Archive for February, 2014

Lose money

February 14th, 2014

Olivia heard a radio news report that the US Postal Service is "losing money." She asked me why it's losing money.

To answer a first grader, one must learn to think like a first grader. I'm getting pretty decent at this.

"Do you know what losing money means?" I asked, to establish a baseline.

"That you become homeless?" she guessed.

"What I mean is, do you think people lose money the way you lose your toys around the house?" I clarified.

"Oh. Yeah," she said.

I explained it's a figure of speech to mean not earning money. Then I continued to the real lesson.

"So, if I were selling my cupcakes at the school bake sale for $3, but it costs me $5 to make it, I lose money. Do you understand that?" I illustrated.

Fish eyes. Blank stare. "Uh. No," she stated.

"OK, let me try this," I paused to think. "You draw these pretty pictures. If it costs you a dollar in supplies but you sell it for 50 cents, that's losing money. Get it?"

More blank staring. "No. What's 50 cents?"

I have no idea why Olivia doesn't know what 50 cents means since she asks for Icee money every Wednesday, but this is par for the course with a six year old. I'd have thought she wouldn't know what supplies means, but then again, she uses the word "edible" in her normal conversation.

I chuckled and gave up. "Let's talk about this another time... Wanna watch TV?"

Score me one point on the excellent redirect.

So... any ideas how to explain P&L to a first grader?

Saucer eyes

February 12th, 2014

My cousin Jan and I were hanging out at her house in Manoa, talking. (See previous post on how the Ako side can talk forever.) One thing led to another and pretty soon we were playing the What If game; this version had me moving in to a house in her neighborhood.

I'm pretty ensconced in our home and moving is not on the agenda for many reasons, but Jan was very keen on me doing this, and listed out a whole pros and cons list (in which there were no cons other than a big mortgage) (oh yeah, that little thing - money).

Jan's list, in order of appearance:

-You can move your parents into the bottom floor, it's perfect!
-You can rent the bottom floor when you don't have parents in it.
-You can rent the cottage in back and have more rental income.
-You can not rent the cottage in back and let your in laws stay in there when they come for months at a time.
-You can put your child in one of the nearby good schools, private or public!
-You can have a shorter commute.
-You can be nearer to us.

She had the whole financial picture worked out on how I could afford a home that's out of my price range. She mentally renovated, redecorated, and relandscaped this person's house to accommodate my family's needs.

The whole thing is set - other than the small fact that this person is still living there, doesn't know we have designed on this property, and doesn't even have the house on the market. Just details, it can be worked out.

I mentioned this funny conversation to Claus when I got home. I left out the "living with my parents" part. We both love our parents and like our in-laws, but we like to be polite when broaching the subject of large life changes.

The following week found me back at Jan's house - with Claus and several other people at the table. This fantasy subject came up again. Very early in the conversation, Jan mentioned the whole "living with the Ako parents" part.

Have you seen an unsocialized cat when startled by a human? Eyes get big as saucers, cat levitates in air? That was my normally mellow husband. "WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, YOU DIDN'T MENTION THAT PART!!!" exclaimed a stunned Claus.

Conversation at the table entirely stopped for a few seconds before bursting out into uncontrollable laughter. Jan looked caught off-guard, like, Was I not supposed to say that?

Embarrassed, I backtracked and said, "I, um, think I left that part out since we were just fooling around anyway. Sorry."

Poor Claus.

And now I know it's also possible for humans to levitate as well when startled!

Smooth talker

February 10th, 2014

I have written here before about "A," the girl in Olivia's class that has shaped up to be her arch-enemy so far this year. I think she's a cute little girl, but the two fight. The teacher says it's because they're exactly the same - bossy.

I have lectured Olivia many times about getting along with her classmates and not bossing them around. It seems to finally have sunk in a little, because she recently said she would like to try to be friends with A. Yay!

One day when I picked Olivia up after school, as we walked past A, Olivia said in a flat voice, "I like your hair. It looks smooth."

The words were nice, the tone of voice was not the warmest. It's... a step in the right direction.

A did not hear over the din of screaming children what Olivia said, and assumed it was an insult. She turned and yelled back, "Don't you say that about me, Olivia! That's not nice!"

Olivia, frustrated by this reception to her attempt at being nice, hollered back, "I said your hair looks nice! It looks smooth!" ("A" really does have some smooth and pretty hair.)

We had not stopped walking so at this point I do not know what A's facial reaction looked like. Either she ignored my kid because she couldn't hear, or she didn't believe. Either way, I think we have some work to do to mend this first grade friendship.

But... small steps, right?

Talking head

February 7th, 2014

Claus' parents are very quiet. They say as much in the entire six weeks at my house, as I might say in one evening to my husband. To be fair, I am a recovering journalist, therefore a real talking head.

Example given:

Since she only sees us once a year, and he has lived away from home for 28 years, I figure she might like to know more about the ins and outs of her son's daily life. In a very, very quiet car ride, I could no longer stand the one-way flow of questions or the silence if I stopped speaking.

In my attempt to get more than a yes/no answer, I asked, "So. Is there anything you want to know about us?"

"Americans?" she said, puzzled.

"No, us. Claus. Our daily lives. What he does. What he likes," I offered.

After a pause, because I'm certain nobody has ever asked her this before, she said, "No, I know what he likes. He loves his family." And that was that.

Your natural tendency at this point is probably to ask if it's cultural. Americans are less familiar with Danes than we are with other countries. I venture to say no. While Europeans don't engage in meaningless small talk ("Hi, how are you?") I've been around enough Danes to know hers is an individual characteristic, not to be put on the entire country.

That's fine. She is who she is. I tried.

Later in the week, I visited my paternal cousin. The entire Ako side is full of talkers. I love my family, but I'm being honest when I say we just don't shut up. My dad, his sisters, my cousins and me. We talk. A lot. A holiday with our clan would be overstimulation for the quieter types.

I laughed about this to Claus later, "I thought I could talk a lot because journalists are called the chattering class, but I am wrong. I just came from Auntie Roz's house. It's my DNA."

He got a weird look on his face and walked off without comment. I was confused.

"Did you hear me? What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm practicing my selective hearing. If your talking is an inherited trait, then that's how the other members of your family survive," he explained. Then went to look for his Bose noise-cancelling headset.

Posted in dad, family, mom | 3 Comments »


February 5th, 2014

I might be a little crazy, but I had a sleepover at my house with not one but two little girlfriends. Things that always seem like a great idea in the afternoon become less of a great idea by midnight.

We had invited one of Olivia's schoolmates over, and as it turned out, the neighbor was available, too, so we had her over. Two six year olds and a nine year old= nonstop twitter.

The terrific thing is that they all got along well. Sometimes, little kids can fight and pout, but this weekend, everything went smoothly.

The assumed challenge is a lack of sleep for parents, and in some ways, extra work in prepping snacks, meals, and crafts for double or triple the kids. I believe the extra work is mitigated by having a playmate to entertain your child for x number of hours, though.

I unleash the children outside to play, but when it was dark, after dinner, we painted nails, and I didn't think to set the house rules first, so like, 20 bottles of nail polish were opened at once, and some left uncapped and a spill hazard.

The kids rushed from manicures to the next activity and left a slight mess, so as I was cleaning up, I myself knocked over a bottle that I thought was capped, but wasn't. Luckily not on the cloth chairs. No harm.

That night, they stayed up really late chattering. I've learned from experience that if I try to put the girls to sleep at 8 (what seems like a normal time in our house), they will stay up talking anyways, and then come out of their room half a dozen times for random and sundry ailments.

My experiment this time was to let them stay up until 10 p.m. when they would be tired enough to fall asleep, or fall asleep quicker than if I tried at 8 p.m. That worked, because there were only three forays outside the bedroom to ask me for something or other.

They ended up falling asleep around 11 p.m., which was a little bit to my dismay since I've said here many, many times before that I favor a bedtime between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Lately, it's been 9 p.m. I was struggling to stay awake by watching a movie on TV.

The next morning, I was awoken by chatterboxes at 6:45 a.m. I absolutely do not get it. HOW in the world are they so energetic??? I am so beat.

If I strain my brain to think back three-something decades, I vaguely remember being so excited at sleepovers that I, too, could get by on much less sleep, but that really was a lifetime ago. Having extra time and energy just seems like a faraway and nostalgic dream to this busy parent.

I really like that Olivia enjoys herself during these sleepovers, and while I don't mind the extra work, it does take a certain frame of mind to work up to it.

What age do you think works best for sleepovers and what tips do you have for managing it or making it more fun?

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