Friday, December 29, 2006

Somewhere in Middle America

We had an excellent extended Christmas holiday and an easy drive home yesterday. For the first two hours of the drive, Paolo played with his new Star Wars figurines. Then he ate lunch, went to sleep, and woke in good cheer. About five hours into the trip, I asked him if he'd like to watch a video, in case he'd forgotten about that screen two feet in front of his face. He declined, citing his preference for "sitting back and relaxing." Once it got dark outside, he watched a couple 30-minute videos, and then we sang and talked and laughed until we got home. He was so good it almost made me want to let him keep all of his new toys. Almost. Paolo removed his pants within five minutes of entering the house, and put up a colossal fight over every single bite of his dinner, so everything is pretty well back to normal. This weekend we are looking forward to a massive toy reorganization and deaccessioning. It's either that or adopt twelve children just so all the toys get played with.

For a certain pair of readers who may be missing the pitter-patter of little feet (and the floor-shaking THUD of those feet jumping off of the furniture), here's a transcript of my bedtime conversation with Paolo last night:

Paolo, with a great sigh: I just really want to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Me: We'll go back again, honey, but we had to come back to our house.

Paolo: Why?

Me: Because this is where we live.

Paolo: I don't like Arkansas. I like Florida.

Me: Florida is where your other grandparents live. You mean Nebraska.

Paolo: I want to live in Abraska.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Party 2006: I didn't offend any mothers, but I did try to poison their children

I went to Paolo's school holiday party yesterday afternoon. I had signed up to bring something because I'm involved like that. All the obvious picks were taken, like cookies, cupcakes, candy canes, cheese cubes, so I decided on baby pickles - sweet gherkins, to be exact. As I drove to school, bowl of pickles beside me, I started to second-guess the wisdom of my offering. Oh well, if the kids don't like them, they'll pass over them when they fill their tiny plates. No big deal. When I walked into the classroom, the children were already sitting at their tables with enough sugar on their plates to keep them awake until the ball drops on New Year's. I casually put the bowl down next to the other food and went to find Paolo. The teacher didn't catch my please-don't-notice-me-or-my-pickles vibe and loudly announced, HEY EVERYBODY, PAOLO brought PICKLES. That made me cringe because I don't think it's fair to drag Paolo into this. Give him a few years and he'll be begging me not to come to his school parties toting strange food: "My friends don't eat hummus. Please can't I just bring a bag of cheetos? Why do you hate me?"

The teacher walked around to each child offering BABY PICKLES! Aren't they CUTE? Many refused through mouthfuls of red and green frosting, some accepted out of curiosity, and some were forced to accept by their mothers. (Because dads? They don't go to school parties, the wimps.) By now you're probably wondering why I'm so worked up over introducing a measly bowl of pickles to a roomful of three-year-olds. It's not like I passed out raw garlic and tabasco soup. What's the worst that could happen? Well, I am in a position to tell you, because THE WORST is exactly what transpired.

All of the following happened in slow motion. The first children stuck out their tongues to taste their pickle, screwed up their faces, shuddered, and put the pickle back on their plates. The less hesitant took a bite and, perhaps feeding off of the anxiety of the other children, screamed in horror and flung their pickles across the table like live grenades. I didn't need to duck because I had already crawled under Paolo's chair in embarrassment. The most sensitive tots actually wept after taking a bite, and there's nothing grosser than a little kid sobbing with pickle juice and snot running down his face. In the midst of this chaos was my perfectly serene Paolo, snacking contentendly and asking if we were going home now. Yes, I think I've brought enough pain to this festive occasion.

The teacher told me later that some kids at her table enjoyed their pickles and requested more. It might even be true because just about a whole jar of sweet gherkins disappeared. But from where I was sitting (crouching), I turned a happy classroom Christmas party into Viet Nam.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

The last time I took Paolo to the grocery store, he was feeling more than a little mischevious. We had selected a grocery cart with a bench seat, which is a horrible contraption because the buckles are broken and nothing stops a hyperactive toddler from jumping out at will. Nothing except my reprimands, which lately go unheeded. The trip dragged on so long I could see liver spots forming on my clenched hands pushing the grocery cart in four-feet increments. Finally, I snapped and demanded in my most serious parental tone--the one that lets him know I mean business, without scaring anyone who might overhear into calling a hotline--that Paolo get in the cart and STAY in the cart. Paolo climbed aboard and cheerfully threatened to punch me in the belly. Now, I knew that he wasn't going to lay a hand on me, but I can't say the same for the OTHER SHOPPERS whose eyebrows flew off their faces.

I related this story later to Sam, who looked awfully guilty as he listened. Apparently, when Sam goes shopping with Paolo on Monday afternoons, he tells him the grocery cart is pirate jail. When Paolo wants out of pirate jail, he punches Sam in the belly, and Sam stops and lets him jump out. It's a system they have. I asked Sam why he couldn't have come up with another signal for Paolo to use when he wanted to walk beside the cart, like, call me crazy, words? He shook his head very gravely and said, "No can do. There's only one way out of pirate jail." I'm living with two nut cases. Send help.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Unless you meant "I" for Indigenous People

Paolo had homework Monday night, which strikes me as odd because, last time I checked, he's in daycare. We call it school because we want to feel better about ourselves for not staying at home teaching him world capitals and Latin, but really it's daycare. Yes, the teachers provide instruction in early learning concepts, such as the alphabet and colors and days of the week, but Paolo had that stuff wrapped up ages ago. In fact, his teachers have asked me for tips. Repetition and electrical current will do the trick.

The homework assignment was to write down three words that begin with the letter of the week. That's actually a game I play with Paolo - thinking of words that start with a certain letter...with mild electric shocks. "No, I'm sorry, circle starts with C not S. Good try." Zzzzzt. Unfortunately, the letter of the week is I. I really did want Paolo to do this on his own, but I?? His first guess was eyeball. Fair enough, but technically, no. Zzzzzt. So we helped him along with clues leading to ice, igloo, and in.

Paolo also had to bring in an item for Show and Tell that starts with the letter of the week or the color of the week, which is white. Is it just me or is this unnecessarily hard? Sam saved the day by suggesting Paolo's toy R2-D2. It's white, and if Paolo should have to talk about it, he could, even if just to say this is mine and if you touch it I will break your fingers. I noticed today that some children had indeed brought something starting with I, and their names and items were written on a big sheet of paper taped up on the classroom wall, with the letter I circled for emphasis. I was disappointed by my lack of creativity until I read the list. Parents, teachers, Native American does not start with I.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

What would you not give?

I try not to get too caught up in tragic events, but I do have something to say about the Kim family. The main story, of course, is that James Kim set off into the bitterly cold wilderness on a superhuman mission to get help for his stranded family, a mission that sacrificed his life. Every news report writes a line about how the Kims had very little food with them, and that, once the food ran out, Kati Kim breastfed her two children, seven months old and four years old. That's the part of the story that affects me the most, that puts me in the frigid car, melting snow for water.

What new mother hasn't had dreams she wakes up from in a cold sweat because of some imagined threat to her baby? When Paolo was an infant, I had my share of horrible dreams of being lost or stranded and struggling to survive. I’d wake in a panic, my heart racing, wondering how to save my baby. It brought me comfort to know I could feed him, wherever we were, and as long as I could stay hydrated, I could keep him alive. That would be enough to soothe me back to sleep. When I read about Kati Kim nursing her children in the absence of food, I knew that her most horrible dream had come true. Thankfully, Kati had decided seven months ago to breastfeed her new baby, and she hadn’t stopped. According to the 2004 National Immunization Survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of mothers reported ever breastfeeding their infants, 36% reported still breastfeeding at six months, and 18% reported breastfeeding at 12 months. Any responsible, caring father like James Kim would have risked his life to better the chances of his family’s survival, but only one in four mothers with babies over six months old would have been able to keep their children nourished when the food ran out. One in four.

The Kim children have two heroes for parents, and I just wanted to point that out because I haven’t heard anyone else say it. I don’t know what the lesson to be learned from this tragedy is. I guess it teaches us that our nightmares can come true, and at least one in four new mothers will be able to get back to sleep tonight.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

As if I needed a reason to skip the office holiday party

It's that time again. Working stiffs everywhere are gearing up for their annual corporate holiday party, and I just got my emailed invitation. Oh good, I'm invited. Usually, I'm a fan of a free meal at a swanky place, but this year my office party will be held at a mediocre local restaurant with a buffet. It's not what I consider sufficient compensation for spending my free time with people I wouldn't normally associate with without a paycheck. But what's this? There will be a silent auction of gift baskets at the party. Well, someone grabbed hold of the fun knob and cranked it up. Bidding is strictly voluntary but strongly recommended, as it's for charity, so don't be a Scrooge! Hang on to your Santa hats (or reindeer antlers), this fun knob goes up to ELEVEN. All partygoers must choose a Christmas-themed name for themselves and their guest to use in the silent auction. The names must be submitted and approved by the office administrator prior to the party. Well, deck my halls, this is sounding better and better. I guess we could get a sitter. Holy Sugar Plums! I have something else planned on the same night and time as the office party. What to do?

Option 1: And the winners of the Razorback gift basket are Menorah and Big Baby Jesus. Thanks, Jennifer and Sam, your money will go to some organization that promises to use it to purchase gift cards for foster children. Because of you, at least one set of foster parents can afford to buy a bottle of Jack and some chicken wire to reinforce the cages.

Option 2: Put on your pajamas, Paolo, we're going to the library for a special holiday storytime.

I thought long and hard before making a decision. By that I mean I rolled my eyes s l o w l y before deleting the invitation.

Please chime in with your ideas for "Christmas names" that Sam and I could not go by for the silent auction we won't participate in at the party we're not going to attend. It'll be fun.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Just take it off already

It is a rule that Paolo may not sleep in his cape, due to the obvious strangulation hazard. Plus we're just mean. Every night Paolo questions the foundation of this rule and tries to reason his way around it. He can't grasp that the cape might hurt his neck because it's not hurting him right now, so I've had to resort to the old "I said so" standby. Since children are creatures of habit, I came up with the association that, when lights are turned out at bedtime, capes come off. (That's capes with an 's' because sometimes Paolo isn't the only person wearing one.) This worked well for a couple of nights. Last night, however, Paolo got clever on me. I turned off the bedside lamp and reminded Paolo to remove his cape. Ah, but the booklight is still on, and that's a light, so the cape can stay on, he reasoned. Okay, you got me, but once I turn off the booklight, that's it. And he agreed. I finished reading his book, clicked off the light, and again asked for his cape. "But, Mama," he said as he crawled over the top of me to point at something on the nightstand, "there's still lights." "The alarm clock?!," I said into his stomach. "That doesn't count. That's not…it's only a…will you just…." And then I cracked up, and we laughed together until it hurt.

But I still made him take his cape off.

Monday, December 4, 2006

His religious fervor is really cramping my style

Since about three weeks ago, we say grace in our house before every meal. Paolo has been trained at school to pause before dining to clap his hands together and say, "God is good. God is great. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen." I know he has the first two lines reversed. I've tried to correct him, but he answers to a higher power now. My husband keeps reminding me there's no harm in it (while telling me with his piercing glare that, if I roll my eyes again, I will be spending the night outside in the snow). I, however, feel that there are a lot more stops on the train ride between this "God" and our table. There's the cow, for instance, the farmer, the sun that shone on the fields, the rain that watered them. The butcher, the grocer, the loving, if faithless, mother who purchased and prepared this tasty and nutritious meal set before us, amen. I'm just saying, there are parties with stronger claims on deserving thanks for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Like any religious fanatic, Paolo takes the whole blessing thing too far. I handed him the whisk I used to make whipped cream so he could lick it, and he had to pray first. He saw me mid-granola bar, chewing an unsanctified bite, and was appalled. "Mama! You didn't say 'God is good'." Last night, Paolo had to go poop right as we sat down to dinner (as usual), and he kept yelling from the bathroom, between grunts, "Don't take any bites! We have to say 'God is good.' You're not eating, are you?" This level of piety, I don't need.

I'm pretty sure my fraudulent prayer is worse than not praying at all. It certainly isn't doing my peace of mind any good. Leave it to my darling husband to put a twinkle back in my eye. He suggested, if this is bothering me so much, I can revise the rhyme ever so slightly to stick it to them at school:

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Her for our food.


Friday, November 24, 2006

On Target

I had no plans to partake in the biggest shopping day of the year. To me, a door buster sale = the fifth layer of Hell. No gracias. However, as Sam stormed out the door to open the bike shop, i.e. to open the gates to the fifth layer, he ranted about how ALL of Paolo's pajamas were too small, and the pajama drawer was an absolute disaster: a tsunami of too-small pjs. An absolute disgrace. So I did a little mind-reading and asked if he would like me to pick up some new pajamas. He said no, but I'm all about shutting him up. It's why our marriage is so solid.

I threw Paolo in the car and decided to go one store, just one. During the drive, I coached myself to face the crowds with infinite patience and courtesy. The second I entered the chosen store, I lost my resolve. It wasn't the crowds or the merchandise all over the floor, it was the checkout lines. The inside of the store looked like Broward County post-Wilma, with damp, disgruntled people lined up for bottled water, creamed corn, and tarp.

I hated to abort the mission so quickly, so I dragged Paolo next door to Target to see if it was equally as horrible. Thanks to the thirty-eight (or so) beeping registers, the greedy consumers were flying through checkout. Thank you, Jesus. I nabbed some pajamas on super-sale, and we hit the toy section. As usual, Paolo honed in on all of the toys that shriek music, flash lights and gyrate robotically - you know, all of the crap we refuse to allow into our house. He helped me pick out some trucks for his only female cousin. (What? You didn't think I was going to get her something from the pink aisle, did you? Dude, that aisle makes me twitch. Trust me, she'll love the trucks.) When we were almost to the front of the store, I realized that Paolo had not asked for a thing. He never does. He's content to play with the toys and then be on his way. It's not that we never let him get a toy when we're out. We do. He just doesn't expect it or demand it.

So I marched that lovely child of mine over to pick out a wooden race car for himself, and I picked one out too so we can race. Then we checked out with blinding speed and got the fifth-layer-of-Hell out of the shopping district and back home. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mad Love

Love is...

the click and whirr of the VCR coming to life because my husband programmed it to record the Italy-Turkey friendly for me to watch tonight after work.

Mad love is...

setting the recording a half-hour before the game starts so I won't miss a note of the Italian national anthem.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Black as My Soul

I just want to state for the record that Paolo is not depressed, planning to fire-bomb his daycare, or currently worshipping the devil. I know, I know, he has dressed in black from head to toe every day this week, but it is not due to a fixation with The Cure or Johnny Cash, although either would be pretty cool. Strike that - that would be freaking awesome. Just imagine some innocent librarian commenting on his funereal look, to which he responds, "Ma'am, until this world turns back, I'm the man in black." Then again, do I really want my three-year-old to be able to out-cool me?

No, the real reason Paolo wears black is Darth Vader. (You probably saw that coming.) When Paolo turned three, we festooned the house with Star Wars decor, but omitted Darth Vader because he was too scary. A mere seven months later, Paolo gets all up in my face and breathes like an obscene phone call, "Hoooooooooh. Haaaaaaaaah. I'm Dark Vader!" And every morning I struggle in vain to interest Paolo in his other clothes, clothes that say, "Hey! I'm a fun-loving little boy," as opposed to "Repent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Unfortunately, the tough personna is more than a little diminished by the white and blue striped pillowcase that tops every outfit. For reasons unknown, this Dark Sider doesn't wear the sparkly red cape his grandma made him specially so he would stop wearing pillowcases held together by chip clips - clips which, I might add, he loses at school nearly every day. So Paolo, one way or another, this Darth Vader business has got to stop. Our chips are getting stale.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A red light saber is exactly what I wanted for my birthday

When I walked in the door after work last night, Sam and Paolo were at the kitchen table with a plate of three home-made, heavily frosted cupcakes, a lit candle in each. My present from Paolo was tied with the string of a helium-filled Spiderman balloon. My boys sang Happy Birthday to me without forgetting any of the words, which is an accomplishment for both of them. Then Paolo helped me blow out the candles before giving himself a chocolate-frosting facial. "Wait!," my internal voice shouted. "You forgot to make a wish." My mind went completely blank, and then one truth washed over me as I looked around the table. I have nothing left to wish for.

Monday, November 6, 2006

A Hot Wind Bloweth

Sunday morning the literates were perusing the newspaper, and the illiterate was amusing himself, occasionally reminding us that he hadn't snacked in five whole minutes. In between Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible, Paolo walked over to me and announced, "Mama, I pooped in my pants." He said this with no urgency or distress; it was as casual an observation as noting it was still raining. The Sunday stillness went even stiller. Sam and I said in unison, "You did WHAT?" Wondering why he always has to repeat himself, Paolo said again, "I pooped in my pants." The stillness was broken. I began demanding his motives in an effort to uncover what had led to this tear in the fabric of our peaceful lives. Sam started in on how big boys poop on the potty, and only babies poop in their pants. Paolo is not too keen on being called a baby, so he was answering my questions, "Because" and "Because I just DID" while complaining that his daddy had called him a baby.

Since the living-room situation was deteriorating, I walked Paolo to the bathroom to commence the clean-up and dropped his drawers with every muscle in my body clenched. Only there was nothing there. Not a smear, not even a dusting. Nothing. "Um, Paolo, you didn't poop in your pants." "Yes, I did." "No, honey, look, you didn't." "But Mama, it was hot and and it had poo poo in it." Ahhh. I told Paolo to wait right there while I went and talked to his daddy. While I reported to Sam that his son doesn't know what a fart is, Paolo called from the bathroom, "Mama, are you telling Daddy I'm not a baby??"

Friday, November 3, 2006

Would you like fries with that?

Me to friend at work: So I picked Paolo up from school yesterday, and he tells me this OTHER little boy, not the evil one who I've already got my eye on, but another one told Paolo that he was NOT Sky Horse. He said that HE was Batman, but Paolo was not Sky Horse. Then he called Paolo a baby.

Friend at Work: Kids are so mean.

Me: I just don't know what to tell Paolo to say to these micro-jerks. Do you think it would be inappropriate to teach him, "I will cut you."

FW: "I will eat your soul."

Me: Winner.

Super Tiger Boy, now Apple-Scented

We had a plan. Are you laughing already? Go ahead. I'll wait.

So, we had a plan to take Paolo trick-or-treating on the downtown square. Sam was to fetch him from school and bring him to my office around 3:30. Instead, I got a frantic phone call from home; there were complications. Sam had walked into Paolo's classroom to find Paolo wearing just his costume head, frosting smeared around his mouth, with glazed and red-rimmed eyes from skipping his nap again. The teacher explained that Paolo had spilled a full cup of apple juice on his costume, so they'd taken it off and stuffed it in a plastic bag. Thank you, yes, that is just what you should have done. Because we won't need that later.

Sam threw the costume in the dryer, gave Paolo a snack to break up all the sugar in his system, and we got to the square 15 minutes before trick-or-treating ended, with a damp, smelly and cranky Super Tiger Boy. It was cold and windy, and the parents were marching their kids around like sheep, in a line snaking for blocks. That is the stupidest way to trick-or-treat I have ever witnessed. Why, oh, why this fixation with forming a line? We, however, are not raising a mindless follower. We are raising a rogue free-thinker who will CHOOSE when and where he begs for candy. I may be making too much of this.

Before every candy stop, we reminded Paolo to say "trick or treat" and "thank you," but he kept screwing it up. At the very last place giving out candy, though, he nailed it, and we were finally having fun. As we walked back to the car, Paolo happily chanted, "Trick or Treat," and I thought it seemed a shame to call an end to Halloween just when he'd figured it out. Then, a light clicked on in his head, and he began to sing, Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. Nope, this is the perfect time to pack it in.

Still and all, it was a marked improvement over last Halloween for a number of reasons:
  1. Paolo didn't suffer from the delusion that any of his extremities had gone missing.
  2. We avoided Mall-o-ween, also known as The March of Lost Souls.
  3. Nobody threw up.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in Suffragette City

In the middle of our dinner with Sam's mom on Friday night, Paolo asked to go to the bathroom. Paolo is not one of those kids who has a problem with using public toilets … for any need … and he also can't be hurried. It wasn't a big restroom, so I just crouched down facing him while he went to work. Knowing that my food was getting cold while Sam and his mom finished theirs, I asked Paolo every few minutes if maybe he could finish so we could get back to the table. After the fourth time, he leaned over until our foreheads were touching and said, "Mama, have peace like a river."

As minutes ticked by, Paolo's roving eyes noticed a picture on the wall by the door: an immaculate Victorian lady pointed at a repugnant, stubble-faced, leering man. Below her the text read, If he can vote, why can't I? Paolo asked me what the lady was saying. It's never too early for a lesson in gender equality, so I explained that, once upon a time, girls were not allowed to pick their leaders, only boys could. Now, the rules are changed and girls get to pick the leaders, too, because that's more fair. Paolo was horrified. "WHAT?? No!" Clearly, next week's educational theme will be equal rights and the fallacy of gender roles. When we got back to the table, I smacked Sam in the head. He's probably still wondering why I did that.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rhymes with Pain

Dear nasty little boy who teased my precious son this morning,

I’m sorry your parents never taught you about feelings and that it’s not okay to hurt them. I’m sorry that someone decided a TV-kid haircut was the right look for you. Clearly, the hair has made you angry, as it should. I mean, if I had to choose which was more horrible: white-guy dreadlocks or Ricky Schroder’s Silver Spoon hair, I’d say it’s a toss-up. That still doesn’t excuse you for chanting Pablo, Pablo, Pablo until my son PAOLO cried, you little shit. Forget feelings for a second, here is why your ridicule was out of line. I looked you up: your name is Tayne. TAYNE! So you can just shut it. I suppose the combination of your stupid name and your stupid hair is punishment enough, but I’d like to remind you that you don’t need both kidneys to live.


P.S. See you this afternoon!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I was hoping for supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Paolo's first morning at his new school wasn't as seamless as I'd hoped. To be fair, my expectations may have been a little high. I had visions of Mary Poppins in a billowy white apron tittering with joy at Paolo's entrance into the classroom, holding a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies in one hand, his best friend with the other, and leading the children in a chorus of greeting. A little much? The reality was Paolo was placed in a different room than the one we'd toured, his teacher hadn't arrived yet, and everything was pretty chaotic. It was the first day for a lot of kids from Paolo's old school, and it felt a bit like a refugee camp. The new kids stood around wide-eyed, clutching their belongings, while the teachers tried to figure out where to put them and what their names are.

Once Paolo's teacher arrived, the kids filed in and gathered on a big alphabet rug for a story. Paolo predictably perched on the P, and then picked a peck of pickled peppers. I sat next to him, rubbing his back, and fine-tuning my ocular laser beams at his teacher. I chose the pointed, hyper-critical stare-of-doom setting, which appeared to make her nervous. After the first book, she asked Paolo if he'd like to sit on her lap while she read, but he declined because he was content on his P and, come on, he don't know you like that. I tried to start a whispered conversation with Paolo to check on his feelings, but he was pretty focused on the story. So I contented myself with an internal dialogue about what a great parent I am for taking the time to settle him in and make sure he's comfortable. Just then, Paolo turned to me and said:

"Mama, go."

"Okay, so you're fine? You're good? You're going to do great, bud. Your friends are right next door, and you'll see them on the playground in a little while. It's going to be fun. If you need anything, you just..."

"Is that the door, Mama?"

"The door to the playground?"

"No, the door you're gonna open to go. Go. Away."

So, yeah, Paolo handled his first day like a champ, but I don't feel like I got in enough intimidation time. I think tomorrow morning I'll write FEAR on my right eyelid and ME on the left, and blink slowly during story time until Paolo kicks me out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Penny for your thoughts

It was a drizzly, gray Sunday, and we were driving out to the mall to escape the four walls closing in on us and our increasingly petulant child. As we turned a corner, I noticed a gentleman on the sidewalk holding an umbrella with a book tucked under his arm. It looked like a Bible, which reminded me of a Baptist I know who would walk out of the house without his wallet, car keys and pants before his Bible. This Baptist had once said about me, "At the end of the day, it all comes down to a choice between God and dirt. I choose God, and Jennifer chooses dirt." My reply at the time was, "I'm just using the brain you say God gave me, and dirt makes more sense." Actually I rolled my eyes and walked away, wishing I had some clever retort. We heathens are notorious liars. Anyway, I was continuing this discussion in my head, arguing that honoring the creation is just as valid as worshipping the creator, especially since the creator has been on hiatus since the seventh day. Dude, break's over.

Sam broke into my musings to ask what I was thinking about. I hesitated, but then said, "What if I just came out and said I was thinking God is dead?" His eyebrows predictably reached for his hairline, so I retrenched: "Okay, I was thinking about trees." He gave me a sideways glance before replying, "I believe the first answer way before I believe the second."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Caped Crusader

I have recently concluded not that I should have another child, but that I should have already had another child. Paolo’s head is bursting with imagination, and he spends a good chunk of his time being someone else: a puppy, Batman, Spiderman, Sky Horse. Sky Horse is Star Wars, of course, and one of Paolo’s few mispronunciations that I’m never going to correct. (Another is upslide down.) How degenerate would I be to stop Paolo mid-lightsaber strike to teach him it’s not horse, it’s wars! You know, war? Let’s learn about war. Maybe we can squeak in a unit on genocide before naptime.

Paolo typically requires a playmate in his planet-saving endeavors, and since we neglected to spawn a follow-up kid, I’m Robin to his Batman, Chewbacca to his Yoda. If the cape fits, wear it. I was telling a friend of mine that I’d spent all of the previous evening with a pillowcase clipped around my neck and that, at this very moment, there is a pillowcase in my car because Paolo wanted to wear his cape until he got to school. She snickered and asked if I’d worn my cape to work. “No,” I answered matter-of-factly. “I took it off after breakfast.”

Monday, October 9, 2006

Is someone keeping score?

Yesterday we went to one of Sam's favorite restaurants for lunch. I won't embarrass Sam by revealing which restaurant, but I will say that I ordered a steakburger and strawberry shake. Our waitress was an elderly woman who kept trying to make friends with Paolo, but Paolo was only interested in making other diners uncomfortable with his pointed stare. Toward the end of the meal, she brought over a paper hat for Paolo, which he refused to wear. Either because he didn't want the waitress's feelings to be hurt or because he has genuine affection for disposable headgear, Sam wore the hat the remainder of the meal.

Ever since we picked up the new Lego Star Wars II video game, Paolo has been on a big Star Wars kick, especially since we now play as a team and he has his own controller. So when I took Paolo to the park on Saturday, he insisted on bringing both light sabers and wearing his Jedi cape. His Jedi cape is a zip-up hooded sweatshirt that he wears just the hood of because a Jedi craves not inserting his arms into sleeves. So, we've each got a light saber hooked onto our pants, and Paolo's "cape" is dangling from his head, and I went out in public like this. Not just "anywhere" public, but the PARK: where other normally dressed and unimaginative children and parents tend to congregate. Now I'm not saying I care what, if anything, other people thought of us. I'd do it again tomorrow. Lord help me, I may have to. I just think there should be somebody or something Out There taking notes. I want points for this, Big Bonus Points. Took caped child to public park, wore light saber, pretended kiddie playground was spaceship: what's that worth - 350, 500 points?

Back at the restaurant, after telling Sam the park story and my parenting-points theory, I asked him if that was where the paper hat thing was coming from. He said, "Exactly."