Friday, July 27, 2012

The line in the coconut

"What's that, Mommy?"

"This is a coconut," I reply, referring to what might as well be a hair-covered ball of solid steel for all the luck I'm having with it. I bought something labeled an "easy open" coconut at the grocery store on a whim and have successfully drained most of the water from its insides.

"Can I eat it?"

"Not yet, Anna, ok? Mommy has to open it first."

"How you gonna do that?"

"I'm not sure yet."

I know the most common way I've seen coconuts open involves a large kitchen knife and a hammer, but the black hole that exists somewhere in this house appears to have eaten the hammer, so I am a bit at a loss. I turn to my friend the Internet. The instructions for said "easy open" coconut tell me to tap lightly around the groove someone has already cut into the thing. As far as I can tell, they have cut nothing and have drawn a line around it with a pencil, for all the good it's worth.

Someone recommends simply hitting the coconut against the ground "once or twice." I immediately dismiss this someone as a potential moron. I could park my car on this thing and be no closer to breaking it open.

Someone suggests just whacking it with a kitchen knife. I attempt to do so and am rewarded with a shrapnel-like bit of husk narrowly missing my eye, but no cracked coconut.

Someone else suggests a mallet and chisel. I know we don't have a chisel.

A third said she got her coconut to crack open by placing it in the sink and beating the crap out of it with a meat tenderizer. That, I know I have, and since I'm the only person who ever uses it, I even know exactly where it is. Coconut goes in sink, and I start whacking it like I'm trying to kill it. The sound reverberates around the sink, but the coconut remains closed.

Mary wanders in.

"Mommy, do you hear banging noises?"

"Yes," I mumble, staring at my hairy nemesis chilling out in the sink.

"What do you think is making it?"

"Mommy, trying to open a coconut."

"A coconut? Let me see! Can I eat it?"

"Not until Mommy gets it open," I mutter, starting in on the thing again. My wrist begins to hurt.

"Hey Mommy," Mary says in a kind of gentle, instructing voice, "I don't think that hammer is working. Let's think of another tool to use. I know, a knife!"

"A knife isn't going to work, Mary," I reply.

"No, it will, and it won't make that banging noise either. Knives are quiet. You're hurting our ears with all that banging."

Another video seems to suggest placing the coconut in the oven for some reason, but I have no speakers on this computer so I have no idea why, or how hot, or how long. Find a site in English, preheat oven to 375. I am instructed to heat it for 10 minutes "or until you see a crack appearing." I am assuming they mean something deeper than the Sharpie line someone, somewhere, got a good laugh over drawing before slapping an "easy open" sticker on the stupid thing.

I am starting to hate coconuts, especially since I bothered to look it up and one tiny piece is about four Weight Watchers points. Not that I'm doing Weight Watchers, exactly, but it seems important.

Also, coconut water is gross.

But I am committed.

"We need a knife to do it," Mary reminds me. "But we can't do it, 'cause knives are sharp."

For my kids, I will do this. When I was a kid I was obsessed with coconuts and always wanted to buy them at the supermarket. I don't think we ever did. I think I know why.

"Mommy, can I watch you open the coconut?"

"Sure, Mary. I have to stick it in the oven first."

"Now that's a good one!" Mary said, as if I were doing a standup routine. "Is that HOW you open a coconut? Cause I don't know. What's in it?"

"Coconut meat," I say. "Boppa (my father) eats it. What did you think was in it?"

"Milk," she replies.

Smart kid. Anna has completely given up on us at this point.

We wait for the oven to preheat and wait the requisite 10 minutes. There is no crack. I resume my meat cleaver activities. Just as I'm starting to think I may never have feeling in my wrist again, it splits in half cleanly.

"AHA!" I say, excitedly.

"It's empty in there," Mary said critically. I started prying the coconut meat away from the shell, and I will say, the oven makes it come away cleanly.

"I TOLD YOU you needed a knife," she said, triumphantly. I offered some coconut to Mary. She shook her head.

"I want some!" Anna cried. I handed her a piece. She licked it and put it on the counter.

"Maybe I save it for lunch," she muttered, and walked away, abandoning it forever.

From here on in, we're sticking with bananas.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

9 lives

We do not have outdoor cats. Believe me, I would love to get rid of litter boxes and all the joy they entail, but our house is situated near both a busy road and a couple of homes with absolute psychos inside, so it's a no go. Mary is still upset over the family cat who ran out and got hit by a car and that was almost two years ago.

So while the cats alternately bring me happiness and drive me crazy, I have their best interests in mind and keep their fuzzy butts indoors. The cats, being cats and also some of the dumbest examples of the species I've ever seen, have no such sense of self preservation and attempt to run outside at every opportunity. Figaro, the Fat and Dumb, will go on the front step and immediately turn around and come back in. Pamina, the Tweaky and Stupid, will run out and get stuck in a tree for five days before animal control finally finds her and sends her home, much to my kids' delight and my husband's consternation. (Totally happened last fall.)

Yesterday we were preparing to head out for art camp when I realized there was no furry entourage helpfully "guarding" the front door.

"I letted Pamina out so she could go peed," Anna announced, as if sensing my confusion.

"Anna!" I exclaimed. "You know you can't do that. Pamina can't go outside!"

"She had to go peed," Anna said simply, as if announcing the weather.

"She has a litter box for that!"

I swear to God, the kid shrugged.

"She no like dat," Anna said.

"That doesn't matter, she goes to the bathroom in the litter box, not outside."

"Figaro, he throwed up outside."

Which is true. Since I can trust Figaro will not leave the front walk, once, when he started in on yet another completely gross hairball adventure, I put him on the front lawn to save my couch cushions. He completed his disgusting journey, crouched under a bush and glared at me and then came back in.

"Yes, but Mommy was there and Figaro doesn't run away, honey. If Pamina gets out, she might get into trouble. She could get hurt."

"She could go in the road," Anna confirmed. "She could get hit by a car and go up in the sky to God." As I stated, the pain and trauma from our cat Jack's death in 2010 has been passed on to Anna via Mary.

"She could," I said, trying to convey with my voice how sad that would be. "And then you would be sad."

"Cause she would be with God and we wouldn't see her no more," she said gravely.

"That's right," I said, glad things were sinking in, after a fashion.

"Well," she said, her tone reverting back to completely pragmatic, "If one of our kitties gets hitted by a car, we will still have one kitty at home. His name is Figawwo," she added helpfully.

Life lesson failed.

Some parents save for their kids' college funds. Some days I feel like I'd be better suited getting her a good attorney on retainer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wanted: sleep

I admit, I'm kind of a lazy person. I believe in sleep training for babies, as long as the baby is receptive to it. But I'm also incredibly addicted to sleep, and it is a LOT easier to pick up a crying baby at 2 a.m., nurse her, and pop her back in bed asleep than it is to get up every few minutes, pat, reassure, and leave, until she settles down. But, that said, she wasn't sleeping for anyone else, either, and it was starting to mess with her during the day. You could tell.

It's getting a lot better. We're down to one waking at night (as opposed to three or four) and it's around 4 or 5 a.m., so things are improving. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean I get tired any earlier in the evening and until we get this straightened out, I am living on coffee and hope. My eyes are so tired that I can't put my contacts in until almost noon. Which is practically evening around here.

I don't write this for pity, or even sympathy. I just want you to know the lens with which I am viewing the following activities:

It's 8 a.m. I have been up "for the day" for two hours already, have already fielded a frantic (and important) call from a neighbor, done the breakfast thing and am catching up on my e-mail. (That sounds much more professional than "reading through my news feed on Facebook and scrolling through a couple of forums.") I hear commotion in the kitchen and look up to see Anna resplendent in my good colander (the good colander is the one without a cracked handle and a few slightly broken slats).

"Party hat! Party hat!" she's crowing, dancing around like she's got the shakes and riling up Mary. Lily is practically breaking her neck to crane out of the high chair and see past the half wall to watch the show. As fast as the kitchen flash mob performance began, it ended, my colander abandoned on the floor.


"Mommy, how big are bugs?" Mary asks, apropos of nothing, as I am cleaning the kitchen. As ominous as this sounds, I don't pause.

 "Um, it depends," I reply.

"Can they be big? Really really BIG?"

"Sometimes..." I answer, the red lights flashing in my brain but my body completely unwilling to investigate any other room in the house.


"Yes," I groan, already imagining a Biblical plague of some kind in the toy room.

"Oh. Okay," she replies, and skips off.

I still have no idea what that was about, and I don't want to, especially since when I went to take the recycling out it appears something ripped open a bag near the trash can. If it's a 12 foot spider, I don't want to know.


We are driving home from art camp. It's safari week, which is lucky, because after three scrubbing down sessions, including a soak in the tub, Anna is still vaguely zebra striped and at least she fits the theme.

"Mommy!" Mary says, in that tone of voice that implies There Is Big News To Be Had Here. "Do you know how long a giraffe's tongue is?"

"No, how long?" Because even if I know (which I don't, besides "really freaking long?"), I know the point is for her to impart some knowledge to me.

"AS LONG AS MY ARM!" she exclaims, narrowly missing waking the sleeping (finally!) Lily. "AND IT HAS A BLUE TONGUE!"

I glance in the rear view window, where I see Mary and Anna have somehow both found drinking straws and are holding them in their mouths and pretending to lick each other.

"Are you two being giraffes?" I say in my 'how FUN!' voice.

"No," Mary says, as if I'm the village idiot. "I'm a coffee maker."


Oh. Oh well there you go.


"Anna, can I have that toy?"



"Say, 'yes, please.'"

"Okay, Anna! Yes, please?"




At the moment all three are chasing each other around the living room/dining room/kitchen loop, the baby in just a diaper, Mary slithering along like a snake (though for all I know she's being an oven) and Anna bouncing along on this inflatable green horse.

And screaming. And laughing. And goading. And tattling.

53 minutes until bedtime.

And counting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Riding the Jesus train

A few weeks ago we had a small get together for Anna's third birthday. Mostly just family, the neighbors and my friend who has a son approximately Anna's age, because I felt bad that there were going to be no kids at her party. She just started a school program this month, and we haven't been the most faithful church goers lately, so she doesn't have a lot of friends her age yet.

My friend's son walked into a palace of "girl" toys. I didn't plan for my home to become the pink palace. I wasn't a princess-y little kid, and I've done my best to make sure the kids have their share of dump trucks (never played with), green Magna Doodles ("Don't they make a pink one?") and blocks ("let's build a princess castle!"). But with my oldest having fallen head over heels in love with all things princess, pink and glittery, and it being next to impossible to avoid the Disney Princess Mafia, we are decidedly Team Pink and Girly over here. Anna likes blue, but she likes blue princesses and baby dolls wearing blue. So it goes.

Henry walked in and looked at the toys. He looked at the birthday girl, who had just gotten up from a nap and was in no mood to talk to anyone, and then he spied the one thing that is truly both popular and gender neutral in my home: A Geotrax train set.

"It's ok if he takes that out?" my friend asked.

"Sure, absolutely, whatever," I said, grateful the poor kid wasn't going to be bored, given the apparent hostility of my middle child. Henry got to work laying the tracks out, the tunnel, the little station. Then he looked in the basket again.

"Train?" he asked. "Train?"

The train was missing.

"Don't worry about it," my friend assured me. "He's fine building."


"No, it has to be right around here somewhere," I said. I checked the toy room, the toy chest. No train. I dashed down the hall and checked under the beds. No train. At this point Anna was perking up and my friend was insisting that I let the whole thing go, so I did. And forgot all about it.

Fast forward to today. My friend Eve Marie is coming over for the first time with her son, who is Mary's age. I was attempting to clean up the playroom amid truly disgusting diapers, toddler/preschool drama ("ANNA IS LOOKING AT ME!") and Miss Anna Herself, who somehow smuggled a black marker out from under my watchful eye and turned herself into "a zebra," along with several Little People animals.
"I'm a zebra!"

I organized toys (in vain, of course). I dusted an entire Pepperidge Farm factory's worth of Goldfish cracker crumbs out of the couch. I swept. I found missing train track pieces, but no train.

On a roll now, I cleaned the dust bunnies out from under the baby's crib. No train. I collected a million of Tim's socks out from under our bed. No train (though I scared the crap out of the cat in my enthusiasm). I peeked under the girls' bunk beds, shuddered at the Ground Zero of stuffed animals, doll clothes, books and empty sippy cups (but no train) and decided that tomorrow, I just would gate off the bedroom.

It's not in the bathroom, or the kitchen. At this point, I am cursing Fisher Price for making a train that can run via remote control off the tracks. They could have driven it anywhere.

But "anywhere" does not appear to include any place in this relatively small house.

Maybe we should ask baby Jesus.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time for the attic, Jumperoo

When Mary was a baby, we bought one of those Jumperoo things that takes up half the living room and makes sounds and lights up. The batteries died sometime when Anna was small, because when I pulled it out of the attic for Lily, the plastic rainforest sang no more. I was okay with that, because it had a tendency to go off when you walked by it and nothing will scare you more than random frogs croaking when you go for a glass of water at 2 a.m.

Lily was not a big fan of the Jumperoo. (Just like she was not a big fan of the swing we shelled out big bucks to buy. Of course.) But I'm lazy and the attic is crowded, so for the past six or so months, it's sat in the corner of the living room, pretty much ignored except for the five minutes a month or so Lily will deign to sit in it.

Maybe I should have replaced the batteries.

Of course, Anna loves the thing and continually tries to climb in, whereupon she gets stuck and has to ask for help.

"Anna get out of that jumper," My husband said in exasperation as she attempted to climb in for the fiftieth time the other evening. "You didn't like it when you were a baby so I don't want to see you using it now." (Logic, we have it.)

She got out, but only until this afternoon. She had climbed in with her shoes on and was therefore completely incapable of hauling her three year old butt out of said apparatus.

"Momma, I stuck in this jumper," she said, attempting to spin around. "Can you help me?"

I sighed and scooted my chair backwards.

"Nevermind, I guess I just stayin' in this jumper," said Anna the Impatient. "I just stay in here."

"No, no, you're coming out," I said, attempting to dislodge her foot from the too small leg opening in the seat.


"Because it's time," I said, rejecting all the common sense and obvious answers that started with "you're not a baby any more" and ran all the way to "how many times do we have to tell you?" in a less than motherly tone.

"Oh good," she said when she was firmly back on the floor. "Now I can go poop." And she beat feet out of the room like she was on fire.

Dear God, I shudder to think about what would have happened in a few minutes.

That thing is going in the attic.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's taken more than five years but I finally feel like I can call this city home. For better or worse, this is my community now. The Rhode Island natives would sneer at that - after all, I've "only" lived in the state for 11 years now. I actually had the following conversation:

Socially inept man at party: So are you all from here?

Me: Yeah, we're from the southern part of this city. Well, we lived in Other City before, but we've been here four years.

SIMAP: Yeah but where'd you live before that?

Me: We met at URI.

SIMAP: So you're not from here, from here. Your kids are from here. But you're not.

Well, okay then, if it means that much to you, pal. Here's what I know:

I know several of my neighbors and the ones directly next door are amazing. They are literally the "borrow a cup of sugar" type, my kids love them and their new baby, we hang out at least once a week, etc. The other neighbors have at least finally determined I'm not a raving lunatic (little do they know!) and will at least say hello.

I have friends who live within five minutes of me. Easy to pop over and grab a drink, say hello, get our kids together.

One of my closest "mom friends" lives a few streets over. I love hanging out with her and her kids because she and I have very similar parenting styles. It's so nice to sit in a lawn chair next to her while our kids play not tethered to us. Amazing.

Today we went to the playground by the bay. I watched Mary and Kyle, my friend's eldest, climbing all over everything, lost in Pretend World, while we pushed two toddlers and two babies on the swings (Yes, we have skills. Mad swing skills) and chatted. There was a breeze off the water that made the day absolutely beautiful. And I thought: I am truly lucky. The city council may be completely inept and the high school may scare the bejeezus out of me, but I have good friends here. I have a life here. The girls have school and dance and little friends here.

I know when the farmer's market is, the best places to run, which one is the "good" Dunkin' Donuts. (Hint: It is not the one closest to my house where a random bunch of middle aged people hang out like teenagers all day, every day. Seriously, do none of them hold jobs? Have other commitments?) I can recognize our mailman by the sound of his overly loud music blasting out from what I have to assume are headphones. The kids know the UPS guy by sight. (Okay, that one might not be a point of pride.)

This house, for all its faults and misgivings (the prior owners evidently fancied themselves handipersons. They were not.) is ours. All of my kids came home to this house. They learned to walk in the living room with the scratched up floorboards. They pick raspberries in the side yard and all have, as infants, eaten their share of clover on the front lawn.

The house is too small, there are not enough bathrooms and the one we have really, really is in need of a facelift (see: prior owners' handiwork). There is poor storage and no basement and I would probably kill someone if it meant we could have functional closets bigger than a postage stamp. But it's ours. (Okay, it's the bank's. But let's not split too many hairs.)

So am I "from" here? No, not in the weird "state pride" kind of way. And I don't have a Rhode Island accent. But my kids are locals for sure.

Like it or lump it, this is home.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Countdown to Three

Here's my sacrilegious statement of the day: I hate root beer. This isn't like how I thought for the first 25 years of my life that I hated barbecue sauce, and it turned out that I love barbecue sauce, just not the crappy kinds I had been exposed to in cafeterias and such, my parents not being the type to purchase much barbecue sauce. I genuinely dislike root beer. I've tasted "good" root beer (and have decided none exists) and bad root beer, and have decided that's what evil tastes like.

Tomorrow, my daughter turns three.

Those two things might seem unrelated, but they're really not. Whenever we have a family get together, I have to go to Sam's Club and purchase the requisite bulk Ballpark Beef Hot Dogs (not the creepy tri-meat "franks") and six hundred rolls. My husband regards it as a grave offense if I step foot in the store and don't leave with a 24 case of IBC. And so it goes.

Today I loaded the girls into the car and we drove off in high spirits.

"Mommy!" Mary gushed from the backseat. "When I pick up my hair, it looks brown, but when I set it down it looks blondie! That's so INTERESTING!"

"When I put my hand out the window, it does nuffin," said Guess Who.

"Wonder pets, wonder pets, we're ON OUR WAY-"

"To do NUFFIN!"

Okay, high spirits for us.

Arrive at Sam's Club, thank God for the dual basket in the front which allows me to restrain both Anna and Lily, and awkwardly push the cart into the store, with Mary "helping" me push. Since we're there anyway, I also take the time to restock the pantry, as our diced tomato, Goldfish and pretzel rod stash has dwindled down to crumbs. We're doing well until we hit the meat section, where my choices of hamburger patties are thus: Shrink-wrapped dark red patties as thick as a baby's wrist that are certainly delicious and also certainly out of the budget, or a cardboard box of frozen beef patties, 40 for $19, that are almost certainly made out of eyeballs and other bits of "beef." Stop and Shop it is, then.

Hit the soda aisle, where I grab a 32 pack of bottled water and the IBC, and whereupon pushing my cart becomes a Sisyphean effort due to the extra weight and the contortionist antics of one eleven month old who has decided sitting compliantly is for losers.

"I GONNA STAND UP!" Anna announces, practically dislocating a kneecap in an effort to make her statement fact.

"If you do that we will leave everything here and there will be no party tomorrow I promise you," I hiss in one single stream.

She sits.

We hit the checkout, Mary loudly attempting to make friends with everyone, Lily loudly attempting to stand up and smash her head on the warehouse floor, and Anna loudly announcing she likes "NUFFIN" over and over.

I should have known the line was trouble from the start, when the group of three in front of me are all paying separately and are also blocking the remaining open section of conveyor belt, despite having unloaded all their purchases. I smile at the youngest woman, who looks to be in her 40s. She stares past me with dead eyes. I walk up to them, reach around them and place the little plastic divider on the belt. They remain motionless, forcing me to step almost on top of them to load the belt. Finally, it's Dead Eyes' turn and she moves out of the way to watch the clerk scan her items.

The items are scanned, their cart is loaded, and I smile at the clerk. I hand him the UPC sticker off one of the watermelons (yes, plural, yes, I have issues, and yes, it's genetic) and my membership card. "There are two," I say.

"Okay," he shrugs, and goes to swipe my card.


It's Dead Eyes and she is angry. She keeps pointing to her receipt. I'm trying not to eavesdrop, as eavesdropping and shooting her the death glare (seriously, go to customer service, the transaction is complete and he can't fix it now) are difficult, but apparently, she bought something on promotion. She got the promotional price, but the full price showed up on the ticket, with the discount of the total.

"I WANT TO RETURN THIS AND REBUY IT SHOWING THE PRICE I PAID," she keeps saying. Two people join our line and quickly vacate it. Clerk calls over one manager, then two. Lily starts wailing. A woman gets in line behind us.

"You might want to pick another line," I say.

"Oh, I don't mind," she says, thinking I am warning her off my children.

"No," I said, "They-" here I look over at the mass of people surrounding the register, "have been trying to work whatever this is-" another look "out for about ten minutes now."

She blanches. She joins the line next to us. She checks out before I do. Dead Eyes is finally convinced to walk with the manager over to - who would ever have guessed? - customer service by the promise of a new, different receipt. The other two in the group stay talking to the other manager and blocking the place where I need to put my cart so my items can be stacked.

The clerk stacks my groceries. He places the hamburger and hot dog buns in the seat formerly occupied by Lily. Anna makes eyes at the buns. I go to move them so she doesn't squish them. Mary attempts to help me move the buns and squishes them. We pay and walk out into the blinding Friday afternoon heat, after I strap Lily back in, as a million ton cart is hard to maneuver through a parking lot with one hand.

We can see our car in the stadium-sized lot when the cart suddenly lurches violently. The root beer has slid forward and fallen onto the pavement. I mutter a few curse words out of my kids' earshot and stoop to pick up the fallen case.


Of course.

One of the bottles has hit the pavement in just such a way that the cap has gotten a tiny hole. Out of this hole, the contents of the bottle are spewing at impressive velocity.

I get the kids in the car, load the groceries, and regard the bottle, which is still dripping. I decide to leave it in the cart, because the only other alternative is to drink it or have my car soaked, and I already hate root beer. So I go to push the car back into the corral, and the bottle falls off the bottom rack, starts spinning wildly and fizzing even more violently, and covers me from ankle to knee in root beer.

Of course.

I tried to call my husband for sympathy.

"So is it all gone?" he asked morosely.

  "No, just one bottle," I answered bitterly.

"Well, that's okay then."

We got home and Lily immediately cheered up upon receiving a cracker. She grinned and babbled and grabbed Anna's Lalaloopsy doll by the feet and started violently hitting it on the ground.

Some days, I know how that doll feels.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to shower before the flies take notice.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Monday friends

My friend Jess and I have gotten into the habit of meeting up on Mondays and getting our kids (my three, her one) together for various activities. We've done the zoo, we've done various playgrounds, but Jess really wanted to take a trip to the New England aquarium, and thanks to her corporate connections (read: she still works at the bank I escaped a couple of years ago), we could get in mostly free. So this Monday didn't work out, but we made plans for today.

There was just one little obstacle: Getting into Boston for 9 or 10 a.m., as she had work later on and Mary and Anna had their little dance class. The first option was driving in and parking, but the idea of stop-and-go with three kids in the backseat was not exactly appealing. Neither was the $35 price sticker on every parking garage within a two mile radius of the aquarium.

Which left...the train.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of public transportation. I actually like traveling by subway...when I'm by myself. Not when I have an almost-three-year-old who's keen on bolting after whatever shiny thing catches her eye and an almost-one-year-old who thinks the stroller is anything between boring and evil.

"I've done it with Jac before," Jess said. "But we can do it another time, when the guys can go with us."

But time was of the essence, because after Saturday, Anna won't be free admission anymore. Saving almost $20 means I can tolerate the T for a little while. And so we packed a lunch (tuna fish sandwiches seemed somehow appropriate) and headed out.

Traffic wasn't bad heading to our train stop of choice. I thank the mid-week holiday for that one. And we managed to get enough seats for everyone and keep the strollers unfolded on a nearly empty train. Lily only freaked out once, and Mary and Anna were relatively well behaved on our inbound excursion. (The overly hirsute homeless man in a plaid suit and many rings who sat directly in front of us and muttered to himself the entire ride may have helped put the fear of God into them.)

We arrived at the stop to transfer to the blue line. This is where I got nervous. It was a lot more crowded here.

"Mary, stay with Auntie," I commanded. "Anna, be my person." Anna remarkably complied with me. She followed along happily, all the way to the...staircase. There was no elevator to be seen.

Somehow, we carried (yes, carried) two strollers down two flights of stairs, didn't lose any preschoolers in the process and successfully boarded the proper train to reach the aquarium. One more harried unboarding and we were home free. There were even elevators here!

We took one tiny, hot, shaky elevator to the main level of the T stop. We went through the increasingly warm stop to the next elevator bank, to the street...whereupon Anna managed to get her fingers caught between the two parallel sliding doors.

Anna screamed. I gasped, powerless and backed into a corner by a stroller. Jess, who was closer, pulled her hand out at lightning speed and we finished exiting onto the street, where people stopped and stared at the spectacle. There was Anna, whose fingers were merely pinched and not, thank God, broken, screaming as though we'd cut her leg off. There was Mary, dancing around asking if she was okay and making up a song about elevators who eat people. Then there were the babies.

The Breeder Convention had arrived in Boston with aplomb.

Anna was calmed down, streets were crossed, admission paid and granted, and soon we were immersed in the black lit aquarium, which at that hour wasn't even that crowded.

Anna was thrilled to see the sharks in the giant circular tank. Mary was in love with the giant sea turtle and colorful tropical fish. We made it to the top of the tank without incident.

And then I had to open my mouth.

"Mary, isn't this great?"

She turned. She smiled. She turned back to the tank. She put on her Outside Voice for all to hear.

"Fish are DELICIOUS!"