Friday, September 10, 2010


With the beginning of each school year comes new clothes, new colored pencils, new friends, and new things we've never heard before.

And, by "we", I mean "parents".

This year has not disappointed. Five of our six kids are enrolled in school, and four of those five had meetings that parents were required to attend (a big "THANK YOU!" goes out to my son's high school who doesn't seem to care about seeing any parents unless their kids are in trouble). My husband and I divvied up the meetings as fairly as possible (Me: 3.5 meetings, Him: 1 meeting. Fair, like I said.) and tried our best to hunker down and hide behind the teacher's handouts. Our goal is to "get in/get out" and, yes, we are the people who hate you if you ask ANY question because it prolongs the meeting unnecessarily. *Side note: Lest you think we are old cranks, we have been attending these meetings unfailingly since 1997, and it just gets OLD after the first 7 or 8 years.*

And, because you know how I love to make lists, I am going to give you some of the interesting (read as "un-freaking-believable") things my husband and I heard at some of these meetings:
  1. The teacher in my 2nd grader's class made the decision to eliminate the privilege of trading/sharing lunches in the class, because one of the children has a severe chromosomal disorder which makes consuming most carbohydrates essentially lethal for this child, as well as causing him to have zero impulse control when it comes to resisting carbs. This child's father gave a lengthy description of this child's disorder, the history of his care, and of his very uncertain future, then left to attend another of his children's meetings. Immediately after his exit, another father in the class proceeded to complain that it was "unfair" and "un-Montessori" of the teacher to change the rules on trading, and it was infringing on his son's right to, apparently, do whatever the heck he wants to do regardless of the well-being of others. Yeah. Only one word comes to mind when I think of this guy, and I can't say it here. Jackhole. Whoops, sorry.
  2. The same teacher told us that the best way to reach her was to send in a note with your child or leave her a voice mail message at school. Another jackhole father asked her, "You don't use email?" Teacher says, "No. I don't give out my email address for various personal reasons." Jackhole Daddy asks, "And, what are those reasons?". Uh-huh. So, Mr. Nosy, didja hear the word "personal"? And, what I'd like to know, even more, is this: were you planning on trying to convince the teacher that her personal reasons were wrong? In the middle of the class meeting?
  3. At the class meeting for my 3-year-old's Primary class (ages 3 to 6), one set of Type-A parents wanted to know what allowances the The Montessori Method has made for technology. Yes, because what I want the most in the whole wide world is for my 3-year-old to go to school and spend even more time staring at electronic screens. Mr. and Mrs. Our-Child-Will-Never-Be-Able-To-Add-Without-A-Calculator, listen up: I'm sure in your 6 whole years as excellent managers of your child's life parents, you have realized that children log in a huge amount of hours in front of TVs, computers, and video games; in fact, too many hours.  I, for one, do not want my tuition to be converted into quarters to be used at a classroom arcade. But, I'm sure your son will have a very happy future at the Ho-Chunk Casino slot machines.
  4. And, to the mother who loves to be her 4-year-old daughter's slave, I just want to say that I really do not care one whit that your child is afraid of the toilet flushing. And, no, I don't think she should have a "designated flusher" every time she "makes tinkle" (grrrrr. Grow up! We are all adults here! It's called "pee-pee"!). I'm sure the teacher with 25 years teaching experience is going to immediately try to hire a person to accommodate your daughter's neuroses. Also, I know you think she should be able to bring and use her own disposable toilet seat covers, because "she can't stand to sit on an icky-wicky potty", but I think using regular old toilet paper to cover the seat is good enough for every other of the 172 students, so it's good enough for The Poopy Princess. Sorry, was I being too mean? Well, I'm probably having a crash from low blood-sugar because this meeting was scheduled at my dinnertime and it's now 90 minutes past that!
  5. On to the mother of the 2nd-grader who wanted to know what the "theme" for the year would be... OK, I got nothing. I'm truly flabbergasted. A theme? Really? A? Theme? How about the theme of EDUCATION??? Lady, this is your daughter's third year at this particular Montessori school, her second year with this particular teacher. At what point did you think you had enrolled her at The Wiggles Playschool? 
I already know what some of you are thinking. I'm being too cranky, harsh, touchy, whatever..... Obviously, you are neither a parent who has attended a class meeting nor a teacher who has led one. Or, worse, you are one of those parents.

The good news is that most people seem to come to their senses by the time their child reaches 4th grade. Those meetings tend to move quickly and genially. And, next year, I'm bringing margaritas!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


In our family, over the years, we have "re-defined" some basic words, phrases, and uses of the English language. I am quite certain that this happens in a lot of families. What I do find quite peculiar is that we use these re-definitions effortlessly throughout a normal day and not one of us seems to think twice about it.

Before I go any further, let me first list some of these definitions.

Bargage (noun) Pronunciation: bar gaj.
Definition: Receptacle for holding trash.
  "Can you please put your apple core in the bargage?" 

Bizz-Bizz (noun, verb) Pronunciation: biz biz.
Definition: A barber's electric clippers.
   "Let me give you a hair cut with the bizz-bizz." (n)
   "Your hair is getting too long in the back, tell the barber to bizz-bizz it shorter next time."
Blecha-Blecha (adj) Pronunciation: bleck uh bleck uh.
Definition: Something that is very disgusting and/or messy. 
    "I just changed the baby's diaper and it was blecha-blecha."

Chopths (noun) Pronunciation: chawpths
Definition: A tasty, crispy snack made from potatoes or tortillas.
   "I think Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion chopths are the yummiest!"

Jerk-a-phone (adj) Pronunciation: jer kuh fone.
Definition: The ultimate insult from a three-year-old directed at anyone who angers that three-year-old.
   "My big brother told me to pick up my blocks or I wouldn't get a cookie; he's a jerk-a-  phone!"

Kitch (noun) Pronunciation: kich.
Definition: The room in the house where cooking, storing of foodstuffs, and eating occur.
   "Dinner's ready! Go to the kitch and sit at the table!"

Live (noun) Pronunciation: Liv
Definition: The room in the house used for casual and formal gatherings; usually contains a sofa.
  "Go clean up the live! Company is coming over!" 

Makery (noun) Pronunciation: may ker ee.
Definition: A person who is extremely talented at creating culinary delights.
    "Mom, I love your chili! You are the best makery!"

The above list is just a smattering of our family's re-definitions/creations (Hey! Give me a break! It's exhausting to try to be Webster or Oxford!). Using some of these words, I will show you an example of the kind of conversation that happens daily in our home:

Dad to Kid: "Where are you going with those chopths? We only eat in the kitch."
Kid to Dad: "Mom said I could eat them in the live this one time, cuz Sally-Sue was being a jerk-a-phone to me.
Dad to Kid: "How was Sally-Sue being a jerk-a-phone to you?"
Kid to Dad: "I made a peanut butter sandwich and I let Sally-Sue taste it. She said it tasted blecha-blecha, but I told her I was a good makery! I AM a good makery, right, Dad?"
Dad to Kid: "Yes, you are a great makery! Listen, go ahead and eat the chopths in the live, but when you are finished, please put all the crumbs in the bargage."

Yep. Everyone can understand each other but an "outsider" would think we were insane... or, that we were re-creating an old Twilight Zone episode.

The English language is complicated all on it's own, so I cannot fathom why families try to add even more confusion by changing it up. Although, just the opposite may be true. Maybe, because the English language has so many rules and exceptions to those rules, young children in their innate stubbornness, create a word or phrase that makes sense (to them!) and parents "adopt" these mutations because it is easier than arguing with a 30 inch tall tyrant. Maybe that's how "language" was invented in the first place: by toddlers.

Maybe, this is like the eternal "chicken vs. the egg" question: what came first, adultspeak or childspeak?

What do you think, you big jerk-a-phones?