INTROVERT PARENT VS. EXTROVERT KID
It has been a family-intensive day and I am finally alone, reading in my bedroom. Nora shows up and plops down on my bed with her own book. She has a terrible habit of wanting to read “the good bits” out loud to me, and she is not very discerning with what constitutes a “good bit.” I ask her several times to not do this. I say I just want to read my book alone for a while. She swears she’ll be quiet, but I think we both know this is not going to happen.
Please, I say. Please just go read in your own room. Nora: “FINE! I might as well go read IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS BY MYSELF!”
Thirty feet of hallway away from me = in the middle of the woods by yourself. Got it.
For more things to file under “Kids Are Such A Mindfuck”—the other night at dinner we were talking about Nora’s current science assignment, which is a small-group project where you have to do a presentation on a planet in the solar system, and give all sorts of facts about the planet while trying to convince people to go there, with a travel brochure and posters and a slideshow. I am not sure why our public magnet schools are training extremely bright children to become interstellar timeshare salespeople, but I digress. Incidentally, the science teacher formed the groups and picked the planet for each group, and she put three of the 5th grade’s goofiest troublemakers into one group AND assigned them the planet Uranus, which actually makes me respect her a little more. I can picture her working on lessons and just saying, “Fuck it, let’s get this over with.”
Nora’s group has Neptune. Neptune is kind of a mess, with its shitload of moons and its ammonia-slushy ocean, but you could do worse. No one has Pluto, since Pluto is not a planet. Nora was ranting about this at dinner (why do kids get so upset about Pluto?) and LT was like well, them’s the breaks, Pluto is too small to be a planet. I said no, I think the demotion was more because Pluto’s orbit is not regular. The no-smartphones-at-the-table thing does not count when you are IN PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE, and it turned out LT was right, darn it.
Nora: So what, though. “Planet” is a word we made up. We defined it. The universe doesn’t care what’s a planet and what isn’t. Planets aren’t really real! Words aren’t really real!
Me: Whoa, hey, slow down there Wittgenstein. I mean, we are sitting here eating spaghetti and it’s Tuesday night. Please.
Nora: Not even TIME is real!
Me: Can you get me some more wine?
TWO THINGS YOU MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT ME, EVEN AFTER ALMOST 15 GODDAMN YEARS
I fully expect to get my shit took. All the time. I have a flash of genuine, happy surprise when I come back outside to find my bike or my car still there. I never leave important things (my wallet, my phone, my child) unattended if I can help it, even if it’s “just for a second,” because as soon as the words “just for a second” go through my mind I immediately imagine myself crying on television news (in the case of my kid) or bitching to my friends (in the case of a material possession) about how I stopped paying attention “just for a second.”
It’s sort of the same as how, when the plane is taking off, I think of a newscaster saying “crashed shortly after takeoff” and then I have to do complex superstitious hoodoo to wash the words “crashed shortly after takeoff” out of my head, because everyone knows that thinking about the plane crashing will cause the plane to actually crash.
I am actually a happy, well-adjusted person who does not worry ALL of the time. Only like 90% of the time.
To prove how cheerful and carefree I am, here is the second possibly-unknown thing: I am very, very good at singing the Chiquita Banana song, and I do it a lot. I also have a hip-hop and a death-metal version.
Look, it’s me! Am I not wearing a shirt? Oh my.
—mimi smartypants is flecked with brown and has a golden hue.