Maria’s been missing from the library for a few days and our patrons are panicking. When co-worker Jen’s jokes about Maria being incarcerated get stale, we resort to telling the truth: our pint-sized buddy has, once again, gone under the knife. It’s the final “boob voyage” and therefore (we hope) the final surgery. You can’t reconstruct what isn’t there. By the way, nobody blinked an eye when we mentioned jail time.
Another surgery means another guest column from me, Maria’s pal. Over the holidays, I visited my older sister Lori in Dallas, Texas. Lori has four children—Elisabeth, 10, Adrienne, 8, Daniel, 7, and Tex, 3. My sister and the kids visit every summer and, though they love their Aunt Anne, they may love Miss Maria even more. After handing out the 15 presents Maria loaded me up with, I spent most of my time with the kids making get-well movies for Miss Maria (cards are so 1999).
Here’s what six days, four kids and Miss Maria’s sage advice via text messages looks like:
My brother-in-law is a candy addict, which means when I’m visiting I’m always shoveling something in my mouth bound to break a tooth.
Anne: OK, Tex is following me around the house because I have a bag of Red Hots. He keeps screaming at me that he just wants one. Now he’s crying. What do I do?
Maria: Give him a handful of them. He will hate them. He will scream. He will cry. He will barf. Then go in the bathroom and lock the door.
A few tornadoes whipped through the Dallas area over Christmas, wreaking havoc.
Anne: I’m getting emergency warnings on my phone that there’s a tornado warning here. My sister decides now is a good time to take a shower and tells me, “If you hear the tornado sirens, just move all the kids to the hall closet.” Freaking out. We’re now in the closet.
Maria: Do you have food? I hope you at least grabbed a bag of that Willy Wonka crap you keep eating. Plus vodka. Please tell me you have vodka!
Anne: I’m so thirsty.
Maria: You probably need a tuna wrap, too.
Anne: I do. Pray for me.
Maria: You know, drinking one’s urine or that of a comrade during war time was a common practice.
My niece Elisabeth is an amazing rock climber. She decides to take me to her indoor climbing gym one morning.
Anne: I just climbed up 10 feet and then had a panic attack. I kept yelling to Elisabeth there was no way I could climb back down. Some guy told me to “let go, man, and hit the mats” so I did.
Maria: What? Here’s what I would have done. I would have first picked up a coffee, a croissant and a People magazine. I would make sure she was well chaperoned by someone. Anyone. Not me. I would then find a corner and read my magazine. Everyone’s happy.
Anne: So we went to the science museum and Lori put me in charge of Tex for three minutes. He jumped up into a dinosaur display and I had to chase him around these crazy jagged rocks while a bunch of employees yelled that we weren’t allowed up there. Two moms laughed at me.
Maria: Look, whenever you lose track of a kid, treat him like a dog. Use treats to entice him back to where he belongs! A lollipop, Double Bubble, Hershey Kisses, a Xanax or rawhide will all work. Then when he comes back say “good boy,” pat him on the head and put in him back in his cage.
Anne: Daniel is super whiny today.
Maria: Here’s what Gramma Plesnar used to do: line us all up and give each of us a huge serving spoon of Jack Daniels. Just a thought. Or, just give him Benadryl.
Maybe I should have waited until they weaned her off meds before I asked for her sage advice.