The Art of the Deal

At the park Kathleen was ready to leave, but the other kids were still playing. So I told her we would leave in 15 minutes. She counter offered 1 minute. I came down to 7 minutes. She came up to 5. I suggested that we split the difference at 6 minutes. She refused, insisting on 5 minutes. So I made her a deal. I agreed that in one minute I would accept her offer of 5 minutes. She counted to sixty and we struck the deal.

It took her till after we were back home to figure out my subterfuge. She is so angry that she is crying and insisting that her mother come up with a punishment for me.

I may have ruined Thanksgiving.

Our little sailor

Lucy has been learning about bad language recently. Last week there was a discussion with mom about the use of the middle finger as a means of communication. Jennifer told her that it was like a bad word. But when Lucy asked exactly what it meant, Jennifer demurred.

Today Lucy was listening to a Lady Gaga song that raised further questions. She just turned to me and asked: “What does bitch mean?”

“Well,” I replied, “It’s a bad word.”

So Lucy raised her middle finger and asked: “Does bitch mean the same thing as this?”

I about fell out of my chair.


Parenting Grammar

Working on adjectives with Kathleen, I explain that adjectives are the words that describe nouns.

Kathleen: “What?”

Me: “Like ‘red’ in the phrase ‘red nose.'”

Kathleen: [blank stare]

I now pick up a multi-color construction paper star that Lucy made at school and hold it aloft.

Me: “Ok. Kathleen, describe this star.”

Kathleen: “The star that my weird father is holding.”

Technically “weird” is an adjective, so I am counting this as a win.

Everybody’s a Critic

Jennifer and I set up a queue of 80s songs on Youtube. We made it through several, but after Timbuck – 3 “The Future’s so Bright” and Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” Kathleen had had enough. She declared our playlist a “lameathon.”

Since then, Kathleen has declared Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” “the worst song ever.” And Lucy provided the following evaluation of the video: “It’s like someone is trying to play a trick on us.”

Enlightening Errors

Each evening before bed I go over spelling words with Kathleen. Unlike when I was in school, her second grade class does not have a weekly spelling list or test. The elementary school pendulum has swung toward phonics, and there are a large list of “sight words” that they hope she will pick up by the end of the year. So I sit down with the long list and every night I add a few more words that she has not spelled before. So it was that we came to the word “long.”

Me: Kathleen, how do you spell “long”?

Kathleen: L – O (now her voice shifts to a tone indicating random guessing) um, A – D.

Me, frowning: No Kathleen, you just spelled “load.” Think about it, lll-aw-nnn-gu. There’s not even a “duh” sound in the word.

Kathleen: Well look on the bright side dad. I just learned how to spell “load”!

True Grit

Driving Kathleen home:

Me: Today I listened to a podcast about “grit.” Do you know what that is?

Kathleen: No. Sounds boring.

Me: Grit is what allows people to work hard, even at things they don’t like doing in order to achieve big goals in their lives. Are you a gritty person Kathleen?

Kathleen: I don’t know.

Me: I was wondering because you quit soccer and you quit piano. You don’t like practicing things. So maybe we need to work on your grit.

Kathleen: Um, I don’t think so.

Me: But you don’t really have any activities that develop your grit.

Kathleen: Yes I do. I watch a lot of TV.

Me: How does that show grit?

Kathleen: Sometimes shows are really long, and if you drink a lot you have to have real bladder control ….

Me: I stand corrected.


While I was out of town the girls watched the first two Harry Potter movies. So when I returned, Kathleen was really excited to tell me about Harry and how he went to Warthogs for school, about Dumbdoor, and about Debbie the house elf. We are starting the movies again tonight to try to get straight on some of the details.

Haberdasher’s Nightmare

First thing in the morning, Kathleen, still in bed, sounding concerned: “Dad!!!”

I come to the bed: “Yes honey.”

Kathleen: “I don’t like hats anymore.”

Me: “I’m sorry, what?”

Kathleen: “I don’t like hats.”

Me: “Did you have a bad dream?”

Kathleen: “No, I had a very good dream, but I wasn’t wearing a hat.”

It is hard to argue with that kind of logic.