the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Getting the soap ready to wash out her mouth

Our friend Cami stopped by yesterday for dinner, and we purposefully made something other than salmon for the meal. Because the last time we made salmon we neglected to look at the sell-by date on the label, and it turns out that even if you freeze fish it can go bad after two years. I still cannot get that taste out of my mouth.

While we were sitting there trying to figure out why it tasted so bad, so horrifying, Jon asked if I had looked at the date on the package. And I was all, why does it matter? It was in the freezer. WHERE IT WAS FROZEN. Isn’t that a standard in cooking? A scientific principle? Nothing can go bad in the freezer, right? There’s a reason murderers choose meat lockers to store their victims. I see it on “Law and Order” all the time!

And that’s when he rolled his eyes so hard they knocked his head backward, and he fell out of his chair. How many times do I have to remind him that I know nothing about cooking? Do not leave me in charge of food that can go bad! This was not my fault! I don’t know whose fault it was, but maybe I should sue the maker of my refrigerator FOR DEFYING SCIENCE. The nerve!

Anyway, Cami is on a kick of abbreviating almost every word that comes of out her mouth, and when Leta attacked her with requests to play she said, “Leta, give me a min.” Leta looked at me immediately for a translation, so I told her that I was pretty sure Cami needed a “minute” to set down her purse and catch her breath. Although I could have been wrong, maybe she meant something entirely different. Maybe she needed a mint. Or a mind reader. Or possibly a tiny militia of minutemen to reenact certain battles in the American Revolution: The British are coming! The British are coming!

(“One if by land, and two if by sea, and I on the opposite shore will be”— SORRY. 4-H speech contest flashback. Now I’ll be repeating that poem in my head for days. STUPID CHILDREN’S ORGANIZATIONS.)

You never know with her. I mean, she was wearing ankle boots, men’s basketball shorts, and a biker jacket. AND SHE STILL LOOKED HOT.

So we were taking a min on the couch as Leta pranced around in a giant, multi-colored tutu, and Cami out of nowhere blurts out, “Leta, is that a freakin’ tutu?!”

Right. As if she had any business being shocked at a tutu as she sat there in knee-length, opalescent blue basketball shorts. Like the fancy material you see lining high-end caskets.

A freakin’ tutu. Because she goes to BYU. I was just so glad it wasn’t “a fetchin’ tutu” or “a friggin’ tutu” which would have been unacceptable and punishable by death. Preferably by blunt force to the head with the DVD case of a rated R movie.

Leta’s response? “It’s not a freakin’ tutu, Cami. It’s just a tutu.”

Now, this is not the first time Leta has been exposed to just-touching-the-edge language. Okay, fine. Leta has been exposed to A LOT of way-over-the-edge-gone-splat-at-the-bottom-blood-and-guts-and-smashed-brain-on-the-concrete kind of language. But something about this exchange tripped her creative wires, and next thing you know she’s in the kitchen grabbing on to the knobby pole of Marlo’s bouncy contraption, pretending it’s a microphone, and she’s singing, “IT’S NOT A FREAKIN’ TUTU! IT’S NOT A FREAKIN’ TUTU!”

Over and over again, and then she starts adding verses and emphasizing certain words, like, “IT’S JUST WHAT I’M WEARING TODAAAAAAAAY! THIS NOT FREAKIN’ TUTUUUUUUUU! YOU THINK IT IS ONE! BUT IT’S JUST A TUTUUUUUU! AND NOT A FREAKIN’ ONE!”

All out of tune. All shrieking.

Jon looked at me, I looked at him, we both looked at Cami, and each one of us was trying to give the others the strength to hold in the laughter. Because five-year-olds who are just about to turn six take any and all laughing personally. Laughing at a five-year-old is not unlike punching a puppy in the face.

But none of us could handle it, and I don’t remember who did it first, but someone let out a little ripple of air through their clenched teeth, and then we all lost it. Which of course sent Leta into fits of IT’S NOT FUNNY.

And I go, Leta, you’re being really cute, why isn’t it funny? And before I could even get the question out she angrily roared, “BECAUSE IT’S NOT A FREAKIN’ TUTU.”

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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