12 September 2012

About a Boy

I have a 6 year old kid.

And he's impulsive and dirty.  Concentrated and sparkling.

Last night, he decided at his 8pm bedtime that he really wanted to make a life-sized paper collage self-portrait, holding hands with a robot, jumping out of the wall.  Naturally. Why not?

So, I let him do it.

Waking up was hard this morning, but then again, we had a giant bespectacled boy (glasses made out of Post-It Notes) and his mechanical friend staring at us from their stuck on place (legs bent 3-D to demonstrate the "jumping out of the wall" part) while we got ready for school.  Totally worth it.

Today, he sat me down to listen to his carefully prepared proposal for why he should be able to buy an umbrella from the school store:
"Mama.  The rainy season is coming - didn't you hear the thunder last night?  The umbrellas are only $15 for me to buy. If I have my very own, you won't have to share your Congo President umbrella [this is true, I do have one of these] with me."

 Okay.  You can have an umbrella.

And, then, with barely a breath in between, moved on to important discussion #2: Why he should be able to buy school lunch two times a week vs. only once.  ("I would be such a happy boy if I could have macaroni on Tuesdays AND pizza on Fridays.")  I wasn't such a pushover on this one.

Have I mentioned his fingernails?  They are gross.  I try to clip them short so that all of that dirt can't just sit there.  But, every day, he comes home from playgrounds and soccer fields and tether balls and badminton racquets and his nails are just horrible.

One time, I heard someone say that little boys - around six years old - have a  "wet puppy" smell.  At the time, I though that the statement was somewhat sexist or cliched.  But.  It's true.  I make him bathe - often!  With this slightly-absurd, Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea, Chamomile, and Argan Oil beautiful, natural children's all-purpose soap that I can't resist.  But, each night, I tuck him in and breathe in that slightly dirty puppy smell.

My boy is a crazy Risk genius.  Or, at least he thinks he is.  He thinks he's invincible.  He can play that game of world domination with the complete confidence that he will win.  Even when he has no idea about any of the rules.  It's very bad when playing Crazy 8s or War.  Something more cut and dry.  If he actually does lose, it's a tragedy of shaken sense of self.  Sadness for hours.

This child can glare better than anyone I've ever met.  In my family, we call it the "Flynn Look."  He's particularly adept.  I'm worried about how it will look on a 14 year old.

Homework.  As a grown-up first grader, Eli has homework.  He spent the first week being terrified of it.  Now, I find myself being totally confused about how my little kid can whiz through word games and book reports without my help (or not much).

Sometimes (well, a lot of times), I wonder what growing up abroad will do to him.  Most of my friends grew up somewhere other than the United States.  They are a giant lovely mess of ideas and experience and aspirations.  I want that for him.  I notice that he is already confused about "home."  If someone asks him where he's from, he says "Seattle."  Which is where he was born, but not where he most recently lived, and even I don't really know where he's from.  Is this good or bad?  For me, I love the ambiguity right now.  But does he and will he?


  1. Fun! And what great pics! Thanks. Ya know, we always wonder if we're getting it right. My kids are 31, 28 and 19 - the jury's still out. But, I will admit that each of them will answer without a second thought, they are from Keezletown - even the ones born in the Burg.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to Elias -- you captured our wonderful boy totally! The good news is, he will be who he will be. I didn't have an answer to the "where are you from" question and wanted it badly. You had an answer to that question, and didn't want or need an answer. Elias....well, we'll just have to wait and see. And right now all we have to do is enjoy the precocious, beautiful, smelly six-year-old with the brilliant smile!

  3. I love hearing about this boy. Thank you!

  4. Thanks, everyone...! He's a great kid. For certain.

  5. My smelly six year old is lucky to have Eli for a true friend, though the logistics of scheduling playdates can be tricky....


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