Mislaid Best Laid Plans, Stash It or Trash It?

Food For Thought: Are Mealtimes Hurting Your Child’s Academic Prospects?

Everyone wants their children to get into the best college possible, but if your kids are anything like mine – especially if your kids are anything like mine – it’s not going to happen all by itself. People sign their children up for everything these days from toddler SAT prep classes to organic, free-range piano lessons to competitive bonsai leagues to give them an edge on college applications.

Those are all good ideas, but they’re a little too labor intensive for my taste. If only there were a way to make my kids smart without all the hassle. Then I remembered the time-honored tradition of putting a textbook under your pillow the night before a test so your brain can absorb the information while you slept. That’s when I hit upon the idea of using educational placemats at all of our meals.



So while little Timmy and Susie are slurping up SpaghettiOs, they are also learning the atomic weight of silicon and the capital of Sudan. It’s works on the same principle as the textbook under the pillow, only it’s more nutrient dense. I was confident that, in time, my children would be just like my idea: both genius.


Confessions Retro Housewife Educational Placemats 2


Before you scoff at the power of the placemat, consider this little-known fact: scientists de-classified Pluto as the ninth planet in our solar system because it was often covered up by a napkin.


Confessions Solar System Placemat
Yes, yes, I know that in a proper place setting the napkin would be on the opposite side, but Pluto could just as easily have been covered by a blob of mac n cheese.


I was sure there was no way my idea could miss. Then I went to a parent-teacher conference and learned that my children were (gasp) performing at grade level. There had to be some kind of mistake and they were mixing up my kids with someone else’s kids who used plain old placemats. But the teacher simply handed me a list of competitive bonsai tutors in our area while I was left sputtering, “but, but the educational placemats…”

When I got home, I looked at the placemats to see where I’d gone wrong. We were currently using this placemat:


And that’s when I noticed the problem:

It seems like something is missing…

It’s hard to be a 21st century genius when you’re operating on 20th century information. So maybe the Ivy League isn’t in their future, but there are some advantages to living in the past:

  1. They have no idea who the Kardashians are, giving them one less thing to have to keep up with.

2. Play dates with the Amish kids down the street are less awkward.

3. Pluto is still a planet, so when you say My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine    Pizzas as a way to remember the names and order of the planets in our solar system, it makes sense. Now that Pluto has been demoted, 21st century kids are all left wondering what nine things my very excellent mother just served us, leading to many sleepless nights. Thanks for nothing, International Astronomical Union.

I could retire this placemat (just like Pluto) but I think I’ll keep it. It will come in handy the next time we party like it’s 1999.