Category Archives: Children

Decisions, Decisions

If your child is not a Rainbow Loom fanatic, then you are truly missing out.  Just about every kid I know, boys and girls, are carrying around cases of miniature rubber bands and looming like crazy whenever they have a spare moment.  The other day, I kid you not, a group of girls created a Rainbow Loom jump-rope during recess time.

Finding a birthday gift that is Rainbow Loom-related these days should be easy.  The problem is trying to find something the kid wants, but doesn’t have.  So, I was thrilled to discover this book on Amazon that seems to be difficult to find.  There’s two sellers, though.  Which one do you think I should choose?

Rainbow Loom book

I Think We Might Flunk this Test

Panic

Well, it’s sex education time again in the Firepants household.  This year, our daughter, Dimples, gets to keep us involved by asking us questions each night for homework.  I dutifully answered last night’s questions, so I assigned her dad, Cap’n Firepants this evening’s responses.  They were fairly innocuous questions, (“What do you remember about the friends you had when you were my age?”) so I felt like it was a fair request.  While Dimples was interviewing him, I took a peek at the ones for tomorrow night, knowing the responsibility would fall back onto my shoulders.  The theme for tomorrow seems to have something to do with self-confidence, asking questions like, “How did you feel about yourself when you were my age?”  I think I can handle that.

Then I saw the ones for Friday night.  Haha, Cap’n Firepants.  You’re in for a treat…

“What do you know about sexually transmitted diseases?” I asked Cap’n Firepants right about the time he was feeling like he’d dodged a bullet with tonight’s interrogation.

“Nothing,” he said quickly.  The teacher in me was about to reprimand him for lack of elaboration. Then I thought about it.  What, exactly, is the right way to answer that question when asked by your 10 year old daughter?  Is it better to claim ignorance than to risk implying that we know a bit too much?  If I pass the buck to Cap’n Firepants, is he going to shame our family forever by saying too little or way too much? NOBODY WARNED ME THAT I WOULD STILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS INFORMATION 30 YEARS AFTER I TOOK THE CLASS.

Can someone do me a solid and slip me the crib notes?

iGiveUp

Lately, I have been the unfortunate target of Well-Meaning People.

One of my students begged to help me after school every day for two weeks.  Once he got all of his late work turned in, I finally accepted his offer.  I needed to update a bunch of iPads, and his help was greatly appreciated.

You can see where this is going, right?

I’ll spare you the excruciating story.  And I will tell you that iPads with cracked screens work surprisingly well – until someone complains about getting glass on her fingertips every time she swipes.  Picky, picky.

Interestingly enough, the next incident also involved iTechnology.  In this second story, my daughter is the well-meaning person.  I’m not sure she was directing her well-meaning toward me or herself, but I guess that is not the point.  Yesterday afternoon, she suddenly felt the extreme urge to clean something out.  Instead of applying this new desire for minimalism to her closet or dresser drawers, she decided that she was going to clean out the Contacts on her iPod Touch.

“I got rid of all the people I don’t know,” she told me proudly.

It took a minute for me to recall that our devices are actually registered to the same account.  And that the reason she had people she didn’t know under her Contacts was because I had added them to my Contacts at some point.  And that the same Cloud that divvies out all of these names and numbers and addresses to all of my various pieces of technology just got a whole lot lighter when my daughter dumped all of the people who mean absolutely nothing to her, completely oblivious to the fact that they were there in the first place because they meant something to me.

And that. was. not. a. good. thing.

So, now, I can FaceTime whenever I like with the girl who sits next to her on the bus.

But I can’t call the doctor whose name I could never remember, which resulted in him being filed under “Stomach Guy.”

I hope the bus girl doesn’t charge for phone consultations about bloating and colonoscopies.

keep-or-delete-icloud-contacts

The Etiquette of Social Tedia

“And don’t tell anyone I’m in the bathroom,” I told my ten year old daughter.  This was part of the litany of admonishments about things to not do while she is texting, Facetiming, or (god-forbid) actually answering the ancient phone sitting on our kitchen counter.

“Just tell them I’m busy,” I reminded her.  Even though everyone my age knows that’s a euphemism for “she’s in the bathroom,” I was determined to pass on that specific phrase since I had learned it the hard way when I answered the phone as a child and was a bit too honest about the whereabouts of my own mother.

Not that anyone she speaks to even cares what I am doing.

So, the phone rang yesterday. I was (shocker, I know) cooking, so Dimples ran to answer.

“Hello?”  Pause.  “Hello-o-o?” A bit more insistent this time.

Telemarketer, I thought.

“Speaking,” Dimples said, a bit forcefully.

Why would a telemarketer be calling her?  Or was Dimples just pretending to be me?

She listened for a moment.

Then she hung up.

“Um.  Did they ask for you?” I asked.

“No.”

“Okay.  Did they ask for me?”

“No.  They didn’t say anything.”

“Then, why did you say, ‘Speaking’?”

“Well, that’s what I always hear you say,” she said, shrugging.

After I stopped laughing, I explained that I only said that when someone asked for me by name – not as some kind of angry rebuke to the person on the other end of the phone for not bothering to respond when I answered.

“This is going on your blog, isn’t it?” she asked, as I continued to smile at the thought of her listening to my end of the conversation all of the years, and assuming I had to deal with stubborn silence every time I answered the phone.

“Only if you say it’s okay,” I grinned.

And she did.

Now We Just Need to Save Up for the Water Feature

“So I can get a locker chandelier.”

That was my daughter’s response to, “Why do we need to go there?”

Which was my response to, “Okay, let’s go to the Container Store.”

Which was her response to, “Let’s take care of your school supply list today.”

My daughter, Dimples, is starting middle school.  I was only slightly reassured to see that the middle school supply list is shorter than the elementary one  (and, apparently, Trapper Keepers do not pose the same threat to 6th graders that looms over elementary school students).  The reason for the tempered relief was that I have already been notified by parents of older kids that the middle school supply list means diddly squat.  Dimples’ teachers will give her completely different demands as soon as she hits class, so I will most likely exceed last year’s national defense budget by the end of the first week of school.

I don’t expect any of her teachers will require a locker chandelier (fully equipped with a motion sensor), however.

I used my standard test to see how desperate Dimples was for this item, “You will have to spend your own money, then.”

“Okay,” she replied without hestitation.

So, I begrudgingly made the trek to the Container Store so I could watch my daughter spend her Life Savings on a light fixture for her locker.

Alas, to Dimples’ great consternation, there were no white ones left on the shelf.  According to the helpful salesperson, those always sell out right away.

This concerns me a bit, about the fate of humanity, that it is such a priority to purchase white locker chandeliers each summer.  But not as much as I am bothered by the next statement.

“Oh, look, I can get this rug for my locker, instead!”

The rug, which is plusher than my bath mat, and a lovely hot pink color, is apparently just the thing for the trendy locker floor.

I try to imagine the purpose of a rug in one’s locker.  Will her textbooks be doing yoga as they await their turn in class?  Does her P.E. uniform need a companion with which to exchange fungus and odors?  Is this the reason I did not get asked to the 6th grade dance – because I did not have a plush, pink rug in my locker?

And, even more importantly, will the next purchase be a tiny locker vacuum for the tiny locker rug?

It turned out that Dimples decided the rug did not fit with her vision for the interior design of her locker.  She settled for a moderately priced, hot pink magnetic organizer to dress the space up.

But her disappointment was palpable.

The next day, I was at Target by myself, and I meandered over to the school supply section.  Buried under some packs of college-ruled looseleaf, I found one white locker chandelier.  Of course.  And, it was less than half the price of the one Dimples had planned to obtain.

Should I surprise her with the decor she coveted?  Or should I remain loyal to the voice in my head that declares the ridiculous impracticality of  installing a motion-detecting light fixture in a space only slightly larger than my glove compartment, which she will visit for approximately 5 minutes each day?

I think you know the decision I made.

You know you want one.

You know you want one.

I Promise I Haven’t Locked My Child in a Closet for the Last Ten Years

It became quite clear while we were on vacation that my child has led ten years of a very deprived life.  Evidently, this is an ideal child-rearing strategy because it truly makes kids appreciate the simple things.

Mom, get a picture of that dragonfly!

Mom, quick, get a picture of that dragonfly!

Mom, look at that frog!!!  He's just sitting there!  He's so cute!

Mom, look at that frog!!! He’s just sitting there! He’s so cute!

You can do what with this?  OMG!  It's like a helicopter!!!  Can I take one of these home?!!!!!

You can do what with this? OMG! It’s like a helicopter!!! Can I take one of these home?!!!!!

Chasing fireflies and a light-up frisbee in the dark, playing tetherball at the beach, and taking a satisfying nap in the rental car during a two-hour drive all completely delighted Dimples.

But nothing compared to the ultimate entertainment – the Whirlpool tub in the master bedroom of our condo.

TubDimples is not deterred by the fact that this huge tub is in the master bathroom, which is connected to the master bedroom, which is not the bedroom in which she sleeps.  Because she is not the master.  This makes no difference to her because, by her estimation, these tubs are designed especially for her, and it is her intent to monopolize all use of the tub for the duration of our visit.  Any plans that I may have of relaxing with a book and a glass of wine quickly take a back seat to Dimples’ tub schedule.

Just to give you an idea of her complete enjoyment of this amenity, here is a video I took on our last night there.  I was standing outside the bathroom door as she reveled in her final bath.  So, the video is of the door.  So, really, it’s the audio that might be interesting.  But there is a picture at the end.  Because, despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t believe in complete sensory deprivation.

Don’t Wear a Thong When You Ride a Horse and Other Advice for City Girls

So, once we made the rare sighting of the Pedal Tavern during our photo safari of downtown Nashville, we hopped in the car and drove for two hours to a place in the country where our family reunion was taking place.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person, but I am much more comfortable with taking my life into my hands by jay-running between speeding cars in the city than I am with hiking through poison-ivy infested woods.

My daughter’s first priority for vacation was to go horseback riding.  I’ve done this several times, so I know the basics: wear close-toed shoes, put your left foot in the stirrup first so you don’t end up facing the horse’s rear end, and don’t let yourself fall off.  Despite the fact that my horse, Maverick, emulated his Top Gun namesake by showing no regard for anyone but himself and nearly decapitating me on low-hanging branches several times, I did pretty well.

It wasn’t until that evening that I realized my wardrobe mistake.  Major chafage pain in the posterior region informed me that I should be less concerned about panty lines the next time I go trotting through the forest.  I know this is TMI, but I feel it is my duty to warn my fashion-minded readers about the consequences of improper undergarments when riding a horse.  No one thinks to tell you these things. Sure, they will give you a helmet to keep you from cracking your head open, but no one mentions the importance of protecting your crack.

I did get advice later on that day about the ramifications of picking up toads.  The kids seemed so enamored with one that was hanging out by the sidewalk that I swept it up in my hands to give them a better look.

“Ewww.  It’s going to pee on you!” approximately 10 people shouted to me at the same time.

Now, I’ve had held lots of strange animals – hedgehogs, snakes, tarantulas, hissing cockroaches, etc…  And, a few of them have peed on me.  It’s no big deal.  You set the animal down, go wash off the tiny drop of urine and all is good.  So, I wasn’t too intimidated by this warning.

Toad pee, though, is a bit different than hedgehog pee.  Apparently, a toad’s bladder holds an unprecedented volume of pee.  Picture yourself holding a water balloon that is the size of the palm of your hand, and a dime-sized hole suddenly opens in the bottom of the balloon.  Oh, and to this picture, add a bunch of kids of various ages watching you closely to see if you are going to screech and pitch the poor toad 10 feet into the air as soon as it dumps urine all over you.

Ironically, my efforts to encourage the kids to observe nature more closely ended up with them observing me intently for signs of a freak out.

I will tell you , quite proudly, that I did not toss the toad.  Nor did I freak out.  In fact, I calmly held the toad for another couple of minutes – until it released another gallon of pee all over my fingers.  Then I prudently set it down and said, “Well, that’s enough for now.  Why don’t you go chase fireflies?” (to the kids, not the toad.  Although I guess the toad might be interested in eating fireflies, too, but I was a bit too ticked off at him to be giving him meal or entertainment suggestions) and walked quickly to the bathroom to wash my hands.

Well, as quickly as one can walk when your butt cheeks are on fire.

My sister took a picture of me holding the toad.  This is not the picture.  I got this from http://exoticsandmore.blogspot.com/2011/04/species-of-day-american-toad.html

My sister took a picture of me holding the toad. This is not the picture. I got this from http://exoticsandmore.blogspot.com

This is Why We Don’t Waste Money on Dog Toys

I’ve been trying to organize some photos, and came across some Wonderbutt pics I thought you guys would enjoy.  Here is Wonderbutt racing around the house with Dimples’ underwear.  It was a good way to teach her not to throw her clothes on the floor…

Wonderbutt and the Underwear

Tonight: Tune in to Wild People Who Vote Democratically and Have Horrible Taste in Television

I have memories of visiting friends when we were kids.  After a day of playing outside, the two families would gather in the rec room, and watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom together.  Picture a group of about 10 people contentedly viewing educational programming about the exotic behavior of lions in Africa.

35 years later...

My daughter and I were visiting some friends earlier this week, and we all decided to chill in front of the television after a day of adventure.

Of course, these days there are a lot more programming choices than Wild Kingdom.

America’s Got Talent seemed mutually satisfactory to everyone.  We arrived on the channel just in time for a comedian to start his act.  About his sex life.

Despite the protests of the ten year old girls, we decided to look for a show that was a bit more “family-oriented.”

That’s how we ended up on the Discovery Channel.

Naked and Afraid was the name of the show.

I’m not sure why, but the title made me picture newborn hairless kittens trying to survive in an old barn.

Yeah.  That’s not what it’s about.

The grownups in the room stared with our mouths agape at the large screen t.v. as a naked man and woman foraged in the forest.

If you have not yet experienced this viewing pleasure, picture Survivor, Fear Factor, the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible, and Anthony Weiner’s sexts all rolled into one.

Are you kidding me?  Did someone at the network actually pitch this?  And someone else said yes?  AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER SOMEONE ELSES SAID, “LET’S WATCH THIS!”  ?!!!!!!!!

Granted, the vulnerable parts are pixelated.  But the dirty bottoms and the thighs of cellulite are perfectly defined.  Not the kind of Wild Kingdom I really want to see.

After we cleaned our chins off the floor, we moved on to the next show.

Okay, this should be safe.  Family Feud.

“What’s the most sensitive part of your body to get a tattoo?”

“Your foot!” I yell.  That was #2.

“Your private parts!” the contestant yelled.

She was right.  The #1 most sensitive spot to get a tattoo is your privates according to the survey of 100 people who probably never got a tattoo but could actually visualize people attempting this amazing feat.  And just to let you know, “Boobs” was #9, so that further distinguishes which specific privates are being tattooed.

Or, if you want to use Family Feud’s scientific terminology, you can just call it, “Giggle Stick and Hoo-Hoo.”

We decided we didn’t really need to watch t.v.

Picture a group of 5 people – 3 adults stunned into silence while 2 ten year olds roll around on the floor laughing at all of the information they have acquired in the last ten minutes of channel surfing.

I learned a lot, too.  America has no talent, no sense of shame or decorum, and plenty of people who can imagine getting tattoos on giggle sticks and hoo-hoos.

We may not be a kingdom, but I think the lions of Africa are a lot more civilized than the people of the United States.

about-show-wild-kingdom

What If I Was Competing in the International Extreme Ironing Tournament? Would That Have Made It Okay?

extreme-ironing

Quick pop quiz. Your 10-year old daughter qualifies for Nationals in her chosen sport, let’s say Chess Boxing.  (Yes, that’s really a sport.)  And she has to travel to another state to compete.  Do you let her go?

Well, of course.  She’s been preparing for this Chess Boxing tournament for three years.  Duh.

Oh wait.  Second question.  Do you go with her, even though there will be four other adults accompanying the team of 6 girl, uh, Chess Boxers?

Trick question.

Are you her father or her mother?

This is important.  Think carefully.

Wrong.

I don’t care what you answered.  You’re wrong.  Especially if you’re her mother.  Because whatever mothers do, they are wrong.  According to the experts – other mothers.

If you are her mother, for example, and you have an important professional conference to attend that you’ve been trying to get financing for the last 24 months and it happens to overlap the Chess Boxing Extravaganza and your husband volunteers to accompany your daughter so she does not have to travel on her own with 5 other girls and 4 adults, and you can then participate in the conference for which you paid a nonrefundable registration fee, then you are, apparently, someone “who hates kids.”

Now, if you are her father, and you opted to go with your potential Chess Boxing Champion, and are stuck on a trip with 6 girls between the ages of 10 and 12, and four women, for 5 very long days, then it takes you about 5 minutes into the trip to realize you are also very wrong.  Fortunately, you are the only one who realizes this fact, and the rest of the population on this planet canonizes you and declares you the “Best, Most Patient Man to Walk the Earth Since Gandhi Passed.”  When you get home, there is a ticker-tape parade in your honor and a National Holiday is named after you – “The Man Who Went With His Daughter to Her Competition Because Her Mother Was Too Selfish Day.”

Of course, you could have each made different decisions, resulting in the mother “doing her duty” and resenting that she will not have another opportunity to attend the conference for at least 4 more years, and the father going about his daily life while attempting to console your bulldog, Wonderbutt, for the five days of your absence.

But I guarantee that no one will crown the mom to be “Best, Most Patient Woman to Walk the Earth Since Mother Teresa.”

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is:

A.) Don’t get your daughter involved in Chess Boxing; Giant Pumpkin Kayaking is much safer

2.) I swear I don’t hate kids,

8.) I love my husband, and

5.) Congratulations to the Same-Sex Marriage Proponents in the USA on today’s victories, maybe now we can

D.) Work on Same Expectations for Parents No Matter What Your Gender and

III.) Cutting Moms Some Slack.  Or slacks.  But don’t make her iron them.

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