Tuesday, October 08, 2002

October 8-10, 2002

OCTOBER 8, 2002

We've been having a little problem with my daughter and soap. She still, at age 12, doesn't quite understand why a shower has to be a wash and not just a rinse. We tell her and tell her and tell her that she must use soap, soap, soap, yet it's pretty predictable that when we ask her if she did, she'll say she forgot. "I don't smell myself," says she, in reference to her body odor. Too bad for everybody else.

My latest attempt to interest her in hygeine brought us to the body-wash section of the supermarket, which is actually rather terrifyingly large at this point in history. Body wash is big. I thought maybe that if my girl could pick a scent more pleasing to her than Lever 2000, and less slippery than a bar of soap, she might be more interested in lathering up of a morning. (Picking her style and scent didn't work with deodorant, but I'm an optimist.) She sniffed and smelled and finally settled on a green cucumber-and-melon-scented gel -- interesting, because she wouldn't go near an actual cucumber and isn't all that sure about melons, either, but somehow their combined scent captivated her nostrils in a way the vanilla and the raspberry and the mango did not.

She's actually used the stuff for the past two mornings, and now I see the real advantage of super-scented shower products: Such a cloud of cucumber-and-melon-scented steam emerges from the bathroom when she's used the stuff that I'll never again have to ask if she remembered the soap. (I may have to ask if, after all of that, she's rinsed, but that's another story.) I'll probably regret, one day -- when she's a teenager and so obsessed with the way she smells that we can't get her out of the bathroom with a crowbar -- starting her down this particular scented-product road, but for the moment, anyway, life is sweet. Sweet as a melon.

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OCTOBER 9, 2002

Some kids collect baseball cards. Some kids collect rocks. Some kids collect dinosaur stuff, or Star Wars stuff, or Pokémon stuff. My son collects plastic shopping bags. And receipts. And shopping lists. Also wrappers, shoeboxes, tissue paper, pieces of aluminum foil. If you might throw it out, he might want to collect it. He's either going to grow up to be some sort of conceptual artist, or a bag person. He already has his own little shopping cart.

I'll admit, his packrat habits make cleaning up his room a challenge; we bought a laundry cart a while back to act as a "dumpster" for all the bags and paper bits that tend to spread out over his floor. But a kid's obsession with things that cost no money can come in handy, too. I've been having some success recently paying him off for quick homework completion with a plastic bag from the supermarket for every minute he beats the deadline. If he practices his piano, too, he can get a paper shopping bag in the bargain. When he wants a plastic sandwich bag or paper lunch bag instead, we barter: the going rate is three bigger bags for one smaller bag, and it keeps the clutter in his room nicely under control.

It looks like the folks at school are finding uses for his unusual reward ideas, too. He's brought home shopping bags from his teachers from time to time, and yesterday he showed me, with great pride and glee, a paper-towel envelope holding lots of little scraps of foam-paper left over after his class had cut out Halloween pumpkins, ghosts and witches. You could not have bought him a treat that would have made him more pleased than that. Unless, of course, you gave him the bag and the receipt, too.

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OCTOBER 10, 2002

I thought we were done with school chorus this year, and that made me a little sad because singing was a big part of my school life and I'd have liked that for my kids. But my daughter, after one year on the chorus line, said no way she'd go back. And my son --well, even though the demands of grade-school chorus are slight, one or two half-hour after-school practices a month and one concert at the end of the year, I'd never have purposely inflicted him on the chorus director. Behavior isn't his strong suit, after-school behavior especially, and the particular music teacher who leads the chorus has had behavioral trouble with him in past music classes. So I neither sought nor desired chorus membership for the lad. I leave well enough alone.

And yet, here, yesterday, comes home a form announcing that my boy has been accepted into chorus, on the basis of his "interest in music, his ability to participate in this special program and the results of his individual voice evaluation." Apparently, they just come to the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms, ask who wants to sing, evaluate them and sign 'em up. Surely the chorus director must have been in on this, so he's either a) confident he can handle my boy; b) feeling noble about including special-ed kids; or c) forced by district rules to accept special-ed kids, even the really really scoodgy ones.

I still can't quite believe this is going to work, but since they asked for it and I didn't, we'll give it a try. He does sing beautifully, when he's of a mind to. It's the standing on the risers, watching the conductor, and only singing when he's supposed to that will be a challenge.

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