I went to go pick up First Son from day care and they were playing top 40 music. I started singing along to “This Girl Is on Fire” and the notes are so high, I just sounded like a man in drag…again. To cover up my embarrassment, I made up the words. Nothing fancy, but just like “This dinner’s on fire,” “this broccoli’s on fire,” etc. and all of sudden I was horse-shoe-ringed by a bunch of four-year-old girls who all laughed really hard and waited bright-eyed to hear what was next.
All I can say is know your audience, people. I’ll be here all night, thank you, thank you.
My mom retired last summer and has been struggling to find a rhythm since. I imagine it is a wild life change, but suddenly, she has a very jammed schedule because she started to join more things, like senior week at the Y, where they had free gym classes for people of her age. (She was there from like dawn to dusk to max out the value of “free.”) One day, because she had misread the time slot for Silver Sneakers, she went to the gym and there was nothing to do but take a writers workshop for seniors.
I think the first question was “What I Like About Getting Older,” about which she mostly grumbled to me. “Nothing” was her answer, making it a very short essay, but funny enough, she has kept going. She tells me there are women in their 80s there, who grew up in Brooklyn, who were in the navy, who bungee jumped, and that she is quite dull in comparison. I love hearing about it. She apologetically asks for me to edit her entries for grammatical and phonetic correction.
Sometimes, when I edit people, I have a tough time because the writer presents me with perfect sentences and organized paragraphs, but the words don’t zing with any soul. Not everyone knows how to inject themselves into letters.
My mom’s English can be wild, um, and a bit unwieldy sometimes, but her writing has a voice, a strong point of view, which is something I can only recognize, never teach.
You know what? She has writing talent. She says I’m lying, to which I say fishing for compliments is rude.
First Son is hitting that stage. After observing Wonder Twin Girl attempt the use of the toilet standing with her imaginary penis (I’m only guessing at what was going through her mind, but that is what it looked like), he looked at her down there extensively. Tonight, I got a request to clarify — so I said, yes, boys have penises and girls have vaginas. (I read somewhere that people typically do not name girl parts, which can introduce a lack of self-esteem or at least lack of vocabulary — both fates seem like bad news to me, plus like, let’s name the stuff what it is, shall we?) After that, First Son quizzed me on who had what in our family.
First Son: What do you have?
FS: Can I see it?
Me: Nope, it’s private.
FS: What do I have?
FS: So I am a boy?
FS: Wonder Twin Boy?
FS: Wonder Twin Girl?
FS: Ah-bah? (what he calls my dad)
FS: Ima? (what he calls my mom)
And then I just folded. Started to laugh and could not keep it up. This is completely average conversation but still, it’s a first for me and I was trying to keep it simple. I haven’t had to say “penis” and “vagina” this much since grad school when poetry MFA students felt empowered writing these words down over and over again in their poems. I think a poet read at our school who had a chapbook out that was called “The Story of My Two Vaginas” or the “Vagina Within My Vagina.”