Yo-ho yo-ho, a mummy’s life for me….
Hey kids! What day is it?
Tbogg reader: (shouted with nipple-hardening enthusiasm) It’s Friday!
That’s right, which means it’s time for the adventures of America’s Worst Mother™, Meghan Cox Gurdon.
When we last left Meghan she had endangered the lives of her children, Leona, Hibiscus, Mandalay, and Grunion by locking herself out of the house with the oven on, and then ruining the childrens dinner while she gossiped on the phone about another mother who thinks she’s so cool just because her kids are clean, clothed, and well-fed.
This week we find the Gurdon’s enjoying a night of family reading from the children’s collection of urine-soaked Pirate fiction. Unfortunately son Grunion can’t seem to sit still, possibly because his mother ground up all of his ritalin and added it to her morning smoothie, the one she calls “Mummy’s Little Helper”:
“Like this?” Paris leaps off the sofa and flings himself onto the floor, arms out rigidly, making a face like a dead rat. We all laugh. He jumps up again and cannonballs back into his seat on he sofa. “Oof,” I say involuntarily, and resume reading aloud from Chapter XXV of Treasure Island.
” — Israel Hands propped against the bulwarks, his chin on his chest, his hands lying open before him on the deck, his face as white, under its tan, as a tallow candle — ”
“Go on, Mummy! I love this story!”
“For a while the ship kept bucking and sidling like a vicious horse, the sails filling, now on one tack, now on another, and the boom swinging to and fro until the mast groaned aloud with the strain ? ”
“Psssshhhwww!” Paris blasts off again, and reels around the sitting room making a noise like a schooner in bad weather, his arms alternately billowing like sails and whacking back and forth like a boom.
“Like this, right? Gnnnarrrr….” he groans, mast-like.
At this point, Mr. Meghan makes a Hitchcock-like cameo appearance:
“Aw, Paris, let Mummy read,” my husband and Molly protest, as one.
“Okay, okay,” he complains, still making crafty piratical faces. We continue. For a paragraph. Until someone interrupts.
Meanwhile, as Grunion leaps about the room like a caffinated hummingbird, we discovered that the girls are nestled all snug in their beds and are dreaming about francophile elephants who, unlike their French people counterparts, have no qualms about killing an Arab:
Upstairs the little girls are dreaming of well-dressed elephants after their hour-long reading-aloud session, a Talmudic scrutiny of The Story of Babar. If you have not read it recently, you may have forgotten that the Francophone pachyderm is riding on his mother’s back when a hunter shoots her. Babar runs away in terror to a Mediterranean city, where he is drawn up short by the sight of two gentlemen: “Really, they are very well dressed,” Babar says to himself, “I would like to have some fine clothes, too! I wonder how I can get them?”
This bizarre Gallic reasoning ? Your mother died today, or was it yesterday? You need new clothes! ? comports perfectly with Violet’s world view.
We then learn that the girls are already in bed, prior to seven PM, and that Meghan has grown imaptient with young Grunion and has taken to glancing at her watch, stealing glances at the liquor cabinet, and thanking God that she had her husband fixed, otherwise she’d never get to that pitcher of Harvey Wallbangers:
As Babar heads for the nearest department store, I glance at my watch. There is nothing so worth doing as messing about with books in the nursery, as Kenneth Grahame might put it, but it’s almost seven and I’ve got Treasure Island still to go. I cannot imagine how it would be to have, say, twelve children. How could you possibly introduce them all to the great works of juvenile fiction? If you started reading The Big Red Barn to the toddlers right after dinner, you’d barely be finishing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at midnight. No wonder so many Americans restrict the size of their families.
We then find out that daughter Hibiscus has an oral fixation involving animals that should alarm Rick Santorum:
“That’s me. With my goat,” says Phoebe, removing two fingers from her mouth just long enough to point at a little girl in the drawing, then slotting them back in again.
And that son Grunion has started expressing certain violent fantasies:
We’re almost at the end, when an interruption comes in and jumps on the bed.
“Sorry girlies,” Paris says, “Mummy, look what I’ve just done!”
He holds up a crude drawing of his own: a stick-figure man hanging from a kind of egg. Underneath the man is what looks like a flower. There’s a dark line scrawled diagonally across the whole scene.
“Wow, what is this?”
“It’s a ‘No Parachuting in a Thunderstorm’ sign,” Paris says earnestly, “Because, you know, KABOOM-aiieee!”
Upstairs, in their beds, the sleeping girls feel the icy hand of fate stroking their fevered brows.
(Added): In Rashomon style, World O’Crap has a slightly different take.