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The Neighbours are Watching

WASH YOUR HANDS! You didn’t wash long enough. You didn’t wash properly. You didn’t dry properly. ACK don’t use the air dry blower! That water’s not warm enough. That soap didn’t foam enough. Don’t use block soap the germs will stay there. The germs don’t stay on soap. Only use soap dispensers. Make sure you clean the soap dispensers! Don’t touch the taps with your hands. Don’t touch the doors with your hands. Don’t touch the dispensers with your hand. What do you mean you don’t wash your hands. Weren’t you washing your hands before?

Make sure you use hand sanitizer. Why don’t you have hand sanitizer? Why don’t you make your own hand sanitizer? That hand sanitizer is no good. Buy only this brand of sanitizer. Use vodka if you can’t find isopropyl alcohol. Don’t use vodka only use isopropyl alcohol. Only 60% and above. Anything is better than nothing. Why are you buying hand sanitizer? Why are you making hand sanitizer? SOAP AND WATER WORK BETTER. Don’t hoard the hand sanitizer. Why did you steal the bottle of hand sanitizer from the church and the hospital? Do you know who has hand sanitizer? Stores are sold out of the sanitizer and the materials to make it. Why aren’t you using hand sanitizer?

Are you wearing a mask? Why are you wearing a mask? You don’t need to wear a mask. Masks are only for essential workers. Why don’t you wear a mask? You should wear a mask. That’s not the right mask. You aren’t wearing the mask properly. You aren’t taking it off properly. You didn’t fit it properly. You aren’t disposing of it properly. You should make your own mask. You should make lots of masks. You should donate masks. How dare you hoard masks! Wear your mask at home. Only wear your mask when you go outside. Only wear your mask at the doctor’s. Wear your mask all the time. Change your mask often. Don’t waste masks.

Are you wearing gloves? Why are you wearing gloves? You don’t need to wear gloves. Gloves are only for essential workers. Why aren’t you wearing gloves? You should wear gloves. Those aren’t the right gloves. You aren’t wearing the gloves properly. You aren’t taking them off properly. You aren’t disposing of them properly. You shouldn’t hoard gloves. You should donate gloves. Wear your gloves at home. Only wear gloves when you go outside. Only wear gloves at the doctor’s. Wear gloves all the time. Change your gloves often. Don’t be wasteful.

Why are you outside? Why aren’t you staying home? You’re supposed to #StayHome. Get out of the park and off the beaches. Stay off the playgrounds. Only essential workers can go outside. Don’t go for walks. Stay 2 metres away from everybody! You need vitamin D – go for walks. Move onto the grass when people go by. Keep your dog close. Keep your children close. Leave your children at home. Go sit outside in the fresh air. How dare you have your children outside! How dare you go for a drive to break up the monotony of staying home? You might have an emergency and expose others! You can be in your backyard, you know. You can be in your front yard but don’t go near anyone.

Don’t touch anyone. Don’t shake hands. Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch anything until you clean your hands. You’re getting OCD. Why are you afraid of germs? Your immune system needs exposure to germs and bacteria. You’re overreacting.KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! 2 metres minimum! SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Buy groceries online. Why aren’t you supporting local businesses? The grocery stores are fine – go shop there. Only 1 designated shopper at a time! We don’t care if you have no one to babysit your children while you grocery shop. Only buy groceries online if you’re self-isolating or disabled. THE FIRST HOUR IS FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED ONLY! Oh and for Essential workers. Buy extra food. Don’t buy extra food. Buy extra prescriptions. Don’t buy extra prescriptions. Buy extra toilet paper. DON’T HOARD THE TOILET PAPER.

Why are you only buying a couple of things? Why are you buying so many things? Why are you buying junk food? Make sure you buy junk food – for the stress. I can’t believe you didn’t buy vitamins. Don’t buy ibuprofen. Buy ibuprofen. How dare you try to buy over your limit on items? Remember to buy extra for the food bank and for your neighbours in self-isolation. Send only one designated shopper for multiple families! LEAVE the alcohol wipes for those that need them. You need alcohol wipes to clean all your devices!

Follow hazmat protocol when re-entering your home. You’re overreacting. Just wash your hands. Wash everything you bring in with you. Use lysol. Use bleach. Use soap and water. Use soap and water on your fruits and vegetables. No, use bleach on your fruits and vegetables. No, use vinegar on your fruits and vegetables. No, use this retail product on your fruits and vegetables. Just rinse your fruits and vegetables. Cook your fruits and vegetables. Remove all outer packaging and put your groceries in new containers. Grow a victory garden. Only buy direct from grower. Only buy directly from produce suppliers. Make your own bread and baked goods. Can and preserve your fruits and vegetables! Only eat frozen vegetables! Make sure you buy vitamins for when the vegetables run out.

Order take out! Support local business. Don’t order take out. Ewww why are you ordering takeout the delivery drivers might be sick. The essential workers who made your food might be sick. Don’t order take out. Wipe down all the cartons! You don’t need to wipe down the cartons. Did you hear that company doesn’t take care of their workers? They have people working there that are sick. They laid people off! Don’t support them. You can’t make every meal at home. You need the treat.

Go outside and clap for the essential workers. Go outside and sing together. Put things up in your windows. Chalk your walk. There’s supposed to be a stuffed bear in your window. The workers can’t hear you anyway. Nobody’s outside to see your windows. Nobody wants to sing with you. Support the essential workers! They’re very important. Why should they be paid more? They’re not getting laid off. They don’t need EI. They should have emergency funds. They’re asking for too much. They aren’t taking it seriously. Why are they working and not staying home? Protect the essential workers! They need the masks. They need the gloves. They need the hand sanitizer. They need a plexiglass barrier. Pay them more! We’re watching to see how companies take care of their workers.

Homeschool your children! Don’t stress out your children. Don’t let them hear the news. Let them hear the news. Why aren’t the teachers teaching? The teachers are working so hard. Support the teachers! Your children need structure! Your children need to be constantly learning! Your children need to be constantly playing! Your children need boredom. Get your children off the devices! Your children can do all their learning online. Some parents will learn the problem isn’t the teachers. Why don’t you like your children? Stop working and enjoy the time with your children.

Work from home! Don’t work from home. Don’t work if you have children at home. Work from home just like you do at work. Don’t slack off! Have your video on at all times so your employer can watch you working. Don’t do your housework. Don’t take care of your children. You can’t work and watch your kids and clean at the same time. Slacker! It’s important to work. If you get laid off go be an essential worker. There are lots of jobs. Essential workers are being laid off. They can’t pay their rent. Support local business! Support the economy! Of course you can work and watch your kids and clean all at the same time.

Buy things to keep you busy at home. Support local business! Don’t buy things from Amazon. Don’t buy things from Walmart. Local businesses are closed so order online! Don’t order online the delivery drivers are sick and unclean. The drivers are being careful. Lysol everything that comes in the door! Don’t sign for anything. How dare you buy unessential items? How dare you buy crafting supplies? How can you be so frivolous at a time like this? Keep yourself busy. Enjoy your hobbies. Great time to do all those home improvement projects. Did you see all those people at Home Depot buying non-essentials? They should stay home.

The neighbours are watching.

**inspired by multiple conversations, news items, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts.

When should you wash your hands?

Today, let’s have a chat about WHEN to wash your hands. I’ve seen many posts saying things to the equivalent of “you were supposed to be washing your hands this whole time!”

That’s fair. And it’s also true that there are many people who may have never been taught WHEN it is appropriate to wash hands. It’s not fair to shame them. Better to educate them.

Here’s a review:

1) Before touching ANY genitalia. Yours, your sexual partner’s, your child’s before a nappy/diaper change, any adult where you are helping them toilet. If you’ve got the required permissions to touch that genital area WASH YOUR HANDS first. This can help prevent UTIs, fungal infections, bacterial infections, and viral infections in that area. Ever had a UTI? They suck.

2) After touching any genitalia or changing a diaper.

3) Before you toilet. See above. Keeping that area free of germs is a good idea. Especially for those with female presenting genitalia.

4) After you toilet. This is the one most people know.

5) Before you open or prepare any food. That stuff is going to go in your mouth. Keep the germs off it.

6) After you handle any raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs. Especially before you move on to touch other foods. One could make the argument for washing after touching cheese, as well.

7) Before you eat.

8) After you eat.

9) Before you touch your face. Need to scratch an itch? Pick your nose? pick something out of your teeth? Rub your eye? WASH YOUR HANDS.

10) After you touch your face, pick your teeth, etc. You’re not only trying to keep germs out, you’re trying not to spread yours to others.

11) After doing any gardening, automotive work, construction work, anything similar.

12) When you enter your house after being out in public. Been at school, just come home? WASH YOUR HANDS. Been to the grocery store? WASH YOUR HANDS. Been to the gym? WASH YOUR HANDS. Been anywhere outside your house and just come inside? WASH YOUR HANDS before you do anything or touch anything else.

13) After you sneeze or cough, even if you caught it in a tissue or used your sleeve. Viruses are small and numerous and can get around those defences.

14) Before and after holding/touching a baby, and before / after entering a hospital, nursing home, or long term care facility.

Questions? Thoughts? Additions?

New to working from home?

Tips for working at home for those of you new to it.

1) Get up at your usual time, and get ready for work the way you normally do, including getting dressed. You don’t have to be in business casual or whatever, but being dressed puts your brain in the right mindset.

2) Keep your routine. Make sure you take your normal breaks and come back to your computer on time. Use timers if you have to.

3) Make sure you look up from your computer at least once an hour and even take a short walk. You do this without realizing it at work when you go to meetings, go to get coffee or whatever. Your body needs it. Don’t sit and stay there.

4) Have a dedicated working space, and make it as ergonomic as possible. Tendonitis, sore backs, and stiff necks aren’t fun. Your company may allow you to order some equipment to make this possible. Sitting on the couch may seem comfortable for the first bit, but I promise you’ll get sore fast.

5) Stay on task. It’s tempting to slack off because no one is watching you. Honestly, though, people will notice if your output goes down, or you don’t answer your messages/calls/email in a timely manner.

6) Find a way to have a “Chat around the water cooler” with your workmates. You still need a bit of social time, and you still get breaks.

7) Walk to and/or from work – meaning, before the start of your day, or at the end of it, get up, put your coat on and take a walk around the block, into the forest if you can … or whatever form of movement makes you happy.

8) As best you can, keep the various ‘zones’ in your home distinct.
While it might sound like a good idea to use your bedroom to escape from the rest of your family or distractions, it also confuses the mind and can lead to sleeping problems. Keep it so that your bedroom is the place where you sleep so that when you walk into the room your mind and body can maintain the established routine.

I’m sure my fellow work-from-home peeps have more ideas – feel free to comment below.

What I learned from the Chess Tournament

An example of early-style Staunton Chess Set

An example of early-style Staunton Chess Set (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I went as the Parent Supervisor with The Boy and 3 of his schoolmates to the local Chess Championships.

I’m not a chess player, so I knew nothing about what to expect or what was going to happen.

Here’s what I learned:

10) Parents who go to help at a Chess Championship should know how to play chess. I had no idea if our children were being treated fairly or not in their games, and I couldn’t help when they’d ask why certain strategies in the game happened.  I’m really glad the teacher had already taught them the 4 move checkmate though – other children got caught by that!

9) When you’re playing in a championship, the same hand that moves the piece must touch the clock to end your turn.

8) If you touch a piece, you have to move that piece. If you touch someone else’s piece, you must remove it from the game (unless that’s an illegal move.)  If you touch a piece and let go before you move it, your turn is done.

7) A lower rank team has the luxury of playing for fun.  They’re playing to improve and learn, not necessarily playing to win.  Much more fun, less stress. My team came in 14th out of 17 teams and they had a lot of fun!

6) A highly ranked team has stress over keeping their ranking.  Not as much fun, and way more pressure. I was watching the highest ranked teams and there were tears, nerves, complaints, and some poor sportsmanship. Not sure how much learning or improving happened there.

5) Parents need to get over themselves and let their children play and learn.  I’m certain a lot of the stress from #6 actually came from all the parents that stood around the table silently watching and communicating frustration through their non-verbal communications. I did that for the first game, realised how much trouble I was causing, and then purposefully stepped back and away from the tables for the rest of the games.  Less stress for me, and less stress for my team!

4) If you’re setting up a chess championship, it’s better to make it so the toilets, kitchen, and exit are not on the other side of the room, with the only way there is a path through the competition tables.  Talk about interference and distraction!

3) It is impossible to keep a room full of 50-75 adults and children quiet through a full round, waiting after their game has been decided, while other people are still playing. Especially considering point #4.

2) Practice is everything. That’s how a 7 year old (who has been playing since he was three with his parents, since he was 5 with his school and with an after school chess club, and been in the championships 3 years running) beats an 11 year old  (who has only been playing for a year and had never been in a championship).

1) If you walk around one of these events with a clipboard, everyone will assume you’re in charge, even if you’re not. If I had been a bit more on my toes, I could have had a lot of fun! (I was keeping track of my team’s scores!)

What I actually did

You’ll need to read this post first.

I wasn’t comfortable with what happened, at all.  I mentioned it in passing to the Vice Principal, by saying that I wasn’t complaining, and that I had thought about it for a long time, but that I was concerned that the children saw what they did. That had it just been nudes, that was one thing, but a woman playing with herself was inappropriate for the age group. Wouldn’t have bothered me for older kids, but for pre-pubescent children, I was uncomfortable.

I followed that up with an email:

Just further to our conversation – I just looked at The Boy’s art assignment from the Art gallery – his person has one hand picking his nose and the other one putting up a middle finger. I haven’t said anything to judge his picture to him, but frankly, for an 8 year old to think it’s okay to do that in art, that’s just not right. I’m really uncomfortable with it. He’s not allowed to pull the finger at home or at school, so we’re giving him a mixed message by saying it’s okay in art. I am very relieved that the other pictures seemed to go completely over his head – but what if it hadn’t?
I just want to make it clear I’m not trying to lay blame on the school or the teachers. I am thinking that the Art Gallery should have notified the school of the content of their art show for the date the children attended. Surely they didn’t think that was appropriate for 7-9 year olds. Not all parents allow their children to watch inappropriate things on television or listen to inappropriate music!

I am wholly in favour of the children going to the art gallery.  And I think sometimes displays at the art gallery are not appropriate for primary school children. So in future I think it would be a good idea to be aware of the content before they go, and maybe delay the trip where necessary. I also think, in future, the school needs guidelines in place to check the appropriateness of the content before a similar trip is scheduled.

If the Art Gallery doesn’t agree with that, then perhaps we need to find art elsewhere – like, perhaps, the art gallery right here in our town? Or even invite more artists to visit the school. I know both of my children thoroughly enjoyed the artist that visited and drew funny pictures of the teachers!

I understand that art should be controversial and get people to ask questions. And I’d also like to preserve my children’s childhood for as long as possible. Those two things should not be incompatible!

Thank you all of you who took time to comment. It was greatly appreciated!

What would you do?

Okay, so, perspective please …

The local Art Gallery invited my children’s school to visit. They paid for the buses and only asked for a $1 donation per child. They do this once a term.

Last time the children went, Hubby went along as parent help. He was shocked that some of the artwork was presented to the children (5-9 year olds) as “And this one’s about the artists anger about how all white people are racists.” Not the exact words, mind you. Hubby can’t remember exactly what the curator said, only what was implied.

This time, The Boy’s class went (7-9 year olds). The front entrance had a painting with a man projectile vomiting, another with a man, his privates in full view, urinating, and a woman playing with her fully erect chest area. (words changed to try to prevent certain spammings)

In the exhibition the children went to, there were cardboard cut outs of people, one of whom was picking his nose and pulling out visible boogers, and another one with birds pooping out of his butt while he gave the audience the finger. The curator specifically pointed out this piece and talked about it, drawing it to the children’s attention.

Now, The Boy didn’t seem to notice the paintings at the entrance (or if he did, he’s saying nothing.) However, the class was asked
to do an artwork based on what they saw. My Boy’s art faithfully reproduces the picking nose, boogers, and flipping the
bird.

How comfortable would you be with this? And what would you do?

Using synesthesia to cope with dyscalculia?

Math Mark

Math Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughter’s been having a spot of trouble with her basic math skills. She’s gone backwards in her knowledge, forgetting some strategies and seemingly not understanding the new strategies.  It’s a bit odd, because in terms of her reading, writing and spelling she’s way ahead of most of her classmates.What’s not so odd is that I had the same kind of trouble when I was her age.  I always just thought I was horrible at math. And then I went to a workshop at the school and learned that perhaps at least some of the issue was with the way it was taught.

But there’s always more to the story, isn’t there?

As a bit of a lark, I typed “math dyslexia” into google and ended up on a dyscalculia page or seven. Dyscalculia involves difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics.

I was especially intrigued by some of the “symptoms.”  But not for my girl – for me!

  • Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook: You got it. I never know how much is in my trolley unless I use a calculator, and even then, I make many errors when adding things up on a calculator.   I have completely messed up our budget more than once (I’m never sure exactly how I break it, but I do.) And I have frustrated both my father and my hubby when they were trying to explain financial things.  It’s like I can’t get my head around it, no matter how hard I try.
  • difficulty navigating maps – I’m not allowed to use maps unless it’s a GPS.  That said, I have pretty good direction sense – I usually know where I am. If I’ve been there, I can direct you. But if I use a map, I’ll get you lost.
  • mistaken recollection of names – I usually blame this on my synesthesia. Some names are the same colour, you know.
  • difficulty differentiating between left and right – this one drives the hubby nuts. I have to stop, think (sometimes find the L when I hold up my hands, sometimes remember which one I write with) and then tell you.  Interesting fact –  I still refer to a turn across traffic as a “left hand turn” and a turn with traffic as a “right hand turn” just like I learned it in Canada despite the fact it is the complete opposite here in NZ. And despite the fact that I know it’s wrong.
  • inability to visualise mentally – I assume they mean with math – and yep.  I can’t hold the numbers in my head. Unless it’s basic addition (1-20) or basic multiplication (0 – 12 times tables) which I have memorised by colour, I have to write it down.
  • Might do exceptionally well in a writing related field – Hmmm, I resemble that remark!
  • along with, of course, difficulty with basic math – addition, subtraction, division, multiplication – If I don’t have the calculation memorised by colour, it’s not happening.

I’m also completely useless with mathematical formulas. (Did I mention I failed physics, despite being able to spout off all the theories correctly? It was applying the formulas that did me in! I’m also completely useless with calculus and statistics. Failed them too.)  Makes me (and likely you, too!) really glad I never attempted biology or chemistry.

Did you notice those sections above that mention memorising  “by colour”?  That’s where the synesthesia fits in. If I do have dyscalculia (maybe I don’t and it’s just my synesthesia playing havoc?) then I think I mitigated it during my school years with the synesthesia, using the colours to memorise the basic mathematic skills I needed. I changed the numbers and calculations to colour combinations. When I mess up the colours (it can happen. After all, 8 and 3 are the same colour.) I mess up the math.

Which brings me back to my girl.  She doesn’t have synesthesia (that I know of), but she is clearly having trouble with math.  And now that I know that there is such a thing as a math-specific learning disability (and that apparently it is genetically inheritable) perhaps I’ll be able to use some of the strategies they use for dyscalculia to help her, even if she doesn’t have it.

 

Learning from a walking bus

Recently, our little cul-de-sac started up a walking bus.

A walking bus is where a group of school-aged children walk to school with an adult or two accompanying them as the “bus driver.”

Our local council pays for the “bus tickets” (laminated punch cards), rain ponchos, hi-vis vests and jackets for the adults, umbrellas, first aid kit, and little keychains that are the rewards for walking to school a set amount of times.

I was skeptical of the benefits of a walking bus at first. Surely the older children would think it was “uncool?”  Possibly the parents might think it’s a waste of time.  Would anybody show up when it was raining?

But I was pleasantly surprised.  Even the two oldest girls in our cul-de-sac like the walking bus.  And I think I can tell you why, using the Te Whaariki learning strands.

  1. Well-being.  When we all walk together, we can talk and laugh and share stories.  Only one adult has to be with our group, as there’s only 9 children. And yet, the other parents walk with us often, just because it is a good time to share.  All of us (adults and children) arrive at school happy.  There’s also the health aspect of it – we walk even when it’s pouring with rain.  Finally (but I think most importantly to the older children), our path to school goes through an alleyway, past a dairy and past a highschool. I think all the children feel safer as part of the group and with an adult around. Teenagers can be a bit scary to everyone!
  2. Belonging.  We’re part of a group, and we all know each other.  We all know the rules of the walking bus, and each one of us (children included) enforce them. The children also keep tabs on who is about to get a new reward keychain. This feeling of belonging has even extended to the adults on the street. We talk and visit each other more.
  3. Contribution. We take care of each other. The children like to make sure everybody is on the bus, to the extent that they will knock on the doors of the missing, or go to the classrooms of the children who aren’t there. In the cul-de-sac, our Neighbourhood Watch is stronger because it’s not just the adults watching now, the children watch too. They know all the people on our street, and they know which people shouldn’t be there. And they tell us! Plus we all watch out for each other, offering to help out when we see people gardening, doing some DIY, or anything else that may need some neighbourly help.
  4. Communication.  Making sure each of us knows who has netball after school, who’s going home with their Dad instead, who’s sick.  Who’s having a hard day/week. Who’s going on vacation and needs us to keep an eye on their property. Who is making a presentation at school today! Who got the taonga* for doing something special at school today.  Celebrations and Sadness. Funny stories. Also, learning how families are different through our stories.  There are 3 families not from New Zealand, one Tangata Whenua family, one family that moved to Australia and then came back, one family from a single parent home, two families that have extended family living with them.  We learn from each others similarities and differences.
  5. Exploration. We gain confidence from walking together.  We jump in puddles and notice differences in the trees, plants and flowers as we walk. We look for Monarch chrysalis and monitor their changes as we go by every day, and once we even got to stop and watch a butterfly hatch. We find sticks, and interesting rubbish. Sometimes we find interesting graffiti and talk about why it’s there.  Even our walk to school is an opportunity for learning.

Our walking bus has brought our little neighbourhood closer together, and brought positive changes in our outlook towards each other and our environment.  Our children have gained confidence, and all of us have gained friends. We’ve all learned something.

My skepticism is all gone. Clearly even the bigger kids saw something that I originally didn’t!

What do you do when you play?

I just finished reading Play: How it shapes the brain, Opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul.

I was attracted to it because at Playcentre, our philosophy is all about learning through play.  I thought maybe there would be some interesting tidbits in here that might help when we are trying to convince parents of the value of learning through play.  I was right.

Did you know that all animals play?

That children who are empowered to play without structure have better social skills, learning skills, and motor skills?

That children who have social difficulties, attention difficulties, and learning difficulties have been shown to improve when given the opportunity to participate in physical and social play with other children? (Sometimes requiring some strategies and role playing with adults before they give it a go.)

Did you know that adults can aquire a “play deficit?”  Adults who play on a regular basis are happier in general, and more creative and enthusiastic at work.

That adult relationships require an element of play, or they fizzle?

Some of this stuff I knew, and some was new information. Regardless, it helped me look at things in a new light.

Things like my relationship with hubby – and how his teasing and jokes are probably a significant part of why we are happy together.

Like why so many parents stick with Playcentre even though it can be a major pain in the ass – because we get to play, too, when we’re on session!!

And also, what constitutes play.  Before I read this book, I would not have considered this blog to be “play.” Now I recognise that “play” is the reason I’m not writing this blog to make money.  I like working with words. I like writing.  When I come here and write a blog post, I’m playing.

When I’m working on the Playcentre Journal, I’m playing, because I love manipulating words.

Other people might play through exercise, through gardening, through tinkering, through baking.

So how about you? How do you play?

 

**All comments and opinions my own. I received nothing for reviewing this book – I borrowed it from the library. 🙂

I lied.

I smiled at the checkout lady when it was finally my turn. Not her fault I was grumpy. I just wanted to be finished and go home.

But she took my smile as an invitation. “All this bread!” she exclaimed. “Just for one week?

I groaned inwardly.  In a split second, I debated explaining that I freeze my bread, and that no, it wasn’t all for one week.

Then my pissy mood took over. I wasn’t here to be judged.  I wanted to say “Just ring my purchases through, lady! I can buy 20 loaves of bread if I want to and you should smile and take my money!”

Instead, I told a half truth.  “Ha ha. I’ve got two boys.”

That usually makes checkout ladies smile and nod knowingly. Everybody knows boys eat you out of house and home.  No further explanation is needed.

Not for this checkout lady, though.  “Oh?” she said. “How old are they?”

Well, geez.  No way I was gonna tell her that one of my boys was really my husband. How stupid would that look?

So, I lied.

“Errr, one’s nine and the other’s a teenager.”  Teenagers eat a lot. Maybe she’d get the hint, finish my groceries and let me go home.

Nope.

“Oh, what school do they go to?”

Arrrrgh!  I told her the local high school. And then she asked if I got them to cook for themselves, whether they had a job, whether their friends came over and ate all the food, if I had brothers and all about how she had 2 brothers and a sister.

When I finally got out of there, I wondered to myself whether the truth would have kept her silent.

Doubt it.

Maybe next time I’ll just keep my grumpy face on and not smile.