Monthly Archives: March 2015

Ballet Supplier to the World

When my children were younger I often used to refer to them as “mitten suppliers to the world.” And not because they produced so many mittens. I wish that was the case. No, the reason they earned this particular sobriquet from me was because, without fail, they would each lose an average of twenty pairs of gloves or mittens every single winter. (And since, in Flagstaff, we average about three winters a year, this is a lot.) Even buying the cheapest gloves possible didn’t really protect me from the financial hit of buying approximately a gross of mittens every year.

Of course, eventually we moved past this phase. It wasn’t that they stopped losing gloves, it was just that I stopped caring if their fingers were cold. When your children are in elementary school the fact that their fingers are blue reflects poorly on you as a parent; when the same thing happens to them in high school it only reflects poorly on them. Or at least that’s what I tell myself: their teachers probably still look at their blue fingers and shake their collective heads at my apparent inability to keep my offspring alive and intact. Still, at least I don’t have to make weekly visits to the dollar store anymore. Unfortunately, however, that’s because the thing I now have to replace on a weekly basis is no longer gloves.

It’s shoes. Specifically, ballet shoes.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, “I didn’t even know they carried ballet shoes at the dollar store.” And you’re right to think that. Because they don’t. Not at all. Not ever. And even if they did—even if, by some over-ordering catastrophe that meant the New York Ballet company had somehow managed to mis-order to the point that all of the dollar stores in the country were somehow flooded with a veritable barge of ballet slippers, it still wouldn’t do me any good, because unlike gloves, which come in “one-size-fits-all,” ballet slippers are more size specific. And the size that is most specifically likely to not be present is size 12, which is what my own careless danseur, Clyde, happens to wear.

That’s right. Size 12 ballet shoes.

You think those suckers are easy to find? They are not. In fact, they have to be special ordered, which means that every time he loses a pair I have go online and order them again. And again. And again. And yes, I probably would get a discount if I ordered a bunch at once, but there are two problems with that plan. One, I have no guarantee that Clyde will still be wearing size 12 ballet shoes when he wakes up in the morning (at age thirteen, the chances are actually quite slim), and two, if Clyde even suspects that there is a spare pair of shoes anywhere to be found he will be even more careless with the pair he has. If that is even possible.

I’ve thought about writing something on the inside of each shoe along the lines of, “If found, please return to…” but there are a couple of things stopping me. One is that I’m not sure I’d want to meet the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting his face close enough to a thirteen-year-old boy’s ballet shoes to actually read a phone number printed there, and the other is that I’m afraid that if people find out I have a size 12 wearing ballet dancer in the house they’ll be waiting outside the front gate trying to snap a photo of the giant ballerina.

Either that, or they’ll be trying to film a video of Bigfoot in a tutu. A tutu, but no shoes. Of course.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive


If I didn’t know my children so well, and know that they are almost constitutionally opposed to anything resembling angelic behavior, I would suspect that they were taken up in the Rapture every day after school. After all, what possible other explanation could there be for the pile of coats, books and shoes that litter the area just inside the front door? Surely the only thing that could be happening is that as soon as they set foot back in the house we are treated to the Second Coming, and they, along with all of the other Righteous Souls, are instantly transported up to Heaven, leaving all worldly goods behind. Well, that would be the only explanation, if it wasn’t for the fact that I doubt there is any way my children would ever stop pushing and blaspheming each other long enough to make the trip from earth to the heavenly realm. And I’m sure that somehow, even if they did, the trail of power cords and mascara (from the things neither of them would ever willingly let be “left behind”) would reveal their ultimate destination. And, of course, there’s the fact that we’re all atheists (except for Clementine, the black sheep of the family, who insists on agnosticism) that really makes me think that the Rapture just isn’t in the cards for me and my family.

Which is unfortunate, because the only other explanation I have for the piles of earthly possessions that appear every afternoon to trip me as I walk in the front door is that my children are inconsiderate slobs who would rather see me fall on face carrying a full bag of groceries than walk the extra twenty inches to put away their things. Knowing that, you can see why the Rapture might be an appealing alternative explanation.

Sometimes I think that if we had a tall enough fence around the front yard they would actually start shedding as soon as they got out of the car, and that instead of the aftermath of a Rapture it would look more like a very successful rave had just taken place. I’m not sure if that would be better or worse, visually, but at least outside I would have more room to maneuver around the piles. Once I step inside my options are kind of limited, and sure, I could step directly on the items in question, but you’d be surprised at what treacherous footing a pair of shoes make when they are not on your feet. (Or maybe, having slobby kids of your own, perhaps you wouldn’t be.)

The worst thing of course is that they never, ever, trip on their own stuff, and so have no idea what I’m talking about when I complain. Somehow, to them, the various articles of clothing and school books are not so much road hazards as guide posts, the same way Hansel and Gretel probably didn’t see what they were doing as littering so much as trail marking. (Although, if Clementine and Clyde are Hansel and Gretel then I guess I’m either the witch or the evil stepmother. I think I’ll take witch. At least she owned her own home. And could, apparently, cook up a mean child souffle.)

Or maybe it’s the same as the way skunks don’t seem to mind their own stink. (Although, really, how would we know if they did? It’s not like skunks have the most expressive of faces—they could be suffering all sorts of existential crises every day and we would never know it. Or, to be honest, care.) In any case, I think that the same way skunks aren’t driven out of their dens by their own stink, children aren’t tripped up by their own detritus. That’s my theory, at least And I’m keeping it.

After all, it’s still more believable than The Rapture.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive

Boy World

I used to think that I understood what it was like to be a middle schooler. After all, I’ve been to middle school myself; I know the routine. I know all about all those must have right now fashions that come and go so fast you barely have time to get to the mall and buy them before they’re “so last week.” And I know about the those revolving door types of friendship that manage to make the plot lines of Russian novels seem like Twilight in comparison. And that knowledge came in very handy when my daughter, Clementine, was a middle schooler. I was able to help her navigate some of the melodrama, and I was, I like to think, a good sounding board when things got really weird. All in all, I think I had a pretty decent handle on the whole thing. At least, that’s what I used to think, before, my son, Clyde, started middle school. Because that’s when I realized I really don’t have the slightest clue about middle school per se; I only understand the concept of girl middle school.

And boy middle school is a whole other thing.

Take the drama. (Please.) The other day when I asked Clyde how his day had gone at school he casually told me that the girl he liked was, apparently, no longer speaking to him. I immediately started to plan for full crisis mode: thought about what we had going on that night and whether or not we could cancel it, wondered if there was any ice cream in the house, and tried to remember if I had bought or just rented the complete Die Hard set. With all of these things going through my head I gently asked Clyde how he felt about the recent turn of events. He looked up from where he was slipping his after school snack (also known as an entire pizza) out of the freezer and shrugged his shoulders at me.

“Eh. I kind of like someone else now. Would you make this for me?”

And that was it. The extent of the breakdown. I was, to say the least, flabbergasted. Gobsmacked. Even a bit twitter-pated. Because this was something I had no experience with at all.

If this had been me in middle school I would have, without a doubt, convened a meeting of my closest friends and painstakingly, and in great detail, gone over every single conversation I had ever had with my crush, trying to pinpoint the exact moment when it had all gone wrong. Or rather, when I had gone all wrong. What I had done, what I had said, what I had worn that had caused this retraction of (previously unshakeable) affections. Even now, three decades later, I would probably still find myself wondering from time to time where it all went wrong. (I’m serious: I still puzzle over why, in seventh grade, Rodney Moffet chose to walk away from me after our first—and only—slow dance. Was it the dress? I swear, Laura Ashely was all the rage when I bought it. The song? Who doesn’t like Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen?” Maybe it was my hair: I never could quite figure out how to feather it just like Farrah Fawcett…)

Obviously, though, Clyde was not affected the same way. At all. In fact, he was remarkably sanguine about the whole thing, acting as if this were just some normal, every day occurrence in the life of a middle schooler, and not the earth-shattering, confidence-destroying blow that it would have been for me at his age. In other words, he was acting just like…Rodney Moffet had after our fatefully ill-fated dance. Like the world hadn’t just ended even a little bit.

Huh. Come to think of it, Rodney didn’t seem to notice when I stopped speaking to him either.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive


You know you’re a slob when a teenager remarks on it. No, scratch that: you know you’re more than just a slob; you’re an inspiration to slobs everywhere. That’s the position that my son, Clyde, found himself in the other day when his sister, Clementine, came into his room. No stranger to the concept of filth herself, it is significant that Clementine had this to say about the state of her brother’s room: “Dude. If someone came into this house and saw only this room, they’d think the house was abandoned.” And the sad thing is that she was right. While her room typically looks like the aftermath of some tragic Starbucks Train vs. Mascara Truck Accident (Interior Design students would probably call it “Early Modern Latte”), his room just looks like a flop.

Is it a boy/girl thing? Because while her room is trashed, it is not full (at least not completely) of trash. There are valuable things sticking out of the flotsam and jetsam of her room’s landscape, like diamonds poking up from the coal. (Or rather Apple products sticking up from the bras. Because, yeah, while coal might not be as valuable as diamonds, it still has its uses. Just like ipods vs. bras. Oh, shut up. All the ladies here know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, Clyde’s room has none of that. No diamonds or ipods. (And I’m pretty sure no bras, either. Not so sure about the coal, though.)

His room is just pure trash. It’s knee high in Mountain Dew bottles and Burger King wrappers. There’s so much trash, in fact, you can barely see the trash can, which might explain why it is completely empty. Which is what is confusing to me. Clyde’s room is easy. You could clean it with a snow shovel, because there is absolutely nothing in there that he cares about. You could drop a match in the middle of it (please don’t) and he would not shed a single tear. (Sure, he would lose all of his clothes, but that wouldn’t be his problem. It would be mine.) So why doesn’t he just clean it?

I know why Clementine doesn’t clean her room—it’s the same reason I procrastinate cleaning off my counters. If I could just sweep everything into the trash I would, but I don’t want to take the chance of sweeping last year’s W-2’s in there along with last week’s oil change coupons. My messes are more hoarderly. In fact, I will admit that one of the main reasons I don’t like to watch Hoarders is the number of times I find myself wincing when they throw out something really cool. “No way, please tell me you’re not really going to throw out that awesome box full of Barbie heads?”

Clyde’s room? Most of his trash could just go straight into the recycling bin.

I’d think that he was being strangely sentimental about everything (“And here’s the first two liters of Mountain Dew I drank…this week”) except for the fact that its not like he’s actually displaying his detritus. He’s not like some freshman in college who is so proud of the liquor he has consumed that he displays the empty bottles in his dorm window. No, he’s not showing his Mountain Dew prowess off—he’s just living in it. Who knows? Maybe he just wants to make sure he makes his mark.

After all, archeologists say that one of the most valuable sites they can come across are ancient rubbish tips, because the information you can glean from seeing what a culture throws away is just as valuable—maybe more so—than the information you get from seeing what they choose to hold dear.

Maybe Clyde just wants to make sure that he has his bases covered either way.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive