Archive for March, 2013

Last week one day, Elizabeth says, “Daddy, are you doing anything at about 10:30 in the morning on Friday?”media9

Well, there’s the paying job and all, but I was so flattered to be asked that I said, “No, why?”

“Can you come to the field trip my class is having at the Chinese Restaurant?”

Sure. Seems, the second graders were studying China, and dining at Shin Shin Chinese Restaurant was the best available option to absorb the nuances of a culture dating to 2000 BC. Any inkling I had of some rare father-daughter 1-on-1 bonding with our second daughter was quickly dispelled by a note that Mrs. Teacher sent to parents: Don’t plan to eat with your child. There will be too much going on. We need you to help feed the kids at the buffet, tend to their needs and only after they are done eating and, in fact, only after they leave, will you then be able to eat.

I got there and about 15 parents stood in the entrance waiting for the kids. This seemed like too many parents, but I would soon find out it was barely enough. All the moms knew each other and were talking about their kindergarteners lacrosse skills and stuff and pretty much ignoring the two dads.

The kids finally rolled in, one class at a time, and Mrs. Teacher comes up to me and asks me if I can help and watch a table of four boys. I guess she figured, as our girls would say, “Well, YOU’RE a boy, so you know how to handle boys.” In actuality, boys that are the same ages as our girls are completely weird creatures to me and I have no idea what to do with them.

So, the four boys and I set out for the buffet, and while I figure we’ll take things in an orderly fashion and move from station to station as I put stuff on their plates, what they seem to figure is that I can’t possibly help more than one of them at a time, so they start scraping stuff onto their plates, ducking under the sneeze guard and grabbing shit with their hands and putting it on their plates.

By the time I get back to the table with the one boy who I ended up helping, two of the others inform they have either eaten or defiled all of their food and are “ready for seconds.” Mrs. Teacher swings by and says that some of the kids haven’t even had firsts yet, so if the boys want more of something, I should go get it and put it on their plates.

I do that, and return, to find that one of the boys has discovered that there are “clams” at the buffet, and while I am pointing out that the thing on his plate is not a clam but a mussel, the other boys each call out, “I want to try a CLAM, too.”

All right, let’s go get some “clams”! We get back from that adventure, and one of the boys sitting at table next to ours, a table that I will note Mrs. Teacher did NOT put ME in charge of, points at his friend and says: “Peter ate a clam shell.”

I start explaining, again, that first these are not clams, and second, I am sure that while Peter may have eaten the innards of a mussel, I am sure he did not…

I look at Peter. He is smiling. I look at Peter’s plate. There is precisely one HALF of a mussel shell. I look back at Peter and give him a universal guy scowl that can only mean one thing: “Dude! WTF?”

Peter nods and smiles.

Mrs. Teacher then comes back to my table and one of the boys reports that he has wrapped up a “clam shell” to take home.

Mrs. Teacher looks at them and says, “No clam shells are going back to school.” She holds out her hand and says, “Give me the shells boys.”

As I am explaining to Mrs. Teacher that only the one boy has a shell, the others look at her. One pulls a shell out of his pants pocket. Another does the same. A third reaches into his jacket pocket and removes yet another “clam” shell.

Mrs. Teacher looks at me.

I shrug. I was completely overmatched by my own chromosome. I need to stick to girls.

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ImageWe’ve all heard those stories about a family that moved, and “accidentally left behind” the family cat. Days, weeks or months later, there is a scratching at the family’s door and, lo and behold, there stands the cat — its paws worn to a nub, having traveled (blank blank) miles out of pure devotion and unexplained animal instinct.

Well, that story has now gone Inanimate Plastic.

Yesterday, the girls were out exploring a stream at the edge of our neighborhood, and doing really cool kid things like building tiny rafts with sticks and lashing them together with bendable reeds and having raft floating contests. Right at the end of the road, the stream turns into a series of mini-waterfalls and pools, and in one of those pools was one of those el cheapo Chinese-made (I wonder what “El Cheapo” is in Mandarin) plastic/rubber balls.

“Hey!!!,” shouts Rosebud, “that’s just like the ball I got for my birthday in Norfolk. Just like it. That could be my ball.”

She sets off across slippery rock and muddy “island” and tries to get the ball. She can’t reach it and finally takes my suggestion to knock it loose with a stick. She picks up the mildew-ridden ball (see spots all over it on the photo) and hauls it out.

“This is definitely the ball I got on my birthday.”

Geography update: Norfolk to Roanoke? About 240 miles, and mostly uphill after it leaves the Coastal Plain region, crosses the Piedmont round about Charlottesville and then the Blue Ridge before heading south in the Shenandoah Valley.

Who says the Chinese don’t make quality crap?

So Rosebud and I head back to the house, where our efforts to wash up the mildewed lost pink birthday ball in the kitchen sink (hey, wife gets one of those big trendy “farm sinks,” and we don’t even farm, so…) are thwarted by Wife/Mommy, and we head down to the basement to the utility sink.

Mildew still won’t come up, but it is now CLEAN mildew.

Rosebud and I head outside to the driveway and conduct a great game of “roll and bounce the pink ball back and forth”, until Rosebud sees the neighbor and shouts her amazing luck to the neighbor.

“I found my pink ball from Norfolk.”

Well, how lucky, that’s your favorite color, too, neighbor shouts back.

“I’m going to keep it safe, in case it’s somebody else’s — and they call and want it back.”

I’m thinking about making some posters for local telephone poles: “Found. Mildewed Pink Ball.”

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Rosebud was home from Kindergarten this afternoon, following a visit to the school nurse’s office and what appeared to be a successful but largely overly hyped complaint about a case of the sniffles.

Not to admit to being parents who cave, but after a short but tedious chunk of time at home in which the overly hyped complaints continued, we found ourselves looking for the iPad so that Daddy could work (I thought about immediately reporting to the Yahoo offices, whose CEO has just banned telecommuting, just to get away from the complaining, but then came face to face with the stark disappointment that I don’t work for Yahoo).

At some point, amid the frustration of not being able to find the iPad — to discover later that Elizabeth had “forgotten” that she had had it — I apparently uttered something like, “…Because I have freaking work to do!”

Rosebud looked up and said: “Why do you always say ‘freaking’ when you’re mad?”

Well, I thought, because I can’t use the words that I really want to use, but what I said was, “Because it makes me feel less mad.”

She looked at me like that was really stupid.

“I usually just let all the mads out,” she said.

Well, how do you do that?

“By telling what I feel like and yelling it,” she said, “because that helps my temper go down….down…down….down.”

Easy as pie. No need for lifelong sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy at $125 an hour (So, tell me, how did that make you feel? So, tell me, how did feeling like that make you feel? Is that working for you, or do you think you should take another approach?)

Nope. Just tell what you feel like and yell it.


Let the freaking mads out.Image

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