Flashing and Other Talents

On a mildly cool winter night 25 some-odd years ago, my family and I attended a Christmas music program at our church. I was going to be singing a few songs with my preschool class, so I arrived dressed to the nines in a pretty red dress, white pantyhose, and black patent shoes.

I was ready for action.


Once my tiny classmates and I were neatly lined up on the sanctuary steps, the pianist took her seat and began playing the accompaniment. Under the direction of our teachers, my class and I sang the first of our Jesus-related songs. I don’t remember what song it was, but I’m sure we butchered it, because preschoolers are terrible but hilarious performers. I’m sure there was lots of fidgeting, blank staring, and nose-picking going on. Nevertheless, we made it through our first song, and then the music began for the second one.

And that’s when things got weird.

No, that’s not true. Things didn’t passively get weird. I made them weird.

Those of you who read my blog regularly might have gotten a slightly inaccurate impression of me. In my writing, particularly on a blog where I’m unidentifiable to the majority of readers, I’m free to get a little … goofy. Theatrical. Totes inapprops.  On here, I use language and make jokes that I wouldn’t typically make in person, except in the presence of my closest friends. In a way, y’all know me better than many of the people I see on a regular basis. In real life, I’m a bit more reserved and professional until I’m comfortable with you. Then I unleash the crazy.

I was just as quiet and well-mannered as a little bitty girl. I was no one’s definition of a wild child. I want to make sure you fully understand just how much of a goody-goody I was, because it makes my behavior that evening that much more bizarre.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe I zoned out and thought I was at home. Maybe I was bored and thought the music program needed a little spicing up. We will never know what was going through my warped little brain.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s get down to it.

Pop Quiz: What did Amanda do in the middle of her conservative Baptist Christmas music program, attended by her pastor and lots of impressionable children?

A. Barked at the audience
B. Punched a kid next to me
C. Lifted my dress up above my head
D. Muttered “red rum” in a demonic voice
E. Both A and C

If you chose A, B, or D, you probably didn’t pay much attention to the title of this post. The answer, my friends, is E. While my classmates sweetly sang songs about angels and mangers, I decided to take the performance in a different direction. I began by unleashing some ferocious barks at the audience, and when that didn’t seem quite “spicy” enough, I lifted the skirt of my dress right above my head, exposing my panty-hosed little tummy and bare chest to the world.

I turned every adult in that audience into accidental and unwilling pedophiles.

Here’s a photo that my parents were kind enough to snap before they hunched down in the pews and pretended not to know me. As you can see, my teachers are frantically motioning for me to put my dress down, while my pilgrim classmates stare at me with either judgment or jealousy.


Admirably, I was undeterred by my protestors. I didn’t let their negativity hold me back. I cared not about my family’s embarrassment, and my barking noises intimidated others from trying to remove me from the stage.

Like the determined creature I am, I continued my peepshow-slash-animal-impersonation act until my class’s performance was complete.  As the audience awkwardly applauded my religious striptease, I like to think that I took a confident bow and strutted off the stage. I also like to think that I then made a full transformation into a werewolf and began climbing on the furniture.

But I probably just stood there, unblinking, until one of my teachers hurriedly pulled me away.

We all know that the Christmas season is all about peace, joy, and junk food, but I think it should probably also be about making amends with people you’ve wronged. I’m willing to be the one to get this fad started, so here are some holiday-themed apology notes I will be writing this year:

Dear preschool classmates,
I apologize for overshadowing you in the Christmas program. I’m pretty certain NO ONE in the audience, including your own parents, was watching you be adorable and well-behaved when there was a disaster to behold two feet away. If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure your moms and dads were thanking their lucky stars that they were going home with you, and not me.

Dear preschool teachers,
I apologize for my artistic, but nonetheless unauthorized, change to your fine program. Training toddlers to memorize and perform songs is a maddening task, I’m sure. I’m certain that you wish I hadn’t chosen that particular venue to unveil my new talent, and I’m sure Jesus wishes that as well. I’m also sorry if you later had to apologize to traumatized church-goers for my skanky behavior.

Dear parents,
You probably deserve an apology for the immense embarrassment I caused, but heck – you’re the ones who raised me in the first place. You should just feel lucky that I didn’t do that shit more often.

Does anyone else have a history of flashing or streaking? What other things did you do as children that embarrassed your parents?



Happy Birthday, Just in Queso!

This blog-child of mine has officially been in existence for one year now! Yay! In honor of this event, I’ve decided to write an EPIC  poem that shamelessly links back to previous posts.

Just to be clear, I’m not calling it “epic” in order to compliment it. (Although I DO compliment my blog. I love you, blog. You’re beautiful.) No, an epic poem is one that is long, and usually about some sort of heroic feat.  The definition doesn’t stipulate what “long” means, nor does it specify what entails a “heroic feat,” so I’m going to take advantage of this loophole and refer to my work here as epic.

After all, one MIGHT say that keeping a blog is a heroic feat. I don’t know who that person is, but they very well could exist.

I’m just going to leave this here and back away slowly before you can argue with me…

It’s my one-year blogiversary
And of that, I’m pretty proud
So I thought I’d write a little ditty
Reliving my posts out loud.

How many posts have I written?
The answer’s one hundred and seven.
And in a moment of poetic perfection,
My followers are two hundred and eleven.

As you may have figured out by now,
I am a dedicated fan of cheese
I’ve tested many quesos in this joint
In search of the ones that please.

Texican Café’s was too greasy, and
Super Taco’s was way too thin.
Chili’s was a revelation:
Calling that shit “queso” should be a sin.

Shady Grove was pretty good, but
Even better was Jack Allen’s Kitchen
I could really go for some of that right now
That pork was really bitchin’.

The most recent trip: Texas Chili Parlor;
The journey started with Kerbey Lane.
Sazon was in the lead for months,
Until Mamacita’s set us aflame.

Some quesos are spooned in tortillas
Others have been dipped with chips
Some let us make our own concoctions
But they all had us licking our lips.

Let’s move on from queso now
‘Cause I could talk about it hours.
Don’t believe me? Read this love poem
That stuff has magical powers.

I’ve written about my hatred of birds
And my love for all things dolphin
I’ve admitted my desire to kidnap dogs,
Which would be an easy feat in Austin.

I’ve  penned a letter to my router
And another to my laptop
I’ve made a Christmas drinking game
And I’ve narrowly escaped a cop.

Let me think what else I’ve done
Oh! I’ve house-sat like a boss.
I’ve learned a lot from Jerry Springer,
And I’ve also defended Ross.

At times I’ve confessed to telling lies
Like that time I called 911
Or that genius scheme to steal all the chocolate,
Or what I do for Sunday fun.

My family isn’t safe from spotlight –
You’ve heard about Mom, Dad, and Grandma.
They weren’t too thrilled with my “pantyless” tale
(But they should be used to my choices by now.)

In an ideal world I’d include ALL my posts
But that poem would be meters long.
My brain is too full of useless info,
But for my finale: here’s the carb song.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time over this past year to read my posts, and even better, leave comments with your thoughts! I love you all, and if I were having a birthday party for my blog, I’d totally invite you over for cake. Unless the cake was that multi-layer fudgy chocolate kind, and then I’m not sharing any. You understand.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and am looking forward to the next kabillion years of blog-keeping! ❤


Diagnostic Manual of Annoying Child Behaviors


Last week, I traveled to South Carolina to spend a few days at the beach with my parents, niece, and nephew. My brother and his family live in SC while I’m in Texas, so I only get to see them once or twice a year. Needless to say, I really look forward to these trips, and always have fun with my niece and nephew. They’re sweet, funny, and charming little children.

However, they’re also children. Meaning they do irritating things sometimes.

In a previous post, I’ve talked about the fact that I question whether or not I want to have kids of my own. Before you throw rocks and pitchforks at me, just know that I happen to love kids, and even work with them in my job. Willingly. But I haven’t yet decided whether I want to subject myself to the never-ending, 24/7 responsibility of raising kids of my own.

As much fun as  I truly had with my little look-alike minions, some events of our vacation last week further reminded me about my hesitance. From an academic (read: nerdy) viewpoint, I was sort of fascinated by some of their behaviors.

“Why are you doing that? It’s weird. Stop.” – Me, every few minutes.

Part of my role as a therapist is to make diagnoses, and I found myself wondering whether some of my niece’s and nephew’s “quirks” might fall under brand new disorders. Feeling intrigued by this idea, I decided to create some new disorders all on my own.

Again, before you throw rocks and pitchforks, this is all in good fun 😉

Selective Speed of Movement
This is similar to Selective Mutism, an actual diagnosis in which children are unable to speak in certain settings due to intense social anxiety. You may also have heard of “selective hearing,” a phrase typically assigned to middle-aged men who seem to hear only what they want to hear.

Selective Speed of Movement applies to children who (at times) can move very, very quickly, such as when you tell them, “Go change into your swimsuit so we can go to the pool.”

Other times, these same children appear to become like sloths in a vat of maple syrup: Every. Tiny. Movement. Seems. To. Take. A. Great. Deal. Of. Effort. This hasn’t yet been studied in a lab, so it’s possible that syrup-covered sloths are actually quicker than the children.

This phenomenon is most likely to be triggered when you say something like, “Go brush your teeth.”

Overwhelming Urge to Press Buttons
Children with this mental disorder have an extreme desire to press any kind of button – microwave, elevator, figurative, etc. If you come across a child with severe OUPD and happen to push a button before they got the chance, prepare for their wrath. There will be whining, there will be angry faces. There may even be dramatic proclamations that you’ve ruined their day.

Misunderstanding of What Constitutes Fun for Adults
Symptoms include:

  • Asking you to watch them play their video game
  • Wanting to poke you in the face with various objects
  • Farting on you
  • Using your body as their personal diving board in the swimming pool
  • Expressing disappointment when you turn down any of the above activities


Inappropriate Internal Clock
This is a seasonal disorder that applies to children who wake up on summer days at 6:32 a.m. for no reason.

Pointless Competitiveness
Sometimes it’s good to have a little competition – it fosters hard work and determination, and there are lessons to be learned about both winning and losing.


But Pointless Competitiveness applies to scenarios where it makes no sense to compete, and there’s no clear winner. Children exhibiting PC might do any of the following:

  • Ruthlessly fight their way to be out the door first, despite arriving to the destination no quicker than anyone else
  • Passionately argue about who is the better “shuffler” (of cards)
  • Loudly declare that they have the smelliest feet



For those of you who have kids, know kids, or were once kids yourselves, what do you think of these (fake) disorders? Did any of them ring a bell for you? What would you add to this list?


I’ve Returned from the Beyond


After a week-long trip to South Carolina to visit my family, I’m finally back! I haven’t posted anything in over a week, which is the longest I’ve gone since I started this blog in October.

I was starting to experience blogging-related withdrawals. It wasn’t pretty.

I’ll have a couple of stories to post later in the week about my trip, but I wanted to go ahead and let y’all know that I’m back and I missed you so much! Every single one of you. Except for those of you who hate things like blueberry poptarts and cheese. What’s wrong with you, anyway? Why do you hate fun?

Oh, and P.S. – Last week, I entered Sometimes Stellar Storyteller’s 6-word story contest and came in 2nd place! Woo hoo! If you haven’t heard about Nicola’s blog and/or her contest, go check it out! She runs this contest each week, with a new theme/prompt posted on Saturday mornings. Everyone (even if you don’t participate in the contest) can vote on their favorites. Last week’s theme was “insult,” and this was my entry:

 “This dinner you made is…interesting.”

 I’d like to thank my friend’s well-meaning-but-super-condescending mother-in-law for the inspiration behind this entry.

P.S. #2 – I came home from vacation to discover that my Directv satellite is out. It’s going to take a week for a technician to come look at it, and I’ll apparently have to pay him $50 for the visit. I feel like this is the universe’s way of saying I should get  rid of the satellite all together and make the move to Netflix.

That’s right. The galaxies, stars, planets, and moons all aligned in such a way as to tell me that I should find a new method of digital entertainment.

So, all of you Netflix-seasoned people out there, what are your favorite shows and movies? What would you recommend for me to watch? My favorites so far (after mooching off my friend’s account) are Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, IT Crowd, and Arrested Development, but I’m open to any suggestions – comedies, dramas, documentaries, etc.

April Foolishness

Some of the photos and screenshots I took on my phone during the month of April do a pretty good job of reflecting how the month went for me in general:


Got creative for dinner one Friday night. It was a tough week, okay?


Worked on my crochet temperature blanket – the color of each row depends on what the temperature was in my area that day.  I add one row every single day for one year, so it’s going to be gargantuan when it’s done.  Have a herd of cows that you need to keep warm next winter? I’ll send you this blanket.

(The wine is to help me forget my recurrent nightmares that the blanket is slowly smothering me to death.)


Celebrated Ice Cream Grandma’s 90th birthday. True story: mere moments before we left for the (surprise) party, my rapscallion grandmother groaned and said, “I hope no one tries to throw me a party. I hate parties.” Gulp.


Reminded myself that grad school was totally worth all that time and money and stress and studying and money and test-taking and money. I’m sure it won’t take me a kajillion years to pay off my student loans. Everything’s fine! (Excuse me while I cry into my cereal.)

Tried three new quesos! All the ever lovin’ cheese a girl could want.One was from Billy’s on Burnet, and the other two reviews are still to come.


Casually strolled around my neighborhood and pretended like it was enough exercise to burn off all the cheese I had eaten earlier in the day.


Remembered yet again that I have bad luck ordering clothes from online. Example A: the bikini top that looks cute at first,  until you realize that the cups are a mile apart. Seriously, what kind of mutant boobs are THIS far apart?

If anyone has ideas for fixing it, I’m all ears. Because otherwise, I’m getting out my machete and about 60 safety pins. You haven’t won yet, Amazon!

And last but not least, I laughed at a conversation that took place between my fellow cheese-judger Amanda, her sister Katrina, and me:


It’s unclear which “Amanda” Katrina was referring to here, but it’s true either way. The love we have for gooey cheese is far more romantic, stable, and enduring than many other love stories.

All in all, my April brought some stressful days, but also lots of days of celebration and cheese. What was your April like? I’d love to see what kind of pictures you took throughout the month.

P.S. – Anyone want to make bets as to how long the blanket will measure once it’s completed in a few months? The winner can have…the satisfaction that comes with being a really good guesser.

She’s My Grandma, and You Can’t Have Her

In honor of my grandmother turning 90 next week, I decided to do an entire post just about her. There are a lot of reasons why my grandma is treasured by her family and friends, but I narrowed the evidence to a few simple points.

Before you get any ideas about kidnapping her and keeping her as your own, just know that she’s mine. I found her first, and claimed her in the name of France.

Ahem. Anyway…

 Here are 6 things to admire about my grandma:

 1. Her Personality

Like many women her age, my Grandma is a refined, respectable lady. She wears hair scarves on windy days, and pantyhose under her pants. Rarely have I ever heard her curse or say an unkind word.

But my Grandma ain’t no push over, either. She damn well does what she pleases, and doesn’t really care what others say about it. She’s a ninety-pound firecracker – and all of us are just a teensy bit afraid of her wrath.

2. Her Surprisingly Progressive Views

My grandmother was born in 1926. Considering the vastly different times she grew up in, it’s understandable that she holds a few old-school views.

But she’s always encouraged my educational and career goals, and has pulled me aside more than once to suggest that *if I keep my career when I get married*, I should make sure my spouse helps out with cooking and cleaning, because it wouldn’t be fair for me to do it all.

Not too shabby, Grandma.

(* to *) denotes the presence of old-schoolishness

3. Her Pride for Her Family

Grandma tells just about everyone she meets that she has a psychologist granddaughter. It’s very sweet.

Unfortunately, it’s also inaccurate. And no matter how many times I’ve explained that a master’s degree ≠ psychologist, she chooses to believe what she wants.

4. Her Loyalty to TV Personalities  

About two years ago, I had shingles. I happened to visit my grandparents’ house while I still had it, because I was in town for a couple days and hadn’t seen them in awhile. Grandma wasn’t thrilled about my visit, because she was concerned about catching the virus from me.

…That’d be an understandable fear, if it were scientifically possible. In truth, no one “catches” shingles from another person – if you’ve had chicken pox (which she’d had), the virus is already in your body.

According to Grandma, however, Barbara Walters had said on The View that she caught it from hugging someone, and apparently, an octogenarian journalist is more believable than actual doctors.

(Grandma still let me and my shingles visit, but she wouldn’t let me touch anything, and when she suggested that I take a seat on the couch, I noticed that there was a towel spread down for me.

Yes, a towel. As though I were a mangy dog.)

 5. Her Sense of Humor

Not too long ago, my motorcycle-riding father decided that it was his life’s dream to see my tiny grandmother sit on his bike. Willing to humor my father, who’s not even her child, Grandma perched on the motorcycle while the rest of the family died laughing. And took pictures.

Actual photo of the motorcycle incident. Protected Grandma’s identity so no one can Grandma-nap her.


And the thing I (and my family) most admire about Grandma:

6. Her Black Hole of a Stomach

My itty bitty grandmother can put away a LOT of food. She regularly out-eats the larger men in my family, and could probably give your average sumo wrestler a run for his money. I’ve watched her neatly devour a plate of barbecue ribs and cornbread, and then ask for seconds. And thirds.

It’s like something out of a sci fi movie – no one’s quite sure where all the food goes once she swallows it.

But her real love, the key to her heart, is ice cream – which is how my friend and I came to nickname her “Ice Cream Grandma.” Simple, yet accurate.


To sum her up in a sentence, my grandmother is a polite, progressively traditional lady who could kick your ass in a hot-dog eating contest. (And then probably admonish me for the using the word “ass.”)

Anyone else have a firecracker, food-loving grandma? I’d love to hear more Grandma stories!

We May Not be Fancy, but We’re Fun

My mom arrived in town tonight for a weekend of shopping, eating, and other mother-daughter shenanigans.

With nothing on T.V., we decided to watch a movie, and Mom picked A Perfect Murder, a dark and twisty 1998 film with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s a great watch, if you’ve never seen it. But you probably won’t want to see it, because I’m about to ruin a huge aspect of the plot: Emily doesn’t die, you guys.

Paltrow’s character, Emily, comes from a very affluent family. After surviving her own attempted murder (and killing her attacker in self-defense), she goes to stay with her mother in a huge-ass mansion. And then the mother and daughter team put on their finest cardigans and headbands, and sit down to a comforting dinner – complete with fine china and silver serving dishes.

Because that’s what you do for someone who was nearly murdered. Obviously.

A PERFECT MURDER, Gwyneth Paltrow, Constance Towers, 1998, (c)Warner Bros.

Taking in this scene with more than a little judgment, I turn to my Mom.

“Can you imagine you and I having a casual mother-daughter dinner where we eat off silver and china?” (And discuss the guy I just killed.)

Mom didn’t hesitate to answer. “Nope. No, I can’t.”

“We’re more of the eating-pizza-on-the-couch-in-our-yoga-pants variety of people, aren’t we?”

Mom nodded. “And the pizza came from Walmart.”

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Maybe I Don’t Want Kids

I decided I wanted to do something a bit different for this post, so it’s both longer and seriouser than what I usually write. Fair warning.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m really not sure that I ever want to have kids.

I have liked children and enjoyed being around them pretty much my entire life. I was still in elementary school when I started baby-sitting younger children in my neighborhood, and by middle school, I was watching babies.

(Now that I’m an adult, I seriously question the sanity of any parent who would leave an infant with an untrained eleven-year-old, but that’s beside the point.)

For a few summers in a row, I even held “mini camps,” where all the children in my neighborhood could descend on my house for a few hours for snacks, art projects, and outdoor activities.

The camps were lots of fun – and also probably illegal, once you took the child-to-caregiver ratio into account.


It’s a bit tricky to explain my line of thinking in regards to having kids. I think most people hear about others not wanting children, and assume it’s because they either dislike them, or because they have circumstances that get in the way of child-rearing, such as fancy, high-powered jobs.

Neither of those is true for me. I have worked at daycares, I have worked in foster care, and I currently work as a child and adolescent counselor. I’m also quite close with my niece and nephew. I very much do like children.

But I still don’t know that I want my kids of my own.

Through all the baby-sitting, child care, and counseling, I have experienced many amazing moments with kids. I have rocked sleepy babies, I have witnessed toddlers’ awe at discovering new things, I have giggled with preschoolers, and I have had fascinating conversations with older children and teens.

I have felt total elation at being a part of so many “firsts” – first steps, first days of school, first time swimming without floaties. I have played dress-up, acted as a tickle monster, made up songs, painted tiny fingernails, and cooked pancakes in the shape of hearts – all while genuinely enjoying myself.

However, I have also experienced what it’s like to hold a screaming baby in one arm, stir dinner with the other, and shout at the toddlers in the next room to share their toys. I have changed diapers, only for them to be dirtied again with seconds. I have been in public with bloodshot eyes, a pale face, uncombed hair, and spit-up on my shoulder.


I have known the bewilderment and frustration of having a child throw a temper tantrum for reasons I don’t understand, and can therefore do nothing about. And I have, at times, dare I say, been annoyed by the antics of overexcited kids.

Gasp. Better notify the church elders.

If you’re a parent, or have provided childcare in some way, you’re probably thinking, “But everyone gets annoyed with kids sometimes! Everyone has days where they want to pull their hair out!”And you would be absolutely right.

But the difference is, on the days that I feel annoyed and stressed out, I am still being PAID for my services. Big difference.

Also, at the end of a long day, I can go home to a quiet apartment, take a hot shower without little hands banging on the door, and go to sleep in a bed not covered in cheerios. Parents don’t have those luxuries.


Maybe this is selfish, but I find the idea of having to cater to a tiny person’s needs, 24/7, with NO time for myself, terrifying. Props to all of you who do it.

One thing I’ve learned through countless discussions with parents, whether in my role as a children’s counselor, or simply with friends and family, is this:

Parenting is hard, y’all.

It is a never-ending job in a company that you have no hope of moving “up” in. There are no lunch breaks, no sick days, and the boss is not at all understanding if you find the work overwhelming. There are many, many “thankless” jobs out there, where employees don’t receive much positive feedback from customers (or employers) – but parents have it way worse.

Children actually don’t say things like, “Thank you for prohibiting me from skateboarding in the street, Mommy. I understand now you were trying to protect me from being run over and killed, and I appreciate your concern for my safety, and your desire to see me live. Let’s have some tea.”

Paradoxically, even though everyone seems to understand and agree that parenting is difficult, everyone on the planet LOVES to criticize parents – especially other parents!

We shake our fingers at those who we perceive as being too harsh, and roll our eyes at those we see as being too lenient. We turn up our noses at the sight of toddlers tantruming at Walmart, disregarding the times that our own children (or baby-sitting charges) did the same thing.

We conveniently forget what it feels like to be that stressed, confused, embarrassed parent, in favor of judging them so we can feel better about our own skills.


Is it really so odd that I might want to spare myself from these types of challenges?

For me, the advantages of having children are about equal with the disadvantages. The one thing that may very well push me over the edge is fear – if I don’t have kids, I think there’s a very real possibility of reaching old age and regretting my decision. To be fair, it’s also possible that I’d reach old age and feel perfectly content with my choices, but the fear of maybe being regretful and sad just might be enough to convince me.

We’ll see what happens.

Bar Chart (2)

In-Laws and Mace

As an unmarried person, I’m lucky to be spared the horror of in-laws visiting my cozy little home and making life uncomfortable.



However, one of my friends recently faced this unfortunate circumstance. I watched her stress about getting her house cleaned, cooking meals her in-laws would like, and holding her tongue during controversial conversations.

As an attempt to cheer her – and the rest of you married folk – up, I wrote (and semi-plagiarized) this little ditty.

Sing to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”

First I was afraid,
I was petrified.
About my in-laws coming to stay for four long nights.
But then I spent so many hours
Knocking back bottles of booze,
I put down my noose.
‘Cause I had nothing left to lose!

And so I schmoozed
With my in-laws.
We talked religion and politics,
And I had to hold back my claws.
I had to set a good example,
So I kept a smile on my face.
But what I really wanted to do
Was spray everyone with mace!

“Go on now, go – walk out the door!
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore!”
Oh, how I’d love to say these things to them,
But I’ll keep them to myself,
…and have another glass of gin!

Somehow I will,
I will survive.
If I have to hide in the bathroom,
At least I’ll stay alive.
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got no fucks left to give
I will survive!
I will survive!

‘Twas the Best of Lies, ‘Twas the Worst of Lies

When I was little, Christmas Day usually involved opening presents with my parents and brother at home, before making the long journey to my grandparents’ house. And by long journey, I mean two streets over from my house.

Every year, my family followed roughly the same routine. My cousin Lauren and I were elected to pass out everyone’s gifts like little servants elves, and then we all opened them at the same time. After presents, we’d eat a tasty lunch of warm ham, soft rolls, and Grandma’s baked “cheese and macaroni” (as she calls it.)

As respectable as lunch was, my true interest lied with the desserts. Each Christmas, Grandma’s laundry room would turn into a veritable museum of sweets, with her washer and dryer serving as a display table of brownies and candies and pies. (Oh, my!)

It was every kid’s dream.


Unfortunately, the adults limited us poor, inferior children to two desserts apiece. As an adult, I now understand why people might want to avoid herds of sugar-crazed, chocolate-covered children climbing the walls and swinging from the ceiling fans; as a little kid, a limit of two desserts was akin to cruel and unusual punishment.

And I was not going to stand for that kind of treatment any longer.

One year, after lunch, Lauren and I headed to one of the extra bedrooms to play. Once we were alone, we paced the floors, thinking. We wanted more dessert. We needed more dessert. We just weren’t sure how to get our hands on it.

We brainstormed our options.


And then inspiration struck.

Lauren and I both had play strollers for our baby dolls, and we worked quickly to buckle our babies into their seats, even lovingly placing blankets over their laps. Then, we casually sauntered into the living room, meeting the glances of our family members as they paused in their conversations to admire us. We smiled sweetly, fully playing up the part of two cute little girls with their dolls.

“Just on a walk with our dollies!” we sang, oh-so-innocently.

We continued to stroll through the kitchen until we arrived safely, and unquestioned, in the laundry room. Like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, we frantically grabbed at fudge and cookies and candy, stuffing them in the strollers, under baby dolls, probably even in our pockets – anywhere that they wouldn’t be seen.


Then, just as nonchalantly as before, we wandered back through the living room, forcing ourselves to walk slowly. We smiled pleasantly, but not too excitedly, so as to not arouse suspicion. Soon, we were back in the bedroom. Our plan had worked. We were alone with the desserts.

And we scarfed it down like deranged animals. Or just deranged human children.


Not satisfied by the first round (or pound) of chocolate, we repeated this process a few times. Each time, our “casual” behavior grew more and more erratic.

“Just on a walk with our dollies!” we screeched, our eyes wide-open and unblinking from a sugar rush. If an adult looked at us oddly, we grinned in a psychotic manner and gestured clumsily at our dolls. Nothing to see here, folks. Just some children taking their dolls on a walk!

It wasn’t until our fourth or fifth trip through the living room that our parents finally narrowed their eyes at us. “What are you girls up to?” they asked, their voices full of suspicion. “You’re not going in there to get sweets, are you?”

“Noooo!” we replied in fake, squeaky voices, because kids are terrible liars. With demented smiles still plastered on our faces, we made panicky U-turns with our strollers and veered back to the bedroom. Obviously, the grown-ups were on to us. Even in our chocolate-induced delirium, we knew better than to press our luck.

For our parents’ sakes, I’d like to say they figured us out and prevented us from doing this at future holiday gatherings. But that’d be a lie. We repeated this devious and greedy plot for a few years without ever being caught in the act.

Unfortunately, our grandparents did figure out our secret when they eventually rearranged the furniture in that bedroom and discovered a massive pile of empty candy wrappers under the bed. Basically, we were clever enough to secretly steal large amounts of food, but not smart enough to get rid of the evidence.