Monthly Archives: May 2008

Field Day

Field Day.  Did you have this when you were in school?  A day, or maybe only half of a day, dedicated to being outside, on the playing fields around the school, participating in track and field events?

God, how I hated field day when I was a kid.  I remember elementary school and the annual field day.  It would be blistering hot outside and we were forced to participate in competitive sports: relay races, the 50-meter dash, the long jump, broad jump, an obstacle course, and then for fun, a tug-o-war.  But the teachers kept score.  They had stop watches and clip boards. The fastest runners, the best jumpers, they won medals and the praise of the teachers around them.  The rest of us?  Me?  The loser(s).  I wasn’t fast enough to win a race, couldn’t jump far enough to win a medal.  So I’d trudge from event to event in the hot, hot sun with the added burn of shame on my shoulders, not good enough, not good enough.  No medal.  Not a winner.  Not good enough.

And then, like to rub it in, I got to stand there as they built the teams for tug-o-war.  Not fat, but somewhat chubby. Chubby enough to wait and wait and wait until they were running out of students and were looking for the anchors of the team.  Here’s a hint.  Just because a girl can pinch an inch, doesn’t mean she’s a hulk.  It doesn’t mean she can pull your entire team of skinny high jumping fast kids from the brink of the mud puddle.  So you shouldn’t all turn on her when she doesn’t whip out bionic arm powers and fling you all across the fields to the parking lot, away from the puddle.  Get over it already.

No, I haven’t.

That was 1976… perhaps. 

And now, it’s 2008.  And my son’s elementary school does field day.  “Oh, no!” I think.  Not that. Anything, but that.  All the old feelings of inadequacy come storming back.  I don’t want my son to feel that way.  I don’t want field day to be a bad memory for him too.  I keep my mouth shut, but I shudder at the thought.

Parents are invited to watch the field day events.  If participating in them isn’t bad enough, I think watching from the sidelines will be even worse. I can feel like a loser all over again even when I’m merely a spectator.

But I go anyway. 

And who knew there were 20 different ways to hold a relay race?  Field Day.  It would be more apt to call it 20 Ways to Relay Day.  There is the 911 Frog Relay where you pick up a large rubber frog wrapped in white bandages, and you run across the grass to drop him inside the hula hoop with the red tape in the shape of a hospital cross. And the Hamburger Relay where you run over to a desk masquerading as a grill, pick up a spatula, and slip over bean bags pretending to be hamburgers before you run back and tag your team mate.  Then there is the Water Relay where you dip an overturned Frisbee into a bucket of water to fill it up like a platter, move as quickly as you can across an expanse of grass (with minimal spillage) to an empty bucket where you dump the Frisbee full of water.  The team with the most water in the bucket wins, uh, nothing.  But the kids get wet and they have fun anyway.  Nobody is keeping score.  Not the teachers. Not the 5th graders manning the stations. Not at the beach relay or the water sprinkler relay or the obstacle course.  Not the kids who are covered in mud and don’t care.  And not me.  I’m just watching.  And not feeling like a loser.

I catch the gym teacher and casually mention how much better this is than when I was a kid.  “Competition,” she says, “Who needs it?  This is just for fun.” 

“Besides,” another teacher chimes in.  “These kids,” she says, tilting her head at the running kindergarteners, “They can’t really follow rules.  They cheat.  It wouldn’t do any good to keep score.  This is just for fun.”

Just for fun.

For fun.


Later in the evening, when my son is home and the mud from the field has been washed off, we’re talking.

“Mom,” he says.  “There is a game called Dodge Ball.”

“Yes,” I say.  “I know.  We used to play that in gym class when I was a kid.  Why?  Is your class playing Dodge Ball?”

“No,” He says, sounding relieved.

“Do you know how to play it?” I ask.

“I think people throw things at your head!” he says, alarmed.

“Well, they throw balls at you, but they aren’t supposed to throw them at your head,” I say. “Maybe at your chest or your legs.  Definitely not at your head,” I say, and he audibly sighs.

He sounds relieved.

But then he offers a new twist on the old game: “I know what would be fun,” he says. “Dodge Cinderblocks!”

My eyes widen in alarm.

“You,” I say, pointing at him for emphasis, “Will NEVER be in charge of field day!”

And that, I think, is one game I won’t ever play.  Even if it is for fun.


Filed under humor, kids, Kindergarten, life, parenting, Snags

3 A.M. I Hate You

Why is it that kids always get sick in the middle of the night?  What is it about 3 a.m., anyway? 

3 a.m. is the time of night morning I tend to wake up for no discernable reason at all, and then struggle to get back to sleep as my mind makes up lists of things to do and stuff to worry about and just generally races around like someone on speed until the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning.  At that point, right after Snags wakes up and bounces into my room demanding breakfast?  That’s the point that my mind settles and says “Okay, I’m done thinking.  Why don’t you go ahead and drift back off to sleep now…” Only Snags is standing at my bedside announcing each passing minute of my digital alarm clock…

Mom, it’s 5:56.  5:57, 5:58, 5:59…

I’ve taken to telling him that nobody is allowed to get up before 7:00 am, but to no avail.  He’s up and he’s not willing or able to go back to sleep for another hour.  And my brain is so exhausted from the 3 a.m. thought fest that even 7:00 is too early.  I need to sleep until 10:00. 

But there is school and work and 10:00 is just not possible.  If I’m lucky, Snags will wander downstairs and watch cartoons until 7:00 when he comes back up the stairs and demands breakfast.  Which he could get himself.  It’s not like I cook the kid a hot meal every day.  But you know how it goes, Rice Crispies taste better when poured into the bowl by mom…

Three a.m. this past Monday wasn’t so different.  Except for the vomiting.  Yes, that woke me up.  Snags ran into our bedroom and announced that he thought he was going to be sick.  I told him to run to the bathroom.  He did, where he proceeded to vomit, once, a small amount, into the toilet.  As he should.  But then, for some inexplicable reason, he argued with me about needing a towel and when I didn’t give him one, he decided to vomit again, a lot more, right there on the bathroom floor, NEXT to the toilet.  Apparently turning his head was too much effort.  Or the vomit in the toilet bowl was too gross to look at.  Like road kill.

That’s when the screaming commenced.  My screaming.  At poor, not feeling so well, Snags.  For vomiting on the floor then crawling through it and spreading it around when really, all he had to do was turn his head slightly to the right and aim into the toilet bowl, and for God’s sake, stay STILL.  I swear to you, if I had done that when I was a kid my mother would have beaten my backside with one of my dad’s belts.  Think you don’t feel good now?  Stay right there until I come back.  Now get UP and bend over!  Smack…

Instead I just stood there and yelled.  Then I cleaned up the vomit and took the offending clothes and towels to the basement where I scrubbed them out in the deep sink and threw them into the washing machine.  To run twice.

Then I took a can of Lysol and sprayed down every door knob and faucet and light switch in the house.  At half past 3 a.m.

Snags went back to sleep after that, and I lay awake in bed wondering what on earth compels a child to vomit on the floor next to the toilet instead of in the toilet he is kneeling in front of.  And I felt bad for the yelling.


Filed under kids, life, parenting, Snags

Defective Parts

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request an exchange on my son’s olfactory parts.  It seems that when you supplied all the parts for this child of mine, you accidentally inserted a vulture’s sense of smell into him in lieu of a human’s sense of smell.

I submit the following as evidence:

Most human beings like the smell of such things as:
The ocean
A good steak

My son likes the smells of such things as:
Anything burning
Used model rocket engines
Boxes in the freezers at the grocery store

Used model rocket engines smell very much like sulphur, which smells like rotten eggs.  And rotten eggs smell like something dead.  And vultures like the smell of dead things.  And my son, as I indicated above, likes the smell of used model rocket engines.

Thus, the following equation must be true:
My son’s nose =  vulture nose

A vulture, as you know, is a bird.  My son is, for all other intents and purposes, human.

So I respectfully request an exchange of parts.

I understand my request may be outside the limits of your normal service agreement, as my child is approaching the age of seven.  However, it took this long for me to really notice the problem.  Yes, I suspected something was off when he was three and would open the freezers at the grocery store and deeply sniff the frozen pizza boxes.  I thought it strange as well when he asked me to leave the car door open while I filled up the car’s gas tank  because he liked the fumes emitted from the pump.  But honestly, it wasn’t until he said he was going to start collecting used model rocket engines because they “smelled so good” (with deep sniffing inhale) that I really became suspicious.

When some toast burnt recently, he was very excited when he asked “What smells so GOOD?” 

And the clincher, what prompted me to write, was the day he was home from school because he was sick and he proudly announced “my farts smell like burnt rocket engines! Doesn’t that smell GREAT?!”

If you would kindly mail the replacement olfactory parts to me I will insert them myself.

Thank you,


Filed under boys, death, humor, kids, life, parenting, rotten food, sick, Snags, steak, things kids do

Pants Recommended

Call me lazy, but I am sick and tired of having to make decisions.  Things that used to be simple have gotten crazily complicated.  And I don’t like it.

Take… school picture day, for example.  When I was a kid, you showed up at school and they took your picture.  And that was it.  Well, maybe the photographer insisted on combing your hair some stupid way you never wore it, but really, that was about it.  Later, the pictures would come in, and you’d grimace at the way your hair looked in the photos, but there was nothing you could do about it except hope your mom didn’t choose that year’s school photo for her new silver frame sitting on the mantel.

That was then.

NOW you get a warning notice sent home from school about a week ahead of time, telling you that picture day is coming up. But that’s odd, because they just took school photos back in the fall.  And the school year is only 180 days long… and you’re only a few weeks past the 100 day mark…  Ah, but then, the children were dressed in FALL clothes then.  And now it’s SPRING.  Right?  Or maybe, even though you are holding the flier in your hands, your husband is right, maybe it’s a flier for school picture “make up day”.  For the kids who were sick or otherwise absent back in the fall. And they just forgot to put “make up day” on the flier.  Yeah, that’s probably what it is.  NOT.

Exactly 17 hours before picture day you get another reminder, complete with a small form that proudly states there is “No charge for picture day!”  Your child will get their picture taken regardless, and you don’t have to pay a thing until the photos come home and you decide whether or not to buy them.

But nothing’s ever free.  In lieu of parting with your hard earned cash on picture day, you have to choose which one of five poses is more ‘you’, or you know, more ‘your child’.  And then you mark that box and send in the form so the photographer knows which way to position the kid before he snaps the photo. You can write any special instructions you want to the photographer on the form too.  Like, “LEAVE THE HAIR ALONE!”

But this is where I fall apart.  I can’t make decisions like this.  Take the picture and send it to me.  If I like, it I will fork over a kajillion dollars for a small package of two 5×7’s and eight wallet size photos.  If I don’t like it, well, I’ve got a digital camera and I know how to use it.

But this, this…  Pose 1 shows the child sitting in a chair.  Pose 2 shows the child with chin in hand, bored like, but still smiling. Pose 3 shows the child lounging somewhat precariously across two bean bag chairs.  Pose 4 has the child leaning on a bean bag chair with arms crossed, all defensive like, but still smiling.  You lookin’ at me?  And Pose 5 is simply the child’s face. 

I think what threw me the most was Pose 3, where the child is sprawled across the bean bag chairs.  A handy suggestion next to it says “Pants recommended!” And so I wonder if this has really been a problem.  Do parents really send their children to school without any pants? Certainly that’s in violation of school dress codes, is it not?  Or did the photo company do one too many photo shoots at an elementary school smack in the middle of a nudist camp? Or, perhaps, it’s a reminder to the photographers.  Maybe some of them used to work for that magazine with the bunny ears.

I’m torn.  Not one of the five poses is “Snags”.  If they had a pose that said “Snags” it would be my child before bedtime, protesting my comment that he looks tired, all the while sucking on two fingers and holding his old tag blanket up to his nose so he can sniff one of his favorite tags.  Only, the form doesn’t say, “favorite blankets recommended,” and I, having gone through school myself, have personal experience with school photographers.  If they don’t want your hair parted on the left, they sure as hell aren’t going to let you shove a couple of fingers in your mouth and sniff on the tag of a blanket for your school photo.  Not even if you have pants on.


Filed under humor, Kindergarten, life, parenting, Snags