Archive for the ‘Defatigable Redhead (Me)’ Category

The Apprentice Becomes the Master

So for years now, I’ve used a technique I call “Audiobooks for the Captive Audience” to introduce my kids to new books while we’re in the car and they can’t escape.

Mark has turned my strategy against me.

He’s playing a book in the car that makes my ears hurt and my soul feel like it is being rubbed across a cheese grater.

I have a high tolerance for adaptations, and a reasonable tolerance for allusions to / inspiration from other books.  I have no tolerance for flat-up imitations.

The book he’s forcing into my head, much like an ice pick, is basically a retelling of The Hobbit.   He knows this.  This is WHY HE THINKS I SHOULD LIKE IT.

There are four books in this series.

*Whimper*

Pick Your Battles

Me (to myself):  Wear the bikini.  You’re 45, who cares what you look like, just wear it.  It’ll be fine.

Go downstairs en route to pool.

Mark lets out a wail like an ax murderer has caught up with him.  “My eyes!  Oh god!  There’s some things you just can’t unsee!”

Sam:  “Relax.  It’s just a swimsuit.  It’s not that big a deal.”

Me (in my head):  Gosh, that’s decent.  I really appreciate–

Sam continues:  “Save that reaction for when they’re making out in the kitchen.”

Thanks, Sam.

Mark: 4. Fourth Wall: 0

Friday afternoon

Me:  We’re going to a play tonight, Mark.  I need you to remember, it’s a play.  They have lines.  You can’t be shouting advice at the characters.  The people in the audience don’t like it.  You just can’t.

Mark (scoffing):  I’m in middle school now, Mom.  I know.

 

Friday evening

Eliza Doolittle (paraphrased):  You are a jerk and I can get along without you.

Henry Higgins (paraphrased):  Ha, ha.  Good one.  Great joke.  Now come home.

Eliza (paraphrased, singing):  The world gets along without you.  Stuff happens without you making it happen.  Even important stuff.  So sod off, Henry Higgins.

Henry:  (paraphrased):  Ha!  Hahaha!  I am a professor and I can argue this turn of events so I still look good!  You’re acting like a forceful independent person and it’s all thanks to ME.

Eliza stalks over to Henry.  Stands before him.  Tense moment of silence.

Mark:  SLAP HIM!

Guffaws in the audience around us, craning heads in the audience across the theater as people try to work out what was funny.

Sorry, Olney Theatre. We’re working it, I swear.

Superpowers

Mark:  “I want the superpower to make things out of nothing.”

Me:  “I have this superpower.”

Mark:  “WHAT?”

Me:  “I made four things.  Out of nothing.  It took a long time.”

Mark (cottoning on):  “Ooooo….that doesn’t count.”

Me:  “Why not?  I MADE PEOPLE.  FROM SCRATCH.”

Mark:  “I meant with my mind.”

(In my head):  I have to admit perhaps not enough thought was involved…

Not really a holiday, exactly. But good question.

Me:  “Oh, look.  It’s November 5th.  Guy Fawkes Day.”

Mark:  “Guy Fawkes?  Who’s that?”

Me:  “He tried to blow up Parliament in 1605.”

Mark (incredulous):  “And we celebrate that?  WHY IS THIS A HOLIDAY?”

Successful Play-doh Extraction

So we’re at the doctor on Wednesday…

Doctor:  “Mark, um, the inside of your ear is blue.”  Looks some more.  “Did you put a bead in here?”

Mark (emphatically):  “No!”

Doctor:  “Does it hurt?”

Mark:  “No.”

Doctor:  “Do you have trouble hearing?”

Mark:  “Yes!”

(Inside my head):  THAT explains a lot.

Doctor:  “Well, it has to come out.  Schedule with the ENT.”

Scheduled with the ENT.  (I have to type it as ENT, not Ent–otherwise I has visions of Treebeard poking twiggy fingers into Mark’s ear).

Hastily rescheduled Friday morning after a sobbing Mark called from school that the 2 PM appointment overlapped the school Halloween costume parade.

ENT:  “Okay, Mark, let’s get that bead out.”

Mark:  “Will this take long?  The costume parade is at 2:30.”

ENT:  “Not if you hold still.”

MARK FREEZES

ENT:  “Oooaaaakkky.  It’s crumbling, so not a bead.”

Mark (indignantly):  “I did NOT put a bead in my ear.”

ENT:  “I think it’s play-doh.”

Mark:  “Oh.  That.”

(Inside my head):  The paper wad up the nose.  Now this.  You’re out of easy-to-retrieve-from orifices, kid.

In the car:

Me:  “How DID you end up with play-doh in your ear?”

Mark:  “I sleepwalk.”

Dr. Frankenstein, I presume?

So we had to revisit Electrical Safety at our house…

Mark has an ‘Inventing Table’ in our dining room and was having a giant fit because he couldn’t get the Lego minifigure attached to a D battery.  Finally he got frustrated and left.

Yeah, I should have pegged earlier to what he was trying, but I didn’t.

Which is why when I went upstairs, I found an alligator clip wire attached to the wires of an exposed outlet (in an area we’re working on–I KNOW, but they should be old enough to leave such things ALONE), a mini-screwdriver hanging from the other end, and a Lego dude on the floor.

Which is when I figured out what he’d been trying to do:  make the Lego minifigure MOVE by running electricity through it.

Obviously, our next Audiobook for a Captive Audience (what we listen to in the car) needs to be Frankenstein.

AND Brian got cornered into explaining Electrical Safety to him, as well as clarifying why the Lego minifigure wouldn’t have moved even if he had managed to run electricity through it.

Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, the information that the plan was flawed from the beginning was more effective in getting Mark not to try it again than the information that electricity could STOP HIS HEART.

The Power of MOM

So we’re at Godspell Friday night.  Now, Godspell has some medievally moments of direct address and audience interaction.  Also the songs are pretty catchy and repeat themselves, so Mark was singing along regularly.  It’s karmic justice that I have a kid who does not believe in the fourth wall, given my research obsession with direct address.

All was well, more or less, during the first half.  The singing could be kept under control, and he agreed to dance in the aisle right by our seat.

Second act…not so much.  Because we get to the crucifixion.

Mark:  “[to me] What are they doing?  [to the actors] WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  [to me] HE’S DYING.  DO SOMETHING!”

Not sure what he thought I could possibly do but I’m choosing to be flattered that he thought I could do so.

Meditations upon the Potential IQ of a Peach (I mean Nectarine)

Me:  “I’m going to have a nectarine for a snack.  Mark, do you want a nectarine?  I can cut it up for you.”

Mark:  “I don’t like nectarines.”

Me:  “Nectarines are bald peaches.  You like peaches.  You would probably like nectarines.”

Mark:  “I don’t like nectarines.”

[same conversation repeats with Kate]

I cut up one nectarine.

Mark:  “Hey!  That looks like a peach.  Can I have a piece?”

Me:  “Go ahead.”

Mark:  “It TASTES like a peach.  Can I have one?  I guess I like nectarines.”

Me:  “Okay.”

[same conversation repeats with Kate]

Kate:  “I wonder how smart a peach would be if its pit were a brain.”  [holding up the pit]  “It’s pretty big compared to the whole peach.”

Mark:  “However smart it would be, it wouldn’t be smarter than ME.”

Kate:  “Smarter than you as you are, and as it is, or smarter relative to size?  Your brain compared to your body, and its brain compared to it?”

Mark:  “Either way.  I would be smarter than a PEACH either way.”

Kate:  “It’s a nectarine.”

Badly Behaved Parents at Paul’s Graduation

So eldest child graduated from high school on Monday…

I’d like to say we were all well behaved and considerate of the solemn occasion.  Well, most of us were.  Mark, Kate, and Sam brought books and read during the ceremony, so they were quiet if not actually attentive.  Paul’s grandparents were well-behaved and used their grandparental privilege to snag a little nap after Paul crossed the stage.

Paul’s parents, however, whispered together snarkily the whole time.  Sorry, people sitting around us.  There were too many absurdities, I guess, and maybe a little self-delusion that we couldn’t possibly be old enough to have a child graduating from high school by acting juvenile.

Such as:  “I didn’t know ‘videographer’ meant ‘playing video games on one screen, in full view of the audience, while filming the ceremony on the other.’  It’s true what they say.  Ya learn something new every day.”

Then there was the chamber choir rendition of the John Lennon song, which sent Brian and I off into fits of choked giggles whilst imagining which of our cherished high school rebellion music would be slated for such treatment.  Guns and Roses’ ‘Sweet Child of Mine’?  Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’?  Madonna’s ‘Circle in the Sand’?  AC/DC?  Poison?  Twisted Sister?

Worse–will we be attending our grandchildren’s graduations to choral remixes of ‘Call Me Maybe’?

Then the earnest young Valedictorian claimed that you can’t have real emotions in texts, and we started exchanging risque ones to prove otherwise.

But the Honor Society recognition really separated the Mildly Naughty Parent from the Hardcore Naughty Parent…

Brian and I were both struck by the gender imbalance when the Honor Societies’ members were asked to stand.  A good 90% of them were young women.

Brian (whispers to Sam, which I don’t hear):  “See how few boys there are?  There’s an opportunity for you.”

Me (in Sam’s other ear):  “Looks like the Honor Societies are going to be your chance to meet girls.”

 

 

 

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