Saturday, January 31, 2009

An old gag made new

Getting ready to play "volleyball" (i.e., the classic hippie non-competitive game of hitting a balloon back and forth, counting how many hits you can get) tonight, Pete said, "Papa, if we get to 17, I win. If we get to 12, you lose."

We're already regretting the storytime ritual

Ono: Pete figured out his first spelled word today (the name of his friend Jack). The Parental Spelling Code Era begins its fade into twilight.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Four more years!

Last Inauguration Day, we were in the hospital, enduring a second day of induced labor, finally going into surgery at night. Pete was born at ten o'clock on the dot.

Which is to say, today is Pete's fourth birthday. It's hard to believe that Bush was President for two of his lifetimes. Pete has been wonderful about the birthday, exuberantly pleased at passing the milestone. On Saturday, while getting his gifts from Carolyn's family, he said to nobody in particular, "I am lucky to get so many nice presents." We feel lucky, too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I suppose you have to like the enthusiasm

Pete had a huge day today. We had his birthday party at brunchtime, and he had a great time. Then he opened his presents from Carolyn's family, and he loved them. Then he played with the presents for a couple of ours. Fantastic. Then we went to dinner, and as it wound up, Carolyn said, "So, Pete, what was your favorite thing we did today?" Pete: "Going swimming!"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Playing defense

Last night

Scene: Erik and Carolyn have received a lovely bottle of Greek red wine as a gift. Long after Pete goes to bed, and when we think he has finally stopped the questions and demands and dropped off to sleep, we open the bottle and have a little of the wine with cheese and crackers. Then Pete, sounding worried, calls Erik up to his room.

Pete: Papa, I don't want a fire alarm in my room.
Erik: Oh, it's OK, Pete. Those are just there to keep us safe. We have them all over the house. Nowhere I've ever lived has had a fire, and I don't think we'll ever have one, but they help us stay safe, just in case.

In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I should say that the house next to me burned down in Philly, I had to call 911 when I realized that flames were all I could see from my third-floor window, and the firefighters chopped through my ceiling and windows to put the fire out, and it was all very scary, but that wasn't technically a fire in my domicile. I chose my words carefully.

Pete: Papa, if we had a fire, would you run out of the house and the firefighters would come and help me?

Erik realizes that Pete is genuinely scared and that this is therefore a Big Parental Moment. He lies down next to Pete on the bed.

Erik: Pete, I don't think we'll ever have a fire here. But if we did, the very first thing I would do is come to get you and take you out with me. And that's what mama would do, too, OK?
Pete: OK. But firefighters help kids in fires, too.

Erik and Pete undertake a brief conversation detailing the complementary roles of parents and firefighters in keeping kids safe.

Erik: So all of us would work together to keep you safe, OK?

Erik is, frankly, feeling pretty good about himself.

Pete: Papa, I smell beer. Were you drinking beer?

In retrospect, this is what I would like to have said: "No, that's wine, Pete. Remember Will and Giota? Giota's father makes wonderful wine in Greece, and Mama and I just opened it up to taste it. Isn't that cool?"

What I actually said:

Erik: No!

True! Technically true!

Pete: That's what beer smells like.

In a further gesture of defensiveness, I hereby attest that I drink maybe a beer a week in a fast month. And a glass of wine here and there. Carolyn drinks even less. This is NOT a kid who should have a highly developed sense of alcohol smells.

Anyway, I try the old change of subject.

Erik: I was eating cheese. Do you smell cheese?
Pete: No.


Pete: Was it beer cheese?


Erik: No, just cheese. It's time to settle down again and sleep, OK?
Pete: OK. Papa?
Erik: Yes?
Pete: Would you tell Mama to get me first if there's a fire?
Erik: Absolutely, Pete. Have a good sleep.
Pete: Good night, Papa.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pete goes coastal

We went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. It was a working trip for me, but we all went. When we took a taxi from the airport into the city, Pete saw the bay and said, "Oh, a flood!" Ah, Iowa boy.

Other quotations from San Francisco:

In the hotel room, after seeing a cartoon kid singing cheerfully about going to school, I looked for a way to reinforce any positive feelings Pete has about education and said to him, "Hey, you go to school, too!" Pete gazed lovingly at the TV and replied, "Not in this world."

On seeing murals in the Mission District, many of them violent or sad, one with a prominent crying figure, and having Carolyn explain that they represent the way some people see the world, Pete mused, "If I saw that, I'd cry too."