Honestly, usually, I jump away from children the way most people jump back from a hot stove. I don’t dislike them. As a matter of fact, a lot of them are funny and smart and tuned in to all the cultural shit. Like my son. A lot of them are usually more than willing to very slowly explain things to me as I nod and take notes. The power that young people have is amazing because neither I nor anyone I have ever met has reached the mystical age at which you “stop caring about things”. Here is a tip: it does not exist. Most of us are barely concealing our desperation to understand exactly what the f*** these young people are talking about. Not because I want to participate, but just in case there’s some sort of entrance exam for cool adults.
Sometimes I feel terrified to be at home with my son. I have a lot of basic knowledge and have committed thousands of random facts to memory. I studied. I am working on my P.h.D. but did you know that an individual blood cell takes about sixty seconds to make a complete circuit of the body? Mr. Binocs on YouTube told him that. We have to make geodes out of some weird chemical solution and look at all his rocks through the magnifying glass. Then talk about it all for hours. G-sus he has so many questions, which is okay but c’mon.
The other day, we met a mom and her son (who was ten and read a history book) in the park. After our kids played he came over and asked me (out of nowhere) if I knew who the thirty-third president of the U.S. was. I thought he was playing that game where someone knows the answer to the question they are asking because it is right there int he book he just happened to be reading. So, I say, “No! Who?” as if I knew and was just playing along. And then we just sat there looking at each other until I realized he was waiting for me to come up with the answer and help him pass some sort of “we-are-chilling-in-the sun-exam”. Why are you asking me this? Wouldn’t you rather learn which household cleaners you aren’t supposed to touch or use? Or that it is pretty much impossible to uncork a wine bottle without a bottle opener? Here are some things I can teach a kid:
- some important history about Germany
- not to drink wine, then egg nog, then sparkling wine in one sitting
- how to file taxes
- the best hangover remedy (Drink more. JK! Drink coconut water)
- everything about Diana Arbus’s photography
- the best Instagram accounts to follow
- which essential oils to use
- the benefits of an Epsom salt bath
- how to play Rommé and win like a pro
- how to avoid making an unwise tattoo decision (just make it, who cares)
- where to eat in Vienna (restaurants please open again)
- how to make French Onion Soup
- healthy food snacks
- how to stare into space
- how to write a book
- the pleasure of reading for hours
- how to make fake phone calls to get out of public interactions
- how to avoid people you hate
- the lost art of ironing
- how to build a strong character and moral center
- how to fake your own death
- how to order pizza but also add a fresh herb salad and roasted Brussel sprouts and shallots to go with it
For now, I think it is all fine. I don’t want anyone to ever get the upper hand on me, even if its a miniature one that has not yet touched a steering wheel or a beer. I am not going to give him my credit card, but I also won’t give him any poisoned apples. So far, my parenting skills work out. He is fine, healthy, smart, strong, and cute. Maybe he won’t ever appreciate what I have done for him. He does not have to. I am his mother. It is my responsibility. Maybe, when he is older, he will take a page from my book and write about how I sold his voice to a sea witch. Who knows.
You can’t give people the shit you think they need, no matter how badly you want to if you don’t know how to give and receive!—it yourself. I’m learning this, I’ve been learning it but sometimes I forget. I don’t know how or why it happened that at some point really early on when I was learning what “love” is, I got this idea that it’s finite. Sacrificial. That it’s a fixed mass to which you can add, I guess, but mostly from which stuff is subtracted. The bravest among us seem to know that actually, it’s an infinite well.
I wrote all this because I cannot figure out how to get that plaster for his geode hard enough (eyeroll) and to spread it in the geode form. First I used not enough water, then too much. We made the crystals though. They were supposed to go into the geode mode. You wonder what I am talking about? Me too, but the crystals sparkled nicely in the sun while the plaster went into the garbage.
Oh, and it was Harry S. Truman. You are welcome.