Yesterday, Son crawled into our bed at about 4:20. How do I know what time it was? Well, once he'd been there about 15 minutes, impatiently shifting his weight, he whispered to me, "Mama, can I watch tv?"
"time is it?" I asked, eating the first word of the question in my sleepiness.
"4:34," he replied.
"No," I said, in a much stronger (and, it must be admitted, slightly irritated) voice. "It's still night time. You need to sleep some more."
He sighed, rolled over, and tried to fall asleep. I was just drifting off when Daughter came into the room carrying Puppy. Puppy is a stuffed labrador retriever-ish dog that is approximately two feet long. "I want to sleep in your bed," Daughter said in a sad voice.
I sat up, completely crabby. "There is just not room for everyone in this bed," I snapped. "Come on, I'll go sleep with you in Son's bed." It was 4:55.
"But I want to sleep with you," she started to whine, until she realized I was getting up.
"Shhhhh," I hissed, not very nicely I'm afraid. "Do not wake up your brother. I'm coming with you." We went into Son's room, where there is also a queen-sized bed, and she and I hunkered down under the covers. By this point, I was pretty well awake, and cranky.
Two or three minutes later, Son came wandering in. "I'm sorry, Mama," he said. His sorrow-filled voice made me feel guilty.
"It's okay, sweetie," I said, "but it's just not morning time right now. Go back and sleep with Daddy, and I'll stay here with Sister."
"But I want to sleep with you," he said plaintively.
I scooted over so I could be in the middle. He curled himself up next to me and began patting my back gently. Daughter smiled up into my face and stroked my cheek. My grumpiness dissolved almost instantly, as I realized that there will not be many more years in which my small, sweet children will want to cuddle with me in bed in the bleak hours of pre-dawn.
The two of them nestled around me, snug and warm, and I suddenly wondered: when they grow up, what will they remember the most? The moments of cranky retort, when a sleep-deprived mother could not find her place of patience fast enough? Or the moments of quiet snuggling, when we cocooned together under piles of covers, breathed in each other's scents, and drifted off into sleep wrapped up in the warmth of love?
I hope it is the latter. I hope that in the balance, their childhoods remind them that they are loved.
And yet, I have such terrible moments of impatience, when the two of them have spent nearly all day picking at each other, or when I am trying to talk on the phone and they both absolutely must ask me a question at that very moment, or when no one can remember to use a utensil at dinner, or when their own over-tired selves cannot refrain from whining incessantly for the final hour before bed time. I worry sometimes that I nag too much, that I voice my frustration with their moodiness too often.
I worry that my job description is too much about the correction and punishment and not enough about the loving and cuddling. I know that the teaching and correcting, the insisting on manners and kindness, the lessons about sharing, the consequences for whining are all my job as a parent. But sometimes it feels like I spend the bulk of my day in doing those things. And I wonder, in the balance, whether they will feel like they spent their childhoods hearing me repeat for the thousandth time "Whining doesn't get you anything" or whether their impressions will be formed more by the story times and art projects, family baking and excursions to the pond in the neighborhood.
I know that childhood, especially early childhood, is remembered more in impressions than in actual events. There may be a few particular days that stand out, but in the main, we recall our very earliest years as a series of watercolors, images with a certain color and tone, but no particular form. I want that color to be sunshiny for my children, the tone to be joyful, the impression to be one of security and love rather than nagging annoyance, and I worry sometimes that I am not creating that for them. Or, perhaps more accurately, that the emphasis on correction may outweigh the evidence that I love them no matter what.
And, of course, it is something I can never know for sure until it is far too late to change it.
I suspect all parents have this worry to a greater or lesser degree. And there may be nothing to do about it except remind myself continually to have patience with all of my children's foibles. But it doesn't hurt to have moments like I had yesterday morning, where the very thing that tries my patience the most becomes the catalyst for a moment in which we are all enveloped in love.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Yesterday, Son crawled into our bed at about 4:20. How do I know what time it was? Well, once he'd been there about 15 minutes, impatiently shifting his weight, he whispered to me, "Mama, can I watch tv?"
Monday, December 21, 2009
The name "Virginia" seems to be synonymous with Christmas discussions of Santa Claus. There was a 1974 TV special, a 1991 movie called "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" (not exactly a title that rolls off the tongue, one must admit), and a recent release of a CGI movie called, more simply, "Yes, Virginia." But more generally, there is a cultural lore that the name works as a kind of short-hand for an argument in favor of the big man in red.
But do you know where the phrase comes from? I always thought it was a Letter to the Editor in the New York Times, but I did a little digging and discovered that it was actually from a letter in The New York Sun, published in September 1897. Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote in asking if Santa was real, and the reply she got -- filled with humility about the human capacity to know everything -- became an immediate sensation. It is a letter that some may say perpetuates lies to children. But, clearly, the writer of the reply (one Francis Pharcellus Church, war correspondent during the Civil War) was interested in more than just fantasy. Although he says that if you don't believe in Santa, you might as well not believe in fairies, which is clearly an argument aimed at a child's logic, he also makes the more adult claim that not to believe in things we cannot see would be to strip the world of faith, poetry, romance, and all that makes life worth living. That argument, while not an evidentiary claim that Santa exists, is certainly a compelling message about the power -- and limits -- of the human mind. And it is the eloquence of that message, I think, rather than the question of Santa himself, that caused the phrase "Yes, Virginia" to jump almost immediately into the American lexicon as a rousing reminder of the spirit of the season.
I finally read it for the first time this morning, and I thought you might be interested in it too. (You can click on the picture at left to get a larger, readable, view, or just read the transcription below. Thanks, Wikipedia Commons, for the image.)
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love, and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith, then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view - and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Virginia herself went on to get not only a bachelor's degree (a pretty rare thing for a woman in 1910) but also an MA from Columbia and a PhD from Fordham. With all those accomplishments, and a career in education, she nonetheless continued to get letters all her life about the little missive she penned to the Editor of The New York Sun as a child. And she wrote back, always with a copy of the original response. There is something quite beautiful about the generosity of spirit, I think, in both the original letter and her use of it.
Friday, December 18, 2009
This post is dedicated to McMommy, whose choice of a Snuggie as a White Elephant gift got me thinking...
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I don't have the most glamorous of offices. It's a 1960s-era cinderblock room with green Steelcase furnishings that have been there for about 50 years (Thanks, Retro Office, for the photo at right. I know you call this stuff "honest furniture," and it is, but I can't really see anyone willingly paying $599 for a refurbished desk like this. And if anyone wants to: anyone, are you listening? call me.)
But today, it's not about the furniture. It's about the fact that even with a wee bit of work left to do at home, I'm delighted not to have to work in the office for the next two weeks.
Because when I sit at that desk in my swank professorial office, I very nearly get chilblains.
I have decided that job offers in our building should come with a Snuggie for a welcome present. Sure, I know they are mockable almost beyond belief. But my office is so chilly that I have to keep a spare fleece in there to wear over the sweater I already have on. I drink way too much coffee because I have to seek out cups just to keep warm. And I'm a lucky one. The people who have offices with windows have rooms that are so cold that you when you walk into them from the interior hallways, you feel physically startled by the chill in the air. In my large lecture classes, my students wear their coats and hats throughout much of December and January, and occasionally we can see our breath. Yes, INSIDE the lecture hall.
How great would it be if, instead of the endless numb hands and cold noses, THIS were me working at my desk?
Do you think it would undermine my authority with my students too much? And how do I balance that concern with the clear fact that SHE up there is so happy typing away. So cozy. So not freezing to death inch by inch in her office.
Couldn't THIS be me at a committee meeting?
We have weird couches and a strangely intrusive coffee table in our faculty lounge, where so many of these meetings happen. How great if we could all be warm there as well!
And just think if THIS were me dealing with the student lapses in academic honesty:
Okay, so it's not strictly a Snuggie. But it basically looks exactly like a Snuggie worn backwards. And seriously no one would question his authority.
So I think what I'm saying is that academic job offers should come with a Snuggie in a color of your choice, and then with tenure, you should get the light sabre and the instructions on how to wear your Snuggie Jedi-style.
And then Snuggie should come and film its next infomercial in my building. Win-win all around. Even for you. Because with this guy pontificating while wearing a Snuggie?
College just got on the fast-track to hilarious.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
My parents get here on Monday evening. The parents for whose visit I typically repaint the hallway to hide the fact that we scuff it horrifyingly over the course of the year, you ask? Why yes, those parents. I have decided that this year I will not repaint that hallway. (And a chorus of joyous singing was heard in the background.) But only because I still have to finish painting the trim in the guest bathroom that was "almost done" when they were here last Christmas. That unfinished little gem of a project really needs to get done in the next few days, if only so I am not mortified when they arrive. (And the singing stopped, and the singers got out paint brushes.)
In addition to which, I still have to turn in final grades for 90 students. And finish planning my classes for next term so that I can order books and print out the syllabi before the office closes for two weeks.
Ideally, I had planned to clean out our basement so that we could make it into a playroom before my parents got here. But instead, we just took the largest of the toys from the family room, shoved them down the stairs any which way we could, shut the door, and called it a day. No one goes down there anyway. We might as well wait until the "down" week between Christmas and New Year's to get that heavy lifting done.
My beautiful nook of a home office has been declared a Federal Disaster Area (that's a figure of speech; no tax dollars were utilized for this declaration) what with the arriving boxes from Amazon.com, and the packages from out-of-town relatives, and the wrapping station of my own, and the sewing machine, and the piles of papers I haven't had time to file, and the books from planning classes, and the random junk in the corner that was shoved there when we had a dinner party a month ago and didn't have time to properly put away everything. SO. That door is staying closed for a while, but it will have to be openable by Monday, which means I have a little cleaning to do over the weekend.
In the spirit of the holidays, however, I'm trying not to dwell on the overwhelming nature of the tasks at hand. Instead, I've composed a festive little song to help me keep the list in mind and also get me through the day. The tune might be familiar as the Twelve Days of Christmas. You might also note that I have to get twelve days of work done in the next four. That's pretty typical around here.
Go ahead, sing along...
I have to:
wrap 12 zillion presents
deliver 11 cranberry breads
do 10 loads of laundry
grade 9 more papers
make 8 pocket fairies
clean for 7 hours
buy 6 more presents
mail 5 out-of-town packages
donate 4 hats
paint 3 kitchen cupboards
rearrange 2 beds
and sleep for 1 hour before company arrives!
What's on your list right now?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I know you think this is just some gimmicky title, maybe for a post in which I talk about whether our children still believe in Santa. But I actually mean it seriously. I'm pretty sure the REAL guy really lives here. Year round.
He is a real person, not some made-up fantasy. I have seen him at the Post Office and on my way to the pediatrician. Today, Husband and I saw him as we were parking at the Thai restaurant for lunch.
He's tall -- maybe 6'2" or so. He has a giant thick white beard that curls softly down onto his chest. His hair seems a little sparse on top and is also white. He wears little wire-rimmed glasses. He is always smiling. He has pink-and-white cheeks.
In summer, he drives a convertible. It's bright candy-apple red.
Today, he was driving a sedan. Slightly burgundy in color.
For big jobs, he drives some giant type of pickup truck. You guessed it: bright, fire-engine red.
I have seen him maybe half-a-dozen times around the streets of our small downtown.
He is always dressed in red.
Once I saw him with someone else. She was small and spry looking, with smiling eyes and a very round face with greying hair curling around her temples. She was sitting beside him in the candy-apple-red convertible, enjoying the summer sunshine.
And she was also wearing red.
I'm not talking about a little bit of red. I'm talking in summer, he wears solid-color bright red t-shirts. In winter, some thick red sweater or over shirt. I don't have a clear memory of his feet, but if you asked me quick! how was he dressed besides the shirt? I would have to say red pants and black work boots, even though that sounds ridiculous for a grown man.
I know you will tell me that he isn't the REAL Santa, that he's just some guy who looks like Santa. But here's the thing: I grew up with a best friend whose father looked like Santa. He looked like Santa so much that in July, when he was in the mall in a madras shirt and khaki shorts, small children would come up to him wide-eyed and ask in breathy voices, "Are you really Santa?!"
Next to the Santa who lives in my town now, my best friend's dad looks like a second-string department store guy in a getup. I don't mean to cast aspersions on the lovely man who treated me like one of his own daughters. But his balding head, pink-and-white complexion, round belly, and neatly trimmed white beard can't hold a candle to the Santa I saw again today.
This man, the Santa in my town? He doesn't play Santa. He just IS Santa. He has the je ne sais quoi of Santadom. HO! HO! HO! just seems to permeate his being. Going quietly about his business in his everyday clothes (no one would wear the fancy velvet suits to run errands; what if you spilled Thai curry sauce on that beautiful white fur trim?), he just simply is the unobtrusive, big, bearded, pervasive presence that Santa must really be.
I suspect southeast Michigan is as good a place as any to be incognito. As incognito as it's possible for Santa to be. After all, compared to the North Pole, this is coming pretty far South for a good portion of the year.
But I'm onto him. Every time I see him, he makes me smile in spite of myself.
And really, isn't that what the Santa spirit is all about?
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Dog, the gorgeous and magnificent, patient and loving, is not doing very well. And so I'm writing to ask the vast Internets for some advice.
She has pretty severe rear-end weakness -- probably due to degerenative myelopathy. This diagnosis is largely my own, based on tons of reading and the ruling out of other things. She's not in any pain. The dog neurologist we saw told us that most disk injuries will respond positively to steroid therapy, but she showed no improvement after a month of steroids. (We elected not to go with his next step, a hugely-expensive diagnostic MRI, as the potential subsequent surgery was waaaay beyond our budget, and she would only be a candidate for surgery if in fact the problem was a disk problem rather than a degenerative nerve problem, which seemed unlikely anyway.) So, her symptoms are the weakness, constant, inadvertent crossing of her back legs while standing still, dragging of her feet when she walks, feet sliding out from under her on any slippery floor, stumbling/hopping/half dragging herself when she walks on grass or carpet. It's heart-wrenching, really.
We haven't taken her for proper walks in several months because if we walk on asphalt for even five minutes, she ends up with bloody toenails because she drags her feet so much that she scrapes the nails right down to the quick. But I am now making her a rear-end harness that will enable us to help hold up some of her back end weight. I experimented this week with just a leash wrapped around her body, and her front end is still so strong, and her desire so great, that she actually ran FASTER than I could keep up with, as long as she mostly could keep her back legs off the ground. So I think that she will be much happier if I can get her some exercise beyond the games we've been playing with her in the yard every day too. I only wish I'd thought of a harness, rather than makeshift towels and leashes, much sooner.
Here's where I need your help: I want to get her some boots, in the hopes that if she has something providing a little more traction for her back feet, she won't be quite so timid around the house. (Right now, she just stands in the doorway of the carpeted family room and whines for someone to come and help her walk across the tile.) Also, now that snow is coming, I am worried that she will be completely unable to stand up on slippery ground, and that will make taking her out to relieve herself nearly impossible. And I'm hoping that if we have sturdy boots plus a rear-end harness, she may be able to spend her last days as happier ones, frolicking along on some walks again.
But I have heard bad things about so many different dog boots that I don't know what to buy -- so I'm appealing to your combined wisdom in the hopes that someone out there will know something about dog boots. The two I've found that seem most promising in terms of being very sturdy around the toes and solid in the soles for outdoor use and traction are Ruffwear's "griptrex" boot or Neopaws' orthopedic boot. I'm worried that the Ruffwear looks too short, as if it might just pop right off. I'm bothered that the Neopaws boot says "not recommended for indoor use."
It may simply be the case that there won't be a good boot for both indoors and out, in which case I am much more concerned about having a good outdoor boot that will stay on, since there is simply no way she'll be able to manage walking on snow and ice without more traction this winter. Do you have any suggestions?
Can you help me make this lovely and loyal creature's last time around here happier?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I don't know if this is a nearly-six-year-old thing, or a boy-child thing, or a mind-is-always-off-somewhere-dreaming thing. Or perhaps it's just a bad parenting thing, and I'm unwilling to own it. But here it is:
My Son cannot seem to use his fork for the duration of one single meal.
Tonight at dinner, it was necessary to issue nearly constant reminders to him to stop picking up his spaghetti with his fingers. His neglected fork lay forlornly near his plate, as he picked up noodles, absent-mindedly swung them around a little, and then finally deposited them in his mouth.
Every time I reminded him, mostly gently, to use his fork please, he would look up in slight surprise and say, "oh, I forgot." And then he would dutifully use the fork for the next bite or two, and then forget again.
Seriously, it was deplorable and embarrassing.
The carnage under his chair at the end of the meal would have handily beat your adorable, just-learning-to-eat toddler's best efforts.
The only reason I'm even admitting this is that I need someone to tell me either (a) you have a child like this too; (b) he will grow out of this before his wedding day; or (c) there is something I should be doing dramatically differently in the Teaching Table Manners department, and you know what that something is and can tell me how to do it. (Also, it does help explain why I need a clear vinyl table cover over my good cloth for daily use.)
I have posted the mutually-defined house rules and tried a reward system whereby children who remember to use their forks at dinner get "chips," collections of which are redeemable for all sorts of wonderful prizes. I have asked nicely and not-so-nicely. I have explained about manners and their importance, and I have followed through on the consequences for bad manners. I have explained about what silverware is and isn't for. I have even twirled the spaghetti up onto the fork myself and left the fully-loaded utensil sitting on his plate for him to pick up and use.
I must not be a complete imbicile in the teaching department given that Daughter, who is two years younger, uses her utensils quite reliably. And yet, I cannot manage to get this boy to use a fork at dinner.
Admittedly, some foods are more utensil-obvious than others: he does not dive into yogurt, applesauce or soup with his hands. But anything that can be picked up with fingers -- broccoli, beans, salad, bites of chicken, pasta of all shapes, tomatoes, carrot sticks, bites of scrambled egg, waffle, berries, cucumber -- basically, any food that is not a liquid will, at some point during the meal, become finger food. I get it with carrot sticks. And I see the slippery slope that those provide: what's the difference, really, between carrot sticks, grapes, or apple slices, and a salad? If the former are obviously finger foods, then why isn't the latter?
The mothers of well-mannered children out there will no doubt be horrified by this little confession of mine, which surely smacks of the sort of incompetent parenting that leads young children to leave the house without closing the door or to refuse to hug a visiting relative. And, honestly, I don't blame you if you don't want to visit.
But there is something else at stake in the whole eating thing for him besides politeness. He is very good with the unprompted "yes, please" and "no, thank you." He is generally very thoughtful.
He just can't remember, after living nearly six years on this earth, that there is a thing such as a fork next to his plate and that it is intended to be a food-delivery device to his mouth.
Got any suggestions? Something must change before my parents come to stay for the holidays in a few weeks and comment (again) on his astonishing lack of basic eating etiquette.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
For years, I, too, pooh-poohed the grandma mentality that declared that the "good furniture" needed to be protected from daily wear and tear, and thus clear plastic couch and chair slips were the only solution a reasonable person would advocate. Do you remember this trend from the late 1970s and early 1980s?
I have a vision of a particular room in my mind, though I cannot for the life of me recall whose room this is that I can see so clearly. The couch, love seat and armchairs are all upholstered in a cheerfully garish bright-yellow floral design that spreads itself across the white background like a preschooler's crayon drawing of a lemon orchard. The dark green foliage punctuates the blinding yellow flowers but somehow does not manage to tone them down. Prim, thick, clear vinyl covers are draped over every single piece of this furniture, but they do not tone down the screaming yellow either. The room is a treasure-trove of blazing yellow brightness, almost oppressively cheerful, so that the plastic covers on everything are somehow not completely abhorrent. (with thanks to these guys for the only image I could find of that phenomenon that swept the US when I was a child)
The clear heavy-duty floor runners, on the other hand? You know the ones I mean, the textured kind (so that you don't slip) that have stern teeth on their underside to bite into the carpet and prevent the shifting of the runner itself? The criss-crossed tracks of these runners protecting the white carpet from potentially dirty shoes seems to be taking it a bit too far. An entire yellow-and-white room, protected from the untoward advances of company by a veritable army of clear plastic swathing. It's an astonishing testament to the desire for cleanliness, really.
I'm not sure if the following fact makes me trashy, or a little old lady in a teal-and-tangerine home in Florida, or just a hypocrite, but it is simply the truth: I have recently placed clear vinyl over fabric-covered furniture, and the result has made me almost impossibly happy.
We have redone our kitchen. A kitchen that has long oppressed me with its 1970s dark-walnut-stained cupboards and general feel of darkness. I always wanted a light and airy kitchen. I tried to cheerful up the awful cupboards when we first moved in by stripping the truly criminal striped-and-flowered wallpaper and painting the walls a warm golden moon color, and then putting up dark-green curtains for contrast. But paint turned out to be really more the color of pumpkin soup, and somehow the cupboards whose darkness felt so gloomy were ultimately made even worse. I woke up one morning and realized that the cabinets had secretly tricked me into setting them into an avocado-and-harvest gold color scheme any 1973 housewife would have been proud to call her own.
And then we had babies and other household projects to take care of, and suddenly, six years later, I simply couldn't stand the kitchen one more minute. So we painted it this gorgeous soothing shade of blue, and we went through the hours of labor it takes to clean and prime and paint 29 cupboards and drawers, so that all the cabinetry could become a glossy white. And then we got a new picture window and new hardware for all the door handles -- and suddenly the room is bigger and airier and modern. The great light fixtures we so loving chose in brushed nickel look right. Every time I walk into the room, I feel happy.
Except for the table. We have an awful table. It's large and plain and could be fine, except for the countless spills and stains and experiments with non-erasable markers and poundings of the tines of forks and other modes of destruction wrought by two children during their smallest years. Not yet quite past the "I forgot not to poke my fork into the table while I'm thinking" stage of their development, they do not inspire a lot of confidence in us to buy a new table just yet. But the old one looked so out of place suddenly.
Enter the Wedding Gift We Have Never Used. A beautiful tablecloth, in cotton, in soothing blues and greens, a graphic floral print that I ADORE but that never matched our room. Suddenly, the color is perfect in our kitchen; the cloth is exactly the right size for the table, is precisely wonderful...except for the minor fact that it is a cloth tablecloth and we have a son who, at nearly six, still sometimes gets so excited about the story that he's telling that he forgets to use his fork and eats spaghetti with his fingers. Not wanting to wash the table-cloth every day, but loath to replace it with a bland or tacky picnic table plastic one for the time being, I jumped eagerly on the solution: "why don't we just buy this clear vinyl table cloth and use it to cover the nice one?"
And so we did. It looks wonderful. I get to have my pretty cloth on the table, and the kitchen looks so put-together. I don't have to do laundry every day to get yogurt, spaghetti sauce, muffin crumbs and unnamed goo, not to mention marker, glue, crayon and play-doh out of the cloth. I just get out the damp sponge and wipe. Voila!
Of course, there is the very real anxiety that I have just, in one fell swoop of practicality, become one of those crazy 1970s housewives who thought that her couches actually looked GOOD coated in clear plastic (nevermind that you couldn't sit on the stuff without sliding off) and who valued the practicality of cleanliness so much that the grossness of committing a clear aesthetic crime was completely erased.
But I can't help it. I love the clear vinyl on my kitchen table.
What say you? Should I hang my head in reasonable mortification for becoming the epitome of tacky tacky ticky tack? Or is there some way to redeem this choice so that I can still think of my brand new kitchen as modern and pretty?