One of the side effects of my new employment status (or lack thereof) is that I am now the one who will hang with the children in the event of any early release or off day from school altogether. We used to split these duties (and by “split” I, of course, mean Amy did it 70% of the time.) Now, with no reasonable reason not to do it, I’m on the job like 90% of the time, maybe 93%. Can’t really say for sure.
Now, to be honest, the boys and their daycare school have a remarkably stable schedule. Save for the occasional holiday, they’re pretty much always there. School vacation weeks don’t take place in the world of The Kiddie Koop. Great school, kind of a dicey name.
This means that most of the out-of-the-ordinary scheduling takes place with Maggie and her school. So, periodically, I find myself with some extra quality time with my oldest child. This is good, mainly because quality time with the twins is best described as when they’re sleeping. Henry and I could, I’m sure, have adventures of some sort, but he’s still a bit young for many things. Maggie, I’m sure, is too, but we have nonetheless found some ways to pass the time.
DECEMBER 2nd: Report Card Day
“Report card day”, as the title might indicate, is the day that report cards are distributed. The way they do that at this school is that the parents schedule a time to sit down with the teacher who, in turn, reviews the report card with you. This is known as “Parent Teacher Conference Day”, I think, in the rest of the world. The upshot, though, is that the kids have the day off from school.
Amy wisely scheduled my meeting time for 10AM, meaning it would be out of the way as quickly as possible. Maggie came with me and sat out in the hall as her teacher and I sat in the same seats that all the seven-year-olds do. You’d think they’d get a couple adult chairs in there for the event but, no, we were forced to discuss things with my knees roughly around my ears.
Maggie has some issues with being bossy but, beyond that, got generally good marks as a student.
With that relatively good news out of the way, we headed downstairs to the much anticipated cookie sale. Maggie and I opted, of course, for the large bag and loaded up. It would make for good sustenance for what the day held in store.
Item number one on that list was a little one-on-one at our newly rehabilitated public basketball court. We don’t own a basketball, so we’d be playing with one of our many soccer balls we have lying about.
Maggie wanted to play horse, so we did. She really focused on the over the head backwards shot that she claims she hit once. Despite my repeated suggestions that she try some other shots, she persisted with this one.
I beat her H-O-R-S-E to nothing. From that point on, she both mixed up her shots and kept renaming the game. I also beat her, C-O-O-K-I-E-S to C, R-O-B-O-T to nothing, B-A-G-O-F-C-O-O-K-I-E-S to B-A, S-P-A-C-E-A-L-I-E-N to S-P-A (she showed some promise in that one), and, at my urging, I to nothing and M-E to nothing.
She may be a bit bossy but as the scores would demonstrate, I didn’t let her win and it never fazed her. In fact, had she had her way, we would have kept playing. Thing is that I absolutely suck at basketball. I think the “bag of cookies” game may have taken forty minutes all on its own.
We retired to the house for a bit before heading out to lunch. I gave her the choice of which fine family-style restaurant she would like take in. Really, though, are there any good choices? Or, for that matter, any bad?
For my money, they are all the same: Applebee’s, The 99, TGI Fridays, Chili’s, Hooters. Okay, maybe not that last one, but they do have a very good steak sandwich.
She chose Applebee’s and off we went. Two things happened during this lunch.
- Maggie finished the sixth and, at present, final installment of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. This is notable as she had only started reading them a couple weeks before AND had never really “read” books before. To use the verbiage of the modern day parent: this was her first foray into “chapter books” and she went about it quite voraciously.
- Maggie finished her mac-and-cheese in about four minutes and wanted more. Bad news for the wallet as Maggie seems to be outgrowing kids meals. She ended up eating half of my lunch.
DECEMBER 12th: Target Trip
If you had asked either of my two older children on, say, November 12th who or what Justin Bieber was, there would have been some vague ideas. Maggie would have probably known that he sang songs. Henry may have heard his name at school but could well have believed he was a Disney character. In sum, there was very little knowledge of, and certainly no love for, the Biebster.
And then, one fateful night during Thanksgiving whilst I gorged on all-you-can-eat Brazilian steak, all the kiddos nestled in for a viewing of the Justin Bieber biopic Never Say Never. Their worlds were apparently transformed.
Just a few weeks later, we are the proud owners of our own copy of the film as well as the official soundtrack of the same. Also we have a fleece blanket with the Bieber Face that was a gift for Henry on his birthday. As he is still dealing with the occasional bout of bed-wetting, we have implored him “don’t pee on Justin’s face.” I’m sure the Biebers would be proud…
Maggie has taken to using hand gestures that “Justin” does (we’re on a first-name basis with Canadian teen sensation.) She has taken to using phrases, dancing, and even writing her own songs, all like “Justin” does.
One thing that was missing from her transformation from everyday suburban girl to north-of-the-border singing prodigy was, of course, the right clothes. Specifically for her in this case, that meant the right hoodie.
After some particularly good behaviour (see? I can even write like him) she earned a trip to the local Target where we were pretty sure there would be a fairly good selection of hoodies. We were correct in that assessment.
What this inevitably led to was an in-depth analysis of what color hoodies the Biebs wore during his trip from obscurity to Madison Square Garden.
As an aside, since when did playing Madison Square Garden mean you’ve made it? I was raised believing it was Carnegie Hall some twenty-five blocks north that was supposed to be that indicative watershed moment. Apparently not so much for the pop crowd.
His signature color is, of course, purple. (You didn’t know ?!?) This was not a choice. We had black, bright blue, dark blue, red, and green to chose from. Green and dark blue were eliminated nearly immediately. Black was in play big time but, in the end, we went with red.
Size-wise, the small fit her the best but she wanted to make sure she could wear this polyester tribute for as long as possible. We went with the medium.
She put it on as soon as the woman at the register passed it over her red laser beeper-scanner. She wore it all day and, as we later discovered, even slept in it that night. In the end, she has been wearing her overly large hoodie on-and-off pretty much solid since that day.
Henry, about a week later, managed to (just barely) string together enough days of good behavior to earn his own Bieber hoodie and now they match.
As I have highlighted in the past, I am content to support the whims of my kids as the figure out exactly who they are. I am doing so in this case. That said, I think I’d rather that Henry have a closet full of Barbies and Maggie wear nothing but camo than they have this fascination with Justin Bieber. This despite the fact that loving Justin is probably the most girlie thing Maggie has ever done.
DECEMBER 14th: Brownie Meeting
One area that Amy definitely always had covered was that of the Girl Scouts. That area wasn’t even close to being mine. It, in fact, often seemed that the world of the Daisy’s (the level where she first started) was downright resistant to the inclusion of fathers.
Not so the case now.
I have been given strict instructions on when to retrieve Maggie from school and where to take her. The Brownies are having sundaes today!
The trip up Route 1 found us at Putnam Pantry in short order. It was here that the Brownies would be meeting.
The grounds of this house of fudge and candy were originally built well before the United States declared their independence from Mother England. Israel Putnam was born there in 1718. He later became General Putnam, second in command only to George Washington himself. It was “Old Put” who commanded the forces during the Battle of Bunker Hill and he who famously warned his troops not to “fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
Much like the Zax of Dr. Seuss fame whose intransigence forced them to stand still while the world grew around them, the remnants of the Putnam family estate literally lie inside the cloverleaf of a highway on-ramp. I’m not sure if the General would be more dismayed to find his legacy turned into a candy shop in the 50’s or that said shop inhabits a plot more fitting of a gas station.
None of this was covered during our meeting. I sat way in the corner with another brownie dad, but the main purpose of gathering here was ice cream smothered in other stuff.
Maggie stood in line with the rest of the kids but, as they loaded sprinkles, jimmies, and other sundry candies atop their ice cream, Maggie decided to focus on just two things: oreos and whipped cream. And, in the end, that’s all she ate: oreos and whipped cream. She didn’t even bother with the ice cream which was clearly there merely to transport the other stuff. I may or may not have helped her finish off what was left. Maybe.
Once everyone was done not eating their ice cream, there was a brief walk around the shop floor to admire the many variations on the theme of “fudge” before we were released back into the world. Apparently they got their tour of fudge-making on a previous trip. I would have liked to see that. Ah well. Maybe next year.