Okay, there's been some question raised about whether Mozart actually composed "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," or if Haydn did. Legal eagle Mary W. sent a link which indicates that neither technically invented the tune, it being an old French folk ditty. [Er, Mary, should you be researching classical music or billing time that will translate into salary for my husband, a.k.a. The Man? Hmm?] However, both Haydn and Mozart apparently were inspired by the tune and incorporated it into their work.
Which leads me to wonder: if it is an old French folk tune, will M. Benoit Bourque cover it on his hurdy-gurdy?
We can only hope.
On Bowling and Etiquette
Of all the social rituals practiced in our civilization, the birthday party for young children is by far the most revolting. It must be endured, however, because it is a learning experience. ... It is the parents of the birthday child who learn most from the experience, sometimes such handy information as the replacement value of their property. The smart ones also learn quickly to find sites for the parties other than their homes.
-- J. Martin, Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior
My kid had his 8th birthday party -- the one for the kids from his class at school -- on Sunday afternoon at the local bowling alley. Apart from the emotional trauma caused to Tom and me by a bunch of energetic eight-year-olds hyped up on cake running amok with heavy bowling balls in their hands, the party went very well. The kids are at such a sweet age, in many respects. They are still young and innocent enough to let loose and have fun together, and seeing that look of unbridled joy on my kid's face was wonderful. At the same time, you can see hints of things to come -- a blonde girl who swishes her long hair in a certain way, a particularly tall kid who is starting to get a little bit of that preteen, I-haven't-grown-into-my-body-yet awkwardness -- that tugs at your heartstrings.
And there are always the characters. The kid who shows up in some strange fleece hat that looks like it has Rasta braids and refuses to take it off. (His mother informs us that he won't ever take it off, and in fact she has had to purchase several identical hats in order to properly launder them.) Once I found out the kid didn't have lice that he was trying to hide, I was perfectly at ease with the idiosyncratic hat thing.
There was the already-impressed-with-herself girl with Ugg boots. When asked to change into bowling shoes, she thrust out her foot showily and whined, "But I don't know what shoe size I am!" "Look on the inside," I muttered.
The behavior of children at a birthday party is not necessarily a result of their being badly brought up. Group dynamics nullify the results of discipline, and six well-behaved six-year-olds are the social equivalent of six hundred angry Bolsheviks.
It goes without saying that the kid who began the lovely game of blowing the party noisemakers all the way out his mouth and across the room in a spray of saliva was the one whose mother confided -- as she picked him up at the end of the party -- that he was recovering from strep throat.
Parents ... learn rehearsal techniques, as they instruct their children on that great social skill, faking pleasure, as it is applied to duplicate presents and wall-flower guests.
The best part, however, has been the process of writing thank-you notes. Now unlike some famous bloggers, I am a pragmatist and don't really expect my kid to follow the intricacies of proper etiquette in writing thank-yous. I'm more concerned at this point with him understanding that if someone gives you a gift, you should thank them for it and if you don't open it in front of them, you need to write them a note.
I am letting him do them on the computer -- purists, please forgive me, I am weak -- and so we had some heated conversations about exactly why a thank-you note that looks like this
isn't suitable. Stickler that I am, I insist that a thank-you note must be legible to the recipient to count.
We then traversed the gaping crevasse of tact. Many an adult has failed to scale this great divide, and so it did not surprise me to see a note that looked like this:
How difficult these lessons are to teach!
Can you stand more dyeing talk?
I had to include these two photos of some other Kool-Aid/food coloring dye jobs. The attempt at a rainbow progression pleased me,
and the glorious array of colors on my humble drying rack (which is at least fifteen years old and still going strong) brought a badly-needed lift to some grey January days.
I will confess, dear readers, that I did, in fact, purchase some Gaywool dyes. After reading how easy it supposedly is to dye with them, I simply had to try them. I am in the process of figuring out how to best use them, and I'll report back in a few days on what I find out.