Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My daughter the Jew

Alison has decided that she's Jewish. I'm OK with it. Some of my favorite people are Jews.

She became a Jew last night after discovering a package at the back door from her Aunt Margaret. Now Margaret is a great aunt. She's always thinking about Ali and she's always very creative. Knowing that we're about a week away from leaving for Maine, she asked if it would be OK if she visited Alison's all-time favorite retailer (the Dollar Store) and got her something to open each day before the trip.

Sure. I said.

So Ali unearths the package of packages and reads Aunt Margaret's note.

"Mom! It's like we're Jewish and we get to celebrate Hannukah! I get to open one package every night!" she squeals.

I got Margaret on the phone to let her hear over speaker phone. Because the package was a day later than expected, Ali got to open two presents last night. She was crazy thrilled with a miniature set of Rudolph ornaments and a two-pack set of pretty erasers. One holiday themed; one flower power.

"I get to celebrate "Hannukah" AND Christmas this year!" Alison said, thrilled with her dual citizenship. "Thanks Aunt Margaret!"

This morning, after Karin and I got back from the gym, I returned to a sleeping house. I piddled a bit because I didn't work from the office today. I thought I'd let Ali sleep in a little bit.

But I heard her stirring and went to find her already up. "I"m so excited that it's Wednesday!" she said.

"The school play is tonight. It's pizza day. Is that why you're so excited?" I asked.

"No, silly," she said, pulling out her box of "Hannukah" gifts. "I get to open my Wednesday gift from Aunt Margaret."

Pink silly putty. Oy vay.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't you wish you were my neighbor?

Alison and I spent all morning decorating the cookies I'd spent most of yesterday afternoon baking. We planned to give them to our neighbors as little holiday treats. We've done it for the past couple of years.

Our neighbors to the east routinely bring us fresh produce from their farm; our neighbor across the street has a daughter who sometimes babysits, and our neighbor to the west has a little girl Ali plays with sometimes. They're all pretty nice -- and we should probably send out cookies to a greater swath of neighbors. But making cookies is hard work, man.

And cleaning up is even harder. But it's fun and we like to do it. It's an annual tradition at Auntie Jen's in Maine, too, so it's sort of a trial run.

This year I found some festive little plates at Kroger to use, too. While the cookies are fun, I like having that little token, and when you find a bargain, it's really not that much.

Karin and I went shopping today, and she asked if Ali could play with Alex and Hannah while we were gone. It was an event that demanded a plate of cookies.

On the way home, though, Alison had a bit of a bone to pick with me.

"Um, Mom, did you know that you gave away a perfectly good plate with those cookies?" she called from the back seat.

"Yes, I did know that," I said.

"Well I think you should ask for it back," she said.

"But it's part of the gift," I said. "Don't you think it's a pretty plate?"

"Yes, I do. In fact it's such a pretty plate, I think you should ask for it back," she said.

"Well that would be kind of mean, don't you think? To ask for them to give their gift back?"

"Well, I don't think they'd mind. I mean, it's a real plate!" she said.

What the heck do you do about this? I'm hoping she'll forget. We do still have a few of the plates. I can just see her knocking on the neighbor's doors asking for the plates back.

If you happen to be one of our cookie recipients, please keep the plate. No matter what the little red head says.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our daughter: the tart

Back when I was pregnant, like most pregnant women, I used to pray that Alison would be healthy and get only the good parts of Jeff and me. I remember seeing an ad in a magazine back then that showed a man daydreaming about how great his girlfriend/wife was because she was smart, sexy and could spout baseball statistics with the best of his buddies. I wanted Ali to be something like that: a fun loving girl who could hold her own with anyone.

So now I'm remembering that you're supposed to be careful what you wish for.

Alison has been asked out to a birthday party for a friend at school. That's not so unusual. What's unusual is that its' Ali and three boys. They're going to dinner and a movie.

Also last week, while the kids were all visiting the Secret Santa shop at school, Alison dutifully spent her money on gifts for her parents, Grandpa and aunts and uncles. Caleb, turns out, bought Alison a ring. A big ol' honkin' ring. And no, Caleb isn't one of the three other boys she has a date with on Saturday.

"It was only 50-cents, Mom," she said, downplaying the importance of getting jewelry from a boy.

What' s a parent to do in a situation like this? It was only a couple weeks ago I was batting back my Bunco friends who were chastising me (again) for telling Alison more adult things than they think she know. I responded somewhat wickedly to that, secure in the knowledge that Alison would go in the world where boys meet girls forewarned and thus forearmed.

I didn't expect her to be dating at 7. And then with three boys at once.

She is a clever girl, though.

When she got home from her Secret Santa excursion, Jeff asked her how much of her $30 budget she'd spent.

"Just $22, Dad," she said.

"Well where's my change?"

"Your what?"

"My change. You know, the $8 left over from your shopping. That's MY money," he said, conveniently forgetting that it was actually me who'd fronted her shopping spree.

"Uh, well, Dad. It's actually my money," she said.

"How do you figure? I gave it to you to buy Christmas presents with."

"Yes. I went shopping with it. So it's my money."

"No, it's my money. You shopped; but you didn't spend it all. You give the money that's left over back to me."

"But you gave it to me."

"I only gave it to you to shop with. Now hand it over."

She considered this. "How about we split it?" she countered.

At this point, I'm sure he wavered, he was so proud of her negotiating skills. But he ordered her to go get her backpack, dig out the change and return it to him.

"OK Dad," she sighed. "Hey, Dad, guess what?"


I don't know what came after the "what?" but it was enough to distract him. He was recounting the coversation to me as I started to recover from my sickbed that night. It must have been about 11 o'clock, and I was drifting back to sleep. But I was alert enough to inform him that he'd been had. She'd never gone to the backpack and he was still short $8. Or I am.

"That thievin' little cow!" he said, marveling at her skill. He didn't actually call her a cow, but this is a family blog and I'd prefer she not know what kinds of words her father uses when she's not around.

To the best of my knowledge, she still has the money. He wrote himself a note to remind him to get it back the next day, but I don't think he ever followed through.

Maybe she should date three boys at a time. Maybe then they'll have a chance...