Tuesday, May 30, 2006


The Boy turned five this weekend. (Hence, the previous post about toy packaging.) Without really intending to, we’ve had an entire theme week around his birthday – a circus, his first minor-league baseball game, a lego store party, and the family with cake. He’s doing alright.

In previous years, the themes were usually trucks or trains. This year, the theme is water: a slip’n’slide, a Batman sprinkler, a cool t-ball contraption in which a sprinkler pushes the ball into the air for him to hit. The weather has been perfect, and TB has been outside more than inside this weekend, usually dripping wet. We even broke out the inflatable pool, so he and The Girl have been in their glory. We’ve sunscreened them to within inches of their lives (TW and I both come from pasty peoples), and subjected the poor lawn to an old-school beating.

He starts kindergarten this Fall, which is a blessing. He’s ridiculously ready for it, and The Wife is looking forward to having more of a break each day. (Our district has full-day kindergarten, which, for reasons I can’t fathom, is still fairly unusual.) We live within safe and easy walking distance of the public elementary school, so he won’t have the bus to deal with.

It’s a joy to watch him grow into himself. He’s a good-looking kid. He doesn’t seem to have inherited my introverted side. He just throws himself into whatever he’s doing, utterly immune to self-consciousness. I don’t think self-consciousness has even occurred to him, bless his young heart. He makes friends easily, plays well with others, and manages to leave his most annoying behaviors at home. And somehow, by some fluke of genetics, he has the spatial gene. I’m utterly hopeless with that kind of thing, but he has the knack. Watching me try to fold a map looks like a Charlie Chaplin routine, but he can visualize and build entire cities out of blocks and make everything look preplanned. He can assemble complicated toys while I’m still struggling with the instructions.

I worry about the tortures of adolescence, and my own ineptitude for much of guy culture. To the extent that I’m his closest male role model, he’ll have to compensate for some pretty major blind spots. He’ll have to figure out on his own how to be handy, how to make a jump shot, and how to talk to girls. I don’t know how to play poker, couldn’t pimp my ride if my life depended on it, and have never given a hoot about March Madness. The teen years were a special level of hell, and I can only hope that I’ve prepaid for him in some karmic way.

Not only will he not learn some key fitting-in skills, he’ll even grow up predisposed to rejecting some of them. He’ll see Mommy and Daddy in peace vigils, he’ll switch between our churches, and he won’t have a tv in his room. In the long run, that’s good, but those Lord of the Flies years are tough. Anything that sticks out gets hammered down. I worry already, and it won’t be relevant for another 6-8 years yet.

But that’s for later. Now, he’s five, and that’s fine. Kindergarten won’t know what hit it. And the lawn will grow back.