Monday, June 18, 2007

Holy Dickens!

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!


PureLight said...

Ah, you should have let him write it just this once. That card would have become a family heirloom. Someday you would have shared it with his fiancee, his children--an enrichment of your family history. Save the blog forever!

And thanks for your kind words on MY blog. I will look for the author you recommend.

Donna said...

The newly crowned 5-year-old plastered me with a "dammit" yesterday. Yikes!

I am so heartened to hear how much JH has progressed in a year of kindergarten! Nathan can write his first name (barely) but professes to hate doing so. He has never been away from mom and may need a little push toward independence as we start "real" school. I keep telling myself how much I love his kindergarten teacher and that she has already seen all there is to see in 5-year-old behavior in her 25-year tenure.

Fingers crossed!

I, Rodius said...

Heh heh. Heh heh. I will always think of this holiday that way now. Thanks! Although I don't think I'll have the guts to wish my Dad a happy one or ever make the mistake of telling Thumper about it.

anniemcq said...

As soon as I posted this I had to run out the door to chaperone the kindergarten field trip, and I got so nervous suddenly, about letting the world know that I didn't wash my kid's mouth out with soap when he dropped the f-bomb.
Thanks for making me feel better!
And Donna - I can so relate to your concerns. JH was so clingy with me at preschool, and I was so nervous about kindergarten, but he hopped on the bus and never looked back. and up until about February, his handwriting was really wobbly and he didn't like it, and he's improved so much. I guess that's why we send them to school, huh!

English Garden said...

Love the story, made me laugh, I have a mountain of laundry but I'm reading your blog, so much better than laundry. I hear alot that kids should have siblings but I love your stories about Joe-Henry and hearing all the things you have planned for summer, re-afirms to me that single children can be just as well balanced.

Anonymous said...

Fucking hilarious!

Reaffirms my belief that you are just too cool.

Lolabola said...

just read it to B, laughing our heads off

Donna said...

I'm wondering if we will have to have a "Swearing Minute" once a month in the future in which they are allowed to try out all the words we have told them not to use in public...

Problem is, I am not sure that mine would view it the same way as JH does, devil spawn that they are.

And I still laugh about the first time I heard my very reserved mom say shit in front of us. My kids got a much earlier introduction and will probably be telling all their friends that mommy has a potty mouth.

suttonhoo said...

I love the way you give your kid room to run and be crazy and wild -- all the while keeping him safe.

love it love it love it.

anniemcq said...

Donna - Joe-Henry learned to say "Goddamit" from me while I was driving in LA traffic at 18 months. We have video of him learning to walk with this little push cart, wheeling around the house saying "guDAMiiii!"

Not the first, and of course, not the last proud moment of motherhood.