A few days ago our beloved Tax Deductions headed back to school.
Tax Deduction #1 is now a junior in high school, while TD#2 is now in sixth grade. The Wife looks like she should be starting her senior year of college, while I’m starting to resemble Wilford Brimley during the first season of the NBC drama Our House.
A longstanding Dawson family tradition is the annual TD#2 summertime shoe hunt. At a glance, there’s nothing unusual about her feet. For years I’ve made jokes about her ability to peel bananas with them (which she just loves), but her long, slender feet have caused much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth over the years.
If by chance a pair of shoes did fit, they looked like something Dennis Rodman would wear to Burning Man. One year the shoe search took two months, with an angel of a woman named Donetta at JCPenney coming to our rescue. She found a quality pair of shoes that not only fit but didn’t look like they’d been regurgitated by wild boar. Some may think it was obtuse to include Donetta in my will, but we were on the verge of wrapping this kid’s feet in paper plates.
Many things have changed since I was in school, most notably the math curriculum. In my day we didn’t have iPads; all we had was an abacus with a drop cord duct-taped to it. Whereas Johnny once had two apples and Marcia had three apples, Rasputin now has two raisins and Apple has a farming app on her phone. While Johnny and Marcia would combine their crops for a yield of five apples. Rasputin and Apple combine their raisins and app and somehow end up with lasagna.
TD#1 is an A-student and after looking at TD#2’s math homework her ponytail spontaneously morphed into the shape of a question mark. Thankfully The Wife understands it all and runs math drills year-round.
When it comes to non-numerical homework I’m a little more useful, although a few nights ago when TD#2 asked me to help explain the difference between values and beliefs I had to sit down for a minute. After a few seconds, enough oxygen made it to my brain to formulate something that resembled a coherent thought. I then realized our newly minted middle-schooler was tackling concepts light years ahead of anything I had to deal with in sixth grade. My biggest concern at the time was whether or not The A-Team would be renewed for another season.
TD#1 is a junior. She’s participating in a program that will allow her to earn her associate’s degree by the time she graduates from high school, so you can imagine the type of assignments she’s dealing with. If I happen to walk by her room while she’s doing her homework, my brain surges into such a panic the Wi-Fi kicks off for a second.
I was so happy last year after successfully helping her finish a history paper that I did the George Jefferson strut around the house for a good 20 minutes. So what if all she asked me to do was change the battery in her pencil sharpener?
As of this writing, we’re on the cusp of Day Five of the new school year. The new book bags haven’t ripped, the new shoes still fit (for a few minutes), and neither of our beloved Tax Deductions have been accused of running a counterfeit ice cream sandwich ring in the cafeteria, but it’s in their blood.
Once during my wild years in elementary school, I realized the rectangular fish filets served in our cafeteria were the exact same size as a Nestle ice cream bar. Seeing an opportunity, one day I stuck the stick from a recently devoured Nestle ice cream bar into the bottom of an untouched fish filet. I then pulled the empty Nestle ice cream bar wrapper over the fish filet and began surveying the cafeteria for the perfect rube.
Eventually Mike Gagliano – a guy who routinely stole fries and or tots from everyone’s plate – sat down at the table next to me.
“Hey Mike, I don’t really want this,” I said holding up the fish-sicle concealed in the Nestle wrapper. “You can have it for 25 cents.”
Knowing a good deal when he heard one, Mike handed me a quarter and I handed him the fish bar on a stick. By the time he removed the Nestle wrapper and realized he’d been hoodwinked, I was long gone. Rumor has it he tried to unload the fish-sicle on a teacher and he ended up pulling three months in juvie.
Jon Dawson’s books are available at www.JonDawson.com.