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Teacher Conference Translator

29 Sep

It’s that time of year again. The morning air begins to feel crisp with the coolness of fall. The lights of the football stadium shine like a beacon on Friday nights. Pumpkins start appearing on porches.

And of course, one day, you open your child’s backpack, and there it is. The scheduled time for your parent-teacher conference. Oh, the excitement. Time to squeeze into tiny children’s desks, sit across from the smiling teacher. You know, the one who has secretly already judged your parenting skills?

I’ve become somewhat of an expert in these, with one child completely through elementary school, and a second getting there. Oh please Lord, let him be getting there. Plus, in another year, I will be the one on the teacher side of the desk, and I’ve already had some of the top-secret teacher language classes.

So here, in plain English, is a simple teacher-to-parent translator for some of the common things you might hear.

1. “Your child is certainly very high-spirited!” Your child behaves like a Chihuahua whose morning breakfast routine consists of  drinking an entire case of Red Bull and then gobbling down a bowl of M&Ms. Seriously. I can’t mention ADD or medication, because that counts as a diagnosis and then the district would be on the hook for your kids’ treatment, but get some drugs.

2. “He/She does seem to have some focus problems.” Seriously. Ritalin, Concentra? Ever considered them?  Can you sign this waiver saying it’s OK for me to duct tape your child to the chair? Please?

3. “Tell me about your morning routine at home.” Are you guys eating crack for breakfast or what? My initial thought was that your child was being raised by wolves, but now that I see you’re human, I’m guessing illegal drugs may be the issue.

4. “Let’s go over some test scores.” Look, I wish I could get to know your child as an individual and focus on his or her specific talents and dreams. But let’s face it, because of this moronic ” No Child Left Behind” crap, at the end of the day, the issue that really matters is “Will your child pass the standardized test?”

5. “We are not teaching to the test.”  Well, not the actual test, since the state testing board keeps those pretty secure. But we will be doing so many practice benchmarks that your child will go to sleep dreaming of filling in circles. When you go out for donuts, he will stuff his napkin in the center hole.

6. “Your child is certainly socially advanced.” You’re aware that your kid’s in a gang, right? Those bandanas are not for “Cowboy Day.”

7. “Your child certainly has an advanced vocabulary.” Not all children can conjugate the F-word into all its various verb forms. The added use of non-verbal hand motions to make meaning clear is also impressive.

8. “Little XXXX is one of the reasons I am thankful to be a teacher.” Every day, when he gets on the bus and drives home, I fall to my knees praising Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha that I have made it through another day and get 3 months off in the summer. Have a nice day.”

Tabled for Discussion

15 Sep

The purse analysis I artfully provided for Janelle earlier this week sparked a follow-up request from my friend Elizabeth, who wanted to know “What’s on your bedside table? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Now, the last time that line actually worked on me, it was uttered by a boy in my kindergarten class. That trip to the supply closet did not go well. Neither did my trip home after the parent-teacher conference that ensued. Oh look, day 15 of blogging every day and we have a complete failure of my internal filter. That’s awesome.

Anyway, back to Elizabeth’s question. Unlike that boy in kindergarten, I think she has nothing but the purest intentions.

So, here is a picture of what’s on my bedside table.


  • My alarm clock, which is industrial-strength since I have worn out 2 snooze buttons on previous alarms.
  • A milk-glass lamp that was my grandmother’s.
  • A copy of The Go-Giver, which I read last week. It was a schmaltzy parable, and I am a wee bit cynical, but I still thought it had some interesting points.
  • An olive oil candle
  • Envelopes from the Emily Morgan Hotel where we had my daughter’s slumber party last weekend. I’m going to mail her and her friend the pictures I took in the pilfered envelopes.
  • The little plastic jar on top of the book used to have 50 pairs of disposable ear plugs in it, because I am the world’s lightest sleeper. I have one pair left.
  • There’s also a highlighter in the jar and some blister treatment for a football-related injury I received weekend before last. Ok, I wore new shoes to the Texas game without socks. It was a long walk to the top of the stadium.
  • On the bottom shelf, there are 4 books: The Bible, a study guide for a sermon series we were doing at church called The StoryTwilight and a travel guide to Wyoming.
  • Finally, a little painting of some wildflowers in a vase that my mom painted me. She is an amazingly talented artist and an even more gifted mother.

Ok, your turn. What’s on your bedside table? Elizabeth wants to know.

The Birds and the Butterflies and Twitter Morons

19 Jun

Wow, when I offered to answer the Internet’s problems Monday, some of you had some great questions.  Some of you should probably seek professional help. And some of you? Both “A” and “B” are correct.

First, I want to be clear that despite my comments on our dogs, I am not ACTUALLY an expert on animal sex habits. Although when my daughter was in kindergarten, the school district in its infinite wisdom decided that spring mating season would be the absolute best time to schedule a field trip to the zoo.

And so, I spent the entire zoo trip saying things like this to six-year-olds:

“Oh dear, the monkeys are wrestling! Let’s go see the kangaroos!”

“Huh, the kangaroos are playing leapfrog in slow motion! Let’s go see the hippos!”

And then, when we got to the hippos, they were doing this:


Thirty seconds after this picture was taken, it became a hippo porn movie. And so we decided it was time for a picnic lunch at the playground.

However, although no one asked about the mating habits of hippos, my sweet fellow blogger Bridget did want to know about bird sex. She asked, “Do birds get stuck while they’re flying? Do they sit down? How’s that work?”

Well Bridget, it depends on the species. In the case of storks, they don’t actually have sex. Humans bring them babies. It’s only fair.

Other species of birds, as I learned on, mate on the ground with male climbing on the female, and flapping his wings to keep from slipping off.  Either that or he’s really proud of himself. Interestingly, there are a couple of species exceptions to this. Swifts and swallows, which are in the bird mile-high club,  mate in midair.

Yes. Swifts and swallows. That’s what I said.

Go look at Bridget’s sweet angel face on her website, and remember — SHE IS THE ONE WHO ASKED ABOUT BIRD SEX.

Rene also had a nature question, although hers was G-rated. She wanted to know: “Where do butterflies go when it rains?”

Rene, that depends. Do you need to know this for small children? Small children that have been driving you crazy all day with whining and fighting and incessant questions?

If so, take them for a walk after it has rained. Point out the puddles on the street with shimmering colors reflected on them from the oil on the street. Say “Kids, isn’t that pretty? Like little rainbows on the puddles?”

And when they see the rainbows and comment on how pretty they are, drop your voice real low and whisper “those are melted baby butterflies who didn’t listen to their mommies.”

You’re welcome. Of course, if you are wondering for well-behaved children, the real answer is here:

Finally, Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka wanted to know something not at all related to the animal kingdom *or* sex, thank goodness.

She asked “Riddle me this: why do people on Twitter follow me only to unfollow me when I follow them back? QUESTION FOR THE AGES.”

Well, Riddler Aunt Becky, that is a tricky question. If you know the person, and you like them, you may want to give them the benefit of a doubt that perhaps Twitter is acting up and randomly unfollowed you on their behalf, and send them a friendly tweet like “Can you DM me the link to that genital wart treatment plan that worked for you? I would DM you but you’re not following me, silly!”

Or, if the person is one of the Twitter marketing “geniuses,” you can safely just assume they’re a douchebag and block them.

Then, there is a third possibility, one I hestitate to even mention because I would never react that way. But the person who unfollowed you *could*just be jealous of your excellent blogging skills and bitter that you are kicking their ass in the Funniest Blog Contest.

I hope the answers were helpful, Bridget, Rene and Aunt Becky. If I didn’t answer your question this time around either I will get to it soon, or I don’t have any idea.

Also, one more another loving reminder:
2009 BlogLuxe Awards
 You can vote every day. Come on, they will be narrowing it down to finalists soon.

Move Over, Ann Landers. Wait, you’re dead? AWKWARD.

15 Jun

For those keeping track at home, we’re beginning the second full week of summer vacation, complete with triple-digit temperatures which serve as a barometer of how loud the “I’m bored” whining will get.

And when they’re not whining, they’re asking things. Lots of things. Questions I was not aware I was going to get to answer this summer.

Upon the sad diagnosis of a beloved pet:

“Mom, when IS he going to die?”

“Can we get another dog?”

“It just feels like God hates me and what did I ever do to him?”

You see how they do that? Get me off-guard with the inappropriate inquiries and then deliver the sucker punch to the gut?

Of course, I try to give as measured, reasonable responses as I can about how even though God is loving and just, we live in a fallen world where sad things still happen. And we have deep theological debates about the nature of free will versus the question of why an omnipotent God allows the suffering of the innocent.

Unless the whining has been going on all morning. Then I just say “God is mad at you about a lot of things. But He told me He would let the dog live if you cleaned your room every morning without being asked and stopped fighting with your brother over the Wii. It’s all on you.”

No, of course I don’t say that. I’m kidding.

I tell them it’s because Daddy votes Republican.

Hahaha. Kidding again. Maybe.

When we aren’t tackling theology, we are tackling sex ed. Because, as my regular readers reader knows, the Jack Russell Terrier went into heat last week. And even though the corgis are both fixed and one of them is terminally ill, hope springs eternal. So one recent morning, I got this round of questions.

“Why are Tutter and Bailey stuck together?”

“If Tutter can’t make puppies, why is he doing that?”

And of course… the question of the hour: “Do you and Dad get stuck?”

I answered them all without my head exploding. Like this: 1) In the animal kingdom, that is how the dominant male ensures he will be the one to father the babies, by making sure no other males are also trying to get the female pregnant. 2) Because he and Bailey apparently ran off to Vegas and got married without telling us and 3) Would you like to go get some ice cream?

So as you can see, my question-answering skills are getting totally awesome. And you know, as much as I enjoy my children’s excellent inquiries, I’m a giver. Why should they get all my expertise?

So how about if *you* fire off some questions? Surely there’s some issue I can help you with. You can post it in the comments or email me at:

What’s that? You want to know if this is a ploy to get some blog topics and comments? Uh, would you like to go get some ice cream?

Also, you know that red button over there? You should lick on it and vote for me every day. Wait, I mean “click” on it. Although licking is fine if that’s what you do. I don’t judge. Either way, you should vote for me. If you do, God will make it cool off in San Antonio. No, really. It’s all on you.

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