Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'm writing to you from the wrong side of 1am, self-righteously, about my standards

The cheesecake is in the oven.

Is this what you do at 1am? The cheesecake is in the oven tonight so I can make the caramel topping tonight, which needs to settle for 24 hours in the fridge before being poured over the cheesecake, which also receives the caramel better if it's been chilled overnight. It's for Monday morning, also known as the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week.

The lovely husband's schedule is always supposed to be in my calendar, too, so when I looked at the notation for his California trip overlaying the pop-up for Teacher Appreciation Week, I knew my only chance was to volunteer for the first day's slot and utilize the weekend to my benefit. Hence the cheesecake.

I was emailing with the mom coordinating all the Appreciation and I threw in a "how are you doing?" line because she's the kind of woman I suspect I'd really like if I knew better but I have only had the opportunity to know casually. Her son is in G's class at daycare and her daughter is in the toddler class and she wrote something about not feeling like such a fabulous mama; life with a toddler and a 2 is hard! and how do I do it with THREE? (her caps, not mine). My oh-so-helpful answer was, pshaw, woman, stop volunteering for massive coordination projects like this. Save that for the mamas of singletons.

(Just kidding. Sorta.)

The thing, of course, is that I have mad appreciation for the teachers. I do try to show it. I'm thinking about this at 11:15 (pm) as I left-turn right-turn my way through the grocery store gathering cheesecake ingredients. I'm thinking that maybe I could just buy a cheesecake? I never do that, but this is absurd, isn't it? But I remember my last act of appreciation, just last week, when the preschool had some international food fest. We were all supposed to send in foods that reflect our heritage, and I made my challah. "Homemade challah?" two teachers asked with perked-up interest, and I may have said something like, "of course! I don't really believe in store-bought baked goods." And I don't, really, but it's easier to have standards by daylight.

So I can't bring a store-bought cheesecake, of course, and I knew that all along, because a) mine tastes better and b) I have a reputation to uphold and c) cheesecake is easy, really, and I should stop whining. It's easier than challah, even, and like challah it's a food that a lot of people think is complicated, so you get double points: for having attempted at all the thing that looks complicated as well as for its flavor.

And those are all the things I remind myself as I get in line to pay for everything. I have a lot of groceries for this time of night, because of the lovely husband and his California trip (who just, amusingly, just discovered that I called him a yellow-tailed secessionist traitor and blurted out, "what happened to 'lovely?' I have a reputation to uphold!") and really if I have any standards at all, it's that I'm not going to the grocery store when I'm alone with three kids. So I have $100 in produce (which they will eat entirely before his return Wednesday morning) and there is one cash register open only, which is a darn shame for the restless crowd behind me with two or three things only in their hands.

The thing is, though, I don't care. Because it's not my fault that Maryland has ridiculous liquor laws and it's almost midnight and we're in the suburbs and this is the only place to buy beer or wine right now. Because everyone behind me is about twenty-one-and-a-half years old and they can come babysit my bottomless produce eaters, once they're sober. And if they'd just planned ahead, they could have bought their beer in the regular liquor store with the regular hours, and not had to stand behind the mama who needed grapes in two colors and apples in two colors and pears in two colors and also avocados, but only in one color because G likes the black ones but not the green ones, and don't you even think about serving them up to him, what were you thinking, he has standards, too, you know. Children these days, honestly.

That was about the beer buyers, of course.

Discovered tonight in my grocery store: what the hell is this? Be it known that if I have any standards at all, they include using full-fat dairy in baking. Always. 

The other thing is that I never intended to be at the grocery store this late. But we had this crazy busy day, fun, but packed, and all day long we did the big things we'd planned but never got to the million little things, like how E started asking for popcorn just after breakfast and it wasn't feasible and it wasn't possible and then we weren't home, and all of a sudden she's asking for popcorn and I realize it's almost 9pm and I think they never had dinner, but she can't have popcorn now because I'm combing knots out of bath-wet hair and whatever they eat, it'll be in my bed because we're on the verge of bedtime and I don't want to sleep in popcorn crumbs. But I think: problem solved! Because we're going to another birthday party tomorrow and it's at a movie theater and there will be popcorn! So I can say no yet again without a shred of remorse.

Remind me I still have to wrap that birthday present.

I stepped on this guy tonight. I swear I've never seen him before, and now here he is, part of our family. I can't decide if his expression reads: 'get me out of here' or 'I surrender' but either way, bud, I'm alone with three kids. I don't have time for your problems. 

So this is how tomorrow will go: we'll wake up and find clothes and get to this birthday party in a movie, where I can only hope that G falls asleep on my shoulder and we can call that his nap, because by all rights he should be home and sleeping horizontally but I have a husband (lovely, of course, but I'm wondering if 'secessionist' applies again) who has business in California and so tomorrow, where one kid goes, so do they all go. But before we leave, I will feed them all a wholesome breakfast, which had better rely on some of those strawberries and raspberries I bought, because I kept those kids from their beer for you, so eat up, even though I know you think popcorn is a reasonable first meal. Don't you know I have standards?

And that way, when they eat movie popcorn, we can call that their lunch.
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