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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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well, in the end, the ponies are the thing
children of dune - leto 1
Okay, so I lose time the last few days since at work, they actually kept work waiting for me (I keep waving my bottle of cough syrup and they are like BUT YOU CAN TYPE WHILE YOU COUGH RIGHT? Yes, apparently, I can, and also, wow, so you want me to write two brand new scripts in a hour? This is because I said I liked doing scripts, isn't it? I'm an idiot.), and there is a.) a fanfiction survey that went skeevy and b. okay, I don't know, was there anything else that I missed?

Should I be afraid?


Child started seventh grade. This is inexpressibly painful adn horrible, as Child is now like, almost a Teen, and I feel this will be detrimental to our normal adversarial relationship. I've been researching and telling Child what's in store for us. Sample convo (paraphrased):

Me: You are going to hate me and tell me that I am ruining your life. It says so here.
Child: ...I say that already.
Me: But you'll be fueled by testosterone this time!
Child: Is this another sex talk?
Me: Did we talk about condoms and girls recently?
Child: You are ruining my life.
Me: Exactly!

Child thinks I shouldn't be allowed near any parenting material for the next few years. Which really, I can't blame him; he's started looking wary every time I mention booju_newju.

In more interesting news, he's back in teh advanced math class, where they started familiarizing themselves with the concept of double variable equations. Child was having a massive hard time with this and driving me insane--this is concept, as in, it will be something like this.

a = 3, b = 6.2

2a + 5b = whatever number, I so am not going to be accurate.

I kept kind of wanting to hit him--it's all right there! Then I realized that he's trying to do all of this--all of this--without showing his work. In fact, according to what I can work out from the directions, they are supposed to do all of this mentally. Which sure, that's easy enough--if you know the goddamn process, which is why I was forced to show my work for years, even when I didn't need to, so later, I could do pretty much all basic arithmetic without a pencil and kicked ass at UIL Number Sense (for those not in Texas, competitive mental math test).

It's frustrating to try to get across to him it does not make him a lesser person to write it out as a proof first so he knows how it is supposed to look, and that after he does a couple like that, he can do the rest mentally because then he knows what it looks like. Or maybe that's just how I learn? IDK--I was required to show full work and proof for years, which in the end I was doing after the fact just so I'd get teh credit. But the first time I ever learned anything, I'd proof it so I could see the logic chain, just automatically. It's pretty much how I learned Calculus in Finnish. I couldnt' understand the instructor, but I dind't need to; I had the proofs to teach me.

I'm weirded out. I can teach him how to proof and show work, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what his instructor is about. Right now it's not a big deal, but this is where you set the habits of knowing how to do all this. He can probably get through trig and first semester Calculus like this, but geometry and second semester Calculus will kill him if he's trying to do triple variables in his head. I probably should consult V's husband, since he's working on his masters in math, and have him try to explain to Child why it's so necessary to know how to do the process.

[In retrospect, I'm not sure he can do trig without proof. It's freaking waves. I mean, I can't figure out what the point of trig would be without having to show your work. It's kind of hte point of trig. *frowns* I bet I have my notebooks still.]

Also of interest--Child's first book report for English has to be on a graphic novel. His first book report is supposed to be a graphic novel. I do not know how I could love this school more. He's thinking of Watchmen, but I think they want something new (and also, I'm not sure of the appropriateness of Watchmen. It has a lot in there that frankly, at his age, he just is not going to pick up; hell, there's stuff in there I know I'm not picking up, and I know he skimmed some of the parts that were--uncomfortable, because those parts I skimmed too). Anyone have any recommendations?


Er, nothing? I am almost done with bronchitis treatment, the breathing is fine, the cough is light and probably as much due to the allergy issues that are hitting Austin right now as much as anything and nearly gone.

In closing, I want a pony that was raised by nuns. Seriously, the Catholic Church is going about recruitment all wrong. Go to any third grade class and ask them if they want to raise ponies when they grow up and convent recruitment would skyrocket. I won't lie; if I'd known about this when I was a kid? I'd totally be Sister Jenn raising ponies on Brenham. This career choice was not offered to me as a child. I resent it.

For graphic novels... do they need to be of a certain size or a complete story instead of part of a series?
There are a lot of retellings of classics in graphic novel form, there's also things like Death Junior, Courtney Crumrin (see icon), Girl Genius (which is a series, also readable online), Polly and the Pirates (okay, I'm secretly pimping Ted Naifeh here)...
They've recently started releasing the Darren Shan novels in manga form - so far, less creepy than the original books.
So that list covers supernatural themes, magic, girl heroes, mad science and vampires.

Has he read Persepolis?

(Also, nuns are awesome.)

*polls fandom*

KC spoke more. It is creepy. Will link you later.

Ogi spoke more. Is more creepy. Ditto above.

ebay sold the last jar of unicorn sperm in the united states. For actual money. I know. Yes I have a link. mwuahaha.

Oh and gmail went down for 90 minutes! And apparently they heard all of those knives sharpening so they posted a very detailed explanation about what happened.

i second persepolis, i recommend wormwood (though you might have to skim for appropraiteness depending on which one he gets? i've only read one) and here's a list of award winning graphic novels. if you, your boy, and his school don't mind pirating too badly, i have a few of the batman ones and most of the alan moore's i can megaupload for you.

The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman

The Black Panther series/collection/volume/Idon'tknowwhattocallit

The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman

I have this one. Tell me if you want it, and I can get it into the mail tomorrow if you like.

I've also got the complete Sandman series, the first Ultimate Spiderman, and the first three X-Factor vol. 3 (although I don't recommend those last for a kid, the first volume contains a character trying to commit suicide) and the Frank Miller Dark Knight series.

Oh. Oh oh oh.


I would so be a nun to work with the ponies. Miniature horses. Whatever. I COULD TOTALLY FAKE IT FOR THE PONIES.

Also, no, I don't think your son is destined to think you ruined your life. I'm fairly sure I never thought that about my parents, although I was kind of a wierd child. But I have faith in your childraising skills--you can totally bring him up wierd right!! [grins]

"American-Born Chinese" won the Printz in 08, which means probably a ton of people in his class will be doing it, but, like, there's a reason it got the Printz.

I've enjoyed the Minx graphic novel series but they're all really chick lit-y. (If he's into that, though, Plain Janes is awesome! :D?)

I don't know the exact age range for Jeff Smith's "Bones" series, but there's a reason it's hugely popular.

"The Arrival" by Shaun Tan is absolutely amazing. It's wordless, so IDK if that works, but it's definitely aimed at older audiences and is really thought-provoking.

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On the math thing:

I did coast my way through calculus doing intuitive math- I mean, calc and algebra, I could show my work.

To this day I do not get geometry/trig. Showing my proofs was an exercise in utter frustration and hatred. I just don't have spatial sense.

However: I've been playing the new Professor Layton game for the DS. The whole thing is one big 8th grade math word problem. Lots of solving with multiple variables. Might go over well with the boy.

Oooh seconding Professor Layton and I am absolutely shite at math but solving those puzzles actually has done a whole lot more for me than a whole host of math classes that I've done fairly poorly in.

I love those games so much.

This whole not-showing-your-work thing is interesting to me because I was always demanded to show my work, down to the nitty gritty boring stuff, and as a teacher, I always demand it, because how else am I supposed to a) know that you understand and aren't just guessing well, and b) figure out where you're having problems?

Now ok I teach elementary school but still.

This. Even basic arithmetic was required when I was in Calculus AP--I'd go back and add it in later, but I mean, we were never allowed to get away with not showing anything. I remember failing a test becuase I got all the answers but didn't show work to match; that was motivating as hell to make me do it right.

So--yeah. I can see him wanting them to be able to do it mentally, but I'm really not sure at this level, they should be routinely leaving out their work.

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I had to show my work for math all through high school, so I'm not really sure what his teacher is after. If I had been told to do it all mentally you had better be damn well sure I would have cheated a whole lot more than I did and learned even less (confession: math is very much not my strong suit).

I was going through my comic collection and couldn't really think of anything in a novel form but for a general rec I'd say let him try the new (new in comic world and sadly cancelled now) Blue Beetle with Jaime. That was such an excellent. excellent series and totally appropriate for pretty much any age range.

Did you hear that it got brought back as a backup feature on Booster Gold? 8 pages a month instead of 24, but not really gone...

I'm still bitter at my elementary school teacher who gave me a "satisfactory" (aka, "just barely passing") in math one semester because she wanted to punish me for not showing my work. I did long division in my head! It wasn't my fault! And seriously, I was speedy at doing my problem sets and often taught other kids with her supervision, so she *knew* that I wasn't cheating or whatever.

On the other hand, I do remember doing polynomial long division in high school and going "oh, I guess I need to figure out what the actual long division process is". So I don't hate her too much :)

Good to hear you're feeling a bit better, even if they want to slam you with work.

Eldest started 7th grade today. We discovered that his required study skills class (some IB thingma-bob) is taught by the teacher he hated with a dying passion lat year. Should be fun. We let him get out some of his aggressions by wrestling tonight. I may, possibly, need ibuprofen later, but he's 10x happier and seemed almost ready to sit down and read his course guide instead of getting emo about it, so we figure it's a step in the right direction.

So not looking forward to the next few years. Current conversations involve such things as, "Between your three parents, we've done it all; it's going to be pretty hard to act out," and "Why are you fighting on the little things? Save it up for the big things like driving!"

Good luck. I do believe every parent of a middle schooler needs it. *g*

Graphic novels: Astro City, Global Frequency, Sandman, Girl Genius, Planetary...

Showing Your Work is Good. I still do it.

Hee! My friend with the son Child's age told me her boy has a girlfriend. Who obviously understands him because she made him a crocheted Cthulhu toy. I told her it's only a matter of time before he starts hogging the bathroom and reeking of body spray...