47. Embrace your oddities.

(My pal and uber-playright-blogger Sandy Rustin went away for a few days last year and she was a smarty — she gathered some guest bloggers to tend to her readers, water her blog with posts, and make sure nothing wilted. She actually asked me to be one of them and keep her blog mojo going as she frolicked on a Florida beach. Below is what I wrote as her stand-in. Check out my oddity du jour I wrote for her and click to see what Sandy is up to on Rated P. And stay tuned for more. Promise.)

“Mama, where is it?” She stands in the doorway of the kitchen, I believe with her hands on her hips. Her tone? A touch too accusatory for my taste.

I sigh. Because I know. I know what she is talking about, and she knows I know. I always know. I know what today’s “it” is, just as I knew what last week’s “that thing” was and yesterday’s “what we had that one time with Catty and the tinker toy jet pack.” I know because I am Mom and, at some point, during my days of labor, I was infused the power to know by the Goddesses of Motherhood.

(Minor side note: She built that jet pack for her stuffed cat back on February 19, and she’s talking about the yellow large binder clip used to hold Catty’s dress – yes, our stuffed cats have dresses — to the orange sticks. And I also know where that binder clip has been residing for four months. It is in the cubby on the left corner behind the mini cube with floating plastic frogs, er, coquis, that says “From Puerto Rico” in black scrawl her dad bought her. Oh, you betcha, I know.)

And today, the “it” she is referring to, with that tone, is a sore spot for me. She got “it” at a birthday party. She played with “it” all day yesterday. “It” is a mouse in a spaceship made out of one pink, contorted balloon. Four folded, twisted bits with a longish end. I don’t really think “it” resembles any sort of rodent in any sort of mode of transportation, but that’s what the magician-clown hybrid entertainer told her it was. “It” actually looks rather phallic, but I’m not going there….more for another musing later, I’m sure.

“Did you throw it away? Was it saggy already?” she asks, now hopping up and down.

“No, I didn’t. It’s not. It’s over by the bench where the shoes are.”

“Good! Don’t throw it away, please…until it’s saggy…then you can, okay?” She instructs.

“Deal,” I say, watching her scurry off to find the “it” in question.

She remembers the fate of Balloons From The Past. She knows what this one will eventually become saggy, as she said. Deflated, of course, is another word for it. However, balloons in our house become deflated faster than most. She is not aware of this fact. She just believes balloons have about a day of good play in them before they start to droop. What she doesn’t know is balloons in our house are, well, encouraged to droop at a faster pace.

With a little poke.

By a needle.

In my hand.

Fine. I hereby confess that I put holes in my kid’s balloons. With pleasure. And without her knowledge.

You see, I don’t like balloons. Let me rephrase: I hate balloons. They’re #3 in the list of “Kid Things Of Which I Am Not A Fan.” Why? For most others in the anti-balloon faction, they hate the pop, that startling pop that makes them jump.

Not me. I relish the pop, because it means I can then get rid of it without hassle or explanation and avoid covert balloon assignation missions.

For me, the balloon comes with many (somewhat irrational) hazards: choking on burst balloon bits, the string getting wrapped too tightly around extremities, the crazy static hair that doesn’t seem to calm down after two hours. After every birthday party, after a stop to Harry’s Shoes, or a trip for trim at Cozy’s Cuts, balloons are toted into the abode. These latex orbs hover and move on their own. They drift and meander from room to room.

And they freak me out.

“Look, it isn’t saggy yet!” She pops back into the kitchen and holds it up for me to see.

“Great, babe,” I smile…and think about where I placed that sewing kit.

(One brief addendum: you may be wondering what is #1 on the list of “Kid Things Of Which I Am Not A Fan.”? The noise that the Styrofoam toy encasement makes when you slide it out of the box. And #2? Battery-powered stuffed animals that move and meow at 2 a.m. and scare the crapadoo out of me.)