Don’t Even Bother with a Tickle-Me-Elmo

You better believe we can drive to Target blindfolded. What’s more, we’re members of The Birthday Club at the independent toy store. We’ve rocked Goodwill. We know how to hit the “pre-sale” at local garage sales.

In short, we know where to find Playmobil sphinxes; robots with remote controls; board games for learning geography; scooters for knee skinning; and baby dolls to dangle upside down by one foot, negligently, “like Mama did to me when I was little.”

Oh, yes. I am a toy aficionado. The officers can check my credentials at any border crossing, and I’ll be waved through in record time with a peppy “May you find a deeply-discounted Melissa and Doug wooden pizza set at the TJ MAXX, intrepid traveler!”

Born from a decade-long honing of expertise is this insider tip: if you only were to buy one toy, one pastime, one piece of attention-occupying junk to have in a house containing kids,

go for an easel…particularly one that has an erasable whiteboard.

When our Girl was two or three, her grandparents gifted her with just such a thing. I plan to have those grandparents cast in bronze. They are keepers and would look great on the mantle.

Over the last eight years, as other toys have come and gone and fallen down the toilet, the easel has been a steady presence: backdrop to fingerpainting, sponge painting, leaf painting, and some dabbling in oils. Its chalkboard has been the basis of many an imagined classroom. And the whiteboard half of it?

Well, you know. There’s been Pyramid Man, for one.

In addition, there’ve been about forty-ninety-eleven other scenarios drawn upon it, including aliens attacking the Midwest (what were you doing that day?) and maps of Middle Earth.

Of late, the whiteboard has been home to Girl’s “Daily Question.” See, Girl has a penchant for collecting information about people. In the last few years, she’s gone so far as to type up surveys, have us make copies, and then distribute them to everyone we know; the results are then alphabetized and collated into three-ring binders.

Clearly, I am delighted at the thought that she will one day be handling our estate.

In the last few weeks, her penchant has found roost on the whiteboard, where she poses a question of the day, and then all comers (namely me, Paco, and Groom…unless a random runner stops by, needing to empty his bladder) are to answer it, signing their responses with a representative symbol. For awhile, I made up all sorts of crazy symbols, but in recent days, I’ve lapsed into a no-thought sunshine (a symbol of something I hope one day to see). Paco can be counted on to create a symbol with three heads, something emanating radioactivity and malice; alternately, if he’s tired, he just scratches out a claw. Groom’s symbol has morphed, like mine did; these days, he uses a little version of his own face, which poses a bit of a problem because then I have to kiss the whiteboard a lot and, tactiley, that’s a pretty strong turnoff. Suffice it to say, Groom’s whiteboard alter ego is getting less and less action as the weeks tick by.

One of the educational upsides to The Daily Question is that Girl is learning to construct her questions better. While it is a hardship to her that she has smartass parents, we like to think we’re preparing her for the idiocy of the real world.

As a case in point, she put forth this past week the question of “What are your three favorite flavors?”

To tell you true, we knew exactly what she meant, as she’s in the throes of planning a Lip Smacker birthday party. We knew she meant “What three lip smacker flavors are your favorites?” but since she didn’t specify anything lippish or smackerish in her question, we simply listed favorite flavors.

Compounding the arse-pains was the fact that Paco only listed one response, not three, and Groom and I listed more than three.

Listen, the girl wants to be a teacher when she grows up. This is all good training.

After some complaining and give-and-take and a visit with her union grievance representative, she revised her question, making it more specific while also allowing for longer lists:

In its revised version, the question reads:  “What is your favorite lip smacker flavor?”

Girl’s answers are:
1. Strawberry-kiwi
2.  Starburst
3.  Orange Creme

Paco gets to the point with:

1.  Cotton Candy

Paco is a big liar, as he also loves it when his lips are glossed over with Rootbeer Float or Skittles Berry Punch.  However, we consider lying training to be essential for a successful future–just like confounding the instructions of a future teacher is–and, therefore, he suffers no consequences for the omissions.

Refusing to put forth the effort to change our answers even after Girl revised her question, Groom and I held firm with general “favorite flavor” lists.  Consequently, my favorite lip smacker flavors are:

1.  Ginger
2.  Balsamic Vinegar
3.  Australian Licorice
4.  Imperial Stout
5.  Bubbles

And Groom admitted he likes to coat his lips with:

1.  Anise or Black Licorice
2.  Chilis
3.  Marinara
4.  Grilled Steak

A few days later, ready for another question, I took the initiative and asked:

If you were going to work in the circus as a clown, what would your clown name be?

Jocelyn says:  Rotini Hotdogbuns
Groom says:  Oughter McShiatsu
Girl says:  The Amazing Legrini Lips
Paco says:  Uga Chuga

Clearly, the family with a whiteboard is the family that can run away and join the circus together.  I do, indeed, strongly recommend bringing one into your lives–better yet, your bathrooms–if you are currently whiteboard free.

In fact, I’m so enamored with whiteboard-based communication and conversation that it’s my intention to request one for my tombstone.  Who needs boring old static words (“She annoyed many/But loved few”) when I could host The Daily Question into eternity?

So give, dear readers: 

What are your top three favorite lip smackers flavors?

And if you were a clown, what would your clown name be?






20 responses to “Don’t Even Bother with a Tickle-Me-Elmo”

  1. Jazz Avatar

    1. Champagne
    2. Sauvignon Blanc
    3. Burgundy

    And clowns creep me right the hell out. I wouldn't be one. If I were with the circus I'd probably be the person to shovel up the elephant shit. It's better than shoveling bullshit…

  2. Middle Aged Woman Avatar
    Middle Aged Woman

    Cotton candy, root beer, and cotton candy. My clown name would be Blinky McSnorter.

  3. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    1. Avocado
    2. Basil
    3. Chocolate

    I love that your clown name is totally food-related. I'm drawing a total blank here. The whiteboard is too much pressure!

  4. kmkat Avatar

    1. Chocolate
    2. Chocolate
    3. Chocolate

    My clown name would be Chocolate Lips.

    Sensing a theme here?

  5. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    garlic, coffee, lemon.
    Your whiteboard is such an excellent thing. Your daughter charms me to no end.

  6. Christina Avatar

    1. Strawberry with chocolate
    2. Cherry with chocolate
    3. Raspberry with chocolate

    I couldn't copy Kmkat, that would be rude. Plus, I'm all about getting my 5 fruits and veggies in anyway that I can (This involves broccoli scented deoderant as well).

    My clown name would be Stinky McPeePants. This would be appropriate because the only way I would bow so low as to dress up like a creepy clown would be if my occasional glass of wine develops into an hourly issue. I would then be so loaded that taking a nap would become a higher priority than finding the nearest restroom.

  7. jess Avatar

    1. fresh strawberries
    2. cheese
    3. pie

    It's really hard to come up with anything that doesn't fall flat next to "Rotini Hotdogbuns."


    But I think I'd maybe go with Frank N. Beans. As a tribute to Junie B.

  8. Pam Avatar

    I'm with Jass. I'd leave the top on Champagne though, and go for Sauvignon Blanc, Rum, and Liquer.The clown name? Phug…Phuggy, though with a clown you put "pants" on the end of everything I guess – so let's go for Phuggypants the Clown.Be careful with the lipgloss tamperings. Adam Ant started out that way and look where he is now!He didn't do himself any favours!(flavours?)

  9. ds Avatar

    Coffee with chocolate (or chocolate w/coffee; I'm not fussy!)

    Clown name? Bookfoot

    Yours are much better!

  10. flutter Avatar


    dark chocolate
    red wine

    and i would rather eat my own eye than think about being a clown, so I guess my name would be Existential

  11. Voyager Avatar

    What a wonderful game your daughter thought up. My favourite lip smacker flavour is your family. I would like to plant a big kiss on all your cheeks for being so adorable.

  12. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Maybe you should send those flavor suggestions to the Lip Smacker company.

  13. geewits Avatar

    I'm not exactly sure what Lip Smackers are, but Lip Smacker seems like a good clown name. (Is it like flavored Chapstick?)

  14. christopher Avatar

    1. Coconut
    2. Blueberry
    3. Banana

    Ricky Ringdingaringo. Great exercise and now that the nice weather has arrived I can open our garage and search for our whiteboard…somewhere!

  15. Spider Girl Avatar
    Spider Girl

    Clowns scare me so I don't want to dwell on being one. 🙂

    However, just wanted to say that before last week I never even KNEW there was such a thing as a Playmobil sphinx and now I've PLAYED with one and here you've gone and mentioned them again. Synchronicity? I think SO!

  16. Deborah Avatar

    If possible, I would want one in Roquefort, but since I don't even know what lip smackers are…
    This dates me more than saying I could possibly be a grandmother at my age, and maybe I am already but they're in hiding.

    Clown name….Rufus Rofle

  17. MamaFox Avatar

    1. First sip of coffee
    2. Guacamole
    3. Extra burnt creme brulee

    Is this a prelude to your girls' blog? Or her talk show? Or, in the multimedia future, both. Thanks for the toy roadmap, the Fox follows…

  18. Deborah Avatar

    I'm sorry but I was so busy wracking my brains for a decent clown name (I left a desperate message on my daughter's Facebook wall hoping she could come up with a decent clown name – yeah, yeah I cheated and Rufus Rofle is hers) that I forgot to say that I love you too. Love this post. Love everything I've read of yours. I have to stop beating myself up that I can't be funny like you. Thank god there are people in the world like you.

  19. lime Avatar

    ok, before i answer i need to beg you to please collect a list of your favorite or even most recent questions of the day and send them to me so i can turn them into a meme. really, this is just ripe for the picking.

    and now the answers

    favorite three lipsmackers flavors:
    1. hugh jackman (in his hardworking drover who just poured a bucket of water over his fine torso, not so much in the wolverine phase because glossing ones lips with all that hair may be problematic)
    2. hot fudge sauce
    3.fudge covered hugh jackman

    clown name: ppfft. i'd be the ring master

  20. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I tenderly tucked a tube of Wasabi Lip Gloss into my daughter's Christmas loot, and my son got onion ring breath mints. He was grossed out, which was most satisfying. I suggested that he drop the tin in the Salvation Army bucket outside the supermarket. Other daughter got a bar of cat food scented soap. I went for elegant this year.

    Agreed about the easel, by the way. It's a gift that grows with your child, especially if it's sturdy.

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