Chick Wit: Three blocks and the usual baggage

Posted: September 25, 2011

I'm helping Daughter Francesca move, but we're going nowhere.


Because we fight.

The trouble is the difference in our approach.

To everything.

And, of course, we're adamant. We get that from Mother Mary.

When in doubt, blame it on your mother.

Unless your mother is me.

We begin with a basic difference to moving, in general. My approach is that everything in one apartment has to be put in boxes to be carted to another apartment, there to be unpacked. By the way, what I've learned is that if you live in New York, you essentially live in a box, so you pack a box to move to a box.

Some people move to bigger boxes, like from a matchbox to a ring box. Rich people live in an earring box. Only Donald Trump has a shoe box.

Francesca isn't moving to a bigger box, she's moving to a safer box, which is fine by me.

But back to my point.

Since everything has to be unpacked, I don't think it matters how it gets packed, which box it goes in, how much tape it has, or how the box is labeled. So I don't spend a lot of time on these details. I drive to New York and start putting things in boxes. It's not rocket science. Any one of my dogs can do it, and if I had my way, I'd hand them a roll of tape and tell them to get cracking.

So, for example, if I see a stack of dishes and put them in the box and tape up the box. On the box I write KITCHEN.

You see my logic.

It's like when you eat dinner. Does it matter whether you have the peas or the potatoes first?


To me, moving is like Thanksgiving dinner, with packing tape.

It doesn't matter what it is, only where it goes, and it all goes to the same place. And when it gets there and somebody unwraps it, it will be a fun little surprise. Like Christmas morning, only with things you don't want.

A spatula? For me? How did you know?

See how much fun I am? Every day is a holiday with me. That's why I'm divorced twice.

To stay on point, it takes me five seconds to pack a box, and if I packed the entire apartment, I'd have it done in 15 minutes.

I think I'm doing great until I notice that Francesca is wrapping each dish individually with white paper and putting it in a box, then wrapping the entire wrapped stack with more white paper, then putting it in box and stuffing the sides of the box with even more white paper.

"That's a lot of paper," I say.

"I don't want them to break."

"They won't break. We're only going three blocks away."

"Still. How are you doing it?" Francesca looks over, and I push the dogs in front so she can't see my bare little plate stack, like pancakes without the syrup.

Suffice it to say that words are exchanged. Many words, in a fight that takes longer than packing 10 boxes. Especially the way that I pack them. In fact, the fight ends up being about the fight, which is our favorite thing. We fight over who said what in the fight, and especially the tone that was used.

Tone is the enemy of the mother-daughter relationship.

Also eye-rolling.

By the way, if you were thinking that it's Francesca who does the eye-rolling, you're wrong.

It's me. Guilty as charged. I'm a professional. I can roll my eyes, flutter my lids, and use the wrong tone all at the same time, which is a great example of multitasking by mothers.

Anyway, we resolve our argument by agreeing that I stop packing.

Fine with me.

Heh heh.

There's cleaning to be done, so I volunteer to go clean the refrigerator.

She wraps, and I clean, and when I'm finished, we make up, all nice. Kisses and hugs and tears.

And she says: "Where's the food from the refrigerator?"

I blink. "I threw it away."

"What? Why?"

"You wanted me to pack half-jars of strawberry jelly?"

"Of course. It's only three blocks away."

"Aha! Why does it matter for the jelly, but not for the dishes?"

And we're off and running.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's new book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side

of Life as a Mother and Daughter," coming

Nov. 22. Visit Lisa at

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