Friday, June 4, 2010

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

So that's it. Kindergarten is over. And this is what I sent with Primo as his final lunch of the school year. It was fragile enough that I went ahead and walked it to his table. Buzz's torso is a carved granny smith apple. The buttons are multi-colored maraschino cherries. Red, green and blue. The blue cherries are raspberry-flavored. Effin' miracles, man. His face is a banana set in a black grape. His joints are also black grape and the straps on his chest and his features are grape skin. The starburst framing his head is pineapple, cantaloupe and strawberries. Blueberries suggest the cold blackness of space, and I think they help the cantaloupe, strawberry, apple and Hostess donette to pop. In case the picture isn't clear enough, the message says "to 1st and beyond." Hopefully he knows I meant first grade and not first base. We're going back to disneyworld and I don't want things to get awkward when he sees Buzz in person. Has it sunk in that I peeled a grape for my son?

Next up: leftovers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pay no attention to the man, behind the curtain or otherwise

This is the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. He's mostly noodles stir-fried with snow-pea bows, carrot poppies, and broccoli florets. The crown is yellow carrot, his face is sliced turkey and roast beef and his muzzle is a pork dumpling.

We checked out the Wizard audiobook from the library a few weeks ago and it went over bigger than I ever would have expected.

Whenever pledge time rolls around on NPR, they'll ask you to think about the times you've pulled into your driveway and turned off the engine, but stayed in your car to listen to the end of a story. That's what The Wizard of Oz has been for Primo. Even on probably the fourth time through, he's genuinely rapt. We've waited in the car through "run-ins" to the grocery store, clothing returns and even an entire dentist's appointment thanks to L. Frank's storytelling. During one such session came the revelation that the Wizard was from Omaha. The memory of the look on his face as he heard that is probably going to have to stand in for the reaction I won't get to see upon his first viewing of the Cloud City duel in Empire Strikes Back.

The popularity of Wizard has prompted me to read some Baum short stories to Primo at bedtime. I know he was keen to write "American fairy tales," and they're mostly okay, from what I've read, but there's something about them I can't quite put my finger on. Like they're not timeless enough. Or the morals are a little off. Things like "go get a job and stop complaining," or "don't act like that or people will think you're a communist." It might just be me.

And, in case anyone was wondering why adults write the discussion questions, here's a sample from a lesson plan I found online:

How did Dorothy get the mark on her forehead?
Who did Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman meet next while traveling down the Yellow Brick Road?
How did Dorothy help the Scarecrow?

And here's a sample from our in-house discussion, led by Primo:

Why are Dorothy's aunt and uncle gray?
Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the West. I thought Dorothy said she couldn't kill anybody. Why did she kill the witch?
Is the wizard a humbug because he's from Omaha?
Why are the Winkies slaves? Are they like the slaves in America?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Shining moment

This is a piranha plant from the Mario games. (Was that too much information about a minor character from a video game? I can't really tell anymore.) It's a Red Baron pizza with a slice of Genoa salami and provolone, broccoli, cucumber for the stem and stars and lettuce leaves (the first harvest from our garden this year!)
Sometimes my schedule dictates that I make these lunches after I drop primo off in the morning. When that's the case, Secundo usually gets an episode or two of Blue's Clues to keep him occupied. His shouted demands for juice and responses to the television's questions limit the need for me to check on him, too, so I end up reasonably free to concentrate.

As I was working on this one, though, I caught something in the corner of my eye and looked up. Secundo stood there, smiling and staring for a moment, and then walked backward out of the kitchen, never breaking eye contact. And he only did it once. He didn't come back to show me the trick again, or start to giggle as he often does when he does something goofy. Just kinda leered and backed out of the room. His smile didn't help. It's not that he has a particularly creepy or menacing smile, but it's like his older brother got to draw it on him. The spacing of his teeth is a little weird, some of them seem sharper than they're supposed to be and he's constantly got his tongue between them. It's actually pretty cute, usually, but waiting, silently, as it was at the top of the stairs when I was bringing a load of laundry up from the darkened basement later on, it was a little freaky. Not pull-out-the-clippers freaky, but freaky.

Maybe some choice babbling would have finished the job. My mother-in-law had a foster kid for a while and one night, while he was maybe three or four, he walked into the living room, looked at one of her guests and said "There's a man in your house. But he doesn't live in your house." It was sing-songy and everything. Then he just went back to playing. Now that was top-shelf. I don't know where that kid is these days, but I know he's not alone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dropping the hammer

You may not recognize Raymond the firefly here from The Princess and the Frog. If not, check it out because it's really a great movie. He's got a lot of the same ingredients as Tarzan, with the additions of blueberries and bananas for the night sky.
The real fireflies will be out soon, and we've been enjoying the warming evenings and our new lawn (it's possible our house is still a Superfund site, but it isn't because of lead contamination in the backyard anymore!) by playing croquet.
I used to dismiss the idea of Cadillac-diving welfare queens, but once I got a taste of the dole ... *BOOM!* Break out the croquet mallets, Chaz, it turns out easy street is covered in a big sod roll of Kentucky Bluegrass and both tall and fine fescues! (Supa-dupa-fine fescue, if you ask me.)
So, we've been hitting that grass every night, Primo and I, and I have been PWNING him.
I mean, the world hasn't seen hammer-work like mine since Thor vanished in a puff of monotheism. I mean, my game ain't cro-k, it's 24-k. I mean, The Martinez family brought their body-boards over last night because they heard about the str8 playa in the house!
I'm not sure what exactly made it feel right, but almost from the start I've been talking trash about our croquet games to Primo. I've been singing snippets - with revised pronouns - of "Simply the Best," by Tina Turner; "We Are the Champions," by Queen and "You're the Best Around," by Joe Esposito (which gets to him the most- and why not?) I've been holding my mallet aloft Hacksaw Jim-style (and even letting loose with a cross-eyed "HO!" now and then.) I've been rolling around on my back after I knock my ball through a hoop. And he goes along with it. And emulates it. I don't think he completely understands the ridiculousness of it, but I think there's a sense. He smiles for all of it. I'm never belittling him and on the rare occasion it seems to bother him, I back off. And it helps that he wins sometimes and gets to do similarly goofy stuff.
My wife and I basically lay down for him when it comes to a lot of games, and we always stress fun and sportsmanship, which he's really getting (as fast as boys his age grasp such things.) But I think he likes having a chance to be a bad sport and a braggart. And croquet seems a fine place for it. I just hope he can rein it in by the time he goes pro.