“Looks like it’s time for someone to make banana bread!”
In case you’re wondering, that “someone” is always me. And the person so helpfully pointing out that the bananas have gone bad? My husband.
This is an ongoing issue in my house. Several years ago, Jeff turned to me and said, “You know what your problem is?”
I stared back at him, not quite sure what he could possibly be talking about, as the question had come out of left field.
“You have a banana management problem.”
I wasn’t sure if this was code for something, a metaphor, or if he was actually criticizing me on the state of bananas in our house. Looking back, he was probably actually talking about bananas. In the years since, however, it has come to mean so much more.
I buy bananas. Sometimes they get eaten in 2 days, and then I hear complaints about the fact that there are no bananas. I buy bananas again the following week. This time, they hang there, forgotten in the corner of the kitchen, forlorn. They are untouched. They become limp and even less desirable day after day. Soon, they are brown, mushy. Their only company? The three thousand fruit flies that have appeared out of nowhere to signal their demise has finally come.
The truth that “Better Homes and Gardens” is afraid to talk about, is that banana management is way more difficult than one might think. I took home-ec; Mrs. Beckmeyer never prepared me for banana management. To truly excel at it, you almost have to have a triple masters in anthropology, biology, and sociology, with a dash of psychic ability thrown in. It requires predicting the consumptive behaviors of the 6 people living in my house, along with any guests that they might invite over.
It means watching for the signs that Sydney, who has eaten a banana or two every day for the past month, may soon hit the limit on her banana phase, just as she did her mango phase. There was a period of time a few months ago when Sydney became obsessed with mangos. On the grocery list she would simply write, “anything mango.” I knew she was headed for mango burnout. No one can consume that much mango in that short period of time without coming to despise it. I remember when the mangos started rotting in the crisper, the juice expired, and the most recent mango jam sat unopened in the pantry. She had broken her mango taste buds, possibly forever.
“Banana management” has come to represent my role as a homemaker in general. It’s all about anticipating what my family needs and wants before they even know they need and/or want it. A full bunch of black bananas hanging from the hook indicates a failure on my part- a breakdown of my system. When they still had some yellow on them, they could be salvaged for banana bread, or maybe frozen for smoothies. But once a banana goes black, it never goes back… to anything palatable.
Here’s where things get tricky: Just because the bananas rotted this week, doesn’t mean they won’t all be asking, “Where are the bananas? Why didn’t you get bananas? Are you going to the store soon? Will you get bananas?” And just because they asked, begged, pleaded for bananas, doesn’t mean this batch won’t rot also. And people wonder why moms are all crazy.
The “banana management” theory also loosely applies to the laundry situation. While my laundry issues are many and varied, and a whole other topic for another day, there are definitely aspects of my laundry conundrum that correlate to my banana management struggles.
In the laundry version of banana management, in addition to your other skills, you must also have a firm grasp of meteorology to forecast the weather ( and therefore whether to focus on sweats and jeans or shorts and t-shirts), in addition to having everyone’s weekly schedule memorized, particularly sporting practices and games. You must not wash too many loads of darks in a row, otherwise everyone will have jeans, but no socks. Too many sheets and towel loads, (which are what I call my ‘lazy’ loads-The easiest to fold and put away) and everyone has to go naked for a day. The clearest sign of poor laundry banana management? When I find myself doing the “crazed uniform dig” -desperately praying that by some miracle I already washed it because the game is in 30 minutes, but all the while my gut is telling me that my kid will be showing up in a moderately stained shirt, smelling an awful lot like Meadow Fresh Lysol.
Usually, though, it’s the socks and underwear that are my downfall. First, they always sink to the bottom of the basket. Or pile. Oh, who am I kidding, the mountain that has formed on the floor of my laundry room. Second, I absolutely detest the sock and underwear load. All those pieces. Unfoldable. Get stuck in the folds of the washer. Doesn’t transfer easily into the dryer. And then comes the sorting for 6 people. I believe sock sorting is one of the torture techniques banned by the Geneva Convention. I really hate the sock load. Really.
Jeff and I are going on a trip this week, and my mother-in-law is coming to stay with the kids. This has thrown a kink in all things “banana management.” My husband walked into the room a little while ago and said, “I don’t hear laundry going!” He says it in a sing-song voice, as if it’s something I should get excited about. This is his version of “helping” me with my pre-trip banana management- he’s telling me in a nice way that he will be annoyed if he goes to pack for the trip and he doesn’t have clean clothes. I suppose it’s better than the alternative if he said, “Wash my clothes, woman!”
He’s also concerned that I will be leaving my mother-in-law in the lurch if I don’t do a big grocery shopping before we leave. What he doesn’t realize is that after 20 years, and in spite of what he may believe, I’m getting pretty darn good at banana management. I already know that between Zoe’s practice, Parker’s game, Zoe’s trip to the lady Sounders, Nathan and Sydney’s date to the musical, and Parker’s boy scout camping trip this week, she will only have to make dinner Thursday night. I also already know that Parker will talk her into making his favorite- chicken broccoli casserole, the ingredients for which I am already in possession.
And I have no intention of buying bananas that I will not be here to supervise.*
*After I had Sydney proofread my post she looked at me sadly and said, “Wait- are you really not getting bananas?”