My daughter will be going to middle school (6th-8th grades) for the first time next year. In our area, there are several options for middle schools. We could sell our kidneys, and send her to one of the private schools, or send her to one of three middle schools which are free. One of them is our “home” school, and the other two are magnet schools to which she would need to apply.
I’ve broached the topic of the magnet schools with Dimples several times. Her response has always been that she wants to go to the same school as her friends. When I point out that the magnet schools specialize in topics that interest her, and that she is always complaining that school is boring, she re-asserts the vital necessity of attending the same school as her friends. When I told her the heart-breaking story about a boy who begged his mother to send him to one of the private schools where he could have a more challenging curriculum, promising to give up Christmas gifts until he was 18… guess what? Yeah, blah blah blah friends.
I worried that maybe I had somehow instilled in Dimples too deep a value of friendship, that by my own comments over the years I had given it a higher priority than things like academic achievement – or doing what your mother says is good for you.
The other day, the magnet schools presented to Dimples’ 5th grade class. Later in the day, I talked to one of the 5th grade teachers, and confided Dimples’ deep desire to remain with her friends.
“Oh, you know what the magnet school guy said to the kids about that?” she said. ”Ask your parents how many of their middle school friends they actually still keep in touch with.”
“Oh, that’s great!” I said. I don’t even keep up with my high school friends, so I could use that ploy again in 3 more years!
That afternoon, I prepared myself for the magnet school conversation, armed with Mr. Presenter’s clever rejoinder. I asked Dimples if she had enjoyed the presentation.
“Oh, it was great!” she said. ”But I could never go there.”
“Why?” I innocently prodded, ready for my cue.
“Because they wear uniforms, Mom, and they are so not fashionable. They have to wear khaki pants with yellow shirts! Yellow and khaki, can you believe it?”
And, for that I had no answer. Because I certainly can’t torture my daughter by forcing her to wear unfashionable clothes.
At least now I know that she has her priorities straight.
If the four sisters in Little Women suddenly received a telegram announcing that they were really witches with secret powers, and their father needed their help fighting zombies in the Civil War, my daughter might have been a bit more interested when I proposed reading the book to her. As it was, though, she looked at me quite doubtfully when I told her that one of my favorite childhood classics is about “four sweet girls who lived a long time ago – before Facebook”.
As I pointed out, however, she had chosen the last couple of bedtime books, and it was my turn. “Just give it a try,” I said. “If you don’t like it after the first three chapters, we can pick something else.”
So, she settled in, and listened to this completely unbelievable tale of girls who endlessly lose or soil the gloves that they must wear to parties, and who think of pickled limes as the ultimate luxury.
As I read, I began to yearn, as I always do, for simpler times – times when receiving a pair of slippers at Christmas as one’s only gift was cause for great exuberance, and youngsters spent afternoons innocently picnicking and playing games like “Authors” instead of sexting each other or congregating at the shopping mall.
Last night, we read the chapter in Little Women called “Castles in the Air”, wherein each of the characters describes her dreams for the future. At the end, I closed the book, and asked Dimples about her castle in the air. As is usually the case when I ask such illogically sentimental questions of my 9-going-on-10 daughter, she just shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”
“What do you think mine is?” I asked, wondering if she was perceptive enough to realize that, like Jo, I have always wanted to be a published author, and probably wouldn’t mind being rich and famous to boot – with a castle on the beach instead of in the clouds.
“Here.” She waved around the room. “With me.”
In an instant, a wave swallowed my beach castle, and I said, “You’re right! As long as I’m with you, I am in my castle.”
“And you’ll always be in mine,” she replied, giving me an unexpected hug and nearly reducing me to tears.
“Christopher Columbus!” I thought, still in Jo March mode. “This book is actually rubbing off on her!”
Of course, once we get to the part where sweet little Beth dies, she’s going to kick me out of the castle and never let me choose a book again, so I guess I better draw this out as long as I can.
Dimples may be somewhat unsentimental, but she only tolerates novels in which the villains meet untimely deaths.
Me: Hey, do you mind when I come over and say hi to you when I see you at school? I don’t want to embarrass you in front of your friends, or anything. I mean, I know you’re in 5th grade and the whole friend thing is important.
Dimples: I don’t mind. I kind of like showing you off.
Well, that kind of made my day. Being brand new to this whole “teaching at my daughter’s school” thing has made me a bit wary of violating her space – particularly when she races ahead of me into the school in the mornings instead of walking by my side. Her excuse, “My tennis shoes are so light that I just have to run.” My interpretation, “I can’t be seen hanging around my mommy.”
She doubled the whammy by informing me the next day with a proud grin on her face, “My teacher says that I look like you.”
That almost erased the comment from a Kindergartner I’d received earlier that day when he looked at my photo badge. ”You were younger when you took that picture, weren’t you?” And his next question, after examining it more carefully, “How much younger?”
I tried to console myself that everyone is younger in their pictures – even if they were just taken 5 seconds ago – but it took the ego boosts from Dimples to turn my day back around.
Before the next Kindergartner slays me with another brutally honest comment (thank goodness none of them witnessed my wardrobe malfunction on the first day), I’ve decided it’s time to do another roundup of Awards-Recently-Added-to-My-Awards-Shelf just to let everyone know that some people seem to appreciate the not-so-young Mrs. Cap’n Firepants.
Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award from She Can’t Be Serious
Reader’s Appreciation Award (hand-drawn!!!!) from Miranda Gargasz at Scattering Moments
Strong Person Award from Aja at Writing and Recovering
I Loves my Bloggie Furriends Award from Chancy and Mumsy
The Sensual Blogger Award from Anon Con at Consciously Anonymous
The only ones that I still need to pass on are the Sensual Blogger Award and the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Since I am passive aggressive, in addition to all of my other admirable traits, and never really follow the rules of Blog Awards, and there are too many female bloggers that I LOVE to choose from, I’ve decided to pass these both on to A MAN!!!!!! Yes, Guapola, you’ve been tapped as a Sensual Member of the Sisterhood. Here is your award, and I hope you do a little dance and Show ‘em Off!!!!!
I’ve come to the conclusion that being the Best Parent in the World is all a matter of timing – and media coverage.
Sure, these parents who built a roller coaster for their kids in the backyard are being touted as the epitome of great parents. But when this PVC pipe construction one day collapses just as the kid reaches the peak and the poor child comes crashing down, whose door do you think Child Protective Services will be knocking on?
Even more likely, how long will this kid be enamored with his new toy before he demands something bigger and better? How many times will it take before he develops a tolerance for that roller coaster rush, and the whole experience becomes a yawning bore?
Who will he cite during his adult therapy sessions for his insatiable quest to get involved in an endless number of life-threatening activities, causing his wife to leave him for the boring, but stable accountant that lives next door?
Best Parent in the World is a temporary title that lasts as long as a kid is happy. And no kid is happy forever. In fact, they are rarely happy for longer than 47 minutes, according to my experienced calculations.
The good news is that it works the other way too. When my daughter tells me that I’m the Worst Parent in the World. Ever. Since Time Began – well, she hasn’t actually called me that out loud, just glowered it pretty effectively, like today when I said that I was not buying her any more tops for school and she decided to abandon her locked iPad (yes, thanks to the former Best Parent in the World, she has my old iPad) in the room I was in, loudly playing Justin Bieber as punishment – I console myself that someone else will earn that honor fairly soon. And, more than likely, their shame will be posted on YouTube.
My Best Parent in the World moments will never be filmed, and may never even be appropriately acknowledged by Dimples. But all I have to do is flip through some reality T.V. on the remote, and I am quite happy to leave the fame and fortune to the moms on Toddlers and Tiaras or to Kris and Bruce on The Kardashians.
I’m fine with not being the Best Parent in the World. My greatest wish is that some day my daughter will build a roller coaster for me in the backyard.
Actually, I’d be fine if she just comes around to sit in my backyard with me every once in awhile.
And, if she doesn’t marry Justin Bieber.
So, what was on your school supply list when you were a kid? Pencils, notebooks, the usual, right? Yeah, me too.
I went to Catholic school, so getting clothes was a minor stage of the whole Back-to-School Shopping Blitz. Because we had uniforms, the school supplies were where we could really show our personalities off. But, the nuns got wise to this pretty quickly. Our list of things we could NOT buy for school soon surpassed the quantity of things we were required to buy.
Erasermate Pens were one such item. We weren’t allowed to write in pen. But that was because you couldn’t erase it. So, what was the rationale, I wonder, for banning the brand new invention of pens with erasable ink? I’m pretty sure the Sistahs are the reason that remarkable innovation isn’t in the drawers of every office desk today.
Another way to get yourself detention at my school was to walk in with a Trapper Keeper. Those amazing organizational tools were the bane of every teaching nun’s existence. The Party Line was that the bulk of the darn things pretty much made it impossible for them to co-exist in the same desk as our massive textbooks. But I think that Sister Mary Quite Contrary was more fearful of the far too many sinfully secular designs that appeared on the covers and each interchangeable piece.
It killed me not to get a Trapper Keeper. Every year, I would wistfully pull one out of the display case, showing my mother The Dukes of Hazzard or the less controversial horse racing through a green field, and begging her to buy me one – pretending to be completely oblivious to the Trapper Keeper Commandment.
Now, it’s 2012. My daughter is 9. She goes to public school. We have spent 3 exhausting days looking for clothes and mandatory school supplies. And even though she has a lot more freedom to make a statement with both her fashion and her various notebooks and writing utensils, she does not feel that is enough.
We have gone to three different stores looking for the perfect nail polish color for the first day of school. Yesterday, I spent an hour in Sephora as she painted each nail on her hands a different color. Oh, she knew which one she wanted by the fourth, but she needed to finish up the job once started, apparently.
Erasermate should invent some erasable nail polish pens. Now, there’s a bestseller.
God, I wish there had been a Sephora around when I was a kid. Those nuns would have had a lot less time to worry about Trapper Keepers…
Anyway, why, you may ask, did I allow my child to spend an hour decorating her digits, and to buy a $10 bottle of nail polish when that is not on any school supply list and she is not starring on a reality show?
Because, even now, 35 years later, I still have a little bit of Catholic School rebel in me.
And, even now, 35 years later, you still can’t bring Trapper Keepers to school.
A few months ago, I wrote about one of my parking pet peeves – Backer Inners. Now, I have a confession to make.
The reason that Backer Inners drive me crazy (no pun intended) is because I am a Wait Arounder.
I know. You hate me.
I am one of those
vultures people who drive through a parking lot, looking for cars that are about to pull out. When I see people entering a car, I glide to a stop a few feet from their spot, and put on my turn signal to politely indicate that I plan to use that spot as soon as they vacate it.
One of my friends despises Wait Arounders. She deliberately takes her time getting into her car, adjusting her mirror, checking her makeup, shaving her legs, etc…, until the Wait Arounder eventually gives up and goes hunting for another spot.
I am worried that one day, my friend will be in a parking lot and I will inadvertently Wait Around, not knowing that she is the person in the car, and it will become a Stubborn Test of Wills that will end up on the 6:00 news.
I may be a Wait Arounder, but I am a well-mannered Wait Arounder. Unlike the one I encountered today.
Dimples and I left a restaurant, and got in our car. I turned on the air, and then thought it might be good to check my iPad to see if her books had come in at the library so we could swing by to pick them up.
I heard the honk, and looked around. There were two cars parked pretty close to each side, but they were empty. No one was behind me.
“What was that?” Dimples asked. ”Was that you?” She likes to blame me for anything that irritates her.
“No. I think someone was just locking their car.”
Honk. Honk. HONKETY HONK HONK!
I looked a little bit farther. A truck was waiting, and the driver was looking at me angrily. He was a Wait Arounder. And he was rudely insinuating that I was being rude by not Backering Out.
I thought about my friend, the Anti-Wait Arounder. I knew what she would do.
Dimples looked at me expectantly. I have been trying to teach her to be more assertive.
But the truck driver looked rather big and red-faced. And possibly shotgun carrying.
I have also been trying to teach my daughter to stay alive.
I pulled out of the spot.
“Some people are so impatient,” I said to Dimples in a calm voice. I turned up the radio.
And said some very not nice things under my breath about rude Wait Arounders.
That’ll teach him.
I decided not to duct tape my shoes. Not because I didn’t think it would look good. Primarily because of an incident that occurred several years ago around the 4th of July. That was back during the time when Dimples somewhat let me select her outfits, and I was determined to have a cute Independence Day ensemble for her to wear, but Old Navy refused to cooperate. (Because I was shopping in July. If I had had the foresight to shop for the 4th of July the day after Valentine’s Day, I would have had a huge inventory from which to choose, I am sure.) By the time I realized June had ended, and the holiday was fast-approaching, the only footwear left at Old Navy was blue and red flip flops with yellow and purple paint splotches all over the soles.
So, I got out some red paint that I used for scrapbooking, covered up the unpatriotic colors, let the paint dry for 24-hours, and Dimples was perfectly accessorized for the Celebration of the Birth of Our Great Nation.
And then we went out in the real world of San Antonio, where the heat and humidity and the sweat on my daughter’s feet became the perfect chemical combination to bare her mother’s idiotic quest for perfection to the entire world in the form of red feet. And somehow the coloring started to creep up the tops of her feet, which made her look like a piece of celery in a science experiment gone very wrong.
Anyway, so I learned my lesson about modifying footwear. Which is, Don’t – Because Something Embarrassing Will Happen. To Me. Even if It’s Not My Footwear.
There is an addendum to that rule, however. You can modify footwear when something embarrassing has already happened, and you are trying to Prevent it From Getting Worse. This is best exemplified by the time that Dimples’ flip-flop broke at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – a place that has an overabundance of wizard wands and chocolate frogs, but no Payless Shoes kiosks. In that instance, I took my cloth belt off my shorts, pulled one end through the hole in her flip flop, the other end through the other side, and wrapped it like a thong around her leg.
In retrospect, that was probably not less embarrassing than hopping around in one flip-flop, and I really wish I had taken a picture of my innovative solution for that problem.
So, regarding my great Shoe Dilemma in yesterday’s post (which was really written over a week ago), I’m afraid this is going to be very anti-climactic. I feel compelled to finish up the shoe story, because some of you asked. To be honest, though, the shoe story is one of those stories that should just remain incomplete because, really, it ended very undramatically. In fact, I probably shouldn’t even have started the story in the first place. Lesson learned.
So, I did not duct tape my shoes for Harvard, because I was afraid of the embarrassing consequences. Instead, I wore one of my new pairs of sensible shoes on the first day. Big mistake. They cut the crap out of my big toes, leaving me with sizable chunks of flesh carved out right underneath each cuticle.
I wore black flip-flops the rest of the time. And Harvard did not expel me. For my comfortable shoes, my ugly toes, or my stupidity.
I realized that I have been going about this summer thing all wrong when one of my daughter’s friends dropped by unexpectedly yesterday afternoon. She brought a gift. It is not Dimples’ birthday. From what I can tell, the only thing worth celebrating on June 29th (besides Katie Holmes filing for divorce) was in 2007 when the first Apple iPhone was released. But we don’t usually exchange presents to celebrate that auspicious occasion.
Friend: I brought you something from the beach at South Padre.
Dimples: Oh, thank you! (extensive hugging and thanking as Dimples pulls the tissue paper out of the bag; the gift is revealed to be a dolphin pen and a pink bracelet.)
Dimples: This is so awesome!
Friend: Yeah, I felt sorry for you since you said you aren’t going on any vacations this summer. So, I picked these out for you.
Dimples: You’re the best friend ever!
Within an hour, the bracelet had flown off of Dimples’ hand while she was playing Kinect, and fallen apart.
Then, Dimples fell apart.
In the meantime, I calculated the time I have spent taking Dimples to ice skating, friend’s birthday parties, swimming, frozen yogurt, the bookstore, and Dallas this summer. (Granted, part of the Dallas trip was to attend a funeral visitation, but we got ice cream there and ate in a pizza restaurant at a furniture store. In Dallas, I mean. Not at the funeral. Though, I think that I am going to add ice cream to my funeral flash mob extravaganza.)
I have promised to fix the bracelet. But, even if I do that (and I honestly don’t know how) and buy her ten dolphin pens, she will still look on this as her worst summer ever, and her friend will be a star.
I have an idea. I will go to South Padre next week – without her – and buy her a new bracelet.
That will work, I’m sure.
I can’t remember if I’ve told this story – which means that I’ve been blogging too long, I suppose.
Today, I was trying to think of a time when I laughed really long and hard. It seems like it has been far too long. And I remembered a time from when my daughter, Dimples was about 5 years old.
We were eating dinner at my in-laws’. They lived out of town at the time (or we lived out of town- depending on your perspective), so we did not eat there too frequently. In the middle of dinner, Dimples hopped out of her seat, and said, “I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.”
Embarrassed by our daughter’s lack of manners, I quietly prompted, “Say, ‘May I please be excused?’”
A bit louder, ”Say, ‘May I please be excused?’”
“Huh?” She looked at me quizzically.
Preparing myself for a Battle of the Wills that I really did not want to fight in front of the in-laws, but, more importantly, did not want to lose in front of the in-laws, I loudly and firmly said, ”Say, ‘May I please be excused?’”
Dimples, a bit upset at my insistence, cocked her head, and said defiantly, “Why? I didn’t pass gas.”
My father-in-law burst into a guffaw as I dropped my fork, and my husband grinned. My mother-in-law smiled. Poor Dimples had no idea why we were laughing so hard.
For those of you who keep tabs on these things, this is a record for me. I made it to the 17th day of the month before I pulled the Dead Rubber card. Everyone do the Happy Dance.
For any newbies or highly forgetful readers, please allow me to explain. I have a monthly “Dead Rubber” post, which is, basically, one into which I have put less effort than usual. “Dead Rubber” is, apparently, slang for “boring”. You would think that, since I have nothing useful to say, I would just spare you a day of reading. But, you would be wrong.
For today’s less than stellar post, I give you a few pics of Wonderbutt trying to take Dimples Firepants for a ride on his smelly, old, cotton filling-leaking sofa cushion. Apparently, the poor kid was sitting on it, and Wonderbutt suddenly decided that it needed to be on top of his Wonderbutt bed right that moment – whether she was using it or not.