Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A bicycle NOT built for two

(originally published October 8, 2008)

It was bright orange, as fiery as a blazing sun.
Red and blue racing stripes streamed along the sides and as I ran my hand down its length, I knew without a doubt it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

High on a cake and ice cream buzz copped during a party to celebrate my birth, I hopped on the white vinyl seat, placed my feet on the pedals, grabbed the rubber coated handle bars and braced myself for my very first ride on a big girl bike.

I was 7 years old and ready to take on the world.
Or at least the gently sloped, grassy hill behind our house.

My dad held on as I pushed off. He trotted alongside as I slowly gained speed. Then he did what any self-respecting dad would do.

He let go.

Six seconds later I was on the ground, trapped in a bent frame of wire and aluminum (and one sad looking peach tree sapling that I’d just mowed down in the orchard) and screaming at my dad, “WHY DID YOU LET GO?! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!”

Ah, the good old days.

This was a time when it was still fun to ride a bike. Those wonderful days before helmet laws and knee pads and training wheels and the fear of catastrophic head injury took the fun outta riding a bike.

And this was a place where smooth, paved streets didn’t exist.
This was rural America, my friend, where a crash on a bumpy, narrow road of sharp, graveled rocks would rip a gash the size of the Grand Canyon down your leg. (I should know. I still have the scar.)

Leaving you sprawled in the dust, bloodied, dazed and thisclose to throwing up but still thinking, “I almost made the jump over the barbed-wire fence! Where’d that damn cow come from?!” Then your eyes rolled in the back of your head and you passed out.

Maybe your friends would bike back to the house to alert an adult you were in need of a tourniquet.

Or maybe they’d just leave you there to wake up two days later and wonder why you were lying in the middle of a country road and what in the heck happened to your pants.

Oh, wait. That’s an entirely different story. Back to two-wheeled misadventures….

A part of me misses those days. When you pulled stunts to see just how far you could go without necessitating a trip to the local emergency room.

It was the most danger a 10-year-old could invite without committing a felony.

But then I became a parent myself and quickly realized why such rules are in place.

Because kids are stupid.

“I WANNA RIDE MY BIKE IN THE STREET!!” my 3-year-old son wailed.
“No,” I answered. Simple. To the point. No need to discuss it further.
“I WANNA RIDE MY BIKE IN THE STREET!!” my 3-year-old son wailed and stomped his little feet on the driveway.
“No,” I answered. Again, simple. To the point. No need to discuss it further.

Then he screamed something I can’t repeat because, well, it was so high-pitched only the dog could make it out. So I gave in. Sue me.

We began the pre-race checklist.

Bike helmet? Check.

Elmo trading card his dad clipped to the back wheel so it would make that cool clicking noise when he pedaled really fast? Check.

Speaking of pedaling really fast…Training wheels? Check.

He climbed aboard, put his feet on the pedals and pushed off down the driveway. And that’s when I noticed something not-quite-right.

“Why are you crooked?” I asked and pointed to the set of training wheels attached to the rear of the bicycle. The brackets looked bent, leaving the right side training wheel a good two inches shorter than the left.

He looked over his shoulder and muttered, “Daddy did it.”

He stopped the bike and sighed.

“Daddy wanted to ride my bike,” he said, beginning his tale of woe. “And when he sat on it, the little wheels went out like this,” and threw out his arms to the sides, miming how the brackets had flattened out. “He jumped off and tried to fix them, but they’re still crooked.”

He then added with disgust, “That’s why Daddy isn’t allowed to ride my bike anymore.”

And that’s why kids have their own rules.

Because parents are stupid too.
You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Friday, February 20, 2009

All's quiet on the West Edwards front

(originally published January 28, 2009)

It was one of those rare weeks in the Baldwin household.

Nobody broke anything. Nobody threw up. And nobody experienced an unusual bathroom habit and felt the need to announce it to the rest of the family.

In other words, it was so gosh darn boring I have nothing to write about.

I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. If I can’t use 750 words to make fun of someone...well, my life really has no meaning, no purpose. I’m doomed to waste away to practically nothing.

Kinda like George W. Bush. Bill Clinton. My 401(k).

***

History and literature are full of great, decisive battles fought throughout the ages.

David vs. Goliath.
Ahab vs. Moby Dick.
Robert E. Lee vs. Ulysses S. Grant.
And, uh, Superman vs. a Powerpuff Girl?

“Daddy, tell me a story,” our three-year-old son, Gabe, demanded one evening before bedtime.

My husband tucked him in tight and sat down next to him. “Once upon a time,” he began, “there was a little boy named Gabe. And he was a superhero.”

“How did you know he was a superhero?” our son asked.

Because one can’t tell Gabe a story without being interrupted 367 times. It was like testifying before Congress.

“Because he wore a cape and could fly,” my husband continued.

“Oh,” Gabe answered. “Like a Powerpuff Girl.”

My husband’s testosterone level kicked up a notch after hearing that and quickly corrected, “Uh, no, like Superman.”

“NO!” Gabe argued. “Like a Powerpuff Girl!”

“NO! Like Superman!” my husband hollered back. Apparently visions of the royal heir flying around like a tiny kindergarten girl wearing a skirt and pigtails wasn’t nearly as manly as the image of a grown man wearing a blue leotard and knee-high red leather boots.

As I turned away from the argument my husband was rapidly losing, I thought to myself, “Ahab had better luck with the whale.”

***

She stared at the 8 ball like Paul Newman did as Fast Eddie Felson in “The Hustler.”

Which wouldn’t be a problem if she was planning her next shot instead of thinking how the small black ball would taste for lunch.

“Get your nose off of there!” I chastised Chaser, Wonder Mutt of West Edwards Street, and pushed her golden-haired snoot away from our son’s miniature pool table.

Ever since we’d placed it on the floor, the dog had been obsessed with the thing. Sticking her nose in the side pockets, sniffing the felt, trying to snatch one of the cue sticks and running off with it. And God only knew what she’d done with the cube of chalk.

Although the bright blue smears that marked her left canine were a pretty good indication that we’d be finding it in the morning...in the backyard...in a steaming pile of “business.”

***

It was time to try contacts.

That was the last rational thought I had that day.

There were approximately 83 reasons why I wanted to dump my glasses and switch to a plastic lens that a person sticks on her eyeball.

But at that exact moment, I couldn’t recall a single one.

“What the hell is WRONG with this thing?!” I screamed and stomped my feet in frustration.

Standing at the bathroom sink, fists clenched at my sides, staring down at the tiny piece of plastic floating amid a sea of solution in the small plastic case and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into.

“Having trouble?” my husband calmly asked as he stuck his head around the door.

Sure, he’d been wearing contacts since God was a child. He could pop in his own lenses in pitch blackness standing on one foot during an earthquake, but I was having a little more difficulty with this new procedure.

I pointed to the lens in question and answered in fits, “This...freakin’...plastic...stupid...sticks...eye won’t stay open...pops back out...can’t...UGH!”

He put up his hands and offered, “Would you like some help?”

Now, I’m a proud person and asking for help normally isn’t my nature.

So I’m not exactly proud of what I said next.

“It’s too late,” I answered and turned to leave the bathroom. “I, uh, already flushed one of them down the toilet.”

I paused and sighed. “Don’t ask me how. I’m still trying to figure that out myself.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photo finished

(originally published August 6, 2008)

Since man first learned to walk upright, he spruced up the cave by drawing pictures of friends and family, the occasional bird and that saber-toothed tiger that had just moved into the neighborhood.

It’s our instinctual need to leave a record of our presence, so future generations may glorify in our historical identity, point and ask, “What’s up with her hair?”

It’s what separates man from beast.

Or at least until the saber-toothed tiger dropped by...for lunch.

Surprisingly, we haven’t learned much in the ages since. We are still obsessed with that terrifying rite of passage, the anxiety-ridden decision to record for posterity our domestic dynamic.

The Family Photo.

And when all is said and done, we naively believe we’ll have a delightful and visually appealing memento of the love that brought us all together.

What a load of saber-toothed tiger dung.

***

It wasn’t the 3-year-old who caused me grief. Nor was it the spastic golden retriever who tips the scales at 100 pounds that I insisted be in the photo with us.

Nope, it was my 44-year-old husband who got things rolling.

“I gotta do what?” he screeched. One would think I’d asked for his kidney or something. Again.

“We’re taking a family photo,” I answered in a this-is-not-open-for-discussion tone of voice.

“Oh, man,” he groaned and shoved his hands through his hair. Then he shocked me by uttering words more suitable coming from a 15-year-old girl worried about prom. Or a Tuesday.

“What am I going to wear?”

So I answered as any respectable wife would, “You’ll wear what I tell you to wear.”

“And what is that?” he replied.

Good question, I thought.

So I scoured the Internet for tips on what to wear for a family photo. Whoa, big mistake, I thought as the computer screen filled with more hits than a college bong party.

I quickly decided that using the Web to research information was a bad idea. It was like going online to diagnosis that weird pain in your oh-so-private-place and stumbling onto a site from Indonesia to discover you’ve got an unpronounceable disease that is only curable by drinking juice squeezed from a rabid chicken on a moonless night during the equinox while you dance naked in a circle with the surviving members of Menudo.

Wait a second…do chickens get rabies? No? There goes that medical diagnosis. And whatever happened to Menudo anyway? Back to the Internet.

As I clicked on links that gave dress tips and sample photos, I soon realized two things.

One - gone were the days when our parents dressed us in plaid sweaters and corduroy pants in colors bold enough to offend Elton John. No more dads in powder blue sports coats or moms in floral muumuus. Nope, these days everybody has to match. No plaid. No prints. No stripes. One color. One style. One world.

Two – there are a lot of ugly people out there.

One site said it was OK to wear white. Another said only wear white if you wanted to look like Dracula’s bride. One site advised to wear dark colors if taking a photograph outdoors. Another said only wear lighter colors if taking a photograph outdoors.

One site said wear shoes. Another site suggested you go barefoot. Ick, I thought, nobody wants to see that. Moving along.

For the next three days, I searched for guidance and found none. I finally announced to my grinning husband, “Wear whatever the heck you want. I don’t care anymore. I’ve seen things no respectable person should see.”

As for picture time itself? Let’s not think about working with a 3-year-old who has the attention span of a gnat and a dog that can’t stay clean for five minutes. Or is it the other way around?
Oh, well. I don’t have to think about it. I have medication for that now.

***

I gasped in awe and held up the photo proof sheet in absolute reverence, “He’s a genius.”

“Who?” my husband asked, peering over my shoulder to look at the photographs we’d just picked up.

“The photographer,” I replied. “We look good. Really good. Like normal, law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and don’t throw water balloons at the neighbors.”

“Hey,” my affronted husband said, “I only did that once.” He paused and added, “Man, that 8-year-old got mad at me that day, didn’t he?”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Is that a chop shop or are you just happy to see me?

(originally published February 20, 2008)

This is it, I thought.
The end of the road. The place where I am going to die.
I paused. Then narrowed my eyes and gripped the steering wheel in quiet determination.
But not before I kill my husband first.

***

It was too late at night (after traveling 10 hours in a car) for ear-splitting swear words to bounce off the walls of the hotel bathroom.

I pulled the pillow over my head, rolled over and quietly chanted, “I’m on vacation. I’m on vacation.”

My feeble attempt at meditation was quickly drowned out by another thunderous “$%&!” followed by loud stomping. It traveled from the bathroom and ended at the edge of the bed. Wonderful.

“Hey,” my husband said, leaning hard on the bed to send me rolling over to its edge.

“Hey,” another hard shake to send me bouncing, “are you awake?”

Nope. I’m on vacation.

“Hey,” shake, “wake up,” shake, shake.

But I remained silent in my pillow prison, determined to keep the upper hand.

I heard a loud sigh, and the bed stopped bouncing. He took a step back, and in silent celebration I yelled, “Hah! I am victorious!”

Then WHOOSH!
There went the blankets.

And WHOOSH!
There went my pillow.

I shouted, “What the heck is your problem?!”

He had the nerve to look offended. He crossed his arms and said with a start, “There’s no reason to get bitchy.”

I pointed to the blankets and pillows that now littered the blue, industrial-grade carpet on the hotel floor and answered, “Oh, really. Shall I present Exhibit A?”

He waved a dismissing hand and said, “We have an emergency.”

Well, why didn’t he say so in the first place?!

I jumped out of bed and ran to the door. Quickly scanning the hotel floor plan and emergency directions written on the back of it, I said in my best Please-Remain-Calm-I-Am-In-Charge voice, “What is it? Fire? Earthquake? Incoming Scud missile?” I paused then said, “Oh, wait. Do they even have those anymore?”

I whirled around and picked up things I thought would come in handy in case World War III was breaking out. Clothes. Shoes. Cell phone. Hair dryer (hey, don’t judge me).

I was thisclose to breaking into the liquor cabinet for fortification when my husband hollered, “Stop! That’ll cost me a fortune!”

“Then what is the problem?” I asked and headed for the door with half of my belongings piled in my arms.

He slumped down on the bed, put his head in his hands and muttered, “I forgot to pack my contact lens case.”

I stopped walking. “That’s it?” I asked and dumped said belongings onto the floor. “You forgot the little plastic case thingy for your bionic eyeballs?”

He nodded.

You gotta be kidding me.

“Can’t you just use a glass or something tonight?” I asked, picking up the blankets and pillows and crawling back into bed.

He nodded and crawled in after me.

I should have stopped there. But, no, my gregarious, kind-hearted nature and love for my husband made me say, “I’ll hunt up a drugstore tomorrow and get you a new case. How hard can that be?”

***

It didn’t take long to figure out I’d made a wrong turn.

My car was the only one with all its hub caps.
And doors.

I quickly reached for the cell phone and called my husband.

Before he could even answer I shrieked, “OK, what is it with this town?! I’ve been driving around for a friggin’ hour! Have they even HEARD of Walgreen’s? Or Wal-Mart? Or an optometrist? Or any place that doesn’t have bars across the windows?!”

“Uh, where are you?” he asked.

I looked around in terror, “I’m in the friggin’ Hood! That’s where I am!” Just as I began my last will and testament, I spotted a sign off in the distance. Just beyond what must be a chop shop. Or a tattoo parlor. It was kinda hard to see since I was driving with my head under the dashboard.

“Oh, dear God,” I sighed in relief and smiled, “A drugstore.”

I whipped into the driveway and parked with a screeching halt. My husband said, “Great! Thanks again for doing this.”

“No problem,” I answered, pulled a can of mace from my purse and prepared to open the car door. “I’ll just kill you later.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Booby is in the eye of the beholder

(originally published June 18, 2008)

It's called The Hook.
The first sentence of a story that reaches out and grabs its audience by the throat and never lets go.

It starts in childhood.
"Once upon a time."

Continues on to our high school English class.
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

And finally into adulthood.
"A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar."

It doesn't matter who's telling the story, who they're telling it to or even what the story is about. As long as you grab them with those first precious words you'll have their attention until the very end.

At least that's the idea. There is a multitude of other do’s and don’ts, rules of the game we're expected to adhere to. Grammar. Spelling. Dangling participles and how to avoid them. Frankly, I wouldn't recognize a dangling participle if it walked into a bar alongside the priest, the rabbi and the minister.

So I leave rules to high school English teachers, IRS auditors and Major League Baseball. Everything else is fair game.

Sometimes writing a weekly column can be tough. I imagine it's even harder for someone who makes his or her living from it. Me? I'm just a hack who pens a few words amidst a job, being a wife and mother, volunteer work, grocery shopping, shaving my legs and walking the dog. Not necessarily in that order.

It's hard to find inspiration when there are days in which my main concern is finding where my three-year-old hid the remote control. Later discovering it in the toilet. Along with a very soggy, raspberry Pop Tart and the phone bill.

But there are days, those special days, in which divine inspiration reaches down from above and just nails me on the head with it.

The Hook.

So here is where this week's column officially begins. Enjoy.

***

"Mommy, you have nice boobies."

(See? That first sentence? The Hook? Honestly. I can’t make this stuff up.)

I looked over with surprise to see my just-turned-three-year-old son standing in the bedroom door watching me where I stood in my underwear surveying the contents of my closet.

"Uh...I…mmm...OK," was my immediate and not-quite-so articulate reply to his unexpected observation.

So my response wasn't Shakespeare. His words took me a little off-guard.

This mother thing is still kinda new to me, and like most parents I’m a little on edge every time he opens his mouth. In public. Especially in public.

This is the same kid who yelled, “Mine’s empty!” in church on Easter Sunday when he opened his egg during the children’s sermon to discover (unlike those left by the Easter Bunny) this one was void of any chocolate goodness inside.

Yep, the role of the egg as reflective of Christ’s empty tomb was lost on him. Before we could talk him down and properly explain the symbolism, he waved the empty egg in the air and announced to the congregation, “I think Jesus ate my candy!”

Nothing like accusing God’s only son of stealing your chocolate in church.

But I digress. Back to boobies.

“See, kiddo, it’s not really nice to talk about a girl’s…uh…her…well…you know…her…(and I dropped my voice to a whisper)…boobies,” I gently said.

His face fell and he stuck out his lower lip and I quickly realized he was thisclose to waterworks.

“But, Mommy,” he said softly, “I was trying to be nice.” And a single tear slid down his cheek.

Oh. Dear God.
Kill me. Kill me now.
I am – without a doubt – the world’s worst mother.

“Oh, no, honey!” I cried and ran over to hug him. “That was very sweet of you. It just took me by surprise.”

I wiped the tear from his cheek and added, “But in the future, how about you just talk about Mommy’s boobies, OK? No one else’s.”

He thought for a minute, smiled and answered, “Okey doke.”

As I watched him run off to commit mayhem and destruction elsewhere, I basked in my quick thinking-ness, ready to collect my Mother of the Year award for saving a young boy’s bruised feelings.

Then I heard my husband chuckle. “You just told him to admire his mother’s boobies,” he said. “Isn’t that how Norman Bates started?”

Oh. Dear God.
Kill me. Kill me now.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It takes two to tile

(originally published Oct. 3, 2007)

I have learned two things since getting married.

Lesson #1 - my husband snores.
Lesson #2 - home improvement centers should have large signs on their doors that warn, “Shopping with your spouse can be hazardous! Enter at own risk!”

Particularly in a place that has chainsaws and nail guns lying around where anybody can just pluck them off a shelf and fire them up.

It’s one step(ladder) away from becoming a freakin’ Greek tragedy.

***

“Why park over here?” I asked my husband, “When the entrance is all the way over there.” I pointed across the large parking lot toward a set of doors that opened to a world that promised our home could be anything we wanted it to be.

Or anything the contractor we’d hired wanted it to be. But we weren’t completely helpless. We still had to buy the supplies to get the job done right. Right?

“Why can’t I park here?” he asked, looking over at the entrance he’d just parked next to.

“Because that’s for contractors,” I answered. “Not mere mortals like us.”

“How do you know it’s just for contractors?” he asked.

“Because it has ‘Contractor Pick Up’ written above the door.”

“Oh,” was his only response as he moved the car over to the other side of the parking lot.

“You got the list?” he asked as we walked through the doors, greeted by aisle after aisle of home improvement wares.

I rummaged around my purse, looking for the cheat sheet our contractor had given us.

Hmm, nope, that’s not it, I thought, and dropped the half-eaten granola bar back into the side pocket. I looked down and saw it nestled among four model cars of various shapes and colors, a sippy cup and the remains of one very sorry looking caterpillar. Ick.

In addition to first aid kit and bank, my purse also serves as refrigerator, toy box and as a final resting place for creepy crawlies, thanks to our toddler using my bag as his personal storage facility.

I finally spotted the list jammed into a corner and pulled it out. I yelled, “Aha! Got it!” and did a little dance then realized I was celebrating all by myself. It was like our wedding all over again.

“Hello?” I called out and turned around slowly. I spotted my wayward husband about 20 yards away over by – God help me – the lawn mowers.

And not just any lawn mowers. These were yard machines to end all yard machines. Zero-turn radius. Hydrostatic transmission. Complete with lumbar seat support and – I had to look twice – cup holders?

“No.”

With a glazed expression and a small sliver of drool dripping from the corner of his mouth, he tried to speak.

“No,” I repeated and walked away.

With a small whimper and a “someday we will be together, my love,” he gently caressed the mower’s red chrome hood and reluctantly followed.

Two hours later, realizing that all 87 types of tile the store offered looked exactly alike, we finally agreed on a selection after “borrowing” a set of suction cup lawn darts from the outdoor section and throwing them randomly at the display.

“OK, this is the one,” I said then walked over to the tile display and pulled the rubber dart off with a loud thawonk.

“Got it,” my husband said and tugged the corresponding box off the shelf. He juggled the heavy carton and maneuvered it ungracefully into the oversized shopping cart where it landed with a big thunk.

He leaned over, gasped for breath and said, “You gotta be kidding me.”

“And we only need 15 more boxes,” I said cheerfully. “Come on. Put your back into it.”

Somehow we made it to the checkout without filing for divorce. But as the exit doors opened and we pushed the heavy cart outside, I made a horrible discovery.

We were here. And our car was parked way over there. By the main entrance. Far, far away.

Apparently the store’s exit was also the Contractor Pick Up door where my husband had wanted to park earlier.

Avoiding all eye contact, I smiled and asked, “Hey, let’s go back inside and look at those lawn mowers.”

Then I turned around to speed back inside just as the automatic doors closed on my husband’s glowering face. Maybe I’d better find one of those nail guns too, just in case.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Let's make a deal

(originally published September 10, 2008)

He was naked.
Naked as the day he was born.
I should know. I was there.

“Mommy! Look at me!” my three-year-old son yelled from somewhere outside the house.

I peered through the window and was startled by the unexpected sight: my husband leading our son across the street in front of our house. And he was naked. My son. Not my husband.
Naked. In broad daylight. For the entire neighborhood to see.

My own little Gypsy Rose Lee dancing across the street, seemingly unaware he was breaking about 10 laws in his current state of undress.

I bowed my head in despair, wondering if the money in his piggy bank was enough to cover bail for one count of public indecency in our small, Midwestern town.

Then I uttered a sentence one hears outside a strip club or a college fraternity party.

Or pretty much anywhere in France.

“Where are your clothes?!”

His only response was to stop in the middle of the street and yell back, “I’m NAKED!”

Thank you very much, Captain Obvious.

What the hell had happened?! He’d left the house fully clothed. T-shirt, shorts, socks and shoes. Everything a little guy needed for a play date involving any number of activities with his friends across the street.

He’d been gone 5 minutes. It took that one chippy longer to lose her clothes in “Debbie Does Dallas.”

Not that I’ve seen it. It’s just a rumor I heard.

My son just giggled, grabbed his dad’s hand and continued his way across the street. Just as he reached the curb, something fell unnoticed at his feet.

Oh, dear God.

Then I said something I didn’t think would come into play until he reached college and gone to the aforementioned fraternity party.

“Hey...,” I called out then took a deep breath before adding with shame, “...you dropped your underwear in the street.”

As his Batman undies sat crumpled in the gutter, a sad end to the Dark Knight and all his glory, I could only think there was no one to blame but myself.

His new-found love of nudity was the direct result of desperation felt by any mother who fears her son will never learn to use the big boy potty.

I was having serious nightmares about his first day of high school, heading to home room and showing all his friends his Spider-Man XVI pull-ups before the first bell rang.

Up to this point, no amount of bribery, begging, borrowing or stealing would get the little guy interested in whizzing to the toilet gods rather than letting go in his pants.

Our conversations went something like this:

“Did you go potty?”
“NO!”
“Are you sure?”
‘NO!”
“Aha! Then you did go potty.”
Silence as he tries to decide if I’m pulling a fast one.
Then - catching on - he screams, “NO! I did NOT!”
“Then what is that smell?”
Quick like a cat he answers, “Daddy pooted!” and takes off running.

First denial. Then putting the blame on someone else. And capping it off with a quick escape.
He’s gonna make a great politician someday.

So I got to thinking. Maybe politicians - and adult film stars like that Debbie gal from Dallas - know a little something about getting down and dirty.

And that’s when I had my fabulous idea.

Let the kid run naked.

Gotta go potty? Then just run in there and do your business. With no clothes to slow you down there’s nothing to get in the way, right? Especially if there’s a prize afterward.

Problem was he liked being naked a little too much. Any excuse to get naked was fine by him. At his friend’s house. The grocery store. Just ‘cuz it’s a Tuesday.

This, when I think about it, is usually how those politicians and adult film stars usually get into trouble too.

But after three days we turned a corner. He was using the big potty. But we soon realized our son had also become an expert in the art of negotiation.

“Here’s the deal,” my husband said. “You go use the big potty, and I’ll get you some ice cream.”

Without missing a beat my son clapped his hands together and responded, “Here’s the deal, Dad. You get the ice cream...and I’ll eat it.”

Yep, that kid’s gonna be president some day.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.