Getting the lead out (or back)

Our pencils have wings.  They also have a home – a nice little cardboard holder mounted on our office’s outer door frame (this so that everyone always knows exactly where to locate a nicely sharpened pencil) – but once having departed, the poor pencils seem totally unable to find their way back home.  Every day, I sharpen the pencils that have accrued on or around my desk and put them back in the holder, and every day the pencil supply is smaller.

Each afternoon or evening or late night, I “flip” the boys’ academics.  This means I go over whatever they did that day, check and record scores on certain items, and then re-load their school boxes with whatever books, notebooks, checklists, and miscellaneous supplies (including pencils) they will need for the next day’s work.  Actually Josiah deals with his own pencils, but I always put three sharp one’s in Andrew’s school box.  I like to think that this has at least a slight positive effect on his irrepressible tendency to hop up from the table every four minutes.  He still hops, but it isn’t for want of a sharp pencil.

The problem is that the pencils that leave the office area never return under their own power.  Instead, I find them on Josiah’s desk, under the dining room table, on the kitchen floor, all over the living room, on the stairs, in Andrew’s room, and under Josiah’s bed.  Of course, when I find them, I sharpen them and return them to their nifty little holder, but tonight when I went to prepare Andrew’s school box for tomorrow, the holder sported a decided lack of lead.

I have found a great way to induce all the pencils in the house to rapidly congregate around the sharpener:  peanut butter cups.  Other chocolate also works.  Tonight’s version was actually some cheap Easter candy (chocolate with peanut butter and Nestle’s Crunch filling) I got on a deep discount at the grocery last week.

The proven procedure is as follows.  Mom calls the kids together and announces that she needs pencils.  One child – usually Andrew – says, “What will you give us?”  Mom then names her price; tonight’s being one chocolate/peanut butter/Nestle’s Crunch egg for every three pencils returned, with mechanical pencils score nothing.  She then commands the kids to go, and in something like 53 seconds, children appear in the office bearing fistfuls of pencils.

Tonight, for example, in less than a minute, Andrew brought six, Jessica brought three, and Josiah brought 12, two of which were mechanical.

Bottom line:  While I sat peacefully at my desk reviewing the geography of the Nile River, and for an investment of a mere six pieces of candy, 19 pencils magically reappeared.  The Llama sharpened them for me, and now the holder is cram-packed full.

Moral of the Story:  Why should a mom run, seek, stoop, grab, and sharpen when she has slaves children who will do it for her?


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