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  • Chore Charts, Eggs and Other Opportunities

    July 15, 2013

    The other day I was out of eggs, which as a person who adheres to a Paleo diet, is a crisis.

    So I said to Sean, “Hop on your bike and run to the store and get me some eggs.”

    “Yeah, right,” he said dryly.  And then we both slapped our knees and laughed heartily.

    It was funny because the thought that I would send him the half mile to the store and across a busy 4-lane road on his bike was ridiculous.

    It wasn’t ridiculous because he’s not capable, because he is — he is more than capable.  It’s not ridiculous that I would trust him to get the job done, because I am convinced he could.   It’s ridiculous because there is no way under the sun that I would let him go.  I have calculated the risk and it’s not one I’m willing to take.

    After I quit chuckling, I felt everything from resentment to heavy heartedness that I couldn’t provide him such an excellent opportunity to practice responsibility in so many different ways from navigating his way there and back to managing the money to figuring out how to get a dozen eggs home without breaking any.

    All throughout history, life has provided children with opportunities to practice being responsible.  They tended to the stove and garden and helped care for younger siblings. Boys learned to chop firewood and hunt and girls learned to wring the neck of a chicken and then clean, butcher and cook it up for dinner — all real life jobs that contributed to keeping the body and soul of the family together.

    As a Babyboomer, I of course didn’t do any of those things, but I did occasionally ride my bike to the store for a loaf of bread or something for my mom.

    And now we can’t even do that.

    Today we have to invent responsibility, like chore charts with stickers.  Not getting a sticker or losing iPad privileges is not exactly the same as being the person responsible for not having enough food on the table. (Not a slam against chore charts or those who choose to use them. I love chore charts!)

    I’m not saying we can’t raise responsible children in this day and age, I’m just thinking I’m going to have to be more creative in finding real life opportunities for practice.  Maybe the next time I’m out of eggs, I will drive to the store, drop him off with $5 and see what happens.

    If he comes out with candy then I’ll start raising chickens.

    From The Little Gym To The Big College

    July 9, 2013

    Today Sean and I are heading to a local community college so that he can take a math test which, if he passes, will allow him to do more challenging math type stuff this coming school year, which if my calculations are correct, is 4th grade.  (GULP!)

    The reason Sean is taking a math test at a college campus instead of an elementary school, where 4th grade is generally located, is because through a red-tape snafu accounting error — or his mom wasn’t on top of the calendar — we missed the deadline for the spring testing.  And so, because we, meaning me, missed the deadline, Sean now has to take a math test in a college testing center with college people who have beards and cars, of which he has neither.  And there is more good news!  Sean’s mother has to pay $100 to have the test proctored instead of $18.  If ever there is an opportunity to pay more money for something – sign me up!

    So as you can see, Sean not only has to be super smart at math, he has to develop a lot of other skills to offset the ineptitude of his mother.  But that will serve him well in life, because that’s pretty much how the world works.  So there’s that.

    As I’m getting ready for this big day, for some reason I’m thinking back on when Sean was like two, and I felt like I had to sign him up for activities, because all the other moms and kids did activities, and I desperately wanted to do this mothering thing right and all I really knew about mothering was that I didn’t know ANYthing about it and therefore I should see which fork the other moms used for salad and do that.  But the fact of the matter was this, all we both really wanted to do was stay home and play on the floor in the den and pretend and read books.

    So in an effort to do it right, I signed him up for a class at a little gym type place and I paid $100 or something ridiculous like that.  And every week I would take him, and he would not want to go, and I would not want to go, but I paid $100 dangit, so we went. And he would want to play with the water fountain, but he did not want to run under the parachute that was flapping up and down and he did not want to swing from the tiny little pull up bar.  And I would spend all my time trying to keep him out of the water fountain and redirecting him back to parachute (all for the low low price of $100!!). It was a great workout FOR ME.

    And I was sort of blind to the fact that we were different, Sean and I.  We were happy doing our own thing just the two of us and the little gym thing made us both a little cranky when we were supposed to be having an Instagram moment.

    So now I’m nine years into this gig, and once again, I’ve paid $100 for him to do something and at times in the past few weeks, I’ve had to push him to prepare for this test when he’d rather play on the iPad, and I’ve wondered if maybe this is one of those “little gym” scenarios.  Maybe he doesn’t want to run under the parachute, maybe it’s me who wants to run under the parachute.

    I don’t think so, I think he wants this.  But we’ll see.  I’ll be waiting outside the testing center.  Near the water fountain, just in case.

    Blessings Recounted: Contentment

    May 24, 2013

    Today is my dad’s birthday.

    As I think of him today and the many odd and unexpected blessings that were gathered to me in this last year of his life, the blessings that I am trying to capture here for Sean and for me so that we might recall them on some distant day, what comes to mind is how contented he was in all circumstances and the goodness it added to my life.

    My dad was a simple guy.

    That’s not to say he wasn’t smart.  He was good with numbers and had an intuitive knowledge of words, thanks to the Latin he learned as an altar boy.  He was loaded with common sense and had a terrific memory – some of the same qualities I see in Sean.

    He never went to college, he never had an important job, never ran a company, never managed any one, nor did he want to.  But he was smart enough know this:  It’s not the finer things in life that bring joy but the simple things.

    As a foolish teenager, I saw his contentedness with his modest middle-class life as a lack of ambition, and it is with shame that I confess that I had some resentment about that, that he was not terribly concerned about seeing to it that I get the material things I craved.

    Eventually, after life knocked me around a bit, I learned that no amount of stuff you can accumulate will add one drop of goodness to life, but rather will usually get in the way of it if for no other reason than the pursuit of such things robs you of your most precious resource – time.

    I’ve often wondered what is it that makes some people content and others restless?  For Dad, I think the fact that he always thought of himself as a pretty lucky guy was at the center of his contentment.  He wasn’t one of those annoying perpetually “glass is always half full” sunny side up guys, but he was grateful for the good things that rolled his way and I guess he felt like more good came his way than bad, or at least on the important matters.

    In the early 1950s dad went into the army with three buddies.  There is a picture of the four of them standing together on the day they got their orders.  Three were sent to Korea or elsewhere where they were either killed or witnessed unspeakable horror.  But Dad shipped out to Germany, where he said it was like being on vacation.

    dadshippingoutday
    He went skiing in the Alps, he went to Oktoberfest, he saw the great cathedrals and historic sites of Europe – but most importantly he came home.  He was lucky.  The only part of being in the Army that he didn’t like was the boat ride over and back.  One time I offered to take him and mom on an Alaskan cruise and he shook his head.  “No thanks,” he said, “I was on a big boat once in the army and I have no desire to do that again.”  I could have argued that a cruise boat was not exactly like the army, but sometimes Dad could be stubborn.

    When he got out of the Army, the first thing he did was marry my mother, and if not one other thing went right in his life, marrying her would have made him feel like the luckiest guy who ever lived.  They bought a 50-year-old fixer upper and spent the next 58 years fixing it up and tending to the details of middle-class life:  three kids, boy scouts, bicycles, too much week for too little paycheck,  too cold winters, too short summers, old cars replaced by newer old cars, employment and unemployment, grandkids and then great-grandkids.

    edandviv.4W

    And it seems to me, and to those he left behind, those 58 years passed more quickly than the time it took you to read these ramblings.

    When the cancer diagnosis came in April of last year, he didn’t feel so lucky.  He was having a great time in his retirement years with my mother and wasn’t ready for that to come to an end.

    In time though, when the shock wore off, he came back around to seeing that even in the midst of awful, he was a lucky guy.  He had a wife and three children who would see to it that he felt well loved and well cared for to the very end.  He had seen his children raised and he knew he knew he could count on us to look after our mother.  He had outlived all but one of his life long friends.  He had enjoyed much sweetness and little bitterness in life.  And somewhere, beyond this life, he knew something wonderful was waiting for him.  What more could one hope for?

    So on this day that would have been his 82nd birthday, I think of my dad and what a blessing it was to be raised by a man who thought of himself as a lucky guy and how he lived his life in pursuit and appreciation of simple things that neither rust nor moths will destroy.

    It is a rich inheritance.

    dad1-4W

    Blessings Recounted: Driveway Time

    April 10, 2013

    When we got the call in April that my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, we knew that our time with him was limited.  We just didn’t know what that limit was and it took some time for the doctors to sort that all out to the degree that they could.

    That is something we all know, isn’t it?  That our time with the people we love is limited.  But most of us don’t live that way until the day we get that call.

    Why is that?  Do we not live in the full light of that knowledge because we get so caught up in getting day-to-day life done; lunches packed, bills paid, laundry folded?  Or is it because living in the full light of that knowledge would be so paralyzing that we couldn’t go about the business of getting day-to-day life done?

    Either way, a cancer diagnosis, is just that — it’s a blinding flash that seers the retina with that awful truth, that we are fragile and limited beings.  And it leaves you squinting, stumbling and disoriented, like walking out of dark movie theater into the mid-day sun. And the only way to move forward is to look down at your feet, looking no further ahead than the next safe place to step.

    Sean’s second-grade year ended late in May and the very next day, the three of us left for Illinois not knowing what to expect when we got there.

    Steroid therapy and radiation had shrunk the brain tumor enough to restore his cognitive and speech abilities, so by the time we got home that first week in June, he was more or less like his old self, albeit a bit more tired and a lot more cold.

    We spent our time together that week mostly out on the drive way, just as we often did in my growing up years in that house.  Only this time instead of fixing stuff, mowing or working on a car, he sat in a lawn chair in the gentle June sun, wearing a hat and coat, trying to absorb the heat from the concrete, and watching the earth awaken to another season.  I wore shorts and a t-shirt and tried to amuse him like I was seven again. “Hey Dad! Watch this! Watch me jump rope! Hey Dad watch me do a cartwheel!  Hey Dad!…”  Until he would nod off.  Then I would sit beside him and watch the cars go past and his chest rise and fall until he stirred again.

    DadandMe1965

    That week was as unremarkable as any other week I might have come home in the past 32 years.  We hung out together on the driveway, not doing anything in particular, just happy to occupy the same space. That’s the way it’s always been with us, that’s the way we like it.

    We didn’t really talk about the cancer, we talked around it.  We didn’t deny it, but at the same time, we didn’t acknowledge it.  We are not a people who cry and hug and pour out our feelings.  We know how we feel about each other, so pointing it out with words isn’t necessary.

    At the end of the week, I stood beside our packed car.  We had said our goodbyes and now it was time to head back to Texas.  AD was behind the wheel with the engine running, Sean, in the backseat, having done several rounds of hugs and waves and had settled in for the long drive.  But I stood there beside the car, with the door open, paralyzed, unable to make myself get in.

    My dad stood away from the car on the driveway, just as he did 32 years earlier, the day I got in a car and left for Texas, where I would make my life.  On that day, long ago, I was but 21-years-old and did not yet fully understand that time was limited. But I did take note of something about him on that day, something about his posture or the tensing of his mouth that told me that this day had come too soon for him, that it was snatching something he loved and treasured, right out of his hand and out of his house and out of his life.  And I never needed him to say that.

    On this day, he held the same posture of 32 years before, only now he leaned on a cane, the same tensing of the mouth, only now he looked tired and small and his fragility was beginning to show.

    I dropped my chin to my chest and began to sob.  “I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to leave…” was all I could say.  My mother hugged me.  My dad stood away and looked down.

    I took a deep breath and got in the car and we backed out of the driveway.  AD patted my leg because what else is there to do?

    I would make two more trips home to spend time with my dad but Sean would not.  As we  pulled out of the driveway, he hung out the window and waved and yelled, “Goodbye Papa Ed! See ya later alligator!”

    It was time to get time to get back to getting day-to-day life done for awhile, until the next phone call.

    I cried all the way to St. Louis.

    Blessings Recounted

    April 3, 2013

    It was last year, in this month of April, that I got the phone call.

    My mother, trying to sound only mildly concerned, called to tell me that they had taken my dad to the hospital and they were running tests.  The catch in her voice betrayed her calm.

    While working his usual Saturday morning crossword puzzle his brain had gone a little fuzzy.  He couldn’t seem to get the words to travel the familiar path from his brain to his tongue.

    Don’t worry, she said, don’t worry,  I’ll call you when I know more.  I heard the phone click as she hung up, and just like the click of a light switch, my world went dark.

    In 52 years, I have never known of a world without my father.  And somewhere in the part of my mind that stores all things that are unbearably true, emerged something that I had been denying since I was a little girl – that someday my father was going to die.  And now dawn was breaking on that someday.

    Over the course of the next week, we would learn that my dad had cancer.  It had started in his lungs and made it’s way to the brain, which was further complicated by a multitude of other existing issues.

    My parents were referred to an oncologist who laid the cards plainly on the table.  Cancer was my dad’s new landlord and this heartless landlord was serving an eviction notice.

    Together my parents decided that they would not do chemo, but they would do radiation to buy some time, but whatever time they had left, they wanted it to be free of the misery that medicine often brings.

    My mother asked the doctor how long he thought they might have.  Doctors don’t like to answer that question, so she asked him another way:  Could they have the summer? she asked, as if for permission.  The doctor said yes, with radiation they would probably get to enjoy the summer. But after that all bets were off.

    And so that’s what they set about to do – to enjoy the last of what would be nearly 60 summers together.

    As tragic and sorrowful as this past year has been, it has also blessed me in countless and unexpected ways.

    The stories that follow in the coming days and weeks (or however long it takes to get it all out) are those blessings recounted.

    Wishing You A Very Antique Valentine’s Day

    February 14, 2013

    retro.valentine.4W

    I found a package of unopened Valentine cards from what looks like the 1960’s in an antique store a year or so ago and I fell in love with them.  I didn’t know what I would do with them, I just wanted them, so I bought them and stashed them away with the other retro stuff I randomly buy.

    I guess I love these cards because they are innocent and sweet and cheesy – the things I think Valentine’s Day should be for kiddos and I still long for.  Is that when you are officially old?  When you start longing for things to be like when you were growing up?  I think so.

    Yesterday, I had to pick up a box of Valentine cards for Sean to take to school today and as I stood there trying to choose among the unlovely and the even more unlovely, I thought about these cute little retro card with their cheesy messages.  I stood in front of the wall of Valentine cards for a long time not because there were so many great choices, but because all the choices made me shake my head.  Celebrity-themed? Movie-tie-in-themed?  Warrior-themed? Weird animated character-themed? No. No. No and no.

    I ended up buying a box of extreme sports-themed cards only because they were one of the few that did not include tattoos.  The House of Antique does not dig tattoos. Sean sighed and said an unenthusiastic thank you when I handed him the box.  He was not thrilled with my choice.  When I told him I could have picked up a package of pretty princess-themed cards his mood brightened one degree above cloudy.

    Or I could have handed him this box of retro cards which would really launch him into the stratosphere of cool.  Among antique mommies.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers.  You are some of my most favorite people.

     

    Swings And Lane Cutters. When A Win Is Not A Win.

    February 10, 2013

    Have you ever been driving somewhere, and you see a sign in big flashing letters that unmistakably says MERGE RIGHT. LEFT LANE CLOSED AHEAD.

    Being the good reader that you are, you take this to mean that the left lane is closed ahead.  You merge right because you know that no left lane will preclude driving in the left lane. You are astute like that.

    Then you, along with the other good readers, spend the next 30 minutes painfully inching forward in the right lane for the next mile where the left lane actually ceases to exist.  And as you approach the point where the left lane ends you are united with those who did not merge right a mile back and now insist that you let them in.

    And are you like me in that some days your tendency is to look straight ahead and pretend that you don’t see them? And maybe you keep the front end of your car so close to the back end of the car ahead that even a gnat couldn’t pass between?  Or maybe you are even brazen enough to look over at them and give them the “Ain’t no way buddy!” look.  You maybe even say to yourself, “That’s no fair!  Get in line and inch up like the rest of us!  Who do you think you are??”

    Now that I’m older and have a slightly better grip on what is important in life, I’ll usually just wave one or two in front of me and go on my merry way, because the stress of teaching the world a lesson while behind the wheel of a car is just not worth it.  But sometimes, it’s just one of those days and I can’t stop myself, and I allow myself to falsely believe that they will change their me-first-lane-cutting ways and the world will be a better place for all concerned if I don’t let them get away with it.

    But that never happens.

    Those days when I just have to right the traffic wrongs, I never move along feeling better about myself.  I never feel like I made my little slice of the world a better place.  In fact just the opposite.  Sometimes a win is not really a win.

    A while back, we had an exceptionally spring like day in the middle of the winter and Sean and I were hanging out at the park.  Sean was on the swing, not really swinging, but just kind of sitting and twisting in the sunshine.  A neighbor showed up with his little grandson who is about four and as is typical of four-year-olds, he wanted the swing Sean was on.  Being four, he did not say, “Pardon me sir, if you’re not going to swing, may I?”  No. Being four, he tugged at the chains and said something like, “I want to swing.”

    To this, Sean responded by digging in his proverbial heels.  He gripped the chains tighter and sat as immovable as Mount Rushmore and gave the four-year-old the “Ain’t no way buddy!” look, which was painfully all too familiar.  He was going to teach that four-year-old a lesson – you can’t just cut in on the swing!

    I really wanted Sean to voluntarily give up the swing for three reasons.  One, I want Sean to have a good heart, one that loves to give and serve.  Two, I want Sean to experience how good it feels when you respond with kindness where it is not necessarily warranted or likely to be reciprocated.  And three, and I am cringing as I write this in naked honesty, I wanted my neighbor to think I was an awesome parent.

    But at the same time, I didn’t want to force Sean to give up the swing.  Embarrassment is never an effective teacher in my opinion.  As expected, Sean soon grew weary of the little boy tugging at the swing, so he got off and we headed home to sit on the front steps and watch the world go by.

    I took that opportunity to try to tell him how sometimes when you win, you don’t really win, knowing that this is a lesson he will have to learn on his own over and over throughout his life.

    “I know you probably don’t understand this just yet, but you could have given up the swing to that little boy and it wouldn’t have cost you a thing.  And you could have looked really big in the eyes of that little boy and his grandpa,” I said, “And bonus, when you do something like that, you get to feel good about yourself.”

    He didn’t respond to that.  I could tell he was giving it skeptical consideration or trying to figure out how to get off the subject.

    “What if you give up something that does cost you?” he asked.

    Good question.  Crickets chirped as I tried to think of something I had given up lately that had cost me something and couldn’t come up with one thing.

    “I guess then you get to look big in the eyes of God,” I said slowly, more to myself than to him, wondering what in the heck just happened here.  I thought I was supposed to be the teacher.

    Sometimes, the teacher is the student and learning is more about the questions than the answers.

    What I Learned As A Salad Girl

    February 6, 2013

    My dream for Sean has always been that he will be a worker.  I think God made us to work. I think work provides many things that we humanoids need for a meaningful existence – structure, purpose, satisfaction and if you are lucky, a paycheck.

    But oddly enough, work is something that has to be learned.  It doesn’t always come naturally.

    In the summer of 1974, when I was 14, I got a job at the Bonanza Steak House.  I was as blind as a bat and wore hideous thick wire-rimmed glasses and dreamed of getting  some of those new fancy soft contact lenses.  But at my house, there wasn’t money for anything like that, so if I wanted contact lenses, I was going to have to buy them myself.  And if I were going to buy them, I was going to have to get a job.

    So that summer, before I started high school, I somehow managed to convince the people at Bonanza to hire me as a salad girl.  My job consisted of cleaning and chopping lettuce, cutting jello into sparkly little cubes and putting out slices of pre-made pie, and although it was not explicitly stated, when those things ran out, I was supposed to replenish them — as opposed to standing around twirling my hair — and that was a thought that would have never occurred to me.

    I knew nothing about work. I thought I was there to look pretty and socialize.  After several days of what must have been exasperating training, Alma, the poor lady who not only had to stand on her feet most of the day but had to train me, flat out said, “Honey you are going to have to  learn to work or we’re going to have to let you go.”  Well my ears perked right up because if I were ever going to get those contact lenses, I was going to have get someone to pay me.  I quickly put two and two together.  Work = someone gives me money = I get stuff.  No work = I no get stuff.

    After that conversation, I quickly figured out what work meant and went on to become one of the best salad girls in history.  It’s true. You can check the Salad Girls Almanac, my name is right there under Who’s Who Among Salad Girls.

    Once I was set straight, it turned out that I liked work.  I liked how it felt, the sense of accomplishment one gets when salad, jello and pie don’t run out and I liked having spending money and not having to rely on anyone to provide for me. I could pay my own way. I could buy my own contact lenses and that gave me a sense of hope, that I had the power to change my circumstances.  The only sad part of the story is that it took me 14 years to figure that out.

    Sean has been pretty good about learning to do things and doing them when I ask.  He’s been a teachable sous chef and reliable towel folder.  He puts away the silverware, carries in groceries and makes his bed when I ask. But what I want for him to learn is to take responsibility for what needs to be done — to see it and do it.  Oh, there are dishes in the sink?  I can put them in the dishwasher.  Oh, the trash is full?  I can take it out and put a new liner in the trash can.  Oh, the newspaper is lying in the driveway?  I can run out and pick it up.

    But even beyond all that, I’d like for him to develop a heart that loves to serve, because I think if you have that, then you are more likely to see work as a joy and a privilege and not just a means of a paycheck.  They say if you have a job you love, you never work a day in your life.  I would add to that if you have a heart to serve, you probably love your job.

    So the other day, AD and I had this discussion with Sean. We told him how we wanted him to identify some tasks around the house of which he could take ownership.  He half-heartedly mentioned a few things before he got to the big question, “How much will I get paid?”

    “Paid?” said AD.  “How about you get free room and board here at the House of Antique?”

    “And dental and medical too,” I chimed in looking at several thousand dollars worth of metal in his mouth,  “And we’ll even throw in paid vacation.”

    He looked a little disappointed because his generation is all about the paycheck, the trophy, the snacks — the reward.

    And I don’t know how to change that other than to let him grow up to become a salad girl.

    In A Roundabout Way

    February 4, 2013

    The town in which we live was originally a small quaint farming community.  These days,  that small quaint farming community — which used to be 10 miles from its closest neighbor —  is “nestled” under the hairy armpits of the other once quaint farming communities.

    And now, none of these communities are neither small nor particularly quaint.  We are more like a bunch of fat guys on an airplane – all squeezing over into our neighbor’s space and fighting over the elbow rest.

    It is not a town without some charm though.  Within the space of a block you can find homes wherein high-paid athletes live behind big stone fences and other homes wherein disinterested Billy goats live behind chain link fences.  And we live somewhere in between.  We have neither a big stone fence nor a Billy goat.

    goat2

    As you might imagine, the expansion of so many people into an area that was intended for slow moving tractors and Billy goats has created traffic problems.  And the city’s response to this problem has been roundabouts.

    Roundabouts are a Yankee thing, and well, it’s taking some getting used to for us slow moving southern dwellers.  We only know how to do the four-way stop, and even that, seems to be a challenge for some of us.

    And it gets even more complicated when you have to negotiate the roundabout while it’s under construction.

    So the other day, we approached the intersection that is near our house and discovered that it was being transformed into one of them fancy roundabouts.  There were barricades up and chunks of road had been torn out and traffic was being diverted and re-directed and nothing was where it used to be.  Drivers were entering the roundabout, not knowing exactly what to do — some stopping completely, some yielding and others just zippin’ through.  People were honking and throwing their hands up in the air.

    From the back seat, Sean perfectly assesses the situation with his signature wit.  “Instead of a roundabout,” he said, “they should call it a Round of Doubt!”

    And from henceforth, it shall be known…

    Whining Is Not A Strategy

    January 31, 2013

    There is an old saying that we all know:  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    In other words, those who complain the loudest and the longest and in the most annoying repetitious way possible —  get what they want.  Except from me, then no, they get nothing.

    My policy is this:  I don’t negotiate with terrorists or toddlers. Or those who behave as such.

    At the House of Antique, if you are whining, the answer is automatically NO.  If you continue whining, you will get the Antique Mommy fish eye, which has been known to stop a charging rhino in it’s tracks.  And if you still insist on whining, well let’s just hope you’ve got your salvation plan worked out.

    It would seem that whining is built into children, as a survival mechanism, as all children try it out at one time or another.  Which, now that I analyze that, it would appear as though I am devoid of the instinct to see to the survival of my child.  Yet?  So far, so good.

    Some people are gifted in their ability to tune out annoying noise, and those people become teachers.  I can’t think or have a conversation if the TV is blaring, and the leaf blower makes my eardrums ache.  But I would take 1000 leaf blowers over one 40-pound child whining PleasepleasepleasePLEEEEEaaaasssee-PUH-leeeze-Uh!

    Sean is a super bright boy and he figured out early on that whining and saying “please” in various intonations four hundred times in a row was not going to work with me.  I think he tried it out once or twice, and after he fully recovered from the sting of the fish eye, he moved on in search of other more civilized candy-getting tactics.  Back in the day, when he was my grocery store boyfriend, we’d pass a kid who was whining and he’d just keep licking his Tootsie Pop and shake his head as if to say, “Whining – what an unsophisticated strategy.”

    Last year, I was doing a project in Sean’s classroom and this one particularly energetic boy jumped out of his seat and ran up to me and started jumping up and down waving his hand in my face (which is a good way to lose a hand) and started in with the PickmePickmePleasePleasePleeeeeezPrettyPleasePickMe!  Sean came to my rescue (or maybe he came to the boy’s rescue) and nudged him and quietly said, “Dude.  She won’t respond to that.  If you’re whining the answer is automatically no.”

    I gave the boy a my crazy lady half smile-half fish eye and he slunk back to his seat.