Monday, April 26, 2010

The absolutely true story . . . .

. . . . of my love/hate relationship with
Bill Nye the Science Guy.

I know, I know -- you're thinking, "what's not to love about Bill Nye the Science Guy?" And I absolutely agree with you. He's smart, he's funny, he has a theme song with his name in it -- the man is dreamy, I admit it.

But even though I love him, I also shudder just a little bit when I hear the sweet strains of "B-B-B-Bill! Bill!"

To understand why, you also have to understand that although the urchins are, of course, fabulosity incarnate, there may have been times when they have perhaps tried my patience, where "tried my patience" equals "made my eyeballs explode out of my head." This sweet, sweet picture is in many ways so misleading as to be a total lie. You see three loving urchins, snuggled together cozily on Mommy's bed reading books, while I see a slap fight on the horizon. Also, the dog? Farting; believe it.

But the thing about the television back then was that we didn't watch much of it. After the tall boy (not quite so tall at two-and-a-half) shared his predictions with me about the O.J. Simpson case, Mommy decided she was watching too much television (loved that "Mad About You," didn't you?) and we got rid of our cable box. So whatever we could get over the air was the extent of our television exposure.

We did pick up a PBS station, however -- on the top floor of the house -- and I was not above a little "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and "Bill Nye the Science Guy" on those days when making our own play-doh and going on picnics in the park got a little stale. Raise your hand if you really believe that I have ever in my life made my own play-doh.

The problem with parking my kids on my bed to watch a little TV while I got something done (and you know that means "read a book") was that my bedroom tended to be a little, shall we say, disheveled. And with a little work it was possible that each of the urchins could find and succumb to his or her own personal temptation.

The oldest girl, like her father, has always had a sweet tooth, and candy of any sort is irresistible. On the "Bill Nye Day of Doom," Daddy had a bag of candy on his bedside table, because that's how we roll. It didn't take long for the oldest girl to start jonesing for that candy, and then she couldn't resist. She dove right in, and starting eating that candy just as fast as she could get it in her mouth.

The sunny girl was just a toddler, so the problem was that she toddled constantly. The child never stopped moving, never stopped picking up "pretties" to look at them, and never looked where she was going. She was two, so it was sort of her job. But again with the slovenly housekeeping, because the "pretty" that she found was an empty wine glass and she picked it up to carry around with her as she cruised my bedroom. She just didn't notice that in picking it up she also clunked it against the table and broke it. Shards of glass beneath her feet didn't impinge on her consciousness at all. And she didn't realize it, but in her hand she carried, like a blankie, a stabbing wine glass of death.

So where was the tall boy? He was right there with his sisters. I brag to you all that he was a very mature seven-year-old (tall for his age, it might surprise you to know), but the sad truth about the tall boy is that his personal demon has always been The Screen. It doesn't matter if it is a TV screen, a computer screen, a movie screen -- his eyes spin in circles and he is sucked away from this mundane world.

And what were they watching that day? You guessed it -- "Bill Nye the Science Guy." But watching is completely the wrong verb to use. I put down my book stopped working on an important task to investigate when the sound level coming from my bedroom rose to the point that even I noticed it. It wasn't squabbling or tussling -- it was just the volume on the television -- turned up as high as it could go. "B-B-B-Bill! Bill!" "BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY!" "Science rules!" And it was so loud the urchins couldn't hear me scream when I got to the door of my bedroom.

Here's what I saw: The oldest girl was sitting on my pillow at the top of the bed, popping candy in to her mouth one piece at a time, as fast as her hand could move. She was chewing very fast, like a rabbit, and her eyes were glued to the TV screen. The tall boy was sitting at the foot of the bed so he could be near his beloved, and he was singing along to the Bill Nye theme song at the top of his voice. His eyes, as usual when he watched television, were spinning.

And the sunny girl was cheerily toddling all around the room, with a broken wine glass in one hand and a piece of candy in the other. She had shards of glass stuck to the bottom of her feet, and not a single cut on her. A miracle, no shit.

So the upshot of all this was that the television noose tightened even more for the tall boy, and the oldest girl was banned from "all candy or candy-like treats" until she turns 35. The court of appeals eventually showed a little mercy on the candy front, but the television stayed off for years.

And I cleaned my bedroom, but not to excess.


  1. No lie - my eyebrows did raise at the "make my own playdoh" comment - thanks for clarifying!

  2. Oh, lord, I am laughing at this post. It sounds like our kids are the same age, not to mention have similar personalities. However, I have tried to purge memories such as this from my mind. Honestly -- whenever a naive 20-something pregnant woman or new mom asks me for some parenting advice, my eyes glaze over and I find myself mumbling, "Go to the good place, go to the good place." I love my kids, but I am sooooo glad those days are over. The teenage years are much easier (insert uncontrollable insane laughter here).