Nancy Davis Kho

Nancy Davis Kho
Oakland, California, USA
April 30
I'm a writer, a reader, a bike wife, a mom, and a music fan. And they don't call me Aunt Blabby for nothing. I figure if half of you are laughing WITH me and the other half AT me, we're all still laughing. I look forward to finding out which side you're on.

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APRIL 17, 2012 10:09AM

An Education Vacation

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Last week was Spring Break around here, and many families took the opportunity to augment their children’s education by taking them to brainy places like Washington D.C. or the local science museums.

Not I.

The girls and I headed on down the road to Los Angeles, land of Fruit and Nuts, for a quick three day trip while my husband was busy earning his 1 Millionth work-related Frequent Flyer mile en route to St. Louis. (Yay, she said tepidly.)

Even so, I endeavored to make the trip an edifying one, particularly in the following disciplines:

1.)    Geography. I don’t know LA very well, and am easily hypnotized by the beauty of the street names “La Cienega” and “Sepulveda.” I like to chant those over and over, in a Letterman “Uma/Oprah” fashion. Since I was driving, I gave the 14 year old the map and directions and put myself in her hands.

When you learn to drive, one of the biggest lessons is to be thinking two or three moves ahead, so you can get into the proper lane ahead of time or know when an exit ramp is coming. A 14 year old hasn’t learned that yet. She says stuff like, “We should turn onto Manchester” when you are already driving on Manchester, or meets the question “Are we on Bali Road? Are we on Bali? Is this Bali?” with a shrug. Which resulted in me snapping, “Give me those directions!” within 5 minutes of putting the key in the ignition each time, which resulted in her having hurt feelings and me chanting “Cienega/Sepulveda” to bring my blood pressure down.

Eventually we found Lincoln Boulevard and just went places that were either a right hand or left hand turn off of it. Santa Monica, here we come AGAIN!

2.)    Civics. A walk through Venice Beach past the seagulls and Medical Marijuana Clinics prompted a lively discussion of states’ rights. Yes, pot is illegal in the U.S.  And in California. Unless you have a medical reason to use it. By the looks of those clinics and their “medical staffers,” all sporting hemp green clothes and nappy hair, the following conditions can all entitle you to a pass from California on legal pot smoking: cowlicks, a bad night’s sleep, or crow’s feet. But even if Cali says it’s ok, as we saw last week in Oakland, the Feds can still arrest you. Yes, it is confusing.

Bonus lesson: after walking through a couple of ganja clouds on our way to see the skateboarders, the youngest child began to walk with her hands bent at the elbows like she’d just scrubbed in for surgery. When I finally asked why, she said, “I HATE that smell, I just want to go home and scrub my hands clean of it. It’s disgusting. ” YES! YES IT IS! Remember that.

3.)    English. Sure, we could have gone to the Getty Museum for some art appreciation. But give us credit for Reading Hour: the afternoon interval in which we lounged in the beds that were covered with magazines, alternating between reading about the stylish flair of Beyoncé’s baby frontpack and what various members of One Direction consider a perfect date, as relayed to the literary scribes at Tiger Beat.

4.)    Foreign Language. Eating at the sublime sushi restaurant Sugarfish in Marina del Ray, we quickly learned the Japanese phrase for “Keep the cucumber rolls coming, Nozawa-san! You are a god!”

5.)    Mathematics – specifically, Probability. What were the odds that our three day trip to LA would coincide with one of the rainiest intervals the City of Angels has ever seen in spring? Very, very low – but we managed it! Remember, kids, the next time you think the odds are stacked against you, how we never once swam in the hotel pool.

6.)    Economics. The whole impetus behind the trip was a free 2-day stay we won for the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Ray at last year’s School Auction. (Another lesson in beating the odds.)

But even when the room is free, a $40/day parking fee, a $10 charge/day for Wifi access that I incurred by accident (blame my fading eyes and the small iPhone screen,) and breakfast waffles in the $20 range mean that this little jaunt cost us, and how. Every time the youngest looked longingly at the little can of Pringles in the mini-bar, I reminded her that if she so much as touched the lid, she’d be in hock to me for her allowance for at least three months.

So who says a trip that climaxes with a fleeting glimpse of Mario Lopez at a shopping mall can’t be educational too?

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I love it, Nancy! And yes, I've had those conversations with my kids over the tempting lovelies in the mini-bar. Great post!
I once had my son navigate when he was in grade two. He managed to do it flawlessly without using a map at all - I think he's geographically psychic. I assigned the economics of the trip, how and where we'd spend money, to my Type A fourth grader, and trash hauling to the kindergartner. I saved "Clever Small Talk 101" for the oldest - my 6th grader. And we had a ball. Excellent post - I had a good time following your logic - all the way back from Santa Monica!