Follow the Directions

The other day, a student brought cookies to class — red velvet chocolate chip cookies. And I shared the cookies with Younger and my husband.

After the cookies received rave reviews, I asked for the recipe, which included a cake mix. I immediately bought a cake mix. I did not, however, immediately make the cookies.

Apparently, to the frustration of my husband.

Because . . .

The other night, he climbed the stairs to our bedroom to ask, “I just follow the recipe for the cake, right?”

“To make cookies?”

He nodded. “Right.”

I blinked at him, my oldest engineer, and explained, “Uhhh, no, if you follow the recipe for cake, you will make . . . well, cake.”

So, he made a quick trip to the newly built local dollar store for icing.

For his red velvet cupcakes.

I think it was the only time in his life he actually followed directions.

The wrong directions.

But, you know, directions, nonetheless.


That’s a Shame

Every night, at bedtime, I gather Seven into my arms, and we wander towards Younger sprawled on the sofa.

“Tell the brother ‘good night,’ ” I instruct both of them.

“Night,” Younger obediently replies.

Seven doesn’t actually speak, as he is a cat, but he tolerates me lowering him towards Younger and he allows Younger swiping a hand over his black fur. Then the two of us disappear up the stairs and into the bedroom, where, once I make it into bed, Seven sprawls across my chest, just beneath my chin, and dares my husband to protest.

But in the mornings, recently,  Seven has veered from our routine and has decided not to follow me into the bathroom to calmly — or not so calmly — wait until I finish my shower before I release him from the house. Now, once I hit the bathroom door, he focuses on my husband.

Instead, he pounces on my husband’s feet. Mom is up. Time to get up. My husband then scoots across the bed in a bid for a few more minutes of sleep, but undeterred Seven paws at my husband’s face and hair. Mom is up. Time to get up. Come on, come on. Time to get up. Mom is up.  He will then add claws to his urging.  Come on, come on. Mom is up.

And usually about two minutes after I have stumbled from the bed, I hear my husband’s grumpy footsteps as he staggers towards the door to award Seven’s behavior with early release.

Which is probably why Seven veered from our morning routine. Because my husband is the easier mark.

Then Monday morning . . .

I stumbled out of bed a little early for a quick trip to the bathroom. Apparently, Seven mistook my visit for my usual morning stay. When I hobbled back through the bedroom door, I discovered the outline of the black cat bouncing determinedly and incessantly on my husband — Mom is up. Time to get up. Come on, come on. Time to get up.

But then, hearing my footsteps, Seven suddenly stopped in mid-bounce, his head swinging towards me as I crossed the room to fall back into the bed.

Oh. Mom is not up.  He jumped from my husband’s back onto my stomach where he immediately sprawled into his usual position. Never mind. We’re going to sleep some more.

And so we did.

My husband does not find Seven nearly as entertaining as I do.

That’s a shame.

Except it isn’t.

Not Okay

I may have a few obsessive-compulsive traits.


My husband installed several three-way switches in our house.  In theory, we could use the closest switch to turn a light on and off and avoid crossing dark rooms littered with our animals, all of whom are black.

But when all my lights are off, I need all the switches on one wall to be pointed in the same direction.

Yes, it is a need.

And, yes, I will use the farthest light switch to turn off a light and walk through a dark room just to keep all switches pointed in the same direction.

And, yes, I will lie in bed and silently seethe when my husband walks through the bedroom and actually uses the three-way switches for the correct purpose, leaving the little rectangles in all kinds of positions before sliding into bed oblivious to the fact that I hate, hate, hate him.

I also need my number of eggs to be even. Because you just cannot arrange a symmetrical pattern with an odd number of eggs.

You. Can. Not. Do. It.

So the other day, I needed three eggs for a recipe. And I was almost giddy because I remembered from my last use of the eggs that I had left an uneven number in the carton.

It was all lopsided and everything.

But then, as I was pulling the last egg out, I suddenly, for no apparent reason, became involved in some kind of juggling act.

And one single egg hit the floor with a tremendous splat, yolk and shell oozing across my wood floor.


“Are you okay, Mom?” Younger asked gently.


“We can clean it up.”

“Nooooooooooo.” I stared at the glob as my husband hurried to grab cleaning supplies. “But my eggs were going to be an even number.”

“Mom,” Younger said, his voice even more gentle. “Are you okay?”

No, I am not okay.

My light switches are pointed in whatever direction my husband felt was fit to leave them in and my eggs are in an asymmetrical pattern in their carton.

No, no, no.

I am not okay.

I. Am. Not. Okay.



Dad’s Way

My husband has never really been the disciplinarian of the family. He tends to follow the whatever-you-want-as-long-as-it-doesn’t-kill-you-immediately path.

A long time ago, when we were still spending summer nights at baseball fields, Elder patted my side and asked, “Hey, Mom, after the game, can we get some ice cream?”

Exhausted, I relinquished my usual role of decision-maker. “Oh, Elder, I don’t know. Ask your dad.”

Elder threw up his arms in victory, ran to Younger, and announced, “We’re getting ice cream. Mom said to ask Dad.”

And I sighed a little.

Then the other day, as soon as my husband walked in the door after work, Younger asked, “Hey, Dad, did ya bring me some soda?”

My husband shrugged off his coat. “Now, what kind of father would I be if I encouraged your bad habits?”

“So . . .” Younger tilted his head, eying his father. “Yeah?”

“It’s in the fridge,” my husband admitted.

And I sighed a little.

Or maybe a lot.

I sigh so much, it’s hard to say any more.

I Am So Smart

Last night, my husband studied the two packages we had received in the mail, talking ostensibly to Younger but actually to himself. “This one is mine,” he announced. “Because I need to fix your mom’s dryer.”

As if the dryer only wicks moisture from my clothes.

But I rolled my eyes while maintaining my silence because I do appreciate that his mechanical abilities prevent us from paying a couple hundred dollars to have a twenty-dollar part replaced.

But then later, from the laundry room, I heard singing: “I am so smart, I am so smart . . .”

And, well, I maintained my silence then, too.

Because sometimes I simply have no words.

No good ones, anyway.

Stun Me

Younger and his dad had a disagreement the other day regarding the younger generation. Two opposing viewpoints presented with supporting arguments that might have even amazed Socrates.

And some politicians.

“Snowflake,” his dad claimed.

“Dinosaur,” Younger countered.

Absolutely stunning repartee.

Not impressive.

Or intelligent.

Just, you know, stunning.




Y Chromosomes

Yesterday, as I was working diligently in the kitchen, I requested Younger help brown the hamburger.

“Are you asking because you need help? Or because you want me to learn?” he asked suspiciously.

Rolling my eyes, I latched the can opener onto another can. “I would appreciate the help, and you should appreciate the learning.”

“We are listening to my comedians,” he told me, as he reluctantly straightened from his slouch on the sofa and onto his feet.

“Why do you and your father believe you need either incentives or rewards for participating in the cooking of your own dinner?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged then offered, “Y chromosome?”

“I don’t know why chromosomes, either,” I replied, dryly.

“See, Mom,” he responded, shuffling into the room. “We all have two chromosomes –”

“I understand about the Y and X chromosome, Younger,” I interrupted, now with an edge.  Then I pointed over my shoulder at the pan on the stove behind me. “Brown the hamburger.”

“Well, Mom, some of the kids at school don’t know about chromosomes, and they just learned about it. It would have been a long time ago for you.”

So, Younger was the only one of my three males who didn’t feel it necessary to explain everything to me.

And, apparently, I’m old.

It was a rough day.