2015-08-26 / County Lifestyles


The gifts of summer
by Jill Pertler

Each day comes bearing gifts. But not in the way you might think.

I wake in anticipation of the presents they have left for me this time. " They" are not leprechauns or Santa's elves. The gifts in question come from my kids. Yeah, I find it hard to believe myself.

When I enter the kitchen each morning, I'm guaranteed at least one cardboard pizza box left over from the last night's midnight feast. Pizza cardboard is much too valuable to toss in the trash, if they could locate the trash (which I'm not sure they could). They also leave me charred pizza nibbles at the bottom of the oven. In a word: yum.

Almost as steadfast as the cardboard are errant ramen noodles, which are sure to be scattered on the countertop and (on good days) the stovetop. Sometimes soggy ramen remnants rest in the sink, but only on those rare and lucky days ending in Y.

Also in the sink I fmd hardened, congealed and coagulated food scraps on plates and forks. It's like a little guessing game. What scrumptious morsels did they partake of in during the wee hours of the morning?

They've also taken to baking cakes. At midnight. They eat the whole thing because they know I wouldn't want to be tempted by cake first thing in the morning. My needs are their priority and as a mom my pride surges. They do allow me to clean the cake pan, which I guess is their way of sharing the experience with me.

The floor - oh the floor! It is probably the best part. Cheese puffs, candy bits, grapes, potato chip crumbs and even sticky red juice globs all scatter across the floor in a random pattern that demonstrates their artistic talents. It is a wealth of sticky, crunchy foodstuff and it is mine to deal with. All mine.

Candy wrappers stuffed behind the computer or TV are like little treasure hunting finds. Bright and lively all yellow and orange, they practically scream joy - either that or sugar high.

Cups half full of juice, soda pop or milk litter flat surfaces in the kitchen and beyond. Except I suppose litter is a poor choice of words because it connotes negativity. Them leaving me their extra drinks is thoughtful and generous. They drink less so I can access their leftovers. How sweet is that?

Despite their inability to find the garbage for most things, I can always rest assured it will be heaping and waiting to be emptied. Sometimes one of them makes late night coffee (the best time for coffee so I'm told) and most (but never all) of the coffee grounds are dispensed to the trash. The rest wait for me on the floor next to the garbage can. I give thanks it was a near miss.

They were trying. There's yet another reason for gratitude: at least one of them has successfully located the garbage.

They also move furniture, depending on the activity of the evening. Sometimes, as I am hefting a chair or table from one place to another, I fantasize about what they were doing and how much fun they were having while rearranging the living room.

Dirty socks, crumpled Tby shirts and discarded shorts only ensure my job stability as the prestigious CLO ( Chief Laundry Organizer) of the household. The same goes for damp towels, which may be located in any room, as long as they are heaped on the floor. Towel bars are so 1990s. Ditto that for using a towel more than once. That would be gross. Well, more gross than leaving dirty socks and wet towels lying all over the house.

I suppose I'm to blame for these gifts. Don't be too hard on me. Summer is short - as is life. Sometimes you have to pick your battles (and dirty socks) and learn to laugh at the rest of it. Or at least know they didn't go to bed hungry, see the glass as half full and ( of course) let them eat cake.

Jill Petler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don't miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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