Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We're almost out of ear twigs...

Last week, my daughter had a birthday. It was the last single digit birthday in our family. It makes me... melancholy. It's not that I don't want them to grow up; I do. I just miss what they were. I especially miss when my younger two would nap on me, one on each arm. Ahh...

Anyway, a birthday for my daughter means a sleepover, so our house was full of little girls Saturday night. My boys, wisely, chose to be elsewhere. In the evening, we took a walk down by the creek so that I could show them all the sights like the entrances to Goblin Town and the Troll Bridge (for those of you that have been around for a while, you'll know that I've talked about these places in my Let's go for a walk... series). They got to see ducklings in the creek, troll nests, the special flowers that allow you to hide from trolls by covering up your scent, and, even, a goblin dashing into one of the entrances to goblin town. Okay, well, I'm the only one that actually saw the goblin, but I didn't make it up! Honest. Most of the girls have been exposed to my book, The House on the Corner, so they expected stories of trolls, I suppose. During the walk, many of them came up to me to whisper, "I believe..."

But this story isn't about the sleepover or the walk.

My daughter has been asking to get her ears pierced for years. Long ago, we made a 13-year-old rule. This rule came about because, at about age 6, my oldest son wanted to get his ear pierced. We felt this was too young. 1. He was only six, and that's a little young to be making permanent life decisions. 2. There was no way he would be capable of taking care of his ear while it healed. So we made him wait. It's one of the few things that he has steadfastly held to in his life, the desire to get his ear pierced, so, when he turned 13, we took him to  get it done. Mostly, he was able to take care of his ear  on his own; although, with him, it was kind of like having them brush their teeth; you have to tell them over and over and over again. Every night. I mean, we still have to check in with him about how long it's been since his last shower (because, at 16, we kind of think he's old enough not to have to be told to go take one, unlike his younger brother whom we have to badger into the shower under protest every time).

But my daughter's not like that. She's the only one that will spontaneously take care of her teeth without being told to. Not every night, but, sometimes, when we start telling them to go brush, her response is, "I already did," and a breath test bears that out. Unless, you know, she's just sucking tooth paste from the tube. And she has her own established showering schedule that she adheres to in an almost religious manner. She even makes sure that I know when her laundry hamper is ready; whereas, the boys will often get up and discover they have nothing clean to wear (and let me tell you, those discussions are so much fun).

We (meaning my wife) decided that we could break the 13-year-old rule for ear piercing, because my daughter shows all the signs of being able to take care of her ears while they heal without us having to be on her about it (unlike, say, her accordion practice) all the time. So, on her birthday, we took her to have her ears pierced (as it turns out, she was the only girl in her class with unpierced ears, which may explain why she has been so desperate to have it done). She was quite brave about the whole thing, and the lady doing the work was surprised when she sat through the first ear and let her go on to the second ear. Evidently, most girls break down after the first and don't want the second one done. However, after they were both done, she did want a hug, so that was nice.

The piercing lady showed my wife and daughter how to take care of her ears after that. There are a number of options for cleaning, but the simplest, really, is Q-tips. That's not what the woman demonstrated with, but we figured that they would work best. The only issue is that we don't really keep Q-tips around. We only had a small bag of them left over from the move last fall and had never bothered to buy more. But my wife showed my daughter how to dip them into the solution and clean her ears with them anyway. Which brings us to the night after...

One night after the piercing and my daughter heads to the "grown up" bathroom to get her own Q-tips for the very first time. She retrieves what she needs, cleans her ears, and cleans up after herself. My wife asks her if she needs any help. "No, Mom..." My wife asks her if everything is okay. "Yes, Mom..." There is so other discussion mostly centered on my daughter exerting her independence and ability to take care of everything on her own. Except for one thing, after everything else has been said and done, my daughter pipes up with, "Oh, but, Mom... we're almost out of ear twigs."

I was so glad that I was where my daughter couldn't see me, because I laughed. I mean, I really laughed. But I also loved it. "Ear twigs." That is so awesome. Like I said, we don't keep Q-tips around. No one had called them by name. My daughter gave them a very sensible name. That's what we call them now. She doesn't know they have another name, and that's how we want it. I'm sure, at some point, she'll find out, but we love "ear twigs," so we haven't told her.

And isn't that what writing's about? Looking at something and making it your own. Taking something normal, common, cliche and twisting it just a little to make it interesting and unique again. I could care less about Q-tips, but I love ear twigs. You shouldn't be surprised if they show up in a story some day. At least the term even if they aren't still cotton swabs.


  1. Cute story. Ear twigs sound kind of painful though; I imagine jamming a stick in my ear. You can probably get those at a dollar store. I'm just saying.

  2. Aww! Ear twigs. That's so cute! I'm glad you let her get her ears pierced at a younger age. She sounds quite responsible. :)

  3. She needs any ear twigs, we keep them stocked at our house. My wife has a thing about water in her ears and panics if she steps out of the shower and the jar is empty. (And we call them ear swabs because we buy generic.)

  4. I love that story. Sounds like you have a very responsible young lady on your hands.

  5. Ah, that's adorable. I'm glad you were flexible with your rule for your daughter. If you'd waited those extra years you wouldn't have gotten your "ear twigs". That's a good trade in my opinion. :)

  6. Interesting. I don't know if I could resist not spilling the beans. I'm one of those people that likes correcting other people. I'd probably have just said, "the proper word is Q-Tip".

  7. I loved this whole post. The descriptions of the differences in your children is wonderful. The idea of responsibility is really important when you are allowing kids to do things for the first time. The age 13 rule was good, like you said, for your son, but your daughter had already shown the signs that she was ready earlier. I think it was great you let her get her ears pierced. Ear twigs may be my new favorite "thing". I'll have to explain it to my husband. He's the one who really uses the ear twigs in our house.

  8. That's adorable. Your daughter needs to become a writer and fill the world with awesome new names for ordinary objects.

  9. Very sweet! I love, love when the kids put their own spin on something, especially when it's not on purpose.

  10. That's too funny! I must say, I was relieved to read your post. When I first glanced at the title, I thought it said, "Earwigs," which are a nasty type of bug that I have reeeeeeally bad memories about :)

    My oldest stepdaughter is about to turn 17, and the stepson who was only 9 when I met his father is going to be a six-foot-tall 15-year-old on his next birthday...they grow up crazy fast.

    "Ear twigs" So great :)

  11. Grumpy: Unlike Briane, I tend to avoid the dollar store. "It's a trap!"

    Cherie: She is! For herself -and- everyone else. She likes to be the cop. heh
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Alex: You know, I hate that, too. Just the feeling of water in the ears is... icky.

    Jennifer: And a great softball player, too!

    L.G.: This is probably true. It was a great trade. I actually, have a list of things she's said. There's one in particular she keeps bugging me about when I'm going to write a story about it.

    Michael: You know, I was really bad like that back in high school, but I let that tendency go.

    Donna: Yeah, and as my wife was saying last night, my younger son may not ever be old enough to be allowed to have his ear pierced. heh Not that he wants to, because he doesn't, but, oh my gosh, you have to tell him everything 10 times before he does it! And, if you forget somewhere around 7 or 8? Oh, well...

    S.L.: Last year on her STAR test, she scored 100% in the writing area. That's pretty rare.
    Just saying.
    And stay tuned for a sample of her writing.

    Shannon: Yeah, it's awesome! Like when I was a kid... oh, wait, we're not talking about me.

    Jess: Oh, no, earwigs are ick! The idea of them gives me the heebies.

  12. Whoa, I was really on your side until I saw your comment that you avoid the Dollar Store. Now, I think we might have to go to war.

    Then again, the "ear twigs" story is too great to be mad at you for long.

    Really, though, the best part of this post for me was your reminiscing about having both your kids sleep on you when you nap. I remember the kids doing that, too. Now, they're too big and they just want to wrestle, and I always lose.

    This was a great story.

  13. Briane: Well, Briane, I have to say that -you're- part of the reason I avoid the dollar store. Because you always talk about how much you end up spending there. Hence the, "It's a trap!"

    I hate "too big." It just sucks. Why can't I make them all small again?

  14. All right. You lured me back here. Here's the thing about Dollar Stores: i go there, blow $10 and walk out with all kinds of stuff. Or I go to, say, Target, and walk out with all kinds of stuff but it costs $75.

    The Dollar Store is cheaper. The real problem here is Mr Bunches, who loves to shop and who I recently had to put on moratorium on shopping. I told him "No more Target until June." I try to instead steer him to things that don't cost money, like the park or nature walks.

    So yesterday, I picked him and Mr F up from "camp" and said "What should we do tonight?"

    Mr Bunches said "Target."

    I said "How about the playground?"

    And he said "First playground, then Target."

    I stuck it out and he did NOT go to Target. But it's tough, so the Dollar Store is sort of our Methadone.

  15. This is adorable & a great story. I love it :)

  16. That is so cute! Ear twigs. Boots has little sayings like that. He always calls the first Star Wars "Phantamous Menace." But making up your own words . . . hey maybe your daughter is gonna be a writer like her dad!

  17. That's a cute story. I like that. As a writer, my goal isn't to sell millions of books. My goal is to invent a word that people will use forever. Now THAT would be cool, amirite?

    (Actually my goal is both. I'm greedy. So sue me)

  18. Briane (again): Well, see, my way of dealing with that is to also avoid Target. And shopping. And going anywhere where there might be Legos.

    Callie: I love that you love it! :)

    Jessica: She is... despite her protests (and she does). Thanks for coming by!

    Bess: Oh, stay tuned! More coming on that soon. I hope! heh

    ABftS: LOL Selling millions of books just furthers that goal of inventing a word that people will use forever. See... make it work for you!