QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The low down on the down low

Today was the first day of school for the urchins!!!

WAHOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

whew. excuse me. ahem. Just had to get that outta my system.

where was I?

Oh... today the boys went back to school!!!!!

Even better, though, than having the whole house to myself today, in blessed, uninterrupted peace, enjoying the complete and total quiet around here... even better was the report I received when I picked up the urchins from school.

Yes sirree, bob. The reason I work from home is so that I can pick up the boys from school each day to hear how their days went. It's the highlight of my day. Okay. That's a lie, I admit it. The highlight is dropping them off at school. After that might come a glass of wine around 5 0'clock.... but picking up the boys is in the top 10, I'm sure...

And why? Because boys are just so darn loquacious. Today, the very first day of school, a day during which, no less, the 13-year-old started his first day at the top of the middle school totem pole as a big 8th grader... and the 11-year-old started his first day in middle school. Big day. Enormous. Momentous. Today was just like the other days I pick up the loquacious urchins from school:

me: "HEY, guys!!!! How was your FIRST DAY!!!?????" I ask enthusiastically.

13-year-old: "good."

me: "good? GOOD!!!!"

me: "what else? Tell me all about it! I wanna know everything!!!"

11-year-old: "It was good."

me: "Oh c'mon! Gimme more than that. You spent 7 [beautifully serene] hours away from your mom! What did you do?"

13-year-old: "Not much."

11-year-old: "Nothing."

me: "Okay, guys. Tell you what. I'll make a deal with you. You tell me everything there is to know about your first day of school today and we'll go to Dairy Queen and get blizzards... medium-sized blizzards."

13-year-old: "You mean after the orthodontist appointment that I have right now?"

me: "oops! That's right! You do have an orthodontist appointment right now. Yup.. so after the orthodontist...."

(Minutes later at the orthodontist's office. 13-year-old has been seen and returned to the waiting room. 11-year-old has usurped my blackberry to play Brickbreaker while he was waiting. The waiting room is full to the brim with snot-nosed, adolescent, metal mouths and their moms.)

receptionist: "Ma'am? Did you want to make your son's next appointment?"

me: "oh yeah. heh heh." (I walk up to the desk, soon realizing I don't have my blackberry to see my calendar or make the appointment).

me: "uh, hey, buddy... I need my blackberry to make the appointment."

The people in the waiting room apparently think this is humorous.

11-year-old: "aw, Mom.... can you wait until I die?" as he expertly maneuvers the click wheel to play brickbreaker.

Prodigious smiles are now on the faces of the people of the waiting room. Tension mounts. All heads turn toward me.

me: "heh heh. Very funny, buddy. No. I need it now."

The entire waiting room now looks as if a tennis match is ensuing in the middle of the orthodontist's reception area. They are looking back and forth at me and my son to see how I will handle this. They are judging me, I know it. Tension mounts further. There are smiles (or snickers?) on many faces.

11-year-old: "come on, Mom; I'm doing really well."

All faces turn to me.

me: "heh heh. I'm proud of your brickbreaker skills and your use of an adverb to describe how your doing, love, but really.... I need it now."

All faces turn to him.

11-year-old: "You really can't wait until I die?"

All faces turn to me.

me: I clear my throat and say: "ahem." I give him the evil eye, the one that says: "I will kill you. You will not see your next birthday." You know the one; I know you do.

He stands up and hands me the blackberry. There is a palpable sigh of relief.

End of orthodontist tangent and back to "what did you do today?" main thread:

2 medium Dairy Queen blizzards bought me all kinds of information.

me: "So, buddy," I ask the 13-year-old 8th grader, "was it pretty cool being the big man on campus this year?"

13-year-old smiles slightly: "yeah it's pretty fun."

I extracted quite a bit of information about his teachers and classes this year. The trick is:

1) Bribe with Dairy Queen blizzards

2) Ask detailed questions

Here, as a point of illustration, are your basic dos and don'ts of picking up urchins from school if you really want to extract information:

Don't do this. It just doesn't work. (unless you have a girl. Girls tell all).

Instead, do this:

You could also ask: "you didn't trade your organic lunch with anyone for a product that contains hydrogenated oils, did you?"

Among my favorite pearls of information from my interrogation of the 11-year-old, though, was in response to my question about what the rules were for middle school this year.

"Oh," he said. "yeah. We're not allowed to put each other in the lockers, even though we would fit."


  1. Oh, the waiting room story was a good one!!! Wish I had been there!

    Isn't that frustrating? "What did you lean/do at school today?" "Nothing." Money well spent, I tell ya!

  2. You are right, girls tell all. In fact my 4th grader doesn't stop yappin' from the time the doors of the bus open until I yell "IF YOU COME OUT OF YOUR ROOM ONE MORE TIME...LIGHTS OUT" You decide which one is better!

  3. Yep. Never ask questions that could have one-word answers. Good strategy. And Blizzards never hurt (make mine Oreo).

  4. Thank goodness you won the ortho tennis match. I would have said (in front of the waiting room) "There will be no need for me to wait until you die, because if you don't fork it over right. this. second. I will kill you."

    (They know me pretty well at my orthodontist's...)

    Um... are you sure the Blizzards are organic?

  5. I have two girls. They're the same ages as your boys and you're right; I get all the details, which is especially good because frequent trips to the DQ would ruin me.
    I'm not a runner.
    I'm barely a vacuumer.
    Laundry sits and so do I, but I'm talkative, and I tell all.
    So do my girls.

  6. I love the waiting room story AND knowing the kids would fit in a locker.

    I would gladly tell you about my day over a blizzard at the DQ.

  7. Even in kidergarten I have to pull information from my daughter. That girl does not tell all. When I pick her up I always ask for three things but you're right more detailed questions get parents much better answers.

    I love it...you won the waiting room battle.

  8. Girls don't talk about it either. They offer that school was okay, and when I ask what they did, they shrug and say nothing.

    After a few weeks, I finally demanded, "Your teacher just stands at the front of the room doing absolutely nothing?"

    The reply was, "Yeah, I think that's what happened..."

  9. Blizzards work on adult boys too! Don't think of it as a bribe just a helpful learning device. And, getting the Blackberry away from the adult boy is not easy either.

  10. hooray for winning the day for parents everwhere!

  11. I had no idea Blizzards were truth serums. I shall remember this as my son gets old enough to not want to talk to me anymore. So far, both 13 year old girl and 8 year old boy talk lots. No need for sugary dairy yet.

  12. Isn't it great! I am not used to the silence while working from home.

    You are so right about the questions. My 3 year will talk. He just started preschool for the very first time so he is excited. I know that will change when he hits Kindergarten. For the 6 year old, I have to ask questions like, "Did anyone cry today?", "Did you have to walk anyone to the nurse?". That always works :-)

  13. Thank you for the list! I've been working on specific questions but to relatively no avail.

    There's an (opportunistic bastard) ice cream truck parked outside of school but apparently those weren't enough to loosen his tongue.

    He's had four days of school so far. All have been "good."

  14. I feel like you could have been talking to my husband. I guess I should expect the same from my son someday. Truly hilarious.

  15. That's good stuff. Sometimes, people tell stories about their kids and maybe it was a good story, but they don't tell it well. So, I'm forced to think it wasn't that interesting in the first place.

    This, however, was amusing and I enjoyed the crap out of it.

    I found you through MJ of Tetanus Tomato, and I shall be back!

  16. I will tell you all about my day for a blizzard! Small would even work for me.



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