Operation Paper Slick

I don’t know about your house, but this is a frequent sight in mine:

A fairly typical example of a Paper Slick. (Photo: Shala Howell)

A fairly typical example of a Paper Slick. (Photo: Shala Howell)

I call them Paper Slicks.

The construction paper may be thick on the ground here at Caterpickles Central, but willing workers aren’t. Oh The Six-Year-Old will clean it–eventually–but the half an hour it takes her to do it will be agonizing for both of us. Since she didn’t used to complain quite so loudly about cleaning up her messes when we lived in Norwood, I’m pretty sure this is her way of releasing the stress she feels about our move. But that doesn’t mean I have to put up with it.

Standing over her with an unrelentingly stern attitude while she worked was only increasing the stress for both of us. A change of strategy was clearly in order.

A week or so ago, Daddyo introduced The Six-Year-Old to the wonder of the 1985 cartoon series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The show has taken over her imagination. Everything is an evil plot from Cobra that only The Six-Year-Old can foil. Poor Grace Elvis has been forced to put her career as a Super Criminal on hold for now. The Six-Year-Old has her hands full with Destro and Cobra Commander.

Last week, a Paper Slick of Unusual Size appeared in our sun room. I ignored it for five days because I’d had it with the tears, whining, and general stress that asking The Six-Year-Old to clean it up would trigger. But on Sunday, I decided I’d pretty much had it with the Paper Slick also.

Mommyo, in great excitement: “The Six-Year-Old, come here!”

The Six-Year-Old, running to join me in The Room of the Very Many Couches (which happens to be right next to the sun room): “What is it, Mommyo?”

Mommyo, urgently: “I just got a message from Mission Control. Cobra has deployed a dangerous Paper Slick in our sun room. Our only defense is to clean up that slick!”

The Six-Year-Old, alarmed: “Oh no! Guard Dog has slipped on the paper slick and hit his head and now Cobra’s captured him! I have to get him back!”

Mommyo, concerned that her brilliant idea was going slightly off the rails: “Negative, Cadet! You must stay focused on that Paper Slick if you want to disarm the bomb and get Guard Dog back!”

The Six-Year-Old, excitedly disappearing into the sunroom: “Yes, Co-Commander Mommyo. I’m disarming the Paper Slick! And the Joes have hit it from behind!”

The Six-Year-Old and the Joes hard at work disarming the Paper Slick. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The Six-Year-Old and the Joes hard at work disarming the Paper Slick. (Photo: Shala Howell)

A few minutes later, The Six-Year-Old, urgently: “Co-Commander Mommyo, I’m almost done with the Paper Slick. Tell Commander Tigery to send in agents 1, 3, and 4 for rescue!”


(Photo: Shala Howell)

Mission Accomplished.

And Guard Dog? He’s a little beaten up, but The Six-Year-Old assures me he’ll be fine.

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Experiments, Funny Stuff My Daughter Says, Parenting Dilemmas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Operation Paper Slick

  1. Barbara says:



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