Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Today I was working on my column for October, having gotten my deadline extended just a bit by my new editor who has yet to get used to my procrastinating ways. After I finished the column, I posted this on Facebook:

"Writing is expensive. No, not Writers Digest magazine or online classes, but paying Jenny $5 to let me put in that paragraph about her making apple crisp and I think the orange-pop-on-the-ceiling story about Steven will set me back at least $10. Yes, I'm desperate.

A lady named Valerie Martin commented: "Trying to decide if it's free-market capitalism or extortion. :o)"

And Katie Troyer said:
You are going to end up in the Poor House.

So I thought maybe I should explain how this works in this household.

I have a policy that I don't write about the children in my newspaper column without their permission, and they have veto power over anything I write about them. This would be much easier if I always worked on the column two weeks ahead of the deadline, or if they never did anything they didn't want the world to know about. [On the other hand, what on earth would I write about if they were that well-behaved??]

But when I'm down to the wire with my deadline and sitting here furiously typing, with everyone else off to school, and with my hair uncombed, and a wild look in my eyes like the ghost of the butcher's first wife in Fiddler On the Roof, well I am way beyond considering the tender feelings of the poor little Smucker darlings. I've just GOT TO GET THIS DONE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

That's how I was today, with the Looming Deadline at noon.

But then I had a moment of sanity, remembering how wrong things have gone with a recent column or two, and I reconsidered.

See, I had written this very accurate paragraph about how Jenny made apple crisp the other day and fussed almost the entire time.

But oh, the dilemma, because if you have a third of the article pinned on this example, you have to rework the whole stinkin' thing if the child says you can't use that story.

I called her up at school.
Me: Hey, Jenny. I wrote about you in my article and I want to know if it's ok. Here, I'll read it to you. [read read read]
Jenny: No, Mom!
Me: But it's true, isn't it?
Jenny: Well, yeah, but I don't want people to know that about me!
Me: How much will you charge?
Jenny: Five dollars!
Me: Deal!

Now I'll let you decide if that's bribery, extortion, or good old American capitalism.

Another example I used was Steven's exploding can of orange pop. I told him this last night. He said, "Moooooooommmmm...!" I could hear the abacus beads clicking in his head and as mentioned above I thought sure this was going to cost me a good $10. But he settled for $7.

I'm still making a slight profit, and I can probably file these under Expenses when I do my taxes.

I also mentioned Paul's mom in the article, so I emailed her those paragraphs for approval, and she didn't charge me a thing.


  1. Treva (Bear) Eicher10/05/2011 5:16 AM

    I'm laughing... but I think it's great that your children have a voice in this! Now I'm waiting to see that October column.

  2. Nancy Ainsworth10/05/2011 7:20 AM

    Oh, have they got you going in their little operation! Very clever of them...maybe we should hold a "Save Mrs.Smucker From Hostage-Holding by Her Own Children" rally! (Laughing)

  3. Score one for mother-in laws!! :)
    My almost-20-year-old son finally admitted that he's realizing that the things that used to embarrass him about his folks just aren't a deal anymore. (I recall his mortification several years ago when we were discussing in front of some bystanders what kind of razor to buy him. In his humiliation, he decided to skip it for the moment!)
    I was talking with some oft-humiliated adolescents Sunday. I told them they've embarrassed their mom every bit as often as she's embarrassed them! :)
    Do what it takes, Dorcas-- keep writing! -PC in VA

    PS- Don't tell my son i told you about the razor! I don't want to pay $5 for divulging that info!!

  4. So THAT'S how you do it! I wish I'd have been that smart.

  5. Too Funny-Love your ways of handling that, my children are so desperate for money right now, I'm sure they'd gllet you use there bloopers in life!!! Loretta

  6. Dorcas, let me just say...hahahahahahaha!!! Love it.

  7. Thanks, this came in handy last night when I realized that I could offer something he wanted for something I wanted. It was so much fun than the alternative.