Sunday, November 25, 2007

Things I Learned During Thanksgiving Break

1. Microwave pralines are pure evil.

2. Unless the rules are modified, a 34 year old can never ever beat a 7 year old at hopscotch. (#1 rule modification: the 34 year old shouldn't have to hop on one foot. #2 rule modification: the 34 year old absolutely can place one hand on the ground for balance when bending over to pick up her rock.)

3. Children will frolic in the surf, soaking themselves from head to foot, no matter how frigidly the cold the water may be.

4. I am congenitally incapable of grading papers until the very last minute.

5. "300" was a homophobic, racist, historically inaccurate, yet stunningly beautiful, film. Perhaps Brian and I will review it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Acrostic Poem by Frances

I often joke that the only things I can write consistently and well about anymore are mothering and my children. (Ask the members of my writing group how badly the introduction to my next book is going.) This does not bode well for the successful mass market book I need to write to fund my children's college education.

Luckily, however, where my creative skill has failed, Frances's has flourished. Here is an acrostic poem she wrote for school:

Bug bit me before lunch
Emergency room
Fire on my nose
Red and purple band-aid

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Daring Book for Girls

I admit I was a little suspicious when I got The Daring Book for Girls in the mail to review. The problem with the similarly titled Dangerous Book for Boys is that its faux nostalgia implies that feminists are probably to blame for creating a world in which boys don't know how to tie knots or skip rocks or other stereotypically "boy" things. I find the very concept absurd.
So, when this book came in the mail, with it's retro green cover and silver lettering, I was prepared to be annoyed. But here's the thing: before I could get all riled up with righteous indignation at a world that still insists on making arbitrary distinctions between boys and girls, Frances got a hold of the book. As a general rule she is suspicious of anything too "girly," perceiving a surplus of pink and glitter and saccharine sentiment as sure signs of something not fun. But this book intrigued her. It showed her five karate moves, how to press flowers (which she thought would make cool bookmarks), how to play zombie and hot-lava monster tag, how to play the French version of hopscotch (which involves a snail shaped playing field and a lot of hopping on one foot--"the French really know how to live," Frances said), and how to make her own scooter. I don't know if Frances finds the instructions here "daring," but if the authors' (Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz) intentions were to introduce girls to the self-made fun from girlhood past (remember the jump rope song, "Apples on a stick, make me sick..."), then they have succeeded.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Are You a Feminist?

The nature of my job and Brian and my's politics means that Frances lives in a world in which "feminism" is a word used often and "feminists" are people she actually knows and likes. (Cate lives in this same world, but as she spends most of her time ignoring all of us in favor of wandering, dancing to the music in her head, and playing with her toes, we are unsure of how much really registers with her.)

Frances has also discovered recently the kind of quizzes that seem to abound in girl culture: are you a tomboy or a girly girl? does he really like you? are you a hater? Answer 20 multiple choice questions and any given issue of YM or CosmoGirl can reveal the secrets of the inner you.

Frances devised a quiz to determine if you are a feminist. How do you fare? (answers below)*

1. Do you like to talk?
2. Are you okay with being gay?
3. Did you get extra homework in 2nd grade?
4. Do you like monkeys?

If you answer yes to all the questions, then, according to the ever insightful Frances, you are a feminist.

*1. Obviously you have to like to talk. Feminists go to a lot of meetings, according to Frances. (How sad is it that Frances preceives that all I do is grade and go to meetings?)

2. Feminists understand that you can love who you want as long as you are happy.

3. Frances says feminists are smart and clearly, like her, would have been rewarded with extra homework while in school.

4. Who doesn't like monkeys?