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Life with Liz: One wrong move

Published September 08. 2018 07:24AM


This is the time of year when the “proud mom” moments abound. The shining faces are neatly packed off to school. They’re even slightly enthusiastic about being reunited with friends, exploring new classrooms and meeting new teachers. We came to the end of swim season, and the kids did well at their championship meet. We started soccer season, and the kids picked up where they left off last season and improved on it as their knowledge of the game and their physical size has grown.

Just the other day, I sent A in to the minimart to grab a gallon of milk. As he approached the door, I noticed an older woman slowly making her way across the parking lot. A was already through the door, and I was debating shooting him a text to come back and hold the door, when lo and behold, he actually noticed her himself, and patiently waited for her to make her way to the door, and politely held it open for her and even chatted with her for a second. My heart was bursting with pride.

So, obviously, it was time for them to bring me back to reality. Boy, did they ever. The kids oversee kitchen cleanup now, clearing the table, wiping it down and washing the dishes. We recently celebrated one of their birthdays with our customary ice cream cake. After our mini party, the Wonderful Husband and I retired to the couch and left the kids with cleanup. Of course, the birthday child tried to weasel out of the chores because birthdays are apparently grounds for chore avoidance but was quickly shot down by the siblings. After a few more grumblings, it appeared that they survived cleanup and they joined us to watch a movie of the birthday kid’s choosing.

The next morning, a Saturday, I had plans to sleep in. They were rudely interrupted by a barrage of choice words from the WH. Turns out that in the rush to clean up the kitchen post-birthday cake, someone decided that it would take too much time to rearrange the freezer, so they stuck the leftover ice cream in the refrigerator instead. On the top shelf. Yes, that’s my kids. Between the three of them, they all thought that putting the ice cream cake in the refrigerator was a good idea.

The WH assembled the three of them and got them to clean up the initial round of mess. He also grilled them on which one of them was the real brains behind the operation. In a rare bond of solidarity, the three of them denied knowing anything about which one of them put it in the fridge instead of the freezer.

So much for the proud moments. Instead, I found myself wondering how the three of them are going to handle living in our basement together, forever. Summertime is when we really push our kids to be independent and try more things on their own, since they don’t have all the distractions that come with the school year, and they can focus a little more on the tasks at hand. It’s also when we have a little time to breathe, so we can step back and let dinner preparations take a little longer as they familiarize themselves with kitchen tools and recipes or do-overs if they mess things up a little too much.

But ice cream in the fridge was way beneath them. I cornered A and G several times throughout the day and continued grilling them because I just couldn’t get my head around the boneheadedness of this move. A and G were the two most likely suspects, as they are the two who can reach the top shelf. I guess I was hoping to figure out how three intelligent children who have experienced the freezing phenomenon on multiple occasions could show such a lapse in judgment. This is one of those things that makes me worry for their future. If I could get to the bottom of this one, I’d be better prepared to help them avoid similar bonehead moves in the future.

The next day, the trio was off on an adventure with the WH and I took the opportunity to get the grocery shopping done in peace. As I started unpacking the groceries, and organizing the fridge to get through the week, I had another nasty surprise. No one bothered to open the vegetable drawer, which was full of melted ice cream. Apparently, it had trickled down the back, and the very back of the drawer made the perfect catch basin for it. As tempted as I was to leave it for them, I also had a list of things I wanted to get done and groceries that needed to get in the fridge. So, I spent the next 20 minutes scrubbing sticky ice cream off the eggplants and zucchini and gave up on trying to get it out of the bunch of celery and a head of cabbage.

That night at dinner, we had yet another discussion of how a simple mistake on their part had some longer lasting consequences and ended up wasting more food than just the melted ice cream, not to mention my time.

I also talked to them about how even though they were coming off a great first week at school, and had really great soccer games this past weekend, I was still just preoccupied with the one thing they did wrong. While part of me knows I need to get over it, part of me is also hoping that this one silly incident made an impression on them.

So many times, all the good things we do can be undone by just one wrong move. If this gets them to stop and think a little bit more the next time they are in a situation where they are tempted to take a shortcut or make a bad decision, it will have been well worth the price of an ice cream cake and the hour to clean up the mess.

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

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