We all have buttons that people can push – those little issues and tics that help make us who we are and demonstrate how neurotic we can be. Maybe it’s a word or phrase: a name in vain, a word for the female anatomy beginning with the letter “P,” or “condiment.” Yes, I once had a roommate who was totally grossed out by the word “condiment.” Maybe your button is if the toilet paper is put on “upside down.” The fact that I put that in quotes should demonstrate that that is not one of my own buttons. It is, however, one of my husband’s. I think it’s goofy.
It’s easy to call someone else’s buttons goofy. That’s because they’re not your buttons. They don’t evoke that same visceral reaction in you that they do to the wearer of said button.
I have 2 good friends at work who are married with twin boys. Their dudes are almost exactly one year younger than Stella. E, the lady half of the couple and I spend a whole lot of time together talking tots. Usually during these discussions we will share something about our home situations that is driving us crazy. E hates meal times. Like gnashing her teeth hates it. That’s a poor button to have as a mom, as you really do have to feed your kids at least 3 times a day. It’s the mess that gets her.
I usually laugh a bit and do some mental eye-rolling. Again, it’s easy to poo-poo someone else’s button. Kids are messy eaters. I just don’t care. I have become quite serene about that variety of mess. Sure, I have to occasionally remind myself not to bother to clean anything up until the meal is over, but otherwise I recognize that my kitchen floor will never ever be the same again. I’m ok with that. As a matter of fact, I plan to harness the spaghetti stains in my grout and one day in the future use that as a vehicle by which I get a new kitchen floor. I freaking hate my kitchen floor. It’s this faux-slate ceramic tile (which offends me in and of itself as a geologist) done with this gray grout. No matter what you do, that grout is the color of dirty mop water. Ergo, you can’t make dirt look dirtier.
Damn it. Off topic again.
Last night, Stella helped me become a hypocrite. Dinner was simple and somewhat healthy. I sautéed some chicken breast and served it with corn on the cob, some carrots (which she loves the idea of but will rarely actually eat), and couscous.
To hell with couscous.
I have served it before, but never did she dip her fingertips into it and then proceed to broadcast the tiny little particles all over the kitchen. Being a semi-damp pasta, it stuck to everything it touched. It was the culinary equivalent of large sand grains. Not only was it on the floor and counter, it was sticking to hair, Felix’s little seat, Felix’s feet, the legs of the stool, the front of the cabinets.
I tried to stop her but it played out like one of those silly slow-mo scenes in the movies. I screamed “noooooooooo” slowly in my head and moved to grab her hands. I was too slow to stop it. Simultaneously, I could imagine what it would feel like to step on both wet fresh couscous and desiccated couscous the next morning. How do you sweep it up? It will try to stick to both the broom and the floor.
So E, if you’re out there, I get it. I do. As a result I will never ever serve my daughter couscous again. And I will stifle my mental eye-rolling when E or anyone else shares a button moment with me. Until you’ve walked a mile in their mom jeans (and no, E does NOT wear mom jeans….she’s way fashionable), you have no idea what that button would feel like in your own psyche.