The last of the Franken Berry

My Erma BomBUST entry… Thank GOD I signed up in December… 😉

Any minute now, my children will realize I have eaten the last of the Franken Berry cereal.

At least, I hope so.

If I were to guess, their reaction would be “No fair! You got the last of the good cereal just because you got up early.”

It is, after all, a little past 10 a.m. on a Sunday.

Most Sundays, I get up late and indulge in a few moments of quiet time… a cup of coffee, a quiet house, some morning news shows and I am a refreshed woman. Add in a bowl of cereal with marshmallows and I am giddy with relaxation. Or maybe it’s the sugar rush… it’s kind of hard to tell.

Those marshmallow cereals are a treat that I hardly ever indulge in. As a child I never got to eat these cereals except during summer vacations. It was a rare treat.

Of course, my life hasn’t changed that much. My sons tend to eat the marshmallowy goodness within hours of its coming home from the store, so I never get any. As teenagers, they consume food like a hoard of locusts on a Kansas prairie.

For one blissful hour and a half each week though, I can grab the box of cereal, fix myself a bowl of indulgence, ignore the housework, and sit without a care in the world.

But now, the box is in the trash, my coffee cup is drained, the cereal bowl is empty and my kids will wake up soon.

I’d like to imagine that there will be moaning, whining and wails of “What? There was a box of Franken Berry left? What the heck? Did you hide it or something?”

And the truth is – I did. Like a little girl, with my secret treasure, I hid it on the top shelf of the cabinet behind the “healthy” stuff like the instant oatmeal and granola bars.

Granted, it was right out there in the open where anyone could see it, but since they are boys and have close to no ability to find something unless I point it out to them, I’m pretty sure I could have placed on their bedroom floors and they would have had a hard time locating it… and that’s WITH me picking up the dirty clothes and assorted trading cards.

Looking at the box though, it occurs to me that they will probably never even notice. After all, it is located in the garbage can, and finding it would require them to not only realize that we HAVE a garbage can, but also to acknowledge that it may be required to be emptied at some point.

Yeah, I pretty sure my secret is safe.

© Liz Carey 2014

Licking the bowl

Right now, my youngest son is in the kitchen making his first solo batch of brownies.

How cool is that?

Remember when it was cool to lick the bowl as a kid, and how much you looked forward to your mom giving you the spoon?

As a mom, I got to the point where I looked forward to being able to give my kids the spoon when I got done making home made brownies or cookies. It was kind of cool to see them get all excited about who got the spoon and who got the bowl.

It made me feel like I was a cool mom. Like I was a doting mom. That I was somehow making up for all those times I was covering stories late at night and coming home late for dinner.

Really, I was just opening a box and hoping I didn’t screw up. But they didn’t know that, did they? No. All they knew was that their cool mom was making them something sweet and within minutes they would be eating warm gooey chocolate, preferably with powdered sugar sprinkled all over it…

So, when Max asked if he could make brownies, I said yes. It was 8 at night, he still had two hours until bedtime, and frankly, I figured he’d get bored half way through and I’d get to finish it, along with licking the bowl.

But no, he persevered. He made his way through all the instructions and worked through until the end. Of course, he forgot the eggs until he decided the dough was really weird, but still. He figured it out, and he kept on stirring.

Now, this comes from the kid who once cooked Pizza Rolls in the microwave for 8 MINUTES because he read the instructions wrong, and was so dead set to prove his brother wrong, he insisted he was doing it correctly, right up until they caught on fire.

Max and I have cooked together before. We make omelets every few Sundays… his favorite is a pizza omelet of his own creation that includes pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and sauteed onions. But when left alone, he typically creates a burnt mess or crispy scrambled eggs. Remembering all of the ingredients – like butter – seems to be a challenge for him.

So when he said he would make brownies, I wasn’t too sure it would turn out well. But I let him try anyway.

And I was pleasantly surprised. He fixed his mistakes. He greased the pan. He even remembered to even the batter out in the pan.

So I got to lick the bowl.

And it wasn’t just the chocolate that made me feel good. It was watching him grow up a little right there in front of me.

It was knowing that he could cook something, that the tide was changing, that he would be able to live on his own and make his way when he left me. His clothes that he washed were in the dryer and not all pink. His room was clean in places and relatively free from fire hazards. His grades were coming up and his smile told me that he was happy with who he was instead of being worried that he didn’t meet other people’s expectations.

He wasn’t my little baby anymore.

And as he towered over me, he smiled and handed me the spoon.

“There you go, Mom,” he said. “But you’re not going to eat it all, … right?”

So maybe not all grown up. But I kinda like it that way.


© Liz Carey 2014

He just got it

It’s hard to believe that 14 years ago, my youngest son was born.

It seems like just a few months ago, he was talking to me in the car about being excited to ride the “roll-up posters” at Kings Island, and how his favorite dinner is “pasghetti.”

On the day he was born, he weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was about 21 inches long. Now, he’s 150 pounds, and towers over my 5 foot 4 inch frame. Where I used to hug him and rock him to sleep, he now holds me when I’m tired of dishes, dirty laundry and dog walking.

And he’s always there to make me laugh.

Max is known for his sense of humor in our house. Whether it’s talking at the dinner table, or just popping off some little quip, he usually has us in stitches by the end of the day.

One day, my husband, Max and I were at dinner. Max, like usual, ordered a grilled cheese and French fries. And like usual, as a parent, my husband felt that he was entitled to a Daddy tax of a few French fries. As he grabbed a fry from Max’s plate, Max protested by pulling away his little cup of ketchup.

Of course, Max pulled it away a little too quickly, and the ketchup slurped out of the cup and spilled all over Max’s new surfing shirt.

Max looked up at his Dad a little scared, worried that he would be in trouble for getting his new shirt dirty.

But his Dad just smiled. Not one to miss a beat, his Dad dragged his French fry up Max’s shirt and through the ketchup, saying “You know what they say, Max…waste not, want not.”

Without skipping a beat, Max looked at his Daddy and said “You know what they say, Dad… I got this shirt from the hamper.”

But he wasn’t always that way.

When he was first born, Max looked like he was angry.

For the first three or four months of his life, Max didn’t smile. His face had a permanent sort of scowl  – furrowed brow, drawn down mouth, piercing eyes. He just looked at the world like he was trying to figure everything out. When people would come up close to him, he would cock his head slightly to the left and stare at people like they were aliens from another planet.

I remember my Mom putting him one of those wind up swings one day. We both thought that he would start to giggle like every other kid did. So we stood there and watched, waiting for a smile to break out on his face and little giggles to bubble out of his mouth.

But no, Max just looked like he was mad that the perspective kept changing.

To be honest, I felt like I was going to be cursed to have a disgruntled teen ager at age two.

I began to wonder if there wasn’t something wrong with him. In fact, I remember thinking I needed to take him to the doctor, but wondered what I would say to him.

“Well, doctor, the rest of us smile, and he doesn’t. There isn’t anything wrong with him, is there? It’s not like he could have been born without a funny bone or a sense of humor, right?” “The rest of us are funny… here, let me tell you a joke… see?”

We were concerned that if we didn’t do something our little guy would suffer, and us along with it.

Instead, we waited. And watched. All the while, Max scowled. And watched.

Then one day, he didn’t.

He was sitting in his swing while I did the dishes and his 2-year-old big brother, Mason, was playing with his feet and talking to him. Mason got right up into his face, stuck his tongue out at him and said something to him in that gibberish brothers learn to say to each other.

Max’s face swirled up into a grin. That spread into a smile. And that erupted into a giggle.

From there on, it never stopped.

Since then, he’s done stand up comedy as his talent in his fifth grade talent show, spent hours getting us laughing to the point of crying and coming up with some of the funniest one-liners we’ve ever heard. He’s written stories that have heroes turning paper and words into weapons, some of which were jokes that killed. He’s come up with new words that are part of our family vocabulary.

When the car gets dirty, he calls it a “kid sty.”

When I told him I was upset that neither he nor his brother ever got a “terrific kid” award from their elementary school for good behavior, his response that I should follow the car in front of us that had one of the said bumper stickers on it, until it pulled into a parking lot, at which time he’d be happy to hop out of the car and rip it off their bumper for me.

When I asked him the year before last if he’d like to have a video game playing birthday party with different systems in each room of the house, and each system accompanied by different snacks, candy, pizzas and cokes…. he said that would be pure Nerdvana.

It was like something went off in Max’s head that day and he finally got the joke. Better still, he wanted to tell it to us.

He still scowls when he doesn’t understand things, or when he’s frustrated with the rules that are set down for him that he feels are arbitrary and stupid. But as for the rest of the world… he gets it. And he’s ready to share the laughs with the rest of the world.

Lucky us.

© Liz Carey 2014