Just Mail Me the Award

Gigi: I am NOT going up on stage to get my trophy.

Cassie: Do you want Daddy or me to go with you?

Gigi: Nope.

Cassie: It’s blue. Your favorite color.

Gigi: (tearful) Don’t care. Not going up.

Cassie: How about if Daddy goes up to collect the trophy for you?

Gigi: In front of everyone?! And they know he’s not “Genevieve.” He’s a boy. His name is Scott. Pfft.

(Scott stifles a laugh)

Cassie: Yes, well. He wouldn’t actually have to go up on the stage; he could just get it from the wings. No one would see.

Gigi: (more tearful) No. This is stupid.

Cassie: Please don’t use that word.

Gigi: Charlie uses it all the time.

Cassie: Shall we just leave then?

Scott: Yes. Let’s go. This (scanning the room with alarmed eyes) is quite the madhouse.

Cassie: Total bedlam. Can’t even hear the names of the students being called up onto the stage.

Gigi: (extremely tearful and hiccupping) I think I already heard my name called out…but I’m not going up… so I just ignored it.

Cassie: I’ve been listening closely, G, and I didn’t hear your name.

Scott: Yeah. They didn’t say your name yet, Gigi.

Cassie: (muttering) It doesn’t seem to be alphabetical by last name when they call people up. I don’t understand how this event is organized. How did she even earn this trophy? What were the qualifications? Just that she’s a participant in the Kumon program?

Scott: (sighing heavily) I don’t know. I wasn’t given specifics, just that there was an awards ceremony tonight. They didn’t have awards back when Max, Chloe and Charlie did Kumon.

Gigi: (less tearful now) Why did I have to wear a dress? Why was it supposed to be dressy? I saw ten girls with shorts on. Not dresses.

Cassie: I just followed the suggestion of what to wear on the invitation they emailed me for the ceremony. And there are only two girls with shorts.

Gigi: No.

Cassie: Yes.

Scott: Alright. Can we go now?

Gigi: No! I need that blue trophy.

Cassie/Scott: (silence)

Gigi: (whining) If you earn the award from all the hard work doing the Kumon, why don’t they just bring the trophy TO YOU… where you are sitting? Why do I have go through the work of going up on stage?

Cassie: That’s work?

Gigi: Yes. In front of everyone. By myself. In a dress. With fancy shoes.

(Scott rolls his eyes at me)

Cassie: What? She wanted to dress up! Gigi picked out this dress to wear tonight for the ceremony herself, didn’t you Gigi?.

Gigi: Yes, but no one told me that this is how the awards ceremony goes.

Cassie: Gigi, you’ve attended plenty of awards ceremonies for your brothers and sister. This is how it goes. Though, I must say, this one is a bit unorganized. Everyone’s talking. It’s so loud in here I can’t even hear myself think.

(Scott rolls his eyes again)

Cassie: Well, I think we should just head out then. Daddy will grab your trophy while you and I go get the car. Not a problem.

(Scott nods in agreement, gathers his laptop since he’s come straight from work and heads for the stage to retrieve the award. Holding hands, Gigi and I make for the exit.)

Gigi: (chin jutting out in defiance, voice loud and firm but no one to hear it because the chaos surrounding us in the auditorium continues at full throttle) I’m NEVER doing an awards ceremony again! From now on, if I get some other award I want it to be mailed to me! (pause) Mom, did you hear me?!

(Mailed to you? Yes, I heard that.)


Princess Cinderella

Princess Cinderella HairYesterday, I brought Chloe to a local bakery in town to see about a possible part-time gig over the summer. While we were in the bake shop, we saw a young girl (three years old, I would have guessed) perched on a red stool at the cafe bar. She swiped at her nose and her fingers left a chocolate moustache from her overly frosted cupcake. All at once, the toddler slid off the stool, ignored her confection, and stood still in the middle of the shop, her brown eyes fixated on Chloe.

Chloe leaned against a side counter chatting up the bake shop owner. As she summarized job qualifications and spoke of schedule availability, Chloe casually gathered her blonde locks, pulled them away from her neck and let them fall gently like water rivulets first running through her fingers then spilling down her back.

The little girl’s mother prepared to leave the shop but the child absolutely refused to go. Bending down to urge her from ear level had no effect. The girl’s feet remained firmly planted inside the bakery. “No, Mommy! We can’t go. Peeez. That girl!” the child said breathlessly and pointed toward Chloe, “That’s Princess Cinderella!”

A Twelve-Year-Old’s Growth Spurt

Charlie crashes through the side-porch kitchen door, makes a b-line for the refrigerator. He’s been at a friend’s house—-jamming, watching the show, “Psych,” playing kitchen soccer (“The Mom actually lets us play soccer in the kitchen!” exclaimed Charlie The Kid after his first hangout at this particular friend’s home. “Isn’t that cool?”)

Cassie: You’re back so soon! What are you doing in the refrigerator?

CTK: Looking for something.

Cassie: What?

CTK: Hamburger buns (pause) or English Muffins.

Cassie: Why?

CTK: To eat with Hamburgers.

Cassie: For dinner? You’re eating dinner at A’s house tonight?

(He’s already heading back in the direction of the door, package of English Muffins found and squeezed in his good hand, not the one sheathed in frayed bandages from a broken thumb.)

CTK: Yes.

Cassie: But it’s not even three o’clock. You’re planning dinner already? That’s all the English Muffins. You’re taking all the English Muffins?

CTK: Yes, Mom.

Cassie: Is A’s mom home? Did she invite you for dinner? At three o’clock?

CTK: (with his broken-thumb hand on the doorknob) Alright. The English Muffins are actually for a snack.

Cassie: Oh. You’re having toasted English Muffins for a snack.

CTK: Yes. With the hamburgers.

Cassie: Wait. What? You’re really having hamburgers for an afternoon snack?

CTK: Yes. I’m starving.

Cassie: Didn’t you eat lunch? I made you a giant turkey club with bacon sandwich for lunch. And chips. And homemade cookies. It was a big lunch.

CTK: Not really. It felt like air.

Cassie: It felt like air?

CTK: Yes.

Cassie: Well it just so happens that we were going to have hamburgers for dinner tonight. Now you won’t have an appetite for the dinner this evening.

CTK: Oh, I’ll have an appetite. It’s not a problem. I could probably eat five burgers right now.

Cassie: So Shaggy, A’s Mom is just going to make you guys some burgers in the mid-afternoon?

CTK: (smirking at the “Shaggy and Scooby Doo” reference) No WE’RE going to do the cooking. She’ll just oversee. She’s relaxed like that (he says pointedly); she lets us create freely in the kitchen.

Cassie: Can’t you just have a couple bowls of cereal and call it a day?

CTK: No. I need some beef. To block the gnawing feeling. My stomach is biting itself. You know that feeling? You know what I mean?

Cassie: Hmmm, I guess. You’re not cooking the burgers by yourselves on a grill, though…right?

CTK: No, no, no. In a fry pan. I’m going to show A about sliders. Can I take an onion? (Charlie goes over to the area on the kitchen counter where I keep onions, garlic and such. He grabs a large Vidalia.)

Cassie: You’re taking an onion?

CTK: Yeah. I gotta go, Mom. I’m starving and I need to get back to A’s house. I’ll probably lose three pounds running back there and then I’ll pass out.

Cassie: Okay. Wait. Who has the beef?

CTK: THEY have the beef. Gawwwwd, Mom! This is taking forever to explain it to you. Can I just go already?

Cassie: Okay! Bye. Enjoy your snack.

CTK: Thanks!

(He slams the kitchen door, practically flies off the porch. With an onion in one hand and a package of English Muffins in the other, he trots down the sidewalk at a steady pace, turns left and disappears round the bend toward his friend’s home.)


Body Lotion Wars

Mommy on the Good Wall

Two night’s ago, there was an issue at bedtime when I discovered that Gigi, once again, had not been generous enough in slathering body lotion onto her “trouble spots” post bath time. We MUST use copious amounts of lotion (in addition to frequent oatmeal baths and a couple of other tricks I’ve learned over the years) to keep the winter dry skin rashes under control. Lately, Gigi has insisted that she can handle the lotion application on her own. I beg to differ.

Gigi: No! No! No! I already did the lotion!

Cassie: Gigi, you didn’t put on enough. Not at all.

Gigi: It’s enough!

Cassie: No. It’s definitely not. There’s rash-i-ness everywhere.

Gigi: Stings too much.

Cassie: If you used more lotion, right after the bath, your skin would start to heal and the sting-thing wouldn’t happen. You have to use a lot of lotion, honey, not just a couple little drops.

Gigi: Wrong!

Cassie: Genevieve Gray! I’ve been through this with every kid in our family. I know what I’m talking about. I’m going to have to do the lotion again. Come on.

(Grabbing the bottle from beside her bed, I begin to pump lotion into the palm of my hand. I rub the lotion vigorously between my two hands to heat the lotion so the application won’t be as much of a cold shock to my child’s tender skin. I feel this is an extremely nice gesture on my part. Gigi does not agree and tells me so.)

Gigi (with a note of hysteria): COLD, COLD, WET! I ALREADY TOLD YOU, I DID THE LOTION!!!

Cassie: We have to do some more, Gigi. I’m the mother and—-

Gigi: (swatting my hands away so that lotion smears into her hair, her bed sheets, my own clothes. GET AWAY! MY SKIN IS RESTING!!! IT’S RESTING!

Cassie: (sighing) Do I have to get Daddy?

Gigi: NO!

Cassie: (as I roll up the pajama sleeve on her left arm, my fingers touch the rash bumps that cover the back of her arm and elbow) My God, Gigi, your skin is like a lizard’s skin!

Gigi: (squirming and suddenly seething, looking very much the devil child) YOU ARE A SUPER BAD MOMMY TO SAY MY SKIN IS LIKE A LIZARD’S! HOW DARE YOU UN-COMPLIMENT ME!!!!!!

(Perhaps the Lizard Skin Un-Compliment WAS going a bit too far. I try to back pedal and attempt to make soothing, cooing, motherly sounds for the remainder of the lotion application process.

Gigi will have none of it. She readjusts her pajama sleeves and then haughtily banishes me to the bedroom floor to carry out our “Good Night Snuggle” routine. She insists that her lotion-covered, stinging, rash-y skin will absolutely not tolerate the presence of my body directly beside her on the bed. However, she demands that I stay in the bedroom, on the floor, until both she and her skin are resting comfortably. This is what will be necessary to make up for the shocking lizard comment.

GOOD NEWS: Gigi’s skin is vastly improved this morning.

MORE GOOD NEWS: While making her bed, I noted, with relief, that Gigi’s “Mommy Cassie” drawing remains on the “Good Wall” and has not been moved to the “Bad Wall” as has been the harsh result with my past indiscretions.)

“Deadpool” Discussion With The Hub (In Bed)


Cassie: Charlie insists on seeing “Deadpool.” Like, this is an issue for him.

Scott: He’s obsessed. He keeps watching the trailer over and over again. Then he repeats the one-liners.

Cassie: It’s rated “R.” I said one of us would have to go with him to see the movie.

Scott: Let me guess….

Cassie: (sighing) Anyway, he chose you.

Scott: Of course.

Cassie: Of course. (pause) Says he’ll refrain from repeating all the best lines while you’re still in the theater.

Scott: We’ll see. (pause) I’ll research the “R” rating.

Cassie: Good.

Scott: Go to sleep.

Cassie: You’re a good father.

Scott: Thank you

“Deadpool” Discussion


Charlie: I need to see the movie “Deadpool.” I want to see it more than I’ve ever wanted to see anything….like even Star Wars.

Cassie: Hmmm. Really? What’s it rated?

Charlie: Why do these discussion always have to start out with THAT annoying question from you?

Cassie: Because….I’m the parent.

Charlie: It’s Rated “R”. But before you say anything. Listen. It’s only rated “R” because of language, violence and sexual innuendo. We already know that I am familiar with the language. I don’t use it myself, of course, but I know it. Pffft. Of course. Plus, I absolutely have a handle on the kind of violence that might be shown in this type of film. It’s not evil violence..it’s just possibly gory. And the sexual innuendo—

(I can control myself no longer and must speak)

Cassie: You know what “sexual innuendo” means?

Charlie: Of course. Doesn’t everybody…except Gigi?

Cassie: No. Not necessarily.

Charlie: Well, I’m twelve. I’m in middle school, I know sexual innuendo when I hear it.

Cassie: So this movie has all of this – bad language, violence and sexual innuendo — in it?

Charlie: It COULD. I’m not absolutely sure whether it does. From the trailer, which I’ve watched like 20 times, I can tell that these things are probably what’s responsible for the “R” rating.

Cassie: You are only 12 years old. You can’t see an “R” rated movie.

Charlie: Just to be clear. I’ve already talked to Dad.

Cassie: Oh really?

Charlie: (cool and super ticked tone of voice now) Yessss (spoken with a hiss). Thissss (more hissing) movie is, first and foremost, full of humor and sight gags. It’s right up my alley. I mean totally. The violence and occasional sex talk is secondary to the humor. I MUST see this film.

Cassie: Dad or I will have to go with you to see the movie.

Charlie: It would be better to see with my friends. But… if I have to be “accompanied” (gestures quotation marks), well then, it has to be Dad.

Cassie: Pffft.

Charlie: I can’t deal with your judgment at the same time that I’m trying to fully enjoy the film.

Cassie: (with a hiss of my own) I see. (Instantly trying to bring up trouble because, I’ll admit it, my feelings are hurt.) Are you going to instantly replay all the best lines of the movie during the movie? You know Dad can’t stand that — when you start riffing with the best lines and you’re, like, still in the movie theater.

Charlie: No, no, no! I won’t do that. I’ll be too busy memorizing all the lines. I’m going to need to concentrate. (smirking) I’ll riff later…for you.

Cassie: Oh joy. Okay. You’ll have to work this out with Dad. And I have to talk to Dad about it too.

Charlie: (noticeably less hissy) Of course…yes. I know for a fact that you brought Max to see some “R” rated movies.

Cassie: I suppose we did. The “Deadpool Discussion” to be continued.

Charlie: Ready whenever you are.

‪#‎MiddleSchoolAgeParenting ‪#‎BestBeOnTopOfYourGame


Best Quotes From Gigi’s Belated 7th Birthday Half-Sleepover Party

Belated Bday party 6

There was homemade pizza. There was rock-star quality drumming from older brother, Charlie The Kid. And there were some memorable quotes throughout the evening…

When I suggested to the group-at-large — seven little girls seated around the dining room table — that maybe I ought to peel and cut up some raw carrots to accompany the delicious homemade pizza Chef Daddy Scott had prepared, Gigi quickly shot me down. “No, no carrots! It’s not that kind of party!”

Despite Genevieve’s clear directive that Charlie The Kid should not be allowed to steal the attention of any of her birthday party guests with, for example, his musical talents, his jokes or his general antics, the girls were not here for ten minutes before a full-scale rock concert on the drums down in the playroom was underway. “I told you this would happen,” Gigi muttered to me. “He’s not allowed to be the star of MY birthday.” (Quite right Gigi, but it was all I could do to re-direct the rock concert groupies to a different activity. At one point, one of Charlie The Kid’s most avid fans ordered the overhead lights to be turned off in the playroom. “Come on! It’s gotta be like a real concert,” she implored.)

Midway through Charlie The Kid’s rock concert, when drum beat decibel levels seemed to be climbing, I gave a heartfelt speech to the talented, but loud, drummer and his adoring fans about the need for him to play more softly so as not to harm the precious ear drums of our young friends. Charlie obliged, but a few minutes later a younger guest (the four-year-old sister of one of Gigi’s neighborhood pals) ventured into the kitchen where the adults were gathered while they prepped the pizza dinner. The little girl wrung her tiny hands and hiccuped with concern, “Please, I don’t want an ear infection from the drums.”

In the end, the half- sleepover birthday party was deemed a huge success. Gigi, in fact, rather relished her brother’s drum show and danced around and cheered like any good fan would. Also, there were no ear infections…nor carrots.

It’s great to be seven years old!

Fantasies of an Exotic Coati Christmas

Char Exotic Pets #3Charlie The Kid: It’s called a “Coati.”

Cassie: How do you spell it?

CTK: C-O-A-T-I….as in “COAT” with an “I” at the end.

Cassie: Ahhh. Is that why we had to come all the way to Lodi, NJ… to this godforsaken Exotic Pets place? To see this Coati?

CTK: Yes. And to view other animals. (Moving toward a row of smaller glass tanks.) Here are some hairless rats.

(I stifle a gag.)

CTK: Totally adorable.

Cassie: Not really.

CTK: Come here. In the back, there are pigs.

Cassie: Guinea pigs? I already know about guinea pigs.

CTK: No. Not guinea pigs, Mom. Mini pigs. Like pigs on a farm. You can have them for pets…in your house.

(Charlie The Kid leads me to the back of the store. I try to ignore all the glass cages that house lizards and snakes. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a very long boa or python or some such. Trying hard not to retch, I avert my eyes and rush forward to where Charlie is pointing vigorously at piles of shredded newspaper inside an extremely large glass tank.Two mounds of black bodies are scrunched together in one corner. Mini pigs. One is snuffling and trying to burrow his nose into the side of his cage mate. Yes! I’ll admit it. These piggies are quite cute. We study the pigs, sleeping and snuffling and burrowing for some time.

Then, I notice a couple of signs posted on the outside of the tank. One says, “$300 for each female pig. Males — $450 each.” The other sign reads, “These piggies need a home. Special Christmas sale. Piggies now $150 each!” That seems like a bargain…for such an adorable mini pig. Should you have two pigs, though?  Surely they need a friend, a partner?  What do mini pigs eat?  Slops, right?)

CTK: These pigs are almost as cute as the coati.

Cassie: You think? I think they are cuter.

CTK: Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

Cassie: (shaking my head as if to snap myself out of a dream) This cuteness is too much. We absolutely cannot have a pig. Simone the bull dog would go crazy. To contend with Daffodil and a mini pig at the same time! It would just be too much for her.

CTK: Not necessarily.

Cassie: And your father….he’d have a cow! (Pause) Why are we here? Why was I convinced to bring you to this exotic pet store anyway, huh?

CTK: So we can dream our dreams.

Cassie: Dream our dreams!? What the…You didn’t honestly think we would get you something like a coati or a mini pig as a gift for for Christmas did you?

CTK: No, no, no. Of course not.

Cassie: Right. I mean really….

(I start pushing/directing Charlie The Kid toward the entrance of the store. At the front counter, by the cashier, where one might pay for an exotic pet, Charlie pauses to chat with the owner/manager. I refuse to engage in any conversation with the man – as if somehow speaking to the guy would indicate a willingness on my part to purchase a pig! I am not going to buy a pig!!!

The owner/manager hands Charlie The Kid a couple of business cards and gives him a wink.

(Back at the car)

Cassie: We are NOT getting a coati or a mini pig or a hairless rat. Definitely not a hairless rat!

CTK: Oh, I know. Not this year anyway.

Cassie: What?

CTK: I’m just planting the seeds for the future.

Cassie: What future? Your own personal future?

CTK: Maybe. (Pause, then quickly, under his breath) Or, you know, Christmas 2018.


The Origin of “Sports”


Gigi: Mom! Did you know something? My friend, S, the one I sit next to at my table at school?

Cassie: Yes?

Gigi: Her great, great grandfather invented “sports” — you know, the word, “sports.”

Cassie: Hmm. I don’t think that’s quite right. Maybe your friend’s great, great grandpa was a huge sports enthusiast. Maybe, he liked and played sports so much and so well that he was like a legend within the family. He was sooo good at sports, it was almost like he invented sports.

Gigi: (silent for a moment, thinking) No! No! No! You weren’t there for the conversation, Mom. You don’t know how S said it. She’s definitely telling the truth. I can tell. Geez, Mom, you don’t know everything!

(So there.)

The Results of Charlie’s Big Audition Day

Ta Da! DSC_0296Charlie The Kid was cast in Grease — The School Edition!

It was announced today that Charlie will play the part of “Doody,” one of Danny Zuko’s main sidekicks from the T-Bird gang, though in this softer school version, Danny’s guys are called the “Burger Palace Boys.”

Here’s the cast description for “Doody” —

“Doody – the youngest of the guys; small; boyish and open, with a disarming smile and a hero-worshipping attitude towards the other guys. He also plays guitar.”

I think that will work! Best of all, Charlie is pleased — though he’s playing it cool, like any Burger Palace Boy would!