I should’ve known better.  I shouldn’t have bought it at all, or I should’ve just left it in my purse. No, that would have just delayed the inevitable.  I guess I just should’ve thrown the extra away…in Columbus, an hour and a half from home.  You see, I bought gum this week.  I knew better than to buy gum, but I went a little crazy.  The wildness of 20 hours away got to me, and I bought 14 slim slivers of sugar-free Cinnamon Trident.  Curses.

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Somewhere in my formative years, an unnamed relative told me about popping Red Hots candies on boring road trips to keep him alert.  Was it you, Uncle Marty? I have imbedded this memory, and instinctively crave something fiery and cinnamony when hitting the open road.

On Sunday, I took a drive. I had the delicious pleasure of driving in the car, all alone, for a whisper over an hour and a half back to my college town.  I had podcasts planned, explicit lyrics to sing angrily, moments of silence and reflection–a cross country tour’s worth of ideas.  Before I left, Riley and I went to Target without kids.  I should blog about that, but it was pretty blissfully easy and uneventful.  I didn’t take him to the bathroom a single time or whisper yell at him to get his act together.  By check-out, I was feeling foot-loose and fancy-free, and I tossed some cinnamon Trident onto the conveyor belt.  That tiny gum was going to go GREAT with all those big plans I had made.

The drive was far more congested and far less delightful than I had hoped.  I was driving Riley’s zippy Subaru that is a manual transmission and very much NOT a minivan.  The gum was tasty, but the podcast was hard to hear over the revs of my husband’s car.  I never turned on the music because I was too nervous to go pressing buttons and take my eyes off the road.  Having to downshift because no one can drive on GA interstates, all sorta messed with my buzz.

Monday afternoon, upon reuniting, the children saw the gum.  The children were astonished by the gum. They had to know everything there was to know about the gum. They were enthralled with the gum.  Are you tired of the words “the gum” yet? Because I am trying to do a thing here.  A thing that will help you to feel my crazy.

“Where did you get THAT gum?” Target.

“When did you go to TARGET?” Yesterday.

“Did you get me anything at Target?” No.

“How many pieces are left?” I don’t know. Count them.

“Can I have two pieces of gum?” No.

“Why did you get cinnamon gum? It’s hot.”  Silence. But mind is racing through thoughts of explaining that I am whole person.  A person that has her own tastes and opinions that may or may not be THEIR tastes and opinions.  A person that enjoys the freedom of buying a pack of gum without explanation or justification. And these thoughts went on for quite some time.  In fact, I am still thinking them now, 5 days later.

On and on and on and on went the questions about the gum.  They talked about it in the car on the way home.  They talked about it to my husband when he got home from work.  They talked about it after dinner because that’s when you ask for another piece.  It was the first words on their lips the next morning.  Because that is the problem with gum and children: All the words.  And the problem with 4 children, is that they rarely hear each other ask these questions. And so I get to do this on a loop.  They are nearly always in the same two rooms or better still in the same van, yet they magically never hear the answers to questions posed by others.  I estimate that I spoke no less than 500 words about the Cinnamon Trident in the 6 and a half waking hours they knew about the Cinnamon Trident before I screamed (from the toilet) on Tuesday morning, “JUST EAT THE GUM! I DONT CARE HOW MANY PIECES ARE LEFT. JUST EAT IT! AND THROW THE PACKAGE IN THE TRASH.  YES, THE FRONT TRASH CAN. THE BACK TRASHCAN IS FOR RECYCLING! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT??????!!!!!!!”  I  think that’s pretty nearly exactly what I said. I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to write this blog because I am still feeling so assaulted about the gum.  How can 13 (because I ate one) little pieces of gum do this to me?  How can these children do this to me?

In all the beautifully marketed pieces of propaganda for the Simplicity/ Less is More Movement no one ever told me one single thing about gum!  Because if I had just lived more simply and not spent that $1.29 on Trident, I am CERTAIN that I would feel emotionally balanced right now!  Thank God that gum is gone! And thank God it wasn’t a BOGO.

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