Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Six Year Old Monologues

"Kimber, why is that fence like that?"

"Like wh–?"
"Do you think that horse will let me pet it? We have a dog like that horse, did you know? His name is Brian, but I always call him Ryan–get it? Brian-Ryan?"
"Tricky, isn't it? Hey, do you ever look at the road when you walk?"
"How come you didn't see that the road was broken back there?"
"Uh. . . I was prob–"
"I'm going to take a piece of this road home to my mom."
"Oh NO! That little chick got out of her fence!"
"That's a killdeer."
"A WHAT?!"
"Never mind... It's a bird. A mama bird–and her chicks are only the size of–"
"Hey, did you ever watch Princesses and Tiaras?"
"It's this show, and you get all this make up on and get your hair done pretty and you wear a tiara, and I'm going to be on it."
"I'll tell you when I'll be on it, so you know when to watch, okay?"
"But first my mom has to buy me a violin, so I can learn how to play it, because you have to do a talent and I don't want to just show everyone my piece-of-a-broken-road-collection."
Heavens, no. We did, however, have a panic attack at midnight when Mom arrived, and the chunk of asphalt went temporarily missing…

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The Universal Toddler Code

We have this cool playground area–four slides, climbing toys, a clubhouse with an honest-to-goodness working doorbell, etc. All padded underfoot with a recycled rubber tire mulch–soft to fall on, and it doesn't rot or give slivers.

Here's the weird thing: When the rubber bark reaches a certain concentration on the surrounding cement, and I sweep it back into the "pit" as we call the play area, the children go into a sort of subliminal panic. Must. Throw. Bark.  Within hours–no matter what lengths I go to–the cement reverts to its previous concentration of bark–and then it stays there. They stop throwing bark. I can leave that bark all over my front porch for weeks, and they won't throw it, but sweep it up? Instant bark explosion. Proven fact. Every single kid that walks through will pick up two fistfuls of bark, wander over, sprinkle it on the cement while they talk to their friends, and then go back for more. I don't even think they know they are doing it.
It's one of those rules, you know? Like tasting the glue. Every kid does it–even if they have never seen anybody else do it.  I'm developing a list, and these are just the things that every kid does–not the strange little quirks they develop individually. It's like, some kind of universal toddler code. 
Every Preschooler is guaranteed to:
  1. Discard the wand and dump the entire bottle of bubble solution out after blowing a maximum of four times. 
  2. Immediately ask for more bubbles.
  3. Mix all available colors of playdough.
  4. Complain that somebody mixed the playdough.
  5. Peel the crayons. 
  6. Sit at the top or bottom of the slide and refuse to move.
  7. Hammer with the butt of their utensils on the table.
  8. Find a way to shake milk out of any spill proof beverage container you buy. If they can't do that,they'll suck it out and watch it dribble out of their open mouths onto the floor.
  9. Press the water button on the fridge repeatedly in short staccato bursts until the cup is full to the brim. They will then take a sip, dump the rest in the sink, and repeat the process–endlessly. 
  10. Rub their hands in the water puddle under the water dispenser, and then rub it a) in their hair, and b) all over the window.
  11. Lick the window. Several times a day.
  12. Attempt to steal the food off their neighbor's plate. No matter what's on their own.
  13. Try to ride the baby that just learned to crawl.
  14. Get stuck in the baby's carseat/swing/exersaucer and shriek frantically until they are rescued. Repeat dozens of times, daily.
  15. Dump the toys and play in the plastic tub.
  16. Turn the tub over and use it to reach forbidden things.
  17. Dump two tubs and turn them over and use them, one under each foot, as skis. 
  18. Wear someone else's shoes as a mode of revenge.
  19. Push any furniture that isn't bolted down, out of its place. If they're strong enough, they will push it around the room until someone stops them. I honestly think they'd do this all day, permission granted.
  20. Play in whatever debris I sweep into a pile.
  21. Try to eat something out of that pile.
  22. Throw everything that isn't nailed down over the fence–this one seems to have a lifetime limit though: they all go through the phase for a couple of months before growing out of it. Someone is always going through the phase,  but it's never the same person. 
  23. Open the door and stand there, neither in, nor out, and refuse to let anyone else go by, pretending to look off into the distance, like they cannot tell they are in the way. 
  24. Open the door if it's closed and close it if it's open, but by no means leave it alone.
  25. Stand next to the cupboard door and bang it repeatedly, open/shut, open/shut….ad infinitum.
  26. Push the red button.

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The Big Red Button

"Kimber, what's that red button for?"

"What red button?"
"The one on the side of your house."

"Oh. That's my naughty trap."
"What's a naughty trap?"
"Well… if you push the red button, poison darts fire out of those little holes right there, and they stick in your skin and paralyze you so you can't move until the naughty police can come."
"What if the police don't  come?"
"Then you die a slow and painful death and the sparrows eat your eyes out."
Sometimes I tell them it's a release button for man eating tigers or the trigger for an atomic bomb that will blow up the entire city. Depends on the age group.
But they always push it. They stand there, thinking about it for a while–but they always push it.

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If you ever drive through Sandpoint Idaho, there's this joint called "Dub's Drive In" Or maybe it's just called Dubs. Depends on what t-shirt I'm looking at….
Just to give you an idea of the menu: A child's meal consists of a cheeseburger big enough that an adult needs two hands to manage it, along with an order of fries I could only eat half of, a shake/smoothie/or soda, and an ice cream cone. It's called a baby cone, but it's the size of McDonald's regular cone. 
If you want a large cone, it's listed on the menu, too, for a whopping $1.60. 
That one, however, is at least a foot tall; no joke. They will offer to serve it to you upside down in a giant styrofoam cup. Accept. There is no way you can balance a quart of soft serve ice cream on an itty, bitty cone. You should see them make the dipped cones. You think there is no way they can dip it, without losing the thing, but somehow they manage it.
And it's good. The burgers are handmade and the shakes fresh fruit and the ice cream heavenly. 
Just in case you're ever headed through, and you're hungry . . . and cheap . . .

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Still Kicking

Last Monday in July….

Home: yes.

Alive: yes!
Retrieved daughter from university campus twelve hours away: check.
Packed off son to week long scout camp: check.
Confirmed, once and for all, that camping is really, really bad for my complexion: doh!

Also confirmed, somehow, in the midst of the chaos, that my kids are all decent, surprisingly funny, cooperative human beings: I knew that…I did.
Suffering from the concussive effects of 36 cumulative hours of driving in a car with 7-8 other people  (decent, funny, cooperative–yes, but surprisingly aromatic) while attempting to compose three different essays–Dostoevsky, Mallarme, and Silko–in my head and on paper napkins and on the palms of my hands: uh-huh. 
Submitted essays before due date: yes!

Laid awake all night agonizing about submitting essays, such as they were: duh.
Back at work: Yup.
Already perusing the graduate studies catalog for possible sources of further self-inflicted torture: come on, what did you expect?

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Falling in Love With a Russian

Fyodor Dostoevsky makes me laugh. Snicker, even, over my morning toast and my lunch.
Yes, I eat while I read.
My children's worse fears about their mother are confirmed. She really is off her rocker. I know this because instead of asking, "What's so funny?" when I snort, they just look at one another over their toast and say nothing. Mother is laughing over a textbook again.
I'm not sure he meant to be as funny as I find him, but I honestly didn't know that there were men, even 200 years ago, sitting in their morose little corners muttering about how their extraordinary intelligence dooms them to a life of utter misery. Intelligence, they assert, precludes happiness.
They are so intelligent–and uniquely so–that only they can see what a miserably useless existence man leads. They consider the rest of us poor stupid creatures, scampering about our daily lives, with a scarcely concealed disdain for our simple-minded immersion in life and all the details of it.
Infants and imbeciles, they assume, are the happiest of creatures–they do not comprehend danger or fear the needs of the next moment or consider the meaning of life–they eat, they watch the pretty colors, and occasionally they bang objects together to make interesting sounds and then they start all over the next day. 
Men, on the other hand, especially a chosen few like themselves–if they even accede that they have any intellectual peers–grow into an awareness of the utter futility of pretty colors, noises, faces and laboring in order to eke out a survival from one day to the next.
God, I assume (in their view of things) must be the most miserable creature in all the universe, being supremely intelligent and all. Or…. Maybe they think they are more intelligent than Him, even. Who knows?
I know people like this, and so, I'm willing to bet, do you. People who never graduated from school because they couldn't stomach the idiocy of either their peers or their professors; they cannot hold a job because they are too intelligent to stomach the banality of every occupation known to or invented by man; they cannot form meaningful, lasting relationships, because, well, the rest of us are so clearly beneath them as to be painful. Really, they are protecting our feelings by remaining aloof.
And Dostoevsky lets us in on the mind of an embittered little man who thought like this two hundred years ago in such a manner that I'm snorting over my breakfast. I don't know how he does it, but there I am, with toast crumbs and milk threatening to come out my nose. 
Who knew I'd fall in love with a Russian, and at my age!

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