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December 23, 2006

Exit Interview From the Seventh Year


Athena, you are eight years old today. How does it feel to be eight?

I'm not eight yet.

What do you mean?

Because I'm not eight until 3:31.

Fine. Today is your eighth birthday. How does it feel to have reached such a momentous milestone?

I feel fine, except that you were just being sarcastic.

Well, I'm sarcastic out of love.


Do you have any advice to people from all your years of experience? You know, things you have learned that you want to share with people. For example, what have you learned about pets?

That they're cute and cuddly, unless you shave them.

Do you advocate shaving your pets?

No, because they're cute when they're not shaved.

Tell what you what you've learned about boys.

Some of them are really stupid. And, some of them are nice and smart. That makes them cute.

So, being smart and nice is more important than being good-looking?

Kind of.

What are your thoughts on education?

It's boring.

Why is it boring?

It just is.

How would improve your educational experience?

I would make it so that you could stay in your pajamas, and there would only be three minutes of school. And you would have helmets for learning, for math facts or something, instead of having the teacher tell you or to having to take time tests, because time tests stink.

Is there anything you like learning about?

I like outer space stuff. You learn stuff on posters, and for pictures they're really neat. You're on this planet, and you see more planets and falling stars. And space is so big that nobody's ever gone where it ends. And there's so many things to learn about space, and I like to learn, but not in the old-fashioned way.

Do you think there's life on other planets?

No, unless you see another human.

So we're all alone in the universe?

No, someone else could go with you in the rocket.

No, I mean, that humans the only intelligent species in the universe.

Yes. But there are animals in the universe.

In the last year, what have been some of your favorite books, movies, and music?

For books, Magic Treehouse books rule, and my favorite music is "Bring Me to Life" and "Since U Been Gone." For movies, I liked Hookwinked and Flushed Away.

What life lessons have you learned?

Not to crack your knuckles.

What's wrong with cracking your knuckles?

It's bad for you.

Any final thoughts for people? Any advice give them?

Yes, I have some advice. Never, and I mean ever, leave your cookies unattended.

Sage advice.


Posted by john at December 23, 2006 12:20 PM

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Jeff Hentosz | December 23, 2006 12:29 PM

My niece (and goddaughter) turned eight yesterday. I won't see her until after New Year, but when I do, I'll ask if she has any useful advice for Athena from her older, more experienced vantage point.

Happy Birthday, Athena. And Merry Christmas, Scalzis.

PixelFish | December 23, 2006 12:54 PM

Awesomeness. A child after my own heart. (My room was papered with National Geographic posters with maps of star systems and pictures of novae and things like that.)

I too also measured my birthday by the time and timezone in which it occured. 11.07 Mountain Standard. Anyway, a big happy birthday to Athena, Defender of Pluto, and future space explorer. :)

Tripp | December 23, 2006 01:09 PM

Wow! "Unattended" is not the kind of word many 8-year-olds would use. On the other hand not many parents would expect their 8-year-old to understand "advocate," either.

I'm thinking Athena has been hanging around with some very intelligent adults.

Mike Kozlowski | December 23, 2006 01:15 PM

Unasked question: "And how do you feel about being rooked out of presents every year, due to poor birthday timing on the part of your parents?"

Lisa | December 23, 2006 01:35 PM

She seems to have it pretty much figured out. Especially her take on boys and shaving pets. Nothing ticks a cat off more than having a lion cut shave. It's definitely funny but NOT cute.


And a big Merry Christmas, Scalzi Family!

Melissa | December 23, 2006 01:46 PM

If I ever have a child, I hope he or she is as cool as Athena. Of course, much of that probably hinges on me being as cool as you.

Do the other kids ever make fun of her name? I really like it, but I'm afraid some children might not feel the same way and would mock her.

TypesetJez | December 23, 2006 01:48 PM

Happy Birthday to Athena!

I've made a note on the "no pet shaving" and "no leaving cookies unattended" points, good advice indeed

Christian | December 23, 2006 02:02 PM

Athena - Happy Birthday. You are right about the knuckle cracking, that's very bad indeed (martial arts instructor - 25 years, take it from me, it's bad!)

Mike - Trust me, Athena does not have a bad birthday date. I'm a New Years kid, and it sucks. Nothing is open but Chinese restaurants and movie theaters, and everyone is hung over and depressed. Boo hoo for me :-)

Melissa - How can anyone make fun of a name that is described thusly: In Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of civilization, specifically wisdom, weaving, crafts and the allegedly more noble side of war, as violence and bloodlust were Ares's domain (wiki snip).

Dan | December 23, 2006 02:11 PM

*sigh* She did such an outstanding job at being a seven-year-old. I'm sure it'll be hard finding a replacement.

But, congratulate her for me on her promotion to eight-year-old. I hope her allowance will reflect the increase in her responsibilities.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale | December 23, 2006 02:53 PM

Another unasked question: "Did you know that in olden times, the 23rd wasn't a holiday?" Because she's lived her whole life sharing her birthday with Festivus.

For me it was bad enough having the Christmas eve eve date- hard to invite people over for parties and other expected complications. But now, now everyone does the combination Bday-Festivus gifts. How much aluminum does a person need?

Nick Stump | December 23, 2006 03:04 PM

What a sweet girl. My daughter Marea is 28 and living out her dream making house music in Chicago. She moved a couple of months ago and I've been a bit heartbroke ever since. I was a road musician the whole time she was growing up and though I'm proud of her success, I wish she she was a schoolteacher living down the street.

Steve Buchheit | December 23, 2006 03:04 PM

Happy, happy, Athena. Surely wise beyond one's years, thou art. Blessings to you in the coming year.

jeff ford | December 23, 2006 04:31 PM

As a teacher, I'm with your daughter on her proposed improvements to education. Long overdue.

John Scalzi | December 23, 2006 04:37 PM

She's a thinker ahead of her time, she is.

Cassie | December 23, 2006 04:38 PM

It's officially after 3:31, so

Happy Birthday, Athena.

Michelle K | December 23, 2006 04:48 PM

Happy Birthday Athena!

Hope as many cool things happen to you this year as happened to me when I was eight!

Michelle K

Steve Brady | December 23, 2006 05:24 PM

Now it's official, happy birthday Athena!

Richelle Mead | December 23, 2006 05:58 PM

Wow, let me add my birthday wishes. I'm pretty sure I never got anything so profound out of my junior high students.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | December 23, 2006 06:26 PM

Happy Birthday, Athena! =)

Nick Stump | December 23, 2006 07:15 PM

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays to all and a big happy birthday to Athena.

Nadai | December 23, 2006 08:15 PM

Happy Birthday, Athena!

Why do I suspect the cookie advice comes from (bad) experience?

Soni | December 23, 2006 09:22 PM

That cookie advice needs a beverage warning. Good thing I'd finished my evening snack of pinot grigio and gingerbread men a while back, or I might've spent my Christmas week hunting post-holiday keyboard sales. Not that I don't heartily agree.

Happy Birthday, Athena, and may we all learn to keep our most precious cookies close to hand.

Chang, who gets nothing done... | December 23, 2006 09:44 PM

Happpy Birthday, Athena! From all of us in Maine at Chang Household including your fan (and fellow cupcake afficianado), Sophia!

Sagittarians Rule! Capricorns Drool!

Djscman | December 23, 2006 10:38 PM

John and Athena, I read in "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" that it's okay to crack your knuckles. You should probably take this with a grain of salt, because you shouldn't believe everything you read, and Christian also says it's bad, just a few posts up. But at least two doctors say it doesn't hurt. At least, this internet stranger claims that two doctors say it doesn't hurt. As you turn eight years old, you should be learning to constantly question authority. Good luck!

Bruce Arthurs | December 24, 2006 01:21 AM

Y'know, every time "cracking knuckles" was mentioned in the post, and then every time it was mentioned in the comments...

...I cracked my knuckles.

Please don't mention ringing bells; the drool makes the keyboard disgusting.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | December 24, 2006 09:36 AM

Athena is eight? This can't be. Just last Tuesday she was five. I'm sure of it.

(Belated Happy Birthday, Athena!)

Nathan | December 24, 2006 10:31 AM

Sorry I missed your Birthday, Athena.

Hope it was a happy.

Now get out there and stomp on some more insolent minds.

Colin F | December 24, 2006 12:50 PM

Had forgotten that my son shares his birthday with such illustrious company. (Although he's only two.)

Hope your family had as good a day as we did.

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