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Self-Reliance the Hard (or, Rather, Nonexistent) Way

Yesterday morning, Pie comes bounding into the bedroom as I’m getting up.

Pie: Do we have blueberries?

Me: Why, yes, I believe we got pack from Boston Organics last week.

Pie: May I make blueberry muffins?

Me: That sounds like a great idea. Go flip through one of your kid cookbooks and find a recipe. Also check my whole grains cookbook.

A few minutes later she comes back.

Pie: Your whole grains cookbook didn’t have one, but my kid’s cookbook does. Can I make it?

I look at the recipe.

Me: It’s got a lot of butter but, well, sure. Go for it!

About 15 minutes later, we’re in the kitchen. I look at the recipe.

Me: Okay the first thing you need to do is get the butter from the fridge and melt it on the stove.

Pie: Can you do that?

Me: No, you’re the baker.

Pie: But I’m only nine. I can’t use the oven or stove.

Me: You are already nine, which is a fine time to learn properly and safely to use the oven and stove.

Pie: I think nine is too young.

Me: Do you know that when I was nine, if wanted cookies, they only way I could get them would be if I baked them? I followed the recipe on the back of the Nestle’s package and made Tollhouse Cookies.

Adam: And it always comes back to your poor, difficult childhood.

Me: You [to Adam], shut up. You [to Pie], get the butter.

Pie: You do it! I’m not going to use the oven or the stove! Can’t you do it for me?

Me: No. I don’t even like blueberry muffins. I’m not making them. If you want blueberry muffins, you will learn to use the oven and stove. I will be by your side helping you, but you will do it.

Pie: BUT IF I USE THE OVEN I WILL BURN MYSELF AND DIE!!!

Needless to say (though I’ll do so anyway), there were no blueberry muffins yesterday.

Interview with a 9 Year Old

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Me: What was last Monday?

9 year old: My birthday.

Me: If your birthday was on Monday, why am I interviewing you on Friday?

9 year old: Because on my birthday we were full–we were busy–and so we didn’t have time and we never got to do it because we had to do other stuff at home so we’re doing it today.

Me: What other stuff did we have to do?

9 year old: I had a birthday party and we had to unpack.

Me: What was your party like?

9 year old: It was a Hawaiian Splash Slumber Party. Meaning it was a Hawaiian party and the splash part was we played in water.

Me: Was it good?

9 year old: Yeah.

Me: How does it feel to be a nine year old?

9 year old: Good. Awesome. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

IMG_75639 year old: [In New York] We went to breakfast at the Cookshop and we went to the High Line and we went to Union Square playground. Then we went to the Converse store, and then went to this bakery but we didn’t get anything there [we were checking out the Cronut bakery, but the Cronuts were long gone and nothing else looked interesting to her] and then we got this watermelon water, which was really yummy, and then we went to the Chobani store [for a snack]. And then we went to the Children’s Museum of the Arts [where she drew, collaged, and made a clay birthday pig]. And then after that we went shopping with my aunt and her, um, boyfriend [the Tweedle Twins]. Then we went back to the apartment for presents and cake. And then we went out for dinner to Le Zie and Peter made these online invitations and it was really funny [otherwise known as calendar invites, which are amazing to a 9 year old). And then me and my aunt and my mom went to see Mamma Mia on Broadway. Then we went to Toys R Us but they were closing because it was almost 11 o'clock so we went back to the apartment and went back to sleep.

Me: Why do you keep saying "awnt"? It's pronounced "ant." Are you a Brown or a Medros? Only those fussy Medroses say "awnt."

9 year old: I'm a Brown-Medros.

Me: Was it a good birthday?

9 year old: Yes!

Me: What do you like to do these days?

9 year old: I like dance and I like soccer and I like Girl Scouts and I like to play the bass and I like Hebrew school and I do Smart Start [a before-school PE program] and I’m going to do Fit Girls [a running program for 4th and 5th grade girls]. I also like hanging out with family and friends.

Me: How did you end up so different from your brother?

9 year old: I don’t know because he’s just like, “Hmm, I just want to play on the computer,” and once the computer was invented, he was like “Adios, everybody,” and I was never like “Adios, everybody.” Differences are okay.

Me: What are your favorite books?

9 year old: I really like the Lunch Lady books. I like Wendy Mass.

Me: What are you listening to?

9 year old: Mamma Mia soundtrack. ABBA, actually. Selena Gomez. Who else? Mack Z.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

9 year old: Mamma Mia. Liv and Maddie. Kickin’ It. I Didn’t Do It. The 7D, which my brother taught me to like.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

9 year old: A writer or a teacher or maybe a scientist that studies plants.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 4th grade?

photo9 year old: Switching classes. And having my teacher [she got the teacher she wanted]. And dance parties [4th grade has Friday afternoon dance parties].

Me: What are your goals as an 9 year old?

9 year old: Be more awesomer [sic] than ever.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

9 year old: What’s that mean?

Me: Really? Again? Any grand statements? Any big thoughts? Here, look it up: “a formal declaration of opinion” or “an authoritative announcement.”

9 year old: Don’t eat bunnies! Bunnies aren’t food!

Me: Really? What does that even mean?

9 year old: Some stores have started selling bunny meat!

Me: What stores?

9 year old: I don’t know.

Me: You want to end on that note? What’s the last thing you want to say.

9 year old: Bye?

Ah, my 9 year old. May it be an “awesomer” year for you.

The Squeals Heard Round the World

Things in this house that were either misguided, misconstrued, or just plain old wrong (or, in other words, the reason my life of clean living has come to an abrupt end and why I hid in my bedroom until Teen Beach Movie was over and I had to force five tweens to brush their teeth and go to sleep):

  • I think the boy can handle a phone. He gets so much computer time, I don’t think controlling himself with a phone will be challenging
  • From Adam upon our return from New York: “There’s laundry in the washer and the dryer. If you want, you can take the stuff out of the dryer and move in the stuff from the washer.” [He didn't appear pleased when I responded, "No, thanks. I don't want."]
  • Having a sleepover the night after we get back from New York won’t be a big deal. How tired could Pie be after just one late night at the theater?
  • Pizza? Who needs pizza at the party? We’ll make our own sushi!
  • Making sushi should be a cinch. I mean, I’ve eaten enough rolls. How hard could it be to make our own?
  • Only five girls will make the party manageable.
  • A cat is dying in the family room. No other possible explanation from the stream of squeals emerging from there.
  • Pie has her first soccer practice the evening after her sleepover, two nights after getting back from New York. I’m sure she’ll be fine. So, her cleats are a little small. She’ll be so excited about soccer that I’m sure she won’t whine about that.
  • Teen Beach Movie looks totally harmless. Nothing in there could possibly scare Pie.
  • At least they’ll all sleep well tonight. They must have completely exhausted themselves.
  • I’m sure I can stay up later than a bunch of tweens. How late could they possibly stay up?
  • Hungry kids vs. coffee. I guess I better get them fed before I make the coffee.

Clean living? Try brownies for dinner (the girls ate the sushi, but damn, was it terrible!) and tonight, when the house is mine and soccer is done, Adam is making me a bourbon drink the size of my head. That is, if I don’t fall asleep first.

Too Tired

Birthday girl is too tired for her interview tonight. It’ll have to wait till morning….

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Interview with an 11 Year Old

Me: What’s today?IMG_7310.JPG

11 year old: My birthday. August 23, 2014.

Me: How do you know it’s your birthday?

11 year old: Well I know that yesterday was August 22 and tomorrow is August 24, and according to my parents I was born on August 23, and because we are in between August 22 and August 24, it must be my birthday.

Me: How does it feel to be an eleven year old?

11 year old: Exactly as it was to be 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Me: How did you spend your birthday?

11 year old: I went to this museum thingy [Sony Wonder Technology Lab] and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy. IMG_7171.JPG

Me: Did you like the movie?

11 year old: It was like a modern Star Wars.

Me: Is that good?

11 year old: Yeah!

Me: Do you think Star Wars aficionados might take offense at that?

11 year old: Why? It’s a great movie!

Me: Was it a good birthday?

11 year old: Yeah! I got a phone!

Me: What do you like to do these days?

11 year old: Computer programming. Learn Japanese.

Me: Can you be more specific on the computer programming?

11 year old: I like to program games in Unity3d. [Note: 11 year old fixed the spelling of Unity3d. Silly me, following the rules of punctuation.]

Me: What are your favorite books?

11 year old: Probably Lord of the Rings, Sparkers, Bakuman [manga].

Me: What are you listening to?

11 year old: Some K-Pop, bit of Hip Hop, bit of electro and dubstep. Martin Garrix, BIGBANG, Skrillex, Macklemore.

Me: What are your favorite things to watch?

11 year old: Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley, Mad Magazine, Simpsons. IMG_7184.JPG

Me: Isn’t Silicon Valley inappropriate for your age?

11 year old: Yeah. Very.

Me: So why do you watch it?

11 year old: Because it’s funny.

Me: What kind of irresponsible person lets you watch it?

11 year old: My mom.

Me: Sounds like an irresponsible kind of mother.

11 year old: That’s you. You’re talking about yourself.

Me: Hmmm. What do you want to be when you grow up?

11 year old: Computer programer. Game programer.

Me: What are you looking forward to in 6th grade?

11 year old: No freakin’ idea.

Me: What do you think is going to be different this year?

11 year old: I’m going to a new school. I’m going to have to walk longer. That’s pretty much it.

Me: You’re going to middle school and the only difference is you’ll walk longer?

11 year old: I’ll walk longer. I’ll have my own locker with a lock. I’ll have a homeroom and separate classes.

Me: What are your goals as an 11 year old?

11 year old: To get to 12 year old.

Me: Any grand pronouncements?

11 year old: I’m awesome.

Me: What does “pronouncement” mean?

11 year old: Isn’t it like something like saying a big message. Right? Right?

Close enough. Happy birthday eleventh, Doodles!

[This blog post has been approved by Doodles.]

Clean Living the Hard Way

The kids come home this Sunday. Which means time is running out for my husband. Every night we have this conversation:

Him: What do you want for dinner? I can pick something up.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos.
Him: Indian?
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos.
Him: We could do Thai.
Me: I want Mega Stuf Oreos. I will settle for Double Stuf if you can’t find Mega Stuf [and yes, "Stuf" has just one "f"].
Him: Maybe I’ll just make us pasta.

Why does he even ask me?

IMG_6877And of course, as those of you know me on Facebook, know that Adam and I had a weekend in New York. And while IMG_6911I can assure you that all of Adam’s posts about how inebriated I was were definitely exaggerated (almost), we had a lovely time. We had a fabulous lunch at Eleven Madison Park, spent time with the Tweedle Twins, rode bikes on Governors Island, saw the Degenerate Art show at Neue Gallerie, drank with friends, drank more with friends, drank a smidgen more with friends, and then I was forbidden from having a 2 a.m. “free conversation” in the middle of Cooper Square*, was appeased with pierogies from Veselka, and then felt a wee bit ill the next day.

As a result of my maybe overdoing it on Saturday, I declared this a week of “clean living.” Which Adam has been throwing back in my face. From yesterday:

Him: I can pick you up dinner or make you something.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos?
Him: Clean living.
Me: Mega Stuf Oreos and a bar of soap?

I cannot believe I haven’t yet gotten my Oreos. I’ve gone since Saturday night (well, technically Sunday morning) with no booze, no sugar, and no coffee (I haven’t given up caffeine; I’ve just switched to tea because I have less of a tendency to overdo tea like I do coffee). And you know what? I don’t feel one iota better.

Bring on the damn Oreos.

*And just so you don’t think that this was some oppressive move by my husband, forbidding me to speak my mind, it was actually the work of my (free speech-teaching, political science professor, baby) sister.

We passed by and I said, “Oh, look, a conversation on comfy sofas in the street!” and the Tweedle Twirp said, “Oh no!” and I said, “Oh yes!” and the Free Convo person said to my sister, “She can join us!” and the Tweedle Twirp said, “No, she cannot!” and she led me away by the arm.

pink booby roomThe next day, I texted her to ask if I had hallucinated the whole thing (as well as the “booby room” in the bar–I asked, “Did we sit in a pink booby room?” and she said, “Actually the boobies were white, the walls were pink.”), but she assured me the conversation on couches in Cooper Square at 2 a.m. were most definitely real. I said, “I cannot believe I missed out on a free convo! Do you have any idea how much I have to say?”

She replied, “Yes, actually I do have some idea.”

As if! Tip of the iceberg, people, tip of the iceberg.

Sounds of Silence

With the children safely ensconced at camp, you’d think there’d be nothing left to annoy me. Ah, but alas, my husband is home.

Cleaning up, he opens our compost trash (the one waiting to be taken outside). Peering, in throws something in, closes it, and then says to me: “Wow, that’s a lot of mold growing in there.”

And then he walks away.

Seriously? Is he new here? You don’t announce mold and then walk away. And saying, “It’s only growing on the avocado” does not excuse you from going out right this instant, I don’t care if it’s raining, and putting the thing in the outdoor compost bin.

The children are at camp. Happily so, it appears. How would I know that it’s happily so? Because both my parents and my brother-in-law received letters from my younger child letting them know how much she enjoys camp. Did I get a letter? I, the one who was ordered to write her every day, even if I had nothing to say? I, the one she cried to all morning before I drove the hour and a half, unpacked her, made her bed, and took all the pictures she demanded? I, the one who scours the camp web site, blog, and Facebook page, searching for a glimpse of her, I.M.ing Adam messages such as, “I’m pretty sure that’s the back of her shoulder near that tree in photo #485.” No, I have not yet heard from that child. Nor the other child, although that’s a bit more expected.

Drop off was not the traumatic experience I was anticipating. Pie and I prepped. “Maybe you won’t cry this year,” I said.

“Oh, no. I’m going to cry!” she responded. We talked about how it’s okay to be homesick but to still have a great time. We agreed it was okay for her to cry, but she should try not to cling on to me. She asked me to contact her “camp mom” and let the counselors know she would have a hard time. I had e-mails and phone calls with the camp mom to give her ideas on how to distract Pie (“Ask her about her cousins. Ask her about dance. Ask her about her crafts.”) She decided we should unpack her brother first (I went solo this year, so there was no divide and conquer) and then take care of her.

And what happened? She couldn’t wait to get to her bunk (P: “Actually, let’s unpack me first.” Me: “We have a plan.” P: “Well, let’s change the plan.” Me: “We are going to stick with the plan.”) She immediately started chatting up the counselors. And then she decided to head over to the camp carnival. She turned to me, said, “I love you, Mom. Bye!” And ran off. The counselor looked at me with wide eyes and said, “I had been prepared for something difficult!” Stunned, I said, “Me, too,” and I ran out of there before Pie could change her mind. So far every photo has a smiling girl (or at least the back of her shoulder looks quite happy). And I’ve seen a not-unsmiling boy (he doesn’t truly smile, but he’s clearly happy in the photos).

So now, I only have one child to deal with (the 41-year-old child). I’m in the midst of catching up on paperwork (grant wrap-ups that were due), planning for the upcoming year (newsletters, Girl Scouts), writing (crazy, I know), photo sorting (oh, but there is a backlog), and all the other wild things that one does when children are out of the house. If you hear crazy noises coming from over here, don’t worry: It’s just me cleaning out the attic.

The Courage of Her Convictions

In early May:
Pie: I think I want to be a vegetarian to protest the treatment of animals.
Me: That sounds good.
Pie: Tab has been a vegetarian for two years because she loves animals.
Me: I know. She’s the only kid I know who turns down marshmallows on principle. So, what do you want for dinner tonight?
Pie: Chicken.
Me: I thought you were going to be a vegetarian?
Pie: Oh, I meant I’d start in June.

Later in May:
Me: So, you’ll be a vegetarian starting in June?
Pie: Yes, but just for a little bit.
Me: How come?
Pie: Because I’m going to want bacon on my birthday.

June 1, early in the day:
Me: What should we have for dinner?
Pie: Steak!
Me: But it’s June 1. I thought you were going to be a vegetarian.
Pie: Oh, I decided that instead of being a vegetarian, I’d just eat more healthy and try new foods.

June 1, dinner time:
Me: I made a kale salad. I made it with no tomatoes, no onions. It’s just kale and avocado, and you love avocado.
Pie: No, thanks.
Me: I thought you were going to eat healthier and try new things?
Pie: You know I don’t like my vegetables mixed.

Tonight:
Pie: Five Guys is the best. Oh my God, I would die without these hamburgers! But their bacon hamburgers are terrible. They tear up the bacon! Such a terrible way to treat bacon!

Where’s Waldo?

I have no freakin’ idea where Waldo is because I don’t have time to look for him, never mind time to blog about it. I don’t know where I am at this point. Despite that I’ve finished both the 5th grade yearbook and the school literary journal, I still have, between now and June 23: four Brownie events (a meeting, a bridging to Juniors, a trip to an animal shelter, and–help me now–an outing to a water park); finish the 5th grade slide show (you would think that by the 40th time I’d run through the movie, I’d stop tearing up; you’d be wrong); volunteer at field day; attend Doodles’s viola recital; host my monthly movie night; attend the 5th grade “Celebration of Learning” (don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry); attend a baby shower; get children to soccer games, movie outings, math class, laser craze; and, oh, my darling daughter said to me this morning, “I hope you don’t mind, but you know that trivia bee I’m organizing at school”–my daughter may have inherited a gene or two from me; she went to the town trivia bee, loved it, and she and a friend decided to put one on at the school for 2nd through 4th graders–”I hope you don’t mind, but I volunteered you to help out at it.”

Did I mention I’m rewriting my novel? Because, yeah, I’m doing that too.

So when you don’t hear from me until June 23 (last. day. of. school!!!!), you’ll know why. I owe you some good stories. I’ll make them up. Promise.

The Dangers of E-mail

In our house, the children were capable of earning e-mail once they were in third grade. The thinking is, if they are old enough to attend Hebrew school three days a week, they are old enough to earn the privilege of e-mail. The requirement to get the account is the child must demonstrate the ability to touch type. Nothing extreme. But if they can manage 10 words a minute without looking at the keyboard, they can have the account.

Doodles was motivated. He practiced and practiced and received his account within the first week of third grade. Pie was motivated, but not quite as focused. So she dillydallied. And complained. And said it was “sooooo hard.” And we were “super unfair!” But a weekend with my mom and she practiced and practiced until she hit 13 words a minute. And she has an e-mail account.

Which was fun for me on my trip to New Orleans. I sent the kids a ton of pictures. And they wrote back…

Me, to the kids:
“Pie, don’t look! I don’t want you to have an allergic reaction. Doodles, this was my afternoon snack. Way better than Goldfish!”
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And my daughter responded, demonstrating her strong grasp of punctuation and grammar:
“looks yummy were you drinking don’t get too drunk”

And then I sent a picture with the subject, “The Mighty Mississippi,” and wrote: “It’s more muddy than mighty, I’m afraid.”

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To which the response from the girl was: “you were in mississippi i thought you went to new warlands.”

Some might agree with her interpretation.

Of course, the boy wasn’t going to be outdone. All over New Orleans, music is played on the streets, in the bars, at concerts. Almost every group had a violin/viola and a bass, so I took photos to send to the kids. I pointed out that even Bruce Springsteen had a violin player. I wrote the boy, “So freakin many of these awesome bands have violin/viola players and upright basses. You guys could totally go rock or funk or blues…”

He wrote back: “I don’t wanna be a musician for a living. If you want me to you might just say hey, heres some ecstasy you wanna snuff it?”

Have I failed as a parent? How have I raised children who don’t understand the concept of apostrophes, capitalization, and an old fashioned map? How have I raised children who don’t see the value of the artistic life? Most importantly, how have I raised a son who thinks the best way to take ecstasy is to “snuff” it?*

Maybe I’ll send them an e-mail and find out.

*Confession: I Googled “how to take ecstasy” and the consensus is swallowing is the easiest method, sniffing it burns like hell, and the most effective way is to, no joke, stick the pill up your butt.