On the last day of school in June, Monkey Boy—my 9-year-old—brought home an entire year’s worth of in-class assignments and art, an amount equal to about three large trees, which has set undisturbed on my desk until this last week when I figured I should be parental and check his work, now that school’s been back in session a full two months. As a writer myself, I paid particular attention to his writing journals. He was required to journal every morning at school at least five sentences on any given prompt, such as, “What Did You Do Last Weekend?”

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 We made a large pan of Rice Krispies Treats, and by we, I mean the Girl made them while I supervised the process. I figured that I needed to encourage her culinary skills so that she would be able to survive on more than ramen noodles, microwave popcorn, and pizza in the eventuality that she will leave home for college in four years or so. Rice Krispies Treats are a cheap student essential that can be made with nothing more than three ingredients and a hot pot. Trust me, I know.

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It’s that time of year—getting ready for back to school. When I looked at the calendar and saw that there are only two weeks left until school, I think I actually “eeked” a little. There was no way we were ready for school…clothes, shoes, supplies and other incidentals. I loudly proclaimed, “We need to get ready for back to school,” and then I marched into Monkey Boy’s room.

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I am done with school, as in I am done with the kids being in school for this school year. Sure, I’ll send them back to school in August because by then I’ll be happy to see them leave the house and not return for seven straight hours. But today, I am done with school, and I’m excitedly, impatiently awaiting the last day of school—this Friday. It’s not because we have great summer plans, it’s more because I will not be getting up at super-duper early o’clock every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Yes, when the alarm goes off every morning, it is officially super-duper early o’clock.

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When the school announced the date and theme of the dance in mid-January, they also announced that the dress code would be semi-formal, in that no jeans or casual wear were allowed. They asked students to wear something that they might wear to church. The Girl scoffed out loud, and when she told me, we laughed hard. Obviously they did not know what I let my kids wear to church: ripped jeans, sports pants, shorts, flip flops, and/or T-shirts and hoodies. And hats, not fancy Southern, church-lady hats but knit caps, beanies, snapbacks. “We gotta find you something to wear,” I said.

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Last week was Valentine’s Day. And this year we—and by we, I mean me and perhaps the Girl—were going to hand make all our Valentine’s Day cards for Monkey Boy. We had a plan, too. We were going to pick 30 small, colorful and interesting rocks from our garden (we’ve got thousands) and make pet rocks with googly eyes, an alternative to candy. The Girl said she had a bunch of googly eyes in her craft box and plenty of hot glue sticks to glue on the eyes. I had plenty of small clear plastic bags for the pet rocks and lots of cardstock for the “You Rock” Valentine’s Day cards. Perfect. Except it didn’t turn out that way.

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Monkey Boy likes to use my shower. Knowing that means there should be no surprises. You expect the unexpected. Once upon a time, all four of us shared a bathroom. At our last house, we had one bathroom. Mind you, it was a huge room, almost as large as the bedroom the Girl and Monkey Boy shared. All four of us could be in the bathroom at the same, standing in different corners and when reaching our hands toward each other, we would not have been able to touch fingers. We never actually tried that, standing in different corners, but there were times when all of us, and the cats, were in that room at the same time. There were also times when there was a line at the door.

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B spent no small amount of time in the freezing cold getting the outside of our house Ho-Ho ready. He took a cue from one of his Christmas heroes, Clark Griswold, and strung lights on the eve and along the ground by the front porch. He placed wreaths on the windows and candy cane lights under the windows. He directed red and green spotlights to the two large evergreen trees in the front yard. He light-wrapped two of the front trees, the small ones, in white and blue lights. He also lined driveway on either side with 12” candy-cane solar lights that sparkle red at night. After he lined the driveway, he warned us all to be very careful with the lights after last year’s candy-cane light trampling debacle perpetrated by a negligent Monkey Boy. (READ TO END…THERE’S A FREE GIVEAWAY!)

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Yesterday after school, the Girl said, “We should get Qdoba for dinner.”
“I was just thinking about Qdoba this morning,” I said.
“Great, let’s get Qdoba.”
“We have other dinner plans tonight, but maybe this weekend we can do homemade Qdoba bowls at home,” I said.
“No, Momma,” she said. “That’s just not the same.”

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Last spring Monkey Boy bounced into the kitchen wearing brown and white shorts, a too-small greyish brown tee with a dinosaur crossing Abbey Road on it, a brightly colored green sock and a blue striped sock, and his new-ish sneakers. I did a double take. He then put on his yellow Monster stocking cap with purple ear covers. His outfit surprised me. Not one bit of it matched. And just as I was about to comment on his outfit, as non-judgy as possible, he did dress himself for school, after all, Monkey Boy said, “Hey guys, I want to show you some dance steps.”

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You know how each class picks one kid to be the Star, Or Superhero or Artist of the week? Monkey Boy is the “Artist of the Week” this week in his class for no other reason than where his last name falls in the alphabet. He also got to choose a storybook to read aloud to his class and put together a sharing sack that contained 3 special items from home…He decided on his Spider-Man mask to represent his interest in all things Marvel. He also chose his soccer ball. Finally, Monkey Boy chose to take a family photo. He said, “I want to tell people about my family.”

“Oh yeah? What are you going to tell them about daddy?”

“He’s a pastor, and he plays music.”

That’s cool,” I said. Then I asked, “What are you going to tell them about me? What do I do?”

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We made it through the first week and a couple days into the second week of the new school year. Of course, there was drama. There was drama because I have kids. And there was drama because one of those kids is a teenage girl. And she has teenage girlfriends. If I said nothing else, you would completely understand. But I can’t leave it here. So I am going to start with the easy one…

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“I’ll get the chocolate pie. The song says, ‘Bring another piece of pie for your wife.’ I gotta do what the song says, so I bring the chocolate pie,” B said. “I’ll buy a pie because I’m sure not going to make one. Just to be clear, Friday is pie day.”

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