Monthly Archives: January 2011

What Other Mothers Might Do.

Many mothers would declare:

“He is just the very picture of childlike innocence and wonder! Don’t you think? He never gives me any trouble at all.”


They wouldn’t tell you how they went out and helped him build a snowman, upon which he placed a pretzel stick nose and pistachio eyes.*

Nor would those mothers mention that pretzel sticks and pistachio nuts are two of Vinnie’s favorite food groups.

They wouldn’t want you to know that Ethan, upset by Vinnie’s eyes-and-nose-eating mob hit, refused to simply replace the edibles with inedibles; he determined the only solution was to destroy the snowman.

Many mothers would never tell you he retrieved two (2!) shovels from the garage and calmly gouged, beheaded, and dismembered the snowman.

I am not one of those mothers.


*The snowman was initially going to be anatomically correct . Upon further reflection the construction crew found it did not care to manufacture an explanation to “the authorities” regarding the virtues of indecent snowman exposure.

Parents: Why Must You Insist on Raising Illiterate Pansies?

It’s cold today, by St. Louis standards. The wind chill this morning was something like –7 degrees. We have anywhere from 5-7 inches of snow on the ground.

Lindbergh School District did not cancel school today.

Here is part of the reaction to this decision on Facebook:


Out of all those comments, there is perhaps one (1!) without any grammar or spelling errors. One!

Absorb that a moment. Now ask yourself: what does this tell us?

It tells us – screams at us – that these kids NEED TO BE IN SCHOOL, that’s what it tells us. In fact, they need to be in school MORE because they clearly haven’t grasped the most elementary rules of usage, spelling, etc.

Look, I expect the kids to bitch and moan about having to go to school, but what’s with their pansy-raising parents? I couldn’t get all the comments in one screenshot, but believe me, there are more. Laurel loves school and is eager to go, so she never complains – but if she did, my response would be, “Suck it up, Buttercup! Wipe your nose, get in the truck, and go.”

I mean, what the hell do these people think the good folks of Fargo, North Dakota do on days like this? Answer: THEY GO TO SCHOOL.

By the way: Wind chill in Fargo this morning: –17 degrees. Cancellations: None.

I’m going to go gnash my teeth elsewhere before I lose all sense and respond to this bunch of babies directly on Facebook. Gah!

Snow Day Sledding; Or, Art Hill Can Suck It.

Snow day!

When I was a kid, my sister and I would grab our sleds and race to our pond bank every time it snowed. Our next-door neighbors, who had no such awesome hill – would come join us. We would play out there until we couldn’t feel our toes, and I remember one time in particular when it was so icy we flew all the way across the field and into the barbed-wire fence. Now that was a good time.

arrivalthe climb

As an adult, the idea of standing outside in freezing temperatures and single-digit wind chills (3 degrees right now) is not my idea of a good time. Nor is the idea of sledding down (fun!) followed by trudging back up (not fun!). To my grown-up mind, the drudgery of climbing the hill far outweighs the fun of sledding itself.

But alas, my kids don’t have a pond bank to sled so I can’t just send them off while remaining in the comfort of my heated home. I sucked it up, donned my coveralls, and away we went.

The view from the topthe launch

I considered driving into the city to take a stab at Art Hill. After all, that is Where You Go in St. Louis and we have never been. But after looking online and seeing how very, very crowded it typically is, and wanting to avoid the inevitable lawsuit when one of my kids sledding down mows down a group of other kids coming up, I looked for other options.

long way to goI took a serious risk for this shot

Found one!

It isn’t often that we grown-ups get to recapture our youth, but as I sat on that sled with Ethan, flying down that hill fast enough to make my stomach drop, I recaptured some of that youthful enthusiasm for sledding.

Tough climb

I think I may even have giggled a little.

just before leaving


Hellfire and Damnation.

I know, I haven’t put up anything about the holidays, really, and they were great and all and I’ll maybe get to it later.

Something has really chapped my hide.

A publisher, NewSouth, has announced that it will be removing the word “nigger” from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and replacing it with the word “slave.” NewSouth has also decided to censor a “derogatory term for Native Americans,” which I can only assume to be “injun.”

So what, Injun Joe is going to be Indian Joe? Native American Joe? That’s just not right.

NewSouth’s excuse is that teachers in the rural south have complained they are unable to teach this novel in their classrooms because the word “nigger” is too offensive and upsets the students and their parents. I understand it is an offensive word.


a) Those were the acceptable terms in common use when Mark Twain wrote this novel;

b) We have a terrible, shameful history, the effects of which are still felt today. We need to acknowledge that. Ignoring it by replacing offensive words in literature with words not intended by the original author is quite possibly more offensive than the word “nigger” itself. It is, essentially, rewriting history 1984 style;

c) School boards and administrators, who ultimately are making the decisions whether or not to censor these books (and who are, by censoring them, creating the demand for the edited novels) need to get off their cowardly asses and do something brave and noble for a change. Parents, I’m talking to you too, some of you, who would rather censor something than talk to your children about the issue. I once asked my husband what he thought about why we haven’t done anything as extraordinary as when we met Kennedy’s challenge to travel to the moon. His immediate response? “Because we have become too afraid to take risks.” He’s right.

The most frightening aspect of all of this is where we will go next. Will we edit the vulgarity out of Catcher in the Rye? We wouldn’t want our teen students getting the idea that words like “fuck” existed or that teens were smoking and promiscuous back in 1951! Will we remove the references to sex in Henry Miller’s 1931 novel Tropic of Cancer? There wouldn’t be much left of it if we did.

Then once all those novels are “corrected” we will be free to turn to other forms of art, cloaking the genitalia of classic sculptures, covering the nipples of nude madonnas. We wouldn’t want our children exposed to paintings such as this!

But hold on just a minute. Much of the thrill teens get from vulgarity, smoking, drinking, promiscuity, etc. is their belief that they invented it…that their parents didn’t engage in such behaviors. Maybe if we gave them open access to this novel with its original language – and others equally “controversial” – and we punctuate them with thoughtful, honest discussion about our own mistakes and what we learned, those vices wouldn’t be so alluring at such a young age.

But we have to take those risks Greg mentioned first.