Archive for October, 2008

The land of make believe

October 29, 2008

This morning I gave my son toast with butter and jam for breakfast, because we were out of his usual välling – a kind of Swedish liquid porridge. When I handed it to him on a plate (OK, fine, it was not a plate, it was the plastic lid to some tupperware), I told him it was “like cake.” I felt this was an entirely reasonable description of the toast, it being made of flour, butter and sugar – almost exactly like cake.

Later in the shower, he bent down and picked up some hairs near the drain, then put them on his upper lip and declared, “Look, a moustache!” Now, he had been a sport with my make-believe cake – after waiting 20 minutes he did, in fact, cautiously lick it and put a small piece of it in his mouth. I appreciated that. However, I could not be as generous with his body-hair moustache. The sad fact is that most people don’t want to be around people who make moustaches out of questionable body hair found near the shower drain. I really and truly wish this wasn’t the world we live in, but it is.

After the shower – moustache free – he put a plastic bag on his shoulder like a purse and said he was “Mamma.” I sat down on the couch, watching “Mamma” walk back and forth across the living room, and ate the rest of the toast-cake. It was delicious.


Ode to my broken toes

October 23, 2008

A few entries ago I reported to you that this summer I broke one of my pinky toes. In fact, I was not entirely forthcoming with you: this summer I broke both of my pinky toes during the same week. How did it happen? It was the classic recipe for pinky toe injuries:

Step 1: Put a man who has been living in Sweden for ten years back in California.
Step 2: Have him wear flip flops that are too small for his feet, causing his pinky toes to hang out over the edges.
Step 3: Have this same man place his luggage right near his bedroom door, so whenever he enters or exits the room he either has to turn his body to the side or walk straight ahead, catch a pinky toe on the luggage, and break it.

Note: It would help if the man is particularly lazy, so that once the first pinky toe is broken he won’t think, “I need to move that piece of luggage right away.” No, this is not the kind of man you want. You want the kind of man who says, “Oh my god, that hurt incredibly. I’m going to leave that piece of luggage exactly where it is.” In this way you ensure that the man breaks both toes.

Now you may be asking, “But how did he know they were broken?” I knew this because when drying between my toes after a shower, one of the pinky toes moved out perpendicular to the other toes. Which oddly, did not hurt at all – it was just a very disturbing image.

Back in Sweden, I called my local healthcare center to see how they would deal with my broken toes. The nurse on the phone asked me, “Was it the big toe?” I said no, it was not, it was the pinky toes. She said, “Then we do nothing.” Nothing? I suddenly felt like a chimpanzee in a Jane Goodall documentary – one of those old chimpanzees that had fallen from a tree, broken a leg, and was forced to drag itself around on the jungle floor for the rest of its life looking for moldy fruit. Well, that kind of chimpanzee except much more attractive, and with a good set of silverware and a microwave. And legs that work.

But you get my point – modern medicine, in all its splendor and sophistication does nothing for broken toes. Maybe if you whine enough they will put a splint on it for you, but that’s it. I found this all fascinating. What made toes so much less important than fingers? Or are toes simply more hardy than fingers? Perhaps our toes are too far away from our heads for us to really care about them. My pinky toes are like Guam and Puerto Rico – small, distant, and only loosely attached to the United Body of Me.

The future of parenting

October 22, 2008

People, you know I care about you and want the best for you. With this in mind, I am giving you my idea for a new invention that I just thought of while having a pillow fight with my son in bed.

Let me walk you through it. What do we know about small children? They enjoy hitting their parents and jumping on their backs. We know this. We also know that they like to sit on their parents’ backs for horsey rides. Now, what do parents like? They like back massages, don’t they? They do.

So, at first I was thinking – as my son jumped up and down on me and jammed his knee in between my vital organs – “We should totally teach children how to give those back-walking massages.” Think of those small, soft feet walking up and down your back. Heaven, right? But then the problem is this: small children don’t really care about giving their parents pleasure. I know this because my son often laughs hysterically when I hurt myself.

My invention, therefore, harnesses the child’s desire to both sit on their parents’ backs and inflect harm on them. The invention would be a kind of Playschool backpack for parents, full of all kinds of rollers, knobs and buttons, and complete with a little seat near the parent’s bottom for the child. With the parent on their stomach, the child sits on the seat and rolls the rollers, twists the knobs, and presses the buttons – all of which are designed to massage the parent’s back.

The parent, for their part, enjoys the massage while making noises suggesting they are in great pain, thus stimulating the child to continue playing with the toy. It is a total win-win, aside from teaching our children to be sadists. Though I believe this is what they call an “acceptable loss.”