Grifters in the making

By Mir
August 8, 2007

Good news! Today was not nearly so hot as yesterday. I mean, yes, OKAY, it was 101 today just like yesterday, and the heat index was around 108, but it was PARTLY CLOUDY. So. Ever so much better.

Today would’ve been a good day to stay inside and do work, and I managed to do that, for most of the morning, but eventually I had to give in to my children’s demands that we goooooo swiiiiiimiiiiiiing.

And because I can only spend so long in the pool with them before I start wondering important things like “would it be child abuse to pick up this dead cricket and place it atop my child’s head?” or “how many more times must I watch THIS VERY IMPORTANT JUMP which—amazingly!—looks just like every other jump this child has taken off the diving board so far?” I thought it prudent to call in reinforcements. So I begged Tammy to come over, since she’s a work-at-home slacker like me.

The children were delighted to have an additional audience. “Miss Tammy, look at me!” “Miss Tammy, you can use the Batman dive stick!” It’s really too bad that my kids are so slow to warm up to other people. (But you know, that’s one of the useful side effects of the extreme neglect I practice with them; they go right to any adult who gives them the time of day.)

We four bobbed around in the pool and made our own fun. (That sounds so much more lewd that I intended, as I didn’t intend it to sound lewd AT ALL but now it sort of does.) Really, this mostly consisted of Chickadee making up games with progressively longer lists of directions. “Now you hold up your dive stick! Now you move it this way! Now you dip it down in the water! Now you go over there! No, wait, over here! I win!” It was very confusing.

Fortunately, we also have those styrofoam pool noodles to play with in the pool, and in addition to being flexible flotation devices they make excellent water cannons. Simply dunk under the surface to fill, and then blow through one end while aiming the other.

I find that I cannot shoot water into Monkey’s face without him having a nervous breakdown (oh yeah, perhaps it’s not a good idea to spray your sensorily-disorganized child in the face with water, ya think?), but Chickadee is a remarkably good sport about it, as well as being really, really slow to figure out how to avoid getting blasted. I can, for example, take a big breath like I’m about to blow (and get her wet) and she’ll duck, immediately. I then wait until she comes back up and hit her full in the face. And she’s always surprised. And it never gets old!

“Chickadee, you have no idea how much joy it brings me to blast you in the face like this,” I remarked after getting her for maybe the fifth time while she continued to miss the mark in retaliation. Hubris, I suppose. She finally got me about five minutes later.

“Mom, you have no idea how much joy it brings me to blast you in the face like this,” she trilled, while I sputtered.

Tammy observed all of this and neither called to turn me in nor suddenly remembered she left the iron on, or something, so perhaps she shares our sadistic streak.

When thunder began rumbling, we got out of the pool and convened in the gazebo to wait for the rain (which never arrived, because that would’ve made sense, unlike the actual weather this week).

“Mama, will you teach me how to play poker?” asked Chickadee. “You said you’d teach me!” she reminded, when I didn’t respond quickly enough.

Tammy agreed to play poker, so Chickadee ran off for the cards.

Monkey—who’d cheered up considerably during swimming, but was having, overall, kind of a grumpy day—decided he’d rather play Pokemon.

“But who will play with ME?” he wailed, looking forlorn. Tammy, it turns out, is a sucker for a sad primate.

“I will play with you,” she told him, “after I play a few hands of poker. Okay?” He agreed and ran off to get his cards.

We girls played a couple of practice rounds of five card draw until we felt sure that we all understood the rules. Then we were faced with the conundrum of what to use for betting. (I know I once said we’d play poker for popsicles, but in 101 temps that’s… not really practical.)

“Oh! I have my money from CHURCH!” declared Chickadee, and ran off to get her pouch of pennies she won in some scavenger hunt at VBS. This made perfect sense to me, but Tammy looked stricken.

“You’re not only teaching her to gamble, you’re letting her wager HOLY MONEY?” I confirmed that we are living fast and loose around here, hoo boy.

Earnest poker commenced, and inbetween trying to explain to Chickadee that sticking out your lip and pouting is really not consider an optimal poker face we were dealing with Monkey asking every thirty seconds if it was time for Tammy to play Pokemon. We released her to him after she’d lost most of her pennies.

Tammy is much better at Pokemon than poker, as it turns out. She paid attention to Monkey’s endless nattering on his version of the rules, and engaged in deep conversation about the various critters.

“Oh, look, I have an electric chicken!” she declared, showing him the card. He laughed and told her what it REALLY was. “Yes, okay,” she agreed. “It is a very fine electric chicken. What does it do?”

Despite his frustration with her, I think Monkey developed a bit of a crush. I mean, when he tries to get ME to play Pokemon, I usually just fall down on the floor and pretend to be dead until he wanders off. And here they were having discussions about hit points and damage types and evolutions, and I’m pretty sure they were speaking English, but I was catching none of it.

The best part was when Tammy decided she could play Pokemon AND poker at the same time. She had cards in both hands and was wagering with us and dueling with him despite our constant mockery. (I took to randomly shouting out things like “I CHOOSE YOU, SQUIGGLY BLUE THING!” and Chickadee kept sneaking Pokemon cards and dealing them into the poker game. Plus many a Pokemon card apparently requires a coin toss to determine the course of action and Chickadee was hoarding all the pennies, so THAT was interesting.)

So the bottom line is that we know how to have a good time AND we’re preparing the kids for their future careers, really.


  1. Kate

    Ugh. Pokemon. I once dated a guy who invented crap like that for Nintendo. I was a nanny at the time and the kids thought he was soooo cool. Except he turned out to also be a drug dealer. So, there’s that. Those were the good ‘ole days, man.

  2. LuAnn

    That could be a very original vocation for Monkey. I’ve never heard of someone hustling Pokemon before. :p

  3. Delton

    What fun! I like it, especially the gambling with holy money part.

  4. Fold My Laundry Please

    There’s nothing like a rousing game of Poker-mon!! Get it? Get it? I know, lame joke. But I’m laughing anyway!

  5. Leandra

    You sound like my kind of sadistic mom! When I was a kid my mom used to scare me with the “Look at meeeeee” line from Salem’s Lot and it used to scare the bejeebus out of me. Sometimes I’m really disturbed by how much enjoyment I get out of doing similar things to my kids! Of course they’re both too young now to do really scary things, but just wait until they’re older! Bwah hah hah hah.

  6. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Careful with that Tammy; she’s making you look bad. Before long Monkey will be asking “Can Tammy come over? Can she? Can she?” One day it’s just a fun game of Pokeman, the next it’s “I want Tammy to be my Mom.”

  7. Randi

    LOL – too funny! Toad hasn’t gotten into Pokemon cards yet (thank God), or I imagine that I’d be dunking my head so far under the water that no water cannon would get me!

  8. StephLove

    sensorily-disorganized child>>

    Does Monkey have sensory processing disorder? Could you direct me to any old posts on that? My six-year-old son was recently diagnosed. His issues are vestibular, tactile and proprioceptive.

  9. juliness

    What an awesome day! Never boring at your place, is it?

  10. Brigitte

    I LOVE the falling down on the floor and pretending to be dead trick! Sadly, as mine is still just two, she takes to jumping up and down on me if I appear defenseless . .

  11. AmyM

    Ahhh yes, the joys of Pokemon. My kids are forever throwing balls around the house saying “I choose you, Bulbasaur.” or Charzard or wtf ever their names are. My son likes to make fun of the fact that Pokemon has been around since before he was born, but he knows “a lots more” than I do about it

  12. Barb

    Gah! I was hoping Pokemon would go away before either of my sons learned about it. Unfortunately their BRILLIANT father decided to introduce them to it via a movie one day last spring when all 3 of them were home sick with a tummy bug. Now my house is littered with cards, coins, stuffed animals, plastic figures, and other bits o’crap bearing the Pokemon label. I absolutely refuse to learn any more than I have to about this insane world, declaring that since DADDY introduced it to them, DADDY gets to be the adult Pokemon expert in the family! So “electric chicken” and “squiggly blue thing” – I’m right there with ya!

  13. Ayla-Monic

    Poker-mon with holy money and water cannons… this sounds like some sort of Japanese game show… O.o

  14. tammy

    Next time we gotta put some holy water in the water cannons. Just to add an official seal of heather behavior to the occasion.

  15. tammy

    HEATHEN. Heathen behavior.

    Or we could act like Heathers, I guess, but we’ll probably need bigger hair.

  16. Woman with Kids

    The boys taught the kids at daycare to play poker, for money. It was a proud moment when the director asked me to NOT allow the boys to gamble at daycare any more…

  17. Cassie

    Oh! Oh! Keep teaching Chickadee poker! I’m one of the only girls that plays with my group of friends, and it’s SO MUCH FUN to mess with the boys. They expect me to be bad because I’m a girl, but as a result I can generally take most of their money. :)

  18. jenn

    Poker-mon. You guys crack me up.

  19. Caren

    Try this: Hold one end of the noodle up to your pool jet and point the other end at Chickadee. It will bring you a whole new level of ‘joy’. :)

  20. KendalsWife

    I agree with Cassie – Keep teaching Chickadee poker. That way, when she’s playing strip poker in college (which surely she would NEVER do), she won’t be the first one to lose all her clothes! At least that’s the logic I use when teaching my kids poker.

  21. Katrina Stonoff

    Pokemon! *shudder* My Mad Scientist never stops talking about it. He draws madeup Pokeman on paper. He builds them out of Legos. Everything. EVERYTHING is Pokemon.

    I thought I was done with all things Pokemon when my oldest boy finally lost interest. I figured they’d have died a much-deserved death long before my younger son (13 years younger) got old enough to “appreciate” them.

    (This is where I break into uncontrollable sobs and muscle seizures and simply cannot go on.)

  22. Stephanie Chance

    Does Monkey know Webkinz have a card game? Because I’m thinking that will be something else he can torture you with. If he ever runs out of ideas, you know.

  23. ScottsdaleGirl

    I am picturing a pool noodle and I am trying to decide if I actually had the lung capacity to force any water out of one.

    I think not.

  24. Jenni

    Learn the theme song to the Pokemon cartoon and sing it loud and often. Nothing ruins the coolness of something like having your Mom LOVE it’s theme song.

    At least that worked for my Mom and Jem….

  25. Lady M

    It does not get more funny than gambling with church pennies.

  26. MetaDAD

    I just wanted to say I love your writing, totally enjoyable.

  27. Ruth

    Holy Water in the water cannons – wouldn’t that be the Bible-basher-inspired version of Catholic baptisms? (and the one clothed in white intones “be cleansed..”) Heck, I remember wanting to throw pennies into/steal them out of the baptismal font when I was a kid…maybe to play poker with later. I don’t know.

  28. MsRebecca

    Great of you to recruit someone to share the joy..The last time I went swimming with my kids on vacation it was hard to determine if they were playing around or actually trying to drown me!

  29. Fairly Odd Mother

    What a great day! I laughed out loud over the VBS money going to the poker fund!

  30. Heather Cook

    Why is it that I JUST NOW realized that my son is the male version of Chickadee??

    Happiest when directing and instructing.

    He started getting an allowance TODAY (he turned six) and I’m sure we’ll be gambling soon.

  31. nan

    OY! I thought we had patented the noodle water cannon. I didn’t realise just anyone could use one! And here you are, advertising all over the place. Oh well. And scottsdale girl, you don’t need great lung capacity to blast your enemy to smithereens with a noodle, go ahead and try.

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