Category Archives: kiddo life

unschooling is learning by playing, and it really and truly works

Not having internet for a month got me thinking about how much of my and my kid’s lives are organized around fun, that is, our entertainment.  I feel guilty, thinking of all the people in the world who work sweatshop jobs for most of their waking hours, when we…play.  All day.  It’s amazing, really.  Games, contacting friends (texting, FaceTime, email), books, movies, tv, music, audiobooks, looking up an endless list of things up, etc.  We are so blessed.

I mentioned this to SuperHubby who generously supports the kids an I in our rock ‘n roll lives.  “We pursue fun like it’s our job.  Education from entertainment.”

“Edutainment?” he said.

No.  Edutainment is when you want someone to learn something you’ve selected for them, and so you’re trying to make it fun,  to get them to stick with you through your message.  It’s manipulative, really.  No, I’m talking about the opposite—when you’re having fun, you learn stuff, whether you notice it or not.  Learning happens automatically when you’re enjoying yourself.

People have no problem with this idea with babies.  Babies learn by playing, it’s a truism.  But as kids get older, gradually playing isn’t seen as good enough anymore.  You’re supposed to switch over to ‘work’ and ‘get serious’ about your studies.  I honestly believe this is a bunch of crap.

In North Carolina you have to test your homeschooled kid once a year with a state-approved test and I used to hate this because it seemed like whatever number you get, it messes you up.  If your kid scores high, you think differently about your kid and about what you’re doing for your homeschooling, than if your kid scores low.  And either way you’re looking at a number instead of at your kid.

But lately, I’ve noticed a nice side effect of the test.  So far, Sophie and Luc test right at grade level and I’ve found that gives us and our unschooling lifestyle a certain bulletproofing.  When people gape at me incredulously “you don’t teach reading at all?” or, “what about math???”  I can say, “we don’t do any of that stuff and the kids are exactly where they are supposed to be [according to some arbitrary, State chosen plan, which I could give a shit about, but still, it’s a standard most people buy into].

Take away point: at least at the elementary school levels, you really don’t need to do all that stuff they do in school in order to learn school stuff.  The kids get it through living rich interesting lives in a rich interesting environment. They get it through the air.  That’s right, I’m saying that, at this level, kids learn reading and math and history without any effort at all.

Reading sidebar: Sophie is currently reading Wonderstruck, by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabaret (both amazing books).  The first books she ever pursued on her own and read through was all twenty-seven (27!) volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, last year, a super complex, interesting, funny, morally challenging manga series.  Reading Wonderstruck or anything else, for a ten year old is not so special—except it might be surprising to some, given that Sophie has never had any reading instruction.  Well, she watched a few episodes of Sesame Street when she was little, and has had me reading or spelling for her anything she has ever asked me to read or spell (books, game text, movie subtitles, texting with friends, etc etc), since she was born.  But that’s it.  She got to reading all on her own, with no apparent effort.  Her brain was ready and boom, it happened.

“It’s so enjoyable to just disappear into a book for a while,” she said to me a few days ago about Wonderstruck.   I played it cool, but, as a reader and a writer who hopes to share my love of books with her, I was jumping up and down, cheering.  “I totally agree,” I said.  And I do.

Which made me think of this homeschooling curriculum I’ve seen out there called “Teach your child to read in 100 lessons,” and I can’t help but think, man, what a waste of time!  You guys could be partying instead and the reading will still happen when the kid is ready and has something they want to read.  Like Fullmetal Alchemist for Sophie.  When she started with Volume 1, it took her a week to plow through one.  By Volume 27, she flew through one in an hour, like a carousel picking up speed as she went.

What if there is no age-determined line where learning is supposed to switch over from playing to hard and boring?

I’ve seen my kids hunker down and focus like CRAZY to learn something they’re interested in.  This from kids who can, for example, watch as much tv as they want, no limits from me, and who rarely turn it on.  I say this in case some reader might think “playing all day” doesn’t include, at times, intense concentration, goals, focus, and drive.

Concentration, work, and drive are really, really FUN when they are in the service of your own goals.  Ever seen a baby struggle and focus to build a block tower, or poke a stick through a leaf, or pick a rainbow up with a pair of tongs (mine did all of these)?  That ability to work and focus doesn’t go away. Just don’t mess it up by sticking your own goals in there.

Bottomline: learning is easy when you’re having fun (and really hard when you’re not), but fun—playis hard when you’re being made to do something you aren’t interested in.  We all know that about fun, but forget.  Seriously, kids don’t need to work hard to get this stuff.  They just need to play all they want, however they want, in a rich, fun environment.

Okay, that’s enough soapbox from me today!

luc, rock star, rebel, artist

Time for a cute kid post!  Luc, 8, today’s featured Cute Kid (TM), is developing quite the clever brain, with which he cracks me up on a daily basis.  For example, just now he told me, “Mother, I won’t be wearing my shoes inside.”luc Dec 2013  To which I scowled darkly, because it’s freaking cold and his bare feet are making me colder just looking at them.

“Mom,” he replies, rolling his eyes. “We never wear our shoes inside. P.S. Your face looks hilarious.”

Oh, that’s rich.  Where’s my respect?  My scowling face is hilarious, huh?  I’ll show you hilarious….

Here are the lyrics to a recent Luc Song, invented in the car on the way home yesterday. Too bad I can’t give you the tune, but it is a driving rhythm, fast and dynamic.  He even got Sophie singing it.

“Pants-less assassin.  He jumps off of buildings.  He assassinates people.  ‘Cause he’s an assassin.  He doesn’t wear pants, and he doesn’t wish to.  But you don’t have to worry, cause he’s wearing boxers.  Pants-less assassin.  Pants-less assassin! Yeah!”

And here is Luc in the bath the other night, singing again, this time to the tune of ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”luc Dec 2013 part 2

“Mommy, I’m hungry, won’t you make me some food,

And don’t you dare say that you’re not in the mood.

Go make me food.

Now, Now, Now, Now, Now.  Oo We Hoo!

I’ll tell you once more, before I fall to the floor, go make me food!”

That was impossible to resist, let me tell you.  He got a three-egg ketchup omelet (his favorite) off of that.

I’ll leave you with a photo he took and later cropped to this square shape, of sunset over the sound in Eastern North Carolina near where my grandma lives.  I’ve blogged Luc’s photos ever since he was four and could hold the camera.  He has always had such a unique perspective.

sound side sunset

I was taking pictures that day, too, and I’ll tell you, none of mine look anywhere near this good.  It’s like an abstract painting, modern art.  I just…what a cool kid!  I guess the majority of mom’s feel that way.

the front and back of history…two Great Courses about the ancient world

A few months ago we happened upon this series called the Great Courses at our local library and listened to How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, which we loved.  But when I went looking for more info about the series, while I found a bunch that looked cool, yes, I was *cough* put off by the prices (sometimes hundreds of dollars).  Our library had a few more titles we could borrow,  but not ones we wanted.  Bummer.

THEN I discovered that Audible.com, an mp3 audiobooks site (now owned by Amazon), that I have had a subscription to for a decade (that’s right, I used Audible before it was cool), hey, Audible has Great Courses!

LOTS of them.  The courses there are put together as audiobooks, so, obviously, you don’t get any of the visuals you would get with the dvd version, and you don’t get the little booklets that accompany the courses as they are sold by the company themselves.

However, in exchange, the cost drops to 1 audible.com credit.  Depending on your subscription, that might be around $15 bucks.

An amazing deal, given the quality of the courses (at least the ones I’ve heard so far).

With no delay, I jumped right in and downloaded  The History of the Ancient World: a Global Perspective (here on audible) which we played on my ipod through the speakers in the car.  Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, but also China and Japan, and South America, which you never hear about, Incas, Aztecs, Mayans. Oh man, all those crazy Roman Emperors!  Oh, and the lectures on Alexander the Great were of huge interest to Luc….

Honestly, the course has been really interesting, entertaining, thought provoking, seeding lots of conversations.  History, even at college level (or so they say these courses are) is a good choice for a 7 and 9 year old (and a 42 year old) because, told well, history is just a bunch of stories. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story?

It took about a month to get through that one (24 hours of audio!).  (Come to think of it, that’s a lot of driving….)

As a follow up, we got The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World (on audible), a fabulous series (so far, we haven’t finished yet), and a perfect accompaniment to the more traditional political/rulers/wars lens that the first series peered through.  This one focuses on anonymous people, how a typical paleolithic, or Greek or Egyptian or Roman lived and thought.  How WOMEN lived (finally!), or children, or the poor.  TONS more conversations.  Lots to chew on.

And we have a great framework for this one because we just got the overview with the first course.  Seriously, these two go super well together.  When the guy says, “When Octavius Augustus did blah blah it meant this change in bread prices….” we already heard about  Augustus and his life, so the new stories about the person on the street buying bread have something to connect to.  It’s like getting the front and then the back of the same story.  And learning is all about making connections.

I highly recommend these two courses.  Really fun stuff.  And at Audible’s prices, they’re a score.  I’m on the look out for the next course, although we have a dozen more hours to go on this one.  There are so many to choose from!  Some are clearly too much for my little people at this point (Thinking Like an Economist is probably a no-go for us).  But I think there will be others.  Maybe something on the history of science?

We get in the car and Luc says, “Put on the history guy.”

And Sophie says we don’t home school, we Car School.

You’re just sitting there anyway, might as well listen to something cool while you wait to get to the next fun thing.

portrait of an artist as a young girl

My wonderful, funny, smart, silly, lovely daughter, Sophie, 9 years old, is serious about her art.  Except when she is totally fooling around, of course.  She’s really good at it, and she loves it, and I’m so glad, as a homeschooler, that she’s got as much time as she needs to put into it.  Think of all the hours wasted in a school day!  God, I remember being so incredibly bored in school.  Instead of being bored, Sophie is drawing.

Still lifes…

Goofy pictures of our pets….

Mixed media fantasy characters….

Pictures of cool animals from the internet….

Manga characters she invents….

And self portraits….

….she works at it most days, often for hours.  I’m really curious, if she is this capable an artist at nine years old, what will her work look like when she is nineteen, after a decade of daily practice?  I mean, yeah, she might drift on to other activities, which would be fine.  But if not, if this is something she continues to love into her adulthood, how cool to have the freedom to get one’s 10,000 hours to mastery in, before one is even 20! 

It’s like coming out of childhood with a superpower.

Pianomarvel…learning piano like playing Guitar Hero, very cool

A few times a year I ask the kids what they want to know in 3 or 6 months that they don’t know now, or what they’d like to know how to do in six month that they can’t do now.  It’s a fun question to play with because, as homeschoolers, we can pretty much make it happen, or at least get it started, whatever it is.  This fall, Luc said he wanted to build a computer.  Sweet!  So we’re learning how to do that (and saving up the $).  And Sophie said she would like to learn to play some piano.

I was really good.  I didn’t squeal or jump up and down or anything.  I just calmly said, “Oh, yeah?  Okay.”

But, as a piano player, I have to admit, I’m thrilled that one of my kids is interested.  Piano has been something I’ve loved since I was Sophie’s age.  Heck, I bought my own upright, $300 bucks of my own dough, when I was 15.  I still have that piano, actually.  To have Sophie (or Luc) want to play it makes me very, very happy.

But no pressure!  She might only fiddle with it for a few months!  And that’s okay!  (This is what I tell myself.)

Meanwhile, I got the piano tuned up and a few broken keys fixed.

Here is Zach, my piano guy, doing his magic.  He has been working on this piano for me for twenty years.  One year he pulled masses of fiberglass insulation out that the mice in my old farmhouse had pulled out of the walls to build nests with.  Another year he found piles of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs inside, another stash of the mice.

One time he looked up my piano’s identifying numbers in his mysterious Old Piano Registry and found out that it was made in 1908.  105 years old!  I’m sorry, Piano, that your time with me has been difficult, what with my wood heated houses, and North Carolina’s humidity…sorry.  You’re a good piano to stick it out with me.

Anyway, piano: check.  Now…how did Sophie want to proceed: lessons?  From me?  From someone else?  A book?  A video?  I had a great time learning some guitar a few years ago with youtube videos and then Stefen Grossman’s videos (LOVE) so it seemed likely there would be something similar for piano.  Sophie said wanted to look into that.  I think the idea of lessons with an actual teacher was a bit scary.  Too much pressure.  And she didn’t want ME telling her what to do, god forbid.  So we sat down together with the internet and found…something even better.

Turns out, they have computer programs now that plug into a MIDI keyboard and turn playing piano into a video game.  Like Guitar Hero.  Only for piano.  Real piano, not a game controller, and real music theory, too.

HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT????

You play a song or an exercise on the keyboard along with the beat and/or accompanying music, and the program knows exactly what you’re playing because the keyboard is plugged right into it. After you finish, you see the music with the notes filled in green for every correctly played note and red notes anywhere you played something that, um, isn’t in the score.  In other words, you see exactly what you just played.  Instant, impersonal, feedback.

I would have been ALL OVER this when I was a kid.

Sophie digs it, too.  She calls it the Cartoon Meat Method.  Last summer she and Luc played Kirby’s Epic Yarn, a side-scrolling platformer for the Wii, endlessly.  And I remember they got stuck on one particular level where you had to make a jump on a snowboard at just the right angle to get the prize…which turned out to be cartoon meat.  Seriously, that’s what it was called.  They worked that level over and over until they got it.

Like playing a song on the keyboard over and over until you get the trophy….

We found two programs, Playground Sessions and Pianomarvel.  Playground Sessions is hip, with fun videos and an emphasis on pop songs.  Pianomarvel is a bit nerdier, with staid graphics and the classic beginner repertoire.  I thought for sure Sophie would go for the hip PS, but nope.  She preferred Pianomarvel, despite hating some of the music (and I have to agree with her, Hush Little Baby and Camptown Races, omg, kill me now).  But I think PS might be better for an older audience, and Sophie doesn’t like pop music much.  Pianomarvel feels to her more like Kirby, more like an impersonal video game she can score levels on.  And we looked ahead and the song selection gets better.  You kind of have to tough out the boring stuff to get to the Bach and the Mozart, you know?  So, Pianomarvel it is.

This kind of learning is so efficient.  She picks the speed she moves at.  Plus there is no person sitting there with whatever emotions they might be having (pressure, boredom, judgement…even support can be annoying).  She can repeat what she wants to as much as she wants without “wasting” lesson time, or boring the teacher, or annoying anyone.  She can pause, come back, play 10 minutes or an hour, or ten minutes now and ten later (can’t do that with a teacher).  When she’s got a song up to her satisfaction (she likes getting the gold trophies, won’t settle for silver or bronze, haha, she’s that way in Kirby, too, unlike Luc who gets the minimum required to keep getting to new levels), she moves on.  No playing the same boring thing for a week, waiting for the next lesson.  And I’m there to fill in the holes, answer questions, offer suggestions when she wants them.  Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t.  The whole thing is just…awesome.

So, yeah.  We picked up a MIDI keyboard for a hundred bucks—ironic since I had just had the piano tuned, but she’s playing both, studying on the keyboard and playing for fun on the piano.  The current tech of keyboards astounded me.  I bought a keyboard, used, from my piano teacher 30 years ago that I paid, I think, $800 for.  I think my mom paid half and I paid the rest with babysitting money.  Today, for an eighth of that cost, the entry level keyboard we got is waaaaay better than the one I had 30 years ago.  More (hundreds!) and much better voices.  Programability.  An LCD screen with notes currently being played in a little music staff.  And the big one, touch sensitive keys, that play louder when you play harder.  This is huge, I used to hate the flat on/off keys on my old keyboard.

$100 dollars for the keyboard plus $12 a month for the Pianomarvel and Sophie gets, essentially, a lesson every day.  I used to get a lesson once a week, I wonder how much it used to cost, maybe $40 a month?  Now it would probably be twice that at least.  More.  If she plays for a couple of months, the money evens out….

But the main thing is that she’s having a ton of fun with it.  Even on the bad songs, she makes up funny lyrics to the tunes like, “I hate this soooong, I’m going to throw myself off the balcony if I have to keep plaaaaaying it….”  She’s been at it one month now and has just passed the first (of six) level—which opened up the song choices quite a bit, thank goodness.

She has played every day since she started—no prodding from me, I am very strict with myself–and I’m surprised at how quickly she’s moving along.  I’m so curious about how far she’ll go with it!  

Pianomarvel…Recommended!  Give it a try, they give you free month to see if it works for you.

And the whole thing is a heck of a lot easier than building a computer.

flinging one’s body into space

Here’s what the kids love to do, every day, over and over and over and over.

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Jump into the pond. They sometimes say the goal is to make the next jump before the ripples from the previous jump have cleared.

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Luc has shed all need for floaties this summer and now runs screaming down the dock to fling himself into the water, fearlessly. He likes the big splash.

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Sophie is working on her triple axle. She likes the tricky jumps.

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They tease me mercilessly about how I ease into the water, inch by inch, squeaking and freaking about how cold it is. “Why don’t you just jump in? Get it over with!” To which I answer, “It’s just my way.”

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I used to be like them. My cousin and I used to do exactly this, running and jumping into the water over and over and over. I remember the adults were just as bemused by our frenzy of repetitive jumping as I am now about my little guys. Now I’m the one that likes to chill in the inner tube. My life is passing before my eyes.

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Geronimo!

education by minecraft

The other day Luc, 7, asked me, “is booties spelled with a ‘ys’ or an ‘ies’ ?”  This level of spelling awareness blew me away because, maybe only a month or two ago Luc could spell six words: Luc, Sophie, Paul, Maya, love, and poop.  In other words, Luc had had zero interest and near zero ability in writing things down—and then BOOM.   Suddenly he’s writing all kinds of things.

What changed?

MINECRAFT.

In case you’ve been living in a gameless hole, Minecraft is an open-ended, goal-free video game that involves building things out of blocks.  Okay, that doesn’t even begin to cover it.  If you play on survival mode then you collect materials from the environment with which to build and, well, survive (for example, you have to eat, so growing crops or hunting, or you go mining for stone or iron to build weapons or tools, etc) plus you have to stay safe from the monsters (cute zombies, creepers, and assorted others) that come out at night.  Alternatively, if you play on creative mode you have unlimited resources from the get-go, plus you can fly. S0, you know, basically you’re a god and you can build anything you can imagine.  Minecraft is often called a sandbox game because it’s like playing in a big virtual sandbox.  You make up the game, the rules (if there are any) and it can be a challenge, pure creativity, a story with a goal, simple building stuff, blowing stuff up, whatever you want.

Lately, while wearing my Homeschool Administrator Hat, I’ve been quietly observing the shit-ton of stuff the kids have been learning while they play.

For example: MATH.  Like figuring out how many blocks of various resources will have to be mined/collected for any given project.  Or figuring out, if you want a wall to be x high, how many blocks will you need mine to finish it?  Or if a pyramid is going to be x across, how many total blocks will be needed for the ground floor, and how many tiers will that give you?  Or how about plotting a point on an x, y axis?  Because the location of objects in Minecraft is given by an “address” using an x,y coordinates with 0,0 being the point where you originally spawned.  So if you want to find something, you’ve got to grasp the whole x, -x, y, -y concept….

And the kids now do. Because they are seriously motivated, plus these problems have context and meaning to them.  Math is not done in a vacume in Minecraft.  There are observable stakes that matter.

But moving on.  LANGUAGE:  The kids started Minecraft on the ipads, but recently we rented a server to host an on-line version of the game so the kids could play Minecraft with their friends.  SO MUCH FUN!  I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it is for them to play together with their buds, having adventures, setting up things for each other, building stuff, killing monsters, creating elaborate plans, creative solutions, problem solving, all while safe at home, and all while chatting via short text messages on the screen.

Suddenly their motivation to write is HUGE.  Because you’ve got to be able to chat with your crew!  Sophie is well on her way to literacy but Luc, as I mentioned, has just started, but man, his brain must just have been Ready To Go because it’s like the writing/reading section has just powered ON.  He is writing all kids of things…thus the “booty” question.  It’s all super cool to watch.

But it’s not just text chatting.  There is also sign making (“No Nose picking!” “No Griefing, Ever, I am always watching you” and the ubiquitous, “Sophie is poop,” always a favorite) and naming things (“Infinity Blade of Doom” and “George the Pig” for example).  Plus there are also enchanted books that can be written, filled with, say crafting recipes, or possibly knock knock jokes.  Whatever.  It’s writing.  And Luc is doing it.

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I really think so many kid are pushed to read too soon.  They end up feeling stupid if they aren’t ready, comparing themselves to other kids, getting judged and graded and harassed and pressured.  When does that get fun?  One of the great things about not going to school is being free to learn on one’s own, inner schedule.  No reading-instruction-related wounding!  Because here’s the thing:  I really think that, in an environment loaded with cool written-word-material (books magazines manga subtitles games web etc), when a kid’s brain is ready to read, he or she just will.  They’ll just figure it out.  It isn’t that hard.  Look, we have done zero reading instruction around here beyond spelling out any word on demand and reading anything asked for, and Sophie, 9, now reads books for her own pleasure, while Luc, 7, is texting his friends and googling Minecraft videos.   All this literacy  just happened.  Effortlessly.  Reading instruction was not necessary.

/end sidebar

Back to Minecraft.

CIVICS.  Oh man, the in-depth discussions we have ended up having about types of government, the history of governments (such as the Revolutionary War, the creation of the Constitution, the French Revolution, etc), the utility of laws, punishments to enforce laws, taxes, economics, so many more things…all because of Minecraft.

Because a Minecraft server is a community built out of the people who play there.  There is a sign now in the village that says, “No TNT in the Village!” because it was discovered that uncontrolled TNT might blow up a neighbor’s house…and so the agreement/rule/law was put into place by the kids that there was no TNT to be used in the village…and then someone broke the rule.  What to do?  Was Luc the King of the village (because he built it) or was it a cooperatively-run consensus situation?  Who would enforce the law and how would they do it?  What happens when we break the agreements of the community we live in?  ETC.

I am just scratching the surface here.  Geography, geology, chemistry, art history, all have come up repeatedly in the context of Minecraft.

Seriously, Minecraft is the bomb.

Along these lines, it blows me away when I hear so many moms talking about how they struggle with their kids over Minecraft, fighting over the arbitrary time-limits they set on their kid’s play, and also strange rules I can’t figure out like only playing in creative mode and not survival, or only playing with the monsters turned off, or not identifying with their game character…I mean how much to people need to control their kids, anyway???  No no no.  Don’t struggle with your kid about something they love.  Don’t be a roadblock your kid has to get around to get to what they love.  Embrace and support.  Bring snacks.  Set them up servers.  Spell words for them, over and over (and over and over).  Read articles to learn more.  Find them videos.  Learn to install texture packs.  HELP THEM do what they love.  Do it with them.

That’s what I think, anyway.  The crazy cool learning happens when humans are free to go nuts with the things they love.  Including Minecraft.

I was pondering all of this and then I ran across Mike Rugnetta on PBS’s The Idea Channel talking about Minecraft as a great educational tool.  Apparently I’m not the only one noticing the Minecraft Learning Effect.  I don’t really support using Minecraft to teach an externally created agenda—I prefer to see the learning that happens on its own when the kids are totally engaged and loving what they are doing.  Not that anyone is asking me what I support, haha, but hey, this is my blog right?  But still, some cool stuff in this video, well worth a gander!  I’ll leave you with Mike….

 

Crafters Unite!

the please stop making videos kerfluffle

It started like this.  Years ago I used to forget to put the new toilet paper on the roll.  You know, you get in a hurry, you just balance the new roll on the empty cardboard thingy and go on with your life.  Maybe you get it next time, whatever.  Apparently this laze-faire attitude towards TP replacement *cough* annoyed my husband.  Actually, he wasn’t even my husband back then, just by guy, my main squeeze, my live-in-dude-who-wanted-the-toilet-paper-just-so-nazi.  Anyway, he used to complain about it, a little bit, a lot, and gradually I realized that I had shifted from “occasionally forgetting” and “putting it off to later” to “actively not doing it in stubborn revenge against the last time when Paul gave me yet another lecture on proper toilet paper management.”  As in, “there is no way in hell I will ever, EVER, put a new toilet paper on the roll.  EVER.  I’m just saying.”  Ahem.

I’m childish like that.

Paul’s response to this lack of TP cooperation was to escalate the outrage.  Only now it morphed into a rather mocking version of the previously fairly serious complaint.  Things got ugly.  Until one day, said escalation culminated with what we now call “The Video.”

That’s right, Paul, with Luc’s help, made a “how to” video for me on replacing the TP.  Luc was camera crew (he ran the ipad) while Paul helpfully demonstrated the entire technique, along with commentary like, “you turn the roll this way, this, not that, don’t worry, I know it it’s confusing for beginners, it’s a common mistake, but with practice…”

Oh lord.

Cue the onslaught of family-made videos.  How to pick your underwear up off the floor.  How to put your shoes back in the shoe bin.  How to hang a wet towel after using it.  How to properly screw the lid back on the peanut butter.  Paul, me, the kids, everyone got in on it, all of us voicing our opinions using Daily Show-style fake how-to helpfulness.  Ah, the condescension!  Oh, the patronizing head patting!  Back-handed insults cloaked as helpful hints!  Seething annoyance gilded in golden smiles and “ha ha isn’t this funny-ness”!  “Don’t worry, everyone makes that mistake at first….”

Would the fake-how-to madness never end?

Maybe.  Because today Luc filmed the ultimate “helpful video,” with Sophie as camera crew (giggling in the background).  Luc faces the camera and proceeds to boldly give this meta-video message: “This is a video explaining how it is not nice to make videos about how other people do things.  It’s rude.  This is Luc, signing off.  Good-bye.”

HAHAHAHA!!!  He really said this!

The irony of the video was absolutely the message, as the kids explained to me repeatedly amidst fits of giggles.  “See, we’re making a video about how it’s bad to make videos!  Get it? Get it?”

I get it.

Then they left it out for Paul to find.  I’m surprised he didn’t sprain his face with all the eye-rolling.

It’s the ipad version of “this is not a pen.”

What can possibly be next?  Videos on being polite and kind?  Personality improvement videos?  Or maybe it will come all the way around and people will start making videos on how to be an obnoxious ass?  Irony gone so far it’s straight again?

I’ll leave you with another version of this story, “Please Stop!” from the amazing and fabulous Allie at Hyperbole and a Half.  Hilarious and dark and wonderful.  I adore this blog so much.  I’m very sad that she hasn’t been updating for a while.  I hope she’s all right.  Totally go read “Please Stop!” if you haven’t already.  And while you’re at it, read “God of Cake” too, because it is awesome.