The Peanuts Rag

I am giving my four year old a bath when she reaches for a rag on the side of the tub that my husband uses to wash his man parts. Once again, he forgot to put it in the laundry, giving our little girl a germ infested play toy for her bath time fun.

From the corner of my eye, I see her tiny hand reach for that blue rag, and immediately I lunge, hands extended to stop her while screaming “Nooo!” in what feels like super slow motion. Several scenarios involving that rag and my child’s face flash before my eyes before I manage to grab her hands in mine. She looks at me with wide startled eyes, and I realize I might have overreacted just a bit.

Calm down, mama. It’s not like a plague ridden rat used it for a bedroll. Be reasonable. You know exactly where that cloth has been.

“Just don’t use that rag, honey,” I finally manage. “It’s icky.” I wrinkle my nose so she knows just how icky it really is, hoping that will be enough to stop her without having to answer any uncomfortable questions. But of course it’s not because she’s freaking four.

“Why?” she demands with all the authority of ‘one who knows how to get her way.’

So I tell her, and I use the big words, too. Not those wimpy potty words that most parents use when teaching their children about parts of the body. No, I use the textbook words that make prepubescent middle school students squirm when they have to read about them in 8th grade health class. I want to impress on this child early on that this family uses the correct terms for the parts of the body, and that she should never be afraid to use them with us (Plus, I am hoping she won’t understand half of what I am saying and will just give me the darn washcloth without further argument).

When I finish with the four-year old equivalent of ‘Basic Anatomy 101,’ I ask, “Do you have any questions?”

She wrinkles her little forehead and then looks at me with confused brown eyes. “But why does daddy need to wash his peanuts in the shower?”

“So they are nice and clean when he wants a snack,” I sigh, not knowing whether to be relieved or worried that she missed the point of my little lesson.

“Now give me that rag.”

This story was featured on HaHas for HooHas on April 27th.

Stories from the trenches: In which I almost become someone’s tia (Part 3)

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Maria has me at her mercy. I’m at her home surrounded by her family with no where to go for several hours. Knowing that her time is running out, Maria chooses a risky but potentially successful plan. But to keep me sitting in one spot, she has to deploy a classic maneuver that keeps my stationary for some time. That’s right. She uses the Sleeping Baby Misdirection that has me couch bound until someone comes and gets her, or she wakes up. I am stuck.

Stage 3: The “I’m going to introduce you whether you like it or not” maneuver After much consideration, I’ve decided to make a brief appearance at the birthday party. I’ve come prepared with my early-departure excuse and I’ve already eaten so I can comfortably snack without feeling rude for refusing to eat dinner.

When I arrive, Maria seats me in the living room and hands me a baby. “You like babies, yes? You watch her for us, maestra, while she sleeps” commands Maria. “We have cooking to do and she will be in the way.” Relieved to avoid another interrogation, I sit back with the baby and watch the other children playing.

Several minutes later, Maria walks back into the room with the man from the picture in tow. “Maestra, this is Alfonso,” she says innocently. “Remember we were talking about him the other day?” Maria smiles sweetly and turns to Alfonso, “This is Maestra Sara, Alfonso. She wants to get married one day and have babies just like you do.” I begin to panic and look anxiously towards the exits, ready to run.

Maria smiles at both of us, shoos Alfonso to the seat near mine and nonchalantly says, “I’ll just leave you two to talk. Why don’t you give me the baby, Maestra?” I narrow my eyes and ask, “I thought you wanted me to watch her for you? You said you were too busy to watch her.” Fortunately she has the good grace to blush before saying on a tiny laugh, “Oh, ah, I’ll just put her in the crib. She’ll sleep better there.” Maria grabs the baby and leaves the room for the two of us to ‘talk.’

An awkward silence descends. Neither of us wishes to talk having both been thrown together by the force of nature named Maria. Sighing, I apologize to him for the misunderstanding and assure him that I am not looking for a spouse or babies anytime soon. He visibly relaxes. Standing, I gather my coat and purse and walk to the kitchen, debating what I should say.

To come right out and say I don’t want to marry her brother would be the right thing to do; however, knowing Maria, she would just find someone else and the cycle would continue. No, I needed to discourage her without encouraging future set-ups. “Maria, I appreciate the thought but I really don’t want to marry any man,” I say significantly. Her eyes cloud over in confusion for a moment before she nods in understanding. “Oh, I’m so sorry maestra,” she stammers. “I didn’t know…”

Though my conscience twinges a bit at having lied, at least I walked out of that party without a fiancé. Plus I squelched any future attempts at matchmaking by my persistent but well-meaning families.

That’s what could have happened, but it didn’t. How would you have gotten out of a situation like this? Send me your endings and I’ll repost the favorite!

Stories from the trenches: In which I almost become someone’s tia (Part 2)

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As my attempts to evade the ever persistent Maria succeed, she becomes sneakier, employing her ultimate weapon to break apart my resistance to her grand plans for a white wedding between me and her brother–she sends in her children.

Stage 2: The Invitation

Maria the matchmaker is at it again. This time, I’ve been invited to her granddaughter’s first birthday. It’s a family affair and Esperanza, Maria’s 16 year old daughter, has told me that everyone will be there. Including her uncle Alfonso.

“He’s single, maestra,” Esperanza tells me innocently one day after class. “He’s single and very good looking.” She tries to wink at me but only manages to blink her eyes twice like an owl. Blink, blink. Smile.

“Thank you, Esperanza, for the invitation,” I say graciously, even though I want nothing more than to tell her what she can do with her mother’s invitation. After all, I remind myself, it’s not Esperanza’s fault that her mother is being so insistent. She is an innocent bystander in this whole messy affair. Because she is waiting expectantly for an answer, I hedge by saying, “I will consider going.”

Smiling after successfully delivering her message, Esperanza gathers her books and begins to leave class.

“Maestra?” she asks halfway out the door, turning so she can look at me behind her where I sit.

“Yes, Esperanza?”

She giggles and says with a smirk, “See you later….auntie.” Esperanza walks out the door, laughing, while I feel the beginning of a migraine forming.

Sigh. It seems that my theory about Esperanza’s innocence in this little matter might be mistaken after all.

I stare at the invitation in my hand and ponder Maria’s tactics. Even when she’s not here, Maria has managed to best me. I concede this round to her.

Maria 1, me 1.

Stories from the Trenches: In which I almost become someone’s tia (Part 1)

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‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of hips as wide as the Panama Canal and knockers that could pass as cantaloupes must be in want of a husband.’–Jane Austen (er, as paraphrased by me)

Whenever I visited families, there was always a group of women whose curious brown eyes assessed me covertly, taking the measure of my character and noting the ample acreage of my hips. Upon discovering that I was a single mother, their eagerness to see me wed into their family only increased. Over time, their covert gazes turned into outright interrogation as these Latina mamas began a stealthy campaign to have me married to any eligible bachelor that lingered about their family tree. At first I thought I could easily evade their attempts at matchmaking–not ready to tie the knot quite yet–but I soon discovered that their methods rivaled those of any seasoned military officer.

Stage 1: The Interrogation

“So, maestra,” Maria, the mother of two of my high schoolers innocently asks, “you’re not married, are you?”

“No, I’m not married,” I respond. I notice a glance pass between Maria and Maria’s sister, Sofia. “Some day I’d like to be married, though.”

“You’ve dated before?” she continues a little more aggressively.

“Yes, I’ve dated before,” I say a bit defensively. “I’m just focusing on my career right now, not on my personal relationships.”

Maria smiles sweetly and continues to pry, “You do find Latino men attractive, no?”

I stare at her, mouth slightly agape, unsure of when the conversation took this turn.

Sensing my hesitation, Maria laughs lightly and leans toward me conspiratorially. “Oh, come now, maestra. We are all women here. You can tell us that you honestly think.”

“Yes maestra,” Sofia, chimes in with a sideways glance at her sister, “what do you think of our Latino men?”

Cautiously, I respond with what I hope is a diplomatic answer, “I find the Latino people to be a handsome people.”

Apparently not satisfied with my response, Maria walks to the bookshelf on the far side of the room and reaches for a well-worn photo album. Flipping through the pages, she finds what she is looking for and says rather impatiently, “Here, look at him.”

She hands me a photograph of a smiling Latino man standing next to her husband in a photo taken somewhere in Mexico. “Don’t you think he is a handsome man?” she asks smiling sweetly pointing to the photo in my hand.

Two can play this game, Maria, I think to myself. Smiling innocently at her, I reply, “Yes, your husband is a handsome man.” I point at photos of her children on the wall and add, “You have beautiful children, too.”

I can see she is beginning to lose patience with me but before she can demand another answer, her husband calls from the kitchen, “Maria, the timer!”

Gratefully, I use this distraction as an excuse to check my watch.

“Oh, my,” I say with feigned surprise. “It’s 4:12? Already? I really must be leaving for another appointment I just remembered I have.” With a polite smile and hurried good byes, I make it to my car and out of the parking lot in less than two minutes.

I ponder Maria’s strategy and think to myself, She’s good. But I won today.

Maria 0, me 1

Stay tuned for part 2 of “In which I almost become someone’s tia” and find out how Maria used foot soldiers (aka her children) to try and break down my defenses.

Remember to like this story on my page if you enjoyed it!

You’ll never guess who I saw today?

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(Squeal!!) I know you never will so I am just going to tell you.

It was….The Queen of the Universe!

I know, right? Who even knew she was in town? Let me tell you how it happened (so exciting!!)

After a family outing to get some ice cream, I pulled up at a light behind another car. The left arrow light turned green, but the other car at the front of the line didn’t move. I peered through the windows and saw a woman’s head bent over the radio controls. It looked like she was fiddling with the dials, so I honked lightly to remind her that it was time to turn. She poked her head up from what she was doing and held up her index finger to tell me to wait. That’s when I knew. It was the Queen herself. I just know she was conducting important business inside her car while a line of traffic formed behind her.

After about fifteen seconds, she finally turned and while I initially was content to follow her parade, my husband urged me to pass (She was only going 15 miles per hour under the speed limit. A Queen moves at her own speed after all).

Once I passed, we all looked over to see what she looked like, only ever having seldom seen an actual QotU. Imagine my surprise when she gave me the Royal Middle Finger Salute! What a fine day and a magnificent honor to receive!

My only regret is that we didn’t actually meet. I would have liked to have expressed my feelings to her about that salute, especially since my two children were there to witness it as well.

Alas, we parted company, but I imagine she won’t stay hidden for long. Queens do have a way of making themselves visible, don’t they?

(For those of you who will start warning about glass houses and all, I do own a tiara but it mostly stays hidden in my closet collecting dust. It only comes out on extremely rare occasions).

What about you? Have you seen the QotU or a member of her royal family out and about recently?