Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Belt

Ethan has been taking a martial arts class since the beginning of summer. So far it is the only activity of any type in which he will remotely follow instructions. He even shouts, "Yes, Sir!"

The reason? Incentives. Every third class he gets a new stripe on his belt. Today--8 stripes later--he got a new belt with a yellow stripe. This is a very big deal for him. A very, very big deal.

I've suggested that we follow this Skinnerian model with regard to all aspects of his life--from getting up in the morning, to getting dressed, to eating, to sitting still and paying attention in school, to going to bed. I could wear a whistle like the dad in "Sound of Music." Every third day he makes it through school without jumping out of his seat and writhing around on the floor, he gets a stripe.

So far I've been out-voted by Jennifer and his school teacher and principal, who are helping him learn to WANT to behave in a socially acceptable way. Uh-huh. Good luck with that.

Roll tape.


"I don't get how walking helps you find a cure."
--Ethan Tarpley

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Donna

My Aunt Donna is what you'd call a trooper. Every year she hosts the entire extended family for Thanksgiving, and every year we all tromp through her house for a day or two, eat all the food in the house, dirty all the sheets and towels, track mud across the floors, then depart with full bellies and a merry little, "Thanks for everything."

If she secretly harbors any ill will over this grossly unfair arrangement, she's extremely good at hiding it.

As my way of "giving back"--note the quotes--each year I produce a video featuring every family member. The only rules are that the video must be written, shot, and edited in less than 8 hours, and it must be just inappropriate enough that Jennifer refuses to let me post it on You Tube, which is why I haven't yet scored that gig with Comedy Central.

But tonight I'm able to give you a glimpse of the range of roles that Donna has taken on over the years. Truly spectacular.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Donna: you are the greatest.

Roll tape.