I'm a grade-Nazi.
A what?! ...you may ask. But alas it is I, in mine own household, that holdeth dearest to the true value of one's education.
So why are you talking like you're quoting from the King James Version?
A question most assuredly springing to mind in my beloved to be followed closely by a sudden realization of jiltedess by my Shakespearean banter.
Okay. Enough of that crap. Bottom line...school grades count for something at our house. Period.
While I've blogged pretty extensively about my views on education, the reality is my spoken/written feelings are actually put into practice constantly with the girls. Well...two of them anyway. Bulldog is still at that point she's fascinated with the fact she has toes.
But things will take a drastic turn when she
From daily checks of the teenager's grades via an online parent portal with real time updates (thank God that wasn't around when I was in high school) to daily quizzing of the Crazy Tomato on addition and subtraction problems along with blended letter combination, the two oldest girls are constantly submerged in an atmosphere of learning.
* Disclaimer: Mrs Tony C does not, nor has she ever, participated in mind-numbing, rote memorization drills that may or may not result in the withholding of daily extra-nutritional treats for incorrect or incomplete answers.
So I ask a lot of questions? Big deal. Last I recall...
We were sitting in a restaurant waiting to order. The Bulldog was hard at work turning her developing brain to goo by re-watching the same episode of the Bubble Guppies on the Kindle Fire for the...oh...say 600th time. At least she was quite. Mrs. Tony C was doing her usually octopus act of multitasking. A juggling act of picking up a sippy-cup off the floor, trying to read the menu for her and both girls, all while employing a delaying tactic that will usually temporarily stifle the Crazy Tomato's obsession with public restrooms.
Tony C: (helplessly entranced Homer-style) Wow...they have a big menu.
Crazy Tomato: Mom. I have to go to the bathroom really bad.
Mrs. Tony C: Honey, wait until after we order. How do you spell 'on'?
Crazy Tomato: Aaaa aaaa nnn nnnn...O and...nnn nnnn....N.
Mrs. Tony C: How do you spell 'off'?
Tony C: (completely to myself): Those ribs look good, but so does that roast beef sandwich. Wings! Wow look at all the wing choices...
Crazy Tomato: Aaaa aaaa fffff fffff...O and...ffff fffff...F. OF?
Mrs. Tony C: Close. Very close. It has two Fs. OFF.
Tony C: OMG Burger? That suckers got four pieces of bacon! Real bacon...
Crazy Tomato: Two Fs? fffff...ffffff...F ...like in FU**.
(CUE LOUD RECORD SCRATCHING SOUND)
Tony C: (looking over my menu) What did you just say?
Crazy Tomato: F daddy...like in FU**.
A quick glance over at Mrs. Tony C, and I find her locked up tighter that the hard drive on my last laptop. I wasn't completely sure she was actually breathing. Just staring straight ahead as if time had actually frozen in that very instance.
Tony C: Where did you hear that word? Where?!
Crazy Tomato: I don't know daddy. Why? It starts with F doesn't it? Is it a word?
A defining moment in the dynamic of this delicate daddy/daughter relationship was about to unfold. Try to remain calm.
Tony C: Sweetheart. That is a very, very bad word. Don't ever say it.
The weight of the moment (and my apparent demeanor) dropped onto the little rascal like an anchor. She immediately curled up into a ball of sobbing withdrawal.
Mr. Tony C: (snapping back into the moment) It's okay honey. You didn't know it was a bad word. You're not in trouble sweetheart. Where did you hear that word?
The response was just a series of mumbles and sniffles.
Mrs. Tony C: Sweetheart. Daddy's (evil eye + head snap in my direction) not mad at you. You're not in trouble.
Tony C: Hey kiddo. I'm not mad at you at all...
In an effort to marginalize the moment and not damage the learning exchanges (aka drills), the wife and I decided not to make a big deal out of an assuming innocent enough occurrence. For her use of another word earlier in the year we deemed unacceptable, the Crazy Tomato now has a bar of soap stored in a clear plastic baggy with her name on it in the bathroom. She sees it twice a day when she gets her toothpaste out of the medicine cabinet. A not-so-subtle reminder of the consequence should she decide to repeat offend....and expand her vocabulary.
We figured there are at least a few places the CT could have picked up the mother-of-all dirty words, with the likelihood falling on school. Imagine that. I was hoping for Robert Frost, and instead she can quote Eddie Murphy. Nice.
I worked so hard at not overreacting that day, that I ended up ordering fish tacos. Fish tacos?! I've never ordered fish tacos in my life! What...the ...
All the way home, Mrs. Tony C drilled the Crazy Tomato with words starting in F. She has a harder time letting things go.