The Ticket to Preschool.

As I mentioned a few months ago, Noah is attending Preschool this fall – three days a week, and his teacher is his precious Godmother, Miss Janey.

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…whom he calls “Miss Jamie”, because I make him eat lunch with Jamie of Jamie’s Rabbits way too often and once one has encountered Jamie and her Rabbits they’re hard to flush from one’s mind – even at the expense of mispronouncing one’s own Godmother’s name.

(Sorry, Miss Janey.)

At parent orientation, they told us that they would be having two parties for the moms on the first day: a “Coffee and Kleenex Party” on one side, and a “Coffee and Kick-Your-Heels-Up” Party on the other.

Which is when I realized that I am some sort of misfit alien – because I neither felt like crying or cheering.

On the one hand, I knew I wouldn’t have a “the first day of the rest of his life” moment because at this time, I plan on bringing him back home for school next year – I just needed a year to focus on second grade with Ali without his vast disapproval in the background of every subject, and I knew he’d love the chance to be in Miss Janey’s class.

On the other hand, I’m not kicking my heels up because I’m a bit nervous about the round-trip drive three times a week (it’s not exactly close to my house) and…I’ve still got to teach second grade.

Therefore, the sum of my feelings about my son going to preschool is…COMPLETELY NEUTRAL.

I told you. I am alien. I should be kicked out of the Mommy League.

So, on his first day, I was somewhat nervously timing the drive, realizing that I was going to routinely hit some morning traffic, carefully skirting around two fresh wrecks on the interstate, and in general feeling neutral.

I got off the interstate with only a few minutes to spare and began down a freshly created road on which I’d only traveled a couple of times. I was checking it out, and I even remember looking for a speed limit sign, which is when, instead, I saw a motorcycle cop.

Hello, first day of school.

Goodbye, Neutral Feelings.

He pulled me over and the kids began their flood of questions about what evil I had executed to be trapped by a POLICEMAN.

Ali was reassuring, telling Noah, “Don’t worry, Noah – he’s on a motorcycle, so he can’t take us all to jail.”

I frantically began rooting around in my glove compartment for my registration and had it in my lap when he walked up.

“Hello ma’am. I need to see your license and insurance card.”

But I went to all that trouble to find my registration and I actually *have* it thanks to my husband who takes care of these things…don’t you want to see it?

I nodded and modified my search parameters to my wallet, where my license never wants to come out and my insurance card is always at least two policy periods out of date.

“I’m sorry I promise my insurance is current but I have an old card. I can get on the app on my phone or call my State Farm agent…”

“Okay ma’am. You figure that out while I run your license.”

Fortunately I don’t find much need for my State Farm app, resulting in it unfortunately not being logged in and more unfortunately me having no idea what my user ID and password were.

I tried every likely combination with shaking hands, still watching the clock leading up to Preschool Delivery Time.

The children continued to discuss my criminal past, present, and future in the backseat.

I finally resorted to calling State Farm’s toll-free app support number, knowing that customer support never ends well. By the time I got a human on the line, the cop was back at my door with a ticket.

I tried to rush Ms. State Farm through the process but she would not be rushed.

In fact, she needed to verify my identity fourfold. Because someone besides me could have totally known three out of four of these questions.

1. What is your date of birth?

2. What make of car was registered to you when you lived at X address? [Three houses ago, from which we moved in 2002.]

3. How much did you pay for the house at Y address? [Our current address, which we bought 7 years ago.]

“I’m sorry but I have a policeman standing at my door can we hurry this along? I just need my insurance card.”

“No ma’am. I must completely verify your identity.”

4. What year was the house at Z address built? [Two residences ago, because I memorize what year every house I live in was built.]

Thankfully, the last three questions were multiple choice BUT STILL. THAT WAS NOT LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. That was like the most suspicious nosiest most awful neighbor no one ever wanted. That neighbor is probably breaking into my back door right now just to see how clean I keep my bathroom.

(Not very.)

During the above questioning, the cop stood awkwardly at my door as I kept whispering apologies and explaining what the problem was. After question four, he said,

“Can you ask her to hold?”

I tried to get a word in edgewise but my Neighbor Nightmare was now giving me my username and a scripted list of instructions. As soon as she took a break, I said “thankyougoodbye” and hung up before she could ask me to take a survey on her exemplary interrogation skills.

I turned to the cop. “I’m so so so so sorry. I have my username now and should be able to reset my password and then get into the app and show you my current insurance card.”

“I tell you what, ma’am. Let’s forget about the insurance card. Here’s your ticket. Have a good day.”

Lesson Learned: Motorcycle Cops hate customer service as much as I do.

And as an added bonus, I now know the speed limit on that new road.

(35, if you must know.)

(And I was doing 54.)

(Because it looked like an interstate and there’s nothing on either side.)

(It wasn’t unreasonable.)

(But don’t ask my kids if they concur because they’re now convinced I deserve to go to jail.)

Thankfully I had taken happy First Day of School pictures of Noah before we left the house,

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Because his level of distrust for me after The Incident rendered his walking-in pictures as decisively suspicious, disillusioned, and humiliated.

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I deserved it.

He immediately found the water fountain to wash away the bad taste my parenting had given him,

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then started down the long hallway to freedom from me,

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and from his ever-present always-directing older sister.

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Happy first day of school, kid. And by the way, your Mommy’s a criminal.

….And might need that Coffee and Kleenex party after all.

What’s That Sound, Volume Four.

We read the bible almost every night to our kids, they go to Sunday School, and we have conversations about God. But you never know what they’re really picking up and what they’re not.

And what they’re pondering in their heart of hearts.

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A few months ago, I had this conversation with Noah.

Noah: “They have cars in heaven.”
Me: “They do?”
Noah: “Yes. Last time we went there they had cars there. I played with them.”
Me, slowly turning and a bit scared, “uh. What?”
Noah: “At heaven. They have cars. And they had a Mater seat and I sat on it – ha!”
Me, wondering if Jesus sits on a seat shaped like a Pixar Character, “Can you say all that again?”

He enunciated it all again, very clearly and with no misunderstanding

I stared at him, confused and silent. Then Ali came to my rescue. “Oh Mom – He means the Blevins’ House! They have a Mater seat that he sat on.”
Noah: “Yeah – the Blevins.”

Blevins …. Heaven … a completely understandable misunderstanding.

After I shared that story with the Blevins, they actually passed on the Seat of Blessedness to Noah – their boys had outgrown it, and Noah needed a piece of heaven in his life.

And it has been well-loved.

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I thought we had cleared up the differences between The Blevins and Heaven until last week.

I was rocking Noah and we were discussing all the things. He asked, “Is heaven at the Blevins’ house?”
“No…The Blevins house is not Heaven, as fun as it is.”
“Oh. Well. At the Blevins’ house do we not ever die?”
“No. That’s heaven – not the Blevins.”
“Oh. Well. When I get to heaven can I ask Jesus if angels wear shoes?”
“Yes. You absolutely may ask Him that.”
“Do you think Jesus has a beard?”

Because these are the important matters of faith.

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From the backseat:

“Mommy, can I drive the car when I grow up?”

”Yup. In 12 birthdays.”

“Okay great. Now how do I turn on the Frozen soundtrack again?”


Noah had the hiccups.

Me: “When you were in my tummy, you got the hiccups all the time!”

Noah: “And then I turned into poop and came out!”

…thanks to my husband for Pre-K digestion lessons.

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After an emotional day, I asked Noah at bedtime if he would please stay little forever.

At first he agreed, then said, “Well, no…in a few whiles I’ll be giant like you.”

Then he went on to add, “When YOU get bigger you’ll have a beard like Daddy.”

Because, scientific reasoning.

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Noah, in trouble and trying to deflect…

(giggle) “You’re funny, Mommy.”

“Why am I funny?”

“Because Jesus Loves You! That’s why you’re funny.”


A small sampling of callbacks after bedtime:

“I have a fingernail problem!”

“I have good news and bad news. The good news is you like cuddling with me. The bad news is you can’t touch fireworks.”


And a couple from Ali…

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Ali went to two weeks of summer day camp at our Church (voted the best in the city, I might add.) This week was Studio Week, where every team made a movie. On the way to camp this morning, she was telling me about the different movies.

“The Orange Team must be making ‘The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe’ because there was a girl who looked like Dorothy with a basket and a dog that looked like Toto inside of it.”

“You mean ‘The Wizard of Oz’?”

“Oh yes. ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I get them confused because the movies are so much alike.”

Just so you know I’ve failed as a parent.


We all sat down at the kitchen table – at the same time – with the table set and everything.

Ali gasped and said “We’re sitting here?? For dinner??? This is what Royals do!”

I swear we have regular family meals. I think.

On Raising a Parrot.

In our pre-kid days, Chris and I had the peculiar hobby of reading Screen It reviews before, during, or even instead of watching movies. Geared toward parents, the site gives an intensely detailed yet discreet laundry list of every profanity or slightly negative word in the movie, detailed descriptions of all violence, drug use, or frightening scenes, and any sexual references all the way down to “There was a slight amount of cleavage showing on the lady in the far left background of the scene.”

Juvenile though it was, we especially loved the detailed explanations of how a word was used. For instance, it’d say “14 scatological terms, used literally three times, once with ‘head’, twice with ‘piece of’, and once with ‘you little’.”

Although we sometimes did make movie-watching decisions based on these reviews, we often found them more entertaining than the movie itself.

Since that time, Screen It has become a paid service, but other free sites like Kids in Mind have taken their place. Our kids aren’t really off the Disney/Pixar/Veggie Tales track yet, so we still don’t have a good use for this service, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Like, for instance, who is looking up “The Wolf of Wall Street” to see if it’s appropriate for children? And if they are, do all deem it inappropriate when they see* “Over 414 F words and its derivatives…82 scatological terms, 53 anatomical terms…name-calling (midget, scum, nitwits, degenerates, depraved, lazy, idiot, sweetheart)”? Or are some parents like, “Oh, well there’s under 500 F words, so I guess I can take the kids to see it!”

* I left out at least half of the Profanity listing of Wolf of Wall Street in the interest of not taking your entire day to read this post.

One service that Screen It offers is a listing of all imitative behavior, which would include any phrases or actions that they thought kids might mimic. For some reason, I always pondered these greatly. Like, would a kid really jump out of a fiery car just because they saw it on a movie? And if they did, wouldn’t that be a good thing? I mean the car’s on fire and all. And if I took my kid to see Maleficent and the worst thing they came away with was repeating the phrase “How Quaint!”, am I really going to care?

I looked forward to the day when I could see for myself if Imitative Behaviors really do get imitated.

But alas. Ali has never been an repeating type of kid. She’s a deep thinker, an independent thinker, and never seems to pick up other people’s behaviors.

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So we had to have another kid.

Noah did not disappoint. He can pick up on anything anytime and repeat it with the perfect inflection and gusto.

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Enter The Lego Movie – clearly a must-watch for our family.

As we have now seen The Lego Movie more times than the F word comes up in The Wolf of Wall Street, Noah has grafted many new phrases into his dictionary, such as “Darny darn darn!”, “Honey, Where are my paaaaaants?”, and “What the heck!”

But my favorite phrase…perhaps my all-time favorite imitable behavior of all time…is this Lego Movie Jewel.

Imitative behavior is every bit as awesome as I’d always imagined it. And then some.


Disclaimer: Before you ask, no representation is made that the contents of this video in any way reflects the speaker or the blogger’s feelings toward any recent blog topics.