From April 2000
My favorite of Spunky’s expressions is “eck-for-cept,” as in, “We’re all teasing the birds, eck-for-cept Bo,” or “We all put the sprinkly cheese on the dog…eck-for-cept me.” (They are very skilled in finding things to put on the dog).
The daily level of chaos had reached a near impossible point for me when I decided to put an incentive program into place. My hope was to gently force a little bit of order into our days, to give them just enough responsibility to keep me from following them all day with a mop, spackle and plumbing tools.
It didn’t improve the rate of repairs, but at least they felt good about helping out and a few of their most aggravating habits were dented. I did not have to hang up all the coats several times each day, or search for wandering toothbrushes. This left me more time to figure out who pulled out the bird’s tail feathers and deal with communicable diseases.
The girls were proud of the points they earned, so proud and preoccupied that the checklist took on a bit too much importance. If I asked Spunky to hand me her shoe, she wanted to know how many points it was worth.
After one full week of intensive scoring, bribery and blackmail, they lost interest in the program. “We don’t need points anymore,” said Spunky, “We already get to rent a movie.”
So it goes. Concerted chaos is our chosen lifestyle. I’m amazed that we ever make a good impression on anyone. Within one day, Sparky was sent home with pinkeye, Spunky’s playdate ended in a lice report from her friend’s mommy, and we had yet another exploding lunch box incident.
This time, Sparky’s presumed empty lunchbox sat at the edge of the kitchen counter. A shot rang out. I jumped backward reflexively as the metal lid, which reads “Invasion of the Monster Women…Collect Them All!” did an imitation of a UFO and propelled itself into the sink with a CLANG-WOCKA-WOCKA.
Fermenting orange juice did it again. This time, the sipper cup lid didn’t simply pop open, nono. Its lid held, while the plastic side was ripped open in a fatal pressure failure. The ziplock bag it was carefully sealed in was shredded and frothy juice seemed to hiss like acid on the counter. I was sad to have no one right there to share the moment.
Later that night, we discovered that Spunky’s toothbrush had been lodged so forcefully into the wall-mounted toothbrush holster that we could not get it loose. We took the holder off the wall and we thwacked, wrenched and twisted, but it was held fast.
I confided in Spunky that until we could dislodge her toothbrush, she would have to brush “The Silly Way” and brush her teeth with the holder attached. She accepted the challenge.
Looking back over the last three years, I have to be glad that this isn’t my house that we’ve happened to.
The landlord did a preliminary inspection in anticipation of our end-of-lease negotiations. He’s been terribly worried about the dog, but the dog has done none of the crayon art on the walls, none of the dents and scrapes. She is surely not responsible for the window blinds that were playfully snipped to half their height. The dog did destroy the now-missing screen door, which she ran through in a fit of enigmatic dog frenzy.
Damn those invisible squirrels, anyway.
He tisked at the wear and tear, but all of the serious problems and many of the silly problems preceded us. We didn’t erode the light fixtures or put bootprints into the bathroom door. For the most part, we slobbered, we splashed, we drew and we hardly ever clobbered anything.
He did not notice the toothpaste on the bathroom ceiling. I had put in low wattage bulbs for the occasion, naturally.
Spunky must have put the toothpaste on the ceiling. She can’t possibly reach that high–no one can eck-for-cept me–but she can almost certainly spit that high. That’s just part of The Silly Way.