Monday, June 13, 2011

Code for Shoot Me

There are certain things that I say every single day of life. For many of them, I am grateful. Things like "Thanks, that was nice." Or "I love you, too." But there's one soul-dulling little ritual that I go through around about this time--just after dinner--365 days a year. It feels like 365 days a week. When it's happening, my mind goes to a pale stretch of beach in Belgium or The Netherlands--the Wat in Northern Germany--someplace with a vast horizon and nothing much to look at but some squirming mud fish temporarily discomfited. I can literally feel my eyes rolling back in my head as though they were suspended in a tupperware dish full of water.

It goes like this:

Me: Put on your pyjamas, please.
Kid: Why.
Me: I would prefer "Okay" to "Why." Try again.
Kid: Do I Have To.
Me: Put on your pyjamas, please.
(And here it comes:)

(Can he keep this shirt on....Sure, why not? It's only encrusted with breakfastlunchdinnersnacks, texturized by paintgluespitbloodotherpeoplesartprojects, and dusted lightly with gravelchalkdoghair. Sure, what the hell, sleep in that thing. It would only mean fumigating your bedroom and boiling your sheets for a day and a half.)

Me: No, it's filthy.Take it off.

And much complaining ensues. The words "unfair" and "revolutionary" are uttered. Furious little hand gestures and Churchillian grimaces.

This evening as my eyes were rolling back in my head and my thoughts turned to miles of empty Belgian coastlines with no obvious beauty, I had a brainwave. It goes like this:


An entire 15-minute battle, reduced to four syllables. Imagine the time, the gin, the therapy that we will save. You got any short cuts to bedtime? Besides firing them out of a cannon and into their little trundle beds?