Thursday, February 26, 2009

All I Ever Knew About Fat Tuesday Came From Watching "COPS"

When I was a kid, there was Easter. I don't remember much about the weeks that led up to it, except that it seemed to take a darn long time to come. In high school I knew about Lent because one of my best friends was Catholic and always gave up candy for forty days. When we asked why she replied, "Because the church says so and my mother hates me." But I did learn from her that Lent came after Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. With the premiere of "COPS", I learned more about Fat Tuesday than any one person needed to know. You went to a decadent town, drank yourself stupid, and showed off what your momma gave you in pursuit of some cheap trinkets. Yee-haw.

Fast-forward to 2009. It's Monday, and the kids and I are talking about going to the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at the church the next night. But Momma, they ask, what does "Shrove Tuesday" mean? and do they call it Fat Tuesday because you get fat from eating pancakes? and why do we eat pancakes? and why do they call it Lent, anyway?

Questions, questions. And all Momma's got to fall back on is COPS. Never's Google to the rescue!

We always go to the Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner, but this is the first year the kids have asked questions about it. After a little research we found that traditionally pancakes were made to use up the eggs, milk products and fats that would have otherwise gone bad during the forty days of Lent. "Oh, that's why they call it Fat Tuesday, not because you GET fat!" Sure, sure. I always seem to be a bit larger after the pancake dinner, but that's neither here nor there...

And then there was the discussion of Lenten sacrifice. I explained that it is a time to practice self-discipline by giving up something you really like, or trying to stop a bad habit. If you give up buying a latte every day, for example, you might put the money you save in a special bank and on Easter donate it to a food bank or other charity for the poor. Or you might stop talking about people behind their back, or.. "I know! I know! You could stop picking your nose and wiping it on your pants 'cause that's gross!" Yes, that could be a very fine Lenten promise. (Note to self: check children's pants for bogies before throwing in wash..)

Now, on Sunday you may indulge in a latte, or chocolate, or some T.V. time (depending what you have given up) because it is a feast day. Just be moderate and no, if you have pledged to give up using vulgar language or kicking the dog you may NOT do that on Sundays! (Am I raising lawyers here? Always looking for the loopholes..) And of course if you are giving up something it must be something you like in the first place. "Yeah, because if you gave up brussel sprouts or okra it'd be CHEATING because that's gross stuff anyway! And I bet most of my class would want to give up homework because they never turn it in on time anyway."

At the end of Lent is Holy Week. We have Maundy Thursday, remember kids, where we talk about the last supper and eat with everyone. And then Good Friday... "Is that Easter?" No, that's the day of the crucifixion. "That doesn't sound so great to me, why do they call it GOOD Friday?" "Yeah, I think they should have called it BAD Friday instead!" (Oh, my head...I'd better not give up Tylenol for Lent..) O.K., I think we're ready.

After the fun Tuesday evening at the pancake supper we attended the Ash Wednesday service. It would be their first time to go; we wanted to be sure they were old enough to understand the service and ceremony. I hadn't talked much about this, other than to say there would be songs, prayers and communion, and Pastor would make a mark on their foreheads with ash. In we went, and it was a little disconcerting to find there were no other children.

After they had been marked with the ash, they sat close to me and listened to the meditation. I worried it might be over their heads, but as Pastor spoke about how the ash was like God's fingerprint on each of us, marking us as His own, I saw Jones smile and touch his forehead.

Some of what they will learn over the next forty days may be a bit out of reach, and some may not make full sense to them at this time in their lives, but I hope they will find meaning in these old traditions. There must be more to this season than shiny beads and jellybeans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts


Oh boy, random day. The day in which nothing has to connect, go together or hang with any cohesion. Hmm, sounds like any other given day...

As a guest teacher in my kids' school I have met pretty much every kid. Some of them I know better than others. Some of them S.P. has heard so many stories about if he were to ever meet their parents in the store I would have to jam my elbow into his side and my hand over his mouth. Why is it, when we celebrate perfect attendance each month, the kids who we teachers WISH would stay home once in awhile are the ones who never, ever miss a day?

We are going to a family wedding this weekend in Utah, and part of the Friday night pre-wedding fun includes a meet-and-greet party hosted by the groom's family. The invite read "business casual attire". Since most of our invitations these days are to kids' parties or home parties where only your wallet is required, that phrase isn't one I'm down with. S.P. said it's pretty much whatever you would wear to work. He would wear slacks and a sport shirt, I could wear nice pants and top. Just no jeans. It got me to thinking, though. What if you worked in porn? Or if you were a stripper? It would certainly add a new dimension to that phrase now wouldn't it?

Why do clothing manufacturers make thong underwear for nine-year olds? I was shopping for Pony Girl and saw it on the rack, and was...well, words fail me. I wanted to ask the clerk where the matching push-up corsets were.

I was so mad last week I wanted to cuss, but at the same time could have cried as well. My job for the day was teaching sixth grade. The morning math assignment was dividing and multiplying with decimals and one of the boys stayed in for extra help. Turned out that the reason it was so difficult is he doesn't know his times tables. He was counting on his fingers and guessing, and I'm trying to help and thinking "oh my Lord, they're sending this boy to seventh grade next year and he has no grasp of basic math?" The regular teacher told me no one supports him at home and he can only absorb so much during the day...

On the other hand, during social studies the students were supposed to be researching and writing reports on presidents. After making several circuits of the room I noticed one boy was doing nothing AT ALL. When I asked him to show me what he had, he said that was impossible as it didn't exist. In short, he had no intention of doing the work because, I quote, "rich and famous video game designers don't need to do this kind of stuff". Pissed me off because here's a kid whose parents DO support him at home, and who is capable of being successful at school, and he's just wasting it. So I went to the phone, called his mom (who I am friends with), and let her know he had a research project due Tuesday that he was not planning to do. Told her what he said, too. She asked for a copy of the project plan and told me his weekend plans had just changed....

I hate to copy anyone, but I share Casey's (Half As Good As You) secret lust for french fries. In high school we used to buy fries and chocolate shakes and dip the fries into them. Ooh, bliss. And there are times now at 9:30 p.m. that I want to get in the car and drive into town for a bag of fresh hot fries from the golden arches. My second secret lust is the hash browns from the same place. And while eating fries I poke each one to make sure it is not a hard crunchy one. Only the soft-inside, crispy-outside ones get eaten. Then I can pretend I have been virtuous:"See, I didn't eat ALL the fries..."

Better. Now that my head is cleared out I can get some work done!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Son Slept With A Girl!

I always thought the day it first happened would be a shock to the system, or at least an occasion for some feelings of shame. But it was actually not so bad at all. They even let me snuggle up with them.

Yes, my boy has slept with his first girl and we are pleased and proud. She's welcome to come back and sleep with him again, any time. At least until they hit puberty or so.

This young lady has been Jones' best girl since preschool. Now they're in first grade and the bloom is still on the rose. There is a special folder in the computer where we keep pictures of the two of them, just in case someday they decide to get married. We have pictures of them as little cherub-cheeked sweeties dressed up for Halloween, chasing goats on a field trip, and on the first day of kindergarten. Pictures from birthday parties, sharing hugs, sharing pizza, looking all grown-up in their first-grade classroom.

Abby was the first person Jones ever asked to spend the night. He was up before 7 a.m. cleaning his room, making his bed and arranging his stuffed animals for her to come over. He even cleaned up the bathroom! And when she arrived they had it all planned out, let me tell you. Dinner, then playing outside, then movies, popcorn, and staying up really late. I had hosted a slumber party for 6 giggling seven-year-old girls before. These two little lovebirds out-giggled that whole crowd just during dinner!

It started with the prayer. I commented that we most always say a prayer before dinner in our family. Jones said, "Abby isn't our family," and S.P. said that good friends are like family. And I pointed out that someday when Jones got married his wife would be part of the family. Next thing was Abby saying "Jones, why are you LOOKING at me like that?" Giggle, giggle... and they kept giggling the whole time. Giving each other these googly-eyes and giggling. S.P. and I got done and started working in the kitchen, and the love-monkeys kept getting up to whisper to each other and giggle more. I think they were planning to live on love, but we did get them to finish their food and go outside for a while.

After they came back in it was movie time. I was expecting to show Toy Story, or Monsters Inc. or one of the Disney/Pixar type kids' movies. Abby's eyes lit up when she saw we had Indiana Jones movies! I think at this point Jones realized she was even more of a catch than he had originally thought and they settled down in their pj's and sleeping bags to enjoy the show. I looked off the couch at one point during a "scary part" and I'm almost sure she was covering his eyes for him.

When the show was over they brushed their teeth and were off to bed. Jones let Abby sleep on his bed and we made him a pallet on the floor. After some more giggling they fell asleep. I asked him the next day if he slipped Abby a goodnight kiss after we left the room and he said "I just thinked her one in my mind."

Ah, love...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not This Month, I Have A Headache...

I have been falling down on the blog this week. I noticed that my last post was Thursday. I missed out on the chance to be totally random today, and believe me when I say my brains have been quite random lately. There was great blog fodder on Saturday night when Jones had his "best girl friend" sleep over and I let it go to waste. (Though it may turn up in re-runs...)

The problem is a headache. And for once, it's not MY headache. It is number one son's headache, and it's been rattling around for nearly a month now. He got it with a cough/cold bug right after school started up again after the holidays, and it just won't go away. And every day it's running up the score.

First it came and went, and either tylenol or motrin would take care of it. Then it seemed as if every day after school he had a headache that needed medication. Then the school started calling me mid-morning to say Jones had a headache, didn't want to come home, so either S.P. or I would run to school and give him something for it. Now he wakes up with the headaches and no OTC meds will touch them. He spends parts of his day lying down in the dark in the nurse's office because he doesn't want to come home. Until today he didn't even ask to come home. We had talked about getting a doctor's appointment and yesterday, while I was teaching at the school, he came to my classroom. He had another headache and asked "Momma, did you get me a visit with the doctor?"

We do have an appointment scheduled, though S.P. says it will most likely not give us the answers; it'll just be a referral for scans, tests, probably a pediatric neurologist. S.P. had the same baffling headaches when he was the same age; after numerous tests, visits, etc. it was determined that he had "headaches of unknown origin". For a while when the headaches started we just guessed that Jones was really daddy's boy and had the same thing. Then I worried. What if isn't the same thing and we are ignoring something serious? So off we go to the doctor.

It's odd to say, but even though I am very concerned about WHY he is having all these headaches and am very frustrated that in all my mommy-power I can't make them stop, there can still be a little something funny to tell. The school nurse checked his vision in case that might be causing the headaches. His eyes are fine, but his teacher mentioned that the fluorescent lights in the school could be part of the problem. On the way home we stopped at my parents' house and they asked him how his eyes were. He said his eyes were just fine, but he might be allergic to the "I.V. lights" at school. When I asked him if he meant "U.V. lights", he said yes, so I asked if he knew what that meant. "Sure Momma, ultra-violent lights!"

Thank goodness for funny stuff.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Things I've Heard Since Last Thursday

Wow, a whole week since I've been here to write. Well, not exactly. I've been here and looked at a blank screen with no inspiration. There was a fleeting moment on Tuesday, when I thought of throwing out some random crap in the spirit of "Totally Random Tuesday". But I couldn't get it together. And it was really bad yesterday when I couldn't even pull out a picture for Wordless Wednesday. Just a lot going on, and none of it seemed worthy to put up here for public consumption.

But today I thought over the week, and realized that other people have said some things that might just be worthy. Things that made me smile, or laugh, or think, or even get pretty mad. So here it is.

"I know farts, and that was a dog food fart. Did you get up in the night and have a snack? Woof woof." (husband accusing me of farting in the bed)

"There she is, she is my best friend!" (one of Jones' friends, on seeing me come into the cub scout meeting. He has special needs and I often give him extra help in the classroom.)

"We will now have the flag salute. Those in scout apparel may leave on their hats. All others remove non-scout apparel." (At the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, the scoutmaster meant to say all those in non-scout apparel should remove their HATS. I had heard of flashing at Mardi Gras, but never at a Cub Scout function.)

"I don't like the way he sasses her. I wish he would lose his voice for a few weeks." (Jones, describing the behavior of a classmate who is disrespectful to his beloved first-grade teacher.)

"Why do you need to SEE me in the BATHROOM?!?" (In the developmental preschool restroom there is a dutch door and we like the kids to shut just the bottom so we can keep an eye on them. When one shut both doors we told him we needed to be able to see him in there.)

"The markers are over there in that cabinet, behind the boxes with the vibrators." (Again at the preschool. We use massagers of non-phallic shapes to provide sensory stimulation for some of the kids. Which I did not know about until yesterday and my friends on staff thought I did know.)

"Honey, I need you to help me. Come in here and grab my hose." (Hmm, not as good as it sounded. We had to drain the hot water tank.)

"Hey Mom, my jeans are getting too small! No, just in the hips and the bum." (Hey, wait. I'm not ready for hips and bum yet, missy! And is that a zit on your cheek?)

And finally..
"Grandpa thought it was ridiculous that I was still riding with training wheels on. He said someone my age didn't need them anymore." (Good thing my kids don't have their own blog, or I would be nominated for "longest string of cuss words I shouldn't probably have said in front of my children", along with "rudest remark ever made about an in-law". At least I refrained from using the "big one".)

Maybe tomorrow I'll be inspired and the regularly scheduled feature will return. Till then, be careful what you say. Never know who's listening...