Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lego My Book Fair

Dear Scholastic and Lego Corporations,

I think I speak for all of us when I ask, can you both please just stick to your own product lines and stop trying to team up?

Lego, I’ve got some heartburn with you folks on a number of fronts, but let me focus on Scholastic first. Books. That’s what a publisher makes. I think you guys have forgotten that, so I just wanted to remind you.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to thank you for continuing your long tradition of school book fairs. You guys help raise a lot of money for our school each year, and we’re very appreciative. What we’re not super excited about, however, is all the extra crap you send along for the “book” fair. If I didn’t know any better, I would think it was a poster and toy fair that happened to have a few books.

My son doesn’t need an eraser that looks like a calculator. I was told at the beginning of the school year that kids don’t need to spell words on paper anymore, or figure out the actual answer to math problems anymore, so he really doesn’t need an eraser or a calculator, let alone a strange hybrid sold to him by a book manufacturer.

He also doesn’t need a poster of all the NFL helmets. He might want one, and I might consider buying him one, but I don’t want to do it at a BOOK fair. Same goes for plastic sharks on a stick, bouncy balls, and pictures of pop stars. I mean, Justin Bieber, Scholastic? Seriously? That kid wouldn’t know what a book was if I hit him in the face with it, which I would definitely do if given the chance.

Again, I think I speak for all of us elementary school parents when I say, the only non-book item we really need to see at a book fair is a bookmark. And we think those should be free, as God intended.

Now let’s talk about your new hybrid books, which is where Lego comes in. Son Number Three wouldn’t get off my leg at this year’s book fair about the Lego book he wanted me to buy him. Lo and behold, this “book” had a big clear plastic bubble built into the cover containing an actual Lego guy.

OK, so now I know why he wants it... Let’s see what the inside of the book has to offer... Oh, I see. For ten bucks I get this little Lego guy, plus a forty-page book apparently written by the Lego CIA, giving me the dossier on twenty different Lego guys, all of whom happen to be on Lego TV shows that Lego no doubt wants my son to watch.

The red ninja guy wears red all the time. He is on a TV show. His swords are sharp, and his head is yellow, even though you can’t see it under his red ninja guy ninja head wrap thing. He is awesome on the TV show. He likes sushi and running on the beach. You should stop reading this “book” and watch his TV show.

Hmm... Phenomenal content, Scholastic and Lego, but I think I’ll pass.

And, before you jump down my throat, Scholastic, I know Lego isn’t the only one responsible for hybrid books. We also saw books that contained shark teeth, and books that had plastic military dog tags. Son Number Three wanted all those books, too. That doesn’t make it better.

But, Lego, you guys have been on my list for a while, so I’m using this latest Scholastic book fair as a jumping-off point.

Here’s my main problem with you. You guys really gave my generation a raw deal. I have enough problems with fending off an entitlement mentality in my kids without you guys piling on. Back when phones were attached to the wall and Pluto was still a planet, all our Legos were square. Nowadays, my kids get all huffy if they can’t find the right color rear stabilizer fin for their rebel alliance snowspeeder with the smooth sweeping curved edges and the pivoting nose bar attachment. You know what that thing looked like in my day, kid? A bumpy green rectangle with razor-sharp edges, that’s what. We had to have an imagination.

You have replaced imagination with the Lego Club Magazine – an insidious publication that comes to my house each month and turns my kids into whiny, slobbering beggars.

You know what I could build with your amazing Legos when I was a kid? I could build a cabin. They were basically plastic interlocking Lincoln Logs. My kids can build a flying dragon that actually shoots round plastic fireballs out of its mouth. How is that fair to me at all?

And don’t even get me started on Star Wars. Those movies came out when I was still a kid, but MY kids are the ones that get all the cool Star Wars Legos? Where were you guys on that one? My generation would have loved Star Wars Legos. Our kids don’t appreciate them enough, because you offer them a hundred other TV/movie/Lego combinations. We only had Star Wars and E.T., man. That's all we had. And we had to wear corduroy pants and thick polyester shirts the whole time we were playing with our square, sharp, non-Star Wars Legos. My kids’ clothes are so damned comfortable compared to ours back then, it’s not even funny.

Sorry... I got a little sidetracked there. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Can you both please just stick to what you do best? One of you just make books and the other one just make toys? I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who’s going to handle what. Thanks!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall for the Head Fake

My cell phone rang on my desk the other day, and my heart immediately sank when I saw the name on the screen. It was my boys’ school. Just great! One of them probably threw up, or more likely, set something on fire, and now I have to stop my work day and go pick them up.


“Yes, Mr. Schmatjen, this is the school nurse. We have Son Number Three here in the office. He hit his head on the big giant brick wall out in the middle of the playground, but he’s fine.”

Yes! Just a head injury. My day is saved! “Well, I’m relieved to hear he’s OK.”

“Yes, he’s fine. It’s just school policy to call home whenever there’s a head injury.”

Wow. How do I not get more calls? That kid’s head is a magnet for hard objects. “Well, that sounds like a very good policy. So, just to be clear, it sounds like what you're telling me is this isn't going to affect my day at all?”

“Uh... No, I guess not. Again, he appears to be just fine.”

Hmm... Perhaps I should sound more concerned. “Well, as long as both his pupils are the same size, go ahead and kick his little butt back in the direction of his classroom.”

“Uh... Yes, he’s not showing any signs of serious injury. We’ll send him back to class. There will be a note coming home with him today. Again, just school policy.”

“Great. I’ll be sure to read that. Thanks, gotta go.”

“Uh... Would you like to talk to your son? Mr. Schmatjen? Sir?”

*Dial tone*

By the time I went to pick the boys up after school was out, I had forgotten all about the morning’s head vs. wall incident. It wasn’t until we were all home for an hour or so that I got around to looking through their folders.

School District Health Services Head Injury Letter

“Oh, yeah. Hey, buddy, how’s your head?”

“It’s OK. But I threw up in class today.”

*sound in my head of record scratching to a halt*

“You did what now? Before or after you hit your head?"


"Hang on, buddy. I need to read something."

School District Health Services Head Injury Letter
Since symptoms of a concussion may occur within 24 hours, we feel it is important for parents to have the following information:

Children should be kept under observation for the next 24 hours. The child should be encouraged toward quiet activities during the observation period.

Hmm... So screaming up and down the street on his scooter right after school wasn’t the right call?

Apply ice for 1 hour to relieve pain and swelling.

We’ll call that one taken care of, more or less.

Give only clear liquids until no vomiting for at least 6 hours.

Well... He just ate a burrito when he got home from school, so I’m going to have to say I failed on this one.

Keep him awake for the first hour or so, after which time he may sleep if he want to. Awaken him every 4 hours to see if he is arousable, recognizes his parents, and to see if his pupils are equal size.

Well, he doesn’t seem sleepy, but I can tell you right now I won’t be able to wake him up if he does go to sleep. He’s the hardest sleeper we have. On any given night I can pick him up, slap him, and roll him down the stairs without waking him up. So how am I supposed to know if he’s normal or concussed?

I guess we could try to keep him up past his bed time, but that will end up being a problem with about half of this list of symptoms. Specifically:

Unconsciousness, “in a daze”, or unable to awaken child
Inability to recognize familiar people or objects
Slurred speech
Double vision
Staggering gait or loss of coordination

Every one of those things happens to him if he stays up even an hour past his bed time. So, I can’t let him go to sleep, and I can’t keep him awake. What now?

“Why didn’t the school call me again when you threw up?”

“Oh, it was just a little. I was bending over like this right after lunch, and I burped, and a little came out. It wasn’t a real throw up.”

*sound of School District Health Services Head Injury Letter crumpling up*

“Go ride your scooter some more while I make you another burrito. Don’t forget your helmet!”

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Fifth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

As you obviously know, picture day is tomorrow at my sons’ school. As you also know, in years past, for the most part I have written you these letters after picture day, usually after you send me a bunch of pictures I didn’t order or want, containing silly instructions about how I’m “required” to do things for you. You guys are hilarious!

Anyway, as you also know, since I am such a selfless humanitarian, these letters have always been in an effort to help you improve your business model, which, as near as I can tell, was conceived and implemented by a group of six-year-olds.

I am starting to get the impression that you’re not reading these letters, or if you are, you’re not taking my unsolicited advice as readily as I accept your unsolicited picture packets full of mirror hangers and plastic rulers that don’t measure anything.

However, since I am such a selfless humanitarian, as I already stated, I will continue to offer you my advice free of charge, whether or not you have the good sense to listen. Come to think of it, that’s actually the same arrangement I have with my kids.

So listen up – You have angered me. I am not at all happy with your website, and I am appalled at either your unfair treatment of our Spanish-speaking community, or your blatant favoritism toward them. I’m really not sure which you’re doing, but I know I don’t like it!

My ire on both fronts stems from your ridiculous “Family Plan.” This is a special deal that you offer families with more than two kids by highlighting the discount at the very bottom of your paper order form in and unrecognizably small font size. I think it might be Times New Roman negative five.

I couldn’t find a magnifying glass, so I set the form a few feet away from myself and was eventually able to read the Family Plan verbiage with my binoculars.

Family Plan - For parents with more than 2 children attending school. First 2 children’s portraits are full price, additional children’s portraits are half price. To receive your discount: 2 children make full payments. Do not combine payments. Complete the information below, cut out and put in envelope.

As you know from my previous letters, I have three boys, and your photographers have yet to manage to coax a natural smile out of all three of them on the same day. However, we understand that you are dealing with Son Number One’s chronic Forced Smile Disorder, and that is not at issue here today. What is at issue is the fifty percent discount you promised me on Son Number Three’s fine quality studio portrait session.

I foolishly assumed that since you offered this discount on the paper order form, I would be able to receive it on the website as well, since most of the space on the paper order form is dedicated to inviting me to use the website instead.

I went through the ridiculously tedious chore of ordering my $18 “entry” level picture packages on your website, spending approximately seven hundred minutes on each child’s order denying the myriad of upgrades and add-ons that require me to individually opt out before I could get to the checkout screen.

When I finally made it to the “place your order” page, I was shocked to see that my total was $54, which if my rudimentary math is correct, is $18 per kid for three kids. As you might recall, you told me on the paper form that if I had three kids, the third one would only be $9. I looked and looked on your super-helpful website for the “apply the family plan algorithm” button, but I could not locate it.

Since, as I understand it, websites these days are built with math and stuff, I would have assumed that the “take 50% off all the kids after the first two” thing would be built in. Seems like that would be pretty easy for a first-year web programmer to put in there. I guess not.

Nine bucks is nine bucks, so I didn’t want to give up without a fight. I moved my mouse over to the “Live Chat” button and clicked it. Up pops a screen with way too many fields for me to fill in just to chat with someone about my order. Name, email, school name, school picture day code, my address, etc. Now, I hate to have to keep being the one to point all this stuff out to you guys, but I had already entered all those things in the pit of despair that is your online order process. Again with the first-year programmer thing...

Anyway, I let out a heavy sigh of disappointment and filled in all the info, just so I could have a slim chance of getting my $9 discount. I hit the “Submit” button, and do you know what you told me?

Sorry, no operators are available at the moment. Please try back later.

You have a button on your website that says “Live Chat,” and when pressed it says, “sorry, no one’s home?” What the actual hell, Lifetouch? Are you kidding me?

To make it even better, there was no button for “Resubmit,” or “Try Again,” just in case Chip, the lone Lifetouch Live Chat Operator, was just getting back to his desk after a potty break. Just a button that said “Close.” Your website is the DMV office of the internet.

Based on your website and all my previous dealings with you, I guess I should not assume you have the same feelings about the DMV as the rest of us, so to be clear, what I’m saying is this: Your website sucks!

I went from being disappointed to mad at that point. Now I’ve spent more time than anyone should have to on your website, and I’m not willing to throw that time away and go back to the paper order form just to save nine bucks.

But like all my selfless advice giving to your company, this isn’t about me. It’s about the Mormon families out there. And the Catholics. And the Amish, if you guys take pictures of them. And all the potentially not-that-religious families out there that just can’t seem to stop having kids. What about the folks with five kids, or even six? The problem is exponential, because your website can’t do math, and you won’t allow us to combine payments with the paper order form.

You have created a situation where someone with five kids has to write five separate checks and include them with five separate paper order forms in order to qualify for the family plan. News flash: Someone with five kids doesn’t have that kind of time.

It’s almost as if you don’t want to offer the Family Plan discount at all... It’s occurring to me now that the DMV is actually more functional than your company. They take my picture too, and they also don’t care if I was smiling or not. The only real difference is that I can’t renew my car registration through you guys.

Oh, yeah. Then there’s the matter of our Spanish-speaking friends. (Spoiler alert, Lifetouch - This doesn’t help your case.)

When I flipped the paper order form over, I noticed the reverse was in Spanish. I have a border cantina/Taco Bell understanding of Spanish, so I got out my binoculars again and read the “Plan Familiar.”

Plan Familiar - Para padres con mas de 2 hijos que concurren a la escuela. Para recibir el descuento: Por 2 hijos corresponden pagos integros. No combinar pagos. Completa la siguiente informacion, corta e inserta en el sobre.

Hmm. Something doesn’t look right, here. There doesn’t seem to be any further mention of the particulars of el descuento... To be sure, I plugged it into the Google translator:

Family plan - For parents with more than 2 children who attend school. To receive the discount: For two children are full payments. Do not combine payments. Complete the form below, cut and inserted into the envelope.

Just as I suspected-o. You don’t tell the Spanish-speakers what the discount is. You only tell them how to get it. Actually, you don’t even tell them that.

This leads me to believe one of two things: Either,
A) You do not want our Spanish-only friends to get the discount, or
B) You are giving our Spanish-only friends their third or mas picture packages for free.

Either way, now, I’m really mad. You have a double standard going here that either affects me morally or financially. I don’t like either option!

I guess there could be a third option. Maybe the fourth-grader you hired to do your website programming is the same kid in charge of order form translation.

Anyway, I needed to get on with what was left of my life, so I kissed my nine bucks goodbye and begrudgingly hit the “Place Order Now” button.

Thanks for your order. Please take a few minutes to take our survey and help us improve our site.

That’s optimistic! Unless you were going to pay me $9 or more to take the survey, I wasn’t going to spend another second on your website. I wrote you this helpful letter instead.

Not that I expect you to read it. You’re probably really busy explaining all the survey answers to the fourth-grader.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Juror Number Seventeen

I sit in the quiet room, filling out my questionnaire. It is a quiet room of despair, filled with rows and rows of comfy leather chairs, arranged like a movie theater, facing two flat-screen TVs.

There are a lot of us in the room, and we are all sitting the required one seat apart from each other to maintain a somewhat social comfort level. As comfortable as you can be while awaiting your doom.

The tension in the silent air is palpable. There is a faint ray of hope every once in a while, as the thought comes over you, “Maybe I'll be excused and get to leave soon and not have to come back.” Then the cold reality of the situation squashes that dream. No, you will be here all day, and you will have to come back forever. Someone will replace you at your job and you will never see your children again.

The jury notice said to arrive by 8:30 A.M. People are still showing up at 8:40. New rule: People showing up late should have to be on the jury. Anyone who was early should be dismissed. I will talk to the judge about the idea. He or she should probably go for it, since it makes good sense.

We have done nothing other than fill out our jury questionnaires in the foreboding silence. At 8:50, the woman who checked us in at the front desk comes in and tells us we have a ten-minute recess. Recess from what? We haven't done anything yet. So, you tell us to be here at 8:30 and then we don't start until 9:00? I have a bad feeling you do that to make sure all the late people get here. Further good evidence why my "late people are the jury" rule should immediately be put into effect.

A guy’s phone rings. He silences it without answering. No one will break the silence of despair.

There are signs up at the front of the room warning us to beware of jury duty scams. What the hell could a jury duty scam be? I must read the sign, but I will not get up from my seat of despair and break the utter stillness in the room.

Suddenly, a motivational video springs to life on the flat-screen TVs. A former juror tells us it will be great and we'll learn a lot. We learn that California is the greatest state in the union, but sometimes we have issues. Many times, we don't trust only one person to impart justice. That's where I come in.

There is some mention of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Former jurors tell us that we, as Americans, don't want professional jurors, and that regular people like us serve on juries every day. Another former juror tells us that common sense, an open mind, and impartiality is all it takes. She also tells us that when she was on a jury, she brought a book, so it wasn't bad when she had to wait around a lot. Also, the people in the courtroom will tell us what to do, so we don't already have to know anything about how the courts work. That’s a relief.

We learn that the attorneys may ask us about our personal thoughts, and it's nothing personal if a lawyer doesn't pick you, so we shouldn’t be sad. OK, I’ll try to remember that. We learn the shocking reality that if we’re picked for the jury we’re not allowed to investigate the crime ourselves, so we can't go to the scene and check it out on our own. Bummer.

In a moving reenactment of a real-life court scene, the witness on the stand reported seeing a blue flash at the moment of impact. We are left wondering what in the hell that was all about. A former juror then tells us that they thought the deliberation with twelve perfect strangers was the best part. They probably didn’t get out of the house much before the trial.

There is a crescendo moment in the video where “The decision of the jury has been made. Justice has been served!” Duh da duh daaaa.

We then learn that jury service is often a deep and moving experience, and many jurors stay in touch after the trial! One man felt good about himself afterward. He had brought common sense to the table, and he felt great about that.

The parting shot of the video is a fade away on the blindfolded, scale-holding “Lady Justice” statue. She is showing some boob. That seems unnecessary.

Surprisingly, no one applauds. The video ends, and we all just stay put, easily slipping back to our original quiet despair. No one seems more pumped to be on a jury now. I don't think the video worked like they wanted it to.

An older lady on the other side of the room begins wheezing to break the silence. A nice lady asks if she needs help. She seems to have asthma of some kind and she has forgotten to bring her inhaler. One lady goes out to tell the clerk, and another lady offers her an albuterol inhaler from her purse. She refuses it politely, claiming she uses "the round one" instead of that kind.

Now Asthma Lady gets to leave the room. I smell a rat. Dammit. Why didn't I think of that? Maybe I'll fake a heart attack. No. They’ll probably hook me up to a portable defibrillator. If I don’t die from that, they'll probably just make me come back next week. Never mind.

Some lady with a badge comes in and collects Asthma Lady's stuff for her. She's not coming back. I wish I had asthma.

I do a rough headcount while trying not to look like a stalker. I would say there are about 65 of us in this room. So, my rough odds of getting on a jury are 12/65ths. That's not that bad. I'd even go so far as to say those odds are good. A glimmer of hope cracks through the cloud of despair.

A lady comes in and makes us swear that we would do everything fairly, or something. I’m not really listening, but I say I do. I'm sure I do.

Then the lady reads a clipboard and calls me by name. So much for those good odds. I am the second to last of the first eighteen prospective jurors. Lucky me. I am now being referred to as “Juror Number Seventeen.” Cloud of despair: 1. Glimmer of hope: 0.

We exit the room and there is Asthma Lady sitting comfortably in a chair, not wheezing anymore. I hate her.

We enter the courtroom and I am now sitting in a row of chairs out in front of the regular jury box. I want to try to trip the defense attorney if I get a chance. I probably swore not to do stuff like that earlier, though, so I won't.

The judge explains to us that it is a privilege and an honor to serve on a jury, and if we try to get out of jury duty we are un-American and we're disrespecting all the veterans who have served and died for us. He may be right, but I still need to pick my kids up from school.

The judge really enjoys hearing himself talk. We have done five minutes of actual business in the last hour. My butt is falling asleep.

We meet the defendant. He smoked pot and drove his car, and he's pleading not guilty to DUI for some reason. Apparently his parents have more money than common sense. This little idiot is going down.

The judge goes through our questionnaires one by one. He chats with each of us as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. He loves being here. He is the only one.

The judge likes the fact that I'm an author. I don't think I can leverage that in any way to help me here. Oh, well. Maybe he'll buy some of my books.

We break for lunch. We need to be back in an hour and a half. That seems efficient.

After our relaxed lunch, the defense attorney asks us ridiculous questions about how we feel about marijuana. He wants to know if we think we can put aside our opinions and judge whether someone can have it in their system and not be "under the influence." He doesn’t like my answer to his idiotic question. He also has annoying shoes. I might try to trip him if he gets close enough.

Now he wants to know if the testimony of a police officer would carry more weight with us than the testimony of a civilian. He doesn’t like my answer again.

Potential Juror Number Four, Mr. Anderson behind me, won’t stop interrupting everyone to ask inane questions that pertain to absolutely nothing. He is also an idiot.

The defense attorney with the ridiculous shoes wants to know how I feel about “medical marijuana.” I tell him it’s one elephant shy of being a full-blown circus. He doesn’t like that answer either.

The prosecutor seems to like all my answers. Mr. Anderson interrupts him with stupid questions also.

Questions are over. The lawyers confer with the talkative judge. We have been here for six and a half hours. I hate Asthma Lady even more now.

The defense would like to ask the court to thank and excuse Potential Juror Number Eight. The former mayor of a small town near here leaves the courtroom with a smile on her face.

The prosecution would like to ask the court to thank and excuse Potential Juror Number Four. Goodbye, Mr. Anderson. I take it all back. You are obviously a genius.

The defense would like to ask the court to thank and excuse Potential Juror Number Seventeen. That’s a good call, Silly Shoes. I would’ve canned his little stoner ass.

In terms of sheer euphoric joy washing over you, being excused from jury duty and walking out of the courtroom is probably rivaled only by heroin. Or maybe really good weed... Hang on, I'll go back in and ask the defendant.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Under the GATE

Our school district has something called the GATE program. It stands for Gifted and Talented Education, so the first time I ever heard of it I immediately dismissed it in my mind for my children. They may be cute, but “gifted” is a long stretch. They’re just normal boys.

My wife, on the other hand, seems to think that her children might fall under some of the GATE parameters somehow. She is very intelligent, but I reminded her that half of their DNA comes from me, so that’s working against them. She still wanted to get them tested, so she obviously thinks her half of the DNA has a choke hold on my half. She may be smart, but her overly-optimistic awareness meter probably needs some calibration.

We were late getting the forms in, so I ended up being the one in charge of filling them out and rushing them over to the school office. I am a very honest person. Honestly, I’m not lying about that. So, I filled out the questionnaire honestly. She might regret me being in charge.

Learns easily/understands concept quickly
I hesitate to answer yes to this. Sure, he seems to do fine in school, but he’s been wearing shoes for his entire life and still can’t figure out where they go when he takes them off.

Asks a lot of penetrating questions
Asks a lot of questions. None of them are penetrating. Most of them are about why I always make him do homework and chores instead of letting him have fun.

Becomes unusually upset at injustices
Half credit? He throws himself on the floor and wails when an injustice is perpetrated on him, but he laughs when anything unjust happens to his brothers.

Persistent, resourceful, self-directed, independent worker
I’m going to have to just say a flat no on this one, since I have to ask him every three minutes to get back on task with his homework and stop licking the kitchen counter.

Shows unusually high ability in a particular subject or subjects
Yes. Unfortunately it’s farting on his brothers.

Shows unusual interest in a particular subject or subjects
This is a yes, but only the subject of why I won’t let him spend his entire day playing video games. That might not be unusual these days, actually. Oh, and fart noises and fart jokes. Probably not what you were looking for.

Constantly wants to know how or why something is so
Constantly wants to know why we’re so mean and won’t let him have fun. Past that, not really.

Seems unusually concerned about social or political problems
Not actually aware that any social or political problems exist. He is concerned about his food and why he has to eat it all when it’s the worst thing ever. Other than that, not concerned about anything at all.

Organizes, leads, takes over group activities
I’m not sure what he does at school, but here at home he has two brothers, and all three of them want to lead, so mostly they just yell and fight.

Unusual or highly developed sense of humor
Farting on your brother is probably not that unusual at this age. I’m going to go out on a limb here and also say that it’s not too highly developed. So, no.

Has a better reason for not doing what you want done
Half credit here. Always has a reason not to do what I ask. The reason is never better.

Becomes impatient if work is not perfect
Hang on, I can’t stop laughing. For my boys that should read, becomes impatient if he has to spend more than five seconds on any one thing. Cries if he ever needs to use his eraser. Always forgets to put his name on his paper.

Has his/her own ideas about how things should be done
Again, you guys know you’re asking these questions about elementary schoolers, right? That’s like asking, does he/she breathe?

Shows unusual leadership ability
Always wants to lead. Never has any idea where he’s going. Based on how our government works, I’d say that’s pretty usual, so I’m going to answer no on this one.

Unusually large vocabulary
For words from the English language, not really. For words from Lego Ninjago and Legends of Chima, yes.

Unusually insightful
I can’t answer yes to this about a kid that still hasn’t figured out to wear a coat when it’s cold outside.

Unconventional ideas and opinions
Again, he’s a kid. All of their ideas and opinions are unconventional. And mostly idiotic. For example, he wants me to let him ride on the top of the car.

Highly competitive in some areas.
Yes, his body contains testosterone.

Seems more responsible/mature than age level peers
If all of his age level peers are galactically irresponsible, then he might squeak by here, but truthfully, he can’t really even wipe his own butt properly every time, so I hesitate to give him high marks in this area

Resists drills in spelling, math, handwriting (rote skills)
Uhh... Are you ending with a trick question? Seriously, you know he’s in elementary school, right? Don’t they all do this? (By the way, I don’t mean to tell you your business, but I think it’s “wrote skills” for the handwriting thing.)

Well, honey, they’re signed up for testing. Just promise me you won’t get your hopes up too high. Based on the fact that they all look exactly like me, something tells me these boys might be made up of more than half of my DNA.

As Judge Smails from Caddyshack once said, “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

And if they end up not even qualified to dig ditches, they can always be humor writers like their dad.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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