!!"

Within seconds, the package was ripped open and the Gooze was being manipulated. The idea was to put the Gooze in the rubber SpongeBob and then squeeze him. It would feel funny. It would look funny. Well, that only lasted so long. After dinner, Ryan wanted the Gooze out. It got on his pajamas. I had to pick it off. He stretched it wide so it looked like something disgusting coming out of his nose. I got grossed out and went into the kitchen.

That's when he thought it would be really fun to wrap the fake booger around his head and neck, and down the front of his pajamas. He was laughing when he found me. The laughter was to be short-lived.

"Oh, dear God, you didn't put this in your HAIR!?!?"

You see, the Gooze really can only be peeled off something smooth, Which most people don't let their kids play with. Even I don't. When it gets in the hair, well, that's when it becomes a mom project. WHICH IS WHY GOOZE IS NOT ALLOWED IN OUR HOUSE!!

I did my best to get it all out. But it's like trying to get all the oil drops out of water, using your fingers. I told Ryan we'd get it out with a shower. Which Mike ended up giving him, by the way.

The next day, Ryan woke up and his hair was sticking up on top. "Hey sleepy head," I said, and ruffled his hair. Only to feel DRIED Gooze! The scissors did the trick. And the Gooze is back in SpongeBob, where it will remain--until it mysteriously slipslides its way into the garbage can.

--Catherine Schetting Salfino

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Costume Required

Last Sunday was supposed to be dedicated to buying Halloween costumes for Cara and Ryan.

Up to this point, Cara had gone through much mind-changing and many ideas, including being Elton John.

Me: Cara, no one will know who you are. Besides you wear glasses. You can't just put big Elton John glasses over your own--that will look idiotic, even for Halloween. And I'm not buying NEW lenses for Elton John frames.

We have to cover many debate points to win an argument with Cara.

She also thought she'd be The Costume Store. She could have just pulled out pieces from all of her past costumes and gone with that. But she actually wanted to go to a costume store and start buying new things, like a clown nose, a vampire cape, a weird wig, etc. About $100 later, she would have just looked like a wreck, so that idea was scrapped.

Finally, she decided to be the Corpse Bride, from the Tim Burton movie. She went online and found out that an actual costume exists for this. Groovy.

Meanwhile, Ryan has decided to be a storm trooper from Star Wars. Which is interesting considering he's never seen even one minute of any Star Wars movie. I think it's the influence of one of his buddies, who, at age 4, sat through the last Lucas film, gore and all. He thought it was cool, told Ryan all about it, and now Ryan is in.

Before we went out Sunday, Mike and I decided Cara's fall boots--a pair of black Sketchers from two years ago--needed to be trashed. She'd done everything a kid could do in them--wore them around cities on both coasts, trod through muddy orchards while apple picking, played school yard dodge ball in them despite the big heels. They were finished. I told Cara I'd get her a new pair of boots first and then we'd hit Party City for the costumes on the way back. Ryan didn't mind going to the mall first, because he knows all malls have either a pet store or toy store--maybe even both--and he's guaranteed entertaiment at one of them.

Now, I shop more like a man. In shopping surveys that I've read, men really only shop when they have something specific they need to buy. Once they buy that one thing, they leave. Most women, on the other hand, like to shop for fun. That's not me. I only go to the mall when I have something in particular I need. Like Cara's boots. So, I only wanted to go to stores that had boots. Cara and Ryan thought I'd lost my mind.

Cara: You don't go to the MALL and just go to one kind of store.

Ryan: Yeah! And you said I could go to the toy store, the pet store, Build-a-Bear.

Me: They don't have Build-a-Bear at this mall.

Cara: They have Pawsenclaws. It's the same thing.

Ryan: Yeah! And I want to go there!

It's so rare that the two of them ever agree on anything, I could feel my heart warming and my mind giving in.

Cara: And I want to go to Claire's. And The Icing. And Bath & Body Works.

Me: Do the words "Halloween costumes" ring a bell? We won't have time to go though every store at the mall AND get your costumes. Party City closes early on Sundays.

Ryan: They have a costume store here. We'll go to that one.

I don't know how he knew that, but you can't argue with logic. The next thing I knew, they were trying to drag me into a video game store.

After visiting Pawsnenclaws, GapKids, a costume store that didn't have either of the costumes they wanted, the pet store (Cara: Mom, can't we get a cocker spaniel puppy TODAY?), Spencer Gifts (a place I hadn't been in about 20 years, and so forgot it was completely inappropriate for a 10-year-old. "What's this?," Cara asked as she reached for a joke package of "dwarf condoms.") and something like 20 shoe places, Cara got a pair of boots she liked. She and Ryan were both thirsty and I needed a java jolt. I told them we'd go to the food court for a break.

But first, Cara saw Claire's. Which is a haven for trendy hair things, jewelry, cutesy key rings, sequin belts, feathered pens. You know--a girly girl store. Ryan marched right in.

His actual target: the candy shelf. I was like, no way. He'd already had a handful of candy from a machine in Pawsenclaws and I was about to take them for a snack in the food court. No matter. While Cara was perusing the clip-on earrings and flavored Chap Sticks, Ryan was desperately holding up Nerds Ropes, Pez dispensers, Paint Brush lollipops and who-knows-what else. For the first time that day, I stood firm.

As we left and headed for the food court, Cara was happy with the new clip-on earrings she bought with $5.50 in assorted change from her room, and Ryan was crying and calling me a mean meanie. I'm like, "I'm about to buy you a drink and a snack you two can share (because at this point, it was almost dinnertime!). Then we're leaving. TO BUY YOU A COSTUME! How is that mean?!"

We got our snacks and drinks. PS--never does Starbucks taste so good as after a few hours with kids at a crowded mall. We got out of there, and drove straight into a long line of traffic. I said, "This is worse than Christmas traffic. What's the deal?" That's when we saw the flooded roadway up ahead. That we had to drive through to leave. It took half an hour to get out of the mall. Which meant, no time for Party City.

...And what was the point of this shopping trip?

--Catherine Schetting Salfino