Category Archives: Parenting

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?

I’m Not Sure I Really Need to Add this Event to My Calendar

Among the many valuable skills that I have for which I cannot seem to find someone to pay me, I have the ability to create and maintain websites.  One of the websites I update is for a local children’s sports team.  Included in this site is an embedded Google calendar to which the various coaches can add information about practice from their own Google calendars.

I was double-checking the calendar’s upcoming events the other day to make sure I had put them all in, when I came across an unexpected entry.  See if you can find it in the realistic reproduction I have posted below:

Friday, September 27,  No practice

Monday, September 30, 7-9 15 & Up practice

Tuesday, October 1, 6:30-8:30 12-14 practice

Wednesday, October 2, Birth Control

Thursday, October 3, 7-9 15 & Up practice

Did you spot it?  Fortunately I spotted it and quickly removed it – hopefully before anyone else noticed.  Apparently, one of our coaches decided to share a bit too much on the team calendar.

Either that, or she was making a statement about how much she enjoys working with children…

Too Much Information

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.

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

Why Does THAT End Always Have to Be Near My Face?

I’ve often said that Wonderbutt is a literary dog.  He tends to eat books rather than read them, however.  Lately, though, he has shown great interest in attending my reading sessions in my daughter’s bedroom in the evening.  This started while we were reading the James Herriot book, so I thought he just enjoyed animal stories.  But, we’ve since moved on to an adventurous fantasy novel, and he continues to join us each time.  (When I say, “join”, I mean that he leaps up out of a deep stupor whenever I head toward her room, and races me to the usual spot by the beanbag where he then collapses by my side as soon as I begin to read.)  I would feel honored by his eagerness to participate – if he didn’t start snoring and passing gas in the middle of my orations.

Wonderbuttlistens

 

Next Year We Will Stand in Our Driveway, and Just Hold Our iPods Over Our Heads.

Note to self: when you make your plans for Independence Day next year, make sure you have an Exit Strategy.

I happen to be a great planner.  Let me rephrase that.  I am a control freak who obsessively compulsively devises a step by step Outline for every Outing scheduled for our family.  Independence Day is no exception.

“So, first we will arrive at the mall at 4:00, and get our prime parking spot.  We will shop until 7 when the stores close, then eat at the restaurant where I have made reservations.  We will take potty breaks after eating and then retire to the parking lot, where we will take out our chairs from the trunk of the car, and settle down to watch the wondrous display of fireworks provided by the amusement park next door without having to pay their entrance fee OR deal with their claustrophobic crowds.”

I must admit that the potty breaks were not in the initial Plan, but were wisely inserted by my husband and daughter.

Everything went according to the Plan.  The problem was what had not been included in the Plan…

“Ouch, these ants keep biting me!” my daughter, Dimples, exclaimed.  Apparently, our prime parking lot property was crawling with the critters, who seemed only interested in 10-year-old toes.

No problem.  My husband, Cap’n Firepants, carved out a nice little spot in the trunk of the car for Dimples.  And I tried not to concern myself with what the rest of the population of San Antonio, who had obviously posted some viral Tweet of my Plan and completely filled the parking lot , would think about a family who stashes their child in a car trunk.

Of course, once the fireworks started, Dimples realized her wonderful nest verged on child abuse due to the fact that it was facing the wrong way.  This forced her to stand up to watch the display, which caused some grumbling and a donning of her father’s shoes in order to stave off any errant ants that might feel the need to crawl miles up the side of the car to feast upon her toes.

Note the rather large shoes on Dimples' feet.

Note the rather large shoes on Dimples’ feet.  And the iPod in her hand.

The show was great, and the entire parking lot of people seemed to experience a group camaraderie as we oohed and ahed over the “Lights of Liberty”  for an exciting twenty minutes.

It was all well and good until it was over.

And that is where the Exit Strategy would have come in handy.

The problem was that, while everyone had arrived in the parking lot at different times, we all seemed to have the same Departure Time in mind.  Which meant that no one. got to. leave.  Ever.

I spent the next two hours picturing the havoc that a herd of zombies could easily wreak on a parking lot of people stubbornly glaring at the lanes of immobilized cars and willing them to move the f- out of the way.  I realized that the same people who enjoyed a certain fellowship with me moments earlier would not hesitate to mow me down now just so they could get in line to leave ahead of me.

I contemplated how useful my fully charged iPad might be if I needed to fend off desperate mobs of people trying to get the bottled water we had stashed in the car.

Fortunately, it was not necessary to sacrifice my iPad, the bottled water, or my 10-year-old daughter.  After two hours of complete congestion, the lines inexplicably began to move, and we finally arrived home, safe and sound and with great resolve to never go through that experience again.

Good times.

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.

A Girl, A Guy, and a New Guy and a Different Girl

When our daughter, Dimples, was about three, she inexplicably started saying, “the guy” at random moments.  Sometimes she would point at her dad, sometimes at baseball caps.  We could not figure out what she was trying to tell us.

Then we took her back to SeaWorld for the second time.  We sat down at the “Viva” show, which had mesmerized her the first time we went.  The  show was filled with leaping dolphins, graceful beluga whales, and amazing feats of gymnastics and diving.  Despite all of that, it stunned me that she didn’t fidget the entire program.  She never clapped or smiled, just watched with wide-eyed wonder.

Determined to repeat that experience, we brought her again about 3 weeks later, carefully arriving about 15 minutes before the beginning of the show so we could be sure to have the same seats as the first time.  When you find something that works well with a toddler, you don’t mess with perfection.

We sat down, and suddenly Dimples started saying, “The Guy!  The Guy!  The Guy!”  with great excitement.

And then I saw who she meant.  Before the show started, a man entertained the crowd with goofy antics in the audience, pretending to try to “fix” a leak, and splashing water everywhere.  He wore a cap.  And last time, I had pointed him out to Dimples by saying, “See the guy over there?  See what the guy is doing?  Isn’t the guy funny?”

From then on, whenever we went to SeaWorld, it was required for us to attend the Viva show to see The Guy.

And if there was a substitute Guy?  Dimples was not happy.

This week, Dimples and I went back to the show.  It’s been 7 years since “The Guy” appeared in her life.  Since then, the show has morphed into a new one, “Azul”, but it’s always had pretty much the same theme.

And it still has “The Guy.”  And he still fills a baseball cap with water and puts it on the head of a very surprised member of the audience.

“But it’s a different guy,” Dimples noted with disappointment this week.  I felt myself preparing for her inevitable announcement of a Day Ruined.  But it didn’t come.

Because now we go to the show to see someone else.  Now, Dimples is a synchronized swimmer, and her coach is performing in the Viva show.  Now, Dimples is on her way to the Nationals, and her mind is on holding her breath, standing during her lift, and pointing her toes.  Now, she is noticing technique and stamina, not the silly man who does pratfalls into the water.

Will I sit in that stadium seven more years from now and be watching Dimples performing with the dolphins?

I don’t know.  But I will always associate that open-air theater with a little girl watching her idol with bright eyes of adoration.

And my frantic mental telepathic warnings to The Guy that he Better. Not Come. Anywhere Near Me.  With that Cap Full of Water.

Dimples and The Guy

Dimples and The Guy

I Was Going to Include a Different Picture But I Was Afraid to Google It

Yesterday I had to fend off a wild beast with an artificial vagina.

Okay, the beast was not so wild.  But she was extremely forward.  Apparently, the father of my daughter’s swim coach feeds her from his hand,  so she expects the same treatment from anyone else who visits the back yard.  Her name is Rhonda.

Rhonda - the vicious beast who attacked me

Rhonda – right before she realized my iPhone is not edible

Oh, and, as you probably suspected, I did not use an artificial vagina.  I used my cell phone.  And I didn’t really beat her with it.  She backed off when she realized it wasn’t food.

These are the kinds of adventures I have in suburban San Antonio.

They aren’t very newsworthy, I’m afraid.

James Herriot, on the other hand, the British country vet who wrote a series of books about his life, really did, apparently, get to repel an angry bull by beating it on the face with an artificial vagina.  The bull, not surprisingly, was a bit upset at this man who kept interfering with things each time he tried to “service” a cow.

Comedy gold.  This kind of thing never happens to me.

Instead, I find myself in the enviable position of reading the chapter about it out loud to my 10 year old daughter, and explaining the concept of artificial insemination to her.  Because I:

a.) have absolutely no memory of reading that particular chapter when I read the book at her age – or even when I read it again a few years ago

2.) am too lazy to read ahead to see if this might be a chapter best skipped

III.) have not enough imagination to “wing it” and make something completely different up when encountered with the sentence, “All you did was wait till the bull started to mount, then you directed the protruded penis into the A.V.”

Quatro.) was so relieved that this chapter did not include the death of any animals that I figured I might as well keep on going.

For her part, my daughter seemed to take the entire thing completely in stride as she folded her clothes while I was reading – although we both lost it completely when the bull slipped during his millionth attempt to mount the cow and avoid the vet trying to grab his penis, and “slid clean under the cow.”

I thought that I had no use for an artificial vagina.  Actually, I never thought about an artificial vagina, period.  But now that I have seen its potential, I am thinking of looking for one on eBay.

I think it could come in useful as a conversation starter.  Plus, our houseguests could use it to fight off our bulldog, Wonderbutt, when he tries to hump their legs.

I’m going to get a story out of this somehow.

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