Moms of Stillwater: The sweetest of intentions


Seemed like a good idea at the time, but good intentions don’t always make for good experiences.

Toddler birthday parties with clowns: therapy inducing (and not just for me).

Homemade ice-cream in Grandpa’s old crank canister: rotator cuff injury.

Window markers in the minivan: anatomical illustrations with lewd titles (even if they are backwards from the outside).

Whoopee cushions as a souvenir: a LONG drive home from Wall Drug. Or even Walmart.

“Quiet Bags” at church: public apology to parishioner in front pew for the impromptu “trim and set” from included “safety” scissors and glue sticks.

Or really, any time I have ever allowed: face paint, Jell-o Jigglers or microphones. Oh, and duct tape. Injuries inevitably seem to trail duct tape inventions.

Its true, I have had to learn some things the hard way over the years.

I’m stubborn. And arrogant. And determined to muster whatever sleep-deprived, corny creative juice I can find for the sake of childhood memory-making. I’m convinced my good intentions should cancel out any logical shortcomings. But this week, even I had to scream “uncle.”

It started with good intentions and a buffet of candy. And perhaps a distant memory of a Norman Rockwell painting in the back of my mind. Kids lined up on sides of the kitchen table assembling little gingerbread cottages. Me, in my apron, smile on my face, cocktail in my hand. What, no cocktail? Well, I do improvise, or should I say, prepare for what I know is probably coming.

My latest bright idea went down as follows:

Eleven-year-old son examines the “load-bearing” walls of gingerbread cottage and heads to the tool drawer to find more structurally sound materials. Enter cordless power drill. Witness flying frosting.

Nine-year-old son suspiciously grabs entire package of leftover Halloween pumpkin Peeps and sets up a no-peek screen with the cereal boxes. Red flag.

After deliberation worthy of an international peace treaty, 6-year-old daughter decides on a “rainbow” theme. Lovely gumdrop windows. Skittles cobblestones. And then, with great enthusiasm, a “happy thunderstorm” of rainbow nonpareils raining down on, well, everything. Forever.

The cereal box removed, my 9-year-old makes the big reveal: a rather nicely decorated cabin. Swedish fish in the “pond.” A snow fort of sugar cubes. Orange pumpkin Peeps in the windows and on the chimney? Wait a minute, those pumpkins have cracks down the middle.

“This is the time-out cottage. The elves are mooning you, Mom. And Santa’s butt is stuck in the chimney.”

His declaration is followed by a volcano of little boy laughter and a denied request for chocolate frosting.

I scan the table for my 3-year-old, my sweet, innocent, wide-eyed little girl. Surely, she can redeem her siblings.

Reminiscent of Munchkinland, her candy-cane-striped socks are sticking out from under the table. She has scrupulously removed all other clothing (how is the youngest child always the most wise?) and is softly singing to a rather plain, but well-licked, cottage.

“Nipple, nipple little mouse. Who’s that nipple at my house?” she coos.

The Grimm brothers would be so proud. I make note to annunciate bedtime stories more clearly. And though her revised dialogue may belong in a more adult version of the fable, I think poor Hansel and Gretel would have enjoyed a happy survival if lost in her green-frosted hair.

After competitive urban planning, the finished cottages are lined up. The Xmas ‘hood is complete, derelict elves last on the block.

I survey the damage. Ceiling-to-floor sugar-shellac. Curtains will need to be bleached. The ceiling will need to be scrubbed. The chandelier is out two bulbs.

But the builders are in perfect condition; a sticky pride holds them together, and their blue-toothed smiles say all I need to hear.