Three Nasty Gnarlies

M-ito on contraception. “So if you want to have a baby you can’t use a condom or diaphragm or anything like that. Right?”

My response after taking a moment to allow the question to sink in: “You got it.”

M-ito: “Then why do they say in the book that you have to use a condom?”

Dad-dito: “That’s to stop you from getting any sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis or gonorrhea.”

M-ito: “And that one with the c at the beginning?”

D: “Chlamydia?”

M: “That’s the one. They’ve got great cartoons of them – they look like the Three Nasty Gnarlies*.”

D: “Yup. The first three you can cure or get rid of and others like HIV/AIDS -”

M: “HIV – ”

D: “- you can’t. Once you get HIV you have it for life. That’s probably why they talk so much about condoms and using some kind of protection.”

M: “Okay. But … to have a baby you can’t use them, right? I figured that out?”

D: “You did.”

Thank you What’s Going On Down There Karen Gravelle, Nick and Chava Castro!

*One of Mom-ita, M-ito, and my favorite children’s books ever by Keith Graves.

Brother Spike

Mom-ita found a piece of paper she’d used to write things down on that M-ito has said to us. This is from when he was three years old.

M-ito – “If I have a brother or sister what will their names be?”

Mom-ita – “If we have another child and it’s a girl we’ll name her Lil-ita after my grandmother, just as you were named M-ito after your father’s grandfather.”

M-ito – “If we have a boy can I name him?”

Mom-ita – “What would you name him?”

M-ito – “Spike.”

It’s five years later and we are past being able to have a second child. It is an ache in our hearts that won’t fully go away.

We got a dog in July. It fell into our laps. It had been returned by the original adopting family to a trainer that we know who called us and offered him to us for adoption. He was a little 15 pound, 8 months old hypoallergenic Havanese, and he was already named – Spike.

DS i XL Grenade

Sometimes you just have to jump on the grenade. If you’ve been reading along with this blog you know my opinion of the DS and it’s not very high. I like people games instead of computer games. It’s not that I dislike computer games – I love them – but not to the extent that kids play them today. There is a disconnect occurring between children today and other children. They’re playing games too much by themselves and with a computer and not interacting with others. We’re social animals and this can’t be good for the upcoming generation. So that’s the set-up.

The camera zooms in on my face. It’s Sunday morning and it’s my birthday. No wait. Rewind. Go back to Saturday afternoon. The day before. I’m home after yoga class (a good day with 19 people and good pranic energy in the room). Mom-ita and M-ito are out shopping for various things including my birthday gift. The phone rings. It’s Mom-ita.

“M-ito has a gift all picked out for you,” she says cagily.

“Okay… ” I say, waiting for what sounds like is coming after. I’m picturing some Warhammer figures (a new game we’re playing together at a shop in Manhattan), or something yoga-like, maybe a cool stuffed animal that he will get soon after he gives it to me.

“It’s a DS,” she says quietly and waits.

“A what?” I ask.

“A DS i XL. He says you’ve always wanted one and that if you get one – you and he can play the game together at the same time.” She waits again. “He said you need the DS i XL version because it’s a bigger screen and you can’t see the small screen very well.” I think she’s trying to hold back laughter now but I can’t tell.”

I rack my brain. Have I ever told him I wanted a DS? Have I ever told him how much that would mean to me? If I did, and it’s possible, it was only to make him feel better because I would never in my life think that I would get one without someone forcing me to play with a gun to my head. Perhaps I have overstated that a little.  I took a deep breath and exhaled. We have only M-ito. “Of course,” I said. “That’s very sweet. I’ll take the XL and I’ll jump on the grenade. It’s my turn. You’ve been playing Harry Potter on the Wii all summer (and loving it I should say because Mom-ita loves to play the Lego games) so it’s my turn.”

Now she laughs. “This is your iPad, you know,” she says when she gets her breath back.

“Thanks,” I say. An iPad. Oh that hurts. She did that on purpose.

M-ito couldn’t wait so I opened my gift that night.

Fast forward to the next morning, October 3, birthday morning.

I sleep until almost 7:30am and it’s wonderful. The bed is so warm beneath the comforter. The wind is blowing outside and making the shades move back and forth. M-ito is staring at me from a few inches away. “Happy birthday,” he says, eyes full of mischief. “Let’s play your DS.”

And with a hug, a heartfelt sigh, and a smile, I say, “Yes. Let’s play with my DS. I’ll need your help setting it up.”

Forty-nine  years on this planet and still counting.

Dad-dito’s B-day

I fenced this morning at HB studio, where I used to help teach two stage fencing classes – frequently (weekly) – and which I now teach (since M-ito was born) infrequently – ie: when I can grab a long lunch from my job and not have to pick M-ito up from school on that day. I fenced three hours – what seems like, and is, a true luxury. I’m achy and sore from swinging a sword and teaching and lunging first with rapier then smallsword. I have a big smile on my face. I love this kind of thing.

Afterwards I came back to Jackson heights and I picked up M-ito and Mom-ita and took him to his last swimming class of the season. He takes individual lessons at Saf-T-Swim on Long Island – where he has truly learned to swim incredibly well. Mom-ita found that it cost almost as much for half hour individual lessons in Westbury (40 minute drive from home) as it was to take a group class here in our neighborhood. Individual lessons it has been and it has paid off very well with a confident swimmer and a boy who loves to be in the water. I watched him laugh and joke with his instructor, then swim the crawl, the back stroke, the elementary back stroke, the breast stroke, dive, and do all kinds of search and recover underwater tricks. 

We ate dinner at a small Italian Restaurant in Mineola on the less formal pizza side of the establishment. M-ito explaining to me with a diagram where I need to sit tomorrow night at the Shiros in Atlas Park (a Japanese restaurant where they cook at your table) so that I don’t get burned by the cooking oil – which happened to him when he was there last and is also the reason he won’t return. So he won’t be coming with us as it’s date night for Dad-dito and Mom-ita – the first one we’ve had in almost six months.

Sitting in our kitchen, M-ito and I shared a blondie we bought from the Ambrosia bakery folks at their table at the Food Coop – Farm Spot, and laughed as he farted and I made silly noises to complement him. Mom-ita rolled her eyes at us while she finished the dishes. No dishes today for the birthday boy.

I put M-ito to bed, reading him the story of Stick Burr (and replacing Butt with Burr whenever I could – just to make M-ito laugh and giggle, then correct me) a comic book format favorite. We fell asleep together.

Mom-ita woke me up an hour later so I could do my prepare for yoga class in the morning. Writing this blog entry caps off, what for me, has been just about a perfect day.

Gerbils Gerbils

We have gerbils. We held off for a full year in getting them, though M-ito has pressed the whole time for the furry friends. We finally got them and M-ito was in mammal heaven. When people ask, what are they, he loves to say, “They’re in the rodent family. They’re rodents.” I try not to think that way. I tell everyone they have furry tails so they look cuter. In any case we got two a Marc Marone’s Parrots of World in Rockville Center – a place recommended to us the same place we went for the various ill fated fish and the hardier hermit crabs. Overall a good choice, we thought.

We got two white gerbils, females, each about 6 weeks old. M-ito named them Movie and Fari. I don’t know why. they both look so alike I can’t tell them apart. M-ito can. We handled them each day. M-ito has been feeding them in the morning. We taught them to climb into a coffee cup – sans the coffee. 

All seemed perfect.

Then nine days later I looked inside their cage and noticed there were four babies nursing next to Fari (Movie?). Hmmm. I called the shop the next day, after Mom-ita and I scoured the web for gerbil handbooks and every scrap of info we could find on breeding. I called the shop the next day and Marc said, “Well, they must have been a little older than I thought,” an interesting understatement because they have to about 10-12 weeks old to have babies – and, he added, “One must have been pregnant when we sold her to you. Sorry about that. Bring the babies back to us in three weeks and we’ll take care of them.”

Okay. IN the mean time M-ito is fascinated by the babies. We’re fascinated too – I have to admit. They’re pretty neat to watch grow day by day. As of today they are just starting to grow fur and we can see their colors changing. their eyes are still closed. But… what are we going to do with six gerbils? Some of which will undoubtedly be boys and and some girls. Gulp.

I asked M-ito what he thought we should do with them.

“Keep ’em,” he said without missing a beat.

“We can’t keep six gerbils,” I said. “That’s not happening.”

“Okay, Dad-dito. I have an idea. You’re not going to like it, but I have an idea.”

“Tell me about this idea of yours.”

“We’ll it involves twenty-one cages, maybe twenty.”

“You’re right. I’m not gonna like it.”

And so the negotiation begins. I have a feeling we’ll have three gerbils by the time all the back and forth is done. Maybe more… with visits from family near and far. 

The Altar of the Perineum

I was thinking of this recently. Mom-ita was telling M-ito’s birth-story to some friends at dinner and it reminded of what the midwife said just before his head emerged. She was kneeling down at the foot of the bed.

“I worship at the altar of the perineum.”

Then she unwrapped the cord from M-ito’s neck (it was wrapped around twice – not a big deal for an experienced midwife, but impressive to me none-the-less) and caught him as he entered the world.