“Don’t think you should send her to school with a masturbating monkey,” I suggested.
“How about the banana ghosts?” my wife laughed. “Those are a lot easier to make.”
“They look phallic.”
“You say that about everything,” Allie chuckled. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m sure you have a list by now. How about puking pumpkin?”
“Hmmm…” Allie considered this. “No, too much effort.”
“I shouldn’t have let that mom screw me,” Allie muttered. “It seemed like such an innocent question at the time…”
“Wait!” I looked up from the computer, now more interested in the conversation. “What did you and another mom do exactly?”
“Please,” Allie rolled her eyes. “Get your mind out of the gutter.”
“We are talking about sending our ten-year-old daughter to school with a masturbating monkey or a few dozen ghost dicks,” I laughed.
Allie scrolled through a few dozen more images of food art. She shook her head in frustration.
“I’m supposed to send Ricki to school next week with a snack for everybody,” my wife sighed. “Every kid brings a group treat on their birthday, and it’s gotten to be really elaborate.”
“Ice sculpture elaborate?”
“Not quite, but some parents have way too much free time on their hands. And it’s Halloween. Last year I peeled some tangerines and stuck a little celery in the top, so they looked like pumpkins. Cute, fast, easy, nutritious… Then in passing Annelies asked me if she could use that when it’s her son’s birthday. I said yes and his birthday was today!”
“So?” I didn’t see her point.
“So I’m not doing the same snack they had last week.”
“Why?” I assumed she had a point, but I’ve been wrong before.
“Because that’s tacky.”
“You think the kids will notice? Or care?”
“The teacher will.”
“A tangerine-pumpkin repeat will top the teacher’s list of problems? I guess it also proves you’re an unfit mother and an all-around hideous human being.”
Allie glared at me. Once more I failed to solve the problem with humor and sarcasm.
“I have to find something new to make,” Allie said. “Why did you think I was looking at food displays?”
“I figured it was a food fetish or another neurosis,” I shrugged, “but I don’t judge.”
At least I don’t judge out loud, which is pretty much the same thing.
My wife resumed her search for the perfect food art. That it would demolished in seconds by a horde of unappreciative kids was beside the point. As with many aspects of parenting, the point is elusive or non-existent.
“Hello Kitty cookies?” I suggested.
“No, it can’t be commercialized.”
“Cookies that look like some generic animal?” I tried again.
“Some kids might be glucose free or can’t eat processed sugar.”
“These egg chicks are cute.”
“Some kids might have an allergy or be vegetarian.”
“Look! Twinkie minions! You should make those!” I cheered. “And for the kids with dietary restrictions, give them ice cubes.”
“You’re not helping.”
“That’s not my goal.”
“Then why are you here bothering me?” Allie huffed.
“I’m bored too,” our ten-year-old said from the doorway. “But I like the monkey idea.”
“How long have you been standing there, Ricki?” Allie asked cautiously.
“I want the puking pumpkin!” her eight-year-old sister shouted. “Or the ghost tricks.”
Josie had been around the corner with Ricki. Also listening intently.
“But what are ghost tricks?” Josie asked.
“You don’t want to know,” Ricki smiled thinly. “It’s supposed to be a parent joke.”
I scooped up both children before the conversation could proceed. I brought them to the computer to look at all the food options Pinterest had to offer.
“Dad’s right,” Ricki whispered, pointing at the banana ghosts. “The boys will laugh at those.”
“Why?” Josie asked. “Everybody likes bananas.”
“Here!” my wife gushed, in an attempt to refocus the conversation. “This has bananas. And you two like dolphins. How does that look?”
“It looks good,” Ricki said. “And it just looks like dolphins, so Dad and the boys at school can’t make any jokes about it looking like… other things.”
“Marshall,” my wife whispered to me. “You absolutely have to stop making innuendos in front of the girls.”
“We were lying in our bedroom having a private conversation,” I shrugged.
“That’s right,” Ricki added. “We were hiding and listening, so it’s not Dad’s fault this time. Plus people shouldn’t make food that looks like private parts.”
“Oh!” Josie shrieked. “Now I get the ghost joke!”
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