So you know how after you have some sort of accident, you always want to tell the story over and over again? Well, luckily for me, I have a blog, so I can tell you all the story at once and stop pestering people over the phone, or pinning down random strangers to relate a tale of gruesome idiocy.
We recently had a revamp of the the kindergarten behavior plan, and had to think of a bunch of suitable prizes for good behavior. It is hard to think of prizes that are free, easy, plentiful, and motivating at the same time. I have great sympathy and respect for whoever lines up the Showcase Showdowns on The Price is Right. You have no idea how close we came to getting a rabbit.
And one prize, chosen by the prize-earner himself, was to make lasagna. It was a slightly mystifying choice, because we have only made this dish once before, for anniversary dinner, and I don’t recall him particularly loving it, but I think the whole layer assembly process appealed to him. So we put it on the prize list, because desperate parents can’t be choosers. He tried to earn it for a week, but it was a particularly bad week, so we had borscht instead.
But lately the yen returned, and so before school, after three inexplicable meltdowns, my young lad requested lasagna for the prize. Sure, I said. Whatever you want, sweetheart, I said out loud. No chance in H, E, double hockey sticks, I said in my head.
But at pickup time, he emerged from the school doors, grinning and waving his chart in the air. Not only had he earned the requisite eight smiley faces, he had ELEVEN. People, this was unprecedented.
Now lasagna is not something you can make at the drop of the hat, but I had stocked up for it, just in case, for the lasagna false alarms, so I was reasonably sure I’d be able to pull it off. But of course, my recipe is not the easy, short cut way. Sadly, here at the Fun Apartment, we never met a complicated process with lots of steps that we didn’t immediately claim as our own. So, I had to make the tomato sauce from scratch (and then I didn’t realize we were one 28 oz can short, so a mystery jar of Ragu had to supplement anyway), and boil the noodles (because I have only heard tell of these mysterious “no boil” kind, they being too fancy for our humble grocer, apparently) and shred the cheese (both kinds) and mix the ricotta (light here too, so I had to use greek yogurt, which I figured was better than maple, the only other option) and thaw, squeeze dry, and puree the spinach–because just chopped is obviously insufficient.
So I attempt to throw all these balls in the air so we can make lasagna, because eleven is eleven. And that is where the trouble began.
I had the noodles boiling, the tomato sauce burbling, and was attempting to deal with the spinach. It was starting to thaw but still full of ice crystals, which made squeezing it dry not a terribly pleasant experience. I tried to warm my hands over the pasta water. Finally, out of fear of frostbite, I decided the spinach was thawed and squeezed enough, and attempted to puree it with my stick blender–a kitchen appliance with which I have been having a torrid affair. This handsome devil had opened up the world of pureed soups (and hiding food our children claim is undesirable in pureed soups) to our household. No more throwing out recipes upon reading the dreaded phrase “Working in batches. . . ”
But pureeing spinach ice cubes was not so successful. And I did the dumb thing that is making you all cringe in anticipation. I pulled the stick blender out of the spinach popsicle mess and attempted to clean out the chunks from inside. While it was plugged in. Success! I freed a big chunk, freeing the super sharp blade to resume whipping around at top speed! On my finger! Zoom! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!
(We will all pause here for you to promise yourselves never, ever, ever to be this dumb.)
I squawked and ran to the bathroom, convinced I was holding several pieces of my finger, finely pureed, or at least thinly sliced. Blood trailed behind me, as did my kids. I tried to block their view to the sink, letting water run over my gashed finger, which did appear, fortunately, to all be attached. “I just cut myself. It will be fine. It’s ok. Can you guys umm go to the living room, please? I’m almost done. We’re all fine . . . here . . . now” After extracting a promise that I not use the sparkly bandaids, they did depart the bloody scene. And I let loose a whispered stream of curse words, and breathed deep blowing breaths, like they taught me to do when I was in labor.
What to do next? It was still a long time til my husband was due home. And there was still the lasagna to assemble. And eleven is ELEVEN. And Mommy does not let her boys down.
So I wrapped a huge boxing glove of paper towel around my hand and attempted to finish the lasagna preparation. I shredded the parmesan one handed. I tore the fresh mozzarella. I drained the noodles. I washed off my abuser boyfriend/stick blender and used it to combine the ricotta and spinach. I did not, however, attempt to finish pureeing the spinach ice cubes. I’m not stupid, after all. And I had to sit down on the floor in the middle, twice, and will myself not to pass out.
And we made lasagna. Both boys were thrilled and it would have been awesome, had I not been concerned that at any moment blood would begin spilling down my arm. The prize winner was delighted and made all sorts of genius comments about sedimentary rock layers and patterns. Normally, I think that whole “kids eat food they help prepare” thing is a load of hooey, but I did witness its magic there. Or it might have been the blood loss / lightheadedness talking.
And with a trembling sigh, I slid the whole layered masterpiece into the oven, with an oven mitt balanced on my forearm. Whew! I had done it! Mommy does not disappoint! “Now I am seriously going to pass out,” I told myself.
And then, I got a text message. One of our neighbors whose child is only around a few times a year wanted to know if they could come by for a few minutes, because his kid was dying to see my kids. I looked around at the bloody wreckage of the Fun Apartment. It looked like the sight of some unholy kitchen sacrifice.
Sure! I typed. Of course you can come over! (I am a Midwesterner, after all.) No problem! Any time is good!
And I began stumbling around, attempting to clean up, while raising my hand high in the air. I volunteer! I know the answer!
I did manage to mop up the blood and shove most of the mess into the bedroom by the time my husband got home. “Open the wine,” I gasped. Before he could open the wine or the giant wad of paper towel, our neighbors showed up, and the mini impromptu playdate commenced. I think his kid remembers the Fun Apartment as some sort of bizarre toy wonderland, which it sort of is.
At any rate, there was playing, there was chatting, there was handraising. Our guests politely suggested that maybe I might possibly want to seek some sort of medical attention. Urgent care, they reminded me, has many convenient locations — including one right across the street from our second home. Urgent care?! Why didn’t I think of urgent care?? The only medical attention thoughts that crossed my mind were “I wish I had paid more attention to those reports of ERs closing downtown. . . .”
Nonsense, I waved my boxing glove dismissively. I just need the Mister to look at it. “What good will that do?” Our neighbor asked bluntly. “He’s an architect, not a doctor.” The Mister concurred. “We only know how to remove appendages with exacto blades.”
After they left, we peeked under the paper towels. And then promptly wrapped more paper towel around the horror show my finger had become. I deftly broke my promise about the sparkly bandaids, glanced ruefully at my beautiful lasagna, reiterated my pride about the smiley faces, and headed out the door to Urgent Care.
I did consider briefly going en famille, as this kind of errand is not one to fly solo, but the thought of unfed kids in a waiting room doused that fantasy candle with efficiency.
There was — miracle! — no wait and the lovely people at Urgent Care had me sitting down, wearing a blood pressure cuff and answering mundane questions within moments. (Height? Weight? Allergies? Date of last tetanus shot? Oh, no idea? Well, tonight it is then!) Lucky me. I am spectacularly bad with needles. Imagine a nurse chasing me around the chair with a needle, bonking me on the head with something heavy and then sticking me while I’m unconscious and that’s pretty much how I do shots. I was actually hoping to avoid stitches entirely and just have the doctor pour a lot of glue on my finger. After all, I have famously attempted to substitute super glue for health care before and my son’s forehead scar is hardly noticeable now!
But it was not to be. After the tetanus shot, the three anesthetic shots, and the sewing needle that hurt despite the anaesthetic, I bore more than a passing resemblance to a pincushion. But they did save me the indignity of passing out on my own by laying down the chair so it felt more like I was just sleepy and imagining phrases like “multiple lacerations.” And about 5 hours after the initial act of colossal stupidity, six stitches tighter, I emerged into the night sporting what felt like a giant stadium foam finger. We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!
A brief stop at CVS allowed me to pick up both antibiotics and jelly beans, because if you go to drugstores with kids, you have to map out your route through the store very carefully, so they think that drug stores are just places to buy diapers, lightbulbs, and shampoo, and not the magical pirate treasure caves full of candy that they really are. Go to a drugstore alone, and all restraint goes out the window. But perhaps, I should have waited until I was coherent, because I’m not sure how I feel about “spiced” jelly beans.
Now, three days later, I still have the giant foam finger, the stitches, and night terrors about using the stick blender again. Accidental brushes against my hand, say when putting on one’s shirt, are likely to result in panicky gasping screams. Nightly cleanings give me some insight into what Victor Frankenstein’s day to day routine must have been like. Between the Mister’s residual-cold throat clearing, and my finger in the air like I have a point to make, it’s as if the Fun Apartment is at a really long, pointless work meeting.
But I don’t have to do the dishes. I do have to break lots of typing rules that Mr. Pirlot drilled into me to scratch this out, because it’s too hard to use only words that don’t contain f, r, t, v, or g.
And there is plenty of leftover lasagna.