Monthly Archives: August 2008

First Grade

First Grade.  My son is starting First Grade today.  He breezed through Kindergarten last year and summer vacation has disappeared in the wink of an eye.  I don’t know where the time has gone.

We met my son’s first grade teacher last week.  The school holds an open house so all the kids can come and find their new classroom, meet their new teacher, and drop of their new school supplies at their desk.

Long gone are the days when I was a kid and you could show up to class on the first day with nothing but yourself and some money for your lunch.  I always insisted on wearing my new school clothes, a pair of jeans with a new top of some sort, both of which turned out to be too uncomfortable for the first day of school.  I was always hot and sweaty and sorry I’d chosen that particular outfit to wear the first day. I was always miserable in the new school shoes my mom had chosen.  They were too stiff, too formal.  I wanted Keds, or Docksides, or Vans like the other kids.  Not nerdy brown leather lace-ups with a slippery sole.

I remember coming home the first day of school and insisting that my mother HAD to take me out to get school supplies THAT.VERY.NIGHT.  I NEEDED my new Trapper Keeper notebook for the second day of school for sure.  The stores were always crowded.

Now the stores are crowded in advance.  Our local Target has a binder in the school supply aisle that contains lists of all of the needed supplies for each grade at each school in the county. I found it two months ago, surrounded by a circle of women, like a coven of witches, mumbling to themselves.  It wasn’t a spell they were casting. They were simply committing to memory as many supplies as they could from the list so they could gather the necessary items before returning again to elbow their way in to check the list for more. More pencils, more pens, erasers, pocket folders, spiral notebooks, more glue sticks, crayons, scissors.

We went to the school and we met Snag’s first grade teacher, found his desk, his locker. We went back to his Kindergarten classroom from last year to see his old teacher, let her see how much he’d grown.  She told Snags that she’d met with his first grade teacher and told her all about him.  She told her that Snags liked to eat brisket, and in the understatement of a lifetime, that he liked Star Wars.  I told her we were going to see Clone Wars that very night.  Snags was very excited.

And we did see Clone Wars.  And Snags pronounced it one of the best movies he’d ever seen.  In the very beginning of the movie some words scrolled across the screen, something like: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” and as they did so, I leaned over to Snags to read them to him.  He shushed me loudly then added angrily, “I can READ, Mom!”

I had to admit, it was true.  He can read.  He learned how in Kindergarten.  I guess he’ll learn even more in First Grade.  I hope he pays attention because there is one thing he doesn’t really know the answer to and that is this: How did Jabba the Hutt have a baby?

I pray that my son isn’t the only First Grader out there concerned about the reproduction methods of the nasty green Hutt.

“Maybe Jabba was married at one time,” I offered.

“No,” Snags said.  “That isn’t it.”

“Well, um, I don’t know then,” I said, giving up quickly and hoping he would give up too.

He didn’t.  He pondered other ways the baby Hutt may have come about:

“Maybe something grows on Jabba the Hutt and then if falls off and they put it in a jar with some chemical stuff and it turns into a baby Hutt…”

Hmmmm.  Maybe.  It’s Star Wars, after all.  But YUCK. I cringed.  I took slow, deep breaths, trying to pretend that I wasn’t having a Hutt sex talk with my six year old.  Why do these conversations ALWAYS happen to me?  And why do they always happen when I’m driving, and hit me out of the blue?

“Or maybe,” Snags continued.  “Maybe Jabba the Hutt laid eggs and they came out of the end of his tail and hatched into the baby Hutt!”

And me, shuddering: “Yeah.  That sounds possible.  But let’s not worry about that right now!  We need to think about what kind of new clothes to buy you for school. And shoes, we’ve got to get you a new pair of shoes too.”

First Grade.  Do they teach Hutt sex-ed in First Grade?  Does anybody know?

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A Beer by Any Other Name…

I was fixing lunch for my six year old son, Snags, the other day when he asked me, “Mom, how did you and Dad name me?”

“How did we decide to name you Snags?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.  “Where did you get my name?”

I thought this was an interesting question.  I wasn’t sure what prompted his interest, but I figured he deserved an answer. 

The larger truth is, we just liked the name Snags.  The details behind that larger truth are what I explained to Snags.  But maybe I shouldn’t have.

“Well,” I said to him, “When your Daddy and I were in graduate school together, we knew a man with your name, and he was a really nice guy, just like you are.  So right away we kind of liked the name.”

“And then one day,” I went on, “You’re Daddy and I went out to lunch at a restaurant in the city.  This restaurant made their very own brand of beer called Snags Ale.  They even had coasters they served your drinks on.  They’d bring your glass of iced tea or soda or beer, or whatever you ordered to drink, and put it on a coaster that said Snags Ale.  Ale, by the way, is a kind of beer.  Anyway, when we saw the coaster it reminded us again how much we liked the name Snags.  And I even took one of those coasters home with me!”

“And now,” I said, “We even have these glasses, like the one you are drinking out of that we bought from that very same restaurant, and the glass as you can see, says Snags Ale on it.  So you have drinking glasses with your name on it!”

That is when Snags interrupted.  “So let me get this straight,” he said.  “You named me after a BEER?!”

“Well, uh… not really,” I stammered.  “Remember, your Daddy and I liked the name Snags.  There was that nice man at graduate school.  And OH! also there is a character in a movie with your name, and it’s a good movie too, and so when we saw the coaster with the name of the beer on it, it just reminded us that we liked the name Snags.  So you see, we didn’t really name you after a beer.”

“Actually,” Snags said, “You kind of did.”

I guess now that the truth is out I have nothing left to do besides wait for the day that Snags is given a homework assignment to research his name.  I can see his classmates standing up to report that “I am named after my grandmother, Mary…” or “I am named after my great uncle Paul.” 

So now I’m thinking, that to avoid the inevitable meeting with the principal when Snags stands up to report that his parents named him after a beer, I am going to teach him to recite this: 

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Snags.
What’s Snags? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a beer. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a beer
By any other name would taste as good;
So Snags would, were he not Snags call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title…

Or maybe I ought to just leave well enough alone.


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

That Ain’t No Cat

I was in the sixth grade, when a male classmate, David, asked our music teacher if she had a pussy.  I don’t recall how much sex education we’d had at that point in time, but certainly we’d had enough to realize, at least on some level, that there was some kind of forbidden sexual connotation to his question, and the class sat and watched in fascinated horror as the teacher turned from her seat at the front of the class toward the boy.

She asked him to repeat the question, (WHAT DID YOU SAY?) and feeling emboldened by the barely suppressed nervous giggles of his classmates, he did. She was not amused.  Nor was she placated when he insisted that he was talking about a cat.  Did she have a cat?  A PUSSY cat?

David was sent to the principal’s office.

He was, I suppose, the kind of boy who, had this been the 1950s, would have been considered a bad boy.  The kind of boy who girls might like, but parents wouldn’t like at all.  He might have been like Arthur Fonzarelli from Happy Days, or Danny Zuko from Grease, or even Eddie Haskell, from Leave it To Beaver. Except he had big blonde hair, and this was 1979.

David, as it turned out, liked me.  Or more specifically, he liked my chest.  There were few girls in the sixth grade with a stack like mine.  He asked me to be his girlfriend.  I think I asked my mother if I could have a boyfriend.  I don’t remember what her verdict was.  But I remember going to the pool one summer afternoon and seeing him there.  He tried to kiss me.  I was a good girl, and he scared me.  He talked about my boobs too much.  That made me uncomfortable.  I hated my boobs.  In all truth, I still do. I avoided him after that.

A few days ago, my son Snags was bored.  Bored, bored, bored.  Bored out of his skull.  He played Star Wars LEGOs on Xbox.  He got bored.  He played Star Wars LEGOs on his Game Cube. He got bored.  He moved on to Star Wars LEGOs The Complete Saga on his Nintendo DS.  He got bored.  He built some ships with his Star Wars LEGOs.  And what do you know?  He got bored.

I suggested that he play outside.  He said it was too hot.  I suggested he go outside and ride his bicycle.  He didn’t want to.  “I don’t want to change my shoes,” he said.  He was wearing Crocs.  He was too lazy to kick them off his feet and switch to tennis shoes.  I suggested he go outside and ride his scooter.  His eyes widened with interest, but just as quickly returned to normal when he realized he couldn’t ride his scooter wearing Crocs. 

In a last ditch effort to get him outside, I offered to walk with him to the nearby playground.  “I’ll push you on the swings,” I said.  That was something I knew he liked, and so finally, he thought that sounded like fun. An escape from his boredom.

As we started up the sidewalk toward the playground, Snags said to me, “Mom, there’s this thing called a pussy…”

Sixth grade music class came back to me in a rush. I wasn’t ready to give a sex talk.  Snags is six years old, not sixth grade. And this was summer vacation.  I couldn’t send him to the principal’s office.

I didn’t want to hear any more, but warily I said, “Yeah?”  I waited, with dread, for him to go on.  

“Yeah, there’s this thing called a pussy and I don’t know the rest of what’s it’s called or I can’t remember what it is exactly?”

What should I say I wondered.  Should I explain that boys have a penis (which he knows) but that girls have a, um…  No.  I can’t, I thought.

But before I could decide how to respond, he went on…

“And this thing called a pussy… something, it grows in a pond!” he said.

I died with relief right there on the side walk. As I lay there dying, my sixth grade life flashed before my eyes.  I saw my music teacher point David toward the door.  I heard her reprimand as she sent him to the principal’s office.  My final words, right before I died for good were surprisingly strong for a dying woman, and nearly shouted with joy: “PussyWILLOW?  You mean a PussyWILLOW?”

“Yeah!  That’s it!” Snags said, all smiles.  “A pussywillow!”

And then a miracle happened.  I was brought back to life and we walked on.  To the playground.  And the swings.  Where Snags wasn’t bored at all.


Filed under humor, life, parenting, Snags