C and I wake up at about 6am. Sometime between 6:45 and 7am I go and get T2 up. He grouses for about a minute, stretches and then is (usually) transformed into his normal, goofy, cheerful self. He takes a shower (during which I have to stay within yelling distance). I pick out his clothes.
A word about T2 and his wardrobe. He is seven. Clothes look good on him. Annoyingly so. Better than on me. It totally doesn’t help that, generally speaking, he and I dress alike. Doesn’t help me, I mean. The other day he left the house wearing cool, dark blue jeans with highlighted stitching, a black t-shirt with a skull and crossbones on it, a grey and orange hooded sweatshirt his dad sent him, black and grey casual wear Nikes and his hair spiked up in a Mohawk. He looked seriously fucking awesome. This is not unusual.
He gets out of the shower, dries himself off and get dressed. It takes forever because by now he is yammering a mile a minute. He brushes he teeth, does a bad job of it, and we brush his teeth again. C yells at T1 (whose school starts later than T2’s) to get up.
T2 and I go downstairs. I start the coffee and put a cup of water in the microwave to make him oatmeal. The entire time I am doing these things he is putting on his socks. He’s a man of leisure. He eats his oatmeal while I fix his lunch. Capri Sun, goldfish crackers, applesauce and these horrible fucking pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that he loves and are, I feel certain, the reason that when he goes to the bathroom it is like a dinosaur is using our toilets.
By then it is 7:22 or so. I push for us to get moving. T1, T2 and C have a fluid relationship with time. I see it as my job to keep the train running on something approximating time (I am the NoVa version of Mussolini). In this I am occasionally successful.
We head down stairs to put on shoes. He wears crocs on days when he doesn’t have PE. C comes down with coffee for both of us (she and me, not me and him) and we all put on jackets. By now, theoretically, T1 is either getting out of the shower or rumbling around in the kitchen. Usually the former. The three of us walk down to the bus stop. There are so many kids in the neighborhood that his bus only makes two stops. It arrives anywhere from 7:33 to 7:45. I silently (and sometimes out loud) countdown until two of the next door neighbor kids, who are always late, come tearing down the sidewalk and barely catch the bus. You can set your watch by no one in their household having a watch. They load up and C and I head home.
T1 is in the kitchen by now. He may or may not be making himself an egg. We verbally spar about whatever he has a test on that day. His sense of style is totally 12 year old boy. He’d wear his lacrosse jersey every day if we let him. For a while he was growing his hair out, the result a fuzzy half-afro. I teased him that combined with his hooded sweatshirts and dark jeans, he looked like a homeless teenager or a member of Bone Thugz-N-Harmony. He recently got a haircut. Now his ears stick out, but he looks at 18.
He waits until the last possible moment and heads out the door, burdened with binders, and heads to the bus.
C and I do work and check email until she has to leave. My day is largely computer stuff and conference calls. Three days a week T2 has an afterschool program. The other days his bus shows up at 2:45 and whoever is around goes and gets him. T1 gets home around 4. T2 and I do his homework. We all do T1’s homework. If it’s nice and I don’t have anything to do, we might walk down the street to the park. We figure out what do to for dinner, run to the grocery if necessary (about 70% of the time) and C or I fix dinner.
Dinner takes forever. This is in part my fault and in part T2’s fault. Dinner has always been family time for me. Growing up we had dinner at home as a family almost every single night. We’d talk about what we did that day, current events, movies, books or whatever. My parents encouraged us to talk and express ourselves and ask questions. Dinners were fun and occasionally wild. That’s what happens here, too. T2 and I treat dinner like, in T1’s exasperated words, it’s really “dinner and a show.”
Things start off normally, with all of us discussing the industrial revolution, or the influences of immigration on post-Civil War America, or animal habitats or whatever (seriously). Eventually, however, dinner goes off the rails. Usually it is because T2 takes about five bites and then decides to try and make me laugh. I can’t help it, he’s never not funny to me. He knows it, he states it as fact to complete strangers, so it works.
For example, for reasons no one understands, T2 has developed a mime act. We aren’t even sure how he knows what a mime is. He does all the classics- trapped in a box, climbing a rope, pulling a rope. It puts me into hysterics. Part of it is because he does it in a legitimately funny way and part of it is because HE IS A SEVEN YEAR OLD WITH A FUCKING MIME ACT. Imagine a handsome version of Howdy Doody randomly breaking into “Walking Against the Wind” in the middle of a shopping mall and try not to laugh. It’s his get out of jail free card with me. T2 knows he could be standing over a dead body and if he started sniffing an invisible flower, I would break up, ruffle his hair and say “come on, you little scamp, lets dispose of this thing and go get frozen yogurt.” It’s a problem.
To be fair, T1 is pretty damned funny too, just in a different, considerably less goofy and more cerebral way. Last night, during a lull in the conversation, T1 raised his hands over his plate and made face combined with a weird, swimming gesture.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Awkward turtle,” he said. It’s missing something (a lot) in the translation, but the look on his face, combined with what he was doing and his timing, made me lose my shit. It was all downhill from there.
So dinner is a mess. Here are two recent dinner time conversational snippets, so you get a sense of what goes on.
T1: I like Bon Jovi.
C: Yeah, Bon Jovi is great.
T1: I googled Bon Jovi and, like, I like all of the songs!
Me: Living on a Prayer, Dead or Alive…some really good ones. Really popular when I was in high school.
T1: Wow, is he still alive?
T2: Midgets are always bad guys.
T2: Well, I think they start that way. Then, sometimes, midgets can turn into good guys.
Me: I don’t think you are supposed to call them midgets.
Me: Let’s just stay with midgets, then.
Neither of these exchanges were apropos of anything. C usually suffers in relative silence until she loses patience will all of us and demands the table be cleared.
Next is reading, or television, or X-Box or whatever. Bedtime for the kids is at 9. For C and I it is any time after that.
I guess it sounds boring, but it isn’t.
I like it.