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Bewildering Stories

Channie Greenberg, Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts


Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts
Author: Channie Greenberg
with Rivka Gross
Publisher: Seashell Books
Date: April 4, 2021
Length: 255 pages
ISBN: 979-8732204346

In seventy literary bites, Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts invites readers to explore the complex roles of females. This book celebrates moms’ ability to simultaneously: mop carpets, diaper doll bottoms, chop beans, and actualize professional jobs. As well, this book regards, jadedly, some of the conventions surrounding womenfolk’s socially prescribed limits.

This assemblage is meant to be provocative. It is a collection of frankly noisy notions at the same time as it is a rationale for ordering more chips and dips, for triaging one’s inflatable swimming pools, and for weighing the utility of papier-mâché parrots. Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts makes readers scold their supervisors while simultaneously wishing to be elsewhere, hugging their children. It is a peppery itch without the relief of a rub. Above all, this assemblage is an invitation to engage in critical thinking.

Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts intentionally stomps around uncomfortable topics, dares to engage, to enrage, and to otherwise trigger emotions. For instance, this work describes The Middle East’s history of disputed real estate with the same nonchalance with which it refers to the availability of affordable, herbal galactagogues. What’s more, Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts as readily bemoans excessive teen energies as it does adults’ overreliance on electronic devices. Basically, this book does not shy away from prickly positions and it does not recoil from edifying ones. Sweet and Sour: Womanly Thoughts shovels collective cow dung into double dug rows for the express purpose of agitating, viz., for the express purpose of catalyzing new questions.

“All Manner of Sunshine”

“Mommy, I have to throw up,” Missy Younger announces. I dash from raw chicken mingled with freezer wrap to the breakfast table. En route, I soap hands, hers, and mine, and shove the icy bird away from our cats, into our unplugged microwave. I dab banana-applesauce cum finger-paint from Younger Dude’s hair. I lift Missy Younger, toilet lid, and light switch, while noting our toilet bowl’s condition. Meanwhile, Younger Dude, our two year-old, completes tableside leg presses. I catch him as he and his chair lean toward our plate glass patio door. All manners of sunshine beam into my home.

First Cat eyeballs Missy Younger’s unfinished meal. Younger Dude reaches; more banana falls earthward. Belly sounds float from the bathroom while I refrigerate Missy Younger’s leftovers. The gagging stops. Missy Younger, a four year-old, is now busily exploring the dried urine and foreign mater adhered to our toilet’s rim. When I check, I see no tummy ache signs in the clear water. “Just a little throw up,” Missy Younger claims as she aims a perfect spit ball. I return to contemplating Younger Dude’s completed fruit fresco. Beyond the glass, other creatures stir.

Younger Dude pounds artwork while chanting “go ‘way ca.” Our neighbor’s pet eschews birds but likes peanut butter. Our neighbor’s fuzzball scatters our jays. Our own housebound fuzzball replies by piling his governance under the children’s art easel. Rubber gloves protect my pregnant flesh. I scoop poop. Younger Dude hops to the bathroom to play alongside Missy Younger; he carefully aims his saliva. Elsewhere, our third cat finishes Younger Dude’s breakfast while I wash to salvage the partially wrapped poultry.

The children watch, wide-eyed, yet frowning. I wash them. We survey our table settings before applying our sponges and mini vac. Younger Dude sponges carpet. Missy Younger sponges Younger Dude. Sirens sound. I shove the raw bird into our refrigerator, next to yesterday’s oatmeal-cookie-green bean mix.

As a distraction, we pretend to be elephants looking for oases. We need baths. But Mommy forgets that our kingdom’s law grants the first little naked child prime waterhole rights. More sirens. Both Younger Dude and Missy Younger prefer to swim by the tub’s controls, where our ducky-covered spout protector and our tub stopper grow multi-colored mold.

I offer toys. Younger Dude knows numbers for miniature frogs versus large, red fish. I warn my pachyderms against drinking the water, and then settle back to regard my belly.

My baby animals want no leave of their water play. Hackled flesh does not concern them. I wrap protesting children. Worn, I collect little boats and various manners of finned sidekicks. It is 7:30 in the morning.

Hours shrink. Dollies fight. Cats dodge books. Missy Younger sticks our nursery window shade at strange angles. Younger Dude dumps out his sister’s box of beaded accessories. Faux pearls and glimmery stones fall floorward. Missy Younger doesn’t notice; she is busied pulling out all twelve or fifty-seven pairs of her tights. I retrieve four broken necklaces and kiss a little foot jabbed by a pin. Suddenly aware, Missy Younger searches for an earring’s mate.

A final pair of tights flutters. I corral Younger Dude onto the changing table. Missy Younger bolts for the bathroom. She shouts I ought to have left the light on. I rush behind her, naked Younger Dude in one arm, tangled tights draping over the other. Missy Younger projects a lovely stream of saliva into the toilet. The phone rings.

Later, the phone rings again. It is 9:00 in the morning.

String from a weaving kit binds our dining room chairs. Fresh magic marker stains my office rug. I tug sequins off my shirt. Our first and third cats emerge. They think it’s lunchtime. Our second cat again shows his discontent in a pile under the children’s art easel.

Hours later, my husband crosses the threshold. I kiss his cheek, forgetting that he is over five, and help him to receive the children.

I sequester. From the upper corner of our home, my office, I hear screaming. In the kitchen, below, it is not high tinsel voices that rouse me from my sanctuary, but my husband’s robust noise. His yell contains both surprise and dread. I save a file and then run to save him.

Younger Dude’s foot is sticking out from between our sofa’s cushions. I hear car and truck sounds emanating from within the upholstery. Our first, second and third cats are hiding.

In the kitchen, Missy Younger perches on the counter, next to the omelette makings her Daddy had prepared. The children love “eggs mixed up with things.” Muck covers Daddy. Missy Younger really had to throw up.

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Previously published in Natural Jewish Parenting. Sept. 2011.

Copyright © 2021 by Channie Greenberg

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