On the limits of my principles

I’ve mentioned that my wife broke her foot the other day. She does most virtually all of the grocery shopping. While I am perfectly capable and willing to step in and handle that job, the simple fact that I don’t do it means that it will likely take me twice as long to get the job done because I don’t know where everything is, and I’ve discussed my (getting better) issues with panic attacks while wearing masks a couple of times as well. So as soon as we discovered that we could do curbside pickup for our groceries for just $5 extra plus the tip, we decided that at least for right now that’s how we were going to handle things.

Now, they allow you to set general rules for what to do if something you want isn’t in stock. I’m not sure what the options are (she did the ordering) but basically it boils down to they pick substitutes or they don’t. Our son has some allergy issues so she decided that the best move was just to go with no substitutes, and if for some reason we’re denied something that we feel like we need I can always make a run tomorrow for a couple of things.

You may recall also that I wrote a Comprehensive List of Things I am Currently Boycotting a couple of weeks ago. One of my friends mentioned Papa John’s in the comments. Papa John’s is another sort of edge case for me; I generally avoid eating there but that’s as much because my aging digestive system can no longer handle their garlic sauce (which is absolutely essential to the Papa John’s experience; do not insult me by suggesting that I can eat their pizza without drenching it in garlic sauce) than it is because of their politics.

That said, I’ve been craving the damn place ever since reading that comment. It’s a terrible idea, so we haven’t caved, but it’s been lurking there in the back of my head.

We decided on the way home from getting groceries that we’d have pizza for dinner, as there were supposed to be two pizzas in our order. Then we got home and discovered that one of them wasn’t there, presumably because they were out of stock on that specific kind of pizza.

Damn. We briefly discuss other options, and Papa’s comes up, and I shoot it down, because it’s a terrible idea. And then I interrupt the conversation to go use the bathroom, and while I’m in the bathroom I hear my son yell for my wife from our other bathroom. And when I come out, she tells me that I have something I need to deal with in the other bathroom.

And, well, a minute or two later, after seeing what I had been summoned for, I sent this text:

If you’re thinking “Okay, this sounds like that happened, but the size of a baseball? It has to be something else.” No, it doesn’t. That’s what happened.

I have about an hour to get my affairs finished off for the evening before I begin paying for dinner.


8:45 PM, Friday May 8: 1,283,846 confirmed cases and 77,178 American deaths.

A thing that just happened

A trifle too long for Twitter, so a second short blog post on the day it is!

The boy is working on some language arts homework, and he’s occasionally coming to ask me some questions (I’m in the office) when he hits something he can’t immediately figure out. The theme for this particular assignment appears to be words with double letters and opposites, so we’re trying to find words that have both. I try to give him indirect answers so that he has to figure the words out himself, and his vocabulary is generally pretty good. For example, the first time the initial word was alike and he needed to come up with different.

So he comes back into the office a bit later and this time the task is to find a word that is something to wear. So, dress. I tell him it’s something that is usually worn by girls.

“Boobs?”

Suddenly I have a headache.

“People don’t wear boobs, dude. That’s a body part. They’re attached.”

He thinks about it for a second, and then, while rubbing his chest, asks what the things that “cover the boobs” are.

“That’s a bra. Three letters. No repeats.”

He thinks for another minute or two and comes up with the word dress, and I send him away.

The end.

A brief thought concerning corporal punishment

I basically forgot to blog today. I’ve done an astonishingly good job avoiding the Internet across the board beyond what was necessary to get my last little bit of grading done before Spring Break– yeah, I’m on Spring Break, somehow– and other than the couple of hours it took to do that I’ve basically either had my nose in a book or been sitting in front of the PS4. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday where I can’t leave the house, mind you, but I seriously just had a sort of “internet? what?” moment a bit ago.

We have decided to watch the entire Fast and Furious series while I am home, by the way. Right now we’re about 20 minutes into the first one and literally every object on the screen looks like it was filmed separately on a greenscreen. I don’t understand why this movie looks so terrible. I may end up having to livetweet a few of these, we’ll see.

Anyway.

Something occurred to me tonight as we were putting the boy to bed, and this is going to be one of those lead-ins where the lead-in is longer than the actual point of the post– but I swat my kid on the ass as a joke all the time, right? I’ve never spanked him, literally never laid a finger on him in anger, and neither has my wife. But I swat the kid on the ass as a joke all the time, particularly as I’m putting him to bed. Most nights end with a hug and a swat on the ass. And tonight, for no particular reason, I swatted him a little harder than usual, to the point where I noticed it. Did he? No. Not at all. He squealed like he usually does– it’s part of the game, basically– but if he had any idea that I’d swatted him any harder than I usually do he didn’t react to it.

Now, again, I’ve never spanked him and never hit him with the intent to hurt him. Not once. And the thought that floated through my head and triggered this piece is that if I did decide I was going to spank my kid, with the intent of it being painful and in some way theoretically modifying and/or punishing his behavior, I would have to hit him harder than I have ever hit anyone before. Which, okay, isn’t saying a lot, as while I’ve broken up dozens of fights over the years I haven’t been in one since fourth grade– but …

Yeah. I’m not doing that to my son.

That’s all.

In which I am proud and disgusted

I mentioned yesterday– or at least I think I did, play along if I’m wrong– that after work I had to go to a parent-teacher conference for my son. This was a regularly-scheduled event and not one of those “your kid is a shithead, you need to come in now” sorts of things, and I wasn’t expecting any particular surprises from it– my kid does well academically but is, I think, a moderate behavioral challenge when the mood strikes him, and most of his teachers have tossed a “he could get better at paying attention” type of line at us from time to time. And they’re not wrong; he could. And this is a thing that we work on; he’s not perfect. So I wasn’t expecting all candy and roses but I wasn’t expecting an unpleasant conversation either.

I have spent a decent chunk of the last couple of weeks administering a standardized math test to my students that we take three times a year. 90% of my students are done within two class periods and the rest of the time is catching kids who were absent or the occasional one who needs more time. This test is given nationwide and the norms are referenced nationally, so a kid’s percentile score, for example, is against all kids who took that across the country and not just the ones at my school or in my district.

And as it turns out, the kids at Hogwarts took the same test this year, for the first time. The teacher introduced it somewhat hesitantly, admitting that she wasn’t completely familiar with the data she was given, and … well, I don’t have that problem, both by training and by inclination, since I’m a huge data nerd and I love this shit. So, yeah, I know exactly how to read this report that you’re handing me.

And I was simultaneously thrilled and disgusted by the results. A bit more background: the way this score is tested is that all grades are scored on a continuum, so there isn’t really a maximum or minimum score but they expect an average 8th grader to have a score of around 230 or so and an average 2nd grader to be in, I dunno, the 180s or so. But it is possible for an 8th grader to score below that second grade level and it is possible for a 2nd grader to score above the 8th grade level.

And my kid outscored about 80% of my fucking 8th graders, in both reading and math. He was in the 99th percentile in achievement in both reading and math, and he was in the 98th percentile in growth for math and 80th percentile in growth for reading. So he killed this fucking test. My reaction was not quite “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” but it was close. I knew the boy was bright, but … shit. And the fact that his teacher showed me these results and then immediately began apologizing because she doesn’t think she’s challenging him enough … lady, if the boy showed up at the 98th percentile in growth, it means he’s hoovered up every single fact you’ve thrown at him all year long. I would kill for results like this from my students. And she’s acting like she’s embarrassed by it.

If my kid isn’t showing growth, then maybe the teacher has at least a justification for an apology, although as the teacher of a number of kids who are failing to show growth (and, to be fair, a larger number who are; my overall numbers weren’t bad at all relative to the other teachers in my building) I’m not about to be making a bunch of phone calls. But if the kid is improving by leaps and bounds like mine apparently is then it is a hundred percent fair for the teacher to crow about the job she’s doing with him a bit.

And it’s weird, because as a dad I’m proud of him, but as a teacher I kind of want to break things, because now I have to swallow the sentence “My second grader took this test and beat your score by thirty points” with a lot of my kids, and … gaaaah.

I just wish everybody could get the education he’s getting at Hogwarts, and I wish enough of my kids gave a shit that they had a chance of getting that type of growth from me. I had one kid in the nineties in growth, but she barely spoke English when she took the first one, so it’s not exactly a surprise. It’s a whole damn different world over there.

In which I gain a level in Nerd Dad

The boy, who remember is eight and was never provided with a sibling, is forever crafting games that he wants his mother and I to play with him. They are damn near always some sort of Pokémon pastiche of one kind or another; “We create characters, and assign them powers, and then we battle!” only battle basically means that all of the moves he’s made up for his characters destroy all of our characters automatically. He, uh, hasn’t quite mastered the concept of game balance just yet.

“We should really get you into Dungeons and Dragons,” I said to him the other day, not expecting anything to come of what I meant as an idle comment.

Yeah, that backfired. He’s been talking about it for a solid week, and I’ve been kind of tossing around ideas for quickie adventures I might be able to run for him and my wife, and then I happened to be at Target tonight, as one does, and came across the D&D Essentials Kit, which frankly has far too much crap in it for just $24.99. There’s a rulebook (not really necessary, as I have the 5E hardcovers,) the adventure itself, some dice, a bunch of character sheets on nice paper (nonetheless, easily photocopied for backups,) a DM screen, and a bunch of little cards for status reminders and quests and magical items and other shit like this. An early look through the adventure reveals that what it actually is is a bunch of mini-quests set in the same area, so it’s going to be possible to do a bunch of shorter sessions that will be better suited to the attention span of an eight-year-old than the marathon gaming sessions I remember from high school and college.

I’m actually looking forward to this. I kind of feel bad not buying it from The Griffon, but that’s the nature of impulse buys, and I’m sure it’s gonna trigger spending a crapton of money on other stuff, and also holy crap have the nerds won the universe. You can get D&D stuff at Target. That’s kind of mind-blowing.