A Genius or a Fool

When your daughter asks if she can go to a friend’s house tonight, and if you can drop her off at 6 and pick her up much later, and you say yes even though it’s been a long workday at the end of a long workweek at the end of two years of miserably long pandemic and every bone and muscle and corpuscle in your body is tired…

….you say yes because you know you got off lucky on the parental-ferrying-around front (even though your husband’s eyes have been too bad for driving for a few years now) because after one summer of soccer (which you dutifully coached), neither of your kids turned out to be sporty, so you were spared the many many hours of ferrying children to practices and games (sometimes two on the same weekend) and you are pathetically grateful for that…

…and besides, elder child will be fifteen in three months, which means in nine months, she can have a learner’s permit, and in about a year or so (you’re a little unclear on the specifics), she’ll be driving herself around, lord willing and the creek don’t rise, so you can probably manage a playdate ride or even two of them (there and back) tonight…

…and after all, you are also pathetically grateful that we have gotten far enough past this wave of omicron that we can actually have playdates again, that two vaccinated children can get together in relative safety to watch a movie and eat pizza on a Friday night, thank all the gods…

…but you do still feel a little sorry for yourself, because you were tired enough that even though you wanted something delicious for dinner, you didn’t have the energy to figure out what that could be, despite a solid fifteen minutes of staring at restaurant delivery options on your computer…

…and also, food prices have risen alarmingly recently, so that even though you want to support your local restaurants in this hard time, your family can’t actually afford to eat takeout all that often, so you made yourself a bowl of spicy ramen for dinner, which is fine, it tastes good, but it doesn’t really satisfy the feeling sorry for yourself…

…and then, when you’re dragging yourself out of bed at 9:45 to go get the child, you remember that you have a bowl of strawberry puree in the fridge that should get used (leftover from making strawberry marshmallows) and you could get cake! and ice cream! and make yourself a trifle-like concoction, and wouldn’t that be splendid!!!

…but oh, damn, the nearby grocery stores will close at 10, and you just don’t have the energy to try to dash in five minutes before closing to try to find cake! and ice cream! so you just grumpily go off to pick up the child instead…

…but after picking her up you realize you’re very low on gas, and you should get some soon, and don’t gas station convenience stores have some version of cake! and ice cream!?

…so you ask the tired child if it’s okay to stop for gas, and she agrees, and you get Twinkies, because that’s what the convenience store can offer for cake, and also some rather appealing Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and you bring it home and spoon the ice cream into a bowl, and slice the twinkies in, and add the strawberry puree and for a moment, it looks like you’ve made something delicious…

…and then you bite into it, and you remember why you don’t ever eat Twinkies anymore, because the cream is so incredibly sweet, it’s almost like eating pure sugar, how do children do this??!!

(sidebar: the child has apparently never had a Twinkie before, because you are a terrible parent and have deprived her of this quintessential American experience, and she devours one and declares it good! sigh!)

…but since the strawberry puree is unsweetened, it and the delicious ice cream basically do mostly work to tone down the Twinkie filling, or at least you manage to convince yourself that it works, enough that you eat the entire bowl…

…and now you are not sure if you’re a genius or a fool.

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