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Tales from the Motherhood: As a parent, you learn something new every day

Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 4:51 p.m. CDT

I learn something new every day, as a parent, and this week has been particularly enlightening. For one thing, I learned that perhaps our kids’ school bus drivers could benefit from some kind of GPS support – or at least a simple map, on those rare occasions when they must deviate from their prescribed routes. Like Wednesday, when Holly’s bus driver reportedly relied upon guidance from a bunch of spirited middle-schoolers when minor police activity forced him to make a detour on the way to school. The kids gave conflicting directions, many of them on purpose, and Holly had herself a face-palm moment.

“Seriously?” she quipped, as she retold the story, which inspired Noah to do her one better when recounting his own tale about a different driver (from an altogether different bus company, as it happens), whom he claims became so hopelessly tangled up on his way to a local park for an outing one day last year that they arrived 45 minutes late. Seems he had an even more creative bunch of kids to contend with. Giggles aside, this can inspire anxiety in those children not enjoying the mischief (and certainly wastes gas), so let’s arm these brave souls with maps and encourage them to use them.

Another thing I learned this week? All of these years, I thought it was “participle.” Turns out its “participial,” as in “participial phrase” – which, in case you didn’t know, contains a participle, and is a verb phrase that acts as an adjective to modify noun or a pronoun. At least I think so.

Anyhow, Noah took his first high school finals this week – including one in English – and I was, once again, surprised by what I learned when I helped him to study.

But perhaps help is a strong word, especially where helping him to prepare for his French final was concerned.

“That’s not good, when there’s silence,” Noah quipped, as I stared at the list of French questions he was expected to answer during the oral portion of his French exam on Thursday morning. Try as I might, I was unable to enunciate them. Geesh, talk about hopelessly tangled.

“I got nothin’,” I sputtered.

“Come on, buddy,” he replied, encouraging me to give it a whirl. (Who was testing who?)

The thing is, I took one day of French in high school. One 50-minute period, actually, so when I say “I got nothin’,” I’m quite serious. But Spanish, on the other hand? Un poco. I know a little. Enough to ask where the bathroom is, should I find myself in a Spanish-speaking country without an English to Spanish dictionary. But that was no help to me Wednesday night.

“Por que?”

“Mom, that’s Spanish,” Noah reminded me. Right. Suffice it to say that my pathetic attempt to converse with him in French was met with howls of laughter that left him clutching his stomach and rolling on the floor.

At least I tried. What matters is that Noah eventually got the gist of what I was asking, we had fun, and, while he may not have learned a thing, I did. Like what his favorite color is, for example.

“Je prefer orange,” he replied.

“It is? Your favorite color is orange? How did I not know this?” I asked, incredulous.

“I don’t know. You should be on top of things, Mom,” he said, laughing at me again.

He’s got a point. For example, the other day I took off my hat and discovered that the plastic price-tag thingy was still hanging on it. You know, like it’s apparently been doing, for the past five years. Five years! How come nobody told me? So, I learned that I’ve basically been looking like “Hee Haw’s” Minnie Pearl for five years.

Nice. Face-palm moment for me, thank you very much.

(Hey, if that sort of thing should happen again and you should happen to see me, do me a solid and tell me, OK?)

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at jenniferdubose@msn.com.

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