The Peeshwank’s Now a Taxpayer

In the past, The Peeshwank has been paid for his acting gigs with free food, tickets, copies of movies, clothing, even candy.  This time around, he got paid via payroll.  The wide-eyed wonder of getting a paycheck in the mail was quickly overshadowed by four little letters…

FICA.

“Who is this FICA and why are they getting part of my money?”

“Honey, you have to pay taxes on your wages.  That’s how America works.”

“This is crap.  Think of all the things I could’ve done with that money!”

“Like what?”  (We’re not talking a vast fortune here.)

“Like, oh, I don’t know… go to Golden Corral!” 

His cross country coach takes the team to Golden Corral after every track meet.  The children love it.  None of their parents had taken them there before they started track.  After the first meet they all wondered why they’d never gotten to bask in the fluorescent lighting that surrounds the almighty chocolate fountain.  We parents just wait for them to make their way back to the school and pretend that our kids aren’t eating from the bounty of bacteria that is the trough-style buffet after 40+ sweaty kids rifle through it.

Uncle Sam, you owe The Peeshwank a trip to Golden Corral.  Lord knows, I’m not taking him.

English: A chocolate fountain in Hong Kong

I’m just picturing all the kids lined up around it, sticking their tongues in it.

The Peeshwank Blogs About His Role in “Gordon Family Tree”

Sorry, I’ve become a less-than-daily blogger.  The Peeshwank’s been keeping me on my toes (and away from my computer) lately.  Here’s an entry he wrote for the Gordon Family Tree Movie blog.

Guest Blogger: Actor Brandon Dulaney – My First Feature!

And here’s a trailer for “Lasting the After,” a post-apocalyptic film he acted in recently.  (He’s the kid getting manhandled by the SWAT guys.  As a somewhat protective mom, it was not easy to watch during filming, but he was having a blast and would start giggling as soon as they called “cut,” so that helped ease my mind.)

http://vimeo.com/50262282

Watching P work has made me proud of the young man he’s become.  He listens to his director and fellow actors and does what they need him to do.  If only I could get a movie director to come in and tell him to clean his room, pick up his laundry, and get off Minecraft for a little while each night…

My sweet boy

The Peeshwank’s Thoughts on Episode 1

A long time ago in a galaxy pretty close by…

A small child, The Peeshwank, fell in love with the Star Wars universe.  He started out with Episode IV (because I’m good at parenting like that) and made his way through the original trilogy.  When he was 4, Episode III came out and I agreed to allow him to come to the midnight premiere with me.  (He always did really well at the theater, so I knew he’d either fall asleep, or sit quietly in awe of the movie.  He’s been a film junkie from a very young age.)

When I was ready to head out to the theater, I called for him to hurry up so we wouldn’t be late.  He came out of his room in his Darth Vader costume.  Of course.  At the showing there were lots of Star Wars geeks in costume, but the best were the Stormtroopers who actually stopped what they were doing and stood at full attention as Darth P-Dog sauntered by them.  He’s 12 now and still remembers this fondly.

Not long ago one of the geeky channels that our tv is typically tuned to was airing a Star Wars marathon.  He hadn’t watched the new trilogy in awhile, so he sat down with his giant box of goldfish, prepared to be entertained for the day.

All was well until this happened…

That’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

“This kid is like the worst actor ever.”

“You know, George Lucas keeps remaking these, maybe he just needs to start over.  I could be a better Anakin than this guy.”

“I can’t watch this anymore.  Let me know when the other ones come on.  P-dog, out.”

There were lots of other… er… comments that were yelled at the screen in answer to pretty much anything poor little Ani said.  Maybe I’ll have to video him watching it sometime.  If I can convince him to watch it again.  But I almost doubt it after this conversation:

Me: “You know, you loved Episode I as a kid.”

P: “Well, I was a kid.  I had crappy taste.  Meesa thinks this is terrible now.”

Me: “You’re talking like Jar-Jar.”

P: “Oh, don’t even get me started on that idiot.”

I guess that settles that.

I do have to agree with him that he’d made a pretty excellent Anakin should George decide to remake it…

Sleepy little Anakin…

First Week of Junior High: A Retrospective

For those of you keeping track, you’ll know that The Peeshwank began Junior High this week.  Coincidentally, I began my margaritas-for-breakfast diet to get through the utter shock of having a kid in junior high.  (I kid, I kid.  No margaritas.  But I will say that triple sec and cranberry juice make for a nice refreshing pick-me-up.)

Here are some musings/conversations/observations/etc. that should give you an idea how the week has gone:

****

Looking at P’s schedule:

Me: “What do you mean you’re not in Pre-Algebra?  What is this ‘math’?  ‘Math’ is for 4th graders.”
P: (shrugs)
Me: “But my baby is supposed to be in Pre-Algebra.  Oh shit.  I just became THAT mom, didn’t I?”
P: “Um… maybe…  just a little…”

(He is in the right class, after all.  They just changed the title of it.  Without telling the parents.  His teacher let me know that I wasn’t the only mom that freaked out a bit.  Apparently there were about 26 others that did the same.  Way to reinforce my neuroses.)

****

On kick-ass literature teachers:

Me: “Your lit teacher recommends ‘Catcher in the Rye’ for this semester’s reading.  That’s pretty cool.  It has some rather grown-up language though.”
P: “You mean, they cuss in the book?”

Me: “Yeah. It was actually banned in a lot of places.”
P: “And Mrs. V said it was okay to read?”
Me: “Yes, it was encouraged.”
P: “Junior high is so awesome.”

Of course.

****

At Meet-the-teacher night:

Me: “Um, perhaps the parents should have to abide by the dress code as well.”
P: “Why?”
Me: “I just don’t feel like a black leather super-micro-miniskirt, matching top, and 5-inch heels are appropriate to wear… well… anywhere.”
P: “Except a street corner, right?”
Me: “Yeah… wait, what?”

Couple sitting behind me:

Dad: “I’m concerned about that last class we were in.”
Mom: “Why?”
Dad: “They’re going to have to write a lot.  Her writing is her weak point.  She’s just not very good at writing.  It’s going to be hard for her.”
Me: “Then the exact thing your daughter needs is to be in a class where she gets lots of practice writing.  Running away from it won’t make her a better writer.  Putting her in a class where the focus isn’t on writing is only going to tell her it’s okay to run away from tasks that seem hard.”

What I actually said:

Me: (smiles awkwardly at the couple, mouths “Hi” and turns back around to mind my own business)

Yeah, I’m a wuss when it comes to talking to people.  Besides, I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack from being in such a crowded school.  I was popping little mints the whole time to keep from biting off every last one of my fingernails.  And sweating.  Wait, Southern girls don’t sweat.  We glisten.  I was glistening like a pig.
My panic attacks are Not.Pretty.At.All.

The day-after:

Me: “Last night reminded me so much of my experience in junior high.”
Joe: “Really?  Why?”
Me: “Because I was sitting front and center, paying attention, taking notes and everyone else was sitting behind me talking the whole time.  And it really frustrated me, and made me realize that I’m still a big ol’ education-lovin’ nerd. And then when I was trying to talk to one of the teachers 4 people jumped in front of me like they couldn’t even see me and I ended up being late for health class and when I walked in everyone stared at me and it took all I had not to throw up on my shoes.  Oh well, at least now I can come home and drink a box of wine to get over it.”

****

On making new friends:

A mom was talking to one of the teachers.  Apparently she is new to the area and is looking to make friends with some other moms.  Her requirement: that they be from her college sorority.  The teacher was racking her brain to think of anyone she knew who might be a Beta-Iota-Tau-Chi*… the woman waited desperately to hear that some of her sisterhood lived in the area… while surrounded by literally hundreds of other women who probably would’ve had a quite pleasant conversation with her and maybe, just maybe could’ve become friends with her.  Alas, we did not know the secret handshake.

****

On contraband music:

If you follow me on facebook, then you’ve likely been following The Saga of The Black Violin.  If not, here’s the Cliff’s Notes: P has a black violin and “differently-colored” violins are not allowed in the school’s orchestra.  (I have validated that their concern is not unfounded, and that no, they aren’t a bunch of instrument racists.)  Alas, we were going to have to purchase a new violin for the munchkin to play.  Which brings us to the latest development…
The second day of orchestra, his director announces that they have no one playing bass and needs some bass players.  The Peeshwank has wanted to play bass for about 5 years now, but I told him he was too small, so he’s a violin.  He threw his hand in the air immediately and is now in the process of switching to playing bass.  Yeah.
A note about The P-Dog.  He is not tall.  He isn’t even average.  He’s not even close to average.  Every doctor he’s ever seen has asked if I’ve had his growth hormones tested.
“Yes, he’s fine, he’s just short.”
It’s my robotic response.  He used to hate it.  He’s gotten cast in 5 different movies/series this year though because he can play a much younger child.  He’s grown (pun fully intended) to love being the tiny guy.
The thought of my little guy standing on a step-stool playing a gigantic standing bass, just makes me all giggly.  I’m truly excited about the prospect.  Almost as much as he is.

Update: I just this second got word from the director that they are going to get P a bass that will fit him.  A 1/8th size bass.  He’s gonna be so excited!

****

All in all the week has been a great success.  We’ve had a couple of rough patches over the days – PE uniforms that are going to swallow the child, figuring out where classes are, getting to the “cool” table at lunch… typical junior high trifles.  But every day he’s a little happier with everything, so I can’t complain.

“Do we really have to do a ‘before school’ picture? That’s so lame, Mom.”

*Beta-Iota-Tau-Chi does not exist.  Although it should.  Maybe I’ll start it.  Our secret handshake will be flipping the bird to pretentious d-bags.  Our official flower will be the blue agave from which all tequila comes.  Our sisterhood song will be “Baby Got Back” or the theme from Laverne and Shirley.  And our slogan will be “Haters gonna hate.”  We will rule the world.
And yes, I know people make a lot of lifelong friends in sororities.  Many of my oldest friends are from my own college sorority.  This is about making new friends… in your 40s… when you’re surrounded by a whole slew of moms that you KNOW you have something in common with.  Whatever.  Humans make no sense to me.

You Know You’re a Good Mother When…

The Peeshwank has a tendency to hum/whistle/sing/generally make noise at his desk while mining away for diamonds on Minecraft.

Earlier he was on a singing kick and I heard that familiar riff.  You know the one…

I stood in the kitchen watching the back of my spawn’s head wondering which direction he would go.

“Oh my God, is he going to continue with the Vanilla Ice abomination or will he go the Queen route… oh god… here it comes…”

And he started singing the lyrics that prove I’m doing something right as a parent.

Sing it with me folks: “PRESSURE!  Pushing down on me…”

Rock on, Peeshwank.  Rock on.

This was him, pissed that he didn’t get to go see Wilco with my bff and I. Yeah, he’s got good taste in music.

72-Hour Movie-Making

This month is our city’s Artsfest.  Every year they host a 72-hour film challenge (The 4320 Film Challenge) and every year The Peeshwank and I take our talents and join a team of fellow guerrilla filmmakers to come up with something we pray entertains the masses.  (“Masses” meaning the couple hundred or so people who come out to the screening.)

This year, we partnered with three of my favorite lady friends and our offspring to make a movie.

I was elected Team Captain.  (“Elected” meaning I engaged in a coup d’ etat and completely took over.)  I went to the captain meeting Friday evening at 4:00 where I was told the specifics of the movie to be made this year.  We had to film at least one scene on our downtown square and the movie had to center around the theme word “challenge.”  I took a look at our cast – a teenage girl, 4 tweens, and a 4-year-old.  Yep.  That takes care of the “challenge” portion of the program.  Our camera guy fell through, so we ended up shooting it on my point and shoot camera.  (Yeah, we’re totally legit like that, as The Peeshwank would say).  That would be challenge #2.  Oh, and sound on our square?  Every movie we’ve made down there had the overwhelming sound of the fountain drowning out every bit of dialogue spoken.

Challenge accepted.

I wrote and storyboarded a movie that involved kids acting like turds all over downtown (this is known in the industry as “typecasting”) and getting kicked out of various establishments (up to and including our amazing new art museum, Crystal Bridges).  We filmed it as a video blog by the teen girl, so the video quality could be forgivable.  The most genius part, though?  We decided to do a silent film.  Oh, that pesky, loud fountain?  Not an issue any longer.

We spent all day Saturday filming and in another stroke of genius I had the final scene take place at our downtown splash park.  All day, when we wanted the kids to behave, we just reminded them, “Splash park later.”  (Fact: Bribery is the best way to get children to do what you want.)

We spent the next two nights in our friends’ studio, recording our lead’s voiceovers and editing the film.  We drank a lot and laughed so hard we probably should’ve deployed Depends, but at the end of the 72 hours, we had a movie and we kinda like it. It’s not professional by any stretch (other than Darryl’s awesome editing skills, yo) but we had a ton of fun doing it.

Without further ado, I give you…

“Happy Birthday or Bust!”

Battling a 4-year-old Dragon Slayer

Another tale about The Peeshwank’s antics from long ago…

When The Peeshwank was a toddler, I discovered that he grew bored with normal toddler-friendly television programming. At our house, we didn’t have cable, so it wasn’t a problem. At his dad’s house… well, that was a different story. He figured out very quickly how to work the remote while his father napped. The Peeshwank is the master at faking sleep in order to be left to his own devices when grown-ups turn their backs. His father worked evenings, so he often napped thinking his precious baby boy was napping alongside him.

One day, on our way home from his dad’s house, he told me a lively story about “this awesome movie about dwagons!” I asked him to tell me more about it and realized he was describing “Reign of Fire”. If you haven’t seen it, “Reign of Fire” is a little more intense than, oh say, “Pete’s Dragon.” The Peeshwank insisted that it wasn’t scary to him. He slept in my room that night though. And the night after… and the night after…

I decided to try to explain to the young squire that the movie he saw wasn’t real. Explaining special effects to an almost four-year-old is challenging at the very least. But I did because I always swore I’d never lie to my child. Honesty all the way. Yep, I wasn’t going to be one of those moms that shields her child from the truth.

“Sweetie, there aren’t any dragons. They don’t exist.”

“Not any in Arkansas?”

“No, honey, none in Arkansas.”

He thinks a minute.

“What about Oklahoma?”

“No, none in Oklahoma either.”

“Missouwi?”

“No. None in Missouri either. There aren’t any dragons.” (Although I must admit, I was impressed with his knowledge of our local geography.)

“Yes there are, Mommy. I saw that movie and they were real.”

Exasperated, I finally just said, “Don’t worry about the dragons. I won’t let them get you.”

A couple of nights later after much bargaining and pleading, he agreed to sleep in his own room. The next morning I went to wake Sir Galahad and there was a puddle in the hallway outside his door. My first reaction was to, of course, assume he had an accident and didn’t make it to his bathroom. I woke him and asked him about it.

“Did you have an accident?”  I pointed to the puddle at the door.

“Oh no, that’s just water,” he explained quite matter-of factly.

“Why, pray tell, is there water in your doorway?”

“That’s my dwagon twap.” He was positively beaming with pride.

“Excuse me?”

“My DWAGON TWAP!”

I’ll admit I was hesitant to ask, but I just had to know.

“Can you explain how the dragon trap works?”

“Well, you see dwagons don’t like cold. They only like hot because they breathe fire, you know? So I thought if I put cold water at my door, the dwagons would step in it and get all cold [at this point he made shivering motions] and run away!”

Sir Gawain had built a moat.

“Can you please not do that anymore? Please?”

No response.

The next morning, I opened the refrigerator to get a glass of water. My gallon of drinking water had disappeared in the night. With little searching I found the jug. It was lying beside his bedroom door… empty. The puddle was much larger than the previous one. The moat had grown.

“I told you, no more dragon traps.”

“But Mommy, I’ve gotta keep the dwagons out.”

“But THERE AREN’T ANY DRAGONS TO KEEP OUT.”

“That’s because I set my dwagon twap.”

He waved his hand triumphantly around his room.

“See, it’s working! No dwagons!”

It’s really hard to argue with that sort of logic.

He spent several nights at his dad’s and I thought for sure he would have moved on to a new obsession when he returned. But when Sir Lancelot made his return to our humble kingdom, I found the opposite to be true. I sat on the couch that night to unwind after a long day at my office and listened to him happily splash in his bath. My quiet reverie was disrupted when I went to check on him and found that he was using his Super Soaker 5000 to completely drench the hallway between his bathroom and his bedroom.

“OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THIS?”

He brushes past me, his Super Soaker locked and loaded, shaking his head.

“Pesky dwagons.”

I sighed and realized I had no other choice. I took him to the store to purchase his first plastic sword. As we perused the wares in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, he and I became less and less impressed with their meager weapon offerings.

Then we turned the corner and there it was. The Excalibur of all ancient-beast-annihilating weapons. I quickly purchased The Peeshwank his first light saber.

“When the dragons come, use this. It’s the best weapon against them. I promise.”

The moat went away for good, along with my idea that honesty is always the best policy when it comes to toddlers. As for The Peeshwank, he spent the next year wearing a Darth Vader costume every day.

Honestly, I was just thankful he wasn’t flooding the house anymore.

Worn out after a long day of battling dragons.

Cthulhu Goes to New Orleans

Cthulhu decided to take a break in her usual daily soul-eating activities and hit the Big Easy for a bit of strolling, shopping, and terrorizing the locals.  She asked me if she could use my site to photo blog about her journey and since one does not say “no” to such a malevolent entity, here it is…

Starting off the trip by fighting The Peeshwank for pillow real estate.  Winner: Peeshwank.

Checking out the Atchafalaya basin.  Hmm… murky waters.  Starting to feel at home down here.

Crossing the Mississippi.

The 12-year-old minions I employed to do my bidding on the trip enjoying the fountain at the Audubon Zoo.

The next day, the boy minion made me late for early-morning site-seeing.

So I made him carry me.

The minions and myself on the roof at the hotel before taking a swim.  Bourbon Street sits unsuspectingly beneath us…

The minions and I rained down hellfire and brimstone upon that street of depravity.  Actually just rain.  Lots and lots of rain.

I discovered I really have a fondness for jazz music.

And beignets.  I couldn’t wait to wrap my tentacles around these bad boys.  The minions’ grandmother had to hold me back.

The girl minion and I took a break to text our friends back home while waiting on the penguin show at the Aquarium of the Americas.

The Saints asked me to take Coach Payton’s place for the year, but I told them I have no interest in silly mortal games.

Fuzzy navels by the pool in Baton Rouge.

Now, that I’m back home, I have decided to embrace this Southern culture and will henceforth be known as Cthu-Lulu.

Trip wrap-up:

Miles traveled – 1719.1

Rivers crossed -  (Arkansas, Red, Sulphur, Atchafalaya, Mississippi, Ouachita, Cossatot, Cane, and Little River)

Family members visited – 12

Beignets eaten – 9

Gators consumed – 1

Shrimp/crawfish/souls devoured – countless

The Peeshwank’s Pre-Vacation Questions

The past two years, The Peeshwank and I have foregone a mommy/son vacation due to the fact that we were at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Michigan and Maryland respectively.  (Woot!  Woot!  OMers in the house!)  This year his team did not advance to Worlds though, so I’ve decided to give in and take the wee one on his first journey to The Motherland.  New Orleans.

He’s been begging to go since he was old enough to say “NooLorlins”, so I figured the time was right.  I checked with The Pischouette (my niece) and she was up for the trip as well.  Just me and the 12-year-olds heading to the City That Care Forgot.  Then my dad insisted that my mother chaperon us, so the trio has become a quartet, and I’ll be honest, I’m quite okay with that.  The thought of being outnumbered by tweens in The Big Easy was a bit frightening.

The Peeshwank has been preparing for the trip by asking a million and a half questions about our upcoming trip.  I’ve gathered a few of my favorites here:

Peeshwank: Why do I have to get shots to go to Junior High?  What’s going on there that I need shots for?  Do they have wild animals roaming around or something?  And why aren’t we at Jazzfest right now?

Me: Because we’re going to New Orleans in May.

Peeshwank: But Jazzfest will be over then.

Me: I can see telling you about Jazzfest was my first mistake.

*******************

Peeshwank: Are there any good restaurants in New Orleans?

Me: You know how they say there are no dumb questions?

Peeshwank: Yeah.

Me: Well, that’s a dumb question.

*******************

Peeshwank: Do they have chili in New Orleans?  I need chili.

Me: I’m sure they have chili, but they’re known for their Cajun food and seafood.

Peeshwank: Seafood.  Cool.

Me: Yeah, like shrimp.

Peeshwank: P-DOG WILL EAT ALL THE SHRIMP!!!!!

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Peeshwank: Do you think people will throw lots of beads to me?

I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot-pole.  And I have made arrangements for a hotel with a rooftop pool, in order to keep the children away from Bourbon Street as soon as it starts to get dark.

*******************

Peeshwank: Do you think if I save up enough money, I can buy a Blue Dog painting?

Me: Um… yeah… not so much. (<– $105,000.  Seriously.)  Maybe a postcard?

*******************

So, The Peeshwank has a plan to see as much art as he can, listen to as much jazz as he can, ride the Algiers ferry as many times as I’ll allow, and eat all the shrimp, fried gator, frog legs, and boudin he can cram into his tiny body.

Let’s do this.

My third novel.  New Orleans is practically the 4th main character in the book.

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

A Conversation with The Peeshwank: Movie Audition

Yesterday The Peeshwank went on two auditions for upcoming feature films.  After four hours of him charming various and sundry producers, actors, directors, random passersby, and the guy running the burrito stand next to the auditions, we were in the car discussing how the auditions went.

Me: So, who all was in the room for the second audition?

P: Cassie, a dude, and there was a chick in there.

Me: There was a chicken!?

P: No!  There was a chick in there.

Me: I don’t understand why they’d have a chicken there.  I’m just glad I didn’t have to go in with you.  I would’ve freaked out.

P: No.  It was a chick in there.

Me: I heard you.  That’s so strange.

P: [giggling uncontrollably]

“I see what you did there.”

I love messing with him.  Maybe now he’ll refer to us as “ladies”.