Thursday, February 22, 2007

I have an advanced degree from Motherhood University.

The girls had dental appointments this week. Everything looked good and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Elegant has not one but TWO loose teeth. Whew. Finally. She was starting to think it would never happen and so were we. The dentist also said it's time for us to start teaching Graceful how to floss and, in order to be fabulously efficient, Elegant gets to learn at the same time too.

Our resident six-year-old thinks that flossing is one of the greatest things ever, and can't believe she is lucky enough to use "flossers" on her teeth. I, on the other hand, have to grit MY teeth during these dental lessons, as I truly loathe the sound of teeth being flossed. Pete's not allowed to do it unless he's in the bathroom with the door closed AND I'm in another part of the house where there's no chance whatsoever I'll hear him.

Flossing lessons are not the only classes we've offered here recently at the Jen Academy for Girls. Other courses include:

Dishwasher 101 -- How to load a dishwasher and start it. May as well get the girls started young and teach them right. For some reason, Elegant thinks that getting to put the soap into the dispenser is a huge privilege and she lobbies for the opportunity nearly every day. If I let her push the buttons to crank it up, I really am the greatest mom ever. I wonder how long that thrill will last?

Religious Diversity 101 and 102 (combined course) -- How (and why) to avoid Mormons when they knock at our door. Our neighborhood must be considered Sodom and Gomorrah, because we have clean cut young men on bikes coming through almost monthly. The last time the doorbell rang, and it was clear that the young Mormons outside were ignoring my "go away and leave us alone" sign, I had to explain to Graceful and Elegant that Mormons aren't evil but that we're not interested in talking with them. The children thought this was a fascinating bit of information and discussed it for a long time. "Well, Mommy says they're not bad people, so they must just be boring." So we've been talking lately about different religions and how some are a bit more, um, intense than others.

Personal Hygiene 101 -- How to cut and file fingernails. How to massage cuticles with a towel after a shower. How to squirt out the proper amount of lotion and massage it into one's hands. No one ever told me about this in Lamaze class. Learning how to cut baby fingernails was hard, but teaching this to two children is way more time consuming and involves explanations about things I've never really thought about.

More courses to be added as needed.

It really seems to the girls as if we are revealing the mysteries of the universe to them. Really. They're just so in awe of the most mundane things because, of course, it's not mundane to them yet. I'm always amazed by how magical things are for children before the reality sets in. When the girls were each about a year or two old, stores were the most fascinating places ever. There were lights to look at and people who'd coo and gurgle at them. Shopping carts were more fun than any amusement park ride. Now ... well, it's not as though stores are boring, but they seem to have lost their luster for some strange reason.

And there are just so many fascinating things out there that we adults never think twice about.

Both girls think that self-sticking postage stamps are one of the greatest inventions ever. Since I tend to send out a lot of mail for my job -- including mailings that consist of hundreds of pieces of mail -- both Graceful and Elegant beg to be allowed to affix the postage and I happily subcontract tasks out to my child laborers. They work for M&Ms, which is probably illegal but works well for us.

Credit card swiping machines are just so cool. Elegant has even tried to swipe her library card in one, but surprisingly got no results.

Vacuum cleaners are truly just plain magical. There have been numerous discussions about what exactly could be sucked up. Dirt, yet. Shoes, no. Beads and other small pieces of plastic, yes, frequently. Young children's body parts, no and don't worry so much.

And umbrellas are truly wondrous tools that the girls love to use. We should move to Seattle just so that the girls can get more use out of their rain gear. Well, maybe not.

There are so many things that parents know from the start how to teach their children. Potty training is a big one early on. How to tie shoes. How to ride a bike without training wheels. Later on, how to drive. How to manage their earnings from working at Barnes & Noble during the summer. Sex education.

But it's those little daily things that I never think about until they come up. And I end up learning a lot in the process myself. It's really quite cool and I just love seeing the world through their eyes.

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