What’s the Capital of…?

As the boys played in the play area at Chick-Fil-A the other night, Jane sat with her parents and quizzed us on geography.

“What’s the capital of South Africa?” she asked.

“Johannesburg,” I answered.

“How do you know that?!?”

“It’s common knowledge,” her dad said.

“No it’s not! Fine, what’s the capital of Mexico?”

“Mexico City.”

“Guatamala?”

“Guatamala City.”

“Panama?” she started to laugh.

“Panama City. What’s the capital of Nevada?” I asked, turning the tables.

“What? I don’t know. Um. Nevada City?”

“No.”

“Um… how about… California City?”

“No, but that’s closer. It starts with Ca and ends in ity.” Eventually we got her to name it by giving the last name of a classmate named Carson. We moved on to other states. Her knowledge of state capitals was fairly weak.

“The capital of Florida…” she tried to answer, “…is… it’s like… Naomi. Right?”

“Are you trying to say Miami?”

“Yes! That’s it!”

“No, that’s not the capital of Florida.”

“But it’s pretty close to Miami, isn’t it?”

“No, actually the capital of Florida is about as far away from Miami as you can get and still be in Florida. It’s Tallahassee. How ’bout Kansas?”

“It’s not Kansas City, right? I mean, Kansas City is in Oklahoma.”

“What?!”

“I mean. It’s in Texas? No, wait… it’s somewhere… Missouri!”

“Actually it’s in both Missouri and Kansas, but what’s the capital of Kansas?”

“I don’t know.”

“Wichita*. How about Texas?”

“Houston.”

There was a moment of stunned silence before, “No, wait! I meant Austin! I meant Austin!”

“Wow,” her dad said. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

“I’m not even a Texan and I know the capital,” I added.

“It used to be the capital! It’s because of time travel! I travel with The Doctor, you see. I just forgot when I was. I’m confused. No, I’m…”

“Befuddled?” suggested her dad.

“Yes. Wait. No!”

I truly wish I had a recording of the conversation because I’ve forgotten many of the details. We traveled all over the world, naming capitals and rattling off facts, teasing each other and laughing the whole time. We all got to show off our knowledge and struggle through our weaknesses, like when I took several minutes to call to mind that Ottawa was the capital of Canada, while Jane grinned like the Cheshire Cat. She had classmates playing in the play area, but she chose to spend her time with us, exercising her brain. I truly cherish moments like this.

*Edit: To my great amusement, a friend on the East Coast, far, far away from Kansas, pointed out to me that Topeka is the capital of Kansas, the state that borders my husband’s and my home state. We also misstated the capital of India, but that one didn’t make it into the story. Proof that even the parents don’t always get it right.

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Happy Mother’s Day

As we left the ball fields tonight, we tried to decide where to go eat. The kids (for once) presented a unified front and asked for Chick-Fil-A. I was considering a local place that serves great catfish on Fridays, but was concerned about eating too much.

“It’s your choice,” my husband said. “Wherever you want to go.”

“Not fair!” Daryl called out, “You always let her pick!”

“Yes, see, we’re married. I like to leave the choice to her” was the response from the front seat. In the back, the following argument ensued.

“Well, you never listen to what we want!”

“That’s not true,” his sister butted in. “We just left a baseball game. That’s something you wanted. You said you wanted to play baseball and he listened.”

“But when we pick restaurants, he always tells her that she gets to pick!”

“That’s not true. Sometimes we get to pick. Besides, Sunday is Mother’s Day. She ought to get to pick.”

“So?! She’s going to get tons of presents for that!”

I’m getting tons of presents? I quietly asked my husband. Do I normally get tons of presents? I don’t remember that. He shrugged.

“She’s not going to get tons of presents, Daryl.”

I knew it.

“Yes she is. I’m giving her two presents and something else.”

“Was it expensive?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the big deal?”

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money for it to be valuable…”

That’s true.

“…and she shouldn’t get to pick what we have for dinner.”

“You aren’t being very nice to her. It’s Mother’s Day.”

“Not yet it isn’t. She should get to pick on Sunday. Not today. I want to go to Chick-Fil-A.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to go where Mommy said to go!” adds in Hal as we pull into the parking lot of the location I had quietly chosen during the argument.

“Oh, wait,” I told my husband. “We can’t eat here. Hal said so. I guess we’ll need to go to the catfish place after all.”

“No! We want Chick-Fil-A.”

“Then why don’t you guys quit arguing and open your eyes? We are here.”

The Adventures of Hal

We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A tonight. Our local restaurant hosts “Spirit Nights” for various organizations. Tonight was for Destination Imagination, an activity that Daryl is involved in. A friend and her kids were there as well so we ate with her and her son while her daughter waited tables to help with the fundraiser. Jane stayed home and Daryl was, ironically, at his Destination Imagination practice.

Hal was a little wound up by the time we sat down. As he bounced on his chair, our friend commented how much she enjoyed reading about his antics on Facebook and on this blog. This kicked off a rapid-fire retelling of several of his more colorful tales from her and her young son, all centered around poop.

First, a favorite of our friend:

Jane and Hal were arguing about something that I don’t recall now.
Jane: “I am not going to argue with a four year-old.”
Dad: “You mean you are going to stop arguing with a four year-old?”
Hal: “Doodie Poopie bottom!”
Jane: “Yes.”

Then they talked about the time he rode his tricycle down to the neighbor’s house without permission. When I started to panic that he was missing, he rode back up and calmly announced, “I pooped in my pants.”

Then there was the day I found Hal in the bathroom, donning a pair of the blue latex gloves that we would wear while scrubbing the poop out of his underwear. When I asked what he was doing, he patiently explained to me that Sobo-be-nye-nye, his imaginary friend, had pooped in her pants.

I don’t know if Hal was listening and wanted to give them some firsthand exposure to his adventures or if it’s just not possible for an hour to go by without him entertaining those around him. Fortunately, the new tales do not involve poop. We sincerely hope to have permanently moved beyond those particular adventures.

Hal headed off to the play area while the rest of us sat around the table and talked. At one point, a lady approached our table, pointed at my husband, and said, “Excuse me, but your son is stuck between the slide and the wall.”

We all popped up to where we could see. Sure enough, Hal had managed to wedge himself between the slide and the wall. His face was already red from having been running around and now he was starting to look slightly panicked. His dad walked in and started talking him through it. Most of the dining room was now watching. One man asked me if he was trying to talk him through it or if he couldn’t figure out how to get him unstuck. I told him that my husband was the type of parent that makes a kid get himself out of a situation he got himself into.

Eventually, Hal was freed and resumed his running around. When he returned to the table, he was hot and sweaty and extremely thirsty. First he tried my lemonade but it was empty. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty and then tried to stick a straw in Jane’s cup that I was going to take home to her. “No, that’s Jane’s,” I said. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

That’s when he reached across the table for the other cup he saw, which belonged to Mary, our friend’s daughter who had finished with her volunteer work and was gathering her dinner before heading off to softball practice. Mary pulled it back and I told Hal that it was hers. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

Now, there’s something you need to know about Mary. And about us. We are not a family that is overly concerned with germs. We will drink out of each other’s cups, share food off the same fork, even share a toothbrush if the situation is desperate enough. Mary is not like us in this regard. She is not the least bit interested in swapping germs with anyone. At all. Period.

Before I had the opportunity to find a solution to Hal’s parched problem, he had reached for the cup again and managed to get his lips on her straw before I pulled him off.

“Mom,” said Mary. “I need a new straw.”

So… I stole her straw and put it in Jane’s cup and then let Hal drink some of Jane’s tea, the whole time wondering what Mary thought of me giving Jane a straw that both Mary and Hal had touched. Oh, well. When you live with Hal, you do what you gotta do.