It’s Piper’s daddy’s birthday. Some people call it New Year’s Eve. They’re wrong, according to Piper. It’s all about Dad. Today at lunch Piper professed her true feelings in chalk.
Happy Birthday to my favorite Dad. Hearts.
It wouldn’t be the holidays if Piper weren’t sick. There was the Christmas Day when she was two that we spent in the Emergency Room. There was the Christmas Eve when her fever was so high she doesn’t remember the festivities. There was the New Years Eve of strep throat. Oh, and who could forget the holiday round of pink eye. Sigh. We have always flown and traveled for the holidays. We kiss and hug the germy masses. We spread our own kind of viral cheer. It wouldn’t be Christmas if Piper wasn’t coughing.
“How are you feeling?” I asked this morning. I checked her forehead. No fever. I looked down her throat. It wasn’t red. I put my ear to her back and listened to her cough. It’s just a cold. I gave her more vitamin C and made her a cup of her favorite Orange Spice tea.
“I feel loved,” Piper said. Cough cough. I asked after her physical health and she gave me her emotional report. “You know, Mom. You’re the right kind of mom for a girl like me.” Cough cough. Sniff. Hug.
I thought we’d stopped. I keep saying that. I must be in denial.
Piper’s been finding me in the middle of the night again. She wakes up two or three times and tries to sneak into our bed. There’s nothing wrong. She doesn’t need anything. She isn’t sick. She just wants to be there. I wouldn’t mind her there either if it weren’t for the snoring, kicking, tossing, and climbing on top of me thing.
“I’m cold and you’re so warm,” she says, snuggling in. I let her. Then I march her back.
“I just need a hug. You give the best hugs,” she says. I hug her. Then I march her back.
Sometimes I wake up and find her on a pillow next to me. I don’t remember when she snuck in. Sometimes I’m too tired to march her back.
Every night when I put her to sleep I give her “the look” and she says, “Stop, Mommy. I know what you’re going to say. I have to sleep in my own bed. I know. I will.” She doesn’t.
Last night I woke up to find her standing by the door. She must have been assessing the risk. “I just wish you had a pouch,” she said, “so I could crawl back in.”
Either Piper is very bad at the telephone game or she’s hard of hearing or kindergarten is indeed a very strange place. Here are Piper’s contributions last night to the dinner conversation:
“Michael’s mom wants to change his name to Lily.”
“Yep, that’s what he said. I don’t know if that means he’ll be a girl or a boy now.”
“Daniel’s parents are from the past.”
“The past? Like way in the past?”
“Yep, that’s what he said. They’re hundreds of years old.”
“Our teacher times us doing our work. She only gives us thirty seconds to do each activity.”
“Wow. That’s not much time.”
“I know. It stresses me.”
“Did you know you can grow a lima bean out of your ear?”
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. There’s one growing in mine right now.”
“Mom,” Piper asked, “do you ever wear cucumbers on your eyes when you go to the spa?”
“Once I did, but usually they just put little hydrating pads on your eyes that do the same thing,” I said.
“Do they use anything besides cucumbers? You know, like broccoli or peppers?”
“No, just cucumbers.”
“I’d want the cucumbers, too. Then if I got hungry, I’d just eat them and ask for more.”
I know. I know. Sandy is on her way. My mom has called from Florida to make sure we are storm prepping. That’s when you know the weather is about to get real. We’ve got the essentials: water, cash, gas, food, batteries, radio. In the last few years (between the Midwest and the East Coast) we’ve experienced two earthquakes, two derechos, and weeks without power. We know what to do. First and foremost, say good-bye to the beautiful fall foliage. Sandy and her hurricane force winds will steal all the gold. So Piper and I spent some time on our front porch saying adieu to our favorite tree, which we’ve checked in with every day and watched change from green to brilliant red.
Now we’d like that beautiful tree and its pending nakedness to stay right where it is and not on our roof, thank you. Piper has another storm prepping plan.
“If the power goes out, Mom, we should just be naked. Like the tree. That way we won’t have to do laundry since the washing machine won’t work,” said Piper, the professional storm prepper.
When I was a kid I was convinced that the entire reason my parents had me was to empty their dishwasher. This seemed logical to me. They didn’t want to do the chore. I was free labor. Surely, the cost of my keep was significantly less than a cleaning lady.
I can hear you laughing from here, you know?
The hardest chore of all is actually being the chore enforcer. Here is a list of Piper’s chores, the time it takes her to complete the task, and how many times I have to remind her to do the task until its completion:
Set the breakfast table, 18 minutes, 17 reminders
Empty trashes, 42 minutes, 5 reminders (one for each trash can)
Clean room, 2 1/2 hours, 133 reminders
Wash lunch box, 20 minutes, 1 reminder (she actually loves this one)
Put away laundry, 3 days, 406 reminders
I could finish Piper’s chores in about three minutes flat. It would be more efficient for me to just do them myself. It would save me a lot of frustration, too. But I believe in chores. One day Piper will empty the dishwasher all by herself. Without being asked or reminded. I dream big.
You have to admit that those presidential debates can be a bit dry. But what if Piper moderated them? That would be worth watching. Here’s why:
10. Everyone would wear tutus.
9. When a response doesn’t make sense, the candidate would have to open fake potato chip cans and release the screaming snake while Piper fact checked them.
8. She’d enforce the rules: No ‘rupting each other. Wait your turn.
7. Mid debate recess break. Wouldn’t everyone be nicer after a few trips down the slide?
6. The water would be in dribble glasses. Parched throat? Help yourself. Snicker. Snicker.
5. Candidates would have to hold hands while debating.
4. Augie gets to ask all the questions from the audience.
3. Bowls of goldfish for snacking. Yum.
2. Time? What time? What’s that?
1. Candidate who farts first, wins.
We bought Piper a microphone yesterday. It is the final accessory that she desperately needs to complete her Paty Kerry costume for Halloween. Really what’s a rock star without amplification? We gave Piper a lot choices in her microphone selection. She fell for Magic Mic:
Piper’s has a black handle with a shiny silver microphone. It’s for the glamorous fake rockstar variety. It’s kid-powered; no batteries required. And when you sing into Magic Mic-or spit all over it with huffy breaths-as Piper does, your voice sounds like an echo. It’s completely addictive. I’m warning you. If Piper hadn’t already stamped this one owned with her germs, I’d be stealing it after she goes to bed and putting on my own concert. Trust me. You don’t share Magic Mic.
Piper is now speaking to us only through Magic Mic. Every response requires amplification. Even dinner conversations.
“Piper, do you want peppers or carrots?”
“CARRRROTTTSSS!” she echoed.
“Use your napkin. It’s in your lap.”
“Did you clear your plate?”
“I’MMMM GOOOING TOOOOOO!”
Magic Mic adds an element of drama to every response. And we needed a lot more drama around here.