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The Scene:  Harried working mom on her way home after a 12+ hour day, about an hour longer than she planned with.  The mom is wrought with guilt, feeling the pressure of months of a heavy work load.  She is concerned that her family is starting to get sick of it.  At the same time, said Mom is kinda tickled over her new iPhone, and is fussing with it in the backseat of the taxicab when she receives a text from her daughter:

E:  When are you coming home?

M:  I should be there by 7:30. Why?

E:  I just wanted to know.

M: Are you mad?

E:  No.

M:  Sorry that I’m running late.  It was a busy day.

E:  It’s okay.

M:  Are you sure?

E:  MOM!  I’m watching Heroes!  Stop texting me!

M:  So, here I am, feeling guilty that you’re missing me because I’m working too much, and in reality, you just want me to stay gone long enough for you to finish your television show?

E:  That about sums it up.  Now can you stop texting me?

Harumph.

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I remember playing truth or dare for the first time in 8th grade. It was a boy/girl party. Not the “I’m in 4th grade and some of my friends are girls, and some are boys, so they’ll all come over and we’ll play baseball and we’ll open presents and we’ll eat cake” kind of boy/girl party, but in the “I will invite these cute boys and hope they come, and hope that I can kiss one of them” sense.

No one chose truth. No one wanted to tell truths. We only wanted to kiss.

And we hoped against hope that our braces wouldn’t lock, and that we wouldn’t drool, and that kissing a boy would be somewhat similar to kissing the back of our hands, or our pillow, or the air in front of the mirror.

But these girls in my living room are 2 years away from that.

They mostly choose “truth.” And they want to know “what boy do you think is cute?” And they don’t care when the Mom of the House comes in 1/2 way through the round – they say, “oh, please let us stay up? You can stay while we finish!” And they continue with their conversation about the “most annoying person in our grade” and then they ask, “what’s the most embarrassing thing your mother does when people are around?”

I swear to god – E said, “My mom really isn’t embarrassing.” After her friends shared stories (which I found fun to be around for, and mortified on their mothers’ behalves .. even though nothing was all that embarrassing, really). I laughed and said, “well, that’s just because I’m in the room.” But then I reminded E that I have yelled at her in front of at least two of her friends – when one of the others raised her little hand and said, “you yelled at her in front of me, too!”

Thanks for that, sweet girl.

[For clarification: “Yelled at” = reprimand, correct, informing child of unmet standards and expectations. “Yelled at” does NOT = raised voice; bulging veins in the neck; insults; swear words; intimidating behavior.]

But the real fun part: The dares.

Beloved and I were in our room, hanging out at our various computers. Our door was closed. The girls were playing truth or dare – having given me assurances that there would be no dares involving the removal of clothing, and no truths resulting in hurt feelings.

Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in!” says Zuska.

Friend 1 comes in the room. “Can we please stay up 5 minutes past 11:30?”

Zuska looks at the friend quizzically. “Are you all okay?”

“yes.”

“Are you fighting?”

“no!”

“Is anyone crying?”

“No!”

“Well, I’ll come check on you at 11:30 and decide then.”

Beloved looks at me like I’m on the moon. “5 minutes, Zuska?”

“Yeah?” I’m confused. “Should I have said yes?”

“Yah!” he says.

“Oh.” I call Friend 1 back. “Beloved says yes, you can have 5 more minutes.”

Friend 1 laughs, and tells the other kids.

Beloved says, “That was a dare.”

“huh?” Says Zuska the One With No Clue.

“Zuska, 5 minutes? What’s the point in asking for 5 minutes? It’s irrational. It was a dare!”

I jump up and go out to the living room.

“Was that a dare?”

My Child: NO!!

Friend 1: NO!!

Friend 2: NO!!

Friend 3: NO!!!

Friend 4: [small voice] maybe?

She said she couldn’t think of anything better.

Then later, I come out to get a glass of water, and the girls are all giggling. “E, you are in so much trouble!” one says. I get my water. “What?”

“Look at the chalkboard!” [which is our chore board and reminder place]. Oh. All the chores are crossed out. So is my new work number. So is “{Friend 4} was here.” So is Thursday’s dinner (the girls like to know what we’re having for dinner. If we don’t write it on the board, they ask 14,000 times).

E dared Friend 3 to cross it all out.

They then told me the other dares: Ice down the shirt; Friend 3 was dared to come into our room and pretend that her feelings were hurt and she was crying — she refused. I told her it was a good thing, because I would have freaked right out. She said she refused because she thought it would get E in trouble.

They know I’m a ninny.

So innocent, still.

I think this is the last year.

So yes, I’m enjoying it.

100%.

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I picked J up today so she could get pieces of metal glued to her teeth.  She was pretty nervous, and so we kept trying to have conversations about other things.  She told me:

My friends are in E’s classroom from 4th grade, and they checked out a book, and there was a note in it, written by E, about her nickname, and they were telling me about it in recess, and they thought it was really funny.  

I thought it was a little strange, and thought – man – If the “note” was something personal, E is going to have a fit.  I couldn’t quite decipher from what J was saying exactly what the note said – just that it was a note that E had written in 4th grade, and now the current 4th graders (J’s friends) were passing it all around amongst themselves, getting a kick out of it.

After J’s appointment, we went by her BFF’s house to show off the braces.  Her BFF’s mom and I are friends.  The Mom dug in her pocket and said, “[the girls’ friend] gave this to me today – I don’t know why she gave it to ME, but now I’m giving it to you.”

It was the famous “note.”

My Name 

    By [E]

My name is E.  No one can say my name isn’t and be right.  Not unless [J] stops calling her friend Squirty.*  Then my name is [E], Squirty, or Squirt. Then you could also call me Squirty or Squirt.  Ok, now you can call me Bean**, or maybe Spaghetti Head,*** but NOT Squirt.  It’s either mine and only mine or someone else’s name and only theirs.  Hopefully Squirt will soon be mine again.  Hopefully.  But not surely.  Only hopefully.

* I don’t remember how it started, but sometime when she was in 3rd grade, I started to call E “Squirt.”

**  I was given a book.  I read the book to my child all the time.  The ex and I both loved the book, and loved the title of the book, and started to call E “Bean.”  Honestly, I still call her that.  My dad calls her Beaners, which is much uglier, but it is a variation on this standard.

*** I don’t know how I started this one, either.  But I did it when she was a toddler – perhaps a preschooler.  It also has stuck, and in a weird convoluted form, makes up one of her e-mail addresses.

I remember 2 years ago, when J started to call her friend [another E] Squirty.  My E was offended.  It is now this other E who is in 4th grade.

I found it all very amusing.

I also was quite relieved.  If my E is going to write notes and stick them in books to be found by later classes of kids, this is one that I’m proud of them finding, and I think she should be, too.  At least it wasn’t some gobbledy gook about a premature 4th grade crush.  Ick.

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Hilarity

Beloved and I were reading in bed last night. I glanced at his book to see what he was reading, and the title of his chapter caught my eye. It was titled, “A Conversation at the Grown Up Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table.” I made him hand over the book.

I then laughed harder than I had ever laughed before. Or at least in a while. I don’t know if I’m allowed to put it here, but I will until someone tells me I can’t. In an authoritative voice. It can also be read here.

I. A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.

DAD: O.K.

GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.

DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.

UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.

DAD: We all are.

MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.

DAD: (laughing) You know, but you won’t tell.

MOM: If they ask me again, I might tell.

FRIEND FROM WORK: Hey, guess what! My voice is pretty loud!

DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.

MOM: I’m angry! I’m angry all of a sudden!

DAD: I’m angry, too! We’re angry at each other!

MOM: Now everything is fine.

DAD: We just saw the PG-13 movie. It was so good.

MOM: There was a big sex.

FRIEND FROM WORK: I am the loudest! I am the loudest!

(Everybody laughs.)

MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!

GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?

ALL: Yes.

GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.

Do you laugh? Out loud? I started badgering Beloved, “Where did you find this book? How did you find this book? how did you know that it would be a funny book? Why are you drawn to this kind of book, and how do you always FIND them?”

He went to the library yesterday afternoon, perused the “new arrivals,” saw the title Ant Farm (by Simon Rich) on this one, and picked it up. He liked the graphic on the cover.  Basically, he has a magnet to this sort of thing, because he always has something like this to share.

It had other funnies in it, too. Three others were pulled out by the New Yorker, as I linked above.

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