Monday, November 27, 2006

Extended Family

Boy's preschool class has been delving into the subject of "Families" this week. His teacher asked him if he could tell her any of his family members. He thought long and hard about this before he replied, "There's Mommy, Daddy, Eefin, and me."

"Ethan?" asked his teacher, a little confused, since she knows our family well but has never heard of an Ethan before.

"No. Eefin. He's my favorite cousin. But he only lives with Grandma in America."

"Okay. Do you have any other family members? Someone else you live with?"


"Are you sure? A couple of sister's perhaps?"

After another long, thoughtful pause he answered, "Actually there's Missy, but she can't stay when Eefin comes to visit. Eefin doesn't like her."

"But who else is in your family? Don't you have an older sister?"


"Boy, I know your family and I know you have an older sister. What's her name?"

He gave her a level look and said, "It's just Eefin, and me."

It's true he does have a cousin named Ethan. But God's honest truth folks, he's never met him. He spent the entire summer looking at pictures of him on Grandma's walls. He asked every single day why he couldn't play with Eefin. He never fully understood the fact that Eefin lives far away in another city, and therefore couldn't drop by for a visit.

When I took Boy into school this morning, I noticed the hallway outside his classroom was covered with the students' drawings of their various family members, but under Boy's name there was only a list, written by his teacher, of the kin she could get him to admit to: Ethan (and in paranthesis next to it-- LIVES WITH GRANDMA GAY), Mom, Dad (then in paranthesis at the bottom-- 2 sisters).

I asked him why he hadn't done a drawing. He rolled his eyes at me and said, "M-o-o-o-mmmmm! I don't do people! Don't you remember? I can't!"

So, I spent part of this evening sweet talking him into trying to draw his family. The picture above is the result of my efforts.

Here is, I kid you not, word for word, his description of what he'd drawn, told in excited bursts as he carefully drew out each part:

"This is Eefin. He has two eyes. He's sad because he lost his teddy. Eefin has short hair because he's a boy. This is me. I'm happy because I found Eefin's teddy. IT WAS IN THE BED! I only have one arm because I'm very old, and I'm going to die soon. But Eefin will give me his teddy and I won't be scared."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

An Abbreviated Cast Of Characters

It occurs to me that I spend an awful lot of time talking about Jilly Baby and The Vibrant Ms. Michelle and other sundry characters, but I've never really taken the time to introduce them.  So without further ado:

Anna Nancy La Dragon: La Dragon is a lovely girl. You'd like her. Everyone does. La Dragon is someone with whom I got drunk 7 or 12 dozen times while we were studying in Italy. She's Boy's Fairy Godmother--a title which she still struggles to completely understand. It's crystal clear to me though. What it means see, is that La Dragon is, in fact, Boy's true Godmother, but I'm not allowed to call her that because Mister has this daft notion that such titles must be reserved solely for blood family. A notion I somewhat 'get', but do not totally agree with. 

In my eyes, La Dragon is far and away the most worthy title holder. She sends him a Christmas ornament every year, and defends him unfalteringly whenever I write to say what a dip shit toddler he's being. Blood Family Member does neither of these things. Plus I never once saw Blood Family Member light a cigarette with one hand and slide the cork out of her third bottle of Chianti with the other in one seamless motion, so ya''s not even a fair contest.

I don't talk much about La Dragon, but only because she lives half-way around the world, and is therefore unable to ever meet me at IKEA for cheap breakfast and power shopping. We miss La Dragon.

Jilly Baby:  Jilly, while being hilarious and generally just fun to hang with, tends a little bit toward the bossy/opinionated side. So much so, in fact, that she drives crazy princesses far, far away where we no longer have to listen to their whining and carrying on. This is actually a very good quality to have. She has two kids (Hamish 3 and Heather 6); a peculiar need to iron EVERYTHING textile; and very stong feelings against patterned tights (something we tend to butt heads on, as I kind of like them.)

The Vibrant Ms. Michelle: The most pertinent thing to say about Ms. M right now is that she's pregnant again. She's pregnant, and she's leaking pregnant hormones which are fucking with my mind and body in ways that I don't particularly appreciate--I'm talking zits, I'm talking nausea, I'm talking weirdly aching hips and back. I feel these things after a day with her, and I shouldn't. She's cursed. Depsite all this and the mood swings, Michelle is mostly cheerful and bright--one might even say...VIBRANT...and she's nice to have around because she speaks the local lingo like a fucking pro. To date, she has two kids (Sanne 2 and Mathias 6, Jamt the third is due early April); she's chronically late for everything; she always asks for tea or coffee but never drinks more than  half of it; and she's got a criminal record (which would be absolutely hysterical if it weren't partially my fault).

Apart from my children, these are the three people that occupy me most these days. I spend a lot of time writing e-mails to La Dragon. I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and bitching about crazy princesses with Michelle and Jilly. Three things I'd happily do more of if it weren't for my three children, whom I spend far too much time mothering. Oh yeah--and there's Mister, of course.  I spend some time making out with him, but we don't need to go into that here.  I'm rated R for strong language, but I haven't been cleared for light erotica yet. Maybe next year...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Matter of Life, And One Of Death

Mister has been away on business for a few days. He came home early this evening while I was fixing dinner--snuck up behind me, scared the shit out of me, then buggered off upstairs to toss the kids around for a few minutes. They were thrilled to see him.

About 10 minutes later I called everyone down to dinner, and asked Elder Miss to set the table. As she was carefully laying out our colorful array of mismatched utensils, she was adamant that Daddy sit by Mommy tonight.

Odd, usually she insists that Daddy sit by her and only her.

Once all the glasses were filled with water and everyone's meat was cut, I sat down in my assigned seat next to Mister and started filling my own plate. Elder Miss looked over at us with an impish, greasy grin and asked, "Aren't you going to kiss?"

I looked at her. He looked at me. Her eyes danced between us, waiting.

Weird game, Miss. But I'll play.

I rolled my eyes, turned to Mister, and planted one on him.

Hsss-s-s-s-sssss. Snicker. Snicker. "You guys are in lu-uvvvvv!" she sang. Then more hissing.

Both Mister and I let it pass with out comment, and turned to Boy. We started playing the what-does-such-and-such-begin-with game (he's getting really good at it). After a few minutes of being ignored, Elder Miss couldn't stand it anymore. In a breathless, wide-eyed rush she cut in, "But know what? Today I heard a story about a mommy and a daddy--well they weren't a mommy and a daddy but they were a boy and a girl only they were grown ups--but they took all their clothes off and they KISSED! Without their clothes! And they were in love. And THEY KISSED! Totally.Naked."

"Who told you this story, EM?"

"My teacher--and after they kissed they hugged and then they had a BABY! was only an animal."

This last part was said in a deflated, disappointed tone. Like she had understood that someone had pussed out and deliberately fudged the punch line.

We didn't get into what she thought "hugged" might entail, or indeed, what any of the rest of it was supposed to mean, because suddenly Boy crowed triumphantly from the other end of the table, "Kiss starts with a k-k-k-Kicking King!!!" and the moment passed.

Also of interest today:

Elder Miss and Boy spent some time alone in her room this afternoon. I don't know what they were doing. I don't know what they were talking about. But at one point Boy came slumping out--head down, feet dragging, two fingers hooked limply in his mouth for that extra touch of pathos.

He climbed up into my lap (I had been sitting on the stairs folding clothes).  He tucked his head under my chin. I expected him to start whining to me about how EM was being mean and wouldn't let him play, and was, once again, trying to come up with a nice way of saying, "Oh for Christ's sake, Boy, grow a fucking backbone, would ya'!"

But instead he whispers, "EM told me that when I get really really old I have to die. How long 'til I'm old?"

He's been asking me this question for weeks now. How long 'til I'm old? How long 'til I'm old? He wants to be old enough to ride a skateboard, see. And he's seen a snowboard in the Toys R' Us Christmas catalogue. He understands intuitively that these are the toys of the "big" boys. He wants to be one so bad he can hardly stand it.

But today, for the first time, he seemed to sense (also intuitively) that age is as much about loss as it is about gain. Today, he was sad, not afraid, when he asked, "How long 'til I'm old?"