When I was a kid, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom didn’t know anything about the most important things in my world. She had no idea what a friendship pin was or how you’d make one. She couldn’t name any good band, i.e., the ones a pre-teen would listen to like Duran Duran or Wham. And she didn’t find Robert Downey Jr. nearly as dreamy as I did.
It was sad, really, how much important culture she missed. When I’m a mom, I promised myself, I will stay up-to-date on all of these vital topics of crucial knowledge. I will know that blue jeans should be both acid-washed and pegged. I will know just how baggy a Shaker sweater from the Limited should be.
You already know how this ends. Currently, I have zero idea who the hot bands are for the tweens. I’m alarmed that the age now has its own marketing category, frankly.
I can’t tell One Direction from fun. Every time I bring up Justin Bieber, I am mocked, because he’s so totally square now. Or whatever the equivalent of “square” is.
I don’t know what kids want to wear nowadays but do know that their clothes don’t seem to cover enough of their bodies. Because I’m old, that’s why. And get off my lawn.
My brief, shining moment was catching the crest of one trend that raced through the fourth grade last year. All of the girls (and boys, maybe, but could never get confirmation from the Diva on their habits) were collecting small bottles of scented hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works. This was such a fad that the store sold rubberized holders for your sugar-cookie-scented sanitizer so that you could clip it on your backpack.
It made getting birthday party gifts a snap. Plus, the Diva would save up her allowance to get some new scent every few weeks. Sure, her room smelled like synthetic fruit and spices but that was a small price to pay to fit in.
Apparently, hand sanitizer’s day in the sun is over. I say this only because three of them have been sitting on the table near our back door for at least six months. This is the table where the kids’ backpacks live and where they disgorge their contents on a regular basis. I feel sad for these abandoned germ killers but not sad enough to move them.
Also on that table is my grocery list and a stack of cookbooks. Hang on to both of those pieces of information for a second.
One morning before lunch, I grabbed a handful of trail mix on my way to the back door to snag the grocery list. I was starving but needed to figure out what we needed from the grocery store before I could make lunch. I wish this was unusual.
The list was in my right hand; the trail mix in my left. When I put the list on the dining room table to finish it, I transferred the tasty nuts and berries to my right hand, then tossed them into my mouth. As you do.
At first, nothing seemed amiss. My husband started to tell me something... but I stopped listening when my tongue felt weird.
Why do I smell raspberries? I thought. We don’t have any in the house — and haven’t since, like, June. I this what rotting raspberries taste like?
I looked at my right hand, which had what looked like a smear of raspberry juice and pulp on it.
But it smells like raspberry gum, I thought, not like actual food.
Then the inside of my head started to burn, just a little.
I ran into the kitchen, spit the mouthful of half-chewed trail mix into the sink, and rinsed my mouth with water a few billion times. How could raspberries taste so awful?
Once I explained what the heck I was doing to my husband and retraced my steps, I found that one of the sad sanitizer bottles, in a desperate bid for attention, had popped its cap and leaked a little bit onto the table. I picked up a small blob of the goo when I got the list, which I then rolled my almonds and raisins in when I switched hands.
I can now say several things with certainty: 1) it takes about three days to not taste raspberry hand sanitizer with every bite of food, 2) my sinuses were germ-free for the first time in years and 3) Robert Downey, Jr. is still dreamy, no matter how out of the loop I am.
Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of “Sweater Quest.” Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/parentingimperfect.