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Out of the mouth of a babe

The doctor announced, "It's a girl." I demanded that he check again. And, yet again. After he convinced me that determining the gender of a newborn human isn't as dicey as calling it for a kitten, I turned to my spouse and said, "She's the cherry on top."

Since then, she's been the cherry who broke the bowl, not that she shattered me single-handedly. Three older brothers aided and abetted her.

Thus, I blame the bulk of my mental disorders on lack of privacy in the lavatory.

For example, one morning, my now five-year-old daughter barged in, asking, "Why do you always look at magazines in the bathroom?"

"Because it's the only quiet place I can find," I replied.

"Is that why you sit on the toilet? To read?"

"Yes," I said, flipping the pages, ignoring her in hopes that she would go away.

She didn't. "Then why do you have your pants on your ankles?"

I wanted to say, "Because I'm a multi-tasker," but instead I smiled and closed the door.

If conversations like that don't scramble my brain, then it's breakfast for dinner that does.

I don't frequently cook, so when I do, major announcements go out, spreading from child to child like hand-foot-mouth disease. They converge on the kitchen, asking what's for dinner, when will it be ready, how badly will I burn it, and can they ple-e-e-e-ease have a snack.

A glass of wine dulls the havoc and compliments most everything I char, including French toast; which I served for our evening meal a while back. My daughter, reincarnated from the Spanish Inquisition, sat down and asked her father, "What time is it?"

"About 7," he told her. "Why?"

"Is it already morning again," she said, exasperatedly, as if she had missed a day with Dora the Explorer.

"Seven in the evening, dear."

"Then why are we eating breakfast? Mama gets so confused, doesn't she daddy," whispered Miss Maraschino.

Honestly, befuddlement set in when I had children, particularly a girl. I erroneously believed, upon her birth, that I finally had someone on the pink team. But most of the time she unwittingly leaves me red faced.

Earlier this summer, at her first equestrian lesson, my daughter sat high atop a chestnut mount with all the confidence of a seasoned rider. The horse, however, didn't appear to notice its burden at all. Head down, it grazed on greenery under the low rail of the ring.

I heard a familiar voice yell, "I don't know why they call this horse Traveler. He won't go anywhere."

Her instructor told her to give him a kick and cluck loudly.

"Do chickens ride horses?" she asked, but followed directions and managed to stir the steed to brief movement, stopping at the next patch of grass.

"Ya'll ever feed this horse?" she inquired of the barn hands.

"Yes," one boldly responded. "Why?"

"'Cause he sure is hungry. You must have burned his French toast. Try giving him a snack before dinner like my mama does for me. That way when you burn his food he won't starve. That's what my daddy says. My mama reads magazines in the bathroom so she can learn to cook better . . ."

Folks looked around to spot the parent of this precocious child. They spied me in the throes of silent, body-rattling laughter, which must have resembled convulsions, because I heard one stable jockey say to another, "Think we should put a spoon in her mouth?"

No, just pad the stalls and put me in a straight jacket, please.

Web posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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