On Thursday you turned technically only forty-four months old, but for all intents and purposes, you became a teenager.
For example, you’ve started collecting boyfriends. I already mentioned Matthew, the boy from New Jersey you met in Hill City and spent an entire weekend staring at through heart-shaped eyes and kissy lips. You still talk about Matthew at least once a week, mentioning how you want to go and visit him, or invite him to your birthday, or sail away to Greece to get married. Of course, it’s a challenge to maintain a long-distance love affair, so in your spare time you’ve decide to infatuate yourself with a boy called “Jevon” at your preschool. I know that you’re infatuated with him based on two main reasons. First, every sentence you utter has to do with him, as in
- “You know what Jevon did at school today?” or
- “Guess what Jevon was wearing today?” or
- “Want to know what Jevon said today?” or, in some cases,
- “Jevon Jevon Jevon Jevon….”
Second, and most importantly, whenever I mention “I think you love Jevon,” you turn bright red, stamp your feet, and demand “NO! I. DO. NOT. LOVE. JEVON!,” typically followed by “I don’t even like Jevon, and I don’t care what Jevon did and I don’t even remember what Jevon said or anyway Jevon Jevon Jevon Jevon…”
Your mother and I might have found this cute if it wasn’t for the fact that this Jevon is actually a pretty rotten kid, as the stories that follow these questions invariably involve Jevon getting in trouble with his teachers for disobeying or back-talking or boosting cars or whatnot. Your second crush, and he’s the class bad boy. I’m terrified of what my life will be when your age reaches double digits.
You’ve also decided to infuse “drama” into your day-to-day life, so that a typical recounting of the events of your day reads like a episode summary of pre-pubescent 90210 episode: “Today Aaron was my friend*, but not Diane. She decided to Wica’s friend today, but Wica is not my friend since he was mean to me yesterday**. And Brian said he would let me play trains with him today, but when he thought I wasn’t looking, I saw him sharing a caboose with Jaylyn. JAYLYN! That two-year-old hussy!” Your preschool has more cliques and castes than British India.
* You’ve adopted a strange definition of the term friend, which you take to mean “whoever I played with most recently.” Your mother and I initially tried to give you a more holistic definition of the term, one that captured the longevity of the term. We explained that just because someone decides not to play with you on a certain day doesn’t mean that said individual does not like you, and that friendship transcends those kinds of day-to-day arguments and disagreements and so forth. Then we realized we’d suddenly turned into an after-school special, whereupon we shut the hell up.
** You’re still confused about the term yesterday, which you still take to mean “sometime in the recent past.” However, I should point out that while your temporal vocabulary remains pretty limited, your temporal understanding is improving. For example, you’ve taken to using days of the week as modifiers for “yesterday” as in “Yesterday Monday I did X” or “Yesterday Wednesday I went to Y.” I am always impressed by the cleverness of your solutions to linguistic problems.
You’ve also taken to much more “grown-up” activities. You’re less and less interested in, say, cuddling up to watch a Wiggles movie with some popcorn. Instead, this month, you’ve opted for a weekend miniature golf excursion, a two-mile bike ride, an ice-skating/gymnastics show, an after-school volleyball game, and (of course) several trips to the toy store to scout out the latest in (realllllllly) compact cars. You’ve also become addicted to your MP3 player/phone, and spend considerable time laying on the couch with your head flopping of the cushions and your feet flung over the back, holding one-sided conversations with imaginary copies of your nanas, Matthew, or Jevon and rocking out to ABBA or PFT.
Fortunately, you’ve also taken a big interest in science, owing largely to repeated listens to Here Comes Science by They Might be Giants. One particular conversation is still pretty fresh in my memory, and exemplifies your wonder with it.
You: Dad? What is blood for?
Me: Think about the Blood Mobile song. You blood has lots of jobs. First it carries oxygen you breath in to your cells so they can breathe.
You: Oxygen is an element.
Me: Yep. Second, it carries nutrients from the food your tissues.
You: Tissues. That’s funny.
Me: Third, it does the trash collection in your body.
You: Wait, what? There’s trash in my blood?
Me: Well, yeah. When you breath, your body gets rid of something called carbon dioxide, which is like trash. Also, when you eat and drink, your body makes waste that it needs to get rid of. Your blood helps move that trash to your lungs and your liver and your kidney, where you can breathe it out or tinkle it out or whatever.
You: My blood does that? It has a bunch of trash in it?
You: Oh. My. God. My blood is disgusting.
Me: No, no, no. It’s not.
You: It’s full of trash.
Me: Hmmm. Okay… is our house disgusting?
Me: But our house has trash in it, doesn’t it?
You: Yes. In the kitchen and the bathroom.
Me: Right. Our house has trash in it, just like your blood. But why isn’t the house disgusting?
You: Because you take the trash out.
Me: Right. It’s one of my chores. Every Thursday nightI take the trash out to the corner and it gets taken away. That’s juts like your blood — one of it’s chores is to carry your body’s trash out to have it taken away too.
[ A few minutes pass in silence. ]
You: Blood is cool.
It is so hard for me to believe that it’s only been three years since you first came into our lives. We celebrated this on November 13, our “Forever Family Day.” As I’ve noted before, this day also coincides with your mother’s birthday. It marks the day when in a humid little hotel room several stories above downtown Guiyang, we all came together as a family for the very first time. I never in my wildest dreams could have thought that the little, scared, wild-haired babe would grow into the charming, happy, intelligent, young little lady you are today, just thirty-six months later. You are amazing, little ladybug!
Maybe the best way to end this newsletter is with a conversation we had in the car just the other day.
Me: Thanks for going shopping with me Ladybug. I love you.
You: I love you.
Me: No, I love you.
You: No, I love you.
Me: No, I love you.
You: No! I love you.
Me: NO I LOVE YOU!
You: NO I LOVE YOU!
Me: No, NO, NO! I LOVE YOU!
You: No no no, wait, Dad. We both LOVE each other!
Me: Yeah, that sounds good.
You: … but I love you more!
You sneaky little monkey!
And guess what? I love you most! (Ha! I’ve a blog, and therefore, the last word! Ha!)
— Ba ba
You can see more pictures from your forty-third month over at Flickr.