Category Archives: children

It’s Elementary

Not Pluto. (It's a picture of the sun I took with my iPhone. Don't worry, I didn't look.)

This afternoon I had a disturbing conversation with my 5-year-old.

“Mama.”

“Yo.”

“Neptune is da coldest planet.”

“Really? Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah.”

“Actually, I think Plu-Toe might be a little colder” I said, annunciating the word in case he’d never heard of it before. “Because it’s farther out.”

“Pluto’s not a planet, Mama” my son said, insulted.

“Says who?”

“My teacher.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah!” my other kid, age 7, chimes in.

“And why is that?” I prod.

I want to know because I suspect they won’t be able to tell me.

And because I like to set traps, I mean, “segue into teachable moments”, for my kids.

Also because I don’t know.

I mean, I heard about this Pluto business when it first went down, or was it in Earth Science? But somehow the reason for its expulsion from the planet club evaded me.

“Because its orbit is all wrong” the V-meister informs me matter-of-factly, like when she’s showing me how to use the TV remote. “Pluto is just another object in the Kuiper Belt.”

“You mean the Milky Way?”

“No, I mean the Kuiper Belt.”

“Well I’ll be darned. What else are they teaching you over at that school?”

“Nothing.”

 

I have to say Pluto’s demotion to space junk still rubs me the wrong way. Sure, it’s old news, but it stings.

Because one day as they’re beaming themselves there, my kids will say to each other using mental telepathy, “Can you believe Mom and Dad used to think this was a planet?” Then they will high five each other and explode into riotous laughter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must fetch my loincloth out of the dryer and put some more logs on the fire. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my cave, drawing.

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At the Supermarket

“Listen up kids! We’re just going to grab a couple things really quick, so please stay focused and walk next to me at all times, got it?”

“Good.”

“No.”

“Because there are no more race carts left.”

“That one has a bum wheel.”

“I just know.”

“You guys! What did I just say? Walk with me.”

“Watch where you’re going, Jonas.”

(“Sorry Ma’am.”)

“V-meister, would you like to pick out a bunch of bananas?”

“Not that one.”

“Okay, let’s keep moving forward, you guys!”

“Is it on our list?”

“Then no.”

“No.”

“No.”

“Maybe.¬† If you’re good.”

“Where is your brother?”

“Jonas, come over here please right now.”

“Stop shoving her! You shove her one more time, you’re going in the cart.”

“This way!”

“What are you putting in your mouth??”

“Oh. Well put it in your pocket. And when you get home flush it down the toilet.”

“Watch where you’re going.”

(“Sorry, Ma’am.”)

“We’re almost done! Just a few more things!”

“Is it on our list?”

“No.”

“No.”

“No.”

“Don’t lick that! Jeezus, what are you doing???”

“No.”

“Because Go-Gurt isn’t real food.”

“No.”

“No.”

“You already had a cookie today.”

“No.”

“Watch your fingers!”

“Where are you going? WALK NEXT TO ME, PLEASE.”

“Is it on our list?”

“No.”

“No.”

“No.”

“Okay, but not that flavor. Pick one that’s found in nature.”

“Because it’s full of high fructose corn syrup.”

“No, it’s really not like a vegetable.”

“Where is your brother?”

“JONAS, WALK NEXT TO ME OR YOU’RE GOING IN THE CART.”

“Yes, I see that.”

“Nope.”

“Because it’s not on our list.”

“We’re really almost done. Just one more thing.”

“Where is your brother?”

“JONAS, COME OVER HERE.”

“Okay, you can push the cart.”

“WATCH OUT!”

(“Sorry, sir.”)

“No, that line is self check-out.”

“Because I said.”

“No.”

“What did you just put in your pocket?”

“Never, ever, ever do that again. That’s very bad. You could get thrown in jail.”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. You won’t get thrown in jail. But I might.”

“We have gum at home. I’ll give you some later.”

“Don’t put your fingers there!!! Do you want to become an amputee?”

“Yes, they are very well behaved.”

“Four and seven.”

“Thank you.”

*scene*

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Did You Make Your Bed This Morning?

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who make their bed and those who don’t.

I make my bed every morning. After Phase One (the smoothing of the sheets and blanket) is complete, I move on to Phase Two, which involves circling the bed several times to make sure everything lines up correctly. The third and final phase is the plumping and centering of throw pillows, and often requires that I step back several feet into my own closet to achieve the optimal perspective before the bed can be called “made.” Though elaborate, the process is fail-proof and only takes twenty to thirty minutes.

The P-Dawg is not a bed maker. It wasn’t a requirement in his house growing up and get this – he didn’t even know what a flat sheet was until he married me.

“What are you saying, that you slept between the fitted sheet and the comforter like some kind of barbarian?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

Recently I mentioned that I think it’s high time the kids started making their own beds every morning. It’s necessary, I believe, to instill¬† a sense of order and responsibility and, more importantly, for me to get an extra ten minutes of aimless web surfing time per day.

“I think that’s a bad idea” the P-Dawg immediately replied.

“What?” I was aghast. “Why?”

“I don’t want them to end up like you.”

It’s true that the bed making has caused me undue stress at times, such as in emergency situations when I’ve had to leave the house in the morning before the chore is complete. I have, on occasion, come home late and found myself making my bed at eleven PM so I could go to sleep in it. But what difference does this make, as long as I appear normal to the naked eye when I’m out in public?

And so the P-Dawg and I remain at an impasse. I maintain that the state of a bed in its natural habitat is “made,” and he insists that a bed’s default state is “disheveled.” I think that bed making is an exercise in discipline which also helps clear the mind and prepare mentally for a new day, while the P-Dawg believes that the practice can only lead to a life of neuroses and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. (By the way, he believes that children should have responsibilities around the house, he just doesn’t think making their beds should be one of them.)

What say you? Did you have to make your bed as a kid? And if so, has it made you a compulsive freak?

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Pants on Fire

When you start talkin’ up Santa Claus to your newborn, what you don’t realize is that you’re setting yourself up for a sordid life of deceit. Keeping the magic alive involves a lot of work, and before you know it, you’re sneaking around buying gifts, speed wrapping them in a closet like some kind of Japanese game show contestant, and hiding them in places you yourself have no ability to recall come Christmas Eve night.

Because you had no foresight when you started the tradition, every year you have to buy yourself a gift from Santa or remind your husband to do it himself.

You have to make sure he wraps the gift in the specially designated “Santa” paper and labels it with a black Sharpie marker using Santa Script.

You have to remind him to dot his “i”s with a puffy heart and write his lower case “a”s in Times New Roman Sans Serif and then your husband is like, “Why don’t you just wrap and label this frikkin’ gift yourself?”

You spend so much time tracking him on NORAD and making up intricate explanations for Santa’s omniscience and magical powers of bilocation, that by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, you half believe that he’s really coming over.

You hope the reindeer find organic parsnips acceptable in lieu of carrots and debate whether they should be left on the cookie plate or the front steps.

You wonder whether it would be more believable if the reindeer left no trace of parsnip in their wake, or just the ends intact.

In the end, you break the parsnips in half and ask your husband to gnaw them down to the nubbin with his teeth.

You can’t even catch a break on Christmas morning because you have to remember which gifts came from Santa and which gifts came from you.

You have to shoot daggers with your eyes at relatives and friends who say point blank in front of your kid, “Where did you buy him that drum set?” And when they keep talking about it despite the fact that you are convulsing on the living room floor trying to pantomime, “STOP TALKING HE BELIEVES IN SANTA CLAUS OMG,” you have no choice but to tackle that person to the ground.

Despite all of this, you don’t much regret perpetrating the myth. Because you were a skeptical child who strong armed your parents into telling you the truth when you were but four years old, and now you wish you had believed for just a little while longer.

Because it is so much fun. And because as long as Santa is real, the world is a benign place where anything can happen, all of it good.

THIS THING WAS COBBLED TOGETHER BY ELVES, DAMMIT.

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