Death By 1,000 Cuts


Because my biological clock hates me, I am often the first person to wake up in my house. I’ve grudgingly come to accept this, but this acceptance doesn’t make me any more pleasant to be around.

This past Saturday, my son, Alex, found me at the breakfast table a quarter of the way through an Atlantic cover story, one third of the way through my first waffle, and halfway through my third cup of coffee.

“Waffles! I think I’ll have that, too,” he announced.

He then paused to see if his declaration would spur me to act – and it did. My actions were a long, slurpy pull on my coffee and a facial expression that could be interpreted to mean, “Get yer own damn waffles.”

Alex took the hint. He popped two waffles into the toaster and set a place for himself.

This morning I decided to have my waffles with peanut butter and maple syrup. Alex decided to go the same way.

“Can you spread peanut butter on my waffles?” he asked.

“You’re ten,” I replied.

“But you do suuuuch a good job!” he replied. His stifled grin interfered a bit with the pathetic quivering lower lip effect he was going for. “You do it so good and I’m just a widdle boy.”

I delivered another glare, which Alex found terribly amusing. He proceeded to peanut butter his waffles.

He soon made a mess of things. Peanut butter found its way onto the knife handle. It traveled from the handle to his hands. Then it leapt from his hands onto everything he touched.

“Freeze! Are you finished putting peanut butter on your waffles?”


“OK. Put the knife in the sink, wash you hands, and get a clean knife.”

Alex delivered a crisp salute that would make an Army general proud if not for those peanut buttery fingers and proceeded to do what he was told.

I went back to my article. As I read, I heard the knife clunk into the sink. I heard the water in the kitchen sink. I heard the soap dispenser, the water turn off, the rip of a paper towel, the opening of the silverware drawer, and the clanging of flatware.

All reassuring sounds.

Then I heard a scritch scritcha-scritch.

I peered up from my magazine to find Alex wriggling his new, clean knife against the bottom of the peanut butter jar.

“What are you doing? You said you were done.”

He pulled out the knife, a blob of peanut butter dangled from the blade. “I’m done with putting peanut butter on the waffles. This is for lickin’s.”

I took his knife from him and scraped the blade’s contents back into the jar. “You don’t need lickin’s.” I handed him back the knife. I returned to my magazine just in time to hear a familiar clunk.

“Did you throw that knife in the sink, too?”



Alex shrugged and made a noise that sounded like “Nuh-uh-nuh.”

Alex wasn’t sure if I was crabby or just too tired to adequately suppress my crabby tone. He erred on the side of caution.

“It’s OK,” he said. “I don’t need a knife.” He then proceeded to demonstrate how he could cut his waffle with the edge of the tiny dessert fork he selected from the drawer.

The only problem with Alex’s plan was that he couldn’t cut the waffle. Not even close.

In fact, Alex’s inability to cut his waffle with the wee fork was so total, so absolute, so patently absurd he could barely contain his glee.

“How you doin’ there?” I asked.

Alex responded with merry snort.

“With the cutting. Doing good?”

He wheezed.

“Getting a little hungry?”

Nothing makes Alex happier than the realization that he is the main character in a comedy bit. He quixotically continued to hack away at the petulant pastry adding a few strenuous grunts here and there for emphasis. I, on the other hand, did my best Edgar Kennedy impression.


And Alex guffawed his way back to the silverware drawer.

“Geeze. What are we in a British manor house? We need thirty piece of silverware to eat a waffle? Knives for spreading. Knives for licking. Knives for cutting. Knives for looking at cross-eyed…”

Alex crossed his eyes, looked at his new knife, and headed for the sink.

“Oh, don’t even think about it!”

That was the moment he lost it.

“I swear, kid, you’re not gonna be happy until I do an entire dishwasher load of nothing but knives. Dishwasher’s full! This is the breakfast knife load! Just knives! Just breakfast!”

Alex’s laugh turned into “Bwaaaah!” that echoed through the house and woke up Ellen.

“What’s going on?” she yawned.

“Tell her! Tell Mom the story.” Alex shouted.

“OK, I’ll tell her the story,” I replied. “The story is: It is going to be a very, very long summer.”


Long story short, school is out — and my pride and joy is already upping my dish washing work by 300 percent.

So I’m going to shut down the ol’ blog until September.

Hope everyone has a fantastic summer! See you again soon!






83 Replies to “Death By 1,000 Cuts”

  1. Now that my son is out of school, he thinks I’m a restaurant service. Every 15 minutes I hear a “Mom, I’m hungry.” Hope you survive the summer. Sounds like you’re off to a great start. 🙂

  2. Just this past week I hand-washed and dried 6 knives that I plucked out of the dishwasher basket so that Child #1 could set the dinner table. Was tempted to break out the plastic picnic cutlery!
    Enjoy your blog break. I anticipate that Alex will provide plenty of fodder for future posts this fall.

  3. I’m still not sure whether I should “Like” this… Where will all my spontaneous humor come from?
    Well… I guess if you have to go… The best I can do is wish you “Good luck” and “see” you soon 😉

      1. Chores are fun. Cleaning the house is fun. Mowing the lawn is… no, it’s no good, I can’t even keep it up that long!

      2. I brought the lawn into the house,
        To mow it in the rain.
        My wife was less than happy –
        She never spoke to me again!

  4. Oh yeah. Kids are home for the summer! It’s been a while, and I forgot about that endless adventure of excursions, meals, laundry, dishes, dirt, sweat, Bwa ha ha ha. Have a great time, Mike. See you in September 😀

  5. If it had been me, I would have picked up the waffle and eaten it like an open face sandwich. 😉

    I’ve been expecting the summer exit…have a good one.

      1. We will be hitting New York in early August. Sorry…it’s western NY. I will finally get to see a Renaissance Faire. 😀 :

  6. “Happy” summer, Mike. Hope it’s full of peanut butter and waffles, a giggly son and understanding wife, and maybe a trip to the Jersey shore! If so, I’ll look for you this August, when my extended family and I will be roaming the OC NJ beaches. Whoo hoo!!!

      1. Looooooooong time family tradition for OCNJ. I have photos of my dad holding me as a 2-year-old in front of the pier. Like I said, a looooong tradition. 🙂 HAPPY SUMMER.

  7. Oh Mike, you never fail to make me laugh properly out loud. Your son knows you oh so well hey, knows how to get you to put in a performance by playing his own role to perfection 🙂 By the way…third cup of coffee? It’s still only breakfast time? My hands are shaking and my head aching just reading that much caffeine! Darn…you’ll be missed Mike, but I’ll wish you and yours a fabulous summer anyways… Hugs, Harula xxx

    1. My boy is a natural wit and born scene stealer. And I say this with great pride.

      And hold on; are you telling me that you — a writer — do NOT need to get amped up on coffee every morning?

      1. LOL – your pride is well placed. For sure coffee and I spend every breakfast together – but one large strong mug and I’m well and truly ‘amped up’ – I am no spider woman, and have no desire to drink more and climb all over the ceiling… Caffeine fulled hugs (my mug has just been emptied), Harula xxx

  8. It must be a universal 10-year-old problem except my kids wouldn’t dare put a knife near their mouth which is my biggest pet hate. Do you know how you have that one thing that tips you over the edge? Well, licking knives sends me bonkers. Enjoy your Summer break 🙂

      1. Crack up!! My family think I’m crazy, but I have nightmares of someone getting nudged in the back while licking a knife and somehow impaling themselves on it. I know, crazy 😉

  9. “Alex’s inability to cut his waffle with the wee fork was so total, so absolute, so patently absurd he could barely contain his glee.” I can just imagine this. Well described.
    “Nothing makes Alex happier than the realization that he is the main character in a comedy bit.” And he knows that you know that he knows…..
    Life is good. Applause for taking a pause and going out to enjoy ALL that’s happening out there. See ya’ later!

      1. Hey doing dishes can hold the meaning of life: lots of bubbles, splashy fun (add a spray nozzels and, oh, no need to give your son any more ideas), few weird unpleasant things encountered – and with the right detergent, you can end up with soft hands! It’s all good. Cheers and enjoy the adventures!

      1. Will do. BTW, have you taught your son about the Goops? I learned it as “The Goops they lick their fingers. The Goops they lick their knives. The Goops they do disgusting things and lead disgusting lives.” But here’s the real McCoy.

        The Goops by Gelett Burgess

        The meanest trick I ever knew
        Was one I know you never do.
        I saw a Goop once try to do it,
        And there was nothing funny to it.
        He pulled a chair from under me
        As I was sitting down; but he
        Was sent to bed, and rightly, too.
        It was a horrid thing to do!

        Table Manners

        The Goops they lick their fingers,
        And the Goops they lick their knives;
        They spill their broth on the tablecloth–
        Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
        The Goops they talk while eating,
        And loud and fast they chew;
        And that is why I’m glad that I
        Am not a Goop–are you?

  10. Hahaha “lickin’s” are yummy’s 😉 Enjoy the summer with your family – and hope the dishwashing routine doesn’t keep you too busy in the early mornings!

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