Meet Coconut and Ginger, Alan's gerbils.


Ginger was very curious about the camera.

Maddie wanted to know what was inside the box.

Maddie touched noses with Ginger and left a wet spot on Coconut's head.

Unlike Maddie, Shooter is not allowed to touch noses with the gerbils unless either Alan or I am holding him, because his nose-touching usually turns to attempted head-biting.

The gerbils stayed in the box for a while as Alan cleaned the cage.  The boys saw the gerbils for the first time today, so C had a fun time chasing them around the box and holding them.

T will be making dinner for us this evening.  I thought it would be a good way for T to improve his cooking skills, as well as take on some responsibility and have his own “thing.”  T just recently became a teenager, and it’s showing — last night, he didn’t answer me when I asked how his week was, and later was listening to something that sounded like heavy metal and profanity, but claimed he was listening to Ray Charles when Alan asked what it was, and upon being confronted about it, replied that he didn’t know what he was listening to because he fell asleep.  Anyway.  I really have no room to talk, considering the fact that I was a moody teenager not too long ago.  And even though I would never want to repeat those years, I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences and lessons learned during that time, because now I have a better idea of what T is going through.  I’ve noticed that keeping that in mind helps me to respond better.  Anyway.

Alan agreed, so we’ll be taking T to the grocery store this afternoon.  He’ll have a set budget and will be responsible for selecting the necessary ingredients, while staying within the budget.  Tonight, he’ll have free reign over the kitchen — the only conditions are that the meal must include a protein, carbohydrate and a vegetable.  I think he’s making chicken parmesan, but then Alan introduced him to about an hour ago, and he’s been glancing over recipes ever since.  I left Post-It notes on the cupboard and drawer doors, so he’ll be able to find tools without too much hassle.

Now to find something that C enjoys.  Apparently, he’s learning about WWII in school, though the teacher allegedly told the class that Hitler was a Jew and he was killing the Jews.  But he never elaborated on the fact that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish and he was also responsible for the deaths of other ethnic groups.  In response, Alan purchased Lies My Teacher Told Me, and hopefully C will benefit from spending weekends with two military history buffs and a history major.

The History Teacher — Billy Collins

Trying to protect his students’ innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
“How far is it from here to Madrid?”
“What do you call the matador’s hat?”

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

Do you have any tips or advice on encouraging teenagers to branch out responsibly or on making sure that younger children don’t feel overshadowed by their older siblings?