Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day Done Better

If you have been following my weekly ramblings for any length of time, you might recall the tale of my impeccable handling of last Mother’s Day.

I had skillfully purchased tickets to a demolition derby that happened to be scheduled on the same day that America was holding Mother’s Day. The derby promoters refused my requests to move the event up a day, so I was forced to explain to my wife why it would be a good thing for me to take the boys away to a car smashing event on her special day. To add a slight level of difficulty, I had to explain my reasoning while dodging cookware being thrown at my head.

I broke the news of my inadvertent double-booking a week or so before Mother’s Day. By “broke the news,” I of course mean that she told me what I had done. Then she threw a saucepan at me. Anyway, she was able to calm down in a day or three, and finally saw the error in her initial reaction, or so I thought. She acquiesced and agreed that the gift of relative solitude (I was leaving her with Boy Number Three while the other two went to the derby with me) that I had so thoughtfully provided her was indeed a fine Mother’s Day gift from a loving husband. A few days later she even helped me figure out what the boys could get her for Mother’s Day, since their dad obviously had no clue.

Going so far as to tell me that she had found an “easy and fun” way to have the boys make her gifts, she presented me with the news that I would be going to our local home improvement store on the coming Saturday morning. They were having a kid’s craft event for Mother’s Day, where the kids could make their mothers a flower pot holder. Better yet, it was free!

My initial reaction was, “Oh, OK, great. That should be fun.”
I am a stupid, stupid man. Obviously it was a trap. A trap of retribution.

Off I drove with the boys on Saturday morning, oblivious to my real situation. Fortunately for me, Boy Number Three was deemed too young to come to this event as well, so he stayed home with mom. I am convinced that is the only reason why I made it out of there alive. I barely made it through the ordeal with two boys, but adding the third youngest one would have surely been the coup de grace.

It started off innocently enough. We were greeted by teenage store employees who outfitted the boys with kid-size orange store aprons with their names written on the front in black Sharpie marker, which they thought were really cool. Then they handed us our flower pot holder kits, and invited us to pick any open spot at one of the many workbenches set up for the occasion. That’s where things began to go south.

My first question caught them off guard. “Where are the kid’s workbenches?” I asked.

“Those are the kid’s workbenches, sir.”

“Why are there hammers on the workbenches?”

“To hammer the nails, sir.”


“Yes, sir. They’re included in your kit. You’re supposed to glue the joints and then nail them together.”


“Yes, sir. Is there a problem?”

“Is it real glue and real nails?”

“Of course, sir.”

“Then, yes. We have a problem. You mean to tell me that these things don’t just snap together like Legos? You want my four-year-old to be swinging a hammer?”

“Well, we don’t think they should swing them, so much as just tap the nails into place.”

“Have you ever met a four-year-old boy?”

Oh, well. There was no going home empty handed, so to the workbench we went.

Two minutes later, as I had predicted, I was refereeing a tug-of-war over an erupting bottle of Elmer’s wood glue and desperately dodging the claw ends of two fast moving hammers.

I found myself holding miniature nails upright between my thumb and index finger, praying the first blow would be to the head of the nail, and not to the head of the dad, or to the fingers, hand, arm, or face of the dad.

I spent a considerable amount of time fighting back the onslaught of excess glue with almost an entire roll of paper towels, all the while trying to decipher the steadily more glue-ridden assembly instructions before my boys had nailed or glued something to the wrong spot.

It was a lot like trying to do a crossword puzzle while trapped inside a spinning dryer full of open glue bottles and claw hammers. And nails.

After we had somehow managed to complete two fairly intact and somewhat recognizable flower pot stands, and the employees had found me some extra-large gauze pads and an ice pack, we made our way to the garden section to find some nice Mother’s Day flowers to adorn our new creations.

I foolishly thought that this would be the easy part. How hard could it be to find a couple of small flowers in pots? Ha! You have obviously never shopped for flowers with my boys! Neither had I.

Apparently my children are not very impressed with ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill flowers. They seem to only be attracted to the high-dollar exotic breed flowers. No azaleas or daisies for their mommy! No, they just had to buy mom the Madagascar crouching tiger orchid and the greenhouse-raised Turkish gold river lilac, each costing about the same amount as an entire pallet of rose bushes, and both guaranteed to last about 1.7 hours under our family’s expert horticultural care.

Again, I couldn’t go home with two boys telling their already emotionally iffy mother that Daddy wouldn’t let them buy the pretty flowers for her, so out came the credit card. Ka-ching.

The whole experience hurt. Physically, financially, emotionally, you name it, it hurt. All things considered, I think I would have rather gone to the mall, and you know how I feel about the mall.

When we got home, my wife gave me a sly smile and said, “How did the project go, sweety?”

I knew right then and there that this had been payback for my demolition derby scheduling blunder and lack of believable spin on the reason why. As I went to get a fresh ice pack, I vowed not to make that same mistake again. She is way too smart for me.

True to my vow, this year I learned from last year’s mistakes. This year I won’t fall into any of those traps. This year there is absolutely no way for me to get into any trouble!

This year, I have planned absolutely nothing for Mother’s Day.

Smooth sailing ahead!


See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

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