"Do I look like the garbage can?"

February 28, 2015

Notable Stats

Time to Melt (TTM) – The time it takes for an empty food wrapper to caustically melt a child's hand off. Measured in micro-seconds. 
Quantitative Filth Factor (QFF) – The amount of garbage you are carrying after returning from a drive with three just car-fed children. Measured in rat whiskers. 

Our eldest daughter is usually spared this blog because she is the most likely to take parenting personally. It is never personal, it is the act of thwarting alien invasion and therefore all hands on deck, baby. Given that she acts as the family’s moral compass, I mostly have to thank her for being a better soul than the vast majority of Earthlings.

However, and I write this knowing my wife is cringing as she reads the next part for fear of the unexpected, she has to have high and particular standards to be so discerning. Given, as a Virgo, I understand her particular-ness, I also have to call her out from time to time. I make the case that these commentaries will actually make her smile in adulthood, mostly because she will just endorse her high expectations, coupled with the understanding that parents do it on the fly and often know not what they do.

Our daughter does not like dirt or garbage. I respect that. She does not like disorder and chaos. I get that. She does not like jelly. Wait, what?

Yes, jelly looks weird, and now that she has eloquently brought it to my attention recently, I have decided to agree with her. It is lumpy, it follows your knife around, and you can never smooth it out. It is therefore, untrainable. Undisciplined.

Speaking of untrainable, I realize her strong opinions about uncouth environments are exaggerated because the self-unaware “nast” level of her brother. He is often coated in jelly which may be part of the reason she does not like it. And no, it does not bother him one iota.

She also happens to be a foodie and by that, she is most happy surrounded by family, music, and food. She is literally giddy at cooking eggs in the morning and, as a breakfast afficionado, I love that fact.

But with food comes the health department or, in this case, parents not wanting ants to infest our house, so we have to clean up especially well when food is involved.

Our currently compost-mobile, aka the “mini-van” (I will have a full blog on this at a later date), is completely disgusting. We accepted this about three years ago. If you elect to give food in the car, especially to an unsupervised child in the third row, expect the floor, seats, and ceiling of your vehicle to look like a food fight took place. It is shameful, yes, but it is also irreversible at this point. I have since looked at trading in our minivan, simply because I have to do it before it is quarantined by the EPA.

So you can imagine my daughter mixed in with this filth. I feel for her, but we have to get to school and I am hoping that the act of our constantly cleaning this car is enough to keep her happy even though industrial cleaning agents have literally had no impact. At one point, I tried to pour acid on a stain, the undercarriage melted, but the stain remained.

However, our daughter must share some responsibility for our mini-van’s condition. She is the foodie and is not happy when not eating, and given the web of activities in her day, she needs to eat on the go. And despite her diligence, she is only five and to her horror, food still ends up in the cracks of her car seat.

In the cracks or not, she is consistent about trash and for some reason, whenever she is finished devouring her snack, the empty wrapper burns a hole in her hand. This is true for most kids, but especially true for our oldest daughter. I am highly confident, that her skin is calibrated against all forms of food dirt. Wrappers included. So when the wrapper is empty, it makes some sort of mental rash.

And then, we parents become the garbage can. Of course, we are driving at 35 MPH and can’t exactly turn around and get the offending discard from her melting hand, so she has to deal with it, and her options are horrible at this point. Have a melted hand or drop it on the floor and run the risk of stepping on it. I feel her quandary.

Nevertheless, we must drive on, and if you want mobile snacks, you must accept that food comes in containers and containers will empty (or have leftovers). In this case, it is on you, the food-eating child, to deal with those consequences and to not make me, or our irretrievable mini-van, the trash bin. 

- Doug Glanville

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