Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peer pressure paraphernalia

I tucked my sweet little girl under her covers last night.

"Can I have a hundred dollars?"

Thoughts begin running through my mind. She just turned 7. She can't have a drug habit -- she doesn't even like to take Tylenol. Surely she doesn't owe a bookie for a gambling debt. What on earth could a 7 year old want $100 for (that doesn't involve a Nintendo gaming system)? I mean, if you shop Old Navy on the right day, her entire back to school wardrobe doesn't even cost that much.

I kept the rant in my head and opted to merely ask, "For what?"

Ahh, the Scholastic Book Fair is this week in the school library. All books are half price. There's one about dinosaurs. One about cats. One about something else, and they're all must haves on her list. I was happy to hear she'd passed up the Pokemon guide because she has so many of them anyway.

Oh, and Jalyn got a noodle eraser. They look like swim noodles but are much smaller because a swim noodle would be difficult to erase with. And some other kid got a guy that when you squeeze his belly, his eyes bulge out. And there are posters and bookmarks, too. Some kid got those. And pencils.

"I figure I'll need about a hundred dollars to get it all," she said...seriously.

"I'll give you money tomorrow for the book fair, but it won't be a hundred dollars."

"Well, what am I supposed to do about all the other stuff I want?"

"You could get a job."

"I'm too little to work. You've already told me that."

"I said you're too little to work at McDonald's. (The one on Pine Street never gets her order right and she wants to work there to show them how easy it would be) You had a job working for me but never would do it? Remember my website? All you had to do was wear the leg warmers and let me take your picture."

"Okay. Go get 'em."

"No way. That offer's over. It's summery now. No one wants to think about leg warmers."

Sigh. "Can't you make something else I can wear for the website?"

"No. It's done. I can't work on any of that until this summer."

"People need tote bags in the summer. You could make a tote bag and I could hold it for a picture."

"Go to sleep."

This morning we were all in the living room before leaving for work and school. I slid her book fair money in an envelope and gave it to her. She told me I'd shorted her. I'd have to add some more money for it to be a hundred. I heard Jim choking on his breakfast sandwich. I told her to make do, and that was it.

In the car I explained that The NED Show would have an assembly today. It's one of those self-esteem, make good choices things. They sell crap souvenirs. So I told her I had not given her money to buy a plastic yo yo from The Ned Show. My fear is that every other kid will show up to buy one and she'll be an outcast. So, I explained to her that I checked out the merchandise online and it was all crap.

"But don't say crap at school. I don't think you're supposed to."

"How about 'suckish?' Can I say you said the yo yos are suckish?"

"Hm. I doubt suckish is good for school either. So, don't say crap or suckish."

So, we decided on "jank." Tell them your mom said their yo yos are jank.

I'm leaving to pick her up now. Taking a U-Haul for the book fair merchandise and hoping there's no letter from the principal explaining that "jank" is also not appropriate for school.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I promise. If I'd pierced your ears, it would have hurt!

Syd's got a big lip sync performance at school Saturday and it requires a "frilly" dress. Actually, I was told to dress her in "princess prissy," quite a challenge for someone like me who prefers "funky and frou-frou." Despite my prissy limitations, I found the perfect dress.

I thought I'd surprise Syd by giving her earrings to match.

Neither of us have pierced ears. I finally got the courage to do mine when I was 22. They quickly got infected and once I got those things out, I swore I'd never put any back in. My fear must have spread to her in the womb. She says she'll never get her ears pierced -- ever.

So, I picked out some cute clip-ons and some magnetic earrings.

I'm fascinated with the magnetic ones. They look like pierced earrings since they don't have a bar to clamp around to the back. These tiny magnets are super strong.

I had her close her eyes while she sat in front of me. I slid the two magnet-backed earrings onto her and told her to open her eyes. I held the mirror in front of her face and noticed the "What's my surprise" look of amusement was turning quickly...the wrong way.

Her brown eyes were filled with tears. Then the lip went upside down.

"What's wrong?"

sniff. sniff.

"What's the matter?"

"I didn't want holes in my ears," she cried. In writing classes they always tell you to used the word "said" when telling that someone said something because people don't really cry words. Yeah, right. Those instructors have never magneted earrings onto a kid's ears. When I say, "she cried," I mean it.

"Oh, sweetie, your ears don't have holes in them. These are magnets."

No response.

I showed her another pair so she could see how they work. Still, no response.

"You think I pierced your ears, don't you?"

The crying turned to wailing. The nod of her head made those welling tears finally run down both cheeks.

"Your ears are not pierced, I promise." I said. "If I'd pierced your ears, it would have hurt really bad." Well, that slipped out. Now she'll never want them done.

The tears have long since dried and we've played with the magnetic earrings most of the evening. She actually does like the clip-ons. They have a padded backing, one that quite obviously won't leave a hole in her ear.

Monday, April 26, 2010


"Who wants popcorn?" I asked.

Nobody. Just me.

Okay. I got out a pot, poured some oil in the bottom of it and heated it on the stove top. I poured popcorn in and waited for the popping to commence.

A few short minutes later, the first kernel exploded and hopped out of the pot just as Sydney was getting a drink from the frig.

"What was that?" she asked.


She came closer and I showed her the white popping kernels through the clear lid.

"Daddy! You've GOT to come see this!" she yelled.

They both stood and watched in amazement. Apparently, Jim had never popped popcorn this way either.

As luck would have it, I poured too much popcorn into the pot. As popcorn continued popping, it raised the lid off the pot. They thought I was Houdini.

"This is how we made popcorn when I was a kid," I explained.

"Back before microwaves?" Syd asked. She said she thought we had always had microwaves. Jim's family always used a healthier air popper.

"When I was a kid your age, Mamaw would pop a lot of popcorn and would pour it into a big, brown grocery sack. Then, we'd take it with us to the drive in movie."

"Is that like a Red Box?"

"No. And that's a different story."

Friday, April 23, 2010

"This stuff is gold!"

Back when I was a kid, cartoons only came on TV Saturday mornings. It's hard for Syd to fathom a day without a cartoon channel.

"Were they stick drawings?" she asked.

No, animation was more advanced than that by the time they started showing cartoons on TV. We had a short lesson on Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse 101.

"I know him. He's got the Clubhouse on Disney Channel," she said. So, I found a clip of "Steamboat Willie" online to show her. She said it was lame.

I guess in today's world of 3D animation it does seem lame. But I really wanted her to appreciate at least the evolution of cartoons.

So, I made her watch Tom & Jerry. As luck would have it, it was my favorite episode. She laughed so hard when the flower pot bounced off the table and broke on Jerry's head. When the pie-hidden iron got thrown into Tom's face, she doubled over laughing. When she caught her breath, she said, "This stuff is gold!"

She's right. That stuff is gold.

The animation may not reach out and grab you, but a laugh is a laugh no matter how technology presents it.

So, when she sees an episode that's new to her, she yells, "You've got to come see this!" She doesn't realize I've seen them gillions of times before. The difference now, though, is that I get to hear her laugh.

And that stuff is gold.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Did I yell something about fishing lures in the doctor's office?

I'm usually pretty good about remembering what I say. I'm having particular trouble this time recalling how loudly I said something.

We were in Dr. P's office yesterday, flipping through all the Bass Master magazines in the lobby. Syd was fascinated with the lures and wanted to go buy some when we left the doctor. My first response was no. We don't need any. We don't even have fishing poles.

But when we got into the examining room that changed. The nurse left to get the strep test (i.e. the big long q-tip that gets rammed down your throat) and I knew I had to act fast.

"You're going to have a throat q-tip. If you are a big girl, we'll go get a fishing lure when we leave here." I was confident that worked.

Her hands immediately clamped over her mouth. How could she scream and wail like that with hands covering her mouth? Maybe she'll grow up to be a ventriloquist. Or maybe just an adult with a horrid fear of long q-tips.

Anyway, the nurse comes in and the fight begins. I tried to be calm. Really. I did. At one point I said, "You've lost that fishing lure. Do you want to lose TV for the night, too?"

I think I said it. Maybe I yelled it. I hope not. What kind of mom bribes their kid with bait with dangerous hooks then shouts it for medical professionals to hear?

The doctor came in and seemed a little amused. He mentioned that he heard "the gnashing of teeth" and I began to wonder if it was hers or mine. We got through the appointment and he didn't say anything else about the commotion.

So, we got out to the car and I once again explained how important it is to be still for those types of tests. I told her when I was a kid, we didn't have that kind of easy test for strep throat. She got a little emotional when she said, "I wish I'd been born back in the olden times."

You know. Back before scrunchees and liquid soap.

If you are a rep from Johnson & Johnson, I don't want a letter from you stating that I used Q-tip in the wrong form. That's why I didn't capitalize it. You people have got to realize that you are the industry standard in cotton swabs and normal people in normal homes don't ever write "cotton swabs" on their store lists. We all write q-tips. My daughter's aversion to the "long q-tip" has nothing to do with the standard of your product, which we use all the time at home. I may be jumping the gun on this, but after receiving hate mail from the "resealable plastic bag" people one time, I'm a little antsy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard

No child left behind.

Thanks for nothing, George W.

Did you really think our public schools would be able to adjust to get everyone to a higher level? What they've had to do is drop the standard so that no one gets left behind. An administrator recently confided in me that the standard will drop even lower soon.

I've been in an elementary classroom lately. Let me tell you what "no child left behind" really means:

1. The teacher's primary role is to keep peace until the bell rings.
2. The "teaching" gets done through a series of practice worksheets the week before the standardized test is given.
3. Average is good enough. Why do more?
4. The quiet kids get left behind because all the misbehaving ones drain the teacher's attention.
5. Poor performance is rewarded.

And while I'm on this subject, if you're a teacher with a sleepy child in class, here's a hint: If the child asks to take a nap instead of doing another worksheet, it's not because he/she was up late disco dancing into the wee morning hours. Look at the kid's grades. Are they all 100's? Does he/she get in any trouble? Hmm. Maybe you have a bored student on your hands. Not that you can do anything about that, since you can't leave any child behind.

Okay. I feel better now. Not really, but at least I put it in writing. Ugh.

When I was a kid, you know -- back before bath scrunchees and liquid soap -- school challenged us. Our teachers expected a lot out of us. They came to school to teach us...not to hopefully make it through the day without being mentally, physically or emotionally drained.

There were good students, average students and below average students and we all knew it. We never made fun of each other. We all played together at recess. By the time we hit high school, some of our classmates had dropped out. They needed to in order to help with family obligations. Or, they hated school and wanted to get on with life. Or maybe they got in trouble and school wouldn't keep them. Regardless, we all made our place and some chose to be "left behind." I'm good with that.

Not everyone is college bound. Who cares? There's still something to be said for being a contributing member of society. How will today's kids learn that when they get a trophy just for competing in a pageant or race or a goody bag for showing up at a birthday party? Or when a school puts their name on a poster to celebrate the fact that they are average or proficient?

Sigh. Too bad we couldn't have left you behind a little sooner, Mr. Bush.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Child labor ain't cheap

It's like my kid was born with the knowledge of child labor laws. When she was a little younger and I'd ask if she wanted to help me rinse dishes or something, she'd say, "No, that's what you do."

So I love making stuff, especially funky, fun stuff. So I figured out a way to make awesome leg warmers with a neat design motif and very little sewing. I was going to take pictures and put the directions for free at my website,

If you go there, you won't see a photo of the project or any directions. I never got that photo.

I thought it would be great for the kiddo to model them for my website. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of becoming famous like Carly and Sam, probably because she can smell a marketing ploy a mile away. But she agreed...with conditions:

"How much does it pay?"


"You'd pay me to take my picture, right?"

"Sure. $5."

I figure $5 to a 6 year old kid was pretty good money. She laughed in my face.

"I thought it would be more like $30 or $50." Somehow $40 got left out.

"Nope. Just $5," I said, hoping my cheery voice would distract her negotiating skills.

"Well you always take a lot of pictures and that's time I could be playing," she explained. Before I knew it, I'd talked her down to $20. Now who's the better negotiator?

Why aren't the pictures on the site?

I'm not paying until I take the pictures. She's not being photographed until she gets paid.

Embarrassing Wednesday

Let me justify my most embarrassing moment this month by saying this first: I've only had this car for two weeks. Keep that in mind.

I ran into Walgreen's on Wednesday on my way to pick the kiddo up from school. As I was walking in, I noticed a car like the one I just traded pulling into the slot in front of the Red Box. My old car had speakers that were broken in the back, so I inconspicuously rubber-necked to see if it was my old car. Wasn't. Went in and didn't think another thing about it.

So I leave with a bag of half-price Peeps and sodas for my sick brother-in-law, and I stand in front of my car and the stupid clicker won't work. I click and click and click. Stupid clicker.

You've figured out that I'm standing in front of the wrong car. The car that looks like my old car. In the split second that it took me to realize what I'd done, I also made the quick decision to act like I was intentionally doing this by talking to myself. Another split second goes by with me beating myself up over how stupid I must look talking to myself in front of not-my-car. My only saving grace is that the man who had driven the car wasn't in it. Other people were nearby, but he didn't see me talking to my stupid keys, asking them why they wouldn't let me into his car.

All this occurs just days after I lost my clicker for a couple of days. The kiddo asked how we'd get in the car and I explained that we'd just use the plain, old key.

"We didn't have remote keyless entry when I was a kid," I said. "That means a clicker."

"Did you have doors?"

"On the cars?"


"Of course we had doors They even had windows that rolled up and down." Do I dare touch on the fact that we cranked them? No. Not today.

Even the Flintstones had doors, right? I wonder sometimes just how old she thinks I am :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kissing pigs and Gretchen Wilson

The kiddo is super excited. If they all do well on their standardized test this week, one of the school administrators will have to kiss a pig.

Didn't PETA protest something like this already?

Why do pigs get stuck kissing school administrators and elected officials?

My daughter says it's because chickens would peck you.


So I enter the school on Monday afternoon, the day before testing begins, and I hear Gretchen Wilson's "I'm a Red-Neck Woman" blaring into her classroom over the intercom. I stick my head in and see some of the kids up dancing.

I backed out into the hallway.

Then I heard the words. It was something like "I'm a Benchmark student" or something like that. No one believes me. I've been searching for it online to no avail. If anyone else heard it, PLEASE let me know. I think she replaced the words "Hell, yeah" with "Amen" or "Ace it."

I guess I'm just an old fashioned test taker. The teachers should teach all year, then let the test measure the student's learning.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Predate Plastic Eggs

We died eggs Saturday night. It was a fancy, schmancy kit from Paas. Bright color dyes, glitter glue pen, crayon, beads and sequins -- plus stickers and plastic shrinky sleeves (which, btw, are great for bandaging broken eggs).

Syd is 7 now and we dye eggs every year. I really don't know why. We take them out to hide and dogs eat them before they're all hidden. We hunt the plastic eggs. We were having a family chuckle about this when I said, "I remember when we didn't have plastic eggs."

Even my husband stopped to look at me. I'm a few years older than he (I'll take your virtual high 5 now). He and the kid can both do that same raised eyebrow look that means, "Are you serious?"

"It's true," I said. Plastic eggs would not have been efficiently produced in the early 70s, I imagine. Or maybe the rest of the world had them and Malvern, Arkansas just didn't. That could be it -- it was the same way with cable TV.

"I even remember when Paas ran TV commercials," I added. This, my husband could recall.

"Tell me another story from the olden days," my daughter said.

I should have seen that coming.

"Well, we used to watch 'Here Comes Peter Cottontail' every year on TV."

"Was that on Cartoon Network?"


"Nick Junior?"

"No. We didn't have those channels then. We had 4, 7 and 11. Oh and 2 until about dark."

"Wow. I bet kids were bored back then. Did you play with sticks like Mamaw did?"

Thanks, Mom, for sharing those stories.

So I went on to explain that we had toys like baseballs and hula hoops and jump ropes and jacks. And we played foreign games too -- Chinese checkers and Chinese jump rope. We rode bikes, too.

"Kids aren't all that different now," she said, "Except we do most of that stuff on the Wii. But not those Chinese games. You'll have to show me those."

I'm looking forward to a summer full of Chinese checkers and Chinese jump rope!