Scene: Our hideous kitchen, about 6:45am.  Our kitchen has no windows and the walls are tiled in a color that my downstairs neighbor describes as “delicately congealed oatmeal.”  Congealed oatmeal combined with overhead florescent lights give my skin a lovely waxy glow–I imagine the same sort of pallor worn by extras on the zombie TV show “The Walking Dead.”

I am half-asleep, wheezing and coughing because I have a cold and maybe a sinus infection, shuffling around making the boys breakfast before school.  Why do they have to eat every morning, anyway? Why can’t they just get a to-go cup of coffee and get on their way, like normal people?

Caleb looks at me. His eyes scan me up and down, like he’s Tim Gunn’s mini-me.

Caleb: Mommy, why don’t you wear make-up?

Me (about dropping the pancake pan): Make-up? You mean like those fancy moms we used to see at your old school?

Caleb: Yeah. I think you should.

Me: Uh…why?

Another full-body scan.

Caleb: Well….you’re a little bit…wrinkly on your face.

Liam (eager as always to be the expert): No, Caleb. You don’t get it. She only wears mascara sometimes. She told me. The other night when she was putting on mascara before they went out to dinner.

Me: standing slack-jawed staring at the panel of Glamour judges who are suddenly sitting at my kitchen table.

Caleb: Why she wears mascara?

Liam: She said she wears mascara when she doesn’t feel well because it opens up her eyes so she looks more awake.  (He fans open his fingers–sort of Bob Fosse jazz hands–next to either eye, to demonstrate this opening-up process.)

Caleb looks at me again: Yeah. You definitely need mascara.