Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Passive Meets Agressive

It was all fun and games until my daughter fell on her butt. Sprout was having one of her patented “molasses on a cold day” mornings meant to drive me insane, but I was in too good of a mood to succumb. This displeased Sprout. For reasons beyond my comprehension, she had decided that needed to be upset with me this morning. She does this sometimes, testing to see just how far I will bend before breaking. However, my steadfast refusal to play her games only made her more determined to get a rise out of me. 

She lagged behind by a few paces as we walked the Bean to school. She attempted to stay with her brother on the playground, wanting to try out being a first grader for the day. On our return trip, she was half a block back, casually pretending to notice imaginary interesting things on the sidewalk. I remained cool, maybe even a little detached. Sprout was unhappy that she was no longer the center of my attention so she tired a different tactic. 

She suddenly appeared by my side and in her sweetest voice said, “Pick me up!” I obliged and tossed her over my shoulder. 

This was not what she was expecting and though she pretended to be upset, her delighted squeal as I lifted her in the air betrayed her. She squirmed and twisted, yelling, “Daaaddddyy! Put me dooooowwwwnn!!!” 

She was still wriggling when I placed her back to the ground and that’s how she ended up tush-first on the pavement. It was clearly a soft landing so I know she wasn’t hurt, but I apologized all the same. This was the opening Sprout was looking for.  Like a shark sensing blood, I had given her a signal that I had done something wrong.  Now she had a reason to be mad at me.  She let me know it by ignoring me while getting her mom to cuddle with her.  And from the time we returned home until the time I dropped her off at pre-school, she made sure to move as slowly as she could.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wit & Wisdom Combo-Pack: The Bean, Volume 9, Sprout Volume 4

Today is a special two-for-one offer, a collection of the ramblings of my kids.  Though not as prolific as they used to be, my kids can sure burst forth with nuggets of wisdom.  Here is a collection from the past year:

(Watching TV)
Me:  She said that woman [they're talking about on the news] is a Republican.
The Bean:  Why did you call her a pelican? (2/12)

Anyone see that new cartoon with Mordecai and Rapey? (6/12)

Upon trying Indian Candy for the first time: It tastes like underwater ham! (5/12)

I wish every quarter was a dollar (6/12)

Muffins are fancier than cupcakes. (6/12)

Is this salad here to make the table look pretty or are we going to have to eat it? (6/12)

Me: What words do you know in Spanish?
The Bean: Agua.  Darth Vader.  (8/12)  ™

Grown ups get to do whatever they want...except for evil things. (10/12)

I saw birds practicing geometry because they were flying in a circle and a square. (11/12)

Do all the other crabs obey the King Crab? (12/12)

Me: Remember the stuff you get with arcade tickets doesn't last forever.
The Bean: Yeah, especially if you squeeze it.  (12/12)

Is it tomorrow today?  (1/12)

Let’s play America's Funniest Videos.  You tickle me until I fall off the bed!  (3/12)

If you see any bad guys let me know because I have a gun.  (2/12)

You might make me smile, but you can’t make me happy. (6/12)

Oh man, I rule this popsicle stick! (6/12)

Sprout: Daddy's job is to go to work ad make money for the family. 
WonderWife™: What's mommy's job?
Sprout: I don't know, be lazy? (9/12)

The Bean's Past Wisdom:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Holiday Edition
Valentine's Day Edition
Volume 7 
Volume 8

Sprout's Past Wisdom:
Volume 1
Volume 2 
Volume 3

Friday, November 9, 2012

If I Were a Rich Man

The Bean wandered into the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth. He noticed a copy of Entertainment Weekly on the counter.

“That man is very handsome,” he said of the picture of Prince Charming from that show my wife inexplicably likes, Once Upon a Time. “He must be rich.”

“Does being handsome mean that you’re rich?” I asked.

“Well, one time Dr. Doofenshmirtz turned handsome and walked into a bank and they gave him two bags of money.”

Deciding not to repeat my “things in real life don’t work the way they do in cartoons” speech yet again, I opted for “uh-huh” as my response.

“Do you think I’m rich?” I asked.

 “No dad,” said The Bean. “You don’t look like that.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Schools Banning Food

Sandwiched between the announcement of the PTA’s latest fundraising drive and the Principal’s pleas for kids to stop shoving each other on the playground, the administrators running the Friday morning assembly at the Bean’s elementary school offered up some thoughts on nutrition. The Principal said that kids who didn’t bring a “nutritious” snack to school would be “sent to the cafeteria for a sandwich.” It was clear that gummi bears and Flaming Hot Cheetos were deemed inadequate snacks. It was not clear if after sending a kid to the cafeteria, the school would pay for the healthy sandwich or if the kids were on the hook for it themselves. Listening to this, my hackles raised a bit.

We’ve had issues with this school and food before. Last year, the lunchtime monitor deemed some items in the Bean’s lunch unhealthy and scolded him for bringing them to school. The Bean happened to be in the midst of a brief obession with food where every bite he took was preceded by the question, “Is this healthy?"  WonderWife™ takes pride in packing nutritious lunches for our kids.  And as a person raised on fast food, who doesn't have the world’s best eating habits (read my numerous posts on candy and bacon if you don’t believe me), it’s really important to me that my kids learn to eat well.  The woman at the Bean’s school was plain wrong about judging the yogurt he was eating (it was healthy) and she certianly had no place saying anything to my son about it.  The issue was discussed with the school and it has not happened again.  But it was running through my mind as I listened to the Principal address the students.

The school’s heart is in the right place, but I don’t think schools should become food police.

We are a nation of overweight, processed-food junkies who are getting exponentially bigger while passing our terrible eating habits on to the next generation, and we need help. Schools should play a part by offering healthier food and not making soda and candy readily available in the hallways. But should they have the right to tell a kid what kinds of food they are allowed to eat? Shouldn’t this be up to parents?

A school dictating what is considered nutritious for a student takes away the ability and need of the parent to make those kinds of choices by removing them from the decision making process. Parents need to be able to choose their own paths and influence their kids behavior as they see fit, not because a group of public school administrators says so.  Doing so is forcing behavior change.  And as we parents know, forcing will inevitably cause backlash from our kids.

Recently Flaming Hot Cheetos have been banned in schools in California and New Mexico because of the poor nutritional value of the snack. While I personally find them to be tasty, I agree that Cheetos aren’t even in the realm of healthy. But is banning or confiscating these snacks the answer? Taking away snacks in school doesn't stop kids from eating them when their not in school.  It just makes them forbidden fruit.  So wouldn't it be better if the people educating our children attempted to teach them about nutrition instead of policing it?  Let's give the next generation the information and tools to change instead of forcing our will upon them. 

To my son’s school, I offer this suggestion: How about if you notice a kid eating unhealthy food instead of punishing the kid, maybe send a note home to engage the parents who are providing the food in a discussion? Explain why the food in question may be problematic and allow the now-informed parents to make a decision they deem best for their child. But stop being food bullies. Because nothing is going to get better by forcing it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nails, Part 3

Every morning, the first graders all swarm around me in the morning holding out their fists. I’m not sure how I became the ringleader of these massive games of Rock, Paper,Scissors, but once the proverbial genie had been released it wasn’t going back in the bottle because it was having too much fun playing with the grown up before school began.

On this particular morning one of the fingernails of the hands playing was painted bright orange. In the midst of the action, one brash girl stopped so she could tell the boy who was attached to the orange fingers that it was “against the rules” for a boy to wear nail polish.  She punctuated her proclamation with an authoritative, “My mom said so.”  Another boy chirped that his mom also said that boys were not allowed to paint their nails—only girls.

The orange-nailed boy quietly slunk away.

As the father of a boy, who on occasion likes to paint his nails, I have some strong opinions on the subject.  I told the objectionable kids that everybody has different rules and just because their moms told them one thing doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.  It took a lot not to use phrases like “narrow minded” or worse when talking to those kids about their mothers.

The kids scattered to line up when the bell ran. I hugged the Bean, who had witnessed the whole thing, and reminded him that no matter what anyone else says it’s okay for anyone to paint their nails if they want to. I then scanned the area for the orange-nailed boy. I spotted him at the front of the line and worked my way around some errant kids to get to him. I tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned around I looked him in the eye and said, “Just so you know, I think your nails are awesome.”

He smiled as he went off to class.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Mini Moguls

The Bean knew exactly what his problem was. Legos cost money. A lot of money. And even though he was relatively new to math, his skills were sharp enough for him to figure out that it would take him a very long time to save up for that Ninjago set on his meager allowance. So the kid decided to get creative.

Driving up to the house one evening, I spotted the Bean and Sprout marching on the sidewalk, a few of their old toys scattered on the front lawn yelling, “Toys for sale! Get some toys! Only one dollar! Toys for sale!”

While I appreciated their moxie, there were a few holes in their plan. The first being that there is very little foot traffic in front of our house. The second is that it was a good bet that anyone who might be passing by probably wasn’t going to want a beat up truck or tattered doll.

For nearly 20 minutes, the kids paced back and forth yelling to get the attention of people who weren’t there. The Bean looked dejected as he trudged inside for his bath. Billy Mays he was not.

A few days later the Bean had another idea. He realized there was one thing a kid could do to earn a few bucks in the suburbs—a staple of childhood so familiar that it’s practically a cliché—lemonade stand!

A day was picked and a menu was planned. WonderWife™ asked the Bean to write a shopping list of all of ingredients they might need to sell lemonade and cookies. The kids helped juice the lemons and while they painted signs, WonderWife™ baked. To counter the foot traffic problem, WW™ suggested a spot a few blocks away in front of a post office. We posted the time and location of the stand on Facebook (because we are modern parents and both helplessly addicted to social media), loaded up the car, set up and watched as the kids went to work.

The Bean held up his homemade sign and danced around to attract customers with the natural aplomb and charisma of a street performer. He flipped the sign and shook his ass shouting, “Lemonade! Delicious lemonade!” despite that there was no way the cars zooming along the street could hear him. Sprout was a little meeker in her efforts, but following her brother’s lead she too hoisted her sign and yelled her little voice hoarse.

A few friends stopped by to patronize the sale, but most of the customers were folks from the neighborhood who couldn’t resist the sight of two sweaty kids hustling in the hot Valley sun. The generosity of our neighbors amazed and warmed us, as more than a few people stuffed extra money in the till telling the kids to “keep the change”. WonderWife™ and I helped pour glasses and make change when the math got a little too hard, but the kids did the majority of the work. And nearly two hours later, their supply of lemonade was depleted.

Over a celebratory meal of cheeseburgers we helped the kids count their profits. Incredibly, they each earned enough to buy the toy they wanted. We took them directly to the toy store so they could have the experience of handing over their hard-earned cash in exchange for prizes. Clutching his new Lego figures, the Bean declared it “the best day ever!”

I was incredibly proud of my kids, and made sure I told them so as I tucked them in that night. They worked hard and learned that earning money isn’t easy. But it can be extraordinarily rewarding—especially if you’re the parent of two entrepreneurial kids. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arrgh! Tis a good day, me hearties!

Arrrrgh!  September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day so not only do tha Geek Boy family be talkin' like pirates all day, but I re-post the following audio treat from that scurvy dog, tha Bean (who was nearly 3 years-old at tha time).

Enjoy, me hearties!