Touch of Spice

Food for thought


When I walked in the house, I wasn't sure if it was dinner time or Halloween. Katie was covered, from the bridge of her nose to the tip of her chin, in an unbroken sheet of orange.

She was a happy girl.

Katie loves all things that come in red sauce pizza, ravioli, lasagna. Those are meals that the dog, sadly, doesn't get to share until she gets the chance to lick them out of the corners of the high chair.

Katie loves ravioli so much that after she cleaned her plate, she cleaned her plate.

She gave me a red-toothed grin and then picked up her plate and started licking it. That's how she got it on her nose.

I deal with red sauce in advance. Katie eats naked when I'm in charge.

Her father, on the other hand, opts for the quickest way to stop the screaming (or the quickest way to be able to fully concentrate on the game, I'm not sure which). He put her in her chair fully clothed and bibless!

I can't blame him, Katie's usually a neat eater, but refried beans and ravioli bring out the worst in her, and the best in my limited stain-treating skills.

But getting marinara sauce out of a white shirt isn't the worst part of the process. It's getting it off of Katie.

Katie doesn't like to have her face touched. Try it with a wet washcloth and you have a full-scale, no-rules revolt that takes two people or all four limbs and some training as a gymnast to win.

We start with the hands, because when the games begin, you really don't want to have to dodge those quick little ravioli-covered fingers. You're usually too distracted to notice they're in your hair, on the walls and digging into the carpet.

Also, for some reason, Katie thinks hand-washing is a game.

Before we advance to the face we say, "OK, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way."

She always chooses the hard way. Always.

So the games, and the screaming, begin.

Katie screams, too. She sobs. Big tears leak down her cheeks in response to the abuse she's receiving.

Yeah, whatever. My heart bleeds for you. Get over it.

I'm not very sympathetic when there's tomato paste in my eyes.

To get her face, and her ears, and the inside of her nose clean, I employ the same tactic I use when a bulb sucker is needed to clean her nose: I lay on the floor with Katie fasten securely between my legs, her head held securely in the crook of one arm.

Sound easy?

It's not.

There are still two little arms flailing around and inhibiting your progress.

I pin one under one leg and the other under my shoulder.

I tell her not to fight, I'm bigger than she is, but she's dead set in favor of proving to me that size doesn't matter.

She's almost got me convinced. Weighing in at 22 pounds and standing 32 inches tall, my little poop-snot is a lot stronger than she looks and packs a lot of punch. Add that to her naturally slipperiness, and it's only by sheer strength of will that I win (mostly).

I release her and she backs off, both of us with newfound respect and a little wariness. To show there are no hard feelings I cut her a slice of apple, and she gives me a kiss.

There's still a trace of red in her eyebrow and behind her ear.

I decided it adds character.

You've got to pick you battles.

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