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The Copycat Game

(by Kim Shambach)

When my older daughter Jazmin was six years old, she discovered the art of tormenting everyone in the house with the copycat game, which she did as she does everything: relentlessly. With younger sister Joy (the obedient and passive middle child, until you really make her mad) and baby brother John (a sweetie, working hard on his speech skills), Jaz had the perfect set-up for her torture tactics of the moment.

I was somewhat newly divorced, figuring out how to parent smart and challenge everyone to be the best they could be without breaking anyone’s spirit. I didn’t have the option of threatening, “Wait until I tell your father.”

One Wednesday after school, I took the kids out for Kentucky Fried Chicken near our home in Palm Beach County, as a treat before church that night. Jaz was repeating every word we said. Joy had resigned herself to silence, while John tried to carry on a conversation, his arduous attempts at speaking mercilessly mocked by his sister. He’s a gentle, patient soul, but finally he stood up on the bench seat of the restaurant and said in an adorable toddler way, "Aww, Mom, can I hit her?"

Jazmin smiled gleefully, knowing that my answer was going to be, “No, honey, we don't hit.” But I’d reached my limit too, and had an inspiration that required going outside the box of modeling good parental skills—way outside for me. Answering John but looking at Jazmin (and trying to appear serious), I said, "Why, yes, John, yes, you can."

Jaz's face went from triumphant sneer to utter shock. John heaved a sigh of relief, and actually started winding up a punch, intent on carrying through, which made Jaz scramble to exit the booth, moving so quickly that she tumbled to the floor. She retreated to the ladies room, leaving John extraordinarily disappointed that he didn't get to punch his sister. I was now wearing the shit-eating grin that had left Jazmin's face just moments before. John, Joy, and I enjoyed eating the rest of our meal in peace, while Jazmin sulked in the ladies room. And when she returned, the mocking came to an end.

Jaz has grown up to be an amazing, talented, and fierce woman, and I am unbelievably proud of her. To this day, she does not eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken. But we do a mean garlic and sage rub.


Kim Shambach is a paralegal in Flagler County, Florida. Jazmin is a banker, engaged to a wonderful man. Joy is happily married to a police officer, with two sons. John is planning a career in physical fitness, still sweet, with devilish side ascended.

Garlic- and Sage-Rubbed Chicken

2 T. chopped fresh sage

1 T. chopped fresh parsley

1 t. dried thyme

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 t. flavorless vegetable oil

4 lb. whole roasting chicken

2 T. butter, softened

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In small bowl, mix sage, parsley, thyme, and garlic; mix well.

Remove 1 T. of the mixture and add oil. Set aside.

Rub remaining mixture under skin of chicken, working into breast and thigh areas.

Rub outer skin with butter.

Truss chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place chicken on a rack and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until fork-tender and juices run clear.

During last 5 minutes of baking time, rub reserved herb-oil mixture over chicken.

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