Joe-Henry finishes kindergarten this week. I am confident that this summer will go by both too quickly AND too slowly for both of us. My voracious learner has read over 400 books in kindergarten and during testing read at 138 wpm with no errors and full comprehension. Gone are the days when we could spell things out that we didn't want him to understand. Looooong gone.
I have him signed up for two weeks of swimming lessons, a sports camp (with me) where he can play different things and find out if he likes any of them, and two weeks in California visiting Grandma and Grandpa. We've got plans for the Library and learning to tie shoes and doing experiments and going to the Science Museum and the Children's Museum. But I am already pooped thinking about how I will keep him occupied and involved with other kids his age.
He needs stimulation and interaction, like all kids. I feel like we've been riding some gentle waves and now we're entering the headwaters of childhood: Playdates, stricter rules, more structure on my part. He thrives on it, whereas before he could entertain himself for hours with a trainset, he needs more guidance, not less. My little boy, who couldn't write his name in September, now writes letters to people, signs his name to everything and has a vocabulary that trumps a lot of twenty somethings. He is also beginning to understand the power of words. "Shut up" is forbidden in our house, and is worse than a curse word. "Crap", "Damn it", "Goddamn It", and "Shoot" apparently are all kind of the same in his mind. So he's come up with some alternatives, my favorite being "Holy Dickens!" But because of some huge lapse in parental guidance on our part, the F-bomb is hysterically funny to him. The night before Father's Day he is signing the card to his dad, and he writes "Happy", then "F", then looks at me with wild eyes. "Mom. Could I write, you know, the bad word that starts with 'F'. On the card?" "No, Bud. That's not a nice thing to say." "I know. But it's funny, right? Could I leave a message on Dad's phone?" I shake my head. "Well, could I just say it? To you? Out loud?" The look on his face is pleading and angelic, and I know that if I say no, it will become far too powerful a word, and he'll start using it out of my earshot, like verbal heroin. "Okay. But only here in your room, with me."
His eyes light up and he mimes getting out his cellphone and dialing a number. "I have to leave a message. 'You've reached my new number. I'm not here right now. Leave a message after the beep'" He is beside himself laughing at this point, and he says "Hi Dad! It's me, Joe-Henry. I'm just calling to say 'Happy Fuckers Day! Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck!'" At this point, he's spent, from laughing so hard. And I'm exhausted from keeping a straight face.
"I know I'm not supposed to say it, Mom. Thanks for letting me." It's out of his system for now. He knows not to say it at school, or anywhere else for that matter. Hopefully it won't come up again for a while. I know that's completely wishful thinking.
Of course I told Charley later. "Man. I wish I had that message on my cell phone."
As for me, I can't stop saying Holy Dickens!
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