Monthly Archives: April 2013

Badass Brain Protection


I once owned a pair of Doc Martens, and they were seriously bitchin . . . except that they were lilac. My high school bedroom boasted a white eyelet canopy and bubblegum-colored walls . . . pasted over with pictures of Kurt Cobain. I love me a little girliness, but only when it’s got some badass, too. So to harden the pastel sweetness of my terribly feminine cream-colored Bianchi Cortina bike with its pretty pink basket, I picked up this helmet:


Baby MoFo’s cute keppy with my hardcore helmet

Strangely, I now give off the wrong impression when I walk into class with it. . . which might not be the worst thing.

Eying my head candy, a student asked one day: “Hey, do you snowboard?”

Me: “Nah . . . this is just for my bike.”

Another day, another student asked: “Hey, do you have a vespa?”

Me: “I wish!”

And today, a third: “Oh, wow. Do you drive a motorcycle?”

Me: “Goodness, no! I mean . . . just a little pink vespa.”

Student: “Cool!”

A Kid’s Refutation of Idealism


After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, ‘I refute it thus.’–James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson

After we came out of the library the other day, Cool J was straggling behind on his scooter, so I called to him to catch up to me and Baby M. “What about me?” asked LL, who, ten feet ahead of me, needed no catching up. “You who?” I asked.

“Yeah, who are you?” Cool J added, rolling up to my side.

“You know —me.” And LL said his name, first and last.

“Never heard of him,” I retorted. This was in good fun, of course. I wasn’t trying to provoke an existential crisis.

“Nope, me neither,” added Cool J. He pointed to Baby MoFo. “That’s my brother there.”

We were laughing, even LL, though it’s possible he became a tiny bit concerned. “But I’m your brother, too!”

“Are you?” asked Cool J.

“Are you?” I asked.

“Yes, of course I am. I am your big brother,” pointedly, “and your oldest kid.”

“Nah,” I said. “My oldest kid is this one.”

He thought about that for a while.

“But don’t you remember me? I was born here–in this state!”

“What do you mean, in this state? We just moved here two years ago. We’re all Canadian. How could you have been born here?”

And Cool J: “Yeah, we just made up a big brother. And we said he was born here cuz that’s where we are now.”

Me: “Yeah, and you know why you like screen games so much? It’s because we didn’t quite make you up so much as find you in a screen game. You’re a kid in screen game.”

Cool J: “Yeah, it’s a screen game about playing screen games. In the screen game there’s a kid who is playing a screen game. And in his screen game is a kid who is playing a screen game. And in that screen game is a kid who is playing a screen game. And in that screen game–Ow!!!! Why did you kick me?

LL, triumphantly: “I guess I’m real then, huh?”

LL contemplating his existence under The Bean

LL contemplating his reality under The Bean

One more nugget from my little nudnick


To finish of his week of witticisms, Cool J declared his future profession yesterday–

LL: “Is Pesach over yet?”

Me: “Almost.”

LL: “Can’t I get a muffin?”

Me: “Tomorrow.”

LL: “But why do we have to keep Pesach? Dada doesn’t keep Pesach.”

Me: “Well, boys, the thing is that Dada grew up religious. You know how at Babi and Zaidy’s house we can’t turn on lights or the TV or anything on Shabbos or yontev?”

LL and Cool J: “Yeah, so?”

Me: “So, sometimes when kids grow up, they do something called rebel against their parents. It means whatever their parents want them to do, they do the opposite. It’s a way of showing that they can make their own decisions now.”

Cool J: “So Dada’s mom and dad wanted him to be religious?”

Me: “You could say that.”

Cool J: “But he rebelled so he’s doing the opposite of what his dad wants?”

Me: “Right.”

Cool J: “Hmmmmm . . . So when I grow up, I’m going to become a rabbi.”


Conversations with my Middle Child (Sh%*&t my little frat boy says)

A month or so ago, I received a call from the kindergarten teacher telling me my five-year-old frat boy, Cool J, took his friend Boychick into the bathroom to teach him the f-word. “The f-word!” says his teacher. “When Boychick told me your son taught him the f-word, I thought there was no way it was what I would call the f-word. In my 30 years of teaching kindergarten, I’ve never heard a child say such a word. So in front of the class, I encouraged him to share it. Was it flower? Or fantasy? Or was it a bad f-word–like frown–or fight?” Pause for dramatic effect. “But no, it was the f-word . . .”
Cool J: A picture of innocence

Cool J: A picture of innocence

I could hardly pretend to exhibit surprise (although I did my best). After all, only a short time before the call, we had been spending Shabbos dinner with my in-laws, Babi and Zaidy Frummy, when my brother-in-law, Master Notfatso, was slow in passing the hummus. Cool J turned to him: “Uncle!” he shouted. “Pass the fucking hummus!” (“Where did you hear such a word?” asked Babi Frummy. “Does your brother use that language?” Abashedly: “No.” “Does your mother use that language?” “No.” “Does your father use that language?” “Yes.” Saved!!!!)

PP and an abashed Cool J

At 5, Cool J is a real chatty cathy, with an answer for everything. Here are some snippets of conversation from this week alone:

Resisting his term of endearment:
Me: “Come here, my little angel.”
Cool J: “I am NOT an angel of death who slays the firstborn of every Egyptian!”
Resisting our (inevitable?) future:
Me: “Hey, since we’re thinking of moving to the UK, do you think we should we practice speaking British?”
Cool J: “Mama, I know Yiddish. I can say kiddush. But I DON’T KNOW BRITISH!”
Resisting my demands (and teaching mom a biology lesson):
Me: “Of course you have to listen to me. I am your mama! I made you.”
Cool J: “No, you didn’t.”
Me: “Oh, really? Then who did?”
Cool J: “You and Dada together.”
Me: “Yes, that’s true. Do you know how?”
Cool J: “Yes.”
Me: “How?”
Cool J: “He put it in you.”
Me: “What?”
Cool J: “His DNA!”
Grand birthday plans:
LL: “For my eighth birthday, I want to go back to the Tower of Power and go up the yellow elevator and the red elevator.”
Me: “That’s nice. I’ll consider taking you to the Empire State Building.”
LL: “Aww . . .”
Cool J: “Well, I want to go to India for my sixth birthday!!”
Me: “You do?”
Cool J: “Well . . . “
We all look at him.
Cool J: “Nah, I don’t really care where I go. So long as I get to drink alcohol!”
Good habits:
Cool J: “Can I have a bazooka?”
Me: “No.”
Cool J: “Can I have a bazooka?”
Me: “No.”
Cool J: “Can I have a bazooka?”
Me: “No.”
Cool J: “Can I have a bazooka?”
Me: “Ugh . . . fine.” (This is where a tiny part of me admits that Frank Bruni’s obnoxious I-know-better-than-all-you-parents-based-on-nothing-but-my-pomposity and I-am-just-writing-this-as-a-cheppener op-ed has a milligram of truth to it).
Cool J (breaking his teeth on the rock-hard K-for-P gum): “Oooh, I like chewing gum. I am going to do it all the time.”
Me: “No, you’re not. It’s a bad habit.”
Cool J (twisting his now softened gum into a cylinder and dangling it from his lips): “OK, Mama. Then I’ll just smoke instead.”

If this is childhood . . . I fear the teenage years