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Real Stories with Humorous Perspective

Terms of Germs

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 07:40:27 PM


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The Terms of Germs

“Oh, my God, look at his hands!” Lanie said, glaring with disgust at her brother Henry as he grabbed his hamburger. I looked at Henry, who was sitting next to me, and noticed that his hands were covered in dirt.

“Henry, those hands are disgusting. Put that hamburger down right now. You can’t eat with those hands,” I said.

Henry dropped his hamburger on his plate and looked at his hands. He shrugged his shoulders, looked at me quizzically, and said “Why? What’s wrong with them?”

“Duh, Henry!” Lanie interjected. “Are you having an eye problem? Can you not see the mud all over your hands? I can’t believe you touched your food. Boys are so gross.”

“Thank you, Lanie, that’s enough, I don’t need help with Henry right now,” I said to Lanie. “Henry you need to go wash those hands. You can’t eat dinner like that.”

“Why? It’s just dirt, Mom. You tell me all the time that dirt can’t make me sick, just germs do.”

“Ah, yeah. You do say that all the time, Mom, Henry’s right,” Tucker added, defending his brother.

“Yes, but that just applies to you playing and getting dirty. It is not an excuse to come to the dinner table with hands that look like they have been in a mud fight.”

“Well. It wasn’t a mud fight, it was just football. Tucker and I were playing catch.”

“Tucker, are your hands clean?” I asked.

“Mom, I can take care of myself,” Tucker said.

“Well, Henry, you need to go and wash those hands.”

“Why?” Henry asked, looking down and inspecting the dirt on his hands with what seemed to be a fondness and admiration. “This is sport’s dirt, Mom. It’s fine.”

“Just go wash your hands please, Henry.” I said simply and quietly. I was glad that Henry wasn’t so uptight about dirt because Tucker seemed to be a bit of a germ-a-phobe, and he wouldn’t touch anything that hadn’t been sterilized.

Henry got down from the table and went into the bathroom. I had just started passing the ketchup, and making small talk at the table when Henry popped right back up in his seat. He had been gone for about thirty seconds.

“Henry,” I stated strongly, “you couldn’t possibly have washed your hands in that short amount of time.”

“It’s okay, Mom. I hand sanitized,” he replied confidently, and he showed me his hands.

“Henry, the dirt is still there. It’s just all smeared around, and now it’s on the front and backs of your hands. Hand sanitizer is just for killing germs. It doesn’t actually clean your hands. Don’t you know that?” I questioned, wondering if my continued comments about the dirt would start to make Henry paranoid.

“Mom, the dirt is fine, and now I’ve killed all the germs so it doesn’t matter. Can you pass the ketchup?” he said reaching for his hamburger again.

“Don’t touch that with those hands, mister. They are disgusting. You need to go back to that bathroom and really wash them. No hand sanitizer and make sure that you use soap,” I ordered.

“Fine, FINE! What’s the big deal,” he said with irritation. “It’s just dirt. You said germs just come from people coughing and picking their nose and stuff. This is clean dirt, Mom. No one even spit in it.”

“Mom, will you get him to stop. I can’t eat with him being so disgusting. I’m totally losing my appetite,” Lanie added.

“You’re disgusting, Lanie!” Henry shouted at her because now he was starting to feel embarrassed by all the attention.

“Just go wash your hands, Henry.”

“FINE!” and he stormed back to the bathroom. This time I could hear the water running, and I heard the bar of soap clunk back into the dish when Henry had finished using it. He returned to the table, and I almost wondered if he had washed his mouth with the soap too because his face looked awfully sour. I thought praising him might help, and then we could just move on.

“Great job Henry. They look nice and clean now. Thank you for washing your hands,” I said cheerfully with as much enthusiasm for hand washing that I could muster. Henry was still being stubborn about the whole thing.

“I don’t see the point of washing my hands, Mom. They’re just going to get all dirty with ketchup anyway. Can you help me with this?” he asked as he passed me his hamburger so that he could open the ketchup. I wasn’t ready for the pass, and his hamburger fell from his hands and onto the floor.

“Oh, great!” he said throwing his hands to the air. “See, Mom. My hamburger has dirt on it anyway.”

“Yeah,” Charlie added in his usual attempt to tease and undermine my lectures, “now his hamburger is all dirty, Mom. How is he supposed to eat it now? Henry, you’re going to have to go back to the bathroom and wash the dirt off your hamburger,” he laughed. Henry gave him a mean and confused look because I think he thought that he might really have to go and wash off the hamburger.

“Do I really have to wash that too,” he questioned, and his voice cracked as if he might cry. “Forget it, then. I’m not eating a soggy hamburger.”

“Five second rule!” I yelled absentmindedly. “It’s fine,” I said, trying to brush off the dirt and cat hair. I started blowing on the top of the bun in an attempt remove some of the dirt without mashing it into the soft texture of the bread. It looked fine, and I passed it back to Henry. “Here you go, honey. It’s fine,” I said as I smiled with complete satisfaction at how coolly I had handled this situation. Henry looked at me with complete horror and disgust.

“I am NOT eating that,” he stated, raising his eyebrows and shaking his head.

“Oh, Henry, stop complaining. It’s fine. Look,” I said showing him the cleanish-looking burger. “I got all of the dirt off, see?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t worried about the dirt, Mom! You just spit your germs all over my burger.”

“What?” I said, surprised and somewhat confused by his reaction. “You mean you will eat a burger with hands that look like you’ve been digging sewer trenches, but you won’t eat anything if I’ve put my mouth near it?”

“That’s where germs come from, Mom. I’m not touching that now,” he said. Charlie, Tucker, Lanie, and Tom all started giggling. Henry flashed them all a look of powerful anger, but I could see that he was about to cry, so I did what all mother’s do in moments like this. I made a sacrifice.

“I’m sorry, Henry. I shouldn’t have blown all over your food. I was just trying to help get the dirt off. Here,” I said passing him my own plate and taking his, “you can have my burger. I put ketchup on it already, but I haven’t touched it.” He sniffled and wiped his nose and eyes with his hands, of course, so that no one would know that he was crying.

“Eeeeiiieeewww, Mom, that’s gross. Are you really going to eat that?’ Lanie asked, convinced that this was some kind of trick, and I wasn’t actually going to consume Henry’s floor-spiced burger.

“Of, course she’s going to eat it. Five second rule, right, Mom?” Charlie taunted.

“Ellie, just give that to the dog. I made extra burgers,” Tom said, trying to be supportive, but I felt like he was undermining my point with his suggestion that I shouldn’t eat it.

“There is nothing wrong with this burger,” I stated again, removing the top bun and squeezing ketchup on it.

“Well, I’m not eating it,” Henry said as he quickly grabbed what had previously been my hamburger and took a great big bite. “Thungks, Mumph,” he said talking with his mouth full, as ketchup squirted out the sides of his mouth.

“You’re welcome, Henry, “ I said, as I picked up the other burger. Everyone watched and giggled as I took a big bite. It was a little crunchy, but I just smiled as if it was the best meal ever. I couldn’t always count on my ability to execute a lesson to my children, but I was very confident about my ability as an actress and a martyr. No one would ever suspect that I was becoming more nauseous with each bite.

“Wow! You’re brave, Mom, ’cause I sneezed on that before you came to the table. I’m glad you’re not worried about my germs.”

“It’s fine, Henry. Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay. I probably didn’t have any germs in my sneeze today anyway.”

“Just eat, Henry.” I said, a little exasperated. I had really lost my appetite, but I finished my hamburger and continued to smile.

Elsie had finished her finger food, and she was starting to fuss and squirm a little. We weren’t quite done with dinner, and I liked Elsie to stay at the table with all of us when we were eating. I got up and quickly grabbed her pacifier, hoping to distract her with it long enough for us to finish. She promptly took it from me and threw it. Peeve, who was use to Elsie throwing food, quickly retrieved the pacifier, and then spit it out, realizing it was not the tasty treat he was hoping for. I picked up the pacifier and gave it back to Elsie.

“Aren’t you going to rinse that off, Ellie? That’s kind of gross,” Tom said.

“Nope!” I replied, as Elsie took the pacifier and chewed on the end. I still had high hopes for her.

“KEY”-ping the Peace

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 07:36:22 PM

TRAGEDY OF THE WEEK – September 24, 2011

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“KEY”-ping the Peace

“Ellie!” I heard Tom call. “Have you seen my keys anywhere?”

I rolled my eyes to myself. Here we go again, I thought. Another lost item that I would get blamed for. This happened about every five minutes in our house because between Tom, and the five children, the only one who seemed to know how to organize and put things away was myself. If someone couldn’t find something, I was blamed because, surely, I had put it somewhere. However, I always put things away in their logical places so if someone couldn’t find something, I would conclude that it was because I hadn’t touched it.

“Ellie?!” Tom called again, but I still didn’t answer. I was hoping that he was just asking carelessly and without really looking for the keys himself. I was hoping that he would just stumble upon them and stop calling to me to try to find them.

“Ellie!” Tom yelled again, but this time his voice was louder as he walked into the playroom and found me with Elsie.

“Oh, sorry, Tom,” I quietly lied, “Elsie was babbling, and I didn’t hear you call me.”

“Yeah, have you seen my keys?” Tom said quickly while taking a half-glance around the floor.

“No,” I said. “I haven’t seen them.”

“Are you sure? I think they were on the counter last night,” he said, as if this was a special clue to jog my memory.

“I really haven’t seen them,” I insisted, because I really hadn’t. “Did you check in the door, or next to the bed? And what about the pockets of your pants from yesterday?” I suggested, listing the places where keys were often found in our home. I didn’t bother to ask him if he had checked the key hooks on the wall by the back door. I knew Tom would never have put them there.

“Are you sure you didn’t notice them on the counter? I was carrying the mail in yesterday, and I’m sure that I dropped my keys on the counter when I put the mail down.”

“Tom,” I said, with adamant denial, “I haven’t seen your keys, and I didn’t touch them. If I had touched them they would be on the hooks by the back door. That’s where keys are suppose to go, and that is where I always put them,” I said lecturing, as usual, about organization.

“Oh, okay,” he said, nodding his head as if he was agreeing with me over something. “I’ll go and check on the hooks,” and he optimistically left the playroom, thinking that I had put his keys away for him. He had obviously misinterpreted my criticism for his lack of organization, as a confirmation that I must have touched his keys and hung them up. I was feeling a little frustrated and annoyed.

“Can I play computer?” Tucker asked as he interrupted my slight aggravation and walked into the playroom. He saw Elsie struggling to reach her toy phone, and quickly handed it to her because I was not paying any attention to her grunts as she stretched her little arm. I had been lost in frustrated thoughts. “Here, Elsie,” he said, cheerfully handing her the toy. “So, can I play?” he asked again.

“Fine,” I said to Tucker, letting out a heavy breath.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Tucker asked.

“They’re not here, Ellie!” Tom called from the back hall.

“Try next to the washing machine,” I said. I wasn’t really trying to be helpful. I knew that the keys were not by the washing machine, but Tom was so insistent that I must know where his keys were that I felt like I should keep making suggestions. I hoped that maybe he would just get tired and stop bugging me.

“What’s Dad looking for?” Tucker asked without turning away from the computer game he had just started.

“His keys,” I said.

“Oh,” he answered, rolling his eyes as I had done. I thought his eye-rolling was confirmation of Tucker’s recognition that his father almost always misplaced his keys, but, suddenly, without even looking in my direction, Tucker surprised me by saying, “So where did you put them?”

“Ellie, they’re not there, either. Are you sure you didn’t put them somewhere?”

“I didn’t put them anywhere. You did. They are your keys,” I insisted.

“So, Mom lost your keys, huh, Dad?” Tucker said, and this time he actually tore his attention away from his computer game to give his Dad a knowing smile. I was getting angry now, and although I tried not to satisfy them by being defensive, I really couldn’t help myself.

“Why is it that every time someone in this family loses something they blame me?” I questioned with annoyed energy.

“Because you’re the one who touches everything,” Tucker blurted out with delight. He was really enjoying teasing me. He knew that nothing got under my skin more than being accused of misplacing or losing things. I prided myself on being the organized one in the family, but my family was always trying to sabotage my efforts.

“Look, you two,” I said with some serious anger as both Tom and Tucker tried to hide the smiles that emerged on their faces every time I got worked up about this issue. “I don’t randomly touch things in this house. I actually put things away. In fact, I put everything away. I am the only reason this family has not become a candidate for “Hoarders!”

“Right, Mom,” Tucker said, but he was smiling sarcastically, and I knew that he thought I was just full of it. Tom was now looking around, under the papers by the computer, and around the desk for his keys.

“I remember putting my keys on the kitchen counter,” he said, frustrated with his own attempts at looking futilely in the area of the computer.

“Maybe it was the bathroom counter,” I suggested, thinking that Tom was getting confused because I had put the mail away after Tom dumped it on the counter, and there were no keys.

Keys - Momma's Dramas

“Ellie,” Tom said, sounding a little frustrated himself. “My keys were with the mail. I didn’t bring the mail into the bathroom.” His annoyance at my suggestion was very obvious.

“Well, I don’t know,” I stated firmly.

“Charlie, have you seen my keys anywhere?” Tom asked, as Charlie came down the stairs.

“No,” he said, as he accidentally hit the stair-step basket with his foot, sending it tumbling off the stairs and onto the floor, spilling its contents everywhere.

“Charlie!” I yelled with frustration.

“What?!” he yelled in defense. “Do we have to have this stupid thing here?” he said throwing his hands in the direction of the basket.

“Yes,” I insisted, “because that is where I have to put everyone’s things because none of you ever put anything away.”

“Your keys are probably in there, Dad.” Charlie said in an attempt to, kind of, help his father, but mostly to take a little dig at me.

“The keys are not in there. Those are just toys and things that need to be put away upstairs.” I was starting to sound defensive, and although I didn’t like that my words had this tone, I still added, “I would have put the keys on one of the hooks if I had touched them,” but Tom wasn’t listening. He was already glancing at the things that had spilled out of the basket.

“Oh, those are the toys that were on the counter near the mail,” Tom said, as he looked on the floor and went to help Charlie pick up the basket so he could search through everything. “Maybe you put them in here, Ellie, and you don’t remember,” Tom said gently.

“Yeah,” Charlie confirmed. “I heard that older women are forgetful,” Charlie laughed, as he picked up the toys.

I was livid. “I am not older or forgetful!” I insisted to myself even more than to Charlie and Tom.

“Charlie, stop,” Tom said unconvincingly, as he tried to stifle his amusement. “Stop giving your mother a hard time,” but I saw that he and Charlie were both laughing, thoroughly enjoying the teasing at my expense.

“Hey, Mom, you remember that Elsie is in here playing by herself right, ‘cause I’m not really watching her,” Tucker chimed in, obviously listening and wanting to be ‘one of the guys’. At this point, Charlie and Tom erupted into laughter that they unsuccessfully tried to control.

I grabbed Elsie’s purse that had spilled out of the stair-step basket, and brought it to her in the playroom. I needed to get away from Tom and Charlie who were delighted with themselves and the hard time that they were giving me. I could still hear them whispering and laughing in the hallway.

“Were your keys in there, Tom?” I needled, trying to sound playful, but realizing that my tone was still whiny and defensive. There was no answer, and I wondered if Tom and Charlie had left, and if they had even finished cleaning up the mess from the basket. I left Elsie, again, and went back to the hall. Tom was still picking through the contents of the basket without success.

“See, I told you,” I said, oozing with the immaturity of a seasoned three-year-old.

“Okay, yeah,” Tom said, but I don’t think that he agreeing with me. He just wanted me to stop talking and lecturing about organization. “I’ll have to borrow your extra car key.”

“That’s fine,” I said, still in my little tizzy. “I have no idea where your keys are. I didn’t touch them,” I reiterated just to make one more point.

“Hey, Dad,” Tucker said. “are these your keys?”

“What?” I said, as Tom and I went back to the playroom. Tucker was still at the computer, engrossed in his game. “What, Tucker?” I said, annoyed that he had called to us, but that he was not really paying attention now that we were in the room with him. “Where are the keys?” I asked,

“Right there. Are those Dad’s or Elsie’s?” he said, pointing to the floor where Elsie was chewing on something that did not resemble her usual baby toys.

“Where did she get those?” I questioned Tucker, assuming that he had the keys and had given them to Elsie to avoid confrontation or punishment. “Did you give those to her?” I accused.

“No,” he said with the relaxed look of complete innocence. “You did,” he said shrugging his shoulders and glancing at me.

“I did not,” I stated. I was really angry now. Tucker had joined in this ‘teasing of Mom game’ whole-heartedly, and he was enjoying it thoroughly.

“Yeah, you did, Mom. They were in her purse.”

“How did my keys end up in Elsie’s purse?” Tom questioned, and then he and Tucker both looked at me.

“Well, I didn’t put them in there,” I said, unconvincingly. There was silence for a moment, and then some whimpers as Tom had to try to get his keys away from Elsie who had decided they were quite special and much better than her usual plastic ones.

“What?” I continued to say, as Tom and Tucker nodded their heads in some kind of silent agreement. “I didn’t put your keys in there,” I continued to say, but I was still unable to convince myself of this, so my words did not carry much weight with them.

“It’s fine, Ellie, we found them,” Tom said kindly, but I felt like he was coddling me.

“Did you figure out where Mom put your keys, Dad?” Charlie called from the kitchen.

“That’s enough, Charlie,” Tom said, and then he added, “Elsie had them,” as if blaming Elsie would somehow get Charlie to stop teasing me.

“Sure she did,” Charlie joked. He just had to get one more little comment in before shutting himself up.

Tom went to work, and I spent the rest of the day wondering if today was my surprise graduation from “busy, young Mom,” to “older, forgetful woman.”



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