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10 bics

June 15, 2012

All I ever really wanted when I was a kid was a mechanical pencil. But my father refused to buy me a mechanical pencil.

I have no idea why.

In keeping with the fact that history repeats itself, Maya demanded a mechanical pencil last week. And so of course I refused to buy her a mechanical pencil.

I have no idea why.

But whereas I kept my mouth shut and listened to my father, Maya had other plans. And her passive-aggressive comments were difficult to ignore.

“If I had a mechanical pencil I wouldn’t have to waste time standing in front of the trash can, sharpening these dumb old pencils.” Insert dramatic sigh.

She was right and I knew it. And yet I found myself quoting something straight out of my dad’s repertoire, “You are lucky to have a pencil.” Then I stood in front of the trashcan sharpening dozens of Maya’s No. 2’s, just to make a point. (get it?)

But just when I was about launch into Lecture 15.1b of Section 8 of the Indian parenting handbook, I had several epiphanies:

  • Homework Time with Maya is torture enough. There is no need to make it worse.
  • I have 100 better things to do than to sharpen Maya’s pencils.
  • It’s okay to give in to Maya if it makes my life easier.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be about the principal of the matter.
  • Indian parents don’t always have the best approach.

10 new Bic pencils for $2.99? I’m going to call this my best investment ever.

96 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2012 12:18 am

    It makes her happy = it makes you happy. good decision!

  2. June 15, 2012 12:22 am

    LoL. best investment ever..

  3. glamorous glutton permalink
    June 15, 2012 1:16 am

    What is it about the mechanical pencil, I was desperate for one as a child. When the Glam Teens were old enough and before they asked I bought them one of these treasures each. Neither of them could see the point of a mechanical pencil and prefer to stand and sharpen!! So it just proves we always want what we can’t have. Sometimes giving in is the right thing to do- especially when a bargain’s involved! GG

    • June 16, 2012 4:43 pm

      Wait, what? They wanted to sharpen pencils? I’m so confused.

  4. June 15, 2012 1:23 am

    Heh, there could be much worse demands. Mommy, I NEED an ipad!
    That being said I’d have refused on the principle that I hate them. They always seem to break way to easily. But maybe I just press too hard when writing…

    • June 16, 2012 4:44 pm

      Maya presses really hard when writing. So it’s no wonder she’s already through about 70% of her new pencils….

  5. June 15, 2012 2:28 am

    Hahaha I remember mechanical pencils being so convenient, but old school is always the best. It used to feel good to write so hard for such a long time the blunt, short pencil is a sign of accomplishmemt 😉

    • June 16, 2012 4:45 pm

      My dad would be so proud of your sign of accomplishment. No really!

  6. June 15, 2012 2:57 am

    I agree, good decision 🙂

  7. June 15, 2012 4:31 am

    My dad wouldn’t let me have mechanical pencils EITHER!!! And he was Scotch-Irish. Go figure.
    In protest, I have purchased my children lots and lots of mechanical pencils. AND an electric pencil sharpener. So now the only pencils I have to sharpen are eye pencils.

    • June 16, 2012 4:46 pm

      Good thing I don’t wear any eye make up…no need for me to sharpen anything any more!

  8. June 15, 2012 4:34 am

    I did not even know what a mechanical pencil even was! I did want an electric toothbrush growing up and was never bought one…

    • June 16, 2012 4:46 pm

      I never wanted an electrical toothbrush…and maybe that’s why I just had my second root canal?

  9. June 15, 2012 4:40 am

    like i said earlier, you’re the coolest mom ever ameena!! 😀

  10. June 15, 2012 4:51 am

    just wanted to drop in and say hi (reading from phone these days so less comments). give her one of those pencils with the like 10 little lead things enclosed. remember those?

    • June 16, 2012 4:47 pm

      I do remember those! So funny. I loved lead. Strange as that sounds.

  11. June 15, 2012 4:54 am

    Ha, I’m intrigued by your father’s reasoning. Sounds like you made a very good investment!

  12. June 15, 2012 5:03 am

    When I was a kid, mechanical pencils were discouraged in school, and I still have no clue why. Reading this post makes me want to go back and ask my second grade teacher what the hating was all about!

    • June 16, 2012 4:47 pm

      I actually think that mechanical pencils lead to better, sharper writing. So I can’t imagine why they were discouraged?

  13. June 15, 2012 5:10 am

    Oh boy I have to side with Maya today- those damn HB2 pencils are a nuisance and a half…unless of course you have one of those cool mechanical sharpeners which you just stick the pencil in and then it does the labor for you…or in her case, a mom who will sharpen the pencils for her ;)! In this day and age, if Maya’s requests extend to mechanical pencils, I think you have raised her mighty well my friend!

    • June 16, 2012 5:52 pm

      I considered the electric sharpener but then the idea of having to take Maya to the ER when she inevitably decides to stick her finger inside just didn’t seem too appealing…

  14. Jennifer G permalink
    June 15, 2012 5:25 am

    To funny! I also coveted mechanical pencils and my parents said no. So I took an old pen, broke off a bunch of sharpened leads from existing pencils, shoved them down the pen tube and made my own mechanical pencil. (I also dragged a stuffed dog around the block, on a leash, 2x a day until I got a real dog) It was very sad. As soon as my kids got the kick I bought them their own.

    • June 16, 2012 5:53 pm

      I am actually quite impressed with your ingenuity! You’re like a MacGyver Jennifer!

  15. June 15, 2012 5:28 am

    Good plan, Ameena! Actually you can probably get them at the dollar store, that’s where I get Ralph’s because he’s always drawing and always losing his pencils! Sometimes I think He’s 8 years old!! Have a great weekend!

    • June 16, 2012 5:53 pm

      I wish we had a dollar store near us but I can’t even get to a Target without driving for 30 minutes. This is the problem with city-living….

  16. June 15, 2012 6:03 am

    I wasn’t allowed to have mechanical pencils until I was at least in junior high, so I feel this pain. Apparently it’s a very exciting thing for elementary aged kiddos… all of my students say in awe “is that a MECHANICAL pencil??”

    • June 16, 2012 5:54 pm

      I remember being SO excited! There’s just something about elementary school kids and stationary…

  17. June 15, 2012 6:19 am

    I was not allowed mechanical pencil either until I was 12 (I think). I agree, it’s one of the best (time-wise) investment ever! 🙂
    Have a great weekend!

    • June 16, 2012 5:54 pm

      Thanks Lydia…hope you have a great weekend as well!

  18. June 15, 2012 7:46 am

    A girl’s first mechanical pencil is always a memorable experience.

  19. June 15, 2012 8:26 am

    I never had mechanical pencil issues when I was a kid. I always would run out of lead during exams, though. So when Maya gets older, remind her to always have an extra on hand!

    • June 16, 2012 5:58 pm

      Good point. I will set her up with a hefty supply of lead!!

  20. June 15, 2012 8:37 am

    your logic is sound my friend! hope you guys have a good weekend

  21. June 15, 2012 9:04 am

    I hate mechanical pencils…always have. Guess I must be a distant relative of your father’s… Really I want to know if you keep a pair of binoculars on your window sill to spy on all your neighbors? Is that creepy? So many people to look at right out your window. (All we have is birds and deer…not as exciting…)

    • June 16, 2012 5:59 pm

      We do have a pair of binoculars and Maya spies on the neighbors all the time. I just hope that nobody can see into our unit!

  22. June 15, 2012 9:20 am

    Smart woman. Sometimes just making a point is not the point. 😉

  23. June 15, 2012 9:23 am

    When I was a kid, I think I must have lost numerous pencils, which may be why my mom used to break the pencil into two, sharpen them and then I’d have 2 small pencils. Or may be I was happier with 2 of something than only 1? 😀

    I agree with Maya, they’re a waste of time. LOL at your epiphanies and LOL at the binoculars comment above 😀 😀 😀

    • June 16, 2012 6:00 pm

      Love your mom’s logic…sometimes I pull stuff like that with Maya but it’s getting harder and harder as she gets older!

  24. June 15, 2012 9:24 am

    POINT…I see what you did there. 🙂

    She had a logical reason for wanting mechanical pencils. When I was growing up we would all just use the excuse that everyone else had them so we needed them too. Take comfort in knowing Maya understands practicality before peer pressure. I don’t think I had any until I was a bit older (maybe ten), but times have changed. I vote that it was a good investment.

    • June 16, 2012 6:01 pm

      Yay! Finally someone got my little joke.

      I try not to fall for that “but everybody else has them” argument but I think it will get harder to ignore as she gets older. I want her to fit in and if a mechanical pencil will do that then why not, right? 🙂

  25. June 15, 2012 9:47 am

    I too was obsessed with mechanical pencils – specifically, the .5 variety. Actually, I still am. Other than signing documents, I prefer using pencils.

    • June 16, 2012 6:02 pm

      Me too! I use pencils at work unless I am signing something. And I’m all about .5. What’s the point of .7? I don’t get the appeal.

      • June 18, 2012 10:07 am

        I don’t get it either. And, it smears. No thanks.

  26. June 15, 2012 10:33 am

    Lol this sounds very familiar to me! My dad always had speeches for me when I was a kid but now it is even more painful because I have to listen to him tell my 20yr old bro the same thing. I try to ignore it or I eventually get all “social worky” on him. Ha ha

    Agreed not everything “the parents” do makes sense! LOL

    • June 16, 2012 6:02 pm

      Social worky…I love it. I think we all have our moments!!

      I wish history didn’t repeat itself….

  27. Lisa permalink
    June 15, 2012 10:51 am

    I’m still not allowed to have a mechanical pencil. My type A personality makes me press down really hard and I break off more of the lead than I write. Old skool #2 wood pencils for me!

    • June 16, 2012 6:03 pm

      Too funny Lisa…my Type-A personality loves the mechanical pencil’s precision…

  28. June 15, 2012 11:10 am

    oh my god- i dont get the deal with the mechanical pencil. you just made my gloomy friday into a happy one 🙂

    • June 16, 2012 6:04 pm

      So glad Dixyya! Hope the weekend is going better for you!

  29. June 15, 2012 2:18 pm

    Gosh!!! You sharpen Maya’s pencils??? Hats off to your patience lady!! I think buying those mechanical pencils for Maya was a good thing 🙂

    • June 16, 2012 6:04 pm

      I sharpen her pencils…but not happily. And not anymore! Yay for Bic!

  30. June 15, 2012 2:32 pm

    lol I used to think mechanical pencils were the absolute coolest thing ever. Now I hate them. Now, I would much rather have a regular pencil but there are never any sharpeners around anymore, so I have to use the mechanical ones.
    However, to avoid the sharpening alone, I think you made the right choice.

    • June 16, 2012 6:05 pm

      Sharpeners bring a whole other slew of problems…I feel your pain Leah.

  31. anywherethereisanairport permalink
    June 15, 2012 3:24 pm

    Mechanical or not you can tell a good pencil by the eraser. I can be a total OCD case and mechanical pencils were a must for me! Maya just better not break off all of the leads!

    • June 16, 2012 6:05 pm

      She’s breaking the leads like there’s no tomorrow. Sigh…

  32. June 15, 2012 5:37 pm

    I never had a mechanical pencil either; now, I wonder what else I was deprived of…;)

    • June 16, 2012 6:05 pm

      As I get older I realize I was deprived of some basic necessities!

  33. June 15, 2012 6:11 pm

    And the great thing is that the next time Maya wants something rather superfluous, you can remind her of the mechanical pencils purchase to negate the future request!

    • June 16, 2012 6:06 pm

      Such a good point. I’m keeping a note of this one.

  34. June 15, 2012 6:31 pm

    I adore mechanical pencils too. But I think it has to do with my Sudoku obsession. Good call, Mom.

    • June 16, 2012 6:06 pm

      Funny…I love numbers but I get so easily frustrated with Sudoku!

  35. June 15, 2012 11:28 pm

    Mechanical pencils or “lead pencils” as we called them growing up (don’t ask) were the bomb! I’ll never forget the day a girl in my class bought in colored pencil refills – I begged and I begged to no avail!

    • June 16, 2012 6:07 pm

      I’ve never heard of such a thing! Amazing. I am so intrigued right now.

  36. June 16, 2012 5:26 am

    Ha so funny. My kids have these pencils but they press too hard and break them all the time (well, the teenager no longer does this but I can’t buy lead fast enough for the 8yo), The 8yo does enjoy the electric sharpener though so he is not really pencil picky.

    • June 16, 2012 6:07 pm

      I was scared to buy Maya an electric sharpener because I envisioned the day she couldn’t help but stick her finger inside.

      I’m not up for an ER visit right now!!

  37. June 16, 2012 10:29 am

    Aww.. she’s so right though Ameena, it is such a waste of time sharpening pencils. I hate sharpening my eyeliner, but I love only a couple kinds. What a bargain for $3. 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend.

    • June 16, 2012 6:07 pm

      Good thing I don’t wear eyeliner…no need to sharpen anything any more! 🙂

  38. June 16, 2012 5:58 pm

    Absolutely! Some battles are simply not worth fighting, especially when the problem can be solved cheaply!

    • June 16, 2012 6:08 pm

      Not sure why it took me so long to understand that? I have problems.

  39. June 17, 2012 8:36 pm

    That’s great. Now both sides are happy! So have you ever asked your dad why he didn’t want to buy you mechanical pencils? 🙂

  40. June 18, 2012 4:23 am

    Great decision! When I was younger, gel pens and mechanical pencils were the most glorious things possible (followed closely by pretty stickers, preferably with glitter). Haha, your blog makes me so nostalgic. 🙂


  41. June 18, 2012 4:51 am

    Here’s my question, do mechanical pencils really save time since they break every 2 seconds? And I always thought my parents were Russian and Italian but according to your post, they were “Indian parents” that explains my love of Indian cuisine. All makes sense.

  42. June 18, 2012 6:01 am

    I can’t imagine life without my bics! You made the right call.

  43. June 18, 2012 11:14 am

    I LOooooooVE mechanical pencils!!! Just sayin’ Xx

  44. June 18, 2012 2:41 pm

    Love the last point… ” Indian parents don’t always have the best approach” LOL
    Now I need to buy my boy a mechanical pencil too…..

  45. June 19, 2012 3:44 pm

    sounds like a good investment to me! 🙂

  46. June 19, 2012 6:53 pm

    Sometimes the best move is the one that makes life easier for the both of you. 🙂 We love mechanical pencils in this house!

  47. June 20, 2012 9:13 am

    Ameena this post is so cute. My kids don’t stay quiet either, about much. Although, I didn’t either when I was younger with my mom, so I guess this isn’t so surprising from my kids!!! All of my kids us mechanical pencils. They swear by them. Funny, I know.

    Ameena, thank you for your touching response on on my blog upon finding out that we had our baby. I enjoy your friendship and appreciate it so much,

    Take care,


  48. willgoh2 permalink
    June 20, 2012 12:12 pm

    Dunno about your Maya, but mine (7yo) doesn’t have the delicate manual dexterity to use a mechanical pencil. Rather, I should say, she can use the mechanical pencil, but she has difficulties replacing the lead in the little chamber, getting that stupid little itty bitty eraser to erase without pushing the lead out the other way (use the regular eraser, damn it!), and adjusting the lead without it spilling out because she’s held down the eraser too long, or adjusting her pressure so the lead itself doesn’t keep breaking.

    An electric sharpener is the way to go. Win win.

    • June 21, 2012 1:39 pm

      But don’t you worry your kids will stick their fingers in it? I fear that Maya would!

      • willgoh2 permalink
        June 23, 2012 10:20 pm

        How thin is Maya’s finger? I don’t think it’s possible, or rather, it may be possible to stick a finger in but I don’t think her finger will actually be able to trigger the motor to run because that’s beyond the blade right? I’d possibly worry about the blade slicing her finger but not shredding. 🙂

      • June 24, 2012 8:31 am

        She has thin fingers…but you make a good point Will!

  49. June 21, 2012 8:39 am

    I’m all for mechanical pencils. I tutor a boy who wastes so much time sharpening pencils! Good for you for giving in!

  50. June 21, 2012 9:20 am

    I always feel that mechanical pencils break easier, but maybe they make em better today. I always spring for the fancy Ticonderoga pencils because cheap pencils are the biggest pain to sharpen and then they just break.

  51. June 21, 2012 7:16 pm

    Getting mechanical pencils was The Most Exciting part of 2nd grade. And then I had to pick which one to use because they were all different colors. GOD it was so overwhelming.

    Sarah’s Key was definitely a PITA to get into. It was a good book but based on the effort, I don’t know that I would do it again, to be honest.

  52. Gayatri permalink
    June 25, 2012 3:59 pm

    It makes you both happy and it makes your life easier! Well done. My parents denied me that pencil too so I saved my pocket money and bought myself one. Boy were they mad.

    • June 25, 2012 8:23 pm

      I used to do the same thing! Not with pencils but with other stuff. It was the best revenge. 🙂

  53. June 26, 2012 4:32 pm

    best investment ever! You are funny Ameena 😀 😀

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