November 6, 2015
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
Although we’ve enjoyed a mild fall season so far, the temperatures have dropped a little bit. Around here lower temps usually mean drier skin, which Seven experiences more than her older sister. She’s incredibly conscientious about her dry skin and moisturizes regularly (often without reminders.)
The other night I went to say good night to her, and, as my younger child is wont to do, began speaking without preamble. This time it was about how she needed lotion and got out of bed. Then, she said, she hesitated.
“And, yes, I do know what hesitated means,” she added, just a hint of sass behind the words.
“What does it mean?” I asked.
“It means that if you want to do something that you stop and you think about it first. I can give you an example.”
“Okay,” I said, “give me an example.”
“Well, for example, let’s say you want to go and confront a bully, and then you stop and hesitate to think about it.
“But what happens if the bully is scary?” I asked. “You know, some bullies hit or punch people.”
“If a person tries and fails twice, then maybe they should talk to teachers or parents or anyone else who is around,” she replied.
Good to know she’s got a plan and that she’s willing to give a bully an extra chance to make the right choice.
One of the funny things—or eerie things, depending on how you look at it—about kids is watching and listening to them try to do the same things you did when you were a kid. It’s eerie because often they don’t know you tried to do the same thing when you were around their age. Or maybe older. Or whatever.
On Wednesday at dinner Nine began talking about how challenging it was for her to write in italics.
“Well, you can’t write in italics,” I told her. “If you want to show that you need to italicize something when you’re hand writing it, you need to underline those words.”
“I can write it at an angle,” she replied with confidence. “When my handwriting gets kind of wonky it looks slanted.”
Interesting. I didn’t say anything else. Like, I didn’t tell her how I used to try to do exactly the same thing. I also didn’t tell her about all the time I spent tilting my wide-ruled paper at an angle, hoping that if I turned it far enough that the words I wanted to emphasize would look italicized. I especially didn’t tell her that I kept trying to do this well past the age when I should have known better.
A little creepy. Or funny. Or whatever.
Because both girls are in their schools’ respective choir groups, when the PBS Newshour did a feature on the acapella group Pentatonix last week we called for the kids to come and watch the feature. They sat in amazement listening to this group of twenty-somethings creating not only vocals but also music with just their voices.
In the days after, the girls were all abuzz with the entire concept of acapella singing. At some point talk turned to starting their own acapella group. I didn’t realize just how serious they were until I heard Seven talking about how she’d enlisted a classmate—“who does an awesome job with posters!”—to do the lettering of a sign up poster for her to post in the classroom.
At the beginning of this week, the prospects for an acapella group from Seven’s school looked grim. She’d put the poster on the wall in the classroom, but someone wrote “No way!” on it. I suggested she talk to Ms. H., the choir teacher, in a secret hope that Ms. H. would find a resolution to the problem. She told Seven that she thought an acapella group would be something for older kids.
Seven wasn’t deterred—until she convinced a few kids to join, and during their first rehearsal those kids spent a little bit of time joking around and having fun instead. She’d toyed with the idea of backup dancers too, apparently, but when her friends started fooling around in their first rehearsal she decided to dissolve the group.
She came home from school on Wednesday in a bad mood and spilled the whole story to me in the privacy of her bedroom away from everyone else at home. I hugged her—the last resort for a mother when nothing else will work—and I think talking it out helped to dim her disappointment somewhat.
Interestingly enough, we have an acapella group here in town on campus. I think I’ll look into taking the kids to see a performance or two of theirs. They don’t do quite the same thing Pentatonix does, but acapella is still cool all the same. And I also hope Seven doesn’t give up the idea of either starting or joining a group of her own someday.
Maybe, if she makes the signup sheet herself next time, the result will be a little better.
One day this week after I picked Nine up from school, she announced that when she got her own cell phone she’d like it to be a Samsung Galaxy Note 6.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because N. has one, and I can use the calculator on it,” she said.
Then she started telling me about some of the other students in her class who also have cell phones.
By the way, just for the record—and I’m sorry if this sounds completely politically incorrect, but I have to put it out there—I think it’s stupid for a nine-year-old to have a cell phone. Utterly—completely—stupid.
Anyway, conversation drifted from cell phones to something else, and I thought the topic had wound to its natural end. Until dinner, when Nine sat in her chair and declared that in addition to the cell phone, she needed her own iPad, her own laptop, and a Nerf gun.
The Nerf gun threw me, I’ll admit; otherwise I would have asked her if she had any plans to join the cast of Scorpion.
My husband and I, in a quick back and forth, started totaling the cost of all these items.
“Who’s going to buy you all this stuff?” my husband asked Nine.
She pointed at him. “You are.”
“You know that a new cell phone could cost up to six hundred dollars,” I said, “and after that you have to pay about thirty dollars a month for the service to be able to use the phone.”
She shrugged. “Okay, so?”
“So these parents,” my husband replied, indicating him and me, “aren’t going to pay for all that stuff.”
“So,” I said, “you’re not getting your own cell phone until at least high school. You probably won’t get your own laptop until college. And you may never get your own iPad. We’ll see.”
When I went to say good night to her, she announced that $30 dollars a month meant she’d have to pay $360 a year for cell phone service.
“That’s just for the first year,” I said. “You have to keep paying that every month.”
“What happens if you don’t?” she asked.
“The cell phone company will cut off your service, and you won’t be able to use the phone.”
“You can’t use anything on the phone?”
“Well, you can’t use the phone part or the internet.”
She pondered that one for a moment. “Could you still use the calculator?”
“You probably could,” I said, “but that’s about it.”
“Well, that’s something.”
“If this is about the calculator, you can always borrow mine or Daddy’s,” I said.
“It’s not just about the calculator.”
“Doesn’t matter,” I said with finality. “You’re not getting a phone.”
Like a dog with a bone, this one. I’m just afraid of the first classmate who comes home with a convertible.