What Price Silence
There's a big difference between the goals of mothers and fathers. A father wants financial security and a maximum of leisure. A mother wants peace and quiet. Especially when the children are little, quiet is a hard-to-come-by commodity.
There are two kinds of quiet in a mother's world. There is the blissful quiet of creative play. When this phenomenon occurs, a mother can sit with her feet up and read a book or just stare at the wall. The other kind of quiet is the one most of us are familiar with. When children are too quiet, a mother will leap up to find out what they are up to. Generally they, are in the bathroom shaving the dog or have just painted the kitchen faucets with bright red nail polish.
In heaven there is a special place set aside for the patron saints of mothers with small children. One is the person who invented crayons and the other made the first bag of M&Ms. Without these two products, mothers could not survive. Despite the dentist who winced when the children arrived for their checkups, M&Ms remain my favorite candy. I know the commercials laud the fact that the chocolate won't melt in your hands, but they are missing the point. Mothers don’t care if the candy melts all over their bodies. The key factor is that it takes a child a long time to eat M&Ms.
It's fascinating to watch children eat M&Ms. No two children ever do it alike. I think it's the colors. They mesmerize the little darlings.
Even at the advanced age of eight, Stacie cannot resist sorting and eating them. Kevin at six is the true master of the art. He laboriously sorts the candy by color and then, through a secret system known only to himself, eats them in rotation. Mark at five makes one long color coordinated line, weaving drunkenly across the surface of the table and then eats one from each end until he is finished. Jem at four makes lines of them, changing the color patterns every few minutes. He's good for at least 15 minutes of peaceful creativity, until suddenly he decides he's had enough and crams them by handfuls into his mouth.
One pack of M&Ms can get you through the waiting room at Express Oil and Lube Emporium, the dressing room at Becky’s Thrift Boutique and prolong dinner at a restaurant long enough for you to eat the dinner which is now cold because you spent all your time cutting up the children's meat.
The other product in a mother’s arsenal is a box of crayons. They're great in the car, when it rains and any place like the car dealer who has just told you it will only take ten minutes to find the problem of why your car can only go from 0 to 40 in just under 30 minutes.
Even I like to crayon, but I hate blunt ends. I like a good sharp point. I think the factory makes them defective. The minute you take them out of the box the points fall off and the crayon splits in two and you are left with four blunt ends. Despite what they tell you, it's impossible to sharpen a crayon. Once the point is gone, it's gone forever.
Children, used to inferior workmanship, don't seem to mind. We have a big plastic pail with all the crayons we've bought since the grandchildren have come to visit. None of them have points, but the kids color with those little stubby ends anyway.
The major problem with crayons is that, like pine needles from the Christmas tree, they are strewn all over the house. They slip down behind the cushions of the couch or get stamped into the carpet. There must be a theorem or principle somewhere that says if a crayon melts on your yellow carpet, it will always be a purple one.
For peace and quiet, a mother or grandmother will endure anything.
Martha Powers is a former humor columnist who left behind the winters of Chicago for the sun and sand of Vero Beach, Florida. She is the author of eleven published novels. Martha writes fiction thrillers but finds that killing off the bad guys isn't as much fun as writing for laughs. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org