The Children's Learning Institute
By Kelley Cunningham
Professors: Bam-Bam Rubble, Calvin and Hobbes, Eddie Haskell
Senior Lecturers: PigPen, Lucy VanPelt and Max from Where the Wild Things Are
Guest Lecturers: Everybody Else’s Kids
Course Offerings for the Fall Semester
CLI 220 Telecommunications for Today’s Families
This course examines the power of the telephone and how you can harness it. We will discuss how you should refuse to answer the phone even though you’re sitting right next to it. A large portion of this course will cover strategies for pretending you didn’t hear the phone ring when questioned by your angry mother who just ran to get the call and missed it. We will also discuss the ease in which messages can be forgotten without ever communicating them to your parents. This is a basic course. More complicated methods of driving your parents to cellular distraction are discussed in CLS 351-Texting…They Just Don’t Get It.
CLI 151 The Power of Minutiae
Every parent’s favorite hobby is looking for lost objects. This course examines methods you can learn to assist them in this character-building avocation. We will discuss the necessity of unloading your backpack in a different location every day, and how to train yourself to never leave a room without picking up a small object and moving it to a place where it doesn’t belong. Special items discussed will be AA batteries, scotch tape, library books and Cub Scout neckerchief slides because of the ease in which you can learn to make these items utterly vanish. Taken together with CLS 225-Leaving Your Retainer at McDonalds fulfills the Absentmindedness credit requirement if majoring in Driving Your Parents Insane.
Your parents love to answer your questions because they think they’re so great. That is, until you’ve learned the methods we discuss in this course. Take ‘em down a peg with questions like “Is it possible to make an ice cube that melts more slowly than a regular one?’ “What if aliens had ATM cards?” “Why did you decide to have children?” Also covered in this course is the phenomenon of the complex question no parent could possibly answer in one sentence, such as “Why is there weather?” Learn how to frustrate them further as you lose interest and change the subject as they fumble for an explanation. This course involves field research with real parents as subjects on which to practice your methods. Your research will be complete when the subjects begin to sob, hug their knees, rock themselves, and swat at imaginary flies.
CLI 320 Bedtime Stalling for the Graduate Student
(Prerequisite: CLI 101-Just One More Story, Pleeeeease?)
You’ve been through the “Can I have a drink of water?” bit. They’re not buying it anymore. But now that you’re older you can learn to have more control at bedtime using creative techniques they will never see coming. We’ll talk about flooding the bathroom as you shower, developing a checklist of obsessive things to take care of before bed, and working up elaborate scenarios to question your parents about as they try to kiss you goodnight. Learn that asking, in a plaintive voice, “Can we talk about something serious?” will buy you, on average, another 45 minutes before lights finally go out. Further research into the morning fatigue that follows a late bedtime will include units on snooze alarms, falling asleep in your bowl of Trix and general crabbiness. Your reward for repeated exhibitions of these behaviors will be interesting and amusing parental scorn and derision.
CLI 215 Creative Blaming
This course goes way beyond the “He started it!” paradigm. We’ll practice ways of weaving a story of cause and effect too complicated and contradictory to sort out, and you’ll learn to do it on the fly in a different way each time. The point at which Mom goes and lies down with a sick headache is the point at which you know you’ve prevailed, and that will allow you and your brother to pummel each other in uninterrupted peace. But it doesn’t stop there, because you can’t enjoy yourself if you know Mom is resting. The second half of the course examines methods of injuring yourself and/or your sibling(s) just enough to cause a minor amount of blood to flow.
CLI 315 Keep Them On Their Toes
This course is essential to any child who cares about his or her childing skills. You’ve gotten your parents through the potty training and ear infection stages, so now is no time to let them think they can stop worrying about you. Learn the power of the out-of-the-blue question, like “Mom? Can I have a gun?” Random statements such as “I think I want to work at Arby’s when I grow up because they have the coolest name tags” or “I told the teacher that we put out the most wine bottles on recycling day,” spoken while Mom is taking you to piano lessons often produces really fun, swervy, and entertaining driving. Learn to casually mention, at bedtime, that the money for the field trip is due tomorrow, and it has to be in cash. Make these techniques work for you.
CLI 175 The Element of Surprise
Every so often it’s really handy to clean up your room or cut the grass without them asking first. It won’t matter if you do a lousy job, because it’s all about you taking the initiative, son. The key here is infrequency. We will examine logarithm tables highlighting the point at which returns will start to diminish, and how to space your efforts just far enough apart where they will never expect you to do anything. The second half of the semester will be spent in learning the delicate art of popping in unexpectedly, for example, when Mom is getting dressed, when your parents are having sex, or as Mom is talking to the neighbor about your report card. Just hang around, look innocent, then ask for something. They’ll say yes to almost anything, just to get you to go away. It works like magic.
Need more Kelley? A hefty collection of her great essays, What's the Matter With Mommy?, is now available on Amazon.com.
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