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My youngest, 7YO (they grow up so fast. I can remember when he was 4YO, and 10YO was 7YO. Still with me?) is in the Gifted and Talented (GT) program in our school district, meaning he goes to a separate, Fame-style school full of uber-smart elementary schoolers who are either going to solve the world’s problems, or recreate dinosaurs from DNA preserved in amber.

Fingerpainting? I don't think so.

When we moved 7YO to the new school, we had the option of sending 10YO over as well, even though he didn’t test his way in. But since he was going into the 5th grade and would be changing schools anyway for sixth, we felt it was pointless to uproot him from all his friends just for one year of parental convenience. His grades and test scores weren’t high enough for him to qualify on his own, which was really too bad. But he was better off staying put.

This year, his scores and grades were high enough for him to be invited to potentially attend a math, science, and technology (MST) center. MSTs are one step lower than GT, because they are focused strictly on advanced math and science, whereas GT is well-rounded nerdishness. Still, MSTs give kids who are skilled in those areas advantages over kids (like me) who are merely average, or dare I say, mere mortals. When we got the letter of invitation for him, he was ecstatic, and we were also pretty pleased. He’s always had an affinity toward math and science, even with his ADHD, so it’s a natural fit. In theory. That whole ADHD thing means his ability to focus is roughly equivalent to my ability to drive through University Park here in Dallas without someone noticing I don’t belong. If he’s admitted, it’ll be a struggle.

I say “if he’s admitted” because even though we got a letter of invitation, that’s just the first step in the process. The letter invites you to come to a meet ‘n’ greet, where the staff shows you all the lovely amenities of the joint. You then have to fill out an application, including your child’s report card from the previous year (meaning 10YO’s 4th grade report card), and then they’ll choose among those applicants and send them official invitations to join the program. Parents then have a window of opportunity to either allow their kid to go, or keep them enslaved to a life with mere mortals at normal middle school. Having gone through this before with 7YO, we’re veterans to the process. And last night was the big meet-up.

As we walked up to the new school, 10YO and I had a conversation:

10YO: “Hey Dad, what’s all this white stuff on the sidewalk?”
Me: “It’s salt.”
10YO: “Why did they put salt on the sidewalk?”
Me: “When it was cold and icy, they put salt down to help melt the ice. By the way, it’s not just salt – it’s salt mixed with sand or dirt. It’s not for eating.”
10YO: “Oh.”

We continued inside, where we were blown away by the academic offerings from this place. Astronomy, forensics, pathophysiology,  algebra, field trips to nuclear power plants and NASA, robotics, animation…and this is just 6th through 8th grade, people. It’s an awesome opportunity to say the least. There was an 8ft tall Eiffel Tower made of tongue depressors in the hallway, built by students. And it was perfect. That place is like “Fame”, but for smart people. We finished the tour, and went back to the car to head home. As we pulled out, we began discussing dinner. I looked back at 10YO, and noticed he was looking a little green around the gills. This conversation ensued:

Me: “Are you ok?”
10YO (lying down, clutching his belly): “Oooooh….”
Me: “What’s the matter?”
10Yo: “I don’t feel so good, Daddy…”
Me (concerned): “What’s the MATTER? What happened?”
10YO: (silence)
Me (figuring something was seriously wrong): “TELL ME.”
10YO: “Um…I ate some of the salt.”
Me (confused): “Salt? What salt?”
10YO: “The salt off the ground.”

Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with the salt used to de-ice roads and sidewalks, but it’s not Morton’s Little Girl Wasting Salt With An Umbrella table salt. It’s usually pure rock salt, mixed with dirt or sand. Rock salt is not the same as iodized, edible salt. It will make your tummy hurt, particularly if it’s mixed with sand and is lying on the dirty dirty ground and if you’re dumb enough to consume it, which evidently my child is.

Yes.

No.

Me: “Son, that’s NOT the salt you eat! Are you kidding me? Why did you do that?”
10YO: “I don’t know.”
Me: “It was on the ground, son!”
10YO: “I know.”
7YO: “It has dirt in it, you know.”
10YO: “I KNOW!”
DWW (riding shotgun, and only so I could hear): “Dumbass”

Please take a moment to let the irony sink in. My son, targeted as a potential bright academic star, while on a visit to the advanced school he’d be learning new and very cool technical things, ate the sand-and-rock salt mixture from off the ground. At age 10. He recovered, but hopefully he learned a very valuable lesson.

Maybe.

Peace.

“My dear child. You are the poem I dreamed of writing, the masterpiece I longed to paint. You are the shining star I reached for In my ever hopeful quest for life fulfilled. You are my child. Now with all things I am blessed.”

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Happy  birthday, 9YO 10YO.

Peace.

My son, 9YO, has decided that hip-hop is his future. He is consumed by it, lives and breathes it, and if it came in Pop-Tart form, he’d eat it too. As a fan of hip-hop from back when Adidas and fat shoe laces were in style, I have a certain level of appreciation for his new-found interest in that particular art form. And make no mistake, it’s an art form. However, while I’m cool with him showing an interest, today’s hip-hop isn’t exactly a shining example of music at its purest form. Today’s music, by and large, is utter pig swill surrounded by a steaming pile of bat guano. 

I realize that I come off as an old-school fuddy-duddy trapped in the past, but seriously, today’s artists aren’t even trying anymore. Back in the 80s (and to a lesser extent, the 90s), rappers usually had a point to their songs, some type of greater message to convey. Even people like Salt ‘N’ Pepa or NWA had SOMETHING they were trying to say in their music, even if it didn’t seem that way on the surface. But I want someone to listen to the stuff that’s on the radio today (and don’t be diggin’ through track 12 on Flo’Rida’s CD to show me some song that’s about his momma or about the sad state or welfare, that doesn’t count) and tell me if there’s any message there other than “Hey girl, shake whatever body part is closest to me and count the diamonds on my rented headband”. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em (yes, that’s his stage name) has a song called “Booty Meat”, which evidently is about his deep appreciation of the musculature of a female’s gluteous maximus, and how much he’d enjoy it if the female in question would offer a small portion to him as a gesture of goodwill. It’s a long walk from “The Message” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. And I know that times change and people’s taste in music shifts from one generation to the next, but it’s truly disheartening to hear some of the stuff out there now and how popular it is, while the same kids listening have absolutely no idea who KRS-ONE is, or Whodini, or Digital Underground, Public Enemy, or Brand Nubian, or countless other rap artists who had something to say. It wasn’t that you had to agree with them; but you at least had to recognize that they had a point. I’m having a very hard time hearing the point behind a lot of today’s stuff.

Now, I ALSO get that most of the music isn’t for deep reflection – it’s for dancing, pure and simple. I get that, and that’s why I’m not cropdusting the entire lot of rappers out there today. If you make a song just to the sake of dancing, and you don’t take yourself too seriously, I’m good with that. That’s all that “It Takes Two” by Robb Base and E.Z. Rock is, after all. But all the “I’ve got all this money and I’m buying platinum-plated rhesus monkeys and medallions the size of banjos while I shoot at my enemies, or the chick who screwed up my order at Burger King, and bitch you better put on your thong and dance in my champagne-filled pool” crap is utter nonsense. And that’s the stuff that I catch 9YO secretly listening to, way too often. 

I’m trying to educate the lad. I have Sirius satellite radio, and whenever the old-school rap station isn’t playing Ice Cube songs, I’ll flip over and let him hear some Eric B. & Rakim or some 3rd Bass or even Hammer, depending on my ability to stand it long enough. And sometimes it sinks in, like the day he heard a DJ scratching on a record and didn’t know what it was (’cause today’s artists don’t really do that anymore), but he’s entrenched in his generation’s version of music, and nothing I say will pull him out.

Just like me, when I was his age, listening to the music that my mom called “junk”. The wheel keeps on turnin’. 

Anywho, 9YO was slated to perform at a PTA function at school about Earth Day which involved some dancing. Before this event came about, his dancing style could be best described as…well, there aren’t many words that could describe it. It was a hot mess marinaded in a confusing mass of arms and legs and The Worm. Yes, the one piece of old school that he picked to cultivate was The Worm. But once he told us about this, he seemed dedicated to honing his craft. He practiced in secret, not letting us see his ill skills. He had me take him to school 20 minutes early so he could work with the music teacher. He was focused – which, for him, is utterly amazing. We didn’t know what to expect when we went to the school that night to see the performance. 

But this is what we saw. 

He’s the one in the middle, in the blue cap.

Stick with it all the way through – it’s so very worth it. Trust. If the video won’t play, just click on it to go to YouTube directly.

Lawd have mercy. The boy was throwing down like an extra from “Step Up”. I couldn’t help but be impressed.

And proud.

But I’m still not letting him listen to Soulja Boy. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Peace.

On the way to the gym this morning, 9YO and 6YO got into a conversation about wealth. After a bit of discussion, I got called in to consult on the topic.

9YO: “Hey Dad, what if you were, like, king of the world? And Mommy was the queen and we were princes?”

Me:  “You wanna be a princess?”

9YO: “You know what I mean. We would be like super rich and live in a big mansion!”

Me: “If we were the world monarchs, we’d live in a castle.”

9YO: “YEAH! A big castle. Or a big castle for you and Mommy, and a mansion for me and 6YO. A big mansion, with butlers!”

6YO (confused): “What’s a butler? A person who likes butts?”

We nearly hurt ourselves laughing, including 6YO. Unintentional comedy is often the best kind. 

Peace.

Ah, yes. ‘Tis hard to believe that it’s been nearly two years since I posted about going to the Texas State Fair, but honestly, it took that long just to save up enough dinero to make a return trip. Last year, our small business loan fell through, which prevented us from partaking of crispy fried goodness, but this year, we worked it out. Economy be damned. Granted, the kids won’t be wearing shoes with soles until after Christmas, and we’re gonna have to see if the cars will run on canola oil and hard wishin’, but it was totally worth it, if just for this:

Confused? Unsure of what the fuss is about? Well, allow me to illuminate things.

Do not adjust your TV; objects in the picture may appear closer than they really are; your mind is definitely NOT playing tricks on you. What your oggling ocular orbs observe is a true wonder unto mankind, an invention rivaled only by the electric light and fresh air. It is, quite simply, chicken fried bacon.

(I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.)

Chicken fried bacon.

I knew it would be there – the news media usually announce the year’s fried goodness weeks in advance, in order to get people’s taste buds mentally prepared for the burnt offerings (inasmuch as a taste bud CAN be mentally prepared, not having a brain and all). I was already aware of the fried bacon, and it was pretty much the first thing I sought out upon entering the park. But those things, those crispy treats are usually kept in the back of the fair, near the farm animals and the wallet-emptying games of chance. (The basketball games can kiss my monkey ass.) After toiling around for hours, I hadn’t even SEEN anyone eating chicken fried bacon (or CFB, as I now call it), and that struck me as odd…until I got my greasy hands on some.

The first thing I thought when I saw it was “That sorta looks like catfish”. That’s a bad sign, because if you’re expecting bacon but get catfish instead, that’s a beating. Seriously, even if you LIKE catfish, you’ll be pissed if your mouth was all set for bacon and you get the freshwater version of a live vacuum cleaner on your tongue. After watching people purchase the suspicious items, and then seeing their eyes roll to the back of their heads as if they were being fellated by angels who were simulataneously increasing their credit rating and putting the keys to brand new Lexuses (Lexuses? Lexi? Hell if I know), I decided to plunk down my 9 tickets ($0.50 per) to get a batch.

The State Fair people thoughtfully included a multitude of dipping sauces to accompany the CFB. I went with the ranch dressing and ketchup, not really know which would go best with bacon. Uncharted waters, people. Trembling with excitement (and a touch of hypoglycemia), I opened my watering mouth, and accepted the invention of the gods.

I know – I look scared. And I was, a little. Bacon is my staple food, the consumable I love above all others. What if it didn’t tast good? What if it made me sick? How would that affect my deep and meaningful relationship with bacon and fine bacony products? I was a bit apprehensive…but it was bacon. I couldn’t not do it.

And I did it.

And I couldn’t speak. It was hot, breaded heaven. In fact, it was so good, when my kids starting peeking over my shoulder trying to sniff my stash, I completely curled my arm around my food, prisoner-style. I think I even growled once. Sensing danger, they backed away until my body language told them that it was save to approach. I let them try a bite. A small, small bite. Shit, it was GOOD! And expensive. The next time I pay $4.50 for some bacon, it’ll be a whole pack. Of thick-sliced.

Another cool thing at the fair was the Rock Band truck, which tours the nation and gives the common folk the chance to make a minor fool of themselves in front of other people (who were waiting in line to make fools of themselves). Now, since we have the game, my boys are well-versed in the songs, and can even play them pretty well. When they spotted the truck, they were practically in line before we even knew what the deal was. But eventually we got our turn, and the boys picked “Dirty Little Secret” by the All-American Rejects. I was on bass (naturally), 5YO was on drums, and 9YO played guitar and sang, ’cause he gets down like that. And you know what? We totally rocked it.

It was a fun outing – for the kids. I would’ve had more fun too, if money weren’t an object. Don’t even ask me how much we spent that day. Let’s just say that if the government wants me to pitch in on this bailout, they better wait until next Friday to ask, or that check I write them will be very, very springy.

Peace.

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