Friday, November 30, 2007

When parents overestimate their children's readiness for public events

from Carolyn

Whoops. The first note of a percussion ensemble concert tonight did Pete in. He then inserted his own solo during the otherwise deep silence: "I want to goooooo!" Sorry about that, percussionists.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No connection with the voters, no nomination

from Carolyn

The phone rang last night, and it was a recorded message from Chris Dodd. Pete ran over, clammering to talk on the phone. So I handed him the receiver, saying, "It's Chris Dodd." Using one of his most friendly voices, Pete said, "Hi, Chris Dog!" Then a pause. Then, again very engaging, "Hi, Chris Dog!" Then a quizzical look at me, since Chris Dog wasn't pausing in his monologue to say Hi back.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Pete's favorite number has long been five. He insists that he has
five grandparents, for instance, and this evening he wanted to go to
five restaurants for dinner. He recently decided in the singing of
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"--a frequent event here--that it
is, in fact, FIVE strikes you're out at the old ball game. I think we
have a healthy sense of the value of imagination over undue literalism,
but come on! Three strikes. Three. Carolyn is with me on this

Let me tell you a tale of the upper Midwest ...

Pete has started to love "stories,"
whether established (we can struggle through a passable Goldilocks or
Three Little Pigs) or made up. I've been using a formula I think I got
from Adam Gopnik's brilliant essay "The Rookie" (about
telling stories to his son): make the main character like the kid and
throw a bunch of obstacles in for drama. Every evening, Little Petey
Fish tries to make it up a stream to find a sandwich (obstacles: log
and rapids, overcome by alliances with frog and salmon, respectively).
Or, in a Carolyn creation, Pete gets a family of ducks off a runway
using duck food from the zoo, thus rescuing a family vacation. Pete
loves this stuff, to the extent that stories even capture his attention
and calm him when he's really upset about something (e.g., having to
get out of the bath). Last week, Carolyn told me she had asked Pete
to tell his own story, but he just named a bunch of things from our
stories--the ducks and so on. Said Carolyn, in totally unironic
disappointment, "It was completely derivative." Little Petey
Fish meets a tough crowd!

During Carolyn's current absence, Pete understands perfectly that
Carolyn is in a place called Cleveland "running a
convention"--a phrase he has allowed me not to explain very
thoroughly. I hope this week doesn't give him a lasting,
little-understood aversion to northern Ohio.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lit theory moment: language fills the gap left by the absent mother

Carolyn is running her convention in Cleveland until Sunday. Night
one of solo parenting is in the books with only a little crying from
Pete. He's gotten very good at saying "Cleveland."