Monday, January 29, 2007


"Your mama's gonna tell on you."
I'm guessing this is an incorrect rendering of "I'm gonna tell your mama on you." I don't know if Paolo is the only one who has it wrong or if all the kids are saying this. Either way, it's hilarious, especially when he sings it to the melody of the Backyardigans theme song at completely random moments. Derivations of this phrase are "Daddy's mama is gonna tell on him" and "Grandpa and Grandma's mama is gonna tell on them." When asked if his mama is going to tell on him, Paolo emphatically answers, No. (Just wait until he finds this website. Heh heh.)

One of Paolo's favorite Christmas gifts is a Leapfrog Bingo game. Of the approximately 78 times we've played thus far, Paolo has lost only once. It's uncanny. It's Bingo! You can't cheat at Bingo. You can't even let someone win at Bingo. I don't know how he does it. Do casinos let children in if accompanied by their parents? What? I'm just asking.

"Bye-bye, Tayne." "Bye-bye, Paolo."
When I complained to my mother that there was a creepy little monster in Paolo's class who made him cry on the second day at his new school, she told me the creep would probably end up being Paolo's best friend. Criminy, she's good.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mad Love

Love is...

Listening with care and attention as I woefully explain that my #14 cross stitch needle is simply too big for attaching seed beads.

Mad love is...

Going to a crafts store and buying me a pack of #10 beading needles when you happened to be nearby shopping for meat.

Monday, January 22, 2007

That's just cruel

Sam to squirming, impatient Paolo:

"Hold your horses, boy!"

"What? I don't have a horse."

"YOU DON'T HAVE A HORSE? What did you do with your horse?"

"Daddy, I don't have a horse!"

"Well, you'd better go find it."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Easy there, killer

So Paolo came down with a mean, wart-nosed gremlin of a cold last Friday, and we kept him home from school until Wednesday. He still wasn't at his best, but well enough to allow his parents to earn some income. I was pretty confident already that I wasn't being one of those shitty parents who send their kids to school sick, so I didn't need the teacher to gush about how she UNDERSTANDS that kids have to go to daycare even when they're sick, and how SHE'S A MOM, TOO, and she'll take care of the sickies. "Um, okay. Paolo's not that sick, really. This is the sixth day; he just has a cough at this point." The teacher insisted that she UNDERSTOOD, and it was totally okay, and led me over to see another sick child that had been entrusted to her care. Before me was a child curled into a ball on a bean bag, with just his big brown eyes and TV kid bowl-cut visible above the blanket. He'd been out of school as long as Paolo, but from the looks of him, was still dancing with the gremlin. "Oh, poor Tayne. You're not feeling too good, huh? I leaned over and whispered gently, "Karma's a bitch, little man." Oh, stop. I did not.

That evening, Paolo and I were playing one of his two favorite games: light sabers! Catch is the other favorite, although Paolo calls it playing Ball. He is madly enthusiastic at discovering something new to do with a ball. He has been throwing balls since he figured out he has arms, but now he's like, holy crap, catching is an option? Who knew? His gleaming eyes lock on mine as I repeat, "Look at the ball, the ball, not me, the ball." And he nods vigorously as his gaze never wavers from my face. He's about 1 for 10, but oh! to see his joy when he makes a catch. Right, but we were playing light sabers, and he announces, "I'm a KILLER!" My heart dropped. "You're a what?" Paolo explained, "I'm a killer because I kill...stuff." I blanked, and the only thing I came up with was, "That's not a nice thing to say." That didn't impress him, and he demanded to play some more. I told him sadly, "I don't want to play with you if you're going to be a killer." He sighed and said, "Fine, Mama. I'm just a bad guy." I perked up, "Yeah? Am I the good guy?" He smiled back, "Yeah!" En garde.

Note to idiot parents of Paolo's classmates: I am fully sick of your kids introducing Paolo to violent concepts like killing and death and guns. I wish ever so fervently that your reckless and moronic choices in raising your kid didn't have to affect my son. But they do. And I spit in your eye.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cold makes me angry

For the past week, it has been very cold here in my corner of the world - teens to thirties, no snow, no ice, just cold. Yes, I know how fiercely this cold front has hit other parts of the country, but this is about me. First of all, I lived in warm, sunny South Florida the first half of my life, where the temperature dipping below 70 is feared more than an impending hurricane. Second, my body mass index is so low I would not be allowed to be a runway model in three countries.

Consequently, I am colder than everyone around me. My hands and feet are numb all the time. My nose, also numb, runs until Spring. From time to time, I soak my hands in hot water so my fingers will bend again. This is while I'm indoors. I've learned to cope by wearing four more layers than everyone else and generally looking pathetic (whimpering helps) in the hope someone will take pity and turn the heat up a few degrees. The five minutes I spend outdoors in a given winter day (car to building, building to car) put me in full, adrenaline-pumping, fight-or-flight mode. You do not want to stand between me and warmth. I will cut you open and crawl inside your steaming carcass.

At home I park in the garage, so I don't have to deal with a car that is cold as the grave, but I park outside at work. When I get into my frigid car at lunch and at 5:00, all the life-sustaining warmth has drained away. I turn into a raging lunatic, with Tourette's. I rail at the radio: "THAT SONG IS NINE YEARS OLD. How can you call yourselves THE EDGE?" Until the car warms up, every other driver on the road gets a profane tongue-lashing: "CAN YOU TURN ANY SLOWER? Maybe all of the bumper stickers on your car are weighing you down. Can you even see out your back window?" (One sticker is a rainbow silhouette of a cat. Is it advocating gay cat pride? I'm not against gay cats, but I didn't know there was a movement. Are they being oppressed?) "Do you really think bumper stickers make a damn bit of difference? Did you buy the matching T-shirt, too? Free Tibet!"

As my blood thaws and begins coursing through my veins again, my teeth unclench and my anger disappears. I'm telling you, if there is a Hell, it is cold. That gnashing of teeth you feel? Frostbite. That weeping and moaning you hear? Me. Oh, there's a lake of fire, but they won't throw you in it, no matter how much you beg.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Arkansas smile

I picked Paolo up from school yesterday, opened a bag of gummy fruit bites for his snacking pleasure, and began to fight my way back down a busy street at rush hour. Less than a minute into this endeavor, I heard Paolo say, "Ewww. Here, Mama." I reached my hand back and he dropped his pedo-partial, covered in chunks of blue mush, into my palm. Paolo's partial (which replaced his top two front teeth) is glued in; it is not supposed to come out, except at the dentist's office, with a special tool. Damn. Damn. Damn. I quickly checked to see if the bands had snapped, which happened to his first partial, converting a $500 denture into trash. Luckily, apart from its hideous appearance, the partial was intact. The stickiness of the snack must have pulled it right out. What a relief; it just needs to be glued back in. You see, we have no plans to spring for a third pedo-partial. Paolo would just have to live with an Arkansas smile until his permanent teeth come in. My thoughts returned to Paolo. Gosh, I thought to myself, he's taking this well.

Then the back seat started screaming. GROSS! EWWWW! AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH! MY TEETH ARE GONE!!

I tried to break through the wails of terror. "No, honey, they're not gone. They're right here." And I held up the U-shaped wire dripping in goo so he could see his blue-tinged, lonely-looking front teeth. That was a bad idea. The screams got even louder and he started thrashing around in his car seat. Trapped in the left lane in bumper-to-bumper traffic, there wasn't a thing I could do to comfort him except slip one shoulder out of joint to reach a hand back to pat his knee. Eventually he stopped screaming and wept pitifully the rest of the way home.

The Great Dental Disaster of '05 happened over a year ago, and Paolo simply doesn't remember that his front teeth aren't real. Just imagine if, unbeknownst to you, you had a prosthetic body part. And one day it fell off.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's what's for dinner

Some well-meaning, generous soul gave my husband several pounds of ground deer meat. He is thrilled, of course. As he should be! If we were struggling through a long winter on the prairie in olden times, that gift of meat may have saved us from having to eat each other. I am not, however, a pioneer wife on the frontier, and I am severely lacking in recipes for deer pot pie, deer gravy, or deer flapjacks. Maybe if I put on a bonnet and churn some butter, something will come to me.

The following makes even less sense than Bolognese sauce using meat that has absolutely no fat. I'm all worried about where that deer came from. What kinds of things was it eating? Did it floss after meals? When I purchase protein at the grocery store, I don't give a thought to whether or not the animal ever had unprotected sex. Now that I have portions of deer in my freezer, I keep visualizing a tick-ridden deer lapping water from a polluted stream before being shot with lead bullets, roped to the hood of some yahoo's rusty pick-up truck, and gutted with last season's unwashed hunting knife.

Speaking of meat, I was licking the envelopes of my Christmas gift thank-you notes, and I fear I may have sliced my tongue on the last flap. I can't bring myself to check - the possibility alone makes me shudder - but I can't stop thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The secret's out

While I was disentangling Paolo's limbs from my body this morning, his teacher said to me, "I learned something about Paolo yesterday." I froze. My mind raced through many discoverable habits, none of them good. He eats his boogers occasionally, but trust me, my writhing around in grossed-out agony will put an end to that trend. Or maybe someone learned the hard way about getting out of pirate jail. Could it be she discovered Paolo is a male chauvinist piglet? I'm working on all of these behaviors, I swear! All except the pirate jail thing. I can't help that there's only one way out.

Apparently, when the class breaks into smaller groups to do worksheets, Paolo refuses to participate. He sits in his chair at the table and won't do any work. He just bides his time until the groups are dismissed, probably pretending he's in a better place, like a wading pool of chocolate pudding. The head teacher assumed he didn't know how to do the activities on the worksheets, like tracing letters or circling certain objects, and maybe he was too embarrassed to try. So she sat with him yesterday one-on-one and asked him to draw the letter M for her before he could go play. She was probably expecting a Helen Keller w-a-t-e-r moment, but my boy grabbed his pencil, drew two perfect Ms and ran off. "He's been fooling me, hasn't he?" she asked with a laugh. "I thought he was slow to learn, and he's probably been bored this whole time."

That's the thing with Paolo. If he's interested in learning something, he'll suck it up like a strawberry shake. If he's not interested, the information just bounces off without sticking. I don't want to be one of those parents who tells my kid's teacher who my kid is. I think Paolo can represent himself, and the teacher needs to form her opinion based on her experiences with him, not on my boasts or warnings. But since she brought it up, I clued her in on the fact that Paolo knows way more than he's been letting on. I'm not crowing BOY GENIUS, because he's no genius, but if he would focus, he could probably handle the curriculum of the four-year-old room. I would never suggest he be moved up with older kids, however. Paolo has the social skills of a home-schooled ten-year-old, peeping out in terror from his mother's homemade gingham skirts. Maybe that's part of why he denied all knowledge of the alphabet when his teacher tested him a month ago. Or maybe he's a Republican.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm a list-maker and, while I have no use for a roster of personal goals with a high likelihood of failure, I'll try. We are out of milk, Paolo's vitamins, and basil. Now that's a useful list, but not much of a resolution. I could use a haircut. I typically get two haircuts a year, but I think I only got one last year, so that's a valid item. I'd also like to try my hand at cannoli.

I have a better idea: make resolutions for someone else. Now that Festivus is behind us, and we've discussed with our family the many ways they have disappointed us throughout the year, let's draft a list of improvements we'd like to see someone close to us make, a sort of New Year's Restitutions. When Festivus convenes again, we can analyze the lack of effort expended in failing to meet those goals.

Paolo, I have earmarked some areas for personal growth, like growth. Is it absolutely necessary to do all your growing in one day, usually a week after we replace your entire wardrobe in the size you no longer fit? Seriously. Let's aim for steady, gradual growth in 2007, and any time you want to leave the 15th percentile is fine with me. Because worrying about how you're going to hold your own with those nasty overgrown Neanderthals in your class is aging me prematurely.

Next, you need to develop your critical thinking because, while your explanations make sense to you, they tie my frontal lobes in a knot. For example, you didn't want any bubbles in your bath last night because it's not Springtime yet. Gaaahhhh! What does that MEAN??

Last but not least, I would like you to raise your low opinion of me. I am smart, maybe not the smartest person in the world, or even in our house, but definitely smarter than you. When I use a word or expression you are unfamiliar with, it does not entitle you to roll your eyes and ridicule me, because that makes me say stupid things like, "You're just going to have to trust that I have mastered the English language," and that only gets me more eye-rolling. On that note, your daddy is one of the smartest people you will ever know in your life, so when he tells you that, technically, Yoda CAN have a purple stick if you turn on Super Lightsabers, you should clam up and pay attention.

There are also some things that I don't want you to change one bit. Keep smiling and laughing and talking and singing because those are the things I love best about you. Jumping off the furniture is what I love the least, but I'm still very proud when you stick the landing. Maybe I'll adopt that as my own resolution (after the haircut). In this coming year, as in all the years past, there will be ups and downs, things we take pride in and things we regret. I will try to accept accomplishments and disappointments with grace, to cut a bella figura, to stick the landing.