So then…she shrieks, “The fly! The fly is on my food!”
At age 5, Chloe is absolutely terrified of a fly that’s been menacing her for the past hour. I’m beyond exasperated.
She is a little tired – and the fly is rather huge, persistently buzzing around her head and her plate, no matter how often we shoo him away. But she’s driving me crazy with her squalling.
I try to remember how my parents handled such histrionics when I was a kid.
My Dad would have laughed and said, “Don’t worry, honey. He won’t eat much.”
I try this on Chloe.
Chloe squeals, “But the fly is DIRTY! He’s making my food DIIIIRTY!”
I think about how my Mom would handle this.
Whenever my siblings or I would complain about an apple falling in the playground dirt – or sand blowing on a popsicle at the beach – Mom would say authoritatively, “Oh, go ahead and eat it. They say you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die anyway.”
Who says that? At the time, I remember being instantly worried about that concept as my sandy popsicle dripped on my little 7-year-old self.
Is that a law? Does the government say I have to eat a peck of dirt before I die?
Who’s monitoring that? What possible program has been put in place to ensure I eat a peck of dirt during my lifetime?
And if I avoid dirt, will I live longer?
What a brilliant age-defying scheme! I need to tell people this:
Want to live longer? Eat less dirt.
And how much is a peck anyway? What unit of measurement is that?
I know what a gallon is – and a pound – and a cup. But what’s a peck?
I’ve heard of a bushel and a peck.
Is a peck as big as a bushel? Because a bushel is HUGE! Do I have to eat THAT much dirt in my lifetime? I’m really worried now. Maybe I should set up a quota system to ensure I get all that dirt in – maybe a tablespoon a week? Two tablespoons? And do I eat it right off the spoon – or maybe ask for it to be cooked into spaghetti sauce? How am I going to manage this whole new requirement? A peck of dirt!
“THE FLY IS BITING MEEEEEE!”
Chloe’s cry brings me back to the present with a jolt. She is now jumping around the kitchen, flapping her arms and screeching about the fly.
I’m trying to swat the fly away from her, while maintaining a calm composure. “It’s just a little fly, honey, it’s not going to hurt you.”
“YES IT IS! THE FLY, THE FLY, GET IT OFF OF ME!”
“Honey, it’s nowhere near you. You’ve got to calm down.”
More shrieking, more crying, more flapping. She’s inconsolable.
“Chloe, let’s just go upstairs, OK. It’s close to bedtime anyway.”
“NO NO NO THE FLY WILL FOLLOW ME!!!”
I say, impatiently, as though that’s a ridiculous idea, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to fly upstairs.”
She whips her head around in disbelief: “What do you mean he’s not going to ‘fly upstairs?’ He’s a FLY! That’s what they DO!!”
Um, excuse me, I’m going to the backyard for my daily dose of dirt.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any insects/animals that freak out your kids? Do you say absurd things to calm your kids down — or distract them? Does YOUR “Mom Logic” ever fail?)
Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven