Riddle Me This #7 and #8, But Really, Who’s Counting?

Where the heck have you been? Seriously, I’ve been looking for you. Busy summer, what can I say, but let’s get back in the saddle, shall we?

So, my fan (that would be singular, yes) approached me at school pickup yesterday and inquired about future posts. I suppose we could just cut to the chase and be pen pals since it’s likely just the two of us, but, just in case, I’ll throw this out there into the universe.

Riddle me this #7: If your child has grown enormously in every way since last year in an eerie Andre the Giant kind of way, yet is still insistently able to squish her monster feet into last year’s shoes, do you:

a. Let her do it. Kid’s shoes are expensive.

b. Let her do it. Serves her right for being stubborn.

c. Don’t let her do it. Foot binding is an orthopedically frowned-upon practice and might result in an unscheduled visit from child protective services.

d. Send your sister to the shoe store with her to secure an appropriate pair of school shoes, taking yourself out of the formula entirely.

And while I have your attention, please weigh in on #8.

If your cat has been sneezing and coughing and lunging around the house trying to hack out an elusive, imaginary bronchial hairball for the two weeks since you boarded him (at the vet!) (and he came home sick!) (ironic, no?) do you bring him back to the vet and pay $64 to have him looked at because you made the appointment already, even though his symptoms are already improving??

Don’t bother. I already know the answer.

Yes. He’s fine.

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The Traffic Circle

If you are not from New England, please let me be the one to educate you about the anachronistic and utterly tragic concept of the traffic circle. If you are from New England, screw you because you probably already cut me off in a traffic circle at one point or another.

The traffic circle might have been a reasonably intuitive undertaking 200 years ago when most people in my neighborhood were driving palominos instead of minivans. The traffic circle is clearly the result of poor urban planning, where a bunch of roads came together in a surprisingly unorganized fashion and there was apparently no better solution than to create a massive dead end in the shape of a circle and let travelers figure out the details for themselves. It’s like a handy little Darwinian experiment. If only the founding fathers had invented the urban traffic grid instead of the Bill of Rights, we might not even be having this conversation.

A traffic circle is a racetrack-like section of road, which abruptly appears for no apparent reason but to merge several haphazardly arranged avenues together like spokes on the Wheel of Terror at the traveling carnival. Once you enter the circle, the object of the game is to escape unscathed. It is also convenient if you are able to exit heading in the right direction.  Entering and exiting the circle is like playing chicken at the Indy 500.

As far as I can tell, traffic circles exist for only two reasons. One, so the Geico Gecko has a target demographic to which he can market his wares, and two, so carpooling parents can teach their children useful swear words in an immediate and meaningful context.

The rules of the circle are simple and finite:

  • Vehicles already traveling in the circle have the right of way.
  • This explains why cars entering from the fringes of the circle generally never even hesitate for a moment before accelerating and practicing their “I can’t see you. Don’t even bother to honk your horn because I can’t hear you either. And, nope, I couldn’t even make out the blur of that finger you just raised in my direction because I just achieved Mach 3.” look. Whoosh-pop!

  • Vehicles should always enter the circle by turning right and then continue in a counter-clockwise direction. Ummm. Yes. I have seen cars enter the traffic circle by making a left turn and then, not realizing their error despite compelling and immediate evidence, continue to drive clockwise, upstream while all other vehicles frantically veer out of their path to save themselves.
  •  A traffic circle is a circle. This simple fact escapes most motorists, who generally will resort to any variety of desperate measures to leave the circle when they realize they are about to miss their planned exit. Generally drivers slam on the brakes, literally posing a life and death scenario to the drivers at cruising speed behind them. Another apparent option, which I witnessed in disbelief for the first time this week, is to courteously let drivers pass you until they are out of harms way, and then throw it into reverse and GO BACKWARDS to regain access to the exit you just passed. What these drivers do not realize, however, is that they are IN A CIRCLE. By definition, if they continue to GO FORWARD, they will shortly arrive again at the precise location they presently occupy. So everyone was absent on the day they taught circles in third grade. I consider it my duty as a good neighbor to roll down my window and scream, “It’s a circle, moron!” every time someone hits the brakes in the circle I pass through for my morning commute.
  •  To exit the circle, carefully approach the right lane, ignoring the countless drivers carelessly flinging their vehicles into your path while simultaneously talking on their cell phones without the aid of hands-free devices.

If  you have, against all odds, safely achieved entry into the circle, you generally have one of three unappealing options that may or may not include the benefit of survival:

  1. Stay in the circle until you approach the exit for your destination and then hope to be flung out by centrifugal force.
  2. Stay in the circle until you muster the nerve to cut someone off, and exit at any point, regardless of whether or not it points toward your destination.
  3. Stay in the circle for the rest of your life effectively cutting off all ties with anyone you ever knew who is not presently in the car with you.

There are five traffic circles within two miles of my house. They are an unfortunate trial I must endure every day. I was once the victim of a sideswipe while I was SITTING STILL at the entry point of a nearby circle. The other driver became so flustered, she threw it into reverse and sideswiped me again, going backwards, in case I missed it the first time. All while I was sitting perfectly still. Which seemed like the safest option at the time. But maybe next time I should just plunge  blindly into the vortex with the rest of them. Or just invest in a palomino.

Riddle Me This #5

Was everybody absent the day they taught contractions in second grade? Please explain to me the universal mayhem and panic that ensues when a typical adult is forced to choose between using their, there, or they’re in a written message. You might be able to explain away your confusion when choosing between there and their. Though if you’ve read Green Eggs and Ham, you’ve got no excuse as Dr. Seuss has provided you with the world’s best and most memorable primer for how and when to use there under a variety of unlikely, yet sweetly weird, circumstances.

But here’s what I really don’t get. What is the ambivalence about when they’re comes into play? They’re = they are. That’s it. It’s two words shortened into one. With an apostrophe. Whose sole purpose is to remind you that you are about to write two words abbreviated into one. It’s a gimme. Use it when you mean to say they are. As in they’re about to choose the wrong version of there. Or they’re about to prove why adult Americans are generally perceived to be kind of ignorant and limited in our written and expressive language. I just made that up. But it’s probably true.

Same thing for your and you’re. As in get your contractions right people! Or you’re going to be embarrassed by your inability to successfully pass your efforts at forging your child’s college application essays off as something your child wrote. Because he knows the difference between your and you’re.  Because he went to second grade.

Now, as I am clearly the undisputed Queen of the run-on sentence and overuse-of-commas-and-hyphens-for-comic-conversational-effect, please forgive me the occasional grammatical improvisation for creative purposes. And I generally don’t know what I’m talking about, so there’s that. I really have no idea how and when to use lie or lay. So the lines are open and I’m taking calls on how to choose between those two without admitting you’re (your?) an idiot. And if you’ve ever mixed up we’ve and weave, I can’t even talk to you about that.

They’re*, I said it. Now your* ready to write with confidence. I think I’ll go lay* down.

*Wrong, wrong and wrong. I think.

Riddle Me This #4

When one is motivated to blog on a semi-regular schedule, some parenting duties may fall to the wayside. Laundry, grocery shopping, pet care, making occasional eye contact while your sweet offspring are trying to share their innermost feelings and concerns with you. You know, the small things.

So as the TV program switched over from Kung Fu Panda Legends of Awesomeness to Spongebob Squarepants without my knowledge or consent and my three children sat transfixed while eating a dinner of macaroni and cheese and some lettuce, Mr. Snark entered the room and posed the following query, henceforth known as riddle #4:

“What is the opposite of helicopter parenting?”

Answered provided by middle child, MelloYello:

“Submarine parenting.”

You just can’t please some people.

Glub, glub.

Things That Do Not Belong in My Washer or Dryer

Dear Kids,

I have found some of your personal belongings in the washer and dryer. I did not make this up. You can never ever have them back and I refuse to replace them. They are categorized by genre for your convenience:

A watch. Earrings. Rope bracelets.

Temporary tattoos.

Hair clips, ponytail holders, headbands and a comb.

Belts. Several. In many colors. For any occasion.

A cell phone.

Your bus pass for camp. Your library card.

A diaper! That must have been my fault when I was very, very sleep deprived and mistook the laundry basket for a diaper genie.

A Magic Treehouse Book.

Lip balm. Tissues. Tissues. Tissues. (Sadly, these items made it all the way to the dryer.)

Emery Board.  Nail clippers.

$14.81 in spare change.

Gum. Starbursts. Tic Tacs. Wadded foil chocolate kiss wrappers with little white Hershey tails.

A pencil, eraser, and plastic sharpener full of shavings. All nice and tidy in the side pocket of your cargo pants.

And while we’re on the subject, two pockets full of rocks in your purple coat that was washed, put into storage, and then came back out with the rock collection intact.

Legos. A dreidl. Chess pieces. Dice. Happy Meal Toys.

The Pokemon cards you absolutely HAD TO HAVE.

Stickers. Crayons. Notepads. Paper clips. Rubber bands. A tape measure.

Flip flops. Goggles. Sunscreen. Seashells. Not all on the same day. Really.

Leaves. Grass. Sticks.

A Soccer Medal.

Mini Golf score card (with mini pencil).

The shirts you dribbled olive oil/Gatorade/butter/popsicle juice/chocolate milk all over without bothering to ask for stain remover.

But never once have I found, in the washer or dryer, the socks you take off in the kitchen every day to leave behind as your personal calling card. Hi mom. I’m home.

Would somebody please come downstairs and pick the sunflower seed husks out of the dryer lint screen? Thanks.

Love, Mom