Morning Margaritas

March 9, 2007 at 4:34 pm (Uncategorized)

My day began with Andrew brandishing a sippy cup in my face at 7:30.  “Why did we ever teach that child to walk?” I thought through the fog of sleep in my eyes.

“I brought you something to drink, Mommy,” he said, bringing the cup to within grazing distance of my nose.

“Hmmm,” I said back, fervently wishing that he would just go away for another few minutes.  Mornings are when I am most likely to trade my only son for uninterrupted sleep until noon.

“It’s your very own margarita,” he said, giving the cup another wave.

The thought of a nice tart and salty margarita woke me up almost as much as the smell of coffee brewing downstairs.   Not that I could drink it, even if it were a more appropriate hour and even if Andrew’s cup actually had alcohol in it instead if twelve-hour old tepid rice milk.  One of the medications I am taking for my sarcoidosis absolutely precludes drinking alcohol of any kind; plus, my liver is so whacked out from the disease that I’d just as soon not add an additional burden to its workload.

Andrew looked especially proud at having remembered such a complicated and odd word – margarita.  He also got a hearty laugh out of his mother before noon, which is a feat in and of itself.  I was amazed he could even recall the word that he heard just a couple of times over a week ago, when Jay had a string of stressful days at work and wanted to have a drink before dinner and discovered that we were out of beer and wine.  At the time Andrew had pestered Jay with, “What’s that, Daddy?  What’s that?” and “Can I have some?”  We explained that margaritas, which are made out of tequila, are a grown-up beverage, one he’ll have to wait another eighteen years to legally consume.  Jay’s job pressure eased up, and we forgot all about margaritas – until this morning.

Andrew’s sudden recollection of margaritas made me wonder about memory and what “gets stuck” in my child’s mind in place of other facts I deem more important.  For instance, he simply cannot remember to bring his plate from the table to the sink (a grand distance of three feet), while he does memorize every Thomas the Tank Engine character after one viewing – and then recites the list of the seven billion engines he doesn’t own.  He can expertly drive the electric John Deere tractor his Uncle Ken chose for him (which involves steering, pressing the gas pedal, and sometimes even shifting in to lower gears and  reversing), but pleads helplessness when it comes time to putting on his underwear. “I can’t do it,” he’ll whine, and then shove both legs into one leg hole and fall over in the middle of the room.   The kid has a monumental vocabulary, with words like “fuming,” “dehydrated,” “impertinent,” and “furious” part of his everyday vocabulary.  Unfortunately, a single utterance of an obscenity from one of his parents adheres to his memory like a fly to flypaper.  In fact, he went through a (mercifully) short phase of combining all his known bad words into one long string: “Shitgoddamnitcrap.”

Apparently alcoholic beverages – and beverages in general – have some staying power in his noggin, along with all those creepy trains and cuss words.  He’s mentioned the mysterious “tequilia” (as he pronounces it) more than once, has offered me mock Diet Coke, and told friends that “Daddy drinks beer and wine, but Mommy only drinks coffee.”   He’ll bring me cups “full of wine.”  I find this doubly ironic since Jay and I are practically teetotalers at home now, but our son seems to be well on his way to being a pretend alcoholic.  Perhaps he has a future career as a sommelier?

Pondering the mysteries of memory and the mind – the conundrum of what sticks and what doesn’t – isn’t only suitable with toddlers.  Thinking about the morning margarita emerging from the dredges of my boy’s mind, made me realize that I’m not too far distant from Andrew with my knack of remembering what I shouldn’t.  The “healthy” and “reasonable” thoughts and patterns are the ones that slide off me most easily.  For example, I gripe about how little energy I have, and then stay up late watching “The Wire” re-runs with Jay; I tell my writing students to put their own work first, and then shunt off my proposals to the bottom of my to-do list (behind vacuuming the crud out of the silverware drawer and ironing Jay’s work shirts).  I know I need to take better care of myself – lose some weight, try to begin exercising with my arthritic joints, get plenty of rest and naps – but I seem to always run around the house at 400 miles an hour, eating a cookie with one hand and guzzling coffee with the other, accomplishing remarkably little.

Here’s my conclusion, where I’m supposed to vow to live a little cleaner, strive to get the virtuous things to stick to my mind and myself.  But I’m too tired and achy today to make such pronouncements.  I was up past midnight with a new cough, awoke early with hand-delivered mock mixed drinks, and my joints ache with arthritis.  So I say, a little coffee never hurt anyone.  If only I could have a margarita to go along with it.

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