Category Archives: Parenting
So, for no particular reason, I wrote an episode of a hypothetical TV show that has something to do with a family living in a quiet suburban New England town, somewhere south of Boston and north of Providence.
In this episode, the mom and dad, let’s call them, oh…Marielle and Dom, noticed a pungent odor emanating from some vegetation in the neighbor’s yard. In fact, the scent wafting over the fence seemed to be coming from a spot not 4 feet away from their own swing set, where their adorable little 1 and 3 year old suburbanite children frequently played.
As the days went on, the reek got stronger and stronger, until finally Marielle and Dom peeked through their fence and noticed a large plant, as tall as the highest part of the fence, and equally wide, growing right next to the fence for all to see. Assuming “all” were peeking through the slats.
Now, even though Marielle and Dom had no particular moral issue with people growing…whatever they want…in their own yards (especially when there is such potential for rope weaving or clothing production, for instance), Marielle had concerns about how this would impact her family.
Marielle worried that the stench in her living room will become permanent.
She worried that other mommies would avoid play dates at her house and in her yard.
She worried about her 3 year old asking her why it was so stinky, and trying to come up with an age appropriate explanation.
She worried that the neighbors would get in trouble, assume it was her fault, and that would result in even crappier neighborly relations (see prior episode where neighbors blast music late at night and cops arrive).
And most of all, Marielle was aggravated that she couldn’t take her kids on the swings without practically gagging from the ridiculously strong odor (that she never would have expected from a live plant, had she not smelled it herself.) I mean, it REEEEAAAALLLLY stunk. To Marielle, the character, I mean.
So one night, Marielle was having trouble sleeping because she was so pissed about the situation, and she finally decided she’d had enough. It was 1 or 2 in the morning, and she got up and paced around, trying to decide what to do.
She considered going out and tossing a crapload of salt over the fence to dry up the plant.
She rejected the suggestion she’d gotten, from a source choosing to remain nameless, of tossing her dog, Rex’s, poop over the fence, so it would be smelly for them, too.
She chuckled over the thought of inviting her 3 year old’s best friend over for a picnic by the swing set. With his mom. And his dad. The state trooper.
Finally, she decided to write the neighbors a letter, and to leave it in their mailbox in the morning.
Morning came, and Marielle had second thoughts. She questioned whether her brand of humor would be fully appreciated by those on the receiving end. She consulted the smartest people she knew, the ladies/bloggers/gurus of the Honest Voices Facebook group, and the consensus seemed to be to meet this crisis head on – confront the neighbors. But nicely. Some even suggested that bringing brownies along for the chat might be appropriate.
So Marielle and Dom went next door and rang the bell. One of the neighbors answered, and Marielle told him, “There is a really bad smell coming from something you guys are growing in your yard, and my yard,and living room, are starting to smell, too. If you could find it in your heart to move it somewhere else on your property, we would really appreciate it.”
Neighbor 2 came to the door and the Neighbor 1 told him, “The plant is smelling in their yard,” or something like that, and Neighbor 2 kind of stared at Marielle for a moment.
Smiling amicably, she said VERY NICELY, “We really don’t care what you do, one way or the other, but we’re starting to get comments from visitors, and the smell is really getting overwhelming.”
Neighbor 2 gruffly replied, “Well, it’s coming out in a week or so anyway.”
Marielle and Dom said, “Thanks,” and left. And though the conversation was uncomfortable, and in fact, an Honest Voices friend accurately remarked that “Wow that has to go down as one of the most awkward conversations ever!”, it certainly could have been worse.
And as the episode comes to a close, Marielle says to Dom, “Hopefully next spring they will choose another location to grow their stash so we don’t have to go through this again. Until then, I will work on improving my stick figures.”
So I’m at the pediatrician’s office on Friday, reading aloud to the boys from the book the 3 year old found in the rack…I was just going to throw this picture up on Facebook and leave it at that, but I couldn’t choose a caption.
Here are some thoughts on this literary jewel, in no particular order:
1. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! On SO many levels.
2. Anyone still wondering why Dick and Jane seem to have lost their popularity? I would think it might be hard to sell a book that a parent couldn’t read to their child. At least, not with a straight face. Followed by a BS explanation as to why mommy is alternately snorting and clutching her gut.
3. Is this the way the doctor’s office staff entertains itself? “Hey guys, come here, quick! She’s just about to get to the good part…” snicker, snicker.
4. The authors – really? That had to be intentional, right? Could someone have written this unknowingly? It’s not like the meaning came about recently.
dick (n.) “fellow, lad, man,” 1550s, rhyming nickname for Rick, short for Richard, one of the commonest English names, it has long been a synonym for “fellow,” and so most of the slang senses are probably very old, but naturally hard to find in the surviving records. The meaning “penis” is attested from 1891 in Farmer’s slang dictionary (possibly British army slang). Meaning “detective” is recorded from 1908, perhaps as a shortened variant of detective.
5. The editor – yes, I know the book is about a guy named “Dick”, ha ha, and I know the little ones won’t ‘get’ it. But c’mon, buddy, you have to draw the line somewhere. A ‘big, big” line, in some cases. Though generally not on a big, big…forget it…
6. I was having lunch with the family today, and I was thinking about what I wanted to write about this, and apparently I had a weird expression on my face, because my husband looked at me and said, “What?” And I wasn’t sure what to say, because I could hardly tell him, “Oh nothing, honey, I was just thinking about ‘big big dick.'”
I know, it’s just too easy, right? So, go at it in the comments below…