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Life with Liz: Comments and questions

Published December 15. 2018 07:42AM


The other morning, I found a frustrated G rummaging through the dairy bin in the fridge. Since he was simply making toast, I was confused as to what could have him so confounded. Finally, he asked me, “Mom, what is the right butter for toast?”

I was puzzled by his question. Toast is toast and butter is butter, right? Then, I put two and two together, and I realized that someone in our house actually listened to me.

As we are baking cookies, I had taken the time to explain to the kids about using salted butter versus unsalted butter, and my preference to use “the really good butter” for certain baked goods where, through trial and error, I’ve found that it makes a difference. I hadn’t realized I was such a butter snob, until I was faced with a Mini Butter Connoisseur. To his future spouse, I apologize for creating a butter monster.

This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that the kids’ comments and questions have stopped me in my tracks. Whether it’s because they’ve genuinely given me food for thought, or because I’ve had to bite my tongue to prevent a sharp retort from escaping, or because their antics should be worthy of discipline, but I’m too entertained to do anything other than laugh at them, things seem to be getting very interesting in our house.

A is becoming quite the master of the burn. At the book store the other week, he was gracious enough to point out that a book that was very popular when I was in high school was now on the “classics” table. He followed that comment up by asking if they ever made a movie out of the book. When I told him that there was a movie, and that it starred two actors that he’s familiar with, he said, “wow, they must have been really young in that movie.” I’m just glad he didn’t ask me if it was a “talkie.”

The kids just love to remind me that I’m getting older. The new house has thermostats and zones. Our current house operates electric heat that is low, medium or high. We had to explain to the kids how to set the temperature. G was particularly impressed that a small dial, two floors away from the furnace, could have so much power and be so sensitive.

“Wow, they really had some amazing technology back then,” he exclaimed. “G. The house was built in 1988, and I was 15.” Apparently, that was even OLDER than he originally thought.

If you have thin skin, you won’t survive long in our house. While it sometimes is a knife in my heart to hear my children fighting and being nasty to each other, I’ve come to realize that, as sad as it may be, it’s gearing them up to take on the rest of the nastiness in the world. The sibling spats usually work themselves out in a few minutes, and hard feelings are quickly forgotten about as they move on to the next activity. Over the years, I’ve learned that me interrupting and punishing them for fighting only adds to the conflict as they never quite seem to get it out of their system.

One argument this week had E screaming at the top of her lungs that G was a butt hole. As I opened my mouth to request that they not stoop to name calling, G immediately retorted that he may be a butt hole, but E was a whole butt. Apparently, this was the funniest thing they’d both ever heard, and they quickly dissolved into a fit of laughter, the fight was forgotten and they immediately turned “whole butt” into their nicknames for each other.

The boys are fans of the “who will win” book series, which pits two creatures against each other and then delves into the facts about each animal, such as their natural defenses and how strong their bites are, to determine which would win a “celebrity death match in the wild.” I’m not sure that debating which animal can kill another animal is the healthiest of topics for two boys, but since they’re based in scientific fact and learning stuff about nature, I think it balances out.

At any rate, they stumbled onto a stumper the other week. “If a polar bear and a grizzly bear ate each other, would it be cannibalism?” I did not have a ready answer for that one, as I was under the impression that cannibalism was reserved for humans, but it did lead to an interesting conversation.

Finally, E added a new word to our family vocabulary when she mistakenly asked to wear a “polk”a to a football game. While this had me almost as confused as the right butter for toast did, her attempt at clarifying what she wanted didn’t help. “A peeka?” Nope, still not quite right. Exasperated, she finally yelled, “a winter jacket!!!” and the light bulb went off. She wanted a PARKA!

It’s amazing how much these little exchanges can make up for the day-to-day frustrations that can sometimes make me sympathize with other animals who eat their young (filial cannibalism for those who are interested, and yes, now I know that cannibalism is not limited to humans). I’m even looking forward to our winter break, so the Whole Butts and I can bundle up in our polkas, play in the snow, and then snack on toast covered in jelly (not butter!) and watch some “classic” movies from when I was a kid.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.


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