Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Non-pharmacological Sleep Aids?

We've discussed already how I am overly fixated on language, grammar, and how one's choices in literature are reflections of one's character in some way.  But now I'm a bad mother about it.  It's library day at our house, and my sweet almost-seven-year-old chose only chapter books to bring home today.  I'm feeling smug, because she can read them herself, for the most part.  She does still enjoy having me and her dad read to her.

But her taste in literature sucks.  I dread reading the books she chooses.  It's torture.

It's not for lack of exposure.  I encourage her to look at the non-fiction section in the library for topics that interest her.  I bought a collection of girl-centric fairy tales compiled by Jane Yolen after Christmas; she'll listen politely to one occasionally.  My sister gave her a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairlyland in a Ship of her Own Making for a present; couldn't be less interested. I tried to get her interested in Peter and the Starcatchers on her by first letting her watch Hook; too scary.  Okay.  I'll give her that one.  But Hannah brings home Rainbow Magic books from the library.  This week's selection includes Shannon the Undersea Fairy and Cherry the Cake Fairy.  Holy coma.  Those books actually put me to sleep.  I read two chapters and had to go brew a pot of coffee.  I'm not kidding.

I've read this one.  My soul is just a little smaller as a result. DON'T look inside, whatever you do.

They're almost as formulaic as the dumb Barbie stories she likes. The books are about two best friends who discover that Fairlyland just happens to be in great turmoil everytime they have occasion to get together, and they have to work with the fairies to save the day.  Oh puh-lease.  At least they could come up with some interesting fairies now and then.  Hillary the Headcold Fairy?  She could make sure everyone got a good dose of the grippe every couple years, so their immune systems could get a good work out.  Belinda the Break-Up Fairy?  Her role is to make sure that there are self-refilling pints of cookie-dough ice cream or Jack Daniels in the ice box of everyone who just ended a relationship.  How about Cora the Cable Fairy?  Her job is to make sure no one's cable goes out during an important sporting event or the season finale of The Simpsons. Or Hannah's suggestion: Caroline the Coffee Fairy.  She's clearly the one to look after me.  These are fairies with whom I could get along.

I usually try to avoid using sarcasm with my child; I figure what I give her, I'm getting back at some point, with no one to blame but myself. But I can't read these books without a heavy dose of irony and commentary.  She tolerates it in order to hear the repetetive stories of two girls and a fairy undoing the spiteful mischief of Jack Frost and his goblins, a bunch of villains too stupid to tie their own shoes, if they ever wore any. That kid is a trooper.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

again with the attention span

Here's my problem with books.  The quality of all books is relative to the other books I am reading at the time.  And I might not be that discriminating, I'm not sure yet.  Where do I get that tested, anyway?

I've discovered this awesome service provided by my county's library system, where you can log into their system using the barcode on your library card, and command the library to bring you books!
Bring me all the Neil Gaiman you have!  Immediately, naves!
Ok. Not quite so imperiously.  But you can just click on the titles you want reserved, and they'll have them set aside for you when you go in.  There's another feature that I've more recently stumbled upon where you can keep a list of books you want later, so you don't have to take home 27, and end up renewing them over and over.  which you can also do from the website.  Heaven.

I still bring home six at a time, and start most of them right away.  So if one is really lame, I just leave it on an end table somewhere and focus on the juvenile fiction book I got, ostensibly to read to Hannah, but of which she'll have no part because there's too much suspense.  Or too many monsters.  I like fairy tales.

I checked out The Illumination last time.  It seemed a quiet, thoughtful book about a woman who injures herself with a knife, and meets another woman, fatally wounded in a car accident, while they share a hospital room.  On the date the first woman is injured, for some reason, people all over the world start emitting light from wounds and painful places on their bodies, hence the title. It turns out, I think, that the book is about an inanimate object that passes amongst many different people with little or no clear connection prior to the object passing between them. I got halfway through the book before I decided I didn't care what else happened to the object or the people who had possession of it, and I had finally dispaired that anyone was going to tell me why people were glowing.  I much preferred to spend my spare moments reading a children's novel called Fablehaven.  Really, how could you compete with a story about how a little girl calls up an army of 6-foot faries to rescue her family from a demon.  That's just quality story telling.  I have the attention span and literary sensibilites of a 9 year old.

Except where Neil Gaiman is concerned.  Seriously.  I'd read that guy's grocery list.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not exactly the Queen's English

I was in the kitchen with Hannah making Rice Krispie treats, and she did something marginally inconvenient, from which I redirected her.

Hannah: Oh, sorry, my fault.
Me: Excuse me?
Hannah: I said 'my fault.'
Me: I know it's your fault, that's why I asked you not to do it.
Hannah: *blank look*
Me: Do me a favor and don't say that any more.  Don't ever say 'My fault,' or 'My bad.'
Hannah: Why? What does 'My bad' mean?
Me: It means 'I'm a dope, and I don't know how to say I'm sorry.'  It just doesn't sound very intelligent.

I know there's no way to keep slang out of her vocabulary permanently.  I use slang.  I call her Dude all the time.  Sometimes I end sentences with 'yo,' albeit mostly when talking to my sister.  I'm not all that bothered by her frequent use of the word 'totally.'  But street slang is just gross coming out of my sweet little popkin in her polka-dotted skirt.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bless me, Blogspot, for I am a jerk...

Time for my blog-confessional again.  This time, my social sin is willful non-recycling.  That's right: I make my own marshmallows and soup stock so I don't have to eat weird chemicals, but I don't recycle.  Unless there is a designated "Recycle Here" trash can right in front of me, I chuck everything in the regular garbage. In that past, that was my own private sin, but now I'm an elementary-school pariah.

It started last year, when all the children in Kindergarten were sent home with a "Recycling Pledge" form, which parents were supposed to help them fill out and return, stating that they would responsibly separate out the recyclables from the regular trash, and dispose of them in a friendly, green manner. Only by signing this pledge could my five-year-old prove to the elementary-school population that she isn't a river-polluting, baby-seal-clubbing monster.  And I refused.  Because I try not to lie, and I try to teach my child the same.  I'm just not doing it.

I personally think that the benefits of recycling are eaten up by the resources used to complete the process.  In my county there are dozens of recycling drop-off sites; they're all over the place.  But my city also has a designated recycling collection crew, with it's own sort-it-as-you-go truck.  At least one truck, but I assume more.  So we've built extra vehicles, to burn extra gas, while we pay extra guys (which, incidentally, is the only benefit I see) to do what ORDINARY WASTE MANAGEMENT DOES ANYWAY.  That's right.  A lot of the trash collected at your curb gets recycled in the regular waste management plant. Glass is shaken out and sold to glass buyers.  Plastic is picked out for different buyers to be recycled.  Paper and cardboard are bundled and sold to paper mills.  Metal is sucked up on big magnets and, you guessed it, sold to companies that will recycle it.  The biodegradable stuff gets mulched up for compost.  What's left is pretty much disposable diapers and old Star Wars action figures.

So I avoid looking the kid wearing the silly foam Recycling Can costume in the eye when I drop my daughter off at school.  I find something very interesting in my pocket that must be examined right now when we pass the aluminum can drop-box at the entrance to the school property.  I deftly change the subject when my daughter mentions some recycling campaign being promoted this month.  And I dread April 22.

Look.  I do my best to avoid genetically modified foods, although sometimes I just don't know.  I (sometimes) buy responsibly raised meat and dairy.  Only sometimes, because, having actually done side-by-side comparisons, I fail to appreciate the difference in taste. And that stuff is expensive, yo.  But I'm not making a second job of throwing away the milk bottles and the tomato cans.  Because someone else already has a first job of that.  I'm not even sorry.