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, like....glass. 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