Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wrinkles in Time

It's weird that certain things can make you feel suddenly old. It's not so much birthdays for me; it tends to be incidents that illustrate the narrowing of my life-choices.

The first time this happened was when I realized I was older than the reigning Wimbledon champions. Even though I never even played tennis on a school team let alone at competition level, the remotest possibility that I might someday be a tennis star was now removed.

And just like September 11th or the day the OJ Simpson verdict was handed down, I remember exactly where I was the first time somebody called me "Ma'am". I can also clearly recall the first time I wasn't carded while buying beer.

Today, thanks to a fabulous new development at the DMV, I went to get an eye test and renew my driver's license at the optometrist. Looking at the doctor's diplomas hanging on the wall I noticed he was younger than me by several years. Oh man. Another milestone.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rough Ruff

When we go out for a walk in the park, our dog-- much like her owners-- is not all that into hanging out and socializing with the other dogs/dog walkers we run into. Good dog.

The other day, as we deftly navigated past a group chit-chatting and fetching balls, we noticed the preschool-aged son of an acquaintance grabbing their black lab by the tail. And tugging.

The boy's mother rescued the dog, wearily admonished her son, and then turned and said "I swear, he's going to be like the next Jeffrey Dahmer or something."

N.B. Dr. Pediatrician Man: I've never named or even alluded to a cannibalistic serial killer when discussing my kids' behavior. So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(I didn't come off so) Well Visit

I took the kids to the pediatrician today for their annual check-ups. These appointments play out the same way each year: first the vision test; then the hearing test; a quick hop onto the scale for the weigh-in; back down and heels against the wall for a height check; wait another ten minutes for the doctor; and then brace for the agonizing attempts by the doctor to establish a dialogue with my children.

My kids are chatty. Like, super chatty. Like, don't-ever-try-to-watch-a-game-show-with-them-because-you-won't-hear-any-answers-or-questions chatty.

They bombard us with questions-- technical, theoretical, and, yes, even rhetorical. They talk each other into fits of rage and fits of giggles. They talk to themselves, inventing fantasy worlds and fantasy shoot-outs. Good grief, they even talk in their sleep (oddly, mostly about food).

But guess where they say nary a word? Yup. Must be something about that exam table, because once their little behinds hit that crinkly paper their lips practically seal.

Today the doctor (who, granted, walks the line between warm and off-putting) hit them with some doozies. My six-year-old was up first. She got through her grade in school and favorite color but then he shut her right up with "What games do you like to play with your friends at school?"

[blink. blink.]

"If your best friend came over for a playdate, what would you play?"

[picture Cindy Brady frozen, transfixed by the "On Air" light on that TV quiz show she was on]

"How do Mommy and Daddy show you they love you?" (What the????? Kind of a creepy question, no?)

Teeny little voice: "They kiss me."

Bolstered, he followed up with "And how do Mommy and Daddy show you they are mad?" (Wait, what???? Definitely creepy, man.)

Looooooooong pause. And then, clear as a bell, "They spank me."

WE HAVE NEVER SPANKED HER. EVER. Listen, I'm not perfect. I'll yell. I'll hold a grudge. I'll give the silent treatment. But I'm just not a spanker. Neither is my husband.

The one bright side to being slandered? It forced my son to speak to the doctor --- in my defense. He practically jumped to his feet to contradict his sister. "Mommy never spanks us, she just takes away the wii."

"I see.... So, how much wii are you playing?" Ruh-roh.

Hey, now! Let's get back to who can be the quietest!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So Special

My daughter found out about an on-line creative writing course and decided to sign up. It's a "gifted" program so first we had to release her academic records, then we had to set up a time for her to take a mini-SAT test at a local testing center.

The test time we were given was right at lunch time and it was a fair drive to get there, so we packed lunch for her to eat in the car. Naturally, in spite of wearing her jacket, by the time we arrived her white t-shirt was covered in food. "Who's gifted?", I teased.

Ducking down in the car I removed my undershirt (and so had to wear wool next to my skin -ITCHY) and had her put it on over her soiled one. Perfect. We went in to sign the paperwork and get ready for the test. While I confirmed her details, she filled a cup at the water fountain, took a swig and spilled all down her/my clean t-shirt.

She looked at me with a big, beautiful grin and quipped, "Who's gifted?!" And just like that, we weren't nervous about the test anymore.

Collect Calls

I'm no anthropologist, but there's got to be something primal about collecting stuff.

Whether intended or not, we all have collections-- it might be shoes, cars, jeans, art, tea cups, snowglobes or tsotchkes. Some people pursue their collections (picking up a magnet in each city they visit, say), others have collections thrust upon them (I saw this frog and thought of you since you have so many frog things...).

My weakness is toys. Toy makers are no dummies. They know that the real money is to be made not from the one-time toy purchase but from the repeat customer, the collector. So Snoopy gets a wardrobe. And Matchbox manufactures every make and model. And Hello Kitty-- is there anything you can't get these days with Hello Kitty on it? I wish I could go back in time with a trunk of today's Hello Kitty loot and make my seven-year-old-self's day.

Back when my son was into Thomas the Tank Engine, he played with the wooden trains all the time. And we collected them. I say we because I think I was just as into adding new trains as he was. What collection would be complete without Daisy? Or Spencer? Or Diesel 10? But, man, there was always another overpriced train being released. When I realized that they were using the TV show to introduce this endless parade of new trains my cynicism (finally) took over. Fortunately, at around that time, my son's interests moved on. (Baseball and football cards have yet to draw me in)

My daughter has about 20 active collections. Littlest Pet Shops. Boos. Webkinz. Pandas.

For her birthday last year we gave her one of those Charm-It charm bracelets. I figured it would appeal to her on many levels: jewelry, adorable miniatures, collecting things.... But I think I was just projecting. The other day I was at the toy store and was checking out the spindle of charms. (They always have new ones and some are ridiculously awesome.) And, lo and behold, there it was! Finally! A panda charm. I think I actually squealed. The intersection of two collections? Priceless. Right? Right?

I called my daughter over, figuring she'd go nuts. Eh. Not so much. She used her store credit on (yet another) stuffed animal.