Give them chips

This week’s column:

Today I taught my children an important lesson in perseverance.

In less than 48 hours we will be leaving this house to begin our global relocation plan. Trying to pack three months worth of necessaries for four kids, a husband and a cat is a job I doubt Martha Stewart could do without the help of a mild sedative. There are crazy women, and there are crazy women. Right now I fit in both categories.

As the mother, it is my job to load up our luggage with enough crap to get us through a month of vacation followed by a mass transit move across the world to Germany. The eight duffel bags in question need to have enough life living artifacts to get us across the planet until the boat with our household goods sails into port.

Frankly, I can’t decide what I’m dreading more. Trying to whittle our life down to it’s simplified nomadic counterpart, or the day when our ship comes in and then regurgitates eighteen thousand pounds of unnecessary baggage on our very German looking doorstep.

Last night I was wandering around the house wringing my hands and muttering softly when my dear friend Tricia stopped by to help point me in one of the thirteen directions that needed work.

“I don’t know what to do!” I said.

“Well, what’s most important right now?”

“I suppose I need to start packing…”

Just at this moment, my husband wandered through the living room. “Packing?” he said, “You don’t need to pack, that’s what the movers are for.”

We just looked at him.

There comes a time in every marriage where you are handed solid proof that your spouse has absolutely no idea how hard your job is. It was my lucky day.

Still, I have to say that the biggest draw back to The Great Move Preoccupation is my total loss of present tense. I can’t seem to pay attention to anything going on around me because I’m so tied up with the eternal to-do list in my head. And when I say “going on around me” I’m referring to the health and welfare of our poor little children.

Really, someone should feed them.

Last night I had my husband do the unthinkable. I sent him to the grocery store for chips and cookies. There were no burgers, meatballs, green beans or brussel sprouts to add nutritional value; our dinner was nothing short of digestive bribery.

“Okay kids!” I said as they swarmed around the grocery sack with hollow eyes, their little fangs ready to rip me to pieces if I didn’t shell out something fast, “Tonight we’re having a party!” I lied. “It’s chips and cookies and pop night! Who loves Mommy?” Three little grubby faces simultaneously yelled, “ME!” as they tore into the forbidden fruits of the junk food aisle.

After fifteen minutes of mindless gorging, I came back in to survey the damage. The kids weren’t looking so hot. “That’s enough,” I said, “Party over.” Much to their dismay, the food was shelved and the pop was chilled.

And what do you think was the first thing out of their mouths this morning? “WE WANT CHIPS! WE WANT CHIPS!” Their request was denied and we started into the day.

Every ten minutes, like a scratched CD, it came: “WE WANT CHIPS!” The response was always the same, “Not until dinner.”

By ten am their whiny, hungry pleas were making me crazy. By eleven I was looking for cotton balls to stuff in my ears (or down their throats). Finally the lunch hour came and they kicked it up to high voltage.

“We want chips! Can we have chips? I see them, they’re up there, can we eat them now? Please? Please?! PLEASE!!!! Chips! Chips! Chips! Chips!”

“ALRIGHT!” It was more than I could bear. I pulled out the chips, dumped the bag all over the counter, and watched them attack it like a pack of hungry hippos.

I stood there feeling like a total failure. I just taught my children that if they yell long enough and loud enough they can make me do whatever they want.

Or did I?

Maybe what I taught them is that perseverance will take you anywhere, even if your obstacle is three times bigger than you and rules your world with an iron potholder.

Yeah, I think they learned that last one.