The chew

it’s no surprise to me, i am my own worst enemy
cuz every now and then i kick the living s**t out of me  — Lit, My Own Worst Enemy (NOT Blink-182. my bad.)

“Put you buckles on!” I yell from outside the van.  I swing the gate open at the end of the driveway, grab the dog by the collar and hiss ‘cheese treat‘ in his floppy, over-sized ear. Hampton Noodle loves cheese. He hates to go inside when we are loading the car. He sits down and balks against my pull like a cow-colored donkey.  Also known as an ASS.

“Cheese treat,” I growl, “let’s go,” while I throw another “GET YOUR BUCKLES ON!” at the writhing chaos inside the van.  I can see feet. That’s not promising.  We are late, really late, and if we are late for Peach Fuzz School we can’t get a parking space at Adorable Neighborhood Elementary School and if we are late leaving ANES, I’ll have to sit through eighteen light cycles before some other oblivious mother let’s me into the drop off line at Annoying Christian School, and if we are last through the drop off line at ACS, then I will not have time to go to Kinkos before Toddler Class, and that will screw up my entire carefully orchestrated day because I really need to get to Kinkos before the PTA meeting tonight and …

“MOM!”

“Buckles!”

“MOM! I CAN’T DO IT!  THE CHEW!”

@*#&!@*&%*#&(*)$(#&%#&((*@!)(*(#&$*%.  The chew. I send a wild, silent curse toward the unforgiving gods as I deposit the dog inside the door.

The chew.  Dun dun DUN.

How to describe the ridiculousness that is the chew?  So, we have this dog, Hampton Noodle, I think I’ve mentioned him, and he’s huge and he really likes to go where we go, which is fine, but if you don’t watch him every single second he gnaws on the rear seat belts for kicks.  Of course he got his sneaky teeth around one of the rear seat belts in the van the first week we brought it home. The gnaw spot, for lack of a better word, frayed and knotted. And now we have this spot on the seat belt that belts Garrett into the car and if the buckle gets below that spot, which it ALWAYS DOES because for some reason the chew is a one-way barrier.  It allows the seat belt to slip down over it as if it isn’t even there, but you can not reverse the process without cussing and stuffing and cussing and breathing meditatively and then slipping the one little gnawed piece that’s not allowing the buckle to move up the belt into the little slit on the buckle and grasping the end with the very tips of your fingers and then slowly, working it through until it POPS out the other side, all the while leaning over the back of the second van seat row into the lap of your wiggly, annoying son, who LET THE BUCKLE SLIP OVER THE CHEW IN THE FIRST PLACE. He yells millimeters from your ear, “did you get it, did you get it? did you get it yet?”  Spitting out the hair that has fallen into your mouth you try – for the 10,000th time – to buckle the seat belt over him without getting past the chew, BUT YOU CAN’T, it’s a centimeter too short or he is a centimeter too fat OR SOMETHING and the whole world is dark and horrid and you’re not sure if life is worth living if you have to thread the chew through the slit in the buckle every day of  your god damned life, but then, YES, there is goes.

Oh my god.  Okay. We’re good. Let’s go to school.

An actual mathematical equation proves that the later I am getting out the door the more likely it is that the buckle has slipped over the stupid spot on the seat belt that the dog mangled with his teeth.

There is a relatively easy fix.  If I would take all four car seats out of the car and rearrange completely so that Nate sat in the far back corner, then I could battle the chew one last time and buckle Nate’s seat permanently into the car.  But, then I would be guaranteed to have to climb in and reach over the second bench every single day – instead of taking the chew gamble – because Nate can’t buckle his own harness the way Garrett can buckle the seat belt (assuming we are beyond the chew on a particular morning.)  Also, it would be tantamount to admitting defeat and I’m pretty sure that’s what the chew wants me to do.  The chew is evil.

Matt’s unsympathetic to my plight.

“Leave earlier.”

I regard him balefully over my wine glass rim.  I’m rarely late and he knows that.  “Come on, you’ve taken them all in the morning.  Late just happens.”

“So, when you’re late, drop the big kids at the curb, don’t walk them up.”

“They’re too little.”

“You create your own chaos.  You like it.”

“No,” I protest, “it’s the chew; it hates me.”

Matt gives me his this-is-not-a-national-security-issue-it’s-preschool-drop-off-who-cares look.  I warn him off with my eyebrows.  Do not mock my life.  This is what I do at present.  Do not mock the mother.  FOR SHE WILL FORSAKE THY LAUNDRY AND THOU SHALL BE SHIRTLESS.

But he’s right; it’s efficiency sabotage.  It’s my morning challenge. I know I have to be out of bed by 7:08 to make it without freaking out in the morning, but I push it on purpose.  I prep everything the night before and lounge until 7:13, just to make it interesting.  Daring the chew to intercede.

“You could put a piece of tape further down the belt, so the buckle can’t slip that far.”

“I’d have to go out there now in the dark and the cold.”

…?…

“I won’t give the chew the satisfaction.”

“Have you mentioned the chew to the therapist?”

“Yeah, I told him it was a metaphor for frustration.”

“Needless frustration.”

“The therapist doesn’t get me either.”

“That’s not a good sign.”

“He’s just dumb.  I kind of like it when he’s not able to keep up, it makes me feel too smart for therapy.”

“You’re doing therapy wrong.”

MAYBE.  Or maybe it is a metaphor for frustration. Maybe I like a little challenge in my life.  Maybe I need my daily battle with the Gods. Maybe I’m crazy.

I’m late this morning, but I stop at Starbucks anyway.  Robbie gives Nate whip cream in the big sample cup.  We skip Kinkos and meander to the van for toddler class, guaranteeing that the entire day will be 20 minutes behind schedule.  I finish buckling Nate and sit sideways on the front bench to wipe the whip cream from the ends of my hair with a wet wipe. I raise my full coffee cup and salute the chew where it dangles innocently from the back left ceiling.

Oh, you win today, my friend, but you don’t stand a chance tomorrow.

26 Responses to The chew
  1. Anne
    October 23, 2012 | 8:25 pm

    Lol! “The chew…” Love.it.!!

  2. Issa
    October 23, 2012 | 8:38 pm

    Maybe you need it right now. The chew gets your frustrations and anger. When you no longer need it, maybe you’ll fix it. DUDE! I’m cheaper than therapy. I gets you. ;)

    Mine is the snooze button. I can push it three times and we’re all on time. I tend to push it four and see what happens. Some people are good at mornings. I am not.

  3. Korinthia
    October 23, 2012 | 8:42 pm

    All of us have to battle some form of The Chew. It’s pure evil I tell you.

  4. Kara Nutt
    October 23, 2012 | 8:45 pm

    Love this! I burst out laughing several times and I’m sharing this on Facebook! I have many friends who would so get this!

  5. melanie
    October 23, 2012 | 8:48 pm

    Oh my! I was laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Sympathetic laughter, trust me on this. Damn the CHEW!

  6. Mama D
    October 23, 2012 | 9:50 pm

    Minus the chew, this is my life!! The schedule that is so full and tightly choreographed that one small issue will send it into a total tailspin. And I have three kids and a dog, so I am right there with you…for some reason, I am the only one who understands the concept of a schedule and being late! I also have to say that my husband would probably be decked for daring to suggest that I create my own chaos, even though it is doubtless true. ;)

  7. Bella
    October 23, 2012 | 10:27 pm

    I hate to mention this but could the CHEW have compromised the safety integrity of the seat belt? If so, it might be worth replacing for peace of mind.

  8. Lesley
    October 23, 2012 | 11:01 pm

    Assuming I understand the story right –

    How about stitching a big ol’ button above the chew and between the chew and the buckle, so that the buckle won’t slip back down? Does this make the seatbelt too loose? (does the chew need to be unadulterated to tighten up)?

    If you put a button there, you WIN!

    Lesley

  9. tracy@sellabitmum
    October 23, 2012 | 11:05 pm

    Um Yep. Hello mornings. Fucking chew.

    I love you.

    Also, because I refuse TO LOSE I now get up at 4:30 every morning. Yes, 4:30..because the fucking chew has got nothing on me.

  10. annabelle
    October 24, 2012 | 12:10 am

    Quote of the Day:

    “You’re doing therapy wrong.”

    LOflippinL

  11. tracey
    October 24, 2012 | 1:35 am

    I have to say that this is hysterical but also to mention that a frayed belt might not hold up during a car accident…

  12. Gaby
    October 24, 2012 | 2:24 am

    Long time lurker but I also wanted to point out the safety problem with your seat belt. Please, please get that belt replaced. Don’t put tape over it, don’t sew a button on it… replace it. In the event of an accident that belt will or won’t save your kid’s life – it’s up to you and Matt to ensure the seat belt has the best chance of doing its job. My cousin died age 11 in a car accident because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and she got thrown through the windscreen. Get. That. Belt. REPLACED.

  13. Deb
    October 24, 2012 | 3:36 am

    I am literally biting my lip to keep from telling you what to do.

    Plus also I am now picturing you slowly sinking to your knees and shaking your fist at the sky while screaming “damn the chew!” like Stanley yelling for Stella.

  14. Kirsten
    October 24, 2012 | 4:05 am

    I have a chew spot. But it was little people with scissors instead of a dog. I get your frustration. Carefully wrapped ducttape works wonders. :)

  15. Sharon
    October 24, 2012 | 12:58 pm

    I don’t know what is worse, the chew or 3? 4? different schools in the morning. WTF that’s nuts! I pray for the day you can unload them all in one place!

  16. Deanna
    October 24, 2012 | 6:43 pm

    LOLOLOL. This might be my favorite post ever!!

  17. Roshni
    October 24, 2012 | 9:41 pm

    I can see Hampton Noodle ‘champing at the bit’ because you DIDN’T give him his cheese treat!!

  18. Lady Jennie
    October 25, 2012 | 4:12 pm

    This? Was brilliantly funny.

  19. Erin
    October 25, 2012 | 10:05 pm

    You are the best storyteller EVER. I puffy pink heart this post.

  20. Stephanie Precourt
    October 26, 2012 | 1:07 am

    I read this the other night but wasn’t able to comment at the time. And I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and how this is the reason I love your writing and hope it never stops.

    Steph

  21. Gayle
    October 26, 2012 | 5:47 am

    “You’re doing therapy wrong” totally caused beer to shoot out my nose.

    My husband would also suggest “leave earlier” to which I would want to bitch slap him, but would not. My life is calculated to the minute and I, too, have a “chew” that screws it up, but I honestly believe I would shrivel up and die if my life went boringly smooth.

  22. Jenng
    October 26, 2012 | 3:41 pm

    This post just made me laugh! I can so relate to the “chew” – we have a disabled (for lack of a better word) seatbelt as well…it likes to buckle over on itself and get stuck in the seatbelt loop where you can’t move it…I’m assuming this is similar to the “chew”. It causes me many moments of frustration in helping my son get buckled into his booster seat, which on good days he has no problem buckling…but he can’t work through the disability…which does seem to pop up when we are in a hurry as well. So…I get you! Even if your husband and therapist don’t…I do! :)

  23. Galit Breen
    October 30, 2012 | 12:15 pm

    I adore you. That is all.

    That, and I hope the chew surrenders for the rest of the week.

  24. musingsfromme
    October 31, 2012 | 2:42 am

    I’m with you on the more than one school chaos. I have three…I can’t imagine having four. Yikes. Is “Peach Fuzz School” the granola crunchie preschool that is Waldorf based? You know the one that you created a cartoon about where the teacher kept talking about “experiencing the sand” but not actually learning letters or numberss. Is it the same school or another school? Love the nickname!

  25. Ashley
    November 20, 2012 | 1:26 am

    Three schools is insanity. Last year I had mornings that involved dropping off the cello at school, kid at a friends house so she could drive him to school at the appropriate time, baby at daycare, then off to work. I was starting to worry that I was going to get fired because I wasn’t exactly getting to work early. Plus whenever I’m running on time the baby vomits. Just explain to Matt that if you left earlier you’d probably have to clean up vomit or some other bodily fluid. That’s what kids do when you want to be on time.

    I’m also going to join the replace the seat belt choir. It will be money well spent. You’ll lose a nemesis and gain some peace of mind.

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    February 19, 2013 | 8:05 am

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