I Was On The Cover…

We received notice around 7:30 last night that school would not be in session today due to inclement weather. This resulted in a relaxation of bedtime and a “can we play a game?” request. There was some disagreement among the two older children as to what game should be played. Then Daryl brought out Loaded Questions and Jane got on board.

Neither Daddy nor I were particularly interested. For a couple of reasons. First, we are accustomed to playing with an older crowd, and often at least a little bit of alcohol is involved. Playing with our children… hmm… But the other reason is that it’s just truly more fun with more people. Four is the bare minimum and isn’t fun.

Or so we thought.

For those of you that don’t know the game, I’ll give a brief explanation. On a person’s turn, they read a question on a card and everyone else writes down their answer. Then the answers are collected and read aloud. The person tries to guess who answered what. Each one guessed right moves the person ahead on the board.

One question read by my husband asked “How many times a day do you check your answering machine?” He thought this was funny and would be easy to answer since… well… no one actually has an answering machine anymore. (Actually, I know a blogger who does but still…) These were the answers he got:

0
On average, probably 3
Only when it says I have a message

He got them all right but rolled his eyes. I pointed out that his children were too young to understand what an actual answering machine was. To which Jane responded, “No! I’ve seen them in old movies. You know the black and white ones?” To which Daryl quickly muttered “racist.” Which prompted Jane to say he wasn’t funny while his Dad laughed and I struggled to catch up on what just happened.

While sitting on the winning square, needing only to correctly identify all three answers to win the game, I chose the question, “Who is the worst musician or band?” Jane is a rabid One Direction fan so some jokes were made along those lines. And then they read the choices:

Milli Vanilli
One Direction
Your Mom

“I think I just won the game,” I said smugly as I sat back in my chair. Jane has a tendency to say “Your Mom” at random, nonsensical times. Daryl has a tendency to poke his sister whenever he can. And Daddy was the only one old enough to have a clue who Milli Vanilli was.

What I failed to consider was that my children a) are insanely competitive and b) have no compunction about lying. Jane had listed her favorite band and Daryl had used her favorite catch-phrase. All without coordinating with each other. I have to admit, I was impressed.

Daryl was easily the best entertainment of the night, though. It was kind of refreshing to not be the most naive person at the table. Near the beginning of the game, he had responded to a question by stating that his greatest phobia was a fear of embarrassment. That made the game a bit rough for him since he found himself embarrassed several times over.

At one point, he was to read a question from the “No-Brainer” category. He read the question and exclaimed, “I don’t know any of this crap!”

At another point, my husband made a comment about the “Happy Trails” paths on the game board, reminding Jane and me of one of my more embarrassing moments of naivety. As Jane giggled, Daryl asked what Happy Trails were. I shook my head. He insisted he wanted to know. (If you don’t know, go check out Urban Dictionary. Or don’t. Your choice). He then asked if it was a State Park. Jane nearly fell out of her chair.

Another time, we were to say what the greatest height was that we would be willing to dive into a large pool of water. My husband offered that it didn’t matter how large the pool was – it was how deep it was that mattered. I said to assume the pool was as deep as it needed to be for the height from which he was going to dive. These were the answers that Daryl had to choose from:

4 feet
6 feet
6 miles with a parachute

Daryl pointed at his Dad and said, “You are the parachute.”

“No,” his dad said. “I’m the person who said I’d have a parachute.”

“Oh. Um.” He turned and looked at Jane. “You are the parachute.”

“Daryl!” I said. “Daddy said that he was the person with the parachute.”

“You!” he pointed at me. “You are the one with the parachute.”

“Are you listening? You got it right the first time. Daddy had the parachute. Now guess the 4 feet and 6 feet!”

The worst moment (or the best, depending on your perspective) was a question about magazines. Specifically, what magazine have you been intending to get a subscription to.

After the questions had been answered and the answers guessed, Daryl told his Dad, “I bet you have a subscription to Playboy.”

“Not currently,” his Dad said.

“Oh, yeah?” Daryl adopted his show-offy tone. “Well… I’ve been on the cover of Playboy.”

His dad stared back at him. My eyes went wide. Jane fell out of her chair and began to turn red as she struggled for oxygen.

“Yep,” he said, as he pulled his shirt up to expose his torso. “My shirt was up and my six-pack was showing.”

“Actually,” my husband interjected. “They are more interested in two packs.”

I joined Jane in the laughing-too-hard camp as Daryl continued, unaware.

After we had had our fun watching Daryl carry on, Daddy finally explained to him that Playboy usually had naked women on the cover.

Daryl turned bright red. “Oh,” he said. “I thought it was one of those for dudes with tattoos all up and down their arms and chests and stuff.”

“Well,” his Daddy said, “I’m sure many dudes with tattoos read the magazine but they don’t tend to make the cover.”

Needless to say, when we later had a question about a hobby you had always wanted to pick up, it was easy to guess who had said “Not saying stupid things like being on Playboy cover.”

I love this kid. He’s an incredibly intelligent young man. Who happens to have some holes in his knowledge base. I know he hates to be embarrassed but I hope he comes to understand some day why I treasure moments like this in my heart.

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On The Way To Work

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These cows caught my attention on my drive to work this morning. They were investigating the watermelon near their salt lick. I was bemused by the presence of the watermelon and suspected that they were too.

As I drove by, I thought, That would be a pretty cool picture.  How often do you see cows eating watermelon? I turned down the next road and thought, No, really. That’d be a cool picture. You should go back and take it. So in a rare spark of spontaneity, I did.

Now, I may live in rural Texas such that I drive by these fine bovines every day, but I’m not really a country girl. I stop and take pictures of things I think are cute. That’s not something my neighbors would do.

And it was my neighbors who caught me taking pictures of the cows. I hopped out of the truck, hoping not to be seen, but there was the couple that lives in the corner house, drinking coffee out on their front porch. I waved and sheepishly told them I thought the cows looked cute with the watermelon. I motioned with my phone and indicated I was just going to take a picture.

They weren’t their cows. They didn’t care. But I’m sure they thought I was odd. Especially since I had turned around and come back to take the picture. I was beginning to feel foolish.

As I got closer to the fence, I heard the man on the porch call out: “Hoooooo-weeeeee!!!!! Here they come! They think you are going to feed them!”

I looked up from my camera in time to see the other dozen cows that had been nowhere near my two subjects running toward me. One was even kicking her back legs up in excitement.

I apologized to the cows. I nodded to the neighbors. I got back into my truck. And drove my city girl butt to work. And tried not to think about just how silly I looked.

When Your Comfort is Less Important Than Someone Else’s

There are certain things that I absolutely do not like to do.  Singing in front of people ranks high on the list.  Especially if it involves hand motions or dancing.  And forget it if I’m not familiar with the song.

It’s amazing how circumstances can affect what you offer to do.

Last night I was the group leader for the 4th and 5th grader group at Vacation Bible School.  Being the last night of VBS, all the groups were getting up one at a time to perform the songs they had been practicing all week in music class.  I was not the group leader the other four nights.  Just the last night.  No problem, though, the group leaders weren’t joining their kids in the theatrics so it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the songs.

My group was the smallest.  With several kids missing, we were down to only four kids: 3 boys and a girl.  A very self-conscious girl.  A very self-conscious girl who was getting more and more anxious about singing in front of the group.

I feel your pain, sister, I thought.  I wouldn’t want to get up there either.

As the oldest group, we were last.  By the time the group before us was heading to the front, a thought came to me.  I didn’t like the thought, but it came and it was right and it was good.

“Would you feel more comfortable if I went up there and sang with you?” I asked.  “Then you wouldn’t be the only girl.  Nor the only person who feels silly.”

“Yes, that would be a lot better,” she said.  I began to share her anxiety.

I looked around the room and reminded myself that it didn’t matter if any of those people thought I looked silly.  The girl would feel less silly and that made it worth it.  I’m forty – she’s ten.  One of our egos is more important to protect than the other’s and it ain’t mine.

And so I joined my little group on the stage, having no clue what songs we were about to sing.  The song leader announced a song that I knew and I breathed a small sigh of relief.  And then my precious angels corrected her – that wasn’t the right song.  I vaguely knew the new one and hung in there well enough.

The second song was from the curriculum so the words and a video of some kids doing the motions were projected on the wall in front of us.  I can handle this, I thought. Almost done.

And then the song started.  My kids started giggling.  They love the song.  Why do they love the song?  Because it gives them a chance to act like they are in Kindergarten.  It was so ridiculously below their grade level that it cracked them up.

Next thing I knew, I was having to roar like a lion and act like a cute kitten and swing my elephant trunk and flap my bird wings and hoot like an owl and jump like a frog.  Three or four times through.  No wonder that girl wanted me up there with her.  No way she was going to attract any attention with a grown woman trying to keep up next to her!

To top it off, they then called all the kids up for the theme song.  The girl checked to make sure I was staying.  And then Hal rushed to join me.  And then the song started.  It was impossibly fast-paced with so many motions that I couldn’t possibly watch the motions and read the lyrics and sing.  So I ended up just holding the cardboard house that kept getting knocked over and hoping that if anyone was video-taping, they weren’t trained on the woman standing there red-faced in the sea of dancing youthful energy.

I think that’s the truest sign of maturity and age, when you willingly give up your dignity for the sake of others.

Addendum:  When I read this to my husband, he said that I was wrong, that the truest sign of maturity and age is when you recognize that you are not giving up your dignity at all.  And he is right.

Avoiding the Earworm

I work upstairs. At the base of the stairs is a small lobby with a big flat screen TV that runs the same video ad nauseum. It never stops. It just runs over and over and over and over.

Most of it is tolerable enough – as much as hearing the same thing over and over again can be. I mean, I’ve raised three toddlers; I know a thing or two about hearing the same video repeatedly. But this is beyond what any two year old can throw at you. I’m pretty sure that if this were Barney and my kid was me, they’d still want to scream by now.

The most obnoxious part of the video is without a doubt the song at the end. It’s overly dramatic and sung with such pomp and grandeur that it makes me want to puke. And then it gets stuck in my head and I spend the rest of the day wishing I could puke it out.

So I’ve started trying to avoid the song. When I open the door at the top of the stairs, I pause before going down. My plan is that if the song is on, I’ll either go back through the door and wait or I’ll run down the stairs.

When I enter at the bottom, I prepare to run up the stairs. But even running, I catch enough and the earworm takes up its residency. I can’t handle it anymore. I think I might be close to insanity.

This brings us to today. Today, I entered at the base of the stairs and heard the song. It’s cold outside so I was wearing gloves and a stocking cap with earflaps. I tried to press my fingers into my ears but there was too much fabric and hair blocking me. I could still hear the song. I slipped my fingers under the flaps of the cap and began to sing “La-la-la-la-la-la.”

That was working. The problem, though, was that there was a door at the top of the stairs. I’d have to remove a finger to open the door. I’d be able to hear the song.

Determined not to hear another bar, I increased my volume as I prepared to open the door. I opened it and rushed through, loudly and monotonously singing “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA“… and then… nearly ran over a shocked coworker.

He looked at me and exclaimed, “What the HELL?!”

I burst out in nervous laughter and rolled along the wall away from him. “Oh, man. Oh, man,” I said. “Ok, that was embarrassing. I can’t handle that song down there. I just can’t. I couldn’t stand to hear it again.”

“Well, I’m tired of it too,” he said. “I just don’t go to such extremes.”

Such extremes, indeed. At least my witness was a coworker and not a stranger. And at least he didn’t catch me singing my sped-up version of the Smurf’s theme song. That’s my song-blocker of choice when I’m feeling particularly cheerful. He might have felt compelled to mention the incident to our boss then. As is, I suspect I won’t hear the end of this for a very long time.

Hair Revisited

I seriously do not remember talking about body hair this much when I was in Middle School. Certainly not with male friends. A different generation. A different time. A different girl. This post recounts another recent conversation Jane had with the two boys, Brad and Chris, who questioned her lack of arm shaving in Hair.

This time, it wasn’t her arms. It was her legs. When she started begging to shave so many years ago, I made the same argument that many moms make: Once you start, you have to keep doing it. You don’t get to stop. And you’ll get tired of it, trust me. Well, I was right on the last point, but dang it if she didn’t prove me wrong on the first point.

During home room, Jane placed her foot on the table so that she could retrieve a piece of paper she had tucked into one of her tall Nike socks. (Remember what I said about a different time? When I was young, the only people who wore tall black socks while wearing shorts were old men who completed the ensemble with sandals. Now, it’s the cool look.)

Anyway, as she extracted the paper, Brad exclaimed, “Oh, man, Jane! You’ve got REALLY hairy legs! You’ve got more hair on your legs than I do!”

“You know, Brad, that’s really not good,” she responded, referring to his apparent lack of manliness. “Seriously though, when you shave it grows back darker and thicker.”

“Uh-huh. Sure it does.”

Jane responded with a dismissive shrug.

Chris asked the inevitable follow-up question to their previous discussion: “I thought you said you shave your legs.”

“I do… On Sundays… Sometimes… If I feel like it… If I’m not being too lazy.” She shrugged again.

The boys continued to harass her, making every attempt to embarrass her or hurt her feelings. At this point, she was laughing so hard that she could barely speak.

“Seriously, guys. I couldn’t care less what you think about my legs. Seriously. I couldn’t. Care. Less.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what I was more proud of: her bold self-confidence or her proper use of “couldn’t care less” over the often-used “could care less.” The perfect mix of father and mother.

Hair

Jane’s Stardusters dance lessons started this week. She danced with a boy named James. The next day, a boy named Brad told her that James had told him that Jane had really hairy arms.

Jane looked dismissively at Brad and plucked at the hairs on her arms. “James is ridiculous. It’s just hair. Everyone has hair on their arms.”

“Why don’t you shave them?” asked Chris, the other boy she hangs out with in her home room.

“Nobody shaves their arms!”

“I thought girls were supposed to,” he said, starting to get a bit apprehensive.

“No! Girls aren’t supposed to shave anything. We just choose to.”

This reminded me of my best friend in middle school who hadn’t started shaving yet. One day, a boy approached her on the playground and asked why she didn’t shave her legs.

Without a bit of hesitation, she shot back, “Why don’t you?!”

The boy was taken aback and hurried away. I was always in awe of her for that. I would have melted in embarrassment and probably cried about it once I got home. I would have done the same thing in Jane’s scenario. But neither Jane nor my friend were the least bit embarrassed.

I thought about telling James’s mom about his comment. Not all girls are as resilient when it comes to these kinds of comments going through the ranks of boys. But, no. I’m fairly certain that that would embarrass Jane.

Etiquette Anxiety

My son is missing a day of school and riding on a charter bus to his state Destination Imagination competition today. He’ll be staying in a hotel room without us. It’s a lot of responsibility to hand a third grade boy. He’s very excited and I’m happy for him, but also just a little bit anxious about his behavior. After all, he’s very excited and that doesn’t usually bode well.

So this morning when I walked by as he ate his cereal and I saw him wipe the milk off his chin with the top edge of his T-shirt, I had a mild parental etiquette explosion.

“Daryl! DO NOT wipe your mouth with your shirt!”

“OK.”

“I mean it! Please, please do not wipe your mouth with your shirt today. Please don’t do anything that will embarrass me.”

“It was just some water.”

“It was not water. You don’t have any water. It was milk and it doesn’t matter. You should always use a napkin. Do not wipe your mouth with your shirt!”

Daddy added in, “That’s with an exclamation point.”

“Yes, with an exclamation point. Two exclamation points. And all caps, bolded, with an underline. And highlighted. I mean it,” I said.

“And a question mark,” Daddy said.

“NO! No question mark! This is not in doubt. DON’T do it!”

My husband walked away laughing and said he was going to send the team coach a text asking her to write down all the times that Daryl did something that embarrassed me. Dads have such a higher tolerance for the foibles of nine year old boys. I guess they’ve been there.