Leggo of my Lego

“I want to take apart my legos,” M-ito said.

Mom-ita and I just stared at him. “What?” I asked.

“M-ito says he wants to take apart all his legos.”

“All of them?” I asked, with my mouth dropping open.

M-ito nodded with a big smile. “And it’ll be easy to take ’em apart. I’ll just smash ’em up.”

“No,” Mom-ita said. “You’ll take them apart. Now why do you want to take them apart?”

“All of them?” I asked again, still uncomprehending. You see, M-ito has been building legos models for a couple of years now. We have the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Underwater Adventures (my personal favorite), Mars, Castle, Power Miners, and a few others I can’t remember. They line two book cases in his room. He keeps them out of the way so that no one can touch them and break them. Little kids… look out. He built them. He plays with them. He collects them. I just didn’t understand.

“We’ll get a bin for them and you can put all the pieces in that.”

“That’s right. That’s what I thought,” M-ito said, still smiling.

“But Dad-dito will take pictures of them first so we can remember them. And you don’t have to break up all of them. You should save some.” Mom-ita had it down.

“You want to break them up?” I said again. I was having trouble with attachment, trying to hold on to the legos. M-ito was ready to let them go and I wasn’t.

I took pictures of him giving me the thumbs up next to his shelves. I asked him if he wanted to save the underwater adventure models – for that’s what I think of them as, models – models without glue. I spent a lot of evenings sitting on the floor with him searching for and finding pieces for him while he snapped them together.

“No,” M-ito said. “I’ll need the pieces for building other things – you know, like Austino does with them.” Austino and his friend have a bin they build all kinds of structures, spaceships and weapons of destruction from. If Austino does it, M-ito will do it too. Austino is a year older and is M-ito’s hero.

I nodded, then shrugged. “I’ll go clean out a bin.” So I did. It’s still sitting empty beneath the play table. But the Deathstar is half disassembled.  My heart aches a little. But if it means there’s more space in his room…

One Meatball

It’s Sunday evening dinner. Mom-ita made pasta (my sauce, M-ito’s and my meatballs – true teamwork).

“How many meatballs do you want, one or two?” Mom-ita asks from the kitchen.

“One,” M-ito says from the living room. He’s packing his DS into his new Pokemon case. We just bought it on our way back from Tae Kwon Do practice.

Mom-ita asks again. “One or two?

“One,” M-ito says louder.

Twenty minutes later…

We sit down to eat. M-ito, standing, picks up his fork while swaying back and forth (ah for the days when he sat down and sat still for meals).

“Sit down, please,” I say.

“Sit down, M-ito,” Mom-ita echoes.

M-ito sits. His knees are six inches from the table edge. I reach over and slowly draw his chair in towards the table so his “drop-zone” is smaller.

“You should have changed your pants,” Mom-ita says. He’s still wearing his white Tae Kwon Do pants. “They’re never last until Wednesday.”

M-ito smiles as a pea rolls off his fork, unnoticed. I wonder if it hit his pants on the way down. He puts a whole meatball into his mouth and starts to chew.

“Don’t do that!” Mom-ita says, exasperated. “You could choke on that. I told you not to do that!”

“It’s small,” M-ito says around the disappearing meatball.

I shrug. He swallows.

M-ito reaches into his bowl with his fork and starts moving the pasta and peas around. He looks up at us. “Where’s the other meatball?”

“You only asked for two,” Mom-ita says.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes. Yes, you did.”

“No I didn’t!”

I take my second meatball and place it into his bowl. M-ito smiles.

“What are you doing?” Mom-ita asks. “How’s he going to learn to accept the consequences of his actions if you do that? He said he wanted only one.”

I shrug again and give her the what can I do, he’s my son look.

She’s not buying it and looks down and away from me, exasperated again with another male in the family.

We eat quietly for a while. M-ito’s meatball disappears, one half at a time. I drop a pea on the floor. It rolls under M-ito’s chair and remind myself to pick it up after we’re finished eating.

Then half a meatball falls off a fork, Mom-ita’s fork, and onto my plate, like manna from heaven. I stare at it for moment, then pick it up with my fork and eat it, smiling at my wife. She rolls her eyes.

The circle is complete.

A Day in the Life

6:31 – Wake up having overslept.

6:32 – Roll out mat and do short yoga practice

6:47 – Wake up M-ito and Mom-ita (Mom-ita already awake)

6:50 – Make breakfast for M-ito (humus on toast, hard-boiled egg from yesterday that Mom-ita made, glass of milk)

7:42 – Out the door and drive M-ito to school with Mom-ita

8:35 – Stop at Starbucks near M-itos’ school for tea for the trip back into Manhattan

9:55 – Park car in parking garage – finish tea

10:05 – Sit down at desk to work while Mom-ita goes off to work

4:45 – Leave parking garage with Mom-ita

5:05 – drop off Mom-ita in Woodside at friends – Mom-ita has PTA meeting at M-ito’s school

5:20 – Arrive in Murray Hill to see M-ito’s Tae Kwon Do practice and meet his Grandmother (who picked M-ito up from school to take him to practice)

6:15 – Leave Tae Kwon do and head home

6:40 – Open front door

6:50 – Start cooking dinner

7:10 – M-ito finishes practicing piano

7:30 – M-ito finishes homework

7:50 – Dinner finished

8:15 – Both reading books in bed – M-ito The Magic School Bus “Volcanos”  and me a book on Meditation and Yoga

8:35 – Lights out

9:08 – M-ito finally falls asleep

9:30 – Dinner cleaned up

9:35 – Mom-ita comes home from meeting

11:15 – Finished answering emails

12:14 – Blog entries done – off to bed

Tomorrow morning… start all over again

Dumb and Stupid Redux

The holidays are still a fresh memory but all the decoration are down.

The DS is now an integral part of the household.

We were all working last night. Mom-ita preparing dinner, me preparing for my yoga class, and M-ito preparing to be a world class fossil hunter. It sounds exciting, I know it does. But here’s the thing. In order to be a world class fossil hunter my son has to do the following:

  1. Sit hunched over a tiny handheld portable electronic gaming device (a DS) for an hour, possibly more if we let him – and we try not to let him ever go that long;
  2. Intuit directions and rules as he goes along as to what is needed to be a world class fossil hunter (not easy because the rules are in small print and I can barely read ’em even with my reading glasses and, of course M-ito doesn’t like to read the rules, and double of course because you also have to understand gaming lingo) – also M-ito makes lots of mistakes along the way and it is frustrating going;
  3. Figure out how to pause the damned thing when either his mother or father wants him to stop to either, say… get the table set, or answer a question, or interact in any way with the world around him;
  4. Yell out successes and failures to me while I’m ten feet away typing wickedly at emails (of which I have no idea what he’s saying because I haven’t played the game and can only guess at what his statements mean – I usually simply answer, “that’s great,” or “keep trying, you’ll get it next time.”);
  5. Do lots of thumb exercises and obtain good hand-eye coordination (hey, I have to be honest – it does take some of these qualities to succeed in the game including make good use of your opposable thumbs)

So… after the fifth or sixth time we asked him to come in and set the table M-ito, still playing, nodded and mumbled something akin to, “Yes.”

I got up and said, in typical, I’m-not-proud of myself-mode, “If you don’t put that game down I’m going to take it away.”

At which point he said, with extreme frustration, “I can’t figure out how to pause the game without losing the game I’m playing.” He said this, uncannily, while still playing, barely missing a beat.

I reached over for the game and he leaned away from me, using his elbow to slightly block my angle on the DS. I said, in my most menacing voice – because I was getting pissed off now (though you should note that I also knew I was tired from my work and upset at myself for letting him play so long and so… attempting to take some responsibility for the confrontation occurring), “You’d better turn that thing off right now or I’m going to throw it out the window.” Ah, that was poetry.

That’s when the tears started and the crying – all while still playing, at least minimally so his game didn’t disappear and be reduced to oblivion. Sometimes the most difficult part of playing these games is figuring out how to save your game. The simple precaution in the future is to read how to do this first, before he starts to play. After you’ve plowed through an hour of hard work making mistakes and learning game-play I understand not wanting to lose what you’ve gained. I do. I really do.

I used some yogic breathing, calmed myself and said, “Let’s look at the instructions and see what they say.”

Twenty seconds, M-ito still playing, I took the DS from him. His eyes wide with terror he shouted, “No!” as I touched a button to find the right screen. A quick flash appeared with the dialog, “Do you want to save this game?” M-ito used his stylus, angling the two screens towards him so he could see and pressed the statement a few times.

“It’s not saving!” he shouted again.

I took his stylus and tapped the, “Yes.”

The screen disappeared and M-ito mouthed, “O.”

Then another screen came on asking, “Do you want to continue playing?” and I quickly tapped “No.”

M-ito only saw the no and broke down into tears again. These are the kind of tears that go right through you. The dad-ditto-you’ve-betrayed-me kind.

“You lost my game,” he said. “Now I have to go back and start all over!” Variations of this came and went between sobbing and weeping. I sat in the other room, looking at Mom-ita and looking back into the room. I might have said, “It’s only a game,” but I hope I didn’t. I tried to tell him it was okay – that I’d not erased anything. He swore it was all lost. The game didn’t mean a thing to me, but I tried to remember it meant a lot to this 7-year old boy. M-ito’s anger turned sullen. He wouldn’t come in and eat. He wouldn’t talk to us. He might even have said something in the nature of, “You don’t want me” or “love me” but I’m still to this moment not sure. Mom-ita as the neutral party, tried to get involved. She said, “We’ll take a look at it after we eat,” but he got angry at her too.

We ate a quiet and unhappy meal. I got angry again after a while too and called him on his attitude (how did he get that look in his eyes and the nasty set of his jaw?) and the way he spoke to his mother. Otherwise I was silent the rest of the meal too. It was a big unhappy party and I didn’t think I could be brought lower until I started wondering if I had indeed lost his game. What if I did?

Finally, dinner over and the game back in hand, Mom-ita playing mediator. We looked at it together and lo and behold. The game was right where it was supposed to be – saved and in one piece.

M-ito looked up at me and smiled, gave me a big hug – night and day.

“Next time have a little faith in your father,” I said. Exactly what my own father had said to me many a time when I was a kid. Oh how these things come back and haunt you.