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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If at first you don’t succeed

If there is one thing we have in common as parents, it’s the repetitive nature of the job. The phase ‘I’ve said it a thousand times’ could be our collective motto, but does anyone ever take any notice? There are so many little phrases that we repeat on a daily or sometimes hourly basis. Since mine can read I’m tempted to tattoo them on my forehead, but since there are so many. Maybe I should write a long, numbered list and fold it up concertina style, tape it to the same spot so I can just let it unfold and shout ‘three!’

Wednesdays are always the worst days. Although the children finish school early, this provides the opportunity for double therapy, one session of speech therapy and one session of occupational therapy for both of them, with the accompanying transitions. Hence, a couple of years ago, I adopted the line of least resistance and designated that Wednesdays would be pizza night. A shop bought pizza makes for an easy, quick and popular supper to be squeezed into the busy day after homework.

Whilst I pretend to ‘cook’ the children enjoy their thirty minutes of electronics time, but it only takes a few minutes to shove a pizza in the oven and throw cutlery on the table for no-one to use. Why is everything finger food? Instead, I spend a few minutes deliberating.

I have several completed bowls, thrown on the pottery wheel by my own, not so fair hands. One will be a wedding gift to my brother and his soon to be wife. I have whittled down the choice of pottery bowls to five. I’m out of options and choice time has arrived. I slip the five bowls onto the table, each with their different faults. One has a tiny crack but is otherwise perfect. This would be my first choice, but the crack glares at me like a cravass. The next one is also perfect. It has no crack. Instead it is the wrong colour. That shade of green is ever so slightly offensive, slightly bilious. The third one is perfect. It is the right colour and the fish decoration is even, but the bowl is not circular, it has warped in the kiln such that it is elliptical. The fourth one is perfect, but the base or foot is rough. The roughness cannot be eliminated at this stage. This means that their gift will scratch the surface of anything that they place it on, assuming that they don’t hide it at the back of some obscure cupboard. The fifth one is perfect. The fish swim, sweep left in a swirl of a school but they are a little larger than I would wish. The colour is thin and a little bald on the rim. I dither about a marking system, but it would be too complex to design. Which is worse a wonky bald rim or a round bowl that isn’t?

My daughter saunters up to the table, “whatcha doin Mom?”
“Hmm. I’m trying to decide which one to give to JP and Andrew for their wedding?”
“Oh you gotta give them that one!” she announces without a waver.
“Why that one?”
“Coz it’s the biggest and there’s two of em. It’s big enough for them both to eat their cereal outta.” I blink. I had salad in mind rather than cereal. The word ‘cereal’ penetrates someone else’s focus, which pings them into the arena. “You are have cereal in dat?” he asks. We explain the current state of deliberations. “Oooh, I am likey dat one?”
“Why dear?”
“Coz it is shaped like dah egg.” Well, of course I should have seen that one coming. I would prefer not to have the biased opinions of my offspring all of a sudden, as it really isn’t helping. The word ‘egg’ triggers the last one to blunder into the debate. “You are have eggs?” We explain the tortured current status of the bowl debate. He drapes his upper body on the table top, no so much as for a better view, but more from the exhaustion of having to come up with a well argued opinion. We wait. I prompt.
“Well? What do you think then?”
“Um I fink……I fink………I fink…….dat one.”
“Why that one dear?”
“Coz it is dah bestest Vermillion.” Well that’s a different version on ‘bilious green’ I suppose, but ‘green’ is never a word that he can retrieve. Their father appears, not drawn by the bowl debate but lured by the wafts of pizza smell. “What’s up?” he asks distractedly peering into the oven willing it to speed up. My daughter gets him up to speed. He peers at the table top, “well not that one for sure.”
“Which one?”
“The one with the fish going the wrong way.”
“Which one is the one with the fish going the wrong way?”
“There! Anticlockwise indeed, that’ll drive them nuts. It’s not like they live in Australia or anything.” I pout. Of all the unreasonable objections, that’s about the most ludicrous to date.
“Anyway, why are you picking now?”
“Because anything that isn’t glazed now, or rather by the 30th of November, isn’t going to be ready by Christmas. There was a notice from the studio warning everyone to get their stuff finished.”
“SO, I’m out of time. It’s this or nothing.”
“But it’s only November 28, you’ve got a couple more days.”
“Yes, but I just wanted to get something finished, done, one less thing to worry about.”
“O.k. If you’re sure, but the more you practice, the more you do, the better they’ll be.”
“You don’t think any of them are good enough?”
“I didn’t say that. It’s up to you. There’s no harm in trying again surely?”
“Mummy is da try, try, try agin?”
“Yeah. Have another go mom.”
“Da try agin is good.” My self satisfied, smug husband grins at me. “What do you have to lose, you don’t eat pizza anyway! Go out to the garage and fling some clay around?” I look at all the expectant faces that taunt and goad. How can I continue the ‘good enough’ campaign in the face of such united front?

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