Friday, December 20, 2013

Tree, meet acorn

Even as a kid, I had little tolerance for what I perceived to be people talking down to me, or for wussiness or bullshit.  I used to yell at my Tubby the Tuba record because I thought Tubby was exasperatingly little sissy.

My mother would walk by my bedroom door when I was listening, and hear me yell, "oh, Tubby, you fat little tuba!"

I was hyper-rational, never believing in monsters or Santa or the tooth fairy.  I played along when I was little, but deep down it wouldn't have occurred to me to think they were real.

I get frustrated with Zeke sometimes, because as bold and assertive as he is, he believes in and worries about EVERYTHING.  Any bad thing that he hears about or learns about, he obsesses about all of the various ways that bad thing could impact him (or Katy Perry -- when the terrible flooding hit Colorado in September, after seeking reassurance that our house wouldn't be swept away, his next worry was that Katy Perry's house would be hit.  I assured him that Katy would be OK because she doesn't live in Colorado).  I am the opposite.  I will take reasonable caution in a situation, but I generally don't assume the worst and I don't worry much about awful things happening.

I guess at Zeke's school they were talking about rattlesnakes one day as part of some science discussion, and Zeke grilled me for an hour that night about whether rattlesnakes were going to somehow slip into our house and eat him.

"Honey, there aren't rattlesnakes in Denver.  Rattlesnakes live in the desert, not in Congress Park."*

"But what about other snakes?  What other poisonous snakes are there that are around here."

"J, you wanna take this one?"

And he's all too susceptible to the suggestions of his friend Shaun, who apparently spends his days regaling Zeke with stories of monsters and vampires.

"Mama, can vampires get in our house?"


"How do you know?"

"Because there's no such thing as vampires."

"But Shaun says there are!"

"Who's smarter, me or Shaun?"


"Yep.  And I always will be.  Stop listening to that little punk."

Josie, however, is immune to the nonsense.

"I'm not afraid of monsters or vampires, Mama," she'll say in a superior voice, nose in the air, and basically accusing Zeke, to his face, of being a complete pussy.  "I'm not afraid of anything."  (And she really isn't.)

"Good.  You shouldn't be.  And don't taunt your brother.  Nobody likes a show off."

Last night I was sitting in bed reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book about Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the rise of the progressive movement.  The kids were sitting on the sofa in our bedroom, watching The Goodnight Show, a kids show on PBS involving a young woman named Nina and her friend Star, who is a star-shaped puppet.  Together they watch kids' cartoons, play games and get ready for bed. One of the games they play is a matching game.

The matching game drives Josie insane, because the version they play is so simplistic and babyish that basically you'd need to be unconscious not to be able to figure it out.

As I'm reading, I'm interrupted by the dulcet tones of my youngest, berating Nina and Star.



"Yes, Mama?" she responds, sweetly.

"Is everything OK?  What's going on?"

"Nothing, Mama.  Just watching The Goodnight Show.  Love you, Mama."

"Love you too, sweet pea."

That's my girl.
*I have absolutely no basis for saying this.  I have no idea if rattlesnakes can be found anywhere in Denver.  But I'm certainly not going to tell Zeke that, nor am I going to worry about it.

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