Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vandals and Tune Ups

I am installed in a coffee shop attempting to warm the brain up for scholarship. Of course the first task is the overdue and useless annual report. Since according to the newspapers no one in the entire state of Virginia will get a raise this year I’m not sure why we are bothering and yet it’s time for the inevitably depressing exercise of the annual report in which you have to justify your existence preferably with lots of newly published materials. My sabbatical officially begins June 1 and my goal is to have my desk cleared of crap by then.

Rebecca and Jonathan had their seven year old tune up yesterday. These things used to torture us. They required multiple people to handle the screaming babies and talk to the pediatrician who was always full of dire predictions and dumb advice. My favorite dumb advice involved the insistence that we start the family meal when they were six months old. This time they pretty much ran ahead of us and joyfully chatted up the doctor with. The underweight speech delayed kid has exceeded our wildest dreams for size and is now at the 25th percentile. So much for the various doctors who informed us in serious voices that those kids who didn’t catch up by 3 don’t ever catch up. Rebecca meanwhile explained to the pediatrician that he could not possibly in a million years imagine the depths of annoyance involved in having not one but two brothers. She also took an opportunity to discuss the fact that she has lost lots of teeth and her twin has lost none—tooth loosing is a serious power dynamic in our house.

I’m meanwhile feeling a little bit like Harry Potter. The spot on my forehead that had the giant knot on it seems to start to hurt for no reason. My family tells me they see a very faint lightening bolt scar there. Between its location and the optics of my glasses I actually can’t see it so I have to assume that their warnings about the presence of Voldemot in our house ring slightly true. While he’s here if he could get rid of the dizziness and headaches and do some cleaning it would be fabulous. Last night’s headache was courtesy of the first grade concert which concluded with one of those mind numbing events involving over a hundred kindergarten and first grade children hyped up on their triumphant singing performance and ice cream in a not so big school cafeteria. When we came home the big kids launched into a project of putting their imaginary friends Africa and Marc through some sort of standardized reading testing. They had a whole series of levels the friends had to go through and a reward structure involving special activities. Marc has been gone for a few years but seems to be back. I have no idea where Africa came from but Marc is linked to my friend Celia’s husband Marc who when the kids were two lived in California. Celia spent a great deal of time on the phone with “ Marc” and talked about him all the time which led them to think of him as rather ephemeral.

Below is a little dialogue written by Manuel about a morning with the kids last week while I was in New York.

Date-12 May, 2010
Time-7:50 a.m.
Cast- JGJ, an overaware and undereating 7-year old who is reading the crime report in the newspaper
MTL, an overtired and underslept 46-year old who is trying to get spawn ready for school

JGL: Daddy, what's 'vandalism'?
MTL: What do you think it is?
JGL: I don't know.
MTL: What word does it sound like?
JGL: Vandals.
MTL: What are vandals?
JGL: (exasperatedly) Not "What" daddy. Who were the Vandals?
MTL: Ok, who were the vandals?
JGL: (with the condescending tone of one who is speaking to a complete idiot) They were the people who sacked Rome.
MTL: Ok, so what do you think vandalism is?
JGL: (now almost stunned that his father is so dumb) Vandalism is the crime of sacking things.

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