Yep, they’ve got it good

So it turns out that when you spend your day catering to a very sick and pitiful child and also trying to work, by the end of the day you feel as though you’ve been up for a week. And then you review the day to consider what you could possibly write about, and once you rule out everything that has to do with a bucket or Lysol or the indignity of the Hallmark Channel claiming that Little House on the Prairie is on when REALLY it’s just another damn episode of The Waltons, there isn’t much else on your mind.

Um, let’s see. Oh! Our dishwasher started behaving strangely. And by “behaving strangely” I mean “leaving all of the dishes coated with a slimy grit that rather indicated it wasn’t actually cleaning anything.” First we tried running through a cycle with a cup of vinegar and that didn’t help at all. And then we started taking it apart.

The good news is that we found the source of the problem. The bad news is that I swore I wasn’t going to talk about anything disgusting today, so I’ll just say that if YOUR dishwasher starts having problems, it’s a good idea to see if maybe there’s some stuff jammed in the area that’s supposed to be sucking out the food bits. Mmmmkay?

Monkey, by the way, is terribly concerned about his sister. He scolded me this morning for not at least giving her a vitamin, MOM, because how do I expect her to get better if I withhold the little pink elephant of health?? When I explained that upset tummies do not need vitamins, it was as if I’d just told him that the earth is flat. “But she’s SICK,” he said to me, very slowly, so that perhaps my addled old brain could follow him, “and vitamins make you HEALTHY. I thought you knew this.”

So apparently she’s still sick because of my failure to jam a vitamin down her throat. I’m so ashamed.

Anyway, I spent yesterday tending to Chickadee and tending to work and Monkey was only too happy, when he came home from school, to do his homework and then join her on the couch for a mindless hour of television.

“By the way,” called out Monkey, as he stuffed his completed homework in his backpack, “my inventor report is due tomorrow.”

“Wait, what?” I asked.

“Yeah. My report on an inventor. Due tomorrow. And she wants me to do a black inventor, so I guess I need to pick someone new.”

I think I may have mentioned that Monkey’s teacher is an interesting sort. She called me one day about… something… I can’t even remember what, now, and in the course of that conversation, she said, “Oh, by the way. I want Monkey to do a little report on a famous inventor next month. He’s going to stand up and talk about it as part of our promoting the inventors program.”

And I thought that was really swell, truly, that she’d selected him for this, but when I asked when it was due she was EXTREMELY vague and finally I said, “Okay, well, could you maybe write it down in his agenda, so we know exactly what to do?” and she agreed.

He’d come home that day with a note in his agenda (you know, that place where the teachers are supposed to WRITE DOWN ASSIGNMENTS?) that said “Monkey needs to write about an inventor for February.”

Right. Because that cleared up ANY questions I may have had.

When I asked HIM about it, he insisted it was due in the middle of the month. He also said he wanted to write about Edison. So that was the plan. Except that we hadn’t gotten around to it, and now it was suddenly due the next day, and also, by the way, it’s Black History Month, and why not combine the two and do a black inventor? All good. Except for the part where we always seem to be doing “projects” at the last minute because his teacher cannot be bothered to communicate clearly with either the students or their parents.

So I told Monkey we’d sit down and work on his inventor report after Otto got home, and he said “Great!” and went back to watching TV.

Later, Monkey ate his dinner while I sat next to him with my laptop, and we reviewed a number of famous black inventors until he’d spotted the one he wanted to do his report on. (In case you’re wondering, he went right for the most important invention out there, naturally.) We talked a little bit about what he wanted to cover, and then after he finished eating I told him to go get ready for bed and then come down to the office and we’d get his report ready.

While he rattled around upstairs, I took Chickadee’s temperature again and cruelly forced her to have a few sips of water.

By the time Monkey came back down, it was apparent that Chickadee needed to go to bed. I asked Otto if he was busy, and he said no.

“Great!” I said, “in that case, maybe you could go upstairs with Chickadee and read her a story, while Monkey and I finish this up? And then I can come up and say goodnight when we’re done.” Chickadee brightened immediately, because—let’s face it—although I may make with the words all day, Otto is a MUCH better storyteller than I am, even if only because he still has a bank of tales she hasn’t heard yet. Anyway, she thought this was a splendid idea and was ready to lead Otto away, but Monkey interjected.

“Don’t YOU want to read her a story, Mama?” (I tell you, my care of her through this episode has been called into question CONSTANTLY. Monkey is going to grow up to become a human rights advocate, methinks.)

“Of course I do, Baby, but I’ve been with her all day, and YOU need my help right now.” Otto chuckled and followed Chickadee out of the office. “Monkey, grab the chair from Otto’s desk and bring it over here to my desk so you can sit with me, please.” He did. “And besides,” I continued, “See, this is one of the advantages of having TWO parents around!”

“Yeah, you’re right, Mama,” he declared with genuine enthusiasm, parking himself in the seat beside me. “Two parents means two chairs!”

Stepfamilies: Expanding seating options for the greater good!


  1. Megan

    Wait – your child tells you about a last-minute assignment and it’s not because he has the attention span of a goldfish but because the teacher’s an idiot? I’m trying to absorb this concept but it’s never actually occurred in our home so I’m struggling a little. This might be exacerbated by the fact that Child Unnamed just laid down a very important assignment due tomorrow for which special materials are needed and I’m waiting to see if said Child should or should not be extracted from the trash can.

  2. liz

    I knew you married Otto for the chairs! ;)

  3. birchsprite

    Wait a minute… I’ve been short changed… I definitely did not get extra chairs after my wedding last month :(

  4. Nancy R

    It’s almost like buying a vehicle because of it’s cupholders!

    KRAZEE teacher. At least the year’s half over, right?

  5. Jenny

    I think I actually just had a teeny tiny panic attack at “By the way, my inventor report is due tomorrow.”

  6. Lori

    I’m not sure I could have told this story as calmly as you did. Having spent the last week with a sick child at home and 2 deadlines due. I’m pretty sure the “by the way, my inventor report is due tomorrow” comment would have had me hitting the wine…hard.

    You are a mom to look up to. *grin*

  7. All Adither

    You haven’t been washing your hair in the dishwasher again, have you?

  8. Kimmie

    crap. I forgot to give my kids their vitamins this morning.

  9. Rachel May

    “little pink elephant of health” Bwahahahahaaa!!!

    Thanks for the dishwasher tip. I’m going to check mine right now… it’s been leaving little crumblies all over stuff. Yum.

  10. Flea

    I see why you named him Monkey. :) Look! Something shiny!

    Now that my kids are in REAL school (read no longer homeschooling, thank GOD), they come home all the time with assignments and projects due “tomorrow”. We do our best, but I can’t tell you how much late work the kids have turned in in less than a year. Grr.

  11. StephLove

    I was sure the most important invention by a black inventor would be peanut butter. Lord knows if it wasn’t for peanut butter my six y/o would waste away to nothing.

    That’s sweet he’s so concerned about C, (even if you could do with a smidge less concern).

  12. Burgh Baby's Mom

    You know, I would have to agree with Monkey on his inventor selection. The Super Soaker is one of the greatest and most important inventions of all time.

  13. A-Licious

    adorable story telling on your part – AS ALWAYS!

    loved it!

  14. daysgoby

    Wow. Cool inventor.

  15. jennielynn

    I’m with Jenny. I too had a small panic attack upon reading, “my inventor report is due tomorrow.”

    I love Drama Queen’s teachers. Not only do report guidelines, complete with deadlines go up on their websites, but they send email updates. Did I mention their gradebooks are online? Oooooh, so much fun!

  16. Cele

    Here I thought he’d come up with Norbert Rillieux, but no this kid has his priorities in the right place.

  17. Sara

    Love. That. Monkey.

  18. elizabeth

    love the way Monkey is so concerned about his sister. too funny.
    I would have had a cow if I’d heard the words “due tomorrow” still, definitely one of the more significant inventions.
    hope Chickadee is better soon.

  19. D

    Super Soaker inventor – like that one. Didn’t know who’d done it … I feel so inadequate – I’d’ve pushed my son toward George Washington Carver, Elijah McCoy, Madame CJ Walker, or Charles Drew. No one cool like that guy, though … bless the Internet! :-)

  20. Ani

    Hey! I’m married to a semi-celebrity…my husband has actually met Lonnie Johnson AND toured his factory. Did it say he invented the SuperSoaker while working for a major scientific lab…JPL maybe?

    AND his teacher is obviously related to my son’s teacher. Vague projects that morph constantly and are suddenly due TOMORROW. Except then she doesn’t get around to picking them up. Which makes me mental.

  21. Jamie AZ

    Oh, that Monkey is just a hoot – 2 chairs, too funny! I love the invention/inventor he chose to write about, too – such a boy thing to choose!

    Hope Chickadee is feeling better soon.

  22. Randi

    I’d be bringing this issue up with the teacher, because it adds stress to the entire household!

    But I love the inventor Monkey chose – awesome! Who wants Eli Whitney and the cotton gin – we’ve got the SuperSoaker!!

  23. Liza

    Monkey’s pick was awesomely hilarious. I bet you that no one in his class knew who invented the Super Soaker before his report! How about that? ACTUAL learning.

    But I echo what others said above — that teacher really needs to be better about timelines and due dates. Who responds to a question like yours with a date of “for February???”

  24. Deb

    My sons teacher is the exact opposite, she is a controlling….witch. things must be done exactly to her instructions, including all art projects and writing (you must use this color red in that exact place, etc.) you have to see the papers hung in the hallway….they are all EXACTLY the same. No creativity is permitted….GRRRRRRR

    You are a great mom to handle that project so calmly, we all need to learn that.

  25. Daisy

    This sounds like a fun project — that is, it would’ve been fun if he’d had more definite instructions and had it broken down into intermediate deadlines. Oh, yes, and it would’ve been more fun if you hadn’t been worn out from caring for a sick child all day, too. And fixing a dishwasher. Oh, wait, maybe homework was the easiest part of your day!

  26. Vane

    I hope Chickie is feeling a lot better today. My princess just came down with the flu today =(

  27. BOSSY

    Oh the old My-Report-Is-Due-Tomorrow maneuver. Bossy could poke her eyes out with a fork.

  28. Amy-Go

    Around here that story would equal one. Dead. Teacher. Because, um, HELL no.

    I knew you were a better person than me, I just KNEW it.

  29. kidzmama

    Clever’s teacher is famous for saying the report is due on a Friday and then accepting them also on Monday. With no points off. So not fair.

  30. Heather

    The inventor of the super soaker! How cool!

  31. mama speak

    Did the research on his report result in a super soaker to make up the for the dishwasher’s shortcomings? I’m just saying, it would show another use for such a great invention.

    AND, did/is Monkey taking in a super soaker as part of his report???? Cause I think soaking the teacher when demostrating said invention during the presentation would be awesome and get an automatic A+.

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