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My Eye Openers

My husband went grocery shopping the other day and came home with my favorite cookies. You’re waiting for me to say, “April Fool,” aren’t you?

Well, I’m not going to. It’s a true story. He does grocery shop sometimes, and he did come home with my favorite cookies. And—get this!—those cookies were labeled with a “Buy One, Get One Free” sticker. It was my lucky day all over the place!

“Uh, honey,” I asked, after looking through the bags, “where’s the other package of cookies?”

“I didn’t get it,” he replied—a little defensively, if you ask me.

“How could you not get it? It was, after all, well, free,” I said.

“Just because something’s free does not mean I have to take it,” he snapped.

All I could do was stare at this man to whom I’ve pledged the rest of my life and wonder what the heck he was talking about.

“I knew if we had them, I’d eat them,” he finally admitted. “O-kaay,” I said, pretending it made sense. I loved him too much to point out that we were going to eat them whether we paid for them or not, and it made more fiscal sense to not pay if we had the option. I put that one in the “You Learn Something New Every Day (about people you think you know)” column, which is filling up fast lately.

I admit this has surprised me somewhat. I tend to assume that if you’ve been with your husband for, say, 10 years, you know everything about him. If you’ve been with your children for, say, six and eight years, you know them better than they know themselves.

And if you’ve been with yourself for, oh, many years, you pretty much know what to expect.

These assumptions started to unravel a couple years ago when my children started simultaneously losing their teeth. And for you 6- and 8-year-olds reading this, it is not—repeat not—a competition. Whoever loses more teeth first is not the winner. And losing teeth at an early age does not make you Queen of the Universe.

Anyhoo, I realized when my kids started losing teeth that—surprise!—I can’t do teeth! Who knew? Can’t even look at them if they’re not securely anchored on all four sides to a healthy gum. Throw in a little blood and a “hanging on by a thread” visual and I’m on the next bus. My kids don’t even ask me for help anymore. If they need a quick tug, they’ll approach a stranger in the mall before asking Mommy . . . which, I know, is not quite the message we want to be sending our kids.

I don’t understand it. I can rub their backs while they vomit. I can hold a wound together until stitches are applied, put a bone in place until it is set. My son was hit with a baseball once and the other moms were yelling, “Where’s his mom? His nose is bleeding! Aaaaggghhh!” I strolled over, grasped the bridge of his nose, and calmly led him off the baseball field. No problem.

But teeth? “See that person over there, Sweetie? Go ask if she’ll help you. She looks nice.”

And I will admit to basically throwing in the towel on ever hoping to know children. It doesn’t matter how we try to guide them, shape them or show them the way; they are their own people, who may or may not let us know how to contact them in 20 years. For example, in the last week alone I have learned the following:

• The simple fact of snow and sub-zero temperatures in no way disturbs a 6-year-old girl’s need to wear a swimsuit.

• There is no correct response to the following statement: “I am not going to wear my glasses because Fire Queens don’t wear glasses.”

• Children who did not sleep well as infants do not sleep well as anything else.

• The intensity of a kindergartner’s tantrum is not always in direct proportion to the passion she feels for the subject at hand. (Sometimes it is simply a function of how fond she is of the sound of her own voice.)

• When my daughter says, “I wish I was a Brat,” she’s talking about the doll. Oops.

I haven’t learned all this about my children, of course, because my children are as well-behaved and predictable as a mother could possibly want. There are no tantrums, nightmares, meltdowns, timeouts, bad moods or sibling arguments in this house.

OK, this time I’ll say it. “April Fool!”                                  

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at

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