Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spill It

My mother likes to remind me of the somewhat exaggerated fact that every time she poured me a glass of Tropicana orange juice, I spilled it.  The fact that the juice was Tropicana is key here, because, according to her, I only spilled the expensive stuff.  If she gave me orange juice from concentrate or some off-label brand, I managed to keep it in the cup. 

I also probably didn’t drink it, orange juice snob that I was.   I’m sure the frequency with which I spilled was directly proportional to how frequently I raised my glass to my lips.

I have the clumsy gene, passed on to me from my mother.  Our legs are dappled with black and blue marks, and have been as long as I can remember.  Growing up, the piano bench was my mortal enemy.  I couldn’t come down the stairs, round the corner at the base and walk the dining room without making contact with it.  I can picture it there, waiting to strike, snickering as it heard my footfalls nearing.  Thus, I had a perpetual violet slash just above my knee.  Today, I can rarely trace the ugly elliptical bruises to a particular insult.  Which is to say, I walk into far too many objects to lay the blame with any one in particular.

I do not need to wait to have our genomes sequenced to know that this is carried on the x-gene, a dominant trait, that has been now been passed on to my daughter.  Sophie is also a klutz.  Maybe I’m not being fair.  Our maladroitism is probably better attributed to a dreamy, head-in-the-clouds state of being than to an inherent lack of grace. 

Sophie is always whirling, twirling, jumping, bumping, crashing, crying and suddenly flying again—just as fast as I can call out, “Be careful!  Look out!“  By now, I would think she’d be made of tougher stuff, but she takes her bruises hard—every minor scratch is worthy of gooey maternal attention. 

But when it comes to beverages, I got smart.  I wasn’t going to bemoan the loss of $2000 worth of organic milk due to spillage.  I was going to prevent the spillage from happening in the first place.  Thus, well into her sixth year, against my mother queries of, “don’t you think she’s old enough to drink from a regular cup?” she imbibed from a cup, capped with a straw. 

And every time it came crashing to the ground with nary a leak, I commended myself on my utter brilliance.  Independence be damned. 

But there comes a point in motherhood, where you start to grow uneasy with your intrusiveness.  You start to question the degree to which you might be enabling instead of empowering.  It’s an invisible tipping point.  A gentle nagging as you look at all the other children around her drinking from regular, grown-up glasses…isn’t it time.

But I wasn’t ready to turn over our glasses to Sophie.  Bestowed to us wedding gifts, uniquely square and now irreplaceable, they have thinned in number due to my ongoing drinking problem.   

Fact of the matter:  I should still have a cap and straw. 

There had to be a happy medium.  A training glass.  Something she could wrap her slippery paws around made of such strong stuff, they would bounce instead of shatter as they hit our hardwood kitchen floor.   So I googled it.

Low and behold, there is such a glass, the Picardie by Duralex, which has been the primary drinking glass in French school cafeterias for decades.  Durlex introduced tempering in 1939, which renders glass 4 to 5 times stronger than standard glass. 

I realize I sound like a commercial.  I swear, Duralex did not sponsor this article and I am not in the business of promoting particular products, but I was excited to find something to replace the plastic Take n’ Toss cups we have likely been using for far too long.  Particularly as we discover that almost all plastics—even those that are BPA-free and thought to be safe—have some level of estrogenic activity. 

I showed the image of glasses to Kevin who noted that they looked very similar to the cups he drank from as a child.  In fact, we still had two in the cabinet.  He retrieved the two small 6-ouncers that were stashed away on the top shelf, next to our shot glasses.  Sure enough, they bore the Duralex made-in-France stamp at the bottom.

Kevin’s mother had purchased these somewhere in the vicinity of 35 years ago.  At once, I felt a quiet kinship with her and saddened by the fact that she was no longer alive to have given me this bit of advice.  I might have made the transition sooner. 

That evening, I filled the glass –the one her own father drank from as a child, though I doubt he dropped it much, if at all—and set it in front of Sophie.  Her round grey eyes grew rounder with pleasure as absorbed it’s implications—this new level of trust. 

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