Shake the Waffle

On this, my son's eighth birthday, I made waffles. One would think I planned waffles as a special birthday breakfast. (When I was a kid my mother's birthday breakfast for us was oatmeal with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, sprinkled with brown sugar. Absolute heaven.) But no, the idea behind waffles had nothing to do with "birthday breakfast," it was born out of necessity. We are going out of town for the holidays and I'm trying to make do without going to the market. We have no milk, no eggs, no bacon, no oatmeal and for that matter, no vanilla ice cream. And so, the only breakfast staples I could think of that didn't require any of the above were waffles and that frostbitten package of sausage links stuck to the back of the freezer, purchased in aught eight.

I did have my concerns. For some unfathomable reason my children have professed a dislike for waffles. I know, how can they not like waffles? If I had my way as a kid, I would have eaten them thrice daily. An idea came to me, if I make the waffles special and top them off with their favorite things, Sebastian and Maxwell might learn to enjoy their buttery, perforated deliciousness as much as I do.

I would loved to have slice some bananas, but our larder being low we had no bananas. Nor fresh berries for that matter, nor whip cream. But a quick reconnaissance to the cupboards and fridge told me there were pears, boysenberry preserves, Nutella, a pickle jar void of pickles, and a Tupperware one third full of a viscous substance sprouting blossoms of penicillin. After rinsing out the pickle jar and throwing away the botulism, I convinced myself that a waffle bar will be a pleasant surprise and perhaps become a new favorite.

Sebastian opened a couple of birthday presents before breakfast. He guessed the Lego before ripping off the paper. I'm pretty sure I detected the slightest trace of disappointment before putting on a brave face and uttering, "This will be good." (Is it me or is the idea of Lego much more desirable before you open the box and scatter the pieces?)

Then it was time for Chi Chi's gift. Chi Chi is my mother, Sally. Long story short, my mother wanted to be called Sadie instead of Grandmother. Mom is of that subset of ladies who eschewed "Grandmother," "Grandma" and "Nana" for less doddering-sounding monikers. I think this trend started about the time Shirley MacLaine's character in Terms of Endearment insisted her grandchildren call her Mrs. Greenway. But Sadie turned out to be a tongue twister for my oldest nephew, Teddy, and instead, what came out was Chi Chi. And Chi Chi she will always be.

Chi Chi's was the largest birthday and Christmas gift under our tree. It was trapezoidal in shape and emblazoned on a sticker on the corner of the package were the words, balalaika with soft case, blem.

What the fig? Balalaika? As in Dr. Zhavago, balalaika? What hell hath Chi Chi wrought? She's usually so predictable in her gift giving. And yes, she's commented on Sebastian's natural rhythm but...balalaika! With a soft case no less!! And what the hell is blem? Oh, the responsibility of it all. Am I expected to search the greater Los Angeles area for a balalaika instructor? Which might not be so difficult considering Bash's school is sixty percent Russian...but even still! And if I actually do procure a balalaika instructor would I then have to suffer through Sebastian ploinking through "Lara's Theme" at balalaika concerts wearing a balalaika costume?

Turns out there was no need for hysteria. Inside the balalaika-with-soft-case-comma-blem box was a smaller trapezoidal box, reminding me of Russian nesting dolls. And inside that box...drum roll please...was a ukulele (which I'm pretty sure must be Hawaiian for balalaika.) And even though there was no soft case, this ukulele is not some plastic, Disneyrific toy. Oh, no. Chi Chi went all out in the hopes of encouraging her grandson's rhythmic gifts. It's beautifully crafted which made me a little worried for its safety. I will still have to get him lessons, but being born in Hawaii, I got this. Ukulele is within my wheelhouse, whereas balalaika...not so much.

After my near balalaika experience, I called the family to breakfast conscious to keep any anxiety from my voice. I kept telling myself, the waffle bar is going to be a huge success! It was immediately evident that that was not the case. Turns out it my kids hate waffles no matter how much they're spruced up. And here I thought they'd eat Nutella covered dirt.

I jumped into action. I brought out the last of the strawberry yogurt and started frying non-frozen sausage patties I was saving for tomorrow. But I missed my window. Appetites had vanished. All in all, a disappointing eighth birthday breakfast.


Fall, habitually you kick my sorry ass with your psychotic autumnal schedule: my birthday, Halloween, Michael's birthday, Thanksgiving, Sebastian's birthday, Christmas. The choosing of the costumes, the numerous presents to purchase, wrap and send, the sit-down birthday dinner party, the bounteous feast, the tree trimming party re-imagining the leftovers from the bounteous feast, the sending of holiday cards (221 and counting), the Christmas pageant, the travel arrangements and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer playing in the other room over and over again; all of it overwhelming and making what was once quaint seem vomitous.

Experience has taught me you're a bitch, Fall, and I have learned to accept your malevolent ways. However, this year, you have topped yourself. I thought Fall 2007 was a humdinger when Sebastian's Knights of the Round Table birthday party fell on the same day as our formal Toys For Tots Christmas gala. But that was a stroll through Versailles compared to Fall 2010. First there were the problems with Sebastian's education that have escalated so rapidly, once again we had to hire a lawyer. Then two uncles passed away in October and an aunt in November rendering me emotionally weak. And throughout it all I was dealing with horrific ear and sinus infections that left my head simultaneously throbbing like a motherfucker while feeling as if it were stuffed like a rag doll with thousands of Q-Tip tips. Making decisions became near impossible. Yes, Fall, you made me a waffler.

The thing is, tis the season for decisiveness. But my waffling has become so pronounced everything is getting done at the last minute. And haphazardly. Our New York friends have texted that they received our Christmas card envelope...without the Christmas card in it. I've all but given up making final gift decisions, instead posting on Facebook things like, "Xbox or Wii? Discuss." And because I didn't purchase them in time, it's dubious whether the Christmas Fairy will get holiday pajamas to the children on Christmas Eve.

One of my relatives sent Sebastian and Maxwell a board game and four C batteries for Christmas. At first, that didn't seem odd. But when it became clear that the board game didn't need C batteries, that they were extra for some inexplicable reason, I thought, "I'm slowly on my way to becoming that person." If I don't snap out of this haze, in next year's Christmas card envelope friends and family may find batteries instead.

I must shake the waffle!


I told Sebastian we had to take a birthday picture to commemorate the year. I tried to get him to smile, but this is what he gave me instead.

Please don't let waffling be contagious!


Sharon said…
As always you knock me out with your honesty and courage. We need to do coffee--with Hennesey!
Di said…
I am trying to learn to be gentle with myself in moments (passing or extended) like the Fall you describe, and I hope you can be gentle with yourself. All a human can do is what you can do in the moment, and if needed apologize after, and maybe try to do differently the next time around.

Hope you have a fabulous holiday!! Maybe with some pancakes instead? Moving up the breakfast carb ladder?
Vodka Logic said…
The imagery in your writing is brilliant, I must try Nutella on waffles, it sounds great

What I love about your blog is that whether you are a mommy with a penis or not [I don't have one :) ] it is the same with kiddos.

Hope your son had a great birthday

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