No more pencils, no more books

Today is the last day of school, and that means my children have survived an entire year of learnin’ courtesy of the great state of Georgia, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For example, I was still scrambling around this morning putting together teacher gifts, just like every year.

And I was hacking up a watermelon for a class party, last night, while complaining about it. That didn’t used to happen until June, back up north, but BELIEVE ME, it happened.

And I promised my daughter pink hair (new, true) and completely failed to deliver (not new) just the way I am always a GIANT SUCKING DISAPPOINTMENT to my daughter. Oh, wait. Strictly speaking, I suppose my INABILITY TO DO ANYTHING RIGHT is not limited to the end of the school year.

Would you like to take a turn flogging me? My arm is getting tired.

Look, the hair thing WASN’T MY FAULT. I did my research, man. I asked people who know about these things. I knew exactly which product to buy, and I had been assured that it was available at Sally Beauty. So I went to Sally and wandered around and when I couldn’t find it, I strode right up to the counter and said “I can’t seem to find your Special Effects hair dye. Can you help me, please?”

And the lovely little salesgirl who may have been all of sixteen looked at me like I had four heads—all of them covered in boring colors of hair, natch—and told me that they don’t carry Special Effects.

I let her sell me something else which she VIGOROUSLY ASSURED ME would cover brown hair, and went home grumpy.

Let’s pause a moment here to recognize the fact that I could’ve EASILY ordered the hair dye online, but that I had not done so because my daughter’s behavior has been less than stellar, lately, and the hair dying privilege had been in question for a number of weeks. So I hadn’t ordered it because it was unclear if any dying was going to be happening.

(Well, I knew dying would be happening, but I strongly suspect I was the one going to DIE, rather than her being the one to be DYED. Just sayin’.)

So I took this BRIGHT PINK BOTTLE of hair dye, and when the children arrived home—toting just Nightingale, and not her little brother, but since the mom never called me back I had been unable to schedule an alternate playmate for Monkey (which irritates me greatly but the mom was later very apologetic about forgetting to call so I’m trying to let it go)—I thought I was all set to make the magic happen.

Instead, I made the girls suffer through the indignity of being coated in pink sludge, and when we rinsed it out, well, it ALL rinsed out. You might say that Nightingale has a couple of pink streaks and Chickadee has something of a pink sheen, but that’s IT. Barely noticeable. Total waste of time, money, and energy.

In the meantime, Monkey was helpfully narrating the entire process (“I dunno, Mama, but I don’t think it’s working very well at all. Are you sure you did it right?”) and the girls were becoming more and more peeved, and once it was clear that the whole thing was a bust, everyone ran off to play. Not so bad, right?

Nightingale and Chickadee went to the pond for a while and caught critters. Shortly before Nightingale’s mom was to arrive for pick-up (thankfully, I’d avoided the sleepover!), I went to the pond to fetch them. And then the attitude started up, from both girls. I gritted my teeth and tried to remind myself that AFTER ALL, I was the reason their Big Plan had been foiled, and I should be patient.

I lured them back home by promising that we could go out on the deck and look for Bob. That worked.

[Digression: Bob is a gecko. Bob is OUR gecko—he appears to live on (or near) our deck. We first noticed Bob because he was challenging us to a fight for dominance by bobbing his head up and down and showing us his mighty intimidating neck fan. Seeing as how Bob is only four inches long, we elected not to get into a pissing match with him, but nevertheless it’s become standard procedure to greet him on the deck with a booming, “Bob! Hello! You are looking VERY FEROCIOUS today! Show me your big neck, you mighty creature, you!” Poor Bob had a tangle with a cat or a bird or something, too—he’s missing part of his tail. That’s how we know it’s him. And also possibly why he feels the need to communicate “I’M BIG AND SCARY!” every time we see him.]

Anyway, we got back up the house and Bob was nowhere to be found, the little shit. That meant I had NO DISTRACTION for the girls until Nightingale’s mom came, which meant that they suddenly decided they wanted to go swimming. And I had to explain that 60 seconds before pick-up is not a good time to start swimming. And the girls became very agitated about it all, and Nightingale threatened to jump into the pool with her clothes on, and I called her bluff and she didn’t do it. But she then picked up a beetle and threw it in my face in a fit of pique.

See, now, I know the hair thing was disappointing. But that was a little much.

So when Nightingale’s mom arrived (with the little brother in tow, who immediately ran off with Monkey), it probably would’ve been nice of me and the kind thing to do to invite them all to stay for dinner, but I didn’t. For one thing, I wasn’t sure we had enough food for three extra people. For another, I didn’t much enjoy the beetle to the head maneuver. The children ran around like crazy people and finally our guests departed.

This morning, Chickadee came downstairs in the same outfit she wore on Monday. “Hey, what are you doing?” I said, catching her elbow. “I haven’t done laundry yet. Did you take that out of the hamper? It’s DIRTY.”

“It’s PINK,” she said, glaring at me. “Unlike my HAIR. And I’m just gonna get dirty today, anyway.”

She had a point. And besides, she was wearing clean underwear. I hope.

Yup, today marks the end of a new era. Next year, we’ll be old pros at all of this. And I’ll buy the right hair dye.


  1. Aimee

    Um… yikes?

  2. RuthWells

    Oy vey.

    What did you do about the beetle-slinging? Any comment to Nightengale’s mother?

  3. E

    Oh boy! So a fun night was had by all!
    (I’m so sorry it all went to H-E-double-hockey-sticks in a handbasket.)

  4. Pave.Gurl

    Oh, wow.

    Yeh, Beyond the Zone?

    …. It kinda sucks. :(

    But honestly, on brown hair, you’re not going to get much of a response anyhow unless there’s bleach involved – I have dark brown hair, and the best explanation I ever got was to imagine holdingh up Easter grass over one’s hair, strand by strand. If you can’t see the colour of the grass, the dye won’t be visible.

    But sorry you’re dealing with the Terrible Tweens.

  5. laurie

    she’ll love you again in ten years….

  6. Holly

    You are a much better(and more patient) person than I. I think I would have lost my you know what had some kid thrown a beetle at my head. Not only that, the mother would have heard all about it. You are brave and wonderful and someday your kids will realize it!

  7. Leandra

    Did you even say anything to Nightingale’s mom about the beetle incident? Cause I would have been tempted to throw her under the bus. Figuratively speaking, of course!

  8. donna

    The beetle in the face would have had me seething. I don’t know how you kept your cool and was polite. I’m with Leandra – did you say anything to Nightingale’s mom?

  9. Burgh Baby

    Some kid throws a beetle at my head and I’m going down the street until I find a BIGGER BEETLE (a VW, perhaps?) to throw back at them. That is not cool.

  10. Janssen

    Oh, i’d be so unbelievably mad about the beetle. And the non calling.

  11. Mom24

    Wow! I think I would limit playdates for a while with Nightingale. That is really, really rude. I wouldn’t be shy about explaining that to DD either. Wow! I hope summer is a whole lot better than the beginning. Choose your battles, take deep breaths, drink heavily….

  12. All Adither

    I hope those little birdies at least appreciated your efforts. I mean, you’re a cool-ass mom to agree to dye them pink.

  13. Rebecca

    Wow!! A beetle… at your head? That’s crazy. I am with the others I would have flipped.

    Happy last day of school!

  14. msb

    Probably a good call not to say anything to the mother. I have experience in this area – being the bitch that DOES say something – and it doesn’t do anything but make you look like a Bitch who hates the friend that was over. The parent takes a defending tone – and even if she does believe you, the kid is gonna throw YOU under the bus right when she gets into the car — but I WOULD HAVE had said something to the girl – possibly – “now that was uncalled for – dontcha think?” Nah, she probably would’ve thrown you under the bus for that comment too. No win situation here.. just hope Chickadee doesn’t do the same at a friends house is all you can do.

  15. msb

    In fact, I would probably use this situation to teach my child to NOT treat a friend’s parents like this when SHE DOES visit their house. Respect them like you would respect your own parents. I would discuss the incident with her and tell her “I certainly don’t want you acting like that when you go to your friends’ homes.”

  16. Jamie AZ

    Um. Wow. I’m not sure I would have been as nice as you were about the beetle. Especially given your hatred of bugs!

  17. Vane

    Yikes … sorry things didn’t work out the way you had planned.

    And I’m with the rest of the commenters, I would’ve lost it if a kid threw a beetle at my head.

  18. jennielynn

    Wait, wait wait. The child threw a beetle at you and you didn’t return her to her mother, chopped in little pieces, packaged in a convenient ziploc bag? Hand to god, I would’ve stuck ’em both in the oven and told the other mom, “I don’t know where Nightingale is! You never called, so I assumed she wasn’t coming!” then had Chickadee/Nightengale pie for dinner.

    Okay, I wouldn’t have, but I would’ve wanted to.

  19. Shalet


  20. Stephanie

    Lucky for you, the beetle thrower is going to be away for a bit. Hopefully, she will have matured, by the time she returns. I always use bad behavior on the part of DD’s friends as an example of why SHE should never act that way…I don’t like it when her friends are rude and other parents will feel the same way, if she acts badly.

    DD doesn’t mind taking her “tres chic” clothes out of the dirty pile (we don’t have a hamper, just a pile in the laundry room). Even if they are FILTHY…if she wants to wear it, she doesn’t care! Oh, and she thinks my making her put on clean underwear with her dirty clothes is just one step above child torture.

    Fortunately, she hasn’t decided she wants hair colored all over…well, she did mention it once, but I managed to put it off and the topic hasn’t come up again. Sorry the color didn’t work out.

  21. Andrea

    She seriously threw a beetle at your head? Wow…how nervy and she wasn’t even your kid. I have a 6 mos. old daugher and let me tell you I am SO not looking forward to this.

  22. TC

    I totally tell on my kids’ friends when they act like little shits. OK…I don’t use the word “little shits” to their parents, but that’s as far as I’ll go in the ‘holding it in’ department.

    Giving you attitude? Throwing a BUG AT YOU? Hell no.

    But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because as you were describing Bob, the gecko on your deck, I said out loud, “She needs to call him Decko!” At which point I began to laugh uproariously and hit the comment button on this entry, because of course you all will find it as funny as I did.

    Except now I’m thinking that maybe I was a little premature.

  23. M

    Well, at least you know it is an AGE thing, not a Chickie thing. Or, maybe Chickie is learning something from Nightie?

  24. Beth

    I Love DECKO!!!

    I’m sorry things didn’t turn out, Mir.

  25. jenn

    Yeah, I gotta know, what’d you do about the beetle to the head? That little girl’s got some balls!

  26. Megan

    Oh the tragedies of life at in-between. Does not help that my eye-rolling Child is in far too many ways a mini-me (well, not so mini any longer) and I KNOW I deserved it. However, beetle throwing and back-talk giving are so not on. Particularly not to one of your excellent shoe collection etc. There are limits.

  27. Sara

    Darn that Bob! You know, you don’t ask for much. He has a sweet, rent-free crib and probably an all-you-can-eat buffet courtesy of your yard and he can’t show?! Dude is s’posed to have your back. I believe an eviction notice is in order.
    That’s right. I AM advocating taking your frustrations out on a gecko with “short-gecko’s disease.”
    School is out here in 2 days and preteen hormones are also raging here. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me…

  28. emily

    i’m sorry the color didn’t work out. :(

    i was just going to echo the commenter above, as i have some experience in dying dark blonde hair pink — you have to bleach it out before it will take the pink at all. FWIW.

  29. Angel

    I tried to dye my hair blue when I was a teenager, but it all came right out too. I was so pissed! But, hey, I got over it. So will she. *grin*

  30. Chuck

    I remember one place I lived, when I was looking for a place to get my hair cut, I noticed there was a hair salon called Curl Up and Dye. I never went there but I always thought it was a cool name.

  31. Kris

    That’s it, Chickie. You’re grounded for a week! Oh wait…that means you’ll be here, under my feet, driving me insane. Perhaps just some child labor.

    As for Nightengale, yeah – if you do it nicely, the mom should be receptive. I ALWAYS ask when I pick my kids up from somewhere (or they’re dropped off by friends parents), “Any problems at all?” It gives them the open communication line to say, “Yeah, the little turd threw bugs at me.”

    Of course at my house, I would’ve thrown a bug back and said, “How do you like that?” But of course at my house they answer probably would have been, “Yes! Do it again, please!”

    Ya just can’t win when it comes to bugs and hormones.

  32. Crafty Stitchwitch

    She threw a beetle at your head?! Someone ELSE’s child? At least your own had more restraint. I’d have shaken my child like a magic 8-ball until some sense floated to the surface.

    By the way, my six year old daughter would love to have her hair dyed pink. I’ve read quite a bit of your blog today, so I think I’ll send her down to you for that. :)

  33. Sheila

    Wow. I hope you had yourself a big goblet of wine after that. Or a hot bath. Or a goblet of wine in the bath.

  34. the planet of janet

    possibly you SHOULD have invited the family to stay. at my house, nightengale’s meal would have consisted entirely of insectia. (yes, that is too a word.)

    throwing a beetle at a mom? uh. some consequences?

  35. Lisa- Domestic Accident

    Hope there was a glass of wine waiting for you at the end of that day.

  36. StephLove

    I’ve been reading what people say they would do about the beetle incident and I just have no idea what I would have done. It’s so weird and unexpected. I always freeze up in situations like that and end up doing nothing.

  37. Angela

    I’m 90% sure you know this but Sally’s has a money back guarantee. I took back a very messy and half used waxing kit (oh hell, I let me friend talk me into trying to do a full wax on myself. Yeah it was true hell, esp since no hair came off) and I got my money back. So take the bottle, receipt, and tell them all about the girl who told you this and that and she was so completely dead wrong you want your money back. Enjoy!

  38. merlotmom

    Ooooh, that Nightingale needs a new name, like Bad Seed. I don’t care whose kid she was, a beetle in the face means war. You would have been well within your rights to give that girl a time out and a good talking to. Your house, your rules. I would suggest talking to Chickadee in a calm moment (for both of you) about what went down, attitude problems, ingratitude, etc. She’ll get it, even if she won’t cop to it. As merlotmom I grant you a nice big bottle of your favorite wine. Watch your head! It’s coming through the internet! Oops, sorry, just a beetle.

  39. zeghsy

    guests, no matter how close to family they are, do not get away with throwing anything AT the mum. miss nightie-thing, you are in trouble. *smile* miss chickie, NEVER do that anywhere. *smile again* now, as for the hair… no, brown hair does not take kindly to coloring. last time i sat in salon chair, i announced i was considering blonde for the summer. my poor stylist. i think his eyes popped out of his head and hit me in the back of mine. actually, all the stylists eyes popped out of their heads. needless to say, i’m still my lovely shade of brown. it needs stripping out, and then coloring. ask her if a large streak would be a possibility. otherwise, if she hates it, brown to stripped to pink back to brown can get VERY costly. assuming you don’t want straw on her head.

  40. Deb

    Yikes, sorry it went so bad. Not sure if I would have said anything to the mom since you don’t really know her, but pretty sure I wouldn’t have the child over again. That was way too disrespectful to do to an adult.

    Hope Chickadee is happier today!

  41. allysha

    Wow. The beetle throwing was totally out of line. I’m a little astonished about that, actually.

  42. Jen

    Oh yikes! The beetle throwing would’ve turned me into a lunatic! I would’ve freaked OUT and I def. would have said something to her mother – because if my child did that to someone I’d hope they would let me know. That way I could bring her home, sit her down in a nice quiet place, and BEAT HER BUTT! ;-) OK, it would probably be a grounding and a HUGE yell fit… but trust me, by the time I was done, she’d be begging for the beating!

    I hope that she is now on your “ban list” of kids invited over. What a little brat!

  43. Stepiphany

    Well I appreciate the instruction as to what doesn’t work, since my 11 yo wants multicolored hair for the summer. Everything that flooded my brain when I read about the beetle has been said, but I am just so grateful to know that it’s not just my child that digs filthy clothes out of the hamper to wear. I took her clothes away and only give her one day’s worth now. A little drastic, I know.

  44. annie

    If it were me, I’d Zen-fully ignore Nightingale and her mother for at least the rest of the summer. Wonder if they’d actually NOTICE…

  45. mamajama

    All Adither has it right. You’re a cool ass mom for dying them pink. I know that I will never be that cool, so I won’t even try to appear as anything but the shrew that I am. Sorry about the rudeness!

  46. diane

    Eeek – not a good way to end the year! And Bob has a lot of nerve not carrying his weight (slight though it may be).

    Fun colors on anything but blonde hair just don’t work well. I had some (very expensive) highlights put in my darkish brown hair…you couldn’t see them at all. The hairdresser (at no cost, bless her) redid them, but had to first BLEACH the strands that were to be highlighted, then color over them. Never again.

  47. Kelly

    Don’t ya ever wonder how we all make it to adulthood? Truth is, the little friend will wake up one day, most likely in her late 20’s and remember the incident and be quite embarrassed about it. For years in the middle of self doubt think about it and wonder why she thought at the time it was such a good idea.

  48. Tootsie Farklepants

    If someone ever threw a beetle at my face they’d better be prepared to do battle. I have no qualms about pushing a little girl down.

  49. jennielynn


  50. mamaspeak

    Perhaps a pink hair extention would fill the need?

    Of course, it sounds like no one is getting anything in the “treat” department anytime soon in your house. Ahem. Not such a good start to the summer vaca, so lets just call it a bad ending to the school year and be done with it.

    I’m thinking Chickie (and Nightie) might be in need of jobs this summer (attitude adjustments) perhaps a teachers helper at a summer camp or picking fruit (under the table of course) might be just the thing to remind them of how good they really do have. Ok, if you’re really into the child labor law thing then maybe you could teach Chickie to do laundry this summer, and maybe start a veggie garden for her to keep up? Just a thought.

  51. Mary

    Okay, I agree with everyone about the beetle, but threatening to jump in the pool, fully clothed? Because you said no? I would have pushed her in and let her explain to her mother why she was wet at pick-up time. And I would have given her the smallest, most worn out towel to ride home with. Thank goodness she’s going away for a while!

  52. The Other Leanne

    Holy crep. Were it me, I would have had a few words with Nightengale about attitude, assault, disrespect and why she was no longer welcome to visit my home or hang out with my kid (if I had one). She would have been crying all the way home.
    Or maybe Chickadee should write that letter for you.

  53. susan

    I would have pushed Nightengale right into the pool – I wonder how all the pool chemicals would have reacted with the almost pink hair dye. Hmmmmm…

  54. paige

    Uh, I’m sorry; but a kid you invited over to play at your house THREW a BEETLE at your head?


    When one of my kids’ friends pulled the gutters off our house a few years ago (yes, gutters. pulled. off.), I put his skinny little ass up on a ladder and made him nail the things back up (with help from me and my husband…we didn’t let the little sh*t up there alone). Then we drove him home, told his parents what happened and asked them to explain to him that he’d never be coming over for another playdate. The kid was SEVEN at the time.

    I think you’re being very generous with Nightingale, myself. You are obviously a much kinder and wiser person than I am (I’m being serious, not sarcastic). I often admire your ability to bring a sturdy sense of humor to the most frustrating and difficult circumstances. It’s a rare talent.

  55. paige

    Oh, and I’ve got purple hair with a big streak of bright yellow in it. The yellow is Special Effects dye. I’m sorry you’ve had trouble finding it, the stuff rocks. It works best over hair that’s had the color pulled out, though.

  56. Dawn

    Just have to say that:

    Some kid throws a beetle at my head and I’m going down the street until I find a BIGGER BEETLE (a VW, perhaps?) to throw back at them


    I’d have shaken my child like a magic 8-ball until some sense floated to the surface.

    TWO OF THE BEST COMMENTS EVER. I am still laughing!!

  57. kate wang

    Wow, that second comment cited in the comment above me IS by far and away the best comment ev-ar.

    Both N. and her mom sound… spoiled.

  58. The Other Other Dawn

    Argh. Beetle.In.The.Face.


    I hate brats. Hate them! I suffered a few when my kids were school-aged, too. Luckily, either our family or theirs moved away before I turned them into a Magic 8-ball.

    Your summer can only improve from here!

  59. Lindsay

    OMG tootsie farklepants is real! I am like Monkey, chuckling to myself…great name ms. Farklepants.

    As far as Nightingale, eeek. Good luck this summer.

  60. Veronica

    Well, damn.

    And having black as night hair, hair dying is not something that is easy for me. I spent many a day despairing of EVER getting blue and green streaks.

    Funny, I never did get blue and green streaks.

  61. Paulla

    I’d have slapped the beetle-thrower.

    Ok, not really, but you could have accidently bumped her into the pool.

    Seriously, I’ve have gotten into her face and told her she’d never darken our doors again if she threw anything else at me. AND I’d have told the mom what I said… but I’d never admit pushing her into the pool. THAT was an accident. :)

  62. joaaanna

    Regarding the beetle AND the attitude: Oh. Hell. No.

  63. Amy-Go

    Party City has spray-on hair color which is cheap, works pretty well, and is TEMPORARY. I used it on the 4th of July, remember? And I think it showed up on brown hair ok. If you use a lot of it, that is. Try that!

    And the bug throwing child? Would NOT be returning to my house. And if I were her mother? I would SO want to know why. My kid would not sit down for MONTHS if he did such a thing to an adult…and I ALWAYS believe the adult, because I think it is my duty to be as mean as possible to my children. And I know them to be utterly capable of lying.

    Or you could just invite her over again…and put a Palmetto bug in her sandwich. Just sayin’. ;)

  64. Spice

    Oh wow about the whole beetle throwing thing. Does she always act like that?
    Sorry the pink dye didn’t work, but look on the bright side you have a whole year to find one that does. ;)

  65. Cele

    threw a bug at you? Wow, are we allowed to beat other people’s children yet?

    Darn I didn’t think so.

  66. Little Bird

    I have the very same bottle of pink hair dye under my bathroom sink. I have pink highlights that I had done in a salon. I had attempted to do the upkeep on them myslef. So I did what the bottle said, put the stuff on hair that was towel-dried, waited 20 minutes and…… it did nothing. Plus, my hair has decided that one side will fade faster than the other, so my highlights are a very pale oranagish on the left and an ever-lightening pink on the right. I have come to the conclusion that I must make another appointment and fork over the money to have it done right.

  67. Martina

    Delurking a few days late to recommend hair streakers.

    My four year old niece wanted purple hair like I had at the time (I had to go through the traditional bleach and colour process). I went to my salon and purchased clip in hair extensions in bright purple and put them in. They were expensive $30 for two – but that was almost 6 months ago and she still wears them on a regular basis. Since they are real hair they last longer then the cheap synthetic ones; they can be washed and styled like you would with normal hair.

    As for how “real” it looks – my sister scolded me for ruining her beautiful daughters hair. Until I unclipped it, then she forgave me :)

  68. Astrogirl426

    How funny – if a mom had told me Bunker Monkey had thrown a bug at her, I would have totally been like, “Oh really? Just wait until I get him home.” I’m totally not the, “My PRESHUS BAYBEE would never have done such a horrible thing!”

    Maybe it’s because he’s a boy, or maybe just because he’s this PARTICULAR boy, that bug throwing is the least of what he’s done/will do. Actually, in his world, I think bug throwing is a sign of affection.

    I submit the following as evidence: Last weekend, at a friend’s birthday party, the Bunker Monkey decided it would be SO entertaining to ride down our friend’s long, steep, winding paved driveway on a toy truck, on his stomach, using only his elbows and knees to slow himself down. He did this for about a half hour, despite the bloody elbows (the ripped jeans? I consider that par for the course as the mom). So, yeh, bug throwing would not surprise me.

    You, my dear, have the patience of a saint.

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