October 7th, 2014 § Comments Off on The Post in Which I Go Just a Little Too Far § permalink
Before we begin, let me say this is a TMI post. If you don’t want to know that much about us, then just mosey along.
Still here? Okay.
I’m hesitant to write half of the conversations in this house, because while I find my children amusing 1) I’m not sure others will and 2) the kids are getting to be just old enough to complain about my writing about them.
But then I thought, do I really care what anyone else–including my own children–think? So I will continue to share until DSS (which is actually called DFC in Massachusetts) tells me to stop. Please assure me that everyone has conversations like this with their eleven-year-old sons.
A few weeks ago, a friend came to stay with us with his girlfriend. My friend–let’s call him Fishy because, well, it’s his name, more or less and I have no qualms about writing about him–was here for two nights with his woman friend, whom we shall call Lady Fish.
Before they came, the boy asked at dinner one night: Will Fish and Lady Fish be in the guest room?
Me: Of course.
Boy: That means there’s a chance–like a 50 percent chance–that there will be coitus in this house!
Me: Excuse me?
Boy: If they’re dating, they could have SEX in our house!
Me: And this is a problem because…
Me: Are you saying there isn’t sex in this house otherwise?
Boy: No, of course there isn’t.
Me: What about me and your father?
[Note, said father and little sister are both listening fascinated]
Boy: You don’t have sex.
Me: We don’t?
Boy: Well, you did. Twice. But you don’t have sex anymore.
Me: What makes you say that?
Boy: Because I saw Dad’s drawer and there aren’t any condoms in it.
Girl: But when she was reading It’s Perfectly Normal to me, she showed me a condom, so they do have some!
Boy: Did she open it to show you?
Boy: Ha! Then that condom can’t be used any more.
Me: You know there are other forms of birth control besides condoms.
Boy looks momentarily befuddled.
Girl: There are?
Me: Sure. Lots of kinds.
And, yes, dear reader, I’m embarrassed to say I told the kids exactly what kind of birth control we use, but I’m bashful enough (despite that this blog seems to want to prove otherwise) not to broadcast that here.
Both children consider other forms of birth control. Finally:
Boy: Well, you still don’t have sex, because I stay up pretty late, and I definitely would have heard you having sex.
Flash forward a couple of weeks, and I’m at the Lena Dunham reading of Not That Kind of Girl with a good friend. Lena Dunham has teamed up with Planned Parenthood for the tour, so in the lobby they were giving away goody bags. With condoms in them. I, of course, texted my boy right away: “They’re giving out condoms at my reading. So now there will be some in the house again. FYI.”
No response from the boy.
But the next morning, I went to wake him up and I brought him a little goody bag of his own.
Me: Wake up, sweetie. Time to get ready for school! Oh, and by the way, I brought you a condom.
Boy, with one eye barely cracked open, not missing a beat: I’d have rather you brought me a pastry.
And that, my friends, is what life is like with a middle schooler these days. Fun, fun.
August 23rd, 2014 § § permalink
Me: What’s today?
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.
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.
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.]
May 22nd, 2014 § Comments Off on The Dangers of E-mail § permalink
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!”
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.”
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.
April 7th, 2014 § § permalink
*Yes, I know, that should read “With What I Have to Deal,” but I’m taking poetic license here because it just sounds too snooty the proper way and I’m going to be writing a snooty post as it is.
First, though, I’d like to ask why, given my love of baking and my fondness for my religion, no one has bought me one of these tzizit baking pans (it’s even nonstick!):
C’mon, people! Get your game on!
Now, to the heart of the matter. As amazingly hard as it is for me to believe, in about two months, my Doodlebug is done with elementary school. Not really sure how that happened, but apparently it is so and there is nothing I can do about it.
We are considering–just considering, mind you–the idea of private school for middle school. Our town’s middle school is a fine school, and if it were Pie who were finishing elementary school, I’d have no qualms sending her there. But Doodles is a quirkier kid who needs different things than what our middle school may be able to provide. He’s asked a number of times over the years to be homeschooled, and while I’m not willing to go that route, I’m open to seeing what our other options are. He’s the driving force behind this and will have a large say in whatever is decided.
The process, however, is all me. Researching the schools, making the boy study for the tests, getting him to those tests, touring the schools, arranging for his visits, getting him to those visits, filling out applications, sending in fees, giving teacher recommendation forms to fill out, having transcripts sent. It’s not a quick process, but to be honest, it’s a lot more time consuming than I had originally thought it would be. So in the morning, when the boy has trouble getting up, and his father says, “You know you’re going to have to be up and out the door about an hour earlier if you’re in a private school,” and the boy responds, “That’s not going to be my problem,” I can be excused from smacking him in the head a couple of times.
His father, though, is not much better. This morning the two of us went to look at a school that is a significant commute away. However the classes are small; the math is differentiated so the boy could be exactly where he should be; they study Latin, which is something high on the boy’s list; they have a 40 book challenge to read 40 books a year in eight different genres; they have a campus on a gorgeous setting in the woods; terrific technology; and class sizes of no more than 15.
Adam and I got into the car to drive back home. “So,” he said. “What did you think?”
“I think there’s a lot to like there, but we’d have to weigh the commute against the advantages of other schools.”
“What did you think?” I asked him.
He hesitated a moment, and then he said, “Yeah, it looks good. But…”
“But what?” I asked.
“Did you notice,” he said, “that they were all drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee? I mean all of them! I can’t help but judge that.”
Getting to what’s really important. That man should be the poster child for Starbucks. Meanwhile, I’m not letting coffee selection dictate my child’s educational future. Coffee is a value that should be taught at home, anyway, and not in the schools. And I’m pretty sure I’m not inviting Adam along for the next school tour.
March 31st, 2014 § Comments Off on What’s Goin’ On* § permalink
*You must be humming Marvin Gaye while reading that, please.
Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you ya, what’s going on
My to-do list is a mile long, and while I’ve accomplished a lot, none of it has actually been on my list, so my new to-do on my to-do list is to add all the non-listed to-dos I’ve done just so that they can be crossed out. Only I can create more to-dos merely by doing to-dos. Did that make sense? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Exactly.
The first order of business is I need to acknowledge the events of the past Saturday. Three momentous things happened on March 29. The first, in 1917, the magnificent Thoroughbred Man o’War was born. The second occurred in 1940, when my father, just as magnificent, but not quite so thoroughbred, was also born. The third happened two days ago, on this March 29, when my newest niece, hence forth to be known as Lalune, was born (brother-in-law, do you need me to explain that to you?). I’m sure you too, Lalune, will be magnificent.
The next order of business is to express my love for my town. Our town is run by a Town Meeting (and Selectmen), and my town meeting representative sent out the list of warrants up for consideration. Nothing gives me more pride than reading all of the important things my town is up to. This, my friends, is Article 42 (which means you can imagine how spellbinding the first 41 are!):
ARTICLE 42 APPROPRIATION/RESTORATION OF UNCLE SAM TO TOWN STATIONERY
To see if the Town will vote to restore the phrase “Birthplace of Uncle Sam” on all applicable
town stationery, to appropriate funds not to exceed $500.00 for this purpose, to be implemented as
current supplies are exhausted; or take any action related thereto.
Personally I’m much more fascinated by this than I am of the consideration of rezoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Next, let’s turn to my son. Oh, my charming son. First off, my son has an e-mail account. We gave it to him in third grade after he had proven he could touch type. Note, the girl is now in third grade, but she refuses to learn to touch type, so she is e-mail-less. This causes many fights and tears. Learn to freakin’ type, girl!
Anyway the condition of the e-mail account is that I get to see every e-mail sent. It’s a Gmail account, so all e-mail is forwarded to me as well as appears in his account. I have the right, on demand, to see any outgoing e-mail I would like. So far things have been going well, and he’s proven to be responsible with his e-mail account.
Recently he’s decided he wants to build a web site with a friend. Adam set up a domain for him. The boy was testing out the e-mail (an info@ address that is forwarded to his Gmail account), but they weren’t getting through to him. They were coming to me, though. In one of them he wrote, “YOLO.” He was at the computer in the front room and I was on my laptop in the kitchen, so I yelled to him, “Do you even know what YOLO means?”
If eye rolling had a sound, he made it. “No, Mom! No one knows what YOLO means.”
“Huh, that’s funny,” I said. “Because I do.” I educated my son on YOLO [you only live once]. Do I get thanks? No. What I get is:
Boy: I can’t figure out how to make the e-mail work.
Me: Well, what seems to be the problem?
Boy: I’ll just wait for Dad.
Me: Why don’t you explain to me what the problem is?
Boy: Mom, it’s okay. We can wait for Dad.
Me: I had a computer before your father was born! [Perhaps a slight exaggeration?] What the freak is wrong?
Boy: I think we should wait for Dad.
Me: AAAAARRRRRRGGGGG! I can fix this too, you disrespectful dolt! [Or something to that effect.]
Boy: Okay, okay! I’m sending e-mails but they’re not going through.
I fuddle a moment with his computer.
Me: Do you think it’s because you’re sending and receiving at the same account?
Boy: I’m not! It’s the Web site and Gmail.
Me: Yes, but they both end up in Gmail.
Boy: Huh, maybe.
And that’s when my boy screwed himself.
Boy: Yeah, Mom, you were right! That was the problem.
I looked in my e-mail. And there is was. An e-mail forwarded to my boy. From my boy. FROM A SECRET E-MAIL ACCOUNT! I checked with Adam. It was unauthorized. And now I am ALL OVER that boy’s computer. Secret e-mail accounts MY ASS! He just guaranteed I monitor his every computer move from now until he’s fifty.
And to end this all, my dear friend Lady Chardonnay directed me to this fabulous site of Classic Children’s Books Retold for Adults. And so I leave you with a heartfelt tale from Frog and Toad.
March 5th, 2014 § Comments Off on The Joys of Children § permalink
Pie is having a problem with her butt. Excuse, not her butt. Your butt. Your anus, to be precise.
“It’s pronounced Yur-uh-ness!” she screeches from across the house.
Whatever. Planets were chosen while we were on vacation, so Pie was assigned hers. Yur-uh-ness. Models must be made. The ring of Yur-uh-ness isn’t staying up well (in deference to the abilities of the sculptor and the limitations of Model Magic, Yur-uh-ness‘s eleven rings got mushed into one), and we apparently are a house full of ten year olds.
Uranus. Hee hee.
The girl deserves it, though. She’s become a mouthy little thing. In the car, I said to Pie and Doodles, “No bickering, you guys! This is a bicker-free zone,” to which she instantly shot back, “I don’t see a sign.” We’re entering the tween years folks. For the teen years, I’ll be renting her out as birth control.
And the boy? He thinks if he steals cookies but leaves one in the package, no one will notice. Hey, Butch Cassidy. We’re on to your tricks.
The boy just had his first experience of school sex-ed. What’d he learn? “Oh, hormones and crap. Oh and we’re supposed shower. And use deodorant. Every day!” Gasp! The expectations! Not that he’s following orders.
Mouthy and smelly. Five more and I’ll have a full set of dwarves.
January 28th, 2014 § § permalink
Me: I slept oddly. And I had a dream that we got a divorce.
Husband: Huh. Well, good thing you didn’t dream about your teeth falling out. That would be really bad.
Husband: Isn’t it supposed to be bad to dream about teeth falling out?
Me: As opposed to our divorce?
Pie: Are you getting a divorce?
Me: No. We are not getting divorced.
Husband: I think teeth falling out in a dream means you’re going to die.
Me: If you dream about teeth falling out, you’ll die? How does that work?
Me: Speaking of death, look Pete Seeger died. Wow, he was 94!
Husband: Pete Seeger? How could he be 94?
Me: He was.
Husband [doing a quick Google]: Oh, I was thinking of Bob Seger. Who was Pete Seeger?
Me: Really? “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the mooorrrrnnning. I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land!!” Is the boy up? I bet he’d love this song.
Husband: Oh boy. Everything is a song.
Pie: You don’t like her singing?
Husband: She just does so much of it!
Pie: You married her.
Husband: She didn’t sing this much when we met.
Me: Yes, I did. You just weren’t listening.
Note: The boy didn’t like the song any better. Especially when I started to hammer him to wake him up. “Where Did All the Flowers Gone” didn’t go over any better, either. Grumpy family. My singing rocks.
December 22nd, 2013 § Comments Off on Absolute Corruption § permalink
Can’t speak of this, because the phones might be tapped. I suspect this blog is being monitored. All I know is we’re in Miami Beach, and corruption is afoot.
Miami is well known for corruption. And I could tell stories about the strange things I’ve seen here as a kid (and, as a matter of fact, I have–I wrote an essay years ago that I really should revise and submit). Crazy things that simply don’t happen anywhere else in the country.
But now it’s reached the upper echelons. It’s gone higher than anyone would have reasonably expected. Corruption has tainted that which was once pure and good.
They’ve gotten to the Tooth Fairy.
This is the only explanation of which I can think: Last night, Doodles had a wiggly tooth. So wiggly it was driving him to distraction. Finally, he just got up and stood in the bathroom going at it until the tooth came out. Great.
“Do you want to leave the tooth here or wait till we get home?” I asked him.
The boy shrugged. “I don’t care.”
I suggested, “Let’s wait till we get home.”
“Okay,” he said.
But then my mother, the Nana, said, “No, no! The Tooth Fairy will come here! You should leave it here!” She was pretty insistent and went on for a bit about how the Tooth Fairy can come to Miami Beach.
I figured it had been a long time since my mom had seen the Tooth Fairy, so I acquiesced. The boy left his tooth under his pillow. I stayed up late, because I wanted to have a little chat with the fairy–you know, let her know that Pie is going to be having some massive tooth work done in the near future. Tooth Fairy and I chatted, she told me she left $2, and that was that.
Until this morning. The boy came running into see me. “The Tooth Fairy left me $12!”
He said, “I got two one-dollar bills and a ten-dollar bill.”
I asked, “Was the $10 wrapped up in the $2?” figuring it was late and maybe the Tooth Fairy had just made a big fat error.
“No,” he said. “It was separate.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “I saw the Tooth Fairy. She said she was going to leave you $2. Did she accidentally leave you a $10 instead of a $1?”
“No! It was a separate $10. It wasn’t with the $2. It was separate.”
Which must mean that clearly the Tooth Fairy left $2, but the Nana got to her. I bet the Nana is using teeth in some crazy art work.* Why else would the Nana have been so insistent that the Tooth Fairy come to Miami Beach? The Nana must have pressured the Tooth Fairy–I don’t know, for the boy’s tooth? for other kids’ teeth? who can know? Whatever it is, the Tooth Fairy must have sold the tooth either to her or on the tooth black market. I’m only assuming the Tooth Fairy felt a moment of guilt and compassion and decided to give Doodles a cut of her profit,
Corruption in Miami. I’m telling you, it’s real. Protect your family.
* You think I’m exaggerating about the Nana? This is the Nana’s artwork. This all sounds a lot more plausible now, doesn’t it! (And it explains a lot about me, too, doesn’t it?)
December 20th, 2013 § Comments Off on My Life: Cold, Peeps, and Butts § permalink
Note to self: If someone asks, “It there a temperature that’s too cold for you to run?” the answer is not “I’ll run in anything!” but “Screw the run! I’m taking a bubble bath!” Actually the running part is fine. Is the after-run part. Running in “12 degrees, feels like 2″ is actually fairly invigorating. Walking home (with coffee) in “12 degrees, feels like 2,” as the body cools off and the sweat on you begins to freeze is miserable. Stupid New England. Luckily the weather has warmed, so no longer do I fear the cold; merely the melting slush that freezes into sheets of ice just in time for my morning run.
And my son isn’t helping things. He gets little rewards at viola lessons for practicing five days a week. This week, Adam went to pick him up, and overheard the boy telling his viola teacher, “I can’t have Peeps. My mom will eat them.” Uh, yeah! Let me tell you there was hell to pay when he got home and I confronted him. “Uh, well, uh…” I just waited. “Well, she was giving them out from the box so they would have gotten yucky in my hand on the ride home.” Excuse me? Have you not seen me eat five-day-old gummy bears that I found on the floor under the counter trim? You think a little boy sweat is going to scare me off? He did give me a big hug and lots of apologies. He’s very lucky that literally the next day, Lilith came to pick her daughter up from our Girl Scout meeting, and she brought me a pack of Peeps. Before this, I might have considered sharing them (note, I wouldn’t share them; but I might have considered it). Now that boy can cry himself Peep-less tears when he goes to bed at night.
Speaking of crazy children, Pie has this thing she’s been doing for about six months now. When she “sees, smells, or hears of anything gross,” her butt hurts. Her butt has been hurting a lot lately. She’s a sensitive kid, that Pie.
In the meantime, I’m sick as a dog because with our impending winter vacation, I’ve had to do laundry, and we all know that doing laundry makes me violently ill. In fact, I think it’s making my butt hurt. Stupid laundry. Stupid butts. Time for Peeps.
October 14th, 2013 § Comments Off on How Old Do You Think I Am? § permalink
The boy: Why do you have a thing on your bulletin board that says, “God bless you. Stay strong. Kick it. Billy Blanks”?
Me: When I was at Amazon, I used to interview people for the Web site. Billy Blanks had a series of workout videos called Tae-Bo that I really liked. When I interviewed him, he signed that for me.
The boy: Oh. I didn’t know that.
Me: I used to interview a lot of people. You know, I interviewed Harrison Ford.
The boy: Cool.
Me: You know who that is, right?
The boy: Yeah. He’s the guy who invented cars, right?
I’m apparently very well preserved.