All posts by Emily

Taking a Stand

My 5-year-old nephew and I are hanging out on the beach during our Outer Banks vacation….

Nephew: “Auntie Em, I’m gonna go to the White House. It would be so cool to live there, don’t you think?”

Me: “Meh. Not right now it wouldn’t be.”

Nephew: “Why?”

Me: “Because you’d have to live there with Donald Trump.”

Nephew: “He lives there?”

Me: “Yes, and he’s the worst. He’s not a good person. He’s extremely selfish and rude and he has no respect for other people, especially women. So do me a favor– stay away from the White House until there’s someone respectable living in it, which will hopefully be the case come January. Until then, I think you should take a stand with your Auntie Em and stay far away from ANYTHING having to do with this president, who is nothing but a bully– because I know that you have a kind heart, just like I do.”

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Later, my nephew’s nanny approaches me….

Nanny: “Did you say something to Tyler?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Nanny: “I was going to take him to see the lighthouse in Corolla today and he was so excited, but now he’s yelling that he won’t go because a bad, selfish bully lives there, and he’s taking a stand with his Auntie Em.”

Me: “Ohhhhhh oh oh– the LIGHThouse!”

Nanny: “Yes…”

My bad.

Can You Kill It?

Since moving to the burbs, we’ve had issues with house flies, mainly because we are super bad at remembering to close the kitchen sliding door that leads to the deck. So naturally, we invested in a fly-swatter bulk pack (family style!) and are constantly running around the kitchen chasing flies, killing them, and then congratulating ourselves with a celebratory dance and a screamy notification to the whole house that “I KILLED THAT FUCKER!”

Nora watches all of this.

We really gotta start remembering that she’s there (for this reason and also, just like, in general.)

Because naturally, seeing this ritual in action then led her to believe that house flies are very scary and dangerous (necessitating the brutal killings and professionally choreographed victory dances). Therefore, whenever she’d see one, she’d scream, run away terrified, and yell “Mama, can you kill it?!!!”

It took some explaining to get her to see that flies are not dangerous and will not hurt her, so she doesn’t have to be afraid. Luckily, Nora is pretty smart for an almost-2-year-old, and before long, with some patience and gentle encouragement from me, she was able to see that house flies are not dangerous, they’re just annoying. Armed with this explanation, she was no longer terrified of them and started to say “Is ok, fly don’t hurt, is just annoying, Mama” whenever she’d spot one. She’d then waddle over to the table, grab the fly-swatter, and hand it over to me like the dutiful little partner-in-crime she is.

Yes, I will gladly accept my bouquet of parenting trophies.

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Flash forward a few days. Nora and I are on the deck.

Nora: “Mama, what’s dat sound?”

Me: “That’s Uncle Jeremy blasting music in the kitchen.”

Nora: “Why he so loud, Mama?”

Me: “You’re right, he IS being loud. But that’s ok. It’s no big deal, it’s just a little annoying.”

Nora: “Mama?”

Me: “Yes?”

Nora: (hands me fly-swatter) “Can you kill him?”

So no lesson is perfect.

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No. I’m Clearly Not.

Tutoring session with a 5th grader…

Me: “Hey bud! What’s up?”

Kid: “I’m hanging on by a thread.”

Me: “Oh, man. I’m sorry to hear that. But you know what? I think everyone’s hanging on by a thread these days. I know I certainly am. It’s just becoming too much, you know? Waking up every morning and every day is pretty much the same, with very little to do to get our minds off the problems in the world right now. It certainly creates feelings of anxiety, wondering when and if any of this is ever going to get better. But just know you’re not alone in those feelings.”

Kid: “Wait what? I said I’m hanging out with Fred. My cat, Fred.”

Me: “Oh!”

(awkward silence)

Kid: “Are you ok?”

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Modern Math

Math session with a 1st grader…

Me: “Ok, so we’re going to do some fun math problems today, all involving ducks! Because I know how much you love birds. The questions are going to start off super easy, but they build off each other and become more challenging as we go.”

Kid: “Ok.”

Me: “So first question– there are three ducks. Each duck is 1 foot in length. If the three ducks go swimming together in a line, beak to tail, how long is the duck-line?”

Kid: “Wait, so each duck is ONE foot long?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “And there are THREE of them?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Ok let me think.” (starts whisper counting to himself, goes way past 3)

Me: “Woah woah, you’re already counting too high. There are only THREE ducks.”

Kid: “I know I know…” (keeps counting, now silently, but keeping track on fingers)

Me: “This is supposed to the super-easy first problem, it doesn’t really require finger counting.”

Kid: “I’ve almost got it, hold on.”

Me: “Ok I’m trying to help you but you’re not listen—”

Kid: “Shh shhh wait let me finish.”

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Kid (finally): “15! The answer is 15 feet.” (crosses arms, super proud of self)

Me: “What? No. Not even close. There are only 3 ducks and they are each ONE foot!”

Kid: “Yeah but you gotta have 6 feet between each duck or they’ll all get corona.”

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I’ll Consider It

“Hey, so,” (clears throat, clearly nervous) “I was thinking…and I know this is a little audacious of me to ask, but– would you please consider getting pregnant again? Like, immediately? It’s just– the last time you were pregnant, well, those 9 months were pretty great for me. I finally got to relax and kick my feet up for a bit, you know? Rejuvenate. Catch my breath. Felt like my normal, healthy self again.  But I’ve just really been working on overdrive since then. And now with the pandemic and your anxiety and everything…I’m just struggling to keep my head above water here. So you’ll consider it? Pregnancy? It’s really my only opportunity for a break. I know you need me to keep working hard, but I can’t keep going like this without some kind of respite. I’m not a wizard. And, um, I don’t mean for this to sound condescending but– you know you, like, NEED me in order to survive, right? Like I know you understand that in theory but it seems you don’t really follow through with it in daily practice. Ok ok sorry, my bad, I see I’m getting you worked up. I won’t get ahead of myself here. We don’t need to make any permanent life changes. I know that’s hard for you. Let’s just focus on my short-term, 9-month vacation for now, and maybe then down the line we can work on some longer-term goals. Cool?”

— My liver, to me

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Don’t Worry, I Have a Plan

Friend: “So what’s your plan if school doesn’t open in the fall?”

Me: “Oh, don’t worry, we have like a million back-up plans for Nora’s schooling because yeah, the school we signed her up for already said it might not open. And they sent us a list of all these possible scenarios if they DO open, most of which involve distance learning, which would be pretty useless for her age. So we’ve totally thought this through and researched all these other schools so that we’re prepared and don’t end up getting screwed.  We really like [School #2] and they seem ready to open safely. And [School #3] will definitely have spots open should we wait until the last minute, because we’re hesitant to put a deposit down now for something that might become distance learning. And there’s this other school, [School #4], that’s smaller and lesser-known but actually seems pretty great so bottom line she’ll have lots of options, and we’ll be fine with wherever she goes, plus she’s at the age where we’re not worried about if she’s in like a top program or anything like that, you know? So regardless it’ll be fine, and I know she’ll love wherever she is because she’s super social and energetic so she’ll just be happy to finally get out of the house and be around other kids and added bonus I REALLY need the break!”

Friend: “No, that’s not what I meant. I meant what’s your plan if NO schools open in the fall?”

Me: “Oooooh! Oh oh oh oh.”

(pause)

Me: “Kill myself.”

 

 

Already Proud of My Kid’s Choices

Most little girls are obsessed with the conventionally beautiful, super-feminine, fairly one-dimensional Elsa character in Frozen, and few prefer Anna– the tougher, funnier, more dynamic and quirky character with the much stronger personality.

So I think it really says something special about Nora that she always chooses to play with her Anna doll. She obviously identifies more with Anna and chooses her because she sees the value in her strong personality, and not because I refused to buy her any of the Elsa merchandise she desperately wanted and cried for, shoved the Anna doll in her face and yelled MOM IS ONLY BUYING YOU THIS ONE AND YOU WILL PLAY WITH IT AND YOU WILL LOVE THE AWKWARD GIRL MORE THAN THAT PRETTY VAPID ONE SO HELP ME GOD DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!

Anyway I’m really proud of her.

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Plus That

Today I was in a tutoring session with a 6th grader who I have always considered to be very mature for her age. She’s always aware of the latest current events and it seems her parents don’t try to censor the content she consumes online. Just last week we had a very in-depth conversation about George Floyd (she’s horrified and heartbroken) and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (she’s disgusted).

As a teacher, I of course don’t play favorites, so needless to say she’s my favorite.

Anyway, given her maturity and general awareness of horrible shit in the world, I was surprised when, given an assignment to invite 4 famous people (past or present) to dinner and write the dialogue that would ensue, she immediately chose Michael Jackson as her first guest.

Me (treading lightly): “Oh. That’s, umm…an interesting choice.”

Kid: “Yeah I mean he’s a LEGEND. And a musical genius. I bet he’d have a LOT of interesting stuff to say. He’s like one of the most successful and best-selling artists ever!”

Me (realizing she is clearly unaware of the controversy surrounding him): “Well…I can’t really argue with that. So ok, Michael Jackson. Who else would you choose?”

Kid: “Barack Obama, Malala, Greta Thunberg, and Martin Luther King Jr.”

Me: “Oh! I love those choices! But remember you can only have four guests total.”

Kid: “Ok, I guess then get rid of Michael Jackson.”

Me (relieved): “I agree.”

Kid: “He doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my choices. Like, he’s not a hero or an activist or anything.”

Me: “Right. Exactly. I was thinking the same thing.”

Kid: “Yeah.”

(Silence)

Kid: “Plus he raped all those kids.”

 

And Then I Paid HER For the Session

During a tutoring session with a 2nd grader…

Me (after we read a story about a man who wasted his wishes on material things, and ended up with nothing): “And so if you had one wish, what would it be?”

Kid (thinks long and hard; seems indecisive): “I guess….a red sno-cone. That’s my favorite.”

Me (disappointed): “Really? You looked like you were deciding between that and something else. Something a little more meaningful, maybe….?”

Kid: “Well, I was going to say I’d wish for the world to be a better place.”

Me: “YES!!!! YES YES YES. I love that. Now THAT is a beautiful, powerful, meaningful wish. Why didn’t you choose that one?!”

Kid: “Because you can’t wish for that.”

Me: (confused)

Kid: “You have to DO that. You can’t just wish for it, you have to DO it.”

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