Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adventures in Sisterhood; Part Four - The Final Chapter

It doesn't seem that my Sister Series is generating much interest, and that makes me a little sad. But I try to write this blog for me. I don't always succeed, because comments are seductive. But catering to an audience, has, I think, resulted in the...erm, artistic compromise of a several bloggers that I really liked once upon a time.

Also, this story has a lot of personal meaning for me, for reasons that won't really be clear to those outside my immediate family who are reading the story. So here it is, like it or not. I've enjoyed writing it. I've enjoyed reliving it. I've enjoyed seeing things from my 9 year old perspective again. Because sometimes, growing up and learning the truth of things really....sucks.


And so, with great trepidation, Middle Sister and I left Baby Sister ensconced in the bathtub, and tried to make ourselves as inconspicuous as possible. We retreated to our bedroom, and in a gesture of unprecedented magnanimity, I shared my fashion plates with Middle Sister.

We colored in companionable but lackluster silence, our enthusiasm for the endeavor curbed by our precarious solidarity. We knew that it wouldn’t be long before the absence of Baby Sister was discovered. The knowledge gravely diminished the joy of mixing and matching.

My father did not possess my mother’s shrewdness in knowing just when something was up, but it wouldn’t take him long to discover Baby Sister’s absence. Three daughters out of sight are truly out of mind. But two daughters present and one small daughter unaccounted for is reason for concern.

We waited.

And all too soon, the moment of truth came.

“GIIIIIIIIIIIRLS! Lunch!”

Instead of charging down the stairs in our usual manner, one which caused my mother remark with regularity that we sounded like a herd of elephants, we slowly and soberly descended, dragged our feet through the living room, entered the kitchen and went to our respective chairs with a kind of dread that one would expect if said chair were an electrified instrument of doom.

Noting the diminished number of daughters who responded to his call, my father placed our plates before us without saying a word. He watched us munch our grilled cheese with exaggerated nonchalance. He asked the question not with his voice, but his eyes…Where is your Baby Sister?

Finally he spoke.

“Is somebody going to tell me where Baby Sister is?”

As oldest, it fell to me to be our mouthpiece.

“Gee Dad, we don’t know. We were doing fashion plates. We thought she was with you.”

“Yeah.” Said Middle Sister

If my mother had been conducting the interrogation, she would have divined immediately that something was up and that we were guilty as the day is long. My father, however, lacked that maternal perceptiveness. And even if he did suspect we were involved, he lacked the confidence to accuse us with conviction.
Mothers know that intuition is a valuable tool in their parenting arsenal. They trust it and rely on it heavily. But most fathers are not quite so convinced of the veracity of their own instincts. They doubt themselves and they doubt that inner voice.

We always knew this on some level, although if you had asked us, I doubt we could have explained it. But we knew to take advantage of it.

Now my father looked puzzled. His forehead creased with concern and consternation.

“You’re sure you don’t know where she is?”

“Yeah. We haven’t seen her.”

Middle sister decided to join in.

“You mean… you don’t know where she is either Daddy?” she said, with convincing innocence.

Her voice held just the right amount of accusation and disbelief and we both watched as my father’s demeanor evolved from suspicion, to guilt, to alarm.

“Um…no. I don’t, actually.”

We looked at each other with great meaning, and then Middle Sister stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam into the fertile green field of my father’s doubt and insecurity.

“Mom’s going to be home pretty soon.” was all she said.

“Alright girls, lunch is over! We have to find Baby Sister, pronto! Girls, you look outdoors. Make sure you check the neighbor’s yard and go all the way around the block. I’ll search the house.”

We headed outdoors, confident that we had allayed his suspicion and secured our innocence. We took our time searching the backyard and the dark, musty garage, knowing he would find Baby Sister soon enough.

We poked around in the gloomy recesses, careful to avoid cobwebs and stepping gracefully over rainbow streaked slicks of oil on the cracked cement floor. We disliked the garage, and normally avoided it at all costs, but we had to appear to be busily searching, while still remaining in earshot.

We wanted to be on the scene as quickly as possible to express our shock and dismay and to effectively diffuse any implications that Baby Sister might inadvertently cast our way.

As we expected, it didn’t take long. My Dad’s voice called to us from the bathroom window, which was located on the same side of the house as the garage.

“GIRLS! I’ve found her. She’s in the bathtub!”

His relief was evident in the tone of his voice.

We squealed with feigned jubilance and raced into the house. We pounded up the stairs to the bathroom, where our father was helping Baby Sister climb out of the tub, and looking around the bathroom with shock.

“Baby Sister, what did you DO?” he asked her.

She looked from us to him, her big blue eyes clear and guileless.

“Pay game Daddy. Fee me!”

“What?”

“Fee Pincess Daddy! Huwy!”

He was completely and totally flummoxed. He simply had no idea what she was trying to say, and looked to us beseechingly.

“Girls, do you know what she’s saying?”

“No Daddy.” said Middle Sister with conviction.

“Uh-huh.” said I.

“Just look at this MESS!” he groaned.

Baby Sister’s lip began to tremble and her eyes filled with tears. She held out her still firmly cemented little fists.

“Stuck, Daddy.”

He studied her outstretched hands and quickly realized that they were, indeed, stuck.

“Well now, that’s a problem isn’t it? Don’t worry, Squeak, we’ll fix it.”

Squeak was his pet name for her, so given because as an infant, she would emit tiny, high pitched little cries, much like that of a mouse.

He grasped her small pink wrists in his big brown hands and pulled gently. After a moment Baby Sister began to whimper. He stopped pulling and scratched thoughtfully at the flinty stuff with his thumbnail.

“Hmmmm. I think we might need to soak it off.”

He began to undress Baby Sister, but was momentarily stymied when he realized her shirt would not come off due to the unfortunate condition of her hands. He just shook his head and laughed. He left Baby Sister standing naked by the side of the tub, with her round little belly sticking out and her pink shirt dangling from her wrists while he ran water in the tub.

At some point, Baby Sister realized she had been had, because she gazed at us with an accusatory malevolence.

“Stuck.” she said to us, pouting.

Soon the tub was full and she was deposited within. Her towhead was scarcely visible above the high white sides. She churned her pudgy feet in the water and laughed when fat droplets landed on Dad’s glasses. He took them off and placed them on the edge of the sink. With his eyes denuded of their gleaming façade, it was easy to see that her clear blue gaze was a clone of his own.

“Big Sister, go down and get some dish soap from the kitchen sink for me.” My father commanded.

I dashed down, grabbed the bottle, and dashed breathlessly back up. I handed it to him, and he squeezed a liberal amount over Baby Sister’s hands. The blue liquid swirled into the hot water, making thick ribbons of color between her legs.

“Dad, why are you using dish soap?” asked Middle Sister.

He shrugged and replied “I dunno. I guess I thought it might help loosen this stuff up. It seems to work on dirty dishes, right?”

It made sense.

He pushed the sodden shirt back over her head and then massaged her wrists and fingers gently, pausing every so often to pull at her hands. Slowly, the now grimy gray sludge began to dissolve, clouding the water and scenting the bathroom once again with sweetness of honey. Finally, with a slow sucking sound, her hands separated.

Baby Sister shrieked with glee and clapped her hands. Gobs of semi solid goo went flying. It didn’t matter much, considering the thorough job we had done staging the scene. She held up her hands, beaming.

“Daddy fee me!”

“You’re hungry now? Well you did miss lunch, didn’t you?”

“Too wuv!” crowed Baby Sister.

Our poor beleaguered father once again shook his head in bewilderment.

“Someday, Squeak, I’m going to have to get you to tell me what this was all about.”

Middle Sister and I exchanged glances, fervently hoping that someday the whole thing would be long forgotten.

“Girls, please clean up this mess while I feed your sister. You’re going to need lots of soap and water. Get the bucket from under the kitchen sink.”

Under normal circumstances, we would have protested heartily at this injustice. But we knew we had dodged a bullet, and were in no mood to tempt fate further. We gathered the cleaning supplies and went to work. It took forever. In some places, the substance was so thoroughly bonded with the more porous surfaces that we had to get a butter knife to chisel it off.

By the time my mother got home, we were exhausted and remorseful and hungry, as we had missed our lunch as well. The physical exertion had ignited our appetites and now that the immediate crisis had passed, we were ravenous.

We heard her car pull into the drive, and our relief, along with the certainty that we had gotten away with it, evaporated. We both knew my mother was much cannier than my father. He had been relatively easy to dupe, but my mother was a far more formidable foe.

The back door slammed shut and voices floated up the stairs; strident, but too indistinct for us to get the gist of the conversation. Soon our mother’s footsteps were heard on the stairs, and then she was standing in the bathroom doorway, surveying the scene with her sharp gaze.

She reached into the garbage can and pulled out the empty jar. She snorted.

“My new oatmeal and honey face mask. I never even used it.”

She looked at us again but did not speak for a very long time. We knew how this game was played. She was trying to unnerve us into admitting something. All we had to do was keep our mouths shut.

Her green eyes burned through our clothing and our skin, right to the very core of our rapidly beating hearts. GUILTY guilty, GUILTY guilty, GUILTY guilty, they drubbed. The guilt oozed from our very pores. She could see it, she could hear it, she could smell it.

I could see that Middle Sister was close to cracking and I felt my own resolve crumbling in the face of her scrutiny.

But finally she said with resignation, “Someday….she’s going to be able to tell on you.”

And then she turned and left us to wallow in our own guilt.

The story of Baby Sister’s accidental "self" imprisonment has become something of a family legend. To this day my father tells of finding her in the tub with her hands cemented together.

My mother is usually the only one who doesn’t laugh. She simply looks at Middle Sister and me.

And to this day...it can makes us both squirm.

40 Comments:

  • At 6:23 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    I so totally miss my sister!

     
  • At 6:39 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    fashion plates! I had forgotten!

     
  • At 7:51 PM, Blogger cricket said…

    i *loved* my fashion plates!! i stumbled across your blog the other day, not even sure i remember how, and had to come back for the rest of the story :)

     
  • At 7:56 PM, Blogger Jammie J. said…

    I've been enjoying the series... just waiting, like a good book, to finish reading the whole thing. :)

     
  • At 7:58 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    what an awesome story. most of all...it made me long for a baby sister.

    (i was the youngest.)

     
  • At 8:29 PM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    GREAT story. I would have commented earlier if hubby hadn't left me alone with the girls for 5 days while he went to a conference in San Francisco. I'm just coming up for air.

    I love that your writing makes me feel like I'm right there, and I have a clear picture in my mind of what it all looks like. Rock on.

     
  • At 9:05 PM, Blogger ShortyMom said…

    I loved the story! Was waiting for the next installment of the series here too..

     
  • At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Laurie said…

    Too funny! I logged on this evening, hoping to find out what happened to poor Baby Sister! :) Laurie

     
  • At 9:22 PM, Blogger jen said…

    i said it earlier, and i'll say it again, i so long for the camraderie of sisters. co-conspirators.

     
  • At 10:34 PM, Blogger Bri said…

    I remember the fashion plates, too! This is a great story, thank you for sharing, and I can't believe that you never fessed up. That is a favorite holiday tradition in my family to fess up to past misdeeds when you are far enough from the crime to laugh about it.

     
  • At 11:00 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    So ... is this the first time you've confessed?

     
  • At 11:13 PM, Blogger Amanda said…

    BA, I love this story and although you say not many are reading it... who cares!?!?!

    **okay, I know you care... but it IS a great story**

    As an adult it's always been slightly fun to confess to my parents some things I had gotten away with as a child. I look forward to reading more of your confessions in the future.

    Amanda :)

     
  • At 11:51 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    This was a great story!

     
  • At 11:55 PM, Blogger Jenn said…

    I laughed out loud when I got to the part about your mother just knowing when something was up.

    My mom was a divide and conquer woman...she knew that if we were a room apart, the truth would come sailing out soon enough, since we were always afraid the other had given us up. Actually, now, I'm quite ashamed at how many times it worked, even though we'd pinky swear that we would never rat the other out.

    Sisterhood.

    There simply is nothing like it.

     
  • At 11:59 PM, Blogger Major Bedhead said…

    I loved reading this. It was fantastic.

     
  • At 4:39 AM, Blogger Polgara said…

    I have really enjoyed reading about your escapades with your sisters, why dont you think its generated much interest?

     
  • At 7:33 AM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    First, why did you think it was drawing no interest? I was waiting to comment till the end! It was a great story.

    Second -- "Someday she is going to be able to tell on you."

    The lesson all big siblings must learn...

     
  • At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Kathy said…

    I loved this mini-series! Thank you for sharing this wonderful tale of sisterhood.

     
  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    I love that your mother just knew. I have a similar story with a baby cousin, but ours involved chopping off her hair!

     
  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger KT said…

    on the contrary...I have LOVED reading this story. It's been great. Don't stop!!!!

     
  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Kim said…

    This is great! I have enjoyed each installment tremendously! See I AM the baby sister in my family :)

     
  • At 10:58 AM, Blogger WI Mommy said…

    I am enjoying it! As an only child, I love this glimpse into the lives of sisters.

     
  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Magi said…

    As the oldest of four girls, I totally loved this story. I'm not so sure you two got away with anything though. Missed lunch, cleaned up mess, guilt, and a lifetime of knowing looks from Mom, sounds like a punishment to me.

     
  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger JMC said…

    I'm sure there are a lot more people reading than you think. Great story!

     
  • At 1:08 PM, Blogger Pioneering in PA said…

    For some reason I was sulking around in no-comment mode! Just getting around to it today, and wanted to say that I loved the sisterhood series. Reminded me of my childhood!

     
  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    ha ha ha. and i love how you describe the difference in parental intuition.

     
  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    I can see why this story is still told. It's a good one!

    I can just imagine a wee girl say "Stuck" and your Mom knowing for sure you both had something to do with it.

     
  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    I, too, was waiting until the end to comment. I had a lot of fun reading about your sisterhood adventures. I was the baby sister but there was 8 years difference between me and my sister. More often than not she was trying to rescue me from the brother (3 years my senior, 5 years her junior). Stories like that make me so sad for my only child that she'll probably never get to experience that kind of closeness.

     
  • At 3:24 PM, Blogger Rositta said…

    I enjoyed the story as well, you have a nice way of telling it. I wishes I'd had a sister...ciao

     
  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger JaniceNW said…

    I've really enjoyed this series. I don't have any sisters but my brothers and I could get into the same type of trouble. You made giggle and chuckle and even feel a little guilty as I know who the real culprits were.

    Thanks.

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Maddy said…

    Your mum is a wise one indeed. Great story, super memories.

    Best wishes

     
  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    I haven't read parts 1--3 (yet) but part 4, ACES. Fantastic tale, beautifully written.

    Thank you.

     
  • At 8:33 PM, Anonymous pgoodness said…

    I sure missed out not having sisters. Great story, well-written! That mother-induced self guilt is amazing. I hope I can do that to my kids someday!

     
  • At 12:38 AM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    As the youngest, I was always the one that got experimented on.

     
  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I need to learn, as a mother, how to make kids feel guilty for what they've done wrong without yelling or grounding. It seems to be much more effective when it's self inflicted.

    Great story, Mama :)

     
  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger Jaime said…

    I've also totally enjoyed reading the installments of the story - just had nothing constructive to add! :)

     
  • At 7:39 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    I don't see how anyone couldn't have been interested in this series, BA. I gasped, excitedly, when I saw "Part Four" in my Bloglines. I love it when you do a series, and this was no exception.

    I think what made me like this series so much is the sibling dynamic that you paint so well. It's fascinating to me, who grew up an only child. I really enjoyed the way you described the three of you, as individuals and as siblings.

     
  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    Bah. All my comments are being eaten today.

    Truly, one of the only things that makes my stomach drop is that "knowing" look that Moms have. Like they can read your mind.

    Dear God, do we have that look now?

     
  • At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Lisa said…

    I live in fear of this very thing. My girls are 3 and 1 - I see a lot of "incidents" like this in my future!

     
  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger Drowning Pisces said…

    Well woven my dear! Brava...

     

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