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."