I discovered today that I apparently missed my calling as an interrogator.
I had a bit of a mystery in my classroom as someone had played around with the settings on one of our laptop computers. Considering I teach 6 grade levels a week, two other classes had borrowed the laptops in the past few days, and I host the Robotics Club in my room, I was pretty certain I was not going to discover the culprit out of a pool of over 100 suspects. So, I figured I would just lecture everyone, beginning with today’s 5th graders.
“So, apparently someone changed the name of one of the desktop icons, which one of my 4th graders discovered yesterday.”
The students started looking around at each other.
“It was Evan!” two of the kids said in stereo before I could say one more word. I couldn’t believe how quickly I had gotten them to rat someone out.
“What?” Evan is in Robotics club.
“Yeah, a few weeks ago he messed with the desktop but we changed it back.”
“Well, that’s not it, then. But I will definitely be talking to him. This was something that happened recently because it was noticed yesterday.”
“It was Harry!” someone yelled. Three other people nodded and murmured, “Yeah, I saw him do it.”
I looked at Harry, who seemed completely bewildered by this sudden onslaught of accusations.
“No, he changed the names of some files, but I changed it back,” another student defended (?) him.
“Harry, you and I are going to talk in a minute,” I said sternly. ”Now, back to what happened yesterday. Someone changed the Internet Explorer icon to say something different. I’m sure you were just being silly, but you guys could get me in a lot of trouble by doing things like that. If people don’t think I’m supervising you enough they could take away the technology, and wouldn’t that be sad?” Encouraged by the seeming willingness on the part of my class to throw people under the bus, I laid it on thick.
They all nodded that this would, indeed, be sad.
“What did they change it to?” someone asked.
I shifted uncomfortably.
“Purple Mustache,” I said, and waited for the laughter.
Slowly, a hand came up. A quiet voice said, “I did it.”
It was my daughter.
“You did?!!!” I said – along with 15 other people. My daughter has gotten one conduct mark during her 5 years of elementary school. The only one I suspected less of changing the icon to “Purple Mustache” is my dog, Wonderbutt. And that’s only because he didn’t have access to the computer.
Crap, I thought.
“Well, you and I are going to have a serious talk at home tonight, young lady,” I said. Even though I wasn’t sure about what.
I had no idea that I had this kind of confessional power. Apparently I somehow mastered the technique of the Guilt Trip without even knowing it.
Now, if I could just master the technique of the Don’t Even Think About It Trip, maybe her teen years won’t be so bad after all.
If you ever wonder what I do when I’m not blogging, this is my secret – I am wasting my valuable time arguing with my 10-year-old daughter.
“You need to get a flu shot this year.”
“Because you got the flu last year.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did! I can’t believe you don’t remember that. You missed school for almost a week.”
She got the flu shot. Only because I made her father do it, too. He didn’t remember having the flu last year, either.
One month later:
“I think we can skip the electives fair tomorrow since you already know what you want to take.”
“Awww. But I want to go.”
“But it’s a waste of time.”
“No it’s not.”
She got sick that day, and couldn’t go anyway.
“You have your scoliosis screening tomorrow, so don’t forget to wear a halter.”
“No, I don’t. It was today.” (when she was home sick)
“No. It says on my calendar it’s tomorrow.”
“No. I’m positive it was today.”
I find the website for her school’s calendar.
“See. It says it’s tomorrow.”
“Well they told us today.”
She was sick for the scoliosis screening.
It turned out it was the flu. She missed school the rest of the week.
Thursday night, still sick, she came into the living room at 10:15 p.m., where I was watching The Daily Show with Wonderbutt. (I mean that I was watching the show with our bulldog, Wonderbutt, not a show called The Daily Show with Wonderbutt, though that might be a good title for a show. And, I don’t mean that Wonderbutt was actually watching the show. He was just snoring and passing gas on my lap while I tried to make out the screen through his toxic haze.)
“What’s up?” I ask.
Mumble, mumble, mumble.
“I can’t hear you,” I say.
Mumble, mumble, mumble.
I mute the T.V.
“I still didn’t hear you. What do you need?”
Mumble, mumble, mumble.
I get up, and approach her.
“Oh, never mind!!!!!” She turns to leave.
“No, what? What did you want?”
“Um, what kind of cards?”
“Geez, just cards!!!!”
“Like thank you cards?”
At this point, I realized that she must be asleep.
“I think you should go back to bed,” I said.
She whirled around and ran back to her bed. I followed her back, and she was curled up and asleep before I even entered her room.
The next day, of course, she remembered nothing about the incident.
“What did I say?” she asked.
“”You said, ‘I need to buy a card that says my mother is always right and I should never argue with her again.’”
I have now calculated that all of the time that I spent on arguing with her about the flu shot and the events of this week adds up to the number of years that she has been alive. Years that I could have used to invent a time machine that would take me back to the day she was born and told my idealistic self that it is absolutely pointless to ever quarrel with your 10-year-old daughter.
Of course, I probably would have argued with myself about that.
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not. ~ Mark Twain
It’s picture day tomorrow. Dimples is 10. This is her last year in elementary school. Her last class picture with less than 200 people in it. I get it. I should buy the picture. However, she brought home four order forms.
“For clubs. We have to do a separate order form for each club.”
There are four clubs taking pictures. Dimples is in three of them, in case you have not done the math.
Each picture costs approximately $500.
Just kidding. But, they are relatively expensive. Especially for someone who just had to pay to recover data from her not-dead-yet hard drive.
“So, I’m just wondering. Do you know where last year’s class picture is?” I asked.
“Oh, we didn’t get one last year,” she quickly responded.
“Yes, we did. What about the one for the year before that?”
“Oh, we haven’t bought any for the last couple of years.”
“Yes, we have. I’ve bought one every year.”
“Well, where are they?”
“That’s what I asked you. But since you obviously don’t know, I will tell you. They are in a file drawer.”
“Well, why are they there?”
“Because every year, you toss them at me, and I stick them in the drawer. And you never think about it again.”
“But we should hang them up!”
“Really? This is what we should display on our walls? Photos in which 5 years from now we will be able to identify 1/28th of the people represented?”
“Well, we should put them somewhere.”
“I’m not hanging them in the hallway, and I’m not paying for 4 more pictures to stick in my drawer.” Even though I just lost your whole lifetime of pictures when my hard drive bit the dust. But let’s not dwell on the past. Or the complete absence of it.
Later on, she informed me that she was willing to deal. One club picture and the class picture.
I think there’s enough room in the drawer for them.
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.
One of our relatives has been visiting this week. She has been living in Spain, and is in the States for a two-month visit. A few of the other relatives were asking her what brought her here for the summer. Every time, the relative patiently answered that she was here to “visit family and to renew my visa”.
Last night, at dinner, my mother-in-law said, “I know she needs to stay a little while because she still needs to – what is it, again?”
Our 9-year-old, Dimples, who had already heard the question asked and answered several times, helpfully supplied the answer, “Renew her credit card.”
I think she’s seen one too many Olympic commercials.
Dimples and I had a great day yesterday. That is because I did not make her do anything. We had no plans, so she stayed in her pajamas until 4:00 when we Skyped her cousin, right before which she changed her top but not her bottoms. I, on the other hand, took a shower, put on makeup, and curled my hair. Because even when I Skype I’m afraid that someone is going to make fun of me for looking like I just cleaned Wonderbutt’s Poop Pen.
After Skyping, Dimples and I started the second book in our new, favorite series. The first book was Divergent. #2 is Insurgent. I think I told you that we were almost finished with the first one a few days ago, and I was hoping there would be no “sticky” parts, as I am reading it out loud to her and she is only 9. Of course, right after I wrote that, the big S-E-X word popped up, and I thought, “Well, of course. If it’s not Dr. Seuss, I might as well just be reading her 50 Shades of Grey.” Luckily, it was just the word, and not the act, and Dimples and I have talked about the word before – so she seemed to think it was no big deal when I nonchalantly read the sentence and moved on.
I asked her later if she had any questions about the word, and she said, “No, Mom. We already discussed this.” And we did – to a certain extent. And, I’m fine with that. I think it was around the time we had the Skank Talk, which pretty much scarred me for life. Every “talk” since then has been a bit hazy.
So, now we are reading the second book. Because it did not occur to me at all that the mere mention of The word in the first book might actually lead to some action in the second book. And, because I like to take my life into my hands (in a Dauntless kind of way, like the main character), and risk coming across more difficult topics. The kid is like a reading machine, though, so I figure it’s better she hits these topics while I’m around, so I can give her my own ridiculously exaggerated misinformation before her friends do. Because that’s how I roll.
Every time I finish a chapter, she begs me to read another. Then I pretend like it’s a huge imposition and I have so many things to do, and I finally relent and read another chapter. This probably explains why, so far this summer, my sole accomplishments have been to clean out one closet and sew a button on a sweater.
I will probably start becoming majorly productive in about three days, though, because the author of this series, Veronica Roth, won’t publish the third book until next year. This will also give me time to begin preparing my somewhat more specific “talk” - or to jump off the nearest skyscraper. Whichever seems less intimidating at the moment…
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.
“So, what do you two have planned for the week?” my husband asked my 9 year old and me at the dinner table.
“The pool.” “Clean out a couple of closets.”
I think you can figure out who gave which answer.
Dimples is such a neat freak.
O.K. Fine. I was the one with the closet response. Because I was trying to impress Cap’n Firepants with my planned productivity for the week, and trying to spare him from regretting too much that he is not a teacher or a nine year old that has 2.5 carefree months lying ahead. I am a caring, kind-hearted person who does not like to rub things in. Unlike some other people who shall remain nameless, but may or may not have the nickname of “Dimples.”
O.K. Fine. My idea of fun is organizing closets. You got me.
As you can probably tell, Dimples and I have very different ideas on how this summer is going to go down. Our divergent objectives started to become apparent about two months ago when I unsuccessfully tried to sign her up for various different classes. To each offer, she shrugged, and said, “I don’t really think I’d like that.” I quickly realized that she did not want “to be tied down”. If there had been a class which included unlimited access to the neighborhood pool every day from 8-4, she still would have declined – because that would have held her to a schedule.
Plan B was “Mom Camp”. We did this a couple of summers ago. It was a complicated arrangement involving popsicle sticks and two cans that helped to ensure that she did not spend her entire weekdays watching the Disney Channel. Although she rolled her eyes every time I responded, “Mom Camp” to those who inquired about her summer activities, I believed that, deep down, she secretly liked it.
Or, I could have been wrong.
“I don’t want to do Mom Camp!” she said, quite firmly.
“Well, what do you want to do?” I asked.
“Whatever I want.”
My turn for eyeball rolling. ”I am not letting you watch T.V. and play video games all day.”
So, I came up with a compromise, which I think is more than fair. For the next week, she gets to do things her way. She can prove to me how great she is at monitoring her tube time and coming up with creative activities for the rest of the day.
If, after a week, I am dissatisfied with the way she is conducting her summer, then I get to take over – with the New, Improved Version of Mom Camp.
We shook hands. And I pretended not to notice how limp hers was.
When we last left our young heroine – me – STOP LAUGHING! Are you laughing at the “young” or the “heroine”? Both?!!!!! Fine.
When we last left our young heroine – my 9 year old daughter, Dimples – we had just arrived in Irving, Texas after a grueling (okay, it wasn’t as grueling as the time leading up to the ride when we were trying to pack up the car) 6 hour car ride to find that we had forgotten to pack one slightly important item for her two-day synchronized swimming tournament – her swim bag.
I should probably educate you on what is generally in the swim bag of a synchronized swimmer participating in one of these mega events: a black swimsuit, a team swimsuit, at least 4 towels, nose plugs, team warm-up suit, goggles, team swim cap, white swim cap, black flip-flops, and yoga mat. Some swimmers also pack their knoxing supplies (boxes of Knox gelatin, bobby pins, hairnets, combs, paintbrushes, and cups).
We realized the swim bag had not traveled with us from San Antonio at about 8:30 the night before the competition. Each of us thought one of the other two family members had put it in the car.
Before I noticed the bag’s absence, and told anyone not to panic, I did a quick mental inventory of what I knew we had. Fortunately, I had packed the knoxing supplies and towels separately, and had some extra nose clips and goggles. Not Dimples’ favorite nose clips and goggles, of course, which almost sparked
a the first meltdown of the weekend once I made my announcement about the swim bag that had go AWOL.
For some odd reason that actually seems logical, Dimples packed her suits in her suitcase, instead of her swim bag. The suitcase somehow made the cut when I was weeding out things that did not really need to ride with us to Dallas, such as the ten receipts from recent veterinary visits. Lest you think that I have some kind of rational approach to packing, I should also tell you that we brought along enough bottled water to survive a nuclear holocaust and some other extremely important survival items – like my umbrella. In case it decided to rain at the indoor swimming pool.
Dimples got a new team swim cap at the Team Meeting that night.
The yoga mat has always been a luxury item for which a towel can substitute in a pinch.
That left the white swim cap, which would be needed at 7:30 A.M., and the black flip flops.
After a year of doing this, I have learned that I am the only inept mother in the group. I was pretty certain every other mom not only had their daughter’s white swim cap, but also brought extras. I was right. They also could have given me cases of nose clips or goggles.
Disaster #1 averted. Mostly. (Our Dallas friends came to the rescue with some black flip flops, fortunately.)
I would like to point out that, although I forgot my daughter’s entire swim bag, guess who was the only mom who had a Sharpie with which to write everyone’s initials on their new team caps?
That’s right – our youngish, heroine, who can always be counted on to remember trivial items. Me.