Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Childish Things

When you spend a good chunk of your morning on Twitter debating the validity of a few choice phrases with Nicholas Payton and some of our Twitter followers, things are gonna go, well, downhill. Specifically, all the way back to my college days when we art students took out our frustrations in the all-day foundation studios at the ice rink tormenting anyone from the opposite team who happened to find himself in the penalty box, cheering on the Zamboni man, and shooting off the occasional bottle rocket while the college's president happened to be in attendance (oops).

What's especially funny is that a version of these t-shirts used to be hard to come by, and now they're sold in the college store, along with those of the basketball team that was formed after I graduated.

These days, I'm definitely feeling my past. Part of it is certainly my son turning nine today - another part of it is seeing how much I get het up over things I swore I'd never go nuts over if/when I had a kid. It all paints my husband as the optimist and me as the pessimist - hey, at least I married well in that regard. 

"He can't seem to really focus," I said to Dan on hearing one of the little guy's inner-yet-spoken-aloud monologues in progress instead of the subdued sound of pencil against paper completing his homework. 

"Oh, he can sure focus on books he likes and LEGOs he wants to build," Dan replied. "It's all about what he wants to focus on. He's perfectly capable," he said with a smile.

"And you really want to have more kids?"

"We've already made all the mistakes we're going to make, right?"

"But with another, we'd probably be making different mistakes," I said grumpily.

"Fail, then fail again differently, huh?" Dan shook his head.

Okay, so my reproductive system isn't exactly screaming for one last chance - and if it is, I can't hear it over my constant mantra of "Kids are a crapshoot." For every person who walks up to me and asks if I'm going to have another as though I've found the Angelic Child Formula with the little guy (it's so easy to fool people when you resemble Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone" and you have a sense of humor to match), I have to restrain myself a little more from detailing how much I dread a developmental phase in his and my roads that will suddenly make me and Dan "the enemy" somehow. Until that day, though....

I don't brag about this kiddo of mine too much because 1) I'm biased and 2) I tend to roll my eyes some when others do it concerning their kids (I've been working on 2). Like you wouldn't believe.). However, he's a bright little character who once asked a friend if her stuffed panda was snake intolerant. 

Although he has problems picking up after himself and seems to have inherited my husband's inability to really look for things he needs to find (I think it's a Y-chromosome thing, anyhow. Try looking under things, guys.), there's a good heart in there that is curious about the way the world works - it's a curiosity that I wish I could explore more with him, but things in our house already resemble one giant science experiment...perhaps we can get going on that crystal-growing kit soon. What the hell, another addition to the mess. 

He loves baseball, and I wish I could get the damned Das Boot off my ankle so that I could drive him to one of his fall ball practices or games just to see him getting into it. He loves to dance - in fact, this past Halloween, he danced so much to the live band at the neighborhood party he neglected the candy part of the night, much to Dan's yen-for-chocolate chagrin. He also gets very conscious of rules for certain things, and about abiding by those rules: "We can't use the internet on this homework, Mom!" he admonishes me when it comes to another of his research projects (we probably deserve some of that considering how we showed our displeasure with one of his assigned subjects). "That's my character," I say.

But wow, the general intolerance for bright guys like him is increasing out there in the big ol' world. The pressures to conform may not be as great in some ways and in some places - and we're already on the wrong side of a lot of it anyhow due to our Judaism - but I worry for the kiddo as he gets older and the schooling situations change, which they will. At the same time, I know these are battles that he has to largely muddle through himself, as we all had to in our childhoods, but I don't want to be completely indifferent. The impulse to throw up my hands and unleash a string of curses over it all is nearly overpowering - but I largely leave the cursing in front of the little guy to Dan.

We're not totally ready to put away childish things in our house, at any rate. It's still worth it to giggle with the kid over the Katrina refrigerator-esque scene in The Muppets where the Swedish Chef simply takes a torch to the moldy Muppet things inside. If that's some kind of liberal/lefty bias, well, fine. I personally find it more childish not to have a sense of humor.

Happy 9th birthday, little man.

1 comment:

brudon said...

Re: your son's alleged lack of focus. Don't forget--his mother is an artist, and half his genetic essence comes from her. The thought processes of artists work in mysterious ways.