BG’s Bowie fixation endures. This morning, Grammy took him to school. Our usual crossing guard is Joe, a lovely man who plays his stop sign like a guitar when he’s not actively engaged crossing kids. Grammy pointed out to BG that it wasn’t Joe today, but a substitute. BG did not accept this interpretation, insisting that it was, in fact, Joe. After they’d crossed, BG told Grammy that Joe had just “changed his look. Like David Bowie.”
The Baby Goth
Ziggy Stardust put the whammy on my kid or, everything I needed to know about parenting I learned from David Bowie.
The Baby Goth and I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario today. There’s a giant 20-foot version of the picture above plastered on the outside. (Because they have the Bowie exhibition, which you should go to if you’re in Toronto. It’s fun, if not transcendent. What I learned when I went: Bowie has a 26-inch waist. The costumes! They are so small!)
BG did a cartoon stop in front of Bowie, like someone put the brakes on him. After a moment of silent, slack-jawed staring, he turned to me and said, “What IS that?” We had a little convo about Bowie (yes, I know, it’s too Portlandia, isn’t it?). The takeaway for BG was: Bowie has two different coloured eyes. Bowie sings some good songs. Bowie has red and blue lightning on his face, and BG is a little concerned about whether it’s going to come off. We can’t see his nails, but maybe Bowie has silver toenails like Lily and BG do.
Then we went in, and our first stop was their family activity centre, where you can play and make art and read books. BG demands some paper and markers and then he writes his name. Then he writes, “Papa.”
So apparently this junior kindergarten thing is working.
I did not know he could write. I played it cool. I don’t know what I’m doing in this whole parenting thing, but I did once read an article that stuck with me that said, “praise the effort, not the outcome.” Because, you know, otherwise, you end up with entitled kids for whom life in the real world as a non-famous person is a crushing disappointment. So I told him he was doing a really good job holding the marker and concentrating so he could write.
But inside, yes, I was freaking out a little. I was going to take a picture and post it on Facebook, but then I calmed down and realized that everyone learns to write, and it’s not inherently an interesting phenomenon unless it’s happening to your kid.
Then BG asked if we could make a sign that said, “Welcome Lily.” Because a week ago, we made a sign lettered thusly in honour of Her Awesomeness’s arrival—she came bearing silver nail polish—but I did the lettering on that one. One week later, BG asked me to tell him each letter, and he wrote it.
Um, hello? Paging the Nobel committee. (Praise the effort, not the outcome!)
BG tired of his genius, so off we went, to see some miniature ships and some paintings of icebergs.
Then we went home and BG wrote signs welcoming various people to our house.
Later that night, after the standard epic bedtime struggle, I thought about the whole thing. It was difficult not to conclude that Bowie did in fact put the whammy on my kid, that as they stood there and stared at each other, Bowie somehow MADE HIM LITERATE.
But of course for that we must thank junior kindergarten teacher Mr. Brink, who works in the trenches every day with nary a museum exhibition mounted in his honour. Incidentally, BG pointed out later, during an impromptu Bowie video marathon, that Mr. Brink looks like Tin Machine era Bowie. They both play guitars (true) and they both have the same hair (sort of true).
I told BG that when he was baby, Mr. Mock and I liked to watch him sleep. In those colic-ridden months when BG would cry for six consecutive hours every night, we would sometimes find ourselves with a rare moment where he was asleep and we were not. We would drag our exhausted selves, feeling like husks of people rather than actual people, to his side and stare. Somehow, we got into this habit of singing Starman to him.
There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.
There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
He’s told us not to blow it cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
BG now demands Starman at odd intervals, including bed time. I had to do a rendition when I kissed him goodbye this morning.
Mind blown. Trying not to blow it. That about sums up this whole parenting thing, doesn’t it?
On the beach with Lily
We capped off a glorious weekend starring Lily with a trip to the beach. Last time Lily and I went to the beach, we were young(er) and in Florida. I got up early and strolled, we rendezvoused in the middle of the day, and after I went to bed, Lily went moonbathing. As usual, on this trip, Lily’s nocturnal tendencies were in evidence. Saturday night, long after the Baby Goth had sent Mr. Mock and me to bed exhausted, Lily prowled the neighbourhood. She found an off track betting establishment, at which she wagered four dollars on a horse race taking place in Japan. Then she stumbled onto Orthodox Easter midnight services. You know, just a night in the life.
When you go to the beach with Lily, she makes a graveyard.
See this one here? White graves at about five o’clock are graves of fallen soldiers. Twelve o’clock is the rich people, who can afford fancy, multi-coloured marble. Ten o’clock = old section, where the graves are weathering. And of course the big honking stone is for the town’s founder.
I need them because they don’t breathe fire
Baby Goth: Can I have these brushes?
Me: No, they have to stay up here.
Me: Because this is where I use them.
BG: But I need them! I need them because they don’t breathe fire!
This, I could not argue with, and BG took the brushes downstairs.
Lily is putting the whammy on The Baby Goth
Three years ago, I gave birth to a small human being I like to call The Baby Goth. From the moment BG was able to express preferences, he informed us his favourite colour was black. Except for that one time when I mistakenly referred to “black” as his favourite colour in conversation, and he corrected me, pointing out that his favourite colour had in fact changed to “dark black.” I kid you not. Last time we went to the pediatrician, they put him in “the blue room.” Because the rooms are colour-coded! Because kids like colours, right? Well, BG, while we were waiting for the doctor, said, “They should have a black room. Black is my colour.” Still not kidding.
These are the pictures he brings home from day care.
We all know whose fault this is, right? Yes, from her roost in New York, it appears that Lily has put the whammy on my child. In her defense, he expressed this preference independent of her, but the girl is now fanning the flames as rigorously as she can without getting a tan.
For example: For Christmas, she sent him a package of crayons that contained only black crayons. The fact that she did this by buying eight packages of crayons, taking the single black crayon out of each and uniting them in one package of dark splendour, and then doctoring the outside of the package so that the image showed only black crayons, is amazing. There was also black play-doh. And last week, black M&Ms.
How does she do it?
Lily once told me that I was goth inside. Somewhere under all the pink clothing and relentless optimism, beats the heart of a tortured poet, was the argument. I do like Chekov, like A LOT, so maybe she has a point. Anyway, I took it as a compliment. And if BG grows up to be as much of a superstar as Lily, I’ll be lucky, lucky, lucky.