Wednesday, August 28, 2013


     My youngest son was born late in December, 2007. We last year debated keeping him back the few days so he'd be one of the oldest in kindergarten, but he just couldn't wait. I couldn't see leaving him home another year with my wife so he entered on schedule, the youngest in class. Turns out he did fine, but picked up bad habits fast, such as lying, which he never did before, sassing back—good for more time-outs, faking illnesses—I guess it must have been going around in school, and swearing. We have had no TV for his entire life and limited his exposure outside home (he was just so naive anyway), so naturally, he picked it up at school.
     Just as I exited the shower, I heard him growl at older brother, “Get the f— out of the room!”
     “Jaden, quit talking like that!” older brother scolded.
     I wrapped a towel around myself, grabbed a notebook from a nearby desk for a paddy tap on the rear and a good chewing out, and demanded, “What did you say?” My eyes ached like glowering coals in their sockets.
     In a soft, repentant voice (always the same when caught), and giving me his big panda eyes look, he said, “Get the fly out of the room.”
     “What fly?” I asked, incredulous. More lying? A new slang? I was dumbstruck. No hesitation. Straight to my face. (They teach 'em young these days.)
     “That one,” he said, pointing by the closet door, eyes conjoining at a point in space.  Sure enough, a small, dark fleck wove elegant threads before us.
     “Oh, never mind that,” I said, “I'll catch it later.” As I replaced the notebook I realized I wasn't yet done. I had to save face for my self-righteous indignation. “How do you say it nicely?” I demanded, but this time with head inclined at a respectful angle.
     “Can you please help me get the fly out?” He said it so sweet and gentle, and looked just so darned cute, I'd of given him half of my kingdom.
     “Much better,” I said and exited the room. (It was hard to look dignified when half nude, hand clasping towel at waist for modesty's sake.)
     My oldest son, up on the top bunk, gurgled peals of laughter, a laughter so contagious, I couldn't help but smirk and smile when I turned the corner. The twelve-year-old knew what I thought Jaden had said. He's the one, too, that burst out laughing when a tricked-out ride with gangsta bad dude driver stopped short beside our dork-mobile family sedan earlier that week waiting at the light. The stereo's thumping bass rattled our windows. The music's hip hop artist shouted, “M— F—! Gonna die “M— F—! Gonna kill you M— F—! Gonna die gonna kill you M— F—!”
     I later explained to him that next time he better not laugh too loud or someone's not going to like it. He nodded understanding that he knew who I was talking about, but I can't believe he has a clue what could actually happen if that ever transpired. He, like Jaden, is still pretty innocent about such matters (thank God).

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