Sunday, October 31, 2010

What I learned at Evan's Halloween Party

Five things I learned at Evan's Halloween party (hosted at our house):

1. Truth or Dare can include ground rules including no kissing or hugging. (Thank God).

2. My 15-year-old and his friend are excellent monitors of 13-year-old parties - including stepping in when    party goers want to include 7-year-old Ethan in a dare.

3. Four out of five 13-year-old girls look like 19-year-old girls.

4. Five out of six 13-year-old boys look like 9-year-old boys.

5. Girls scare me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spelling Stings

Seven-year-old Ethan is quite the speller. For the last 4 weeks, he has been coming home with near perfect to perfect scores on his spelling tests.

Each Friday after school, he proudly has shown us his tests - adorned with stars, stickers and smiley faces. We then, of course, adorn him with praise and kisses.

Paul: That is awesome Ethan. Really proud of you.

Me: Oh! Come here and give me a big hug my super speller!!!

But one day, Paul gingerly brings up a thought.

Paul: Don't you find it odd that he gets perfect scores on his spelling tests?

Me: Why would it be odd?

Paul: Well... I don't know.


Me: What are you saying Paul?


Paul: I don't know. It just doesn't seem right.

Me: Oh my God Paul! How can you say such a thing! Are you saying he isn't capable of doing well on his spelling?!


Paul: (takes a deep breath). Well... I'm just saying I think it is odd. I mean, when we work on his spelling, he has a hard time. And then he comes home and it's perfect.

Me: So you think he is cheating?

Paul: I'm not sure.

Oh my God. My precious little Ethan. My sweetheart. My baby. The apple of my eye. The one who always comes to sit in my lap, wrap his little arms around me and shower me with hugs, "I love yous" and kisses... is... is...

a cheater!?

I think I feel sick. 

Me: I don't believe it. I can't believe you think he is dumb and he can't do well on his spelling tests!

Paul: Najla. I don't think he is dumb. But, I also don't think he is really getting perfect scores. When he came home today, I asked him to spell one of the words and he couldn't spell it.

Me: Well... that happens! I mean, he might just cram it all in and forget it afterwards.

Paul looks at me. I don't know who he thinks is more pitiful -- Ethan or I.

Yesterday (big sigh from me here) Ethan comes home with a perfect spelling test. And as I look over the beautifully crafted  letters - written with 2nd grade love... I have a flashback. A flashback to the night before as I was tucking him into bed.

Ethan: Mom! I have a spelling test tomorrow!

Me: Did you study?

Ethan: No! Dad didn't work with me!

Me: Well, you'd better look at them in the morning....

I stare at his spelling test... and I see words like "scorn," "thorn," "smart," and the "CHALLENGE" words of "Halloween" and "mystery" -- all spelled correctly. And I had a twinge of skeptisicm...

...and so I ask...

Me: Ethan. Will you please spell "smart" for me?


Ethan: (His brows furrow). Why?

Me: Just spell it for me please (I say gently).

Ethan: I got it right on the test.

Me: I know honey. I want to hear you spell it again. (I try to sound encouraging and not so accusatory).


Ethan: Uhm...Ssss-mmm-aaarrrt. Sssssmmmmarrrt. (pause) S?

Me: Yes.

Ethan: M?

Me: Yes...

Ethan: aaarrrrtt. aaaaart.Uhm. (pause) aaarrrrr.... R?

Me: You forgot a letter.

Ethan: Oh. aaarrrrttt. aaarrrr. U? No. not U. Uhmmm... O?

Me: No.

Ethan: Uhm... E?

Me: Ethan? (pause). I want you to tell me how you got all these words spelled correctly on your test.

Ethan: I got them all right!

Me: Yes. I know. But please tell me how you got them all right. I won't get angry. I just want you to tell me the truth.

Ethan's eyes fill up with tears. And I mean FILL. He looks so sad and so pitiful I just want to scoop him up and tell him it's all okay. But I grit my teeth and try to stay strong.

Ethan slowly lowers his forehead to the arm rest of the chair I am sitting on and in the faintest voice whispers...

Ethan: But I don't know how to spell them and I wanted to get them all right for you.

...and begins sobbing.

I feel enormous guilt. Why? Because I should have been helping him with this spelling words. I should have recognized that he was having a hard time AND he felt all this pressure to do it right.

Me: I'm glad you told me. (I rub his back as he sobs). We'll talk about it later. It'll be okay.

Later that night, after Paul puts Ethan to bed he tells me..

Paul: I told him that he doesn't have to get all his spelling words right for us to be proud of him. All he needs to do is his best. I told him he needs to work hard at learning them... and whatever he gets on his tests... we'll be proud.

Me: You are so good at that stuff. Thanks.

Paul: And he asked me if I was going to tell his teacher.


Me: What did you say?

Paul: I said that maybe he should tell his teacher.

Me: Oh. (pause). Yeah. He probably should.


Paul: It's a good lesson Najla.

I look at him with pitifully.

Paul rubs my back...

Paul: We'll talk about it later. It'll be okay.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Being gay

Ethan: Mom! Evan called me gay!

Me: Then Evan doesn't know what gay means. Gay isn't a bad word. You know that don't you?


Ethan: I think so...

Me: Do you know what gay means?


Ethan: Uhm... it's sumpin' with two boys?

Me: Well... kinda. It's when two boys love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together and get married. They love each other so much that they love to hold hands, and hug and kiss and be together - and have kids together if they want to...


Ethan: Oh.


Me: Gay is another word for homosexual.

Ethan: Oh.

Me: And there is nothing wrong with the word gay, or being gay. So for Evan to think he is calling you something bad is wrong. I'll have to talk to him about that.


Ethan: Mom?

Me: Yes?

Ethan: I think I am gay.

Me: Oh really? Why?

Ethan: Because I love my bruh-ders a lot.

Parents vs children

I'm in the bedroom folding laundry. Paul is outside in the backyard working.

Paul yells from below...

Paul: Naaajjj?


Paul: Naaajjjj?!



Paul: Naaajjj? Do you have a minute?

I go to the window and look below.

Paul: Naaajj? Is there a reason why we have four boys and none of them help with the yardwork?

Does he want an answer or is he making a statement?

Me: No.

Paul: So, you don't have a problem with them working.


Me: No. But they have been helping me all morning. Ethan cleaned and vaccumed the family room, Evan walked the dog and cleaned his bedroom that was full of food, Zayd picked up his room and cleaned the bathroom..


Me: Zach did nothing.

Paul: So does that give them a pass or something?

Me: A pass?

Paul: Does that mean they can't help with the yardwork.

Me: No.


Me: Why are you asking me this?

Paul: I just want to make sure we are on the same page.

Me: Okay. We are on the same page.

Paul: So you are okay with me forcing them out here to work?

I don't get this.

Me: Well, of course!

Paul: Okay.

Within 2 minutes of this conversation, Ethan comes into my room and sits down next to me with a book.

Ethan: I am going to read now.

Me: But your dad asked you to work outside.

Ethan: I know! But I have to read!


Me: No. You need to listen to your dad. Go outside and help.

Ethan: (big groan w/ loud stomping out of the bedroom).

A minute later (and I'm not even kidding)... Evan comes in. Sits down next to me with a hand-full of Fritos. This after he spent the entire morning cleaning popcorn and food from his room -- and after I spent 10 minutes lecturing about NOT eating upstairs.

Evan: Watcha doing?


Me: Why are you here? You are supposed to be outside helping dad.

Evan: I just came to say hi!

Me: Get outside.

Evan: God mom. Why do you get so mad?

Me: And WHY do you have those chips in here!

Evan: I'm going! (he stomps out)...

Okay - seriously.. and I wish I was kidding. No sooner had Evan walked out when Zach walked in.

Zach: So I have to tell you something mom.


Zach: Did you know Ethan was eating soap?


Me: Yes. I know.

Soap eating is another entry.

Zach: You know the pitcher of Crystal Light downstairs? Ethan drank it. Right out of the pitcher. He put his mouth on it and drank. So now there is soap on it.

Me: Zach? What do you want? Aren't you supposed to be outside helping dad?


Zach: Oh.


Zach: Yeah.

He walks out.

A few minutes later Zayd walks in.

Zayd: What are you doing mom?

Me: OH MY GOD! Get outside and help your dad!



Zayd: Okay! Okay! (He stomps out).

So, all four have been in... five minutes pass and Evan walks in...

Evan: Mom? I have a question for you.


Evan: What!?


Evan: Why are you so mad!?



Lightbulb goes on for Najla.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Life Lesson Question #1

Hanging out in the kitchen after dinner, Zach asks...

Zach: Okay - Life Lesson question. So how do you know if it is okay to use something if it is a couple days past the expiration date?

Paul: It depends on what it is. Canned food is usually good for a while, but you have to be careful with meat and some dairy products.


Zach turns to me.

Zach: I also got a life lesson today on how to change a car's headlight.

Me: (dryly) Good for you. Special time with your dad.

Zach: Yeah.


Zach: Dad, so you know how to change a tire too?

Paul: Yup.

Zach: Do you mom?

Me: Nope. That's what OnStar is for...

Zach laughs and Paul gives me a disapproving look.

Zach: Then what happens when OnStar expires?

Me: Then dad does it.


Zach: There is seriously - so much for me to learn how to do. How am I going to learn how to do all this stuff?


Zach: Will I be able to just call home and ask?

Me: Oh... of course.


Me: Or you could do what I did.

Zach: Marry someone who knows how to do all this stuff?

Me: Yyyyy-up.

Friday, October 1, 2010


We have a new car. A Buick Enclave which is all fancied up with this bluetooth thing where you can just say out loud to some computer that lives in the space of the car, "Dial Home" and then it calls home.

I find this fascinating and fantastic.

The idea that I can talk on the phone AND drive with both hands on the steering wheel is awesome. In addition, that there is some space computer girl that is in the car with me at all times, ready to obey my commands. I'm very social. I like that I have a space computer girl to talk to anytime I feel like it.

There is only one glitch with Space girl. She can't seem to recognize the name "Paul." - which wouldn't be a problem if my husband's name wasn't Paul. I considered giving him a different name like Brett Farve... but then I thought if I said "Brett" and then Paul came on the line... that might become disappointing.

Yesterday, Paul and I spent some couple time in the car, programing Space girl to recognize my most often called peeps.

Paul: Press the button for two seconds and say "Store"

Me: (holding the button)... Store

Space girl: Store. Name please.

Me: Paul

Space girl: I'm sorry. Please repeat.

Me: "P"-aul.

Space girl: Did you say "Najla?" Please say "Yes or no"

wtf - Najla?

Paul starts laughing quietly. I hit him. How is the Space Girl ever going to get this right without complete concentration?

Me: No. (I tell Space girl)

Space girl: Okay. Please try again.

Me: "Puh" -aawwwllll.

Paul blurts out a laugh.

Space girl: Do you need help?


Paul: Cancel.

Me: What the heck?

Paul: I don't know. It doesn't like Paul.


Me: Oh! I have an idea!

I hold the button for two seconds.

Space girl: Dial

Me: Store.

Space girl: Store. Name please.

Me: HuZ-band.

Space girl: "HuZ-band" is that correct? Say "yes or no"

Me: Yes!

Space girl: I'm sorry. Please say "yes or no"

Me: What the hell.

Space girl: Did you say "Home?" Please say "yes or no"

Paul starts laughing again.

I hit him again.

Me: (This time I give a more subdued "no."  Apparently Space Girl does not respond well to enthusiasm).

Space girl: Okay. Let's try again.

Yeah. Let's.

Me: HuZ-Bannnd.

Space girl: Did you say "HuZ-Bannd?" Please say "yes or no."

Me: (unenthusiastically) Yes.

Space girl: Okay. Yes. Number please.

Me: 7-0-1.


Paul: You have to say it all at once.

Me: Shhhh... I got this.

Space girl: I'm sorry. I didn't get that. Number please?

Me: 7-0-1


Space girl: 7-0-1.

Me: 3-7-1

Space girl: 2-0-1-5-7-8-4.

Me: Oh my God! (laughing)

Paul is laughing too.

Space girl: I'm sorry. I couldn't get that.

Paul: Cancel. (pause) Najla. You have to say the whole number at once.

Me: But when I've done the dialy thing with her before she lets me say each part separately and she repeats it to me!

Paul: That's different. When you are programming her, you need to say it all at once.

Me: (sigh). Fine. Good God! We have to do this for everyone I want to call?

Paul: How many do you want to program for God's sake?

Me:  Well! I talk to a lot of people! You don't want me to have to use my cell phone to type in numbers do you? There's Char at work, Amy, Mark, you - both cell and office, my mom, Keith, Laura, the president, probably my sister and brother.... maybe the whole cabinet at work...

Paul: I'm only going to help you with me. You're on your own with the rest.

We start the process again - and finally get Paul's cell phone number in using "husband" and his work phone using "Forum."

Me: Okay... stay with me for this one please. I want to make sure I can do it myself.

I hold the button.

Me: Store.

Space girl: Store. Name please.

Me: Nana

Space girl: I'm sorry that sounds too much like "Najla"

Paul: (Bursts out laughing) SOUNDS too much like Nana? NOW that's funny.