What’s That Sound, The Lucky Episode 13

Seven is an age of deep thoughts, misheard phrases, paranoia, and brute honesty.

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Ali: “How long until dinner?”

Me: “Not too long. Maybe twenty minutes.”

Ali: “Oh good. I just wanted to know if I had time to go upstairs and dilly dally for a bit.”

Noah: “DELETE ALI?? What does that even mean??”

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that no sisters got deleted in the process of dilly dallying.


Noah had a bright red splotchy rash on his ear, neck, and in his hair line. Ali noticed it first and sent him to me. I thought they were being ridiculous until I looked at it and it did look quite red and irritated.

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Noah has a history of reacting rather…violently…to bug bites, so I was both concerned and not concerned. But this rash was way more spread out…

Then I looked at a spot in his ear and said “weird. This spot almost looks like a splash of something…”

…At which point Noah said, “Oh yeah! Last night I made Andi laugh so hard that she spit red Gatorade all over me.”

Rash mystery: solved.

(Unsurprisingly, I later found the same red rash on his shirt and pants.)


I was getting ready one morning when Noah walked into my dressing room.

“Hey mommy you look WEIRD.”

I thought my makeup was off or something but I looked in the mirror and didn’t notice anything. I kept getting ready and ignored him because boys.

Then he said, “OOOOOOH!!! So that’s how you make a bun!!!”

Apparently the bun process wasn’t what he had in mind.


Noah: “What’s the Super Bowl?”

Me: “Have Daddy explain. But Justin Timberlake will be singing at halftime!”

Noah: “Oh good!! I want to see what he looks like. I imagine him looking like a guy in Pokémon that has a Charizard. Except it’s a Mega Charizard X. Oh I know – his name is Alain. Look them both up on Google and let’s see.”

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Yup. Nailed it.


Noah has memory verses each week that he learns. One is “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Except that he learned it as…

“My little children, let us not love murder or tongue…”

That’ll preach too.


Noah, after watching a male ice skater fall in the Olympics, commentated the guy’s reaction…

“He is SO MAD. I bet he’s going to have to start kicking things like I do sometimes.”


“There’s a stink bug in the house. Don’t smoosh it, or it will stink. Or even chop it up with a sword, into tiny pieces.”


Along with risk of stink from bugs, Noah is not much of a risk taker in any areas of life…

One morning when it was below freezing, Noah came up to me.

“I’m going to go outside and throw this away.”

“What is it?”

“Part of Ali’s broken jump rope.”

“And WHY are you going to go outside to throw it away? Can’t you throw it away in the kitchen?”

“Because it could really hurt someone.”

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Orange Plastic: it’s a killer all right.


My mom licked her fingers and put some birthday candles out by pinching them quickly.

Noah gasped in horror and shock.

“How do you TOUCH FIRE without DYING?!”


We went on a hike one day. As we set off, Noah informed us…

“I brought seven band aids.”

Me: “Why? Because you brought your pocketknife?”

Noah: “Yes.”

Ali: “So you think you’re going to cut yourself seven times?”

Noah: “Or just in case it’s huge.”


But Noah isn’t as concerned for other people…

Ali: “Isn’t it illegal to ride in the back of a truck like that guy?”

Me: “I’m not sure…”

Noah: “He’ll be all right. Because he has a tattoo.”

…Better than band-aids, I hear.


…But not always the best defense – depending on what they say.

Noah: “If I had a tattoo on my butt that said ‘Kick Me’, I wouldn’t tell anyone about it.”


Noah wanted to buy an app on the iPad. He brought me $5 and begged me to buy it.

Me: “You’re wanting to spend all your money. On this.”

Noah: “It’s okay! I can always get more money by losing a tooth.”

…He’s going to be selling his plasma before we know it.


Ali: “Have you herd of Swiss Family Robinson?”

Me: “Yes, it’s a classic.”

Ali: “It was written in 1812! There was a war that year. The War of 1812.”

Noah: “Woah. That was even way before Pokémon was invented.”


Noah, quietly pondering while he chewed gum: “Why can’t you swallow gum again?”

Me: “Because it could stick to your stomach.”

Noah: “But if you were pregnant, that wouldn’t be a problem. Because when they got the baby, they would get the gum.”

Me: “Off the baby!? Like it’d be stuck to the baby’s ear?”

Noah: “No. Out of your stomach.”

Me: “Oh. So they’d cut the tummy open, take out the baby, then say ‘Here’s your baby! Oh and here’s a piece of gum we found in there.’”

Noah: “Yes. That.”

Pokemon Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.

My exhaustion of hearing about the HP of every Pokemon ever created can be a heavy burden. And I grow weary of hearing the difference between GX and EX and Ultra and Mega and X. I languish from my child asking me for eBay searches and Amazon browsing for more and more and more Pokemon cards.

But oh.

The power one wields when a child of questionable temperament falls hopelessly and completely in obsession with something is indeed a very, very effective power.

It is worth every banal conversation. Every. Last. One. Of. Them.

Noah is not a people pleaser like his sister before him. So I must find new and creative ways to constantly encourage him in the way he should go. Some things work, some things don’t. But nothing – NOTHING – nothing in the creation of everything has worked as blazingly efficiently as Pokemon Cards.

The first use that made my eyes light up with the power I now held had to do with dirty plates.

Noah has never, not once, picked up his dirty lunch plate or snack napkin or gummy wrapper and put them away without being told to do so.

No matter how many times I tried to tell him he needed to do it without me telling him, or offering him tickets to help him remember, or threatening consequences if he didn’t remember – it literally did not matter. He would not, could not remember to pick up his trash.

But then one day I told him if you don’t pick up your trash, I will take away two Pokemon cards. And the next day he didn’t pick up his trash. And I don’t think he had even conceived of how cruel I could possibly be until that moment. When I told him to go get his Pokemon book and I thumbed through, looking specifically for the cards he talked about the most.

I took two of his most precious cards. His Jumbo Snorlax GX and his Mega Charizard.

He cried. And cried. And cried some more. There is no possible way that he will cry so many tears of grief when I die. He used all his tears on Snorey and Charz.

Since that day, at least a month ago, he has not left a single plate or piece of trash out after consuming food. Not one. He went from a .000 batting average to a 1.000. And, for the record, the consequences weren’t even permanent. I sprung Snorlax and Charizard from the slammer after a couple of days for good behavior, with the dire warning that next time, they would find a permanent home swimming with the fishies in the septic tank.

(Before we continue, I need to say something to Chris. No, dear, if you’re reading this, I would never *actually* flush Pokemon cards down the toilet. I know how you coddle our septic tank as if it were a colicky newborn baby. But I must add an appropriate amount of drama to my threats to be the loving, effective mother that you desire me to be.)

My second brilliantly evil use of Pokemon cards was to get my daily dose of exercise. I’d bought two junk boxes of random Pokemon cards off of Amazon a while back to use as prizes. I had so far used them as rewards in mental math contests between my children (turns out Noah is really good up in his head with math and can nearly compete with his four-year-older sister – when appropriately motivated), so I invented the most genius exercise game ever created for kids. WAY better than Nintendo Wii.

Pokemon Run.

For every quarter mile you run without stopping* or complaining, you earn one Pokemon card.

* Up to five second walk breaks were permissable for road crossings and side stitches and such.

For every continuous mile you run, you get two bonus Pokemon cards, bringing the potential total Pokemon cards up to six earnable per mile.

I explained the rules to the kids. Noah shivered with excitement. Ali, who also enjoys Pokemon cards but doesn’t need as much motivation as her brother, was also excited to get something for something she’d do anyway. And probably secretly relished the opportunity to earn more than her brother, but she’s a people pleaser. She’d never say so.

The run was every bit as magical as I’d hoped.

Noah is usually complaining just for his own personal entertainment at the .2 mile mark. But this run, there was no complaining. None at all. The kid even got a wretched side stitch and DID NOT WHINE. He was leaning over while running, cramming his hand into his side, BECAUSE HE NEEDED THAT LAST POKEMON CARD.

Ali earned 19 cards. Noah earned 12. And they were both thrilled and freaking thankful that I had taken them on such an amazing run. And begged to have another one soon.

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There is nothing like finding the currency that motivates a child. It’s as if I truly finally am in charge of my situation. I use Pokemon cards like they grow on trees now, and it’s worth every penny of all the money I send to Amazon.

So, mothers. So, fathers. I urge you. Find your currency.

Find it soon.

And treasure it with all your might.

The Seven-Year-Old Silver Screen Star.

Noah turned seven today.

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And it’s been a long, arduous, lifetime of work for him to achieve his (not-so-much) dream of being a television star, which also happened this week.

All because being a blogger has weird side effects. Such as your images being super searchable, and sometimes your most random image can be the very one that a Supervising Post Producer of an NBC television show is looking for.

Such is the case with this image, which I posted here in 2012.

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I got an email months ago, asking me if NBC could purchase the rights to this Noah to use on the show Better Late Than Never. She explained the idea of the show and the context in which the image would be used, and it seemed fairly harmless to me – even if Noah would probably not be allowed to watch the entire episode (because it’s a family tradition to be a Child Star in things too indecent for children to watch – I was.)

I said sure, and what transpired were many emails, contract signatures, legalese, and sending back and forth of files.

The contract I signed stated clearly that NBC had the right to use this photo in any way they wanted – in this universe (not just this earth) – in perpetuity (or in the after-life) – and in so doing, they could speak of it any way they wanted, including but not limited to defamation, exploitation, and slander.

Seemed reasonable. Especially since they also asked for a picture of me – I’m sure to give visualization to the mother they planned to shame.

I didn’t mention this process to anyone but Chris for quite some time because I know how these types of things work. They take months to finalize, and then the whole thing gets scrapped by the Supervising Post Producer’s Producer who says something along the lines of “I think we need something a bit more airy, teal-minded, and incandescent.”, and then the Supervising Post Producer comes back to you and says “Hey I’m sorry we don’t need your image after all.”

But eventually, I received a check postmarked from Hollywood. And as I was going through the mail that day, I murmured offhandedly while never taking my eyes off the stack of envelopes, “Oh hey Noah, a picture of you is going to be on a television show.”

And because The Year of Six has held record-setting highs of contrariness, HE WAS NOT AMUSED.

“WHAT?!?!? I DON’T WANT TO BE ON TV!!! GET THE PICTURE BACK NOW!!!”

“Sorry. Can’t. Got the check for it right here.”

“NOOOOOO!!! I WILL NOT BE ON TV I WON’T I WON’T!”

“Actually, you will. When you’re 18 you can decide on whether you’ll be on TV or not. But for now, sorry kid.”

“I AM SO SO SO MAD AT YOU!!!!”

He stomped off in an overworked, fake rage.

That night, he told Chris about my sins. And got even more lack of sympathy.

For the next week, Noah continued to randomly remember my trespasses and would offer me a bit of sulky rage just to remind me how supremely awful I am at this whole motherhood thing.

I finally got around to heading to the bank to deposit the check. Just because I’m extra cruel, I reminded him about it as I drove into the bank parking lot. I received in return a Hulk-Like howl from the back seat. In fact, he was acting eerily like the photo that was sold…irony is lost on him.

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Then I had an epiphany.

“You know what? Any time I sell a photo of you kids, it seems like I should pay you a commission. Don’t you think?”

There was a chorus of “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” from all members of the backseat.

“How much do you think I should pay you?”

Ali: “Five dollars?”

Noah: “I was thinking ten dollars.”

Me: “Well, I was thinking a 10% commission is a industry-standard rate. And since I charged them $150 for the photo, that would be fifteen dollars. How’s that?”

“I love you Mommy I love you Mommy I love you Mommy!!!”

“Hold on though. There’s fine print in this agreement. If I pay you commission on photo sales, you have to agree to a.) never grouch about it again, b.) not complain if I tell anyone about it, and c.) not get embarrassed when it airs.”

“Okay!! You can tell TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!!! I agree!!!”

In case you wanted to know how much a severe bout of contrariness costs to reverse, it’s fifteen big ones.

Even better, I didn’t have to fork over a single cent of cash. He wanted $5 worth of diamonds on an iPad game (usually deemed an absolute waste of money but hey – he’s a celebrity now so if he wants intangible diamonds, he can afford intangible diamonds) and he used the other $10 to buy back his Kidizoom watch from me (which he had previously pawned because he JUST HAD to have a GX Pokemon card which cost $5 and he asked me “Look around – isn’t there anything in my room I could sell you for $5??” And I was all like “Uh, no.” and he said “How about my watch? Would you take that??”, and I was so sick of him having a tiny screen on his wrist that he was always staring at that I was all like “DEAL, baby. But to buy it back you have to pay me $10.” – because I’m a Loan Shark Mother and I think it’s important to learn the pain of predatory lenders at an early age.)

For the rest of the day, he begged, “Mommy can you put me on TV more? Can I be on TV all the time? What else can you put me on TV with??”, and that night as I put him to bed, he gushed my praises again. “You’re the best, Mommy. AND IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF DARN MONEY!!!”

The world kept turning, we got busy with trips and Christmas and surgery, and we all kinda forgot about his worldwide debut.

The Producer had said it would probably air in mid-December, but mid-December has been a Dark Time for me, so it came as a total surprise when I got a text from my neighbor last night…

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Turns out the episode aired last week.

…And Noah was such an integral mega-star of the show that no one even noticed him (or told us about it, anyway) for an entire week.

I pulled the show up online and, after Noah and Ali gasped at seeing Terry Bradshaw jump around naked and pixellated in the preview (Ali: “surely he’s wearing underwear!!”), I quickly found Noah’s tenth-of-a-second of fame around the 8 minute mark of the show and quickly cut it off after it was over.

Noah laughed. Then smiled sheepishly. For just a second.

Then erased his smile, got a world-weary look on his face and said dejectedly, totally forgetting our contract (because after all, those diamonds were long spent by now),

“I’m not happy that I’m famous.”

Which made me pretty happy. Because after all, it takes most actors decades to realize that very thing.

Happy Birthday, kid. Keep that solid, contrary, irritable head on your shoulders and you’ll do all right.

Editor’s note: If you’re astute enough to notice the difference in the photo and the one on the television screenshot, you also might find it hilarious that the photo they used in the show is not the one they asked for, nor the one I sent them, nor the one I signed away in perpetuity for all galaxies. Apparently the Supervising Post Producer’s Producer wanted one that was a little less screamy. And I guess that means my contract is invalid.