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» Eccentrics

Love meat tender
I love my family eccentrics dearly. Gran's a prime example; we're never sure if her habits devolve from her pragmatic, Depression-era upbringing or if there's moderate dementia present. For example: Collecting all plastic bags = good. Flattening and folding every single bag into a neat square, to ensure they're stored with maximum efficiency = ...unusual.

Here's one of my favourite recent incidents.

Dad on the speakerphone, calling from his mum-in-law's place:

"I'll put the phone close to Gran. Can you hear what she's doing?"

...there's a noise like chopping, but dulled, somehow.

Dad: "She's tenderising the steak."

There's a grin in his voice.

Me: "Oh, she's got the meat tenderiser going?"

Dad: "No."

Me: "What? Then what's she using? (I shout genteely:) WHAT ARE YOU USING, GRAN?"

Muffled complaint from Gran about Dad.

Dad, chuckling: "Gran's tenderising the steak... with a real hammer."

Me: "... What?"

Dad: "She calls this a meat hammer, but it's the same as a normal one, only smaller."

More muffled complaining, more thudding.

Dad, to Gran: "That's right, it's a meat hammer. And it's got the claw on the back so you can pull the nails out of the steak."
(Mon 3rd Nov 2008, 2:06, More)

» Advice from Old People

I'm four times the age of the little rotters I teach.
Most of my day is spent caring for your mewling, puking offspring.
There are various bits of advice I'm guaranteed to dish out at least once per working day.

These have been taught to me by very dear older folk (teachers, parents, grandparents, and in one case, Judy Blume...), often at Behavioural Modification seminars, which are surprisingly useful. If you're a teacher, I recommend them.

When they fight over favourite toys:
"Sharing is taking equal turns, or dividing into equal parts. Which one will you do this time?"

When they get hurt:
"Put an icepack on it."

When they hurt someone else:
"Say 'Sorry, it was an accident. Are you OK?" If they're not OK, take them to the office, and put an icepack on it."

When someone's being teasing them:
"Stick your hand in their face, say 'WHAT-EVER!' and walk away. I'll be watching to check you're OK."

When they've made a mistake in a precious artwork, or ripped a favourite piece of clothing:
"If you can't hide it, flaunt it. Every fault's a fashion."

And when they're stretching the boundaries, I bring out my all-time favourite:

"Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD."

That one's my universal advice line. It's helped me modify the behaviour of a wide range of people: from the circus enthusiast 7-year-old who wanted to tight-rope walk across the top of the monkeybars, to my Warhammer enthusiast 12-year-olds who wanted to melt styrofoam with superglue in a closed, heated room; to the mingeing, craven little slapper who thought she just couldn't prevent herself humping my monogamous man-pal because It Was True Love. Codswallop. Everyone has choices.
(Tue 24th Jun 2008, 11:22, More)

» Useless advice

Our family motto's allegedly "Touch no' the cat but a glove". We thought this was obvious and fairly useless until one day, soon after our family's tom had been switched to a tinned food diet. Mum picked him up for a cuddle and got a series of little chocolate "kisses" deposited along on her arm. If only opera gloves came in latex!
(Sat 21st Oct 2006, 14:40, More)