Tomorrow John begins 2nd grade. We met his teacher tonight. She is 24ish, but her skirt was an appropriate length, unlike kindergarten (which, admittedly, went well regardless).
In the past couple weeks, we have pieced together child care for both boys. John has had to do playdates, including two all-day playdates with friends from his baseball team. Each time, he has come away with new stories about flatulence and video games. Upon arrival home, he typically announces hunger (the almost-8-year old equivalent of a hug), wolfs down the usual John fare of pasta & fruit, and then is forced to shower (the almost-8-year old equivalent of waterboarding). After he is clean, he is allowed a treat. He usually chooses more fruit or a popsicle (essentially, frozen fruit), and it is during this "treat time" that he unleashes.
The scene is typically this: John eating the popsicle, me trying to read an online newspaper article or blog post, Sam sleeping, and Brian finishing his 4th novel of the week. This is always when his communicative onslaught begins.
Brian used to tell me that 2nd grade was the WORST grade to sub for (this was when he was working on his master’s, and being a part-time stay-at-home dad and part-time student). I mostly ignored him because, well, I am wont to do that, but also, in my head, I thought it was irrelevant information. A room full of 2nd graders will never be an issue for me to face, ever, as God as my witness. I somehow missed the part about how I would someday have a 2nd grader.
Apparently the thing about 2nd graders is that they talk a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean like a cross between Joan Rivers, an auctioneer, and the Pit-of-Despair Albino from The Princess Bride.
This is taxing on the parents… especially the mother, to whom most of the chatter is directed. In fact, there is an entire chapter in my So You Have an 8 Year Old book entitled, “The 8 Year Old and His Mother.”
Here is a recent example:
Him: “Mom, have you ever experienced a cat fart?”
Him: “Well today, Bryce and I were just sitting there and then his cat farted and we were like AWWWWWwwwwww NASSSSSSSTttyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ME: “Um-hmm. Finish your popsicle so you can brush your teeth and go to bed.”
Him: “I can't hurry because I don’t like to bite popsicles. You know why? Cuz I’m missing these teeth right here--mom, see these ones here? Mom!? Mom. Look. Can you see these? If I bite with the spaces there, it hurts, so I have to bite with my molars, and then it gets all over my cheek, and that’s gross, so I just lick it like this. Watch. Mom? Are you watching? Mom! Look. Like this.”
Me: “Mmm-hmm. Cold hurts my teeth too.”
And as I was listening so so so carefully to every 8yo word and noticing every 8yo gesture, I came across one of the funniest blog posts ever, which was about how parenting starts with all these high hopes, and ends with you urinating into a cup in the back of your minivan. And being so incredibly timely and hilarious, I started laughing, and then I got going real good and those tears of hysterical insanity came, and neither almost-8-year olds (nor their fathers) have any understanding of things like this.
I then read this excerpt of the post to Brian, who had finally looked up from page 438 of 440 and wanted to know why I was crying, so I read this aloud:
When my taxed bladder threatens to give out and I'm in my minivan at Target, I'm faced with a dilemma. Schlep four boys into the ladies room (two of them are borderline too old for that, and the other two will inevitably lick the sink), or toss them Angry Birds on my iPhone while I crawl into the trunk and relieve myself in a Dunkin Donuts cup? I'm going with the cup every time. Ask my kids... they've become Angry Birds experts. (For the full text, click here.)
I mean, really, that just says it all.
John finished his popsicle and we read Bunny Money, which, like everything else by Rosemary Wells is fabulous, and he told me about football practice. And just as he was drifting off, he roused himself again, saying, “Mom, why do people say your bragging when you’re not? Why do people say you’re bragging when you’re just stating a fact about your baseball team and how you won the championship last year? This kindergartner one time said that I was bragging when I said that. All I did was ask him if he liked sports and he said that he liked baseball so I told him that we won the championship and got those big trophies … why is that bragging when it’s true?”
Thank the good Lord, Brian walked in at that moment and gave a lovely speech about humility.
When Brian left, I said what any good sorority sister would: “Don’t you worry your head about that. They are just jealous, honey.”
That is not in the book about 8-year olds.
Him: "What's 'jealous'?"
Me: “Let’s talk about it tomorrow ... you’re so tired.”
Him, finally: “Mom, you’re the only girl I like.”