Archive for July, 2011

An Ocean of Cheese Pizza

LOVE by Garnet Goldman

This column first appeared in the July issue of Forsyth Family Magazine:

We were off to the beach with Garnet’s family. Before we got in the car, I said, “We’re not going anywhere until everyone has gone to the bathroom.” After Doobins’ third “But I don’t have to go!,” I let it go. What I once thought of as waffling and inconsistency, I now call flexibility.

Sparkle Girl has long loved playing in the ocean. On previous beach trips, Doobins hadn’t been fully at ease in the waves. This time, he, too, leapt in with gusto. After one wave, Doobins, who considers the Three Stooges comedy geniuses, said, “Did anyone get the license number of that truck?” After a wave that I worried might have been a bit much, he jumped up and said, “That was great!” Watching him frolic was a joy.

For supper, Garnet’s sister picked up pizzas. Doobins is particular about his cheese pizzas and this brand wasn’t on his approved list. Hoping that he wouldn’t notice, I didn’t correct his presumption that it was a kind he liked. The kids had eaten and scattered, and I was cleaning up when I saw a triangle of cheese pizza on the floor under the chair that Doobins had been sitting in. The remainder of the slice was sitting on a paper plate on the counter. He hadn’t liked the pizza but, rather than saying anything, he had made it look as if he had eaten it.

As a kid, I had some wildly inaccurate notions of what it was like to be an adult. For one, I thought adults got to do whatever they wanted, and I used to look forward to becoming an adult so that no one was telling me what to do and so that I, too, could eat all the cookies I wanted. Now that I’m an adult restricting the cookie intake of kids, I try to remember what being a kid felt like. So, sometimes, I look the other way when I know that someone has exceeded the official cookie quota or is otherwise being innocently sneaky. I’m sorry I didn’t do that this time.

I could have commended him for keeping quiet or simply tossed the pizza in the trash. Instead, I picked up the triangle, found Doobins and showed it to him. I didn’t plan to scold him. I just wanted him to know he hadn’t gotten away with anything. When he saw that his ruse had been discovered, he instantly burst into tears. I instantly felt like a heel for putting a needless blotch on his day at the ocean.

As an adult with kids in my life, I make a lot of decisions on the fly. Winging it increases the likelihood for mistakes, which can lead to second-guessing. Mostly, I try to hunker down and keep moving. Every once in a while, though, I wish that I could go back in time and make a different choice. This was one of those times. If I had it to do over, I would toss that pizza triangle directly in the trash, go tousle Doobins’ hair and tell him I was glad he had enjoyed playing in the ocean so much.

If I were reliving that day, I wouldn’t change a thing about our time in the ocean, though. I expect to savor the memory of Doobins laughing in the waves for a long time.