Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time management and the messy bedroom

I just sent G to clean her room and told her not to come out, except to use the bathroom or get a drink of water, until she's finished. If history is any indicator, this means I won't see her again for three hours, the first two hours and forty-five minutes of which she will spend watching movies and doing time-consuming but nonessential tasks.

Last time we went through this exercise, I suggested that she concentrate on activities that make a visible difference in the tidiness of the room, e.g., making the bed, picking up dirty clothes and shelving books. Instead, when I came in to see how she was doing, I discovered that she had been arranging her DVD cases in alphabetical order. I think this is a ploy to avoid doing any real work by pleading that she's been "cleaning" ALL DAY - never mind that if she tried, she could do the whole thing in 20 minutes and be done with it. I don't expect perfection, just reasonable orderliness and a floor clear enough to vacuum. Sigh.

ETA: In the end, she finished in just over an hour and did a very good job. Color me impressed!

Great literature it ain't

Uncle Walter's Bad Romance Novel Covers


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, slightly modified

As I've said before, Thanksgiving is not a holiday with much appeal for me. I don't eat turkey, I hate football (sorry, P, wherever you are), I don't like driving in heavy traffic, and forced socializing is about as much fun as a long, sharp straight pin through my retina. I'm totally down with the idea of doing something to mark the day and celebrate my many blessings; I just think it should be something that I enjoy. So here's my list of Thanksgiving traditions I would like to see catch on:

Side Dish Dinner
Cranberries, green beans, olives, cheese, crackers, potatoes, stuffing, Parker House rolls, three kinds of pie ... and no dead bird.

Jazz Hands
Instead of watching football after dinner, everyone piles into the car and goes to see a huge, splashy Broadway musical. If this isn't possible, I would consider watching televised football if the players were required to sing about it every time they made a touchdown.

Far Apart, Together
The whole family meets up on Facebook and IMs about what they're cooking and how big the kids are getting. All the interaction without the need to get dressed and drive for miles, plus if someone irritates you, you can just make yourself invisible.

Reading is Fundamental
Everyone brings the book of his or her choice to Thanksgiving dinner and reads it at the table while eating. Bonus points if you read something with a Puritan flair, like The Crucible or The Scarlet Letter.

The Witching Hour
Thanksgiving merges with my favorite holiday, Halloween. Dinner is served at midnight on a black-draped table lined with candelabras while live ravens watch from cobweb-hung perches on the walls. When it's your turn to say what you're thankful for, you have to hold a flashlight under your chin and speak in a sepulchral Vincent Price voice.

Sadly, I doubt we'll see any of these refreshing changes anytime soon. People are so set in their ways. But if I take over the world ... look out!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The shot heard 'round the world

Fifth grade in California means U.S. history, and U.S. history, as we all know, starts with the Revolutionary War. Because the school hates me and knows I'm a 10-thumbed eejit when it comes to sewing and crafts, they are staging Walk Through the American Revolution at the beginning of December, and I'm required to produce an eighteenth-century costume for G to wear. This is much more complicated than last year's Walk Through California, when she wore a long skirt, a white blouse and carried a fan, and looked just like a Spanish lady ... sort of.

The good news is that G isn't being too picky about her costume this year, although she did caution me, upon bringing the flier home, "I'm not gonna dress like a dude." (Which is too bad, because I have a velvet blazer that would have looked lovely with some leggings and long socks.) The bad news is that I have about two weeks to figure something out without spending a fortune. I wish I still had the dress my mother sewed for me to wear when my sixth-grade class reenacted the Civil War a million years ago in 1982. She made it out of a yellow bed sheet, and it looked amazing. Why can't I do things like that?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rationalization 101

Q: Are Bagel Bites and orange slices a nourishing dinner for a growing child?

A: Of course they are! Because there's fruit! Fresh, nutritious, vitamin-packed fruit! Heck, I could serve her a Crisco sandwich on white bread, and it would be okay as long as I put half a banana on the side. Fruit makes everything all right.

... Right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I was that girl once

While shopping at Target by myself today, I was passing the shoe section when I saw a woman around my age, trailed by a blonde girl who looked a year or so older than G. The girl had a pissed-off expression on her face and was walking with her arms folded huffily across the front of her little blue Hollister T-shirt. Her mother looked harassed, but determined to be patient. I eavesdropped on them:

Mother: I really don't think she wore heels at 12.
Girl (in bitchy voice): Yes, she DID.
Mother: Well, I think it's too young. You'll fall off.
Girl (in even more bitchy voice): No, I WON'T.

I managed not to laugh out loud, but I did snort to myself as I rolled my cart toward the shampoo and toothpaste. Oh, tween girls. You're lucky we don't sell you all to the gypsies.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Letter G received at school today:

To the parents of [G's name]:

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that [G] will soon receive an invitation to attend a 2010 People to People World Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. She was nominated for this honor by [Mrs. R, her former teacher and the supervisor of the school newspaper she founded last year] of [her school], who believes [G] to be an outstanding student with high academic standing and promising leadership potential.

People to People International was founded in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the premise that peace can be achieved through understanding. Making a difference in the world begins with developing your child's own leadership skills, and the World Leadership Forum offers a unique opportunity for [G] to join other highly motivated and accomplished students from around the globe.

You can find more detailed information in [G's] forthcoming official invitation or online at People to People. In the meantime, congratulations on [G's] many achievements. I hope that your family can take advantage of this educational program to further her as a young leader.

We just spent some time reading about this online, and it's really quite cool. It's a 5-7-day program and you have to be nominated by an educator to attend. It's also extremely expensive, so I don't know yet whether she'll be able to go (or whether I'll be able to go with her, which will be a deciding factor at this age) but if I can make it happen, I will -- it sounds like a great opportunity and an experience she'd never forget.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


G: I can't wear that shirt* to school. It's ugly.

Me: You do know you picked it out at the store yourself, don't you?

G: Well, I must have been younger then and liked different things. That looks like the "Mom, I want to play Barbies" phase. I'm not in that phase anymore.

Me: I see. And which phase would you say you're in now? Just so I know.

G: I think it's the "Mom, don't wake me up early in the morning" phase**.

Me: Sounds like an accurate assessment.

*A pretty blue flowered top from Justice that she loved last year.
** Phases I would welcome: the "helping Mom around the house" phase, the "doing homework without a fuss" phase, and the "not leaving my dirty socks on the kitchen table" phase.