There are spelling words and then there are words I would consider ‘verbal diarrhea.’ Week after week, we go review Justin’s spelling words with him and he usually does pretty well during the Friday spelling tests. However, this week, we’re dealing with a rectal explosion of orthographic study.
Justin (a 3rd grader) was sent home with a new spelling word to learn, in addition to his 20 other spelling words. The word is: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. (Just for the record, I misspelled it twice while typing it….and I was reading it from a piece of paper!) It is a noun. Just from looking at it, I would have assumed someone died from it. Not the disease itself, but rather just from having to learn how to spell it. Whoever discovered it was smart enough not to put his or her name on it.
I asked GWE if this was a legitimate spelling word or if it was a bonus word. We were confused. The instruction clearly stated that if the word was spelled incorrectly, four points would be deducted from the final grade. However, this word is ridiculous and clearly not in league with Justin’s other spelling words. For clarification, I asked GWE to email Justin’s teacher.
The following day, the teacher responded that no points would be deducted if the word was spelled incorrectly.
I’m starting to understand why Justin is confused in class. The written instructions did not match the verbal instructions. And, I still didn’t know if this was considered a bonus word. I decided to leave it alone and not care. However, I did offer GWE $10 to send the following response:
Thank you for your prompt response. We are sorry to inform you that Justin will not be participating in this week’s spelling test because he suffers from Hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia.
While are Grandma’s house, Justin decided to announce to anyone who was listening (specifically Grandma and Grandpa Bob) that there was a toy he really, really, really wanted. I’m pretty sure he assumed that because he was under Grandma’s roof it would either appear magically or he thought that someone was going to leap out of their chair and go to the store right at that moment to fulfill his wish. I can assure you that neither were an option…especially because it was Super Bowl Sunday and no one was getting off the sofa.
After making his announcement, he was largely ignored. Probably not the response he was hoping for. However, I saw an opportunity here.
“Justin,” I said, to acknowledge his existence. “I’ll make you a deal.”
He perked up in anticipation.
“Here’s the deal: If you get 100% on your spelling test this week and 100% on your speech, I will buy you that toy!”
I saw the wheels in his brain turn in order to process what I had just said. He looked into my eyes to make sure that that I wasn’t bluffing. My son, “The Negotiator,” was about to meet his match in Dad “The Non-Negotiator.”
He took a moment to calculate his response. With caution, he smiled and asked: “What’s deal number 2?”
I smiled and answered him “Justin….there is no deal number 2!!!!” And with that, his smile vanished and the room erupted with laughter.
Garrett got a bath this evening. After he gets cleaned, he likes to have a few moments of privacy in the bathtub to collect his thoughts and play with a few toys. He forbids me from being in the bathroom with him for this portion of the “evening cleansing,” so instead I folded laundry 10 feet away from him in the bedroom. This is what I overheard him say:
“Hi! Oh, you want to get on the airplane? Ok. Yes….uh, huh. That’s interesting.”
Honestly, it was a little weird to hear this conversation coming from the bathtub. It sounded like he really was talking to someone. And then, he said the weirdest/funniest thing:
“Huh! When did YOU start flying commercial?”
Apparently, my 4 year old is very judgmental of other peoples’ flying habits….. from his bathtub!
We’ve all had moments when there is an opportunity to appear cooler than we actually are, but then something unexpectedly happens and our lack of coolness is revealed to those exact people we were trying to impress. This is one of those stories.
If you’ve been a follower of this blog, then you know that I represent some recognizable actors, writers, and directors. One of my clients happens to be one of Justin’s favorite characters on a show that was recently cancelled. Occasionally, you can still catch it in reruns.
One afternoon, Justin was in my office when I needed to call this particular actor to go over scheduling for an upcoming appointment. (I usually keep work and family separate, but this was one of the few times I didn’t mind crossing that line…because I thought it would make me look cool in front of my son.) As I was dialing the phone, I quickly explained to Justin who I was calling. I told him that I would put the call on speakerphone so he could hear the actor’s voice, but he was forbidden from making any sounds. Excitedly, Justin agreed.
The phone rang once.
The phone rang a second time.
On the third ring, the client picked up the phone and in a jovial manner exclaimed, “WHAT UP, BITCH!?!?”
I have to give Justin credit. He was dying of laughter, yet managed to keep silent…even as he fell to the floor in hysterics. My moment of cool was gone. Karmically, I probably had it coming.
I maintained my professional demeanor, responded with, “Hi there! How are you?” and pretended like my son didn’t just hear me get called “bitch” by someone he’s a huge fan of.
I have a story to share. Before I do, you should be warned. This story does not make me look like a good person. I was an asshole. I used my own child’s misery to get what I wanted. And, there is some mild animal endangerment in this story. Well…more like “Equine Mockery.” (I may have hurt the horse’s feelings, but that was about the extent of it.) Allow me to explain…
On Sunday, I took Garrett to a pumpkin farm. We arrived at 4:45, but I knew that the farm closed at 6pm. For a little more than an hour, Garrett ran around and played on the pumpkins, hid in the maze, climbed on the tractor, and bounced in the bounce house. Finally, at 5:45pm I convinced him to come and look for a pumpkin with me. Covered in sweat, dust, and some boogers, Garrett happily agreed to leave the play area with me.
As we made our way to the back of the farm, I noticed that they were giving pony rides. I asked Garett if he wanted to ride to pony and excitedly he said, “YES!!” So, we got in line and waited…and waited…and waited.
While standing in line, I noticed that the people around us had yellow tickets. I asked the family behind me what the ticket was for and was informed that we needed to buy a ticket in order to ride the pony. So, I knelt down and explained to Garrett that we needed to go back to the front of the farm to get a ticket for the pony. He put his hand in mine and together we went to get the ticket.
When we reached the ticket booth, I told the woman who was tending the booth that we would need one ticket. She replied, “No more horse rides.”
As I held Garrett’s hand, I asked again. “It’s only 5:59pm. Would it be possible to get one ticket for my son to ride the pony?” And again (without apology) she told me, “No. The pony rides are closed.” (Off in the distance, you can see that the ponies were still going around and around.)
I decided to take a different approach with The Horse Dictator. “Please make an exception. We’re only here once a year and my son has been looking forward to this.” Once again, she said, “No.”
Garrett was about to become the best wing-man of all time and didn’t realize it. As soon as he realized that she was not going to let him ride the pony, he began the “pre-cry whimper.” I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and I knew she saw it too. But, I also recognized that she was not going to be motivated into action by tears alone. With Garrett about to cry, I leaned in to the woman and deepened my voice. “Look. We’ve been standing in that line for 10 minutes. (True) There are no signs explaining that we’d need a ticket to ride the pony. (True) And when we did finally get to the front of the line to get on the horse, we were told to come here and get a ticket. (Not true.)” And I finished with, “….had we known all that, my son would be on the horse right now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. (Technically, true)” Clearly, she understood that my tone had changed.
With a huff, she said, “Fine. I’ll ask if your son can ride.” And with that, she stormed off towards the horse area. I grabbed Garrett by the hand and followed her. When we got back to the horses, I saw The Horse Dictator speak with the young man running the ride. All I heard him say was, “Well…the horses are tired.”
I wasted no time and injected my thoughts into the conversation. With attitude and sarcasm, I responded, “What do you mean ‘the horses are tired?’ They’re horses! Do you know what they call ‘tired horses’ in other countries? FOOD!” (Yes, I really said it.)
The Horse Dictator whipped her head around and glared at me. The man running the pony ride actually chuckled and gave in. “Ok, come on. Your son can be on the last ride.” I thought The Horse Dictator’s head was going to explode.
Begrudgingly, she walked over to me and said, “That will be 6 dollars.” I had 6 singles on me. But, I’m a dick and I didn’t take kindly to her attitude. Instead, I handed her a 20 dollar bill and told her I wanted a shirt as well, plus my change. I did that knowing full well that she’d have to walk all the way back to the front of the farm to get the shirt and the change and then walk all the way back to find me.
So, as far as I’m concerned, this story has a happy ending. My son got to ride a horse named “Brownie”….and I got to torture The Horse Dictator.
While sitting at lunch on Saturday, GWE was explaining to Justin what her plans were for the rest of the day and how he would be included. The following conversation really happened: (The dialogue is courtesy of GWE.)
GWE: “Hey Justin, you are gonna come with me to UCLA Alpha Chi for my song workshop. Except the ladies who will be there are from the University of California San Diego! They are visiting Los Angeles for the weekend! Isn’t that exciting?”
Justin: “So okay, Mommy, do they speak a different language?”
GWE: “No, honey, they speak English.”
Me: “Hey Justin, all women speak a different language.”