The one about the swallowed (supposedly) screw

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I’m all Rio-ed out. I have watched the animated Blu and Jewel take on Brazil until I, like my 2-year-old granddarling, can recite several major scenes in their entirety. I’ve also consumed my fair share of footage featuring Alvin (of the Chipmunks), Mr. Incredible and Tangled’s long-haired heroine, Rapunzel. This is what happens to old parents when young parents go away to celebrate an anniversary or rid themselves of a gall bladder.

I’m not complaining, though. I’m just tired. The world of sippy cups and diapers is a beautiful one. I love all the book reading, the cat sightings, the naptimes (ahh, the naptimes). The problem on my end is memory loss. It seems that I’ve forgotten several of the main tenets of successful childcare, such as:

• Never open a bag of Tostitos within hearing distance of a child who isn’t allowed to eat them (usually at least two rooms away).

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• Never attempt to lay a sleeping baby down in a port-a-crib unless you’ve mastered yoga’s sun salutations and downward dogs.

• Never point to a suitcase and tell a 2-year-old to “just go pick out whatever you want to wear.”

• Never let a toddler know you have Tic Tacs in your purse.

• Never imagine you can use the extended buggy with harnesses for four children on a “quick trip to Walmart.”

• Never situate a swing set where a child can see it through the windows of four different rooms of your home.

• Never, ever forget the diaper bag. (And when you do, don’t let your husband bring duct tape into the equation.)

So recently, while the 14-year-old aunt was having fun dressing her two charges in matching attire and taking them on walks (does it count as a walk when they’re held?), our other granddarling, the Yankee one (yes, she’s being raised in north Mississippi) was having an adventure of her own. Her mother sent a two-page email describing what happened, but she closed with this significant paragraph:

“D. would have been boggled at the amount of detail I put into this story. He would have said, ‘R. was working on a project, and she was short a screw at the end and panicked. She took the baby for an x-ray. Everything was fine. The end.’”

I laughed at the different perspectives, and while I’ll admit brevity does have its purpose (especially in column word counts), sometimes it’s “the amount of detail you put into the story” that makes all the difference. I say this because ever since I first rocked my own potential screw swallower, there’s been a steady chorus in my mind trying to convince me otherwise – that the details don’t matter. Guess what: They did.

Baking at least two blueberry-less muffins out of the dozen mattered, insisting on “Yes, Sir” mattered and investigating the weird noise that turned out to be our aquarium’s sudden demise DEFINITELY mattered. Ditto the trip to Arlington Cemetery, a thousand Sunday lunches using the fine china, and a pottery wheel I thought would be the perfect gift (but wasn’t).

Confused? Just ask any mom with some miles on her. It’s the details you paid attention to (or didn’t) that are usually discussed over the Scrabble board after Christmas dinner. The big scenes depicted in the family album? Not so much.

So in the spirit of putting worthy details into the story of our special overnighter, Granddarling No. 1 and I took a break from Rio and made a batch of homemade playdough. (Yes, I had the necessary tartar in my spice cabinet. Surprising, but true.)  A big noisy roller, blue food coloring, and warm gooiness were involved – all the sensory components guaranteed by experts to make a lasting memory. That’s good, because before long it was time to put the car seats (and those DVDs) back where they belong.

I’m missing Rio already.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at