Thursday, November 20, 2014

Zoe the Wise and Entertaining

In August 2013, my youngest daughter Zoe started middle school.  As the parents of most 6th graders know, this age is a delightful stage of discovery and wonder.  The developmental characteristics of the average 11-12 year old include the following: 

  • Intellectual interests expand
  • Increased ability to see world from various perspectives
  • Improved abilities to use speech for self-expression
  • High interest in current events, politics, social justice
  • Increased ability to think abstract in intellectual pursuits
  • May offer “ideal” solutions to complex problems

As Zoe began to display these characteristics in abundance, I had to share her thoughts and comments with others, and I took to Facebook in earnest.  Over her 6th grade year and into her current 7th grade year, I have posted her thoughts and questions, and had lots of positive feedback.  Everyone loves hearing from Zoe. I was told that I better be saving all those posts, so, I was compelled to go back through Facebook and compile them all into one blog post.  First up are posts from 6th and 7th grade, including the famous Health Class, followed by the posts from 2009-2012.

You're all very welcome.  :) 

On School

2013 Aug 27:
Me: "How much do I owe you for chores today?" Zoe: "All I've done so far is my homework?" Me: "Let's be clear, I don't pay you to do your homework." Zoe: "Why not?! It's on my list of things to do!" Me: "It's your reason for being -at this point in your life -you're a student. Does anyone pay me for being your mom?" Zoe: "No, but have you ever really tried to find a donor for that?"

2013 Oct 17:
Zoe: "We had to do a group project today in school. I suck at group projects." Me: "Why do you think that?!" Zoe: "That's not the important part. Our project was to form a new country and make all the laws and everything. I wanted to design the flag but someone else took that. I had to be on the group that made the laws." Me: "Well, that sounds interesting." Zoe: "Trust me, it was not. The first law they made was No School. I told them that was just stupid. Turns out that they want to be stupid. This is why I suck at group projects."

2013 Nov 6:
Zoe: "I like English homework because you can help me with it." Me: "Is a back handed way of saying I suck at Math?" Zoe: "I did not say that."

2013 Nov 18:
For those of you who are following the middle school adventures of Zoe, here's the latest: Zoe: Guess what we're learning in math? Me: What? Zoe: Ratios! Today we watched a speed dating video. For every one word the girl spoke, the guy spoke 7. Me: Speed dating. Of course.

2013 Dec 9:
Me: "So, how did your book report go?" Zoe, "Perfect. I did an amazing job." Me: "Nothing wrong with your self esteem, is there?" Zoe: "Nope." Minutes later.... Me: "Zoe take off those socks, they smell terrible." Zoe: "Now, that's the kind of comment that might lower my self esteem." I retreat. Type this. She still has the socks on. Eww. 

2014 Jan 15:
Me: How was school? Zoe: Well, PE is interesting. Today we watched a video teaching us how to ride a stationary bike. The video's background music was "Fat Bottom Girls." Me: Interesting choice. (Zoe sings chorus, which is then stuck in my head for the afternoon).

2014 Jan 23:
Lacey to Zoe: You're probably going to have a snow day tomorrow. Zoe: What?! No! Tomorrow is the worst day for a snow day. I have solo practice! Lacey: Tell me about it! I'm missing a very important class. Me to myself: My kids are freaks.

2014 Feb 17:
Zoe: So I've been going to the sewing club in my after school program. Me: Does anything funny happen there I can entertain with on Facebook? Zoe: Uh, people poke themselves a lot? Me: Really? Zoe: We aren't being actually taught how to sew, we just get to do it. That's why that bear I made was so bad.

Apr 23 2014:  Text conversation
2014 Feb 19:
 Zoe got in trouble at her after-school program today for being disruptive during homework time. After listening to the teacher tell me about the incident, this was how Zoe started her defense as we drove home: "Mom, this is like the telephone game. By the time the story gets to you it sounds worse than it actually was. I'm the one who knows the real story and you need to hear it."

2014 Mar 5:
Me: I'm going to talk to your teacher tomorrow. Zoe: Ok, but don't embarrass me. Me: What?! When have I ever embarrassed you with your teachers? Zoe: There's a first time for everything.

2014 Jun 2:
Me: Hey Zoe: Someone blew away the STAAR test! I'm not gonna name names. Zoe: It was Bramble! Me: Ha! Here are your fabulous results. They came last Thursday. You're as amazing as we knew you were. Zoe: Oh, stop. <Pauses> Never mind. Keep going...

On The Famous Health Class

2013 Nov 13:
Zoe's health homework tonight was to interview me and ask a bunch of questions she was given and record my answers. This is the gist of that assignment: Zoe: How do you get an STD? Me: Having sex. Zoe: Duh. Zoe: Is sex fun? Me: Yes. Zoe: Ick. Zoe: Should I sign an abstinence until marriage pledge? Me: At 11?! Zoe: I know, right? The conversation actually lasted over an hour. Zoe took 6 pages of notes and had me revise the abstinence pledge she will take and at the end of the questions she said, "thank you for your time." Wow. Surreal.

2013 Nov 14:
 Zoe's health class is making our evening discussions very interesting. This happened tonight at dinner. Zoe, age 11: We watched a date rape video today at school. Me: Chokes on soup.

2013 Dec 18:
Zoe: "So, today, in health class we watched a video about drinking too much and this man drank a beer, then threw up into it and then kept on drinking it." Me: "What?! Slow down, Facebook has been waiting for a new health class story, let me write this down." Zoe: "Facebook doesn't want to hear about this, Mom - it is not funny, it's disgusting." Me: "Sure, they do. What else?" Zoe: "We had to look at a poster of what smoking cigarettes does to you. Just trust me on this, ok?" Me: "Ok." (posts on FB).

2013 Dec 19:
 Zoe: "Tell Facebook we can only make fun of health class for 2 more days, but I'm pretty sure that even my health teacher is ready for it to be over."

2014 Jun 14:
 Zoe: My 89 in that Health class last semester everyone thought was so funny kept me from having a straight A average all year. Me: I guess health class gets the last laugh. Zoe: That's not funny.

On Life

2013 Aug 20:
Zoe says "I am so tiny in the universe."

2014 Jan 11:
Zoe: What are you talking about? Me: This is an adult conversation. Zoe: I'm an adult. In some countries.

2014 Mar 27:
 Zoe: Middle Schoolers are a lot more likely to lie than CEO's. Me: (Reaches for phone) Zoe: Are you going to tweet that?

2014 Oct 6:  
Pondering life's big questions as posed by a 12 year old on the front porch, as Atlas sits sentry. Tonight Zoe tackled:
Gay marriage: "No one says you have to attend their wedding."
Abortion: "Why are there unwanted babies?!"
School lunches: "Pizza's awesome and it's a big hit, but, come on, kids know it's not healthy."
Juvenile detention: "It's like taking a class on how to be bad."
I'm pretty sure this never happened all in one night at age 12 with my older two girls.
I'm overwhelmed. Now we are having a "how to shave" demonstration.
Isn't it bedtime yet?!

On Music

2013 Sept 12:
Zoe just excitedly told me that way back last year before she could read music she had no idea that the song "This Old Man" was the same as the Barney theme song.
2011 Sept 29:  Zoe is clearly trying to decipher the meaning of a great rock song

2013 Sept 22:
Discussing "Blurred Lines" with Zoe: Me: "Would you want someone to say to you that "you da hottest b**ch in this place"? Zoe: Horrified, "OMG! No! I would slap them. And then pepper spray them. Who would want that?! And if they do, then they need counseling."

2013 Dec 3:
Zoe was playing a short sequence of chords over and over on her violin while I was making dinner. I finally realized it was the Steve Miller Band song, "The Joker." When I told her, she said, "That's been in my head for days!"

2014 Jan 30:
Zoe: I feel like 80's music is the best. (Said while not being able to stop herself from jumping up to dance to my music on shuffle while she's supposed to be doing homework).

On Her Dad

2013 Sept 21:
My inspection sticker has expired and Zoe and I were discussing proof of insurance. It went something like this: Me: "Do you know what proof of insurance is?" Zoe: "Yes." Me: "You know everything! How are you so smart?" Zoe: "I know about proof of insurance from all the times Dad's been pulled over." Me: "Yikes." Zoe: "Dad says the cops go easier on him when I'm in the car."

2014 Feb 10:
Zoe: Dad always blames the car when he gets pulled over by a cop. Me: How's that?! Zoe: When he's driving the red SUV he says studies show more red cars get pulled over. When he's driving the Gold BMW it's because cops pull over more BMW's. Me: What do you think? Zoe: I'm afraid to tell him but it's probably the driver, not the car.

On Pop Culture and Current Events

2014 Jan 12:
 Zoe: "Everyone says they were unprepared for winning. I would have written a speech anyway." #goldenglobes

2014 Feb 3:
This just happened: Me: Dammit! Zoe: Janet!? Me: Did you just make a reference to Rocky Horror Picture Show? Zoe: Maybe. Me: You're so old! Zoe: What?! I'm only 12! Me: You are not even 12 yet! Zoe: (laughing) You're adorable, Mom.

2014 Oct 2:
On the drive to school: Zoe: Is it true that someone went on vacation and brought Ebola back to America and now it's spreading? Me: No. A man entered the US from Liberia and he has Ebola and he's been hospitalized. He'll probably recover and it doesn't look like he passed it to anyone else. Zoe: That's good to know. I've got to let everyone at school know because they all think it's spreading fast.

On Words 

2014 Feb 1:
Shopping in HEB: Me: How about we get blueberries? Zoe: I've said a million times that I don't like blueberries. Why can't you accept it? Me: A million, huh? Zoe: It's hyperbole. Mom. Me: Is that a fancy word for exaggeration? Zoe: Yes, yes, it is.

2014 Aug 14:
Me, reading an article in People magazine to Zoe: "For most parents their kids' teenage years signal the end of goodbye kisses and cuddles and the dawn of slammed doors and one-word answers." Is that gonna happen to us soon, Zoe? Zoe: I wanna say "No," but that's a one-word answer....

On Friends

2014 Feb 26:
Zoe just read a story to me that she and her friends wrote that had words like "stupidly" "poo" and "cluck-cluck" sprinkled liberally throughout it. When I didn't find the story as highly amusing as Zoe did (she was seriously cracking up) she abruptly stopped laughing, turned to me with this intense look of grave disappointment and said: "I really hope I don't lose my sense of humor when I'm over 40."

2014 Apr 9:
Zoe: --Picks out birthday card of 'unicorn farting rainbows' for friend. Me: "Are you sure she will appreciate this?" Zoe: "Of course she will!" Me: "Cause I would not." Zoe: "This is why you're not my best friend."

On Sex

2014 Sept 27:
Zoe was very helpful this year boxing things up to make way for Halloween decorations. Zoe: Mom, did you know this sign is a sexual innuendo. (Grapes sign: "Squeeze me and I'll whine a bit.") Me: What do you know about sexual innuendo? Zoe: When you're 12 everything is a sexual innuendo. Me: Gah. Wha? Zoe: Don't worry, it's normal. All my friends are the same. We've been exposed to a lot by 12. Me: But you were dressed up as Raggedy Ann like 5 minutes ago. Zoe: That was more like 5 years ago. But we grow up faster now than in your day anyway. You've told me this, Mom.

2014 Nov 5:
Me: So what happened in school today? Zoe: My theater arts teacher used the word, "Sex," and all the kids gasped and said, "Ew!" So I told them, loudly, "You were all made by it!" And I might have dramatically pointed my finger around the room at them.

On Random Topics

Aug 25, 2012: note Zoe's teacher had her write
2013 Dec 13:
We had awesome floor seats at the Spurs game tonight and when the Coyote was shooting the t-shirt gun Zoe was screaming over and over in the crowd "Coyote! Over here!" I said: "Zoe, honey he can't hear you." Zoe, sighs, sits down and says: "I know. You'd think he could, though, with those big ears."

2013 Dec 16:
Chilis waiter to Zoe after she jokingly ordered a merlot: "You might want to not wear your Middle School shirt when ordering wine."

2014 Feb 11:
Abbreviated text conversation with Zoe earlier today: Zoe, 5:15 pm: Mom I need my black jeans for tonight's concert. Me, 5:45 pm: Yikes! You need to plan ahead! Zoe, 5:46 pm: Mom, I texted you at 5:15.

2014: May 13: 
In the car: Zoe: How do grapes become wine? Me: It's a process I've learned about but haven't retained the information well enough to be able to explain it. Zoe: That's how I feel about school. Why do I need to know the radius of the sun's core? Me: Because women who went before you fought for our right to be educated. Zoe: They didn't really need to do that. Me: -_- Zoe: Ok, I didn't really mean that. Education is awesome. But we still don't know about those grapes.

2014 Jun 11:
 Zoe, this past Sunday night: Why do I have to go to volleyball camp? Zoe, tonight: Can we go buy a volleyball at Academy, right now?!

2014 Sept 16:   
  Zoe: Sign here, here and here. Me: That's what they tell me at work. Zoe: That's exactly what I was going for.

For Those Who Want Even More on Zoe

It didn't all start in 2013, of course!  I was posting about Zoe well before her 6th & 7th grade years.  Here are few more fun posts! 

October 2011:  Oh the Heartbreak when you don't get the part in the play
2009 Nov13: Denise Wechsler Barkhurst is thankful today for her 7 year old, Zoe, and her 7 year old's highly entertaining rabbit, Bramble. they enrich my life beyond measure.

2009 Jul 5:   Zoe, looking at pictures from the late 80's, "Mom, why do you look the same now but Dad looks so different?"

2010 Sept 29 Zoe just told me that her dinner was "happiness in a bowl." This from the girl who for the last 364 days has declared, "but I don't like that" at dinnertime! Victory! Until tomorrow night.

2011 Mar 27: Zoe, excited: "Mom, look at the Pokemon I just got!!!!!" Me, bored: "Gotta catch em all." Zoe, smirks and walks away. I've raised a 3rd Poke-Geek. Sigh. 

2011 Apr 26:   Me: "Zoe, how was the TAKS test?" Zoe: "Huh?" Me: "How was the TAKS test?" Zoe: "Uh, easy?" Me: "Really? Easy?" Zoe: "Yeah, super easy."

2011 May 9:  Me: "Why am I seeing $150 in charges on iTunes?!" Zoe: "Promise you won't get mad?"

2011 May 11:  Zoe: "How do you get identical twins?" Me: "Umm, it has to do with eggs and sperm and splitting cells..." Zoe: "If this is leading to the "S" word, I'm too young to hear it."

2011 Jun 5:   The 9 year old is mouthy today. I told her that if she wants to get graduated like her two older sisters she needs to listen to her mother. She said she always listens but doesn't "necessarily" agree.

2011 Dec 13:  Me, at the Walgreens Pharmacy drive thru window: "$70!" Zoe: "Well, it IS to keep me alive."

2011 Dec 15:  Zoe chooses to do her school biography report on Elizabeth the Great (a personal role model since I was in high school) all on her own, but a coincidence I think not! 

2012 Jan 30:   Me to Zoe: "I can't believe you have the temerity to ask me that." Zoe's reply, "I don't know what temerity means but I'm pretty sure I have a lot of it."

2012 Feb 13:  Zoe to me: "Everyone says that I look Exactly like you." Me: "What do you think about that?" Zoe: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I just don't see it."

2012 Feb 29:  "Zoe, it's bedtime, I'm tired of arguing about it!" Zoe: "But I'm writing that Chapter Summary you've asked me to write a million times." Me: "Oh, that's great!" Zoe: "Why do you argue with me then?"

2012 Mar 30:  Armen: "We can't put bandaids on all of our problems." Zoe: "What about duct tape? Duct tape will work."

2012 Apr 17:  Me: "Oh no, it's a jury summons in the mail! Oh wait, haha, it's for Lacey!" Zoe, "That was kind of an evil laugh, Mom. What's a jury summons?"

2012 Apr 24:   Zoe totally busted me on the fish I euthanized in the freezer. I absolutely meant to take that out before she saw it. In Zoe's words, "At first I freaked out, you know, because you froze a fish! But then I understood why you did it because it was suffering and I don't want it to hurt."

2012 May 6:   Zoe: "You went to a light festival without me?" Me, "Yes, but you were at your dad's house having fun in the pool all weekend." Zoe, "Mom, we both know that you are smart enough to organize things so that I don't miss important stuff like this." Me:, "Uh, it was rescheduled and that threw me off?" Zoe: sighs and rolls her eyes.

2012 May 14:  Zoe perfectly described the differences between transparent, translucent and opaque to me on the way home today, but she said that the word "opaque" sounds to her like a British cookie. In a full-on British accent she said, "As in, go on now, be a dear and fetch me an opaque, would you please?"

2012 May 21:  Zoe says to tell y'all that she only has 6 days left in the 4th grade.

2012 June 5:   Zoe: "So, 15 is a quarter of an hour but 25 is a quarter of a dollar. Percentages are interesting like that."

2012 Jul 3:  Me to the dentist office: "Zoe chipped her tooth on vacation and we need an appointment." Dentist: "Is she in pain?" Me: "No." Dentist: "The soonest we can see her is July 10." Zoe, "I think it's starting to hurt."

2012 Sept 21:  Me, after forgetting Zoe's allergy meds this morning and her new gym class tonight: "I am so sorry, I seem to be worthless today." Zoe: "Not completely worthless; didn't you go to work and do some stuff today?" 

2012 Oct 3:  Me: "Did you just use the word 'inferred'?" Zoe: "Yes, I learned way back in the 3rd grade to infer with my hypothesis and schema."

2012 Dec 11:   "I know I'm only 10, but he's hot," said Zoe about the Mambo instructor. Omgoodness.

2013 Feb 20:   Zoe, on the book she is reading, "I totally have thoughts like her."(Harriet the Spy)

2013 Mar 5:  Me: "What's your favorite book you've read this year?" Zoe, after lengthy pondering, "Every book I read, I love."

2013 Mar 6:  Conversation a couple of weeks ago -- Me: Will you still be such a great kid when you're 16? Zoe: We'll have to see what happens. Me: I didn't become a CEO by just leaving things to chance like that. Zoe: Good point. Conversations since then when I say "We'll see" and Zoe says "You didn't become a CEO by just seeing what happens." -- I've lost count.

2013 Mar 12:  Me: History is fascinating. Do you know what happened in 1066? Zoe: I don't care what happened in 1066 but I bet I can figure out how many years ago that was. #futuremathmajor (947)

2013 Mar 22:   Me: "How was school?" Zoe: "I made sure to tell everyone yesterday that today was gonna be my birthday so that I would get that awesome birthday greeting feeling all day long." (Pause). "And you know what? Absolutely nothing went wrong today. I was expecting at least One thing to go wrong, I mean, that's just a typical day; but it was an amazing day! "

2013 Apr 1:  Zoe: "Math 5th grade STAAR test is tomorrow." Me: "Piece of cake. You scored 50% higher than the minimum satisfactory score on last year's test and like 100 points over the advanced level. 2013 Do you know what that means?" Zoe: "It means I'm awesome, and I'm probably gonna get into the 6th grade next year.

2013 May 28:   Zoe: "How much do you pay for my school education?" Me: "It's pretty convoluted, are you sure you want to get into it?" Zoe: "I'm sure." Me: "(Going on and on...)" Zoe, interrupts: "You're right, I don't need to know all this right now." :)

2013 June 3:  Me: "Zoe, there are a lot of videos on Vine you shouldn't be looking at." Zoe: "I know," as she continues to hypnotically scroll thru videos. Me: "Zoe, get off Vine now." Zoe: "I promise I don't watch the bad ones. If they start to get inappropriate, I skip them."

2013 July 24: Zoe and I tested out a new karaoke machine tonight, and she told me that my rendition of The Police's "Every Breath You Take" (which I have no doubt was woefully out of tune) was "beautiful." I won't be experiencing this kind of unconditional love for much longer, and I am basking in it. :)

Even More Internet Zoe

Zoe's internet debut came 7 years ago on YouTube in this video of her 5 year old self singing Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," to her dad for for which she had begged me to record forever (these were the days before iPhone).  This video inspired me to create her kindersinger YouTube account, to which I uploaded a bunch of her cute toddler-self singing songs like "The Preamble to the Constitution" (age 4) and "The 12 Days of Christmas" (age 8) so that our family members could subscribe and enjoy.   I wish the internet had existed with my two older girls.  They say that once you post something on the internet that it lasts forever.  I hope so.