Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Inside the Mind of a Child

Thursday, December 31, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie is commenting on a recent photo and using some distasteful language in describing it. No woman likes to be described as big and fat.

"Look, Emmie, we've talked about this before. I understand what you mean, but you can't say those words to people. You'll hurt someone's feelings."

She considers what I've said.

"Is bid a rude word?"

"Depends. If you say it to a mountain, no. If you say it to a teacher, yes. Car, no. Doctor, yes."

"An' if I say it to a mailman, iss rude. If I say it to a lamp, das not rude. Juss people!" she says. She catches on quickly. "But mom? If I say it to a people das not a person but is kind of weird, is it rude?"

Hell, I don't know. What kind of question is that?

"Um, well... Do you mean someone who is acting weird, or someone who makes you feel bad?"

"No, like a alien."

"Well," I laugh. "I wouldn't chance it. They might bam you with their rayguns!"

"Yeah!" Emmie agrees. "So if I say it to a alien, dass rude."

"Yeah, I'd go with that, to be on the safe side."

"Or bacon. Dey don't like dat."


"Yeah. You can't call dem dat."

"Okay. Don't call an alien 'bacon.'"

"No. 'Cause dey will smash you."

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No Respect for the Dead! Rest in Peace, Payne Stewart

Augusta, Ga. - We're talking about my golf game with my dad that we enjoyed yesterday, laughing at my score and the many layers in which I was bundled.

"When I play golf, I do it Payne Stewart style," J.C. laughs.
"What - in knickers? Or dead?" J.C.2 replies.

Oh, so wrong.

R.I.P., Payne!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Teach Your Child Manners (and Lose)

Emmie's getting this for her birthday, the little smarty-pants.

Augusta, Ga. - I try to teach Emmie manners, but I also try to teach her to think for herself. Those two goals battled one Friday night.

About three weeks ago, the Knology installer was here, the laundry was backed up, it was Friday night, and everything was so crazy that week that we just ordered a pizza while I tried to keep Emmie from campaigning for the cable employee's vote in the next preschool election.

"I lite your hat," she said. "Do you wanna play dolly dolls?"
"Okay, Emmie. Let's let this gentleman do his work. It's late, and he'd like to go home to his family, too."

Just then, the doorbell rang. It was Pizza Hut, thank god. I needed her to sit still for about half an hour so that I could get my brain to stop spinning.

"Mama!" Emmie shrieked with delight when I opened the door. "It's Da Pizza Man! Hi, Pizza Man!"
"Hellooo!" he called back, with a cheerful smile and a wave.

"Emmie, he has a name. Don't call him the pizza man," I chided, gently. I don't want her to be one of those folks who see people working in service roles - delivery people, servers, mechanics, etc. - and thinks less of them. That's hard work they're doing.

She narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips. Uh-oh. I had done the unthinkable: I had stood in the way of her efforts to gather another future constituent.

"Mama?" she said, with disarming sweetness and a conniving lilt. "Did he bring da pizza?"

"Yes, of course," I said, scribbling a tip on the credit card receipt and fumbling the boxes from the delivery.

"Wull, den, he's Da Pizza Man," she grinned, triumphantly.

Da Pizza Man just about laughed himself off the porch.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Ten Phrases That Should be Banned

Augusta, Ga. - This is - mostly - a list of phrases I've been compiling for a while. But today I heard one that took the absolutely breath right out of my lungs for its sheer absurdity. I'll end with it, because nothing - NOTHING - can top it.

1. "Back in the Day" - People who use this phrase un-ironically are living in the past. But, guess what? There is a present AND a future! And the rest of the world? Yeah. We're not missing you in either.

2. Staycation - I put down marketers just like everyone else, pretending I'm not working in their ranks. But I have to give the creator of this vacuous mash-up some props for the sheer speed with which his or her phrase caught on. But the word "vacation" does not mean "travel." And for those of us with conferences and such on our calendar, the word "travel" does not always mean "vacation."

3. "Become a reality" - This may be the writer in me talking, but there were few other writing techniques from students that pissed me off more than this phrase. "The plan to build a giant animatronic dinosaur in the middle of downtown Augusta may soon become a reality." "One day, flying cars will be a reality." First, the entire construction is passive. Second, the verb is passive. Third, the object is ephemeral. It's The World's Least Descriptive Sentence! Only way to piss me off more? Start a story with a song quote. That's an automatic stupid-deduction in points.

4. "No soup for you!" - "Seinfeld" has now been OFF the air for longer than it was ON. Stop with the Soup Nazi, will ya?

5. Anything Dane Cook says - In his sellout standup shows, he will crack wise on such groundbreaking subjects as: airports, driving, the differences between men and women, and how people want to be friends. When he gets married, you'll get to hear stories about his wife, and how she annoys him! The only difference between Dane Cook and Henny Youngman (besides the fact that Youngman wrote his own jokes, and Cook does not) is that Youngman's jokes had punchlines. Cook's jokes hinge on his personal brand of ultra-confident douchebaggery. Dude is not funny.

6.  "I loves me some" - I like Toni Braxton, too. I think she's underrated, in general, because people are more impressed with the pterodactyl-like screeching of sopranos than nuanced altos. But, apart from that, the first time that I'm aware of anything like that phrase being used in pop culture is in "Porgy & Bess." And since few people know more about the Gershwin opera than Fantasia Barrano singing "Summertime" on American Idol, then it's not some pseudo-intellectual reference to high culture. It's ignorant. So shut up.

7.  "I Have Been Searching So Long" - No, folk musicians, you haven't been searching for anything as long as it feels like I've been listening to your song.

8. Literally v. Figuratively - Again, the nerd-writer in me despises using these words - ever - because no one seems to know their meaning. If you think you know what they mean, reverse the meanings. THAT is what the words actually mean. People use the word "literally" to mean "figuratively." But they don't use "figuratively" at all. Maybe that's because when using a phrase figuratively, it should be pretty obvious. Like, I wouldn't say someone is "literally larger-than-life," because they'd be the size of King Kong, and no one would get it. So you just say someone is "larger-than-life," and figurative part of the statement is implied by the obvious disparity between the possible and impossible. But, look, people use the word "literally" when they DON'T mean that something is literal. "I literally fell out of my chair," is a phrase I saw someone write, recently. Now, there are several problems with that sentence. One, unless you mean that you word-for-word fell out of your chair, set the word "literally" off with commas. But if you're using it in a hyperbolic sense, in order to add emphasis, you're just murdering the word. Because if you fell out of your chair, in the actual-literal sense that your ass hit the floor, then that's emphasis enough.

9. "No-Brainer" - This is a phrase used a great deal in business to describe a decision that should be made with little waffling or discussion. The problem is that it's often used in order to discourage discussion about a decision that needs examination. But calling something a "no brainer" make you look like a no-brainer if you question it. Sometimes it's used to describe a task that someone without a brain could do. But, you know what? They really couldn't. Because they don't have a brain!

10. "Artisanal Water" - An artisan is a skilled craftsperson; not quite an artist, but extremely good at what he or she creates. Small-batch cheese makers, organic wineries, master potters, and award-winning hand quilters can all be identified as artisans. So unless that water was bottled by GOD'S OWN HAND, it is not "artisanal."

What phrases annoy you?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Up-Up is Now Down-Down, and Down-Up is Now Up-Down!

Augusta, Ga. - We have a new laundry "room" in our house, which is to say we have a smallish pantry that tries desperately to hold our washer and dryer in their entirety, and is mostly successful.


There is always an "except." Because it was foreseen in my life that there should be no easy way. That I am destined, forever, to spurn yon normalcy and suffer through a lifetime of "WTF?"

And so, 'except' is that Hot is Cold and Cold is Hot. Now, I have a policy of "cold only." There are environmental and electricity-bill-type concerns that influenced that, but basically I don't like my clothes shrinking up. But the settings on our washer are as follows:
  • Cold Cold
  • Warm Cold
  • Hot Cold
Which are now - if you are following along in Opposite Land:
  • Hot Hot
  • Warm Hot
  • Cold Hot
Do you see how every freaking cycle now has "hot" involved? The setting I had most arduously avoided?

"Oooh, good news," Scott said. "The cold-hot setting is actually the cold-cold setting."

"No, I think it is now the hot-cold setting," I said.

"No. See, the hoses are switched in the back -"

"Yeah, I know -"

"Can I tell you sumpeend? If you mind, I gotta tell you sumpeend," he says, imitating Emmie.

"Okay, so the cold-hot is actually the cold-cold," he finished. "I'm going to keep checking it, but I think it's okay."

"No, honey, if they're switched, they're just... um... switched. The hot-cold is the cold-hot, and the cold-cold is the hot-hot," I explained.

"No, it's not putting out hot water right now."

"That's because the hot-cold is now the cold-hot," I said.

"No, see, the cold-cold is hot. But the hot-cold is not hot."

"No, it's not hot right now. Because it's cold. But the cold will be hot later."

Fascinating conversations we have around here. And my clothes are still being shrunk.

Friday, December 25, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - It's late on Christmas Eve, and Scott has a plan.

Run for your lives!

No, I'm kidding. His plans usually work out pretty well... like the penis lamp... but that's a story for another time.

"Santa's going to bring the Christmas lights inside," he says, gleefully, having already arranged them around Emmie's small (but expensive) pile of Santa gifts. He has trailed lights from the door, over the television and tree, around her gifts, and back to the door. What is the point? Does Santa have tiny light footprints? I don't know. One thing I'm sure of:

"... Santa's going to set the house on fire."

"Santa is not going to set the house on fire," he says, rolling his eyes. "I want it to be special for her."

"What's special about having your house burn down?"

"Shut up."

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sick on Christmas - I Could Use a Little Comfort and Joy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - I have what I think is strep throat, and I'm couching it for now. Reading "Hound of the Baskervilles" (which may never end) and drinking lots of Diet Coke. I mean orange juice! Yeah...

Emmie has been very sweet, asking me how I feel, sharing gentle smooches on my cheek, and bringing me little treats:

  • An unwrapped cough drop that she found somewhere in the house, "so dat you not be coughing"
  • A My Little Pony, still dripping wet from the bath, "so dat you not be lonely"
  • Her soft, flannel Tinkerbell blanket, "so dat you not be cold"
  • A cup of lemonade, filled to overflowing, and dripping all the way across the carpet from the kitchen to the couch, "so dat you not be firsty"
  • A Christmas ornament, which she tried to insert into my ear piercing (ouch!), " so dat you be Chrissmass!"
Later, I'm going to drag my butt out of bed to make dang Santa cookies with her. But for now, I have to throw a crusty cough drop in the trash, get a towel for the pony and the lemonade, find a Band-Aid for my ear, and snuggle up in a Tinkerbell blanket with my Doodlebug to wait for Christmas.

Southland in the Winter

Thursday, December 24, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. -
"Mom? Is it Chrissmass?"

"Almost. It's Christmas Eve."

She gives a gasp of delight, and then frowns: "But der's no snowflakes in da air."

"No, we don't live in a city where it's cold enough to snow."

"But do I hab skapes?"

"Skates? Yes, you have your pink ones."

"But do I hab skapes for da ice?"

"No, it's not cold enough to go ice skating."

She gives a little frown and stares out the window. After a few minutes of watching her watch the squirrels chatter in the trees, I can't tell what she's thinking.

"Whatcha doing, Doodlebug?"

"I'm finking to start ober," she answers.

"Start over what?"

"Start ober da world."


"Cause I don' like my city."

"Well, what city do you want to have?"

"Da city wif da snow."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Was Never Like This, Was I, Mom? ....Mom? Hello?

Augusta, GA. - Through the haze of not-listening-trying-to-work, I pick up a few phrases from conversations around me. Words like "protest" and "crowd" and "sidewalk," and some part of my brain makes a note to ask about it in a few minutes. Then the rest of my brain promptly forgets.

"Hey, Stacey? They're pushing your car."


"Those teenagers? They're pushing your car."

I glance outside to Broad Street. There's a crowd of middle-class teenagers holding signs and videotaping themselves. Sigh... Come on. My car's beat up enough already. I don't need an episode of C.O.P.S. to make it worse.

I stride towards the door. J.C. (no, not that one) hurries after me with gentle reproach in his voice. "Um, Stacey...?"

"Hey?" I call politely. They turn, as a group, to look. "Do you guys need us to move our cars?"

"Um..." they look uncertainly at one another, and at the girl videotaping.

"Because we'll be happy to help you - there's no reason for you to touch the cars, but we'll be happy to move them, if you'd like," I say, with what I hope is a broad, friendly smile, and not a look that says I'm going to chomp on their faces if they don't cut it out.

"No, we're okay," one girl says. The crowd is noticeably more subdued. One poor little guy in back looks like he'd run away, if not for the loss of cool points.

"Okay, well, just let us know if we can help," I say, with a merry wave, and walk back in the office.

They disperse quickly.

It is Not Necessary to Tell Everyone No Just Because You Can

Augusta, Ga. - I seem to have the wrong fax number, and I need to fax over a contract to a client, so I call over to the main desk.

"Hi, I'm so sorry to bother you, but may I have your fax number, please?"
"We don't accept faxes."

"Oh, no, I mean, I was trying to fax a contract to (xxx)."
"Yes, but we don't accept faxes."

"Um... ever?"
"Not from the public."

Who ISN'T the public?!

"Okay, well, I was just talking to (xxx) and she gave me the wrong number, I think."
"Yes, that's because we don't accept faxes from the public."

"No, she has a signed contract with us, and I just wanted to fax her over a copy."
"To who?"
"To (xx)"
"Oh, well, she gave you the wrong number."


"Yes. Could you give me the correct number?"
"I'll transfer you."

Oh, okay. I'll just ask her for the number again. Just then, I hear a high-pitched SQUEAAALL!

She transferred me to the fax machine!

Lilliput's Got NOTHING on These Folks

Augusta, GA. - I'm trying to explain ad changes to H.Y., and muddying things pretty darn well.

"So, can we just use the banner they sent?" she asks.

"Yeah, with modifications, that will work. Because all advertising has to be approved by Charlaine Harris' people, and the banner has already been approved."

"Okay, good, because I'm still opening it. It's locked up my computer because it's so frickin' huge. Whoever built must have done it in GiantLand with no regard for us wee humans."

Get Rich Quick!

Augusta, Ga. - "So, you guys, here's my plan: Graphics will develop the Sarcasm and Just Joking fonts, and we'll market the crap out of it. Everyone gets a cut," I pitch to the design team this morning.

"Ah ha," D.M. muses. "Jason, tell them what we came up with yesterday."

"Sandwich," J.C. says, with intensity.

"The sandwich font?" I ask, confused. He closes his eyes with despair at my stupidity.

"No. Turkey. Corned Beef. Ham. Bacon. Swiss cheese. Rye Bread. The Clueben."

"Um, sounds good, except for the corned beef and rye bread part."

"But that's the 'euben' part of the sandwich."

"It's The Clueben," D.M. says, with reverence.

"The Clueben," J.C. repeats. "They'll only ever make one sandwich after this."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Observations from the Mall, Part Two

Sunday, December 20, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - I got in line at Barnes & Noble, and then got back out to look at a display. And then I got back in to make my purchase.

"I'm sorry! I suck!" I said to the nice grandmotherly clerk at the counter.

"It's okay," she said, and rang up my sweet white elephant gift for the exchange at work. "I'll put your receipt in the bag, you have a nice day, and you don't suck."

Well, at least I fooled one person.
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Observations at the Mall

Sunday, December 20, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga.-

We're outside the calendar store at the Augusta Mall. There's a guy lurking around, his very DNA clamoring for attention.

"Look: That dude thinks he's Robert Pattinson," I observe.

A.C. watches a moment: "He's wrong."

On the Plus Side, They're Running Out of Ways to Annoy Me

Augusta, Ga. - Scott comes shuffling in with a coffee mug and a wry grin.

"You remember how I told you we had a month's worth of newspapers coming?" he says.

"Um, yeah...?"

"Well, they gave us a week."

"Really? I haven't seen it."

"At the old house. Even though I gave them the new address."


Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Age is Too Early for THE TALK About the Birds and the Bees?

Augusta, GA. -

We're having a slow morning, and Emmie is watching cartoons while eating her breakfast.

"Mom?" Emmie says.
"Yeah, Doodle?"
"Where do babies come from?"

What - seriously? She's four! Don't I get a little bit longer before I have to try to explain this without giggling like a schoolgirl?

"Um, why do you ask?"
"Mom," she reproaches me. "Where do dey come from?"

"They come from their mommies and daddies," I said. "They grow in their mommies' tummy."

She considers this for a moment.

"But, mom, Flapjack say dey come from seaweed."

I laugh heartily at this. I had expected a more serious conversation, not something related to a cartoon.

"Well, sweetie, Flapjack also has talking whales. So I'm not sure you should be taking biology lessons from a cartoon," I giggle.

"No, no!" she says. "Dey say dat some babies come from seaweed."

"Well... maybe seaweed babies come from seaweed mommies..." I acquiesce.

"No, no! Human babies!"

"I don't think that is correct, sweetie."

She frowns a little, and goes back to watching the cartoon. I sense the conversation is over, so I go on about my breakfast-making business. But I hear her mutter to herself.

"Wull, das wut Flapjack say..."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Perfume? It's Eau de Fear de Zombies

Augusta, Ga. -

"Honey, I'm going to get the mail," I call to my husband as I survey the front yard through the windows. It's dark outside, and wet.

"I comin' too, Mama!" Emmie thunders to the front door. She loves the mailbox, even though it's practically IN the road.

"Okay... Don't get hit by a car," Scott calls.

"Or eat by a elephant!" Emmie calls back, cheerfully nonchalant.

"Or trip and fall in the dark on the pecans!" Scott calls, as I slip on my shoes.

"Or get smash in da head wif a tree!" Emmie calls back, a grin on her face.

"And don't go in the street!" Scott yells, as I open the door.

"Or get chomp by a zombie!" Emmie wiggles her eyebrows and fingers menacingly.

Whoa, zombies? I slam the door shut.

"Wuss wrong, Mama?"


I'm not afraid of zombies. I'm not afraid of zombies. There's no such thing as zombies.

"I wanna get da mail."

"Juuust... a second..." I peer out the windows. All clear. For now...

"Less go, Mama! Maybe ders anudder Chrissmass card!"

Crap... I'm not afraid of zombies. I'm not afraid of zombies. There's NO SUCH THING as zombies.

"Whatchoo say, Mama?"

Did I say that out loud?

"Come on..." I open the door and grab the broom next to the door. (Sigh) I really need therapy.

Emmie pokes her head out, innocent curiosity etched on her face.

"Ders no zombies, Mama," she shrugs, as though commenting on the weather. Partly cloudy with a chance of zombies. Scattered undead with a light wind from the northeast.

But her comment snaps me back. When did my ridiculous neurosis get so bad that Emmie knows what I'm thinking? Good lord. Someone slap me.

"There's no such thing as zombies," I declare to Emmie, put the broom back, and take her hand on the precarious front steps. Stupid pecans roll under our feet until we reach the grass.

"Mama?" she questions.

"Yeah, Doodle?"

"If ders no such fing as zombies..."


"Den wuss DAT?!" she shrieks and points over to our left. I jump and whirl and clutch her to me - and maybe even pee a little - trying to figure out what she sees. Nothing! Just the neighbor's ugly bushes! Then a strange sound emanates. Emmie is having trouble breathing. What on earth?! I kneel and shove the hair out of her eyes, patting her back, just as she stumbles on her feet and lands on her side in the moist, cold grass.

"I TRICK you, Mama!" she shrieks.

Son of a... She is laughing at me!

And hard. This is so funny to her that she is wheezing, holding her stomach - and, of course, broadcasting our location to any peckish zombies that might be out for an evening stroll... FOR BRAINS.

"Are you kidding me?!"

"Yes! I mate a jote on you!" she screams between howling laughter.

"It was a rhetorical question."

Emmie is not concerned with Socratic method. She is too busy lying in the grass trying not to throw up from all the frickin' hilarity on which she has gorged herself. She gasps, clutching her stomach, and slowly devolves into soft giggles.

"Mama, wuz you scared?" she asks, rather unnecessarily, I think. I mean, I was either scared or a cobra snaked down my underwear.

"No, I was just playing," I lie - TOTALLY LIE - to her. "There's no such thing as zombies."

"I know, Mama. Das juss a story. But I fink you WUZ scared." she grins. This child is very pleased with herself.

"Was not."

"Wuz too."

"Was not."

"Wuz too."

... Yeah. Was too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Simple "Thank You" Would Have Sufficed...

Monday, December 14, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. -

Two co-workers having a conversation...

"Those jeans really are flattering on you."

"You may enjoy my heinie as I walk away."

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The Princess & the Frog - Redux

"We were listening to NPR and these women were saying that, other than Obama's election, this was the defining moment in their lives, because Disney made a movie about black people," A.C. says.

"ONE black person. The rest of them are animals - and she spends most of the movie as a frog," I say.(Editor's note: that is an exaggeration; the princess's mother and a Voodoo priestess also make appearances)

"Yeah, the prince is...?" A.C. asks.

"From a fictional country. The only black man in the film - her father - is dead," I say.

"Yep," A.C. agrees.

"I don't remember Disney ever making a movie with a black man in it," I say.

"'Song of the South?'" A.W. chimes in.

Me: "Oh, no, you didn't..."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Perpetuate the Stereotype, Clerky Clerk

Sunday, December 13, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - I'm at the gas station on Deans Bridge Road, for obvious reasons. But the pump won't take my card.


All the other patrons turn, like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," to stare at me.

"See Clerk," the pump flashes.

I look down at the debit card's magnetic strip. Looks fine. Looks... Like my Bi-Lo Bonus Card. LOL!

I trot inside, chuckling to myself, and explain.

"Yeah, you can't use that here," she says, so seriously that I laugh in appreciation of her dry humor. A couple of the patrons milling near the register grin, too.

"That card won't work," she says, again. And I realize she must have misunderstood.

"No, I know, I wasn't - it wasn't a Bi-Lo credit card. It was the bonus card. I just pulled the wrong card out of my wallet, and..."

She's looking at me with a frown on her face. Dull eyes squinting narrowly. Ooookay...

"... So, if you'll just reset the pump, I'll get it right this time."

With an odd reluctance, she reaches over, slowly, to quiet the loud beeping.

I return to the pump and start again. Credit here. Swipe. Enter zip code...BEEPBEEP! BEEPBEEP! "See Clerk," the pump flashes.

The pump must be broken. I pull forward to another and start again. Credit here. Swipe. Enter zip code...BEEPBEEP! BEEPBEEP! "See Clerk," the pump flashes.

Great horny toads. I trot back inside. She eyes me, warily.

"Yeah, something's wrong..." I say, uncertainly. She interrupts: "I told you you can't use that card here."

"What - my bank card?"

"Your Bi-Lo card."

"I'm not - no, I - look!" I hold up the blue bank card.

She looks at it like it might be lying to her. Maybe she thinks it's a Bi-Lo Bonus Card in disguise...? I don't know.

"What if I just pre-pay inside?" I suggest, ready to go to another station.

"Okay..." She agrees, uncertainly. "But you can't use-"

"The Bi-Lo Bonus Card, yeah, I got it. Will my bank card work?"

"Oh, yeah, you can use that, just not -"

"Yeah, okay," I grit my teeth, hand her the card, and muster all of the politeness I can manage. "Just authorize $20, please."

It works. I pump. I replace the nozzle... BEEPBEEP! BEEPBEEP! "See Clerk for Receipt," the pump flashes.

I don't think I need it that badly.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Princess & the Frog: A Review

Augusta, Ga. - I was excited about taking Emerson to see "The Princess & The Frog." She loves her some princesses, and I remember in high school when some girls were happy that Disney was finally showing a princess with brown hair and brown eyes in "Beauty & the Beast." While Emmie has the blonde hair and blue eyes that Disney has traditionally used (Not forgetting about you, Snow White), it's never too early to teach her the value of different forms of beauty. Besides, it's long past time for Disney to put out a story with an African-American princess.

But I was surprised that they chose this fairy tale. The story of the princess and the frog lacks the sparkle of most of the Disney princess back stories; I thought perhaps that they might have written something original, like they did with "The Lion King," or choose something quasi-historical, as they did with "Mulan."

And, at first, I was chagrined to find that this new character, Tiana, isn't even a princess. "Oh, a black woman can't be a princess?" I thought. But I gave the movie a shot, and I was VERY happy with this newest addition to the Disney universe.

I have a four-year-old, so I've watched enough "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to make even the least feminist among us want to get a Ph.D. But my favorite Disney movies aren't the classics. They're the movies made in the last 20 years - like "Enchanted."

These modern Disney princesses all seem to push a certain value - almost as though Disney chooses a character word to focus on. Belle, from "Beauty & the Beast," pushed intellectualism and confidence; Giselle, from "Enchanted," both taught and learned important lessons about not giving up on your ideals, trusting others, and standing up for yourself, and for others, when it counts; and Mulan was brave and resourceful. In this new film, Tiana is a goal-oriented hard worker whose dreams are professional - rather than romantic - in nature.

Some of the toys in the Princess Tiana line.

This princess - whom Disney has placed not in some quasi-European castle, but in 1920s New Orleans - hopes to open her own restaurant, and she has saved enough for a down-payment. But she is sidetracked by the appearance of a royal playboy, a Voodoo priest with evil plans, and a transformation into a frog. A very cute frog, but still... who wants to eat at a restaurant with an owner who drips slime? (Oh, sorry: mucus)

Of course there's a love story. But the romance is between a philandering prince and a serious-minded waitress. And the moral of the love story focuses on finding balance in life. Prince Naveen needs to grow up, and Tiana needs to soften up. Together, they can have everything they ever wanted - but especially, everything they'll ever need.

The message here is that balance is the key to happiness. All work and no play makes Tiana a very unhappy girl. But all play and no work don't do that much for Naveen, either. The film doesn't address what adults will recognize as the giant alligators in the room: class and race.

Ha! I made a joke. There IS a giant alligator in the room!

 No one goes to a Disney film for a lecture on the socioeconomic conditions in the French Quarter during the Roaring Twenties. And I guess it's historically accurate to have Tiana straighten her hair, but why couldn't her hair be more ethnic?

Some early - slightly more ethnic - drawings, when the princess was still named "Maddy."

Here are some artists' renderings of slightly more ethnic hair on Tiana.

 And wouldn't this have been an adorable hairstyle? I wish my hair would do this!

And, also, why does the prince in the film have to be some ambiguous nationality (Prince Naveen is from the fictional country of Maldonia)? What's wrong with an African prince? Eddie Murphy managed to capture crossover audiences in "Coming to America" with such a character, and I don't think that even the most virulent racist would find a cartoon drawing threatening.

Why are there no black men in Disney movies?

Still, again, people don't go see Disney movies for things like those details. They go for humor, fun, and songs.

So, about for the music: The songs are cute - and "Dreamgirl" Anika Noni Rose certainly gives Disney its due - but Oscar-winner Randy Newman doesn't usually write the kind of hook-heavy pop hits that you find in a lot of Disney cartoons. What I mean is this: kids walked out of "The Lion King" singing "Hakuna Matata." I just left the theater 15 minutes ago, and I can't recall a single line from the film's many songs. Neither can my daughter.

But she is singing her own song, "Da sad star song," she calls it, inspired by the movie. It goes like this: "I wish I had a staaaar, I wish I had a staaaar. I really, really, really, really wiiiish I had a staaaaar..." I think you get the idea.

Ray was the character that made me laugh out loud.

It might be that, along with this singularly American princess, the film focused on music that was also particularly American, like jazz and zydeco. Those musical forms are probably much less familiar to children and adults alike, and they may not pick up those rhythms as well.

I do recommend this film for everyone. It's laugh-out-loud funny in parts - even though I recoiled from some of the stereotypical backwoods hick characterizations that Southerners recognize well. But I don't know if "The Princess & the Frog" will resonate with audiences all over the world, like previous Disney films have done.

But Princess Tiana - and by the end of the film she is a princess - will resonate for women. I hope Disney churns out more princesses like her. But stick with catchier music, next time. These are kids' films, after all. And I expect to be annoyed all to death by the soundtrack!

Let's All Try it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009 By

"That's a great job, Emmie! How did you get so smart?"

"Wull, I fink in my brain!"

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Infamous Tuxedo Shirt

Thursday, December 10, 2009 By

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A Battle of Wits

Thursday, December 10, 2009 By

My boss and Emmie having a battle of wits - and Emmie's winning, LOL!

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Feeling the Love in the Office

Augusta, Ga. - The discussion about what people will be wearing never ends. I mean, I know we're mostly girls here, but does that mean we have to live up to the stereotype?

Okay, yes. It does.

Anyway. It continues.

"See y'all later," A.W. and A.C. call, on their way out the door.
"What are y'all wearing?" M.L. asks.
"A.W. is wearing her fake shirt!" A.C. chirps, and I cackle. We had the discussion at lunch.
"What are you talking about?" M.L. asks.
"I have one of those shirts that looks like a tuxedo on the front...?" A.W. says.

M.L. guffaws at the idea.
"But it looks nice!" A.W. protests.
"Oh, they always look nice," M.L. chuckles.
"F--- you, Marge!" A.W. grins.
"F--- you, Mary!" M.L. shoots back.

And that, my friends, is normal-talk around these parts.

What are YOU Wearing Tonight?

Augusta, Ga. - Our company party is tonight. These people have seen me with my dress tucked in my pantyhose, and I've had to drive more than one of them home from previous parties (I had to carry one diminutive person to my car). But everyone wants to know what everyone else is wearing. I've already threatened to behead the next person who asks me, but not five minutes later...

"What are you wearing tonight?" A.W. asks me.

"I'll tell ya what I'm wearing: I'm wearing these SWEET roller skates!" I reply.

She bursts into laughter.

"I think I had those roller skates when I was young, except they were white," she chuckles.

"I had a pair that were red. With gold stripes. I was like The FLASH! Peeeyow!" I mimic roller skating and almost fall out of my chair. Smooth.

"Y'all, I had a pair of white rollers skates with purple wheels and purple laces," E.T. said. "I remember this one time I we were coming home from the skating rink and my brother had eaten a whole bunch of Cheetos and orange soda and he threw up all over my white skates."


E.T., wistfully: "I loved those skates."

A.W. chimes in: "A couple-three years ago, my niece had her party at Red Wing, and my friend Mickey still had her skates from EIGHTH grade! She was rolling around in them, too!"

Ahh, roller skating. Those were the days before "extreme" sports, when - instead of throwing yourself into the air to impress a crush - you could just roll in an oval while holding hands with him or her... and get knocked down by your little brother, because your mother made you take him with you.

Life is Made of Small Moments

Augusta, GA. -

Emmie is fascinated by the trash collection truck, with its giant motorized claw to dump the trash cans into the compactor. Every Tuesday and Friday she's at the window, clapping, for the driver. "Yay! He's doing it!"

Last Friday, though, she roused me off my sickbed (the couch) with a belly laugh I haven't heard in a while.

"He drop da trash can!"

I peered out the window to see the large green container on its side, claw hand grasping fruitlessly at the air where it had been. Slowly, the driver worked the claw into position, and tried to pick the can up, only to drop it again. I smiled as Emmie burst into new gales of laughter. The driver wasn't visible from our vantage point, so to her, a robot truck was having trouble adjusting to an unexpected quirk in its environment.

But I knew there was a guy out there in the cold and rain, trying to get our stupid can back up so he could finish his route on time. I slid my shoes on and started for the door, only to see the claw get a firm grip on the can. He wouldn't be needing my help after all. I slid my shoes back off.

But before I could turn around, a glitch in the claw's handling sent the trash can flying end-over-end - 15 yards, at least - across the lawn! I doubled over laughing with Emmie. Oh, the flying trash can! That sight would stay with me a while.

I slide my shoes on, still hooting with laughter, and stumbled down the stairs. I reached the trash can and righted it just as the driver came around the front of the truck, also laughing.

"Dude! You invented the flying garbage can!"

He chuckled, "I don't know what was going on there!"

I got the impression that, like me, he'd be giggling to himself over this at odd moments for the rest of the day.

Emmie was sitting on the front steps, still belly laughing: "You fro da trash can!" she shrieked with delight, and the driver and I burst into new gales of laughter.

"That was fun to watch, man. Thanks," I said.
He grinned: "You're welcome."

We shook hands.

"Have a nice day," I called, as I walked back to the front door, shivering.
"You, too," he called.

I'm still giggling about it a week later.

Spellcheck is Your Friend

Augusta, Ga. -

This headline caps an Associated Press filing about unspent money.

"Unspect bailout cash to renew spending fight"

And I'm sure Margaret Woodard would be surprised to hear that her title has been changed to the ExecTUVIE Director.

"Authority proposes parking meters for downtown Augusta"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lesson Learned

"Mmm. I love edamame," I coo over the Pad Thai I made. I know it isn't a traditional ingredient - but it sure is good.

"Let me try," Scott says, and pops one in his mouth. "Mmm. Yum."

I go back to stirring.

"Hey, what's edamame?" He asks.

"Japanese soybeans. They serve them in those little green pods in Japanese restaurants," I answer.

"Oh... Why don't they call it something in Japanese, then?" He asks, in complete seriousness.

I can't help but laugh: "'Edamame' IS Japanese, you goober!"

To his credit, he grinned and shook his head at himself.

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Emmie's Dream

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 By

"Guess what? I dream dat the all da Toyland and all da Candyland wuz not cool. Dey was UNcool. Dey was RUINED. An' only one fing will get dem change back: I hafta get da RING."

... "Um, what ring, Doodle?"

"Da ring das magic."

I swear she didn't watch "Lord of the Rings."

"What does the ring look like?"

"Iss pink an' yellow. An iss in da apricorn."

"What apricorn?" (She means acorn, and she really means pecans from the tree in our yard... By the way, anyone want some pecans?)

"Da one on da tree?"

"What tree?"

"Da Chrissmass tree."

"And what happens with the ring?"

"Wull, da prince got to get da ring an' wear it. Den da Toyland an' da Candyland will be back to normal! Da king wants da ring, but he say 'No you can't have it!'"

"Den da mice caught Alice and took her away. An' I said, 'Gib her back! I don't want her to get a stone. Just gib her back!'"

"Den brrrrring! Da spell is gone! An' all da toys and all da candy is back to normal. Den it was just a dream, but sumping was up."

"What was up, Doodle?"

"It was da friends! Da helper friends from Toyland! Dey're in my bedroom, an' iss NOT a dream! I wuz da HERO!"

Well, Hollywood, can you do better than that?

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Gift Ideas for Teachers, Christmas 2009

Augusta, GA. - I have a lot of teachers and teachers-to-be in my extended family. And every year they get a treasure trove of sweet little gifts from their students.

But there's only so much coffee a teacher can drink, and only so many places to put apple-themed accessories. So this year, consider the following ideas for your child's teacher(s):

1. Thank You Notes - a sincere handwritten note from your child is worth its weight in coffee mugs.

2. DIY Coupons: Offer to share your talents/expertise with the class! Teachers are always looking for ways to work with parents and use your collective skills to educate their classes.

3. Donations in a Teacher's Name: If your child's teacher has had a challenge - death in the family - or a special cause - animal rescue - this year, make a donation in that teacher's name to an appropriate organization (American Cancer Society, Humane Society).

4. Subject-specific memberships or donations - Say your child's teacher specializes in English. It will be appreciated if the donation you make is to a literacy program. Or if you were to pay for a quality book-of-the-month club. Or pay their union dues. Anything that makes sense for them, and that makes that teacher's life a little easier.

5. Gift Certificates - Teachers spend so much of their person money on classroom supplies. How about a gift certificate to an office-supply store?

6. Gift Certificates, part deux - Pamper your child's 10-hour-a-day on-their-feet teachers with gift certificates for pedicures, for dinner, or for groceries. After all, they didn't get into the profession for the money.

7. Teacher Supply Box - Fill a festive box with any age-appropriate combination of anti-bacterial soap, tissues, pens, pencils, markers, glue, tape, scissors, air fresheners, fans, notepads, construction paper, folders, lined writing paper, binders, paper towels, chalk, dry erase markers, graphing paper, burnable CDs, flash or thumb drives, software, memory sticks, a backup mouse or keyboard, disposable cameras ... whatever is age-appropriate or discipline-specific.

8. Jar of Treat - nothing like a snacky-snack!

9. Elementary/Middle School: Board Games - Again, look for age-appropriate and discipline-specific games. Economics? Choose monopoly. Language Arts? That's Scrabble or Yahtzee. Sciences? For younger kids, there's Totally Gross. Art? Perhaps Pictionary.

10. Donate Your Used Equipment - Look around the house. Do you have an old boombox, computer, television, computer peripherals, camera, clothing, art supplies, board games, DVDs, books, or other items that are still in usable condition? I'll bet your child's teacher can make use of it in her classroom. Consider donating to your child's school before you send your things to the trash heap.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Winning Friends & Influencing People...

Saturday, December 05, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie has managed to guilt me into getting out of my sickbed and doing holiday stuff downtown.

We saw the Christmas parade, stopped by the Commons, and were just getting to The Boll Weevil for dinner, when Emmie spotted someone she had not yet convinced to join her cult.

"Hullo," she called, and waved cheerfully.

"Hello," the nice couple answered.

"Wuss yer name?" Emmie asked.

"Michelle," she answered.

"Dass a nice name," Emmie replied. "My name is EmersonReneeMcGowenHudson."

"It's nice to meet you," the woman laughed.

"Dass a lubblee shirt you weareend," Emmie gushed, and I couldn't help bursting into laughter.

"Jeez, Emmie, are you running for office?"

"No, I not runneend." She shrugged. "I juss walkeend."

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Daily Papers Should Blame Themselves, Not the Economy

Thursday, December 03, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - Scott came into the bedroom where I was groaning in general funkitude. I'm sick, and whiny. He had an apprehensive look on his face. Oh, god. What now?

"I just wanted to tell you that we'll be getting the daily again," he said, slowly.

We took the paper for a while, against my better judgement, and there wasn't a month that went by when we didn't have problems. We cancelled it several years ago when we couldn't get the issues to actually show up - or we'd get partial issues, or get them in the afternoon, or any number of ridiculous problems.

He put up his hand when I rose from my sickbed with murder in my eyes.

"They called yesterday and asked if we wanted to take it again. I said no, but they said that we had temporarily suspended it, but that still had a month left that we had pre-paid for. So I told them to send it for a month, and then end it."

... I was incredulous. First of all, I called to cancel, not suspend. Second, when I called to cancel the subscription, why didn't they inform me of my account balance? And third, why are they just now calling - TWO YEARS LATER?!

This is why the most workable model of the future is the free weekly paper - as demonstrated by the model's consistent growth in readership over the last 20 years.

As the news cycle speeds up, people get their wire stories from the web. They get their in-depth local stories from the weeklies. That leaves the daily print publications in no-man's land.

And after this month is up, I hope they don't dare call here again.
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Maybe There Should Be a "Dadnesia" Too...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 By

I'm feverish, sick, coughing my guts out, so Scott went to the drugstore for me. Here was the list I gave him:

- Mucinex
- Emergen-c (or similar, in pill form, no drinky)
- Citrus-flavored cough lozenges
- vanilla ice cream with some kind of chocolate in it (...what?! My throat hurts...)

Anyway, I knew when he left that it would be a disaster. It always is, despite his honest efforts. After all, this is the man who once came back from the grocery store and claimed that he couldn't find any crackers.

But hope springs eternal, and I felt just bad enough to chance it. After all, he had accomplished so much, so well, today, including having a lovely roast dinner ready when I got home. Still, I wrote him a list before he went.

I was so happy to see him when he came home and laid his purchases on the bed:
- honey lemon cough drops
- a Cinderella toothbrush for Emerson

And CVS was so happy to have the additional money that I spent when I went to the store my damn self.

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I Blame Purell

Augusta, Ga - I am enjoying a raging cold. Fever, coughing, stuffy nose... Oh, you know the whole dang NyQuil commercial.

But I think Emmie's school might have taken the swine flu scare a little too seriously...

"Mama, you sick?" Emmie asks, then places her hand on my forehead. An expression of great concern furrows her brow. "Ohhh, you got a feeber."

"Yeah," I choke out, and then cough up a kidney. "Mama's not feeling too good."

I start to lean in for a mooch - they always make me feel better - when she shrieks in terror, splitting my head in two.

"What on earth is the matter?!"

"You goeend gib me yer GERMS!"

She's right. And I don't want her to get sick. But I can't resist messing with her.

"Bluuuuugh," I moan, eyes crazy and arms out. "I am the germ monsterrrrrr."

She shrieks and literally runs across the house to get away from me.

"Okay, I was just joking," I said.

She comes out of her hiding place, and I notice that her shirt is dirty.

"Honey, it's time to put those clothes in the laundry," I say. "Let me untie the bow."

"NO!" she edges away from me. "You GOEEND get yer GERMS on me!"

"Dude! I won't touch you, I promise! Just the shirt."

We get her out of her clothes, and then she edges around me, cautiously, holding her clothes out in front her like a shield.

"You know, it's not like I'm going to set you on fire," I sigh. I really did want that mooch.

Emmie shakes her curls and then whispers diabolically: "You nebber know, Mama. You nebber know."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Driving Me Crazy

Scott and I are getting ready to take the car to the shop.

"What's the fastest way?" I ask. He tells me. It requires me to turn left out of our driveway, from which one cannot see over the hill to the right. I'm not about to get broadsided, and I almost never turn left when I'm leaving.

"Uh-uh," I say, using married-people shorthand. "And you better not either, with Emmie in the car."

"Honey!" He sighs, rolling up his car window from the driver's seat of the be-stickered WGAC news car. "I'm a professional."

"You're not a professional DRIVER!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Five-Year Bitch

Saturday, November 28, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - While Emerson is visiting with my family, Scott and I take the opportunity to get some things done around the house. I wrap gifts, do dishes and laundry, re-purpose some leftover turkey into a turkey-cranberry-almond salad, and bake cookies. Scott tackles the lawn, the storage shed, and some other manly outdoorsy kinds of things.

Triumphantly, I hold up a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie. But he scrunches his nose like something smells bad.

"What's wrong?"

"You're baking, I'm working in the yard. it's almost as if we're..."

"Married?" I finish for him.

He shakes his head and grins, faking a shudder of disgust.

I resist the urge to throw a cookie at his head. After all, I hate yard work.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Desperation

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - Serving utensils. Weeks of careful menu preparation for a gathering that grew overnight from 8 to 13, and it will all be foiled by an inability to get food from cooking container to plate.

"Crap!" I said to my husband. "It was the ONE thing I kept reminding myself to do: Buy the frickin' serving utensils that go with our silverware."

"I'm sure we can find something," he said, mildly amused.

"Well, there's these that were a wedding gift, but I'm just not going to have the time to polish silverware."

Google to the rescue! (Hi, Rupert Murdoch. Hi, Bing. Not falling for your evil plan)

"It says that we boil this together," Scott says, dumping baking soda and salt on the counter, then filling a pot with water.

He stops, his heinie sticking out of a cabinet: "Uh oh."


"Where's the foil?"


"It needs the aluminum foil for the elec- elect- for the thing to happen."

Crap. We search. No foil. We think. Heh. Great, now the kitchen is filled with smoke. I begin to pout a little.

"HEY!" I exclaim, and begin to frantically search the kitchen. "How about this?"

Yes. We crumpled a beer can in with this concoction, set it to boil, and laughed heartily. No WAY this was going to work! But it was too funny not to try.

Before: The never-before-polished wedding silver

After: A husband who may be impossible to live with for at least three days.

Do ya see Sir Smug-a-lot there? Yeah, fine, genius-boy. Your plan worked. But it was MY beer can idea!

Publishing Presents a Problem

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - We're looking over the December issue of Metro Augusta Parent before it goes to press. The cover shot is of a bunch of kids playing with one of Parent's toy picks of the year: Elmo's Tickle Hands.

These furry gloves look just like Elmo's. Put them on, pop the DVD into your player, and put your hands in the air to feel them shake & move whenever Elmo says "Tickle Hand Groove!"


"Wait, they vibrate?" I asked.
"Yup," H.O. answered.
"Um... someone's going to come up with something dirty to do with these," I mutter, disconcerted.
"Oh, you think?" H.O. shot back.
"So... we're putting marital aids on the cover now?" I asked A.C.
"What? How do you think they got kids in the first place?" she deadpanned.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paula Deen Halloween Costume for 2010

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - From our graphics dept. Only $19.95.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Willy Wonka & the Weather Factory

Sunday, November 22, 2009 By

"Mama, dat cloud machine is makin' too many clouds today."

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

And Educators Everywhere Smack Their Foreheads in Dismay...

Saturday, November 21, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie asked me a question about the sun today, which lead to a discussion on gravity, which lead to some paper plates being thrown across the room (made sense at the time).

Suddenly, she said something genius: "Iss like da plate is da earf, and DAT plate is da moon," she said when one plate did a loop-dee-loop around the other.

"Emmie, you are so smart! How did you get to be so smart?!" I cooed.

"Wull," she shrugged. "I juss fink about smart fings."

I'll have to try that.

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'Tis the Season... For Poopy Attitudes!

Saturday, November 21, 2009 By

Augusta, Ga. - It's a good thing that Emmie was engrossed in the idea that I might not take her to see the gingerbread village at the Augusta Museum of History. She didn't hear the two customers at the Deans Bridge Road Wal-Mart cussing each other out over who's cart had accidentally knocked into the other.

It's a good thing that Emmie was fascinated by the tiny Etch-a-Sketches on display at the checkout stand, so she didn't see the brief but tense standoff between a customer and a sales associate who asked her to abide by the 20 Items or Less Rule.

And it's a good thing the Salvation Army bell ringers were outside to remind me that not everyone is out for number one. Emmie gave them every dime in my pocket, and I was grateful to them for the opportunity. AND they let her ring the bell - bonus!

Thank you, Salvation Army - and thank you, Wal-Mart (ahem... Target...) for letting them collect for the needy on your property.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

This Video Never Fails to Amuse Me (Note: I am Easily Amused)

Friday, November 20, 2009 By

Is America's Army the Police Force for the World?

Friday, November 20, 2009 By

Nope. It's just Emmie.

"Honey, get off that and let's go, please."

"Mama!" She scoffs. "I'm tryeend to breetett da world!"

Oh. My bad.

"There aren't any aliens around, darling."

"Dat's cause dey're in space."

"But we're on earth."

"But dey're goeend be here."

"Not today."

"Yeahuh!" she squeals.

"Honey, if aliens reach earth by tomorrow, you can have mommy's car."

She grins maniacally. Uh oh. I turn to the graphics desk: "I might need a ride to work on Monday."

Walking the Social + Emotional Minefield

Friday, November 20, 2009 By

Em and I are walking out of the schoolhouse door when a little boy in her class stops us.

"Emmie got a said face," he sneers.

Instantly, her face collpases.

"Em," I warn. She's already had one crying fit over the bad mark, and I'm not looking forward to another.

"I not get a sad face. I got a straight face," she whines.

"Nuh-uh!" the boy protests.

"Yuh-huh!" Em responds.

I can see that exchange repeating for hours, so I lead her away as a teacher lectures the boy with, "Is that your business?!"

"Emmie, the best response would be to trun that into a joke," I explain, as we head to the car. "He wasn't totally serious - I think he was trying to tease you - but it didn't come across well. So you should try to think of a way to make it a joke."

"Ohhhhhh," she says, thoughtfully. "I mate a joke on him..."

"Yes. Laughter diffuses almost any situation," I believe that to the fullest.

"But he mate me angry," she says.

"No, no, no," I say. "You can't let what he says make you feel bad. Then he has power over you."

I wonder if this is too much for her. I wonder if it's too paranoid of me.

"Yes!" She says, her eyes alight. "I gotta keep my own power ober myself! So I mate good choices!"

What the - ... That's exactly where I was going with that! Letting other people control your emotions clouds your decision-making! She got that, instinctively!

"I goeend put my power in a box where nobody can find it," she says, crossing her arms and arching her eyebrows. I am a diabolical genius, the expression says. "I got a lot of powers."

"Um..." I try not to laugh at her literal interpretation of the word 'power.' "Why don't you keep them in your heart and your brain?"

She thinks about it for a minute, and then nods.

"Okay. I keep dem in my heart an' my brain, and den nobody can tate them."

"Not if you don't let them," I agree.

"I won't," she declares.

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Friday, November 20, 2009 By

Em catches me with her butterfly net.

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Morning Routine

Friday, November 20, 2009 By

Ah, the car line. My old frenemy...

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