Thursday, August 20, 2015

Crazy Eights

Son: Have you ever been inside a horse Daddy?

My daughter turned eight this past weekend. Not wishing to sound like an absurd cliche but quite how the hell that happened is anybodies' guess. I vividly remember it like she was just born. I remember her being a week old and thinking how odd it was that a week and a few days before she didn't technically exist (sort of). I remember falling asleep on my way up the stairs from being so exhausted that first fortnight. I remember starting a new job as a civil servant in Bristol when she was exactly two weeks old. And her spitting up on my work clothes every morning and I didn't care at all. I remember her mother actually had boobs. Actually come to think of it that was absolutely ages ago.

Anyway - she's gone from this pink malteser...

"I swear I can smell toast...?"

And turned into this four years ago...

And now somehow is this....

Reading a book about feelings.
And she might be eight years old but the way she thinks is astonishing. For example for a brief period last year she was bullied in school. Why? Because some kids would pick on a few other kids at school and at her after-school club. Which she found inherently mean - so she made friends with the bullied kids. Right into the sight line, basically. But despite it making her very sad at times she knew it was right. She had so much conviction about it. Even after some kids stole her shoes and threw them in the bin. So much so she wrote a letter - all by herself after learning what a petition was - to her school principal asking to start an anti-bullying club. This week she finally got to talk to the principal about it. Then her class made posters for it. Today every class in the entire school made some. And she just told me that that tomorrow in every assembly she's telling every year of school why she started it. And that if any kid in school is being bullied to come find her and they can be friends. That girl blows my mind.

Not that I'm remotely comparing - but this week my son invented the pignana.  I'm sure you can figure out what it is. He was quite pleased with himself when he came up with that. "You can eat the pignana peel because it's bacon!" Actually to his credit he won a "golden ticket" for being such a good listener this week. And got a card and prize pencil for being the best behaved all last week as well. His highlight of the week was a toss up between playing Pacman Tag in P.E. (which seems to involve bashing everyone with a pool noodle) and learning about a Trojan horse. Which he liked a lot. Quite why week one of American schooling involved learning about that is a mystery to me. Plus it lead to him asking me, "have you ever been inside a horse Daddy?" Which he said with the kind of suspicious inflection in his voice as if to suggest there is a very unpleasant rumor going around his school at the moment. Possibly based upon the fact that we used to live quite near Ilion, NY - where judging by local news reports almost everyone has been caught doing that at some point.

Waiting for Before School Club. Owen clearly dressed like a Masai Warrior.

Anyhoo - a few days ago I was stopped - with kids in tow - by a well-meaning pair of people outside a grocery store. They wanted to advise me on how my voting in the next general election would not just vastly change my life and community, but also change the course of history (they actually said "correct the course") to ensure my children's future was no longer in danger. Obviously at this point I pushed out my very best Hugh Laurie and gushed back, "gosh that does sound exciting!" It didn't take very long for me to get to the fact that alas I'm not allowed to vote before the two ladies' suspicious eyes looked me up and down - confused that I didn't look like their notion of a criminal - and wondered if they should call Sheriff Arpaio immediately. I politely added that I was English and not a citizen - therefore not given the right to vote. My daughter enthusiastically chipped in that she's English too. Bless her. I then smarmily mentioned the irony in the fact that even though I've lived here on and off for fifteen years I basically live under a system of taxation without representation. I just wish I'd been witty enough to threaten to chuck as much Mountain Dew as I could carry into the nearest harbour. But instead Owen kept punching me in the arse and yelling, "pizza!" so my sense of cool quickly evaporated.

I'm still totally cool though. Just ask my kids.

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