Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Big Five

Yesterday Rollie turned five.

Five. Wow.

Five is a neat age. I'm thinking that it will be nice to have a five-year-old in the house. Five-year-olds go to Kindergarten. They ride bikes. They tie their own shoes. They can invent games using rotten pumpkins and bathroom doors. They can hold semi-intellectual conversations about mediocre song lyrics. And they only occasionally need to corrected for insubordination, talking back, and climbing on their little brother's excer-saucer to reach some off-limits Valentine's Day candy, while their little brother is in said excer-saucer.

So last Halloween, when Jeff made the rookie mistake of carving our pumpkins the week of Halloween. Big no-no in Florida. Here you need to time your pumpkin carving to happen around 5:45 on Halloween night. Any earlier than that and your pumpkin will immediately rot, smell, and attract bugs from two counties over to come and infest the intricate Frankenstein Monster Face you spent three hours creating (and which your kids watched for about five minutes before growing bored and running around the driveway and shrieking at the neighbor's cat).

(Side Note: Why Jeff's timing was so off was a mystery. We've lived in Florida for like, fifteen years. It's still hot in October. By the end of the night, trick-or-treaters are sweaty messes, their layered costumes shed and their ghoulish makeup melted so that while they may have begun the night dressed as Darth Maul, by the time they arrive at our house they look like some scary hybrid of Lady Gaga and the Kool-Aide man.)

Oompa-Loompa Doopity Do...
And so two days after Halloween, our pumpkins started to look like a basset hound had a baby with an Oompa Loompa. And named it Brit Hume.

Instead of lamanting the fact that his jack-o-lantern had  turned into an orange Fox News anchor, Rollie made up a game. He and Elsa rode their respective riding toys in a big circle in the driveway, and then smashed into the rotting pumpkins, thereby causing the colony of fruit flies that had taken up residence inside to momentarily take flight. When that happened, Rollie and Elsa yelled Mosquitoes! and laughed their little heads off. I didn't bother correcting their entomological mistake, since yelling Mosquitoes! was much more fun than yelling Fruit Flies! Kinda like yelling Tequila! Or, Geronimo! Or, Holy crap, I forgot Finn!

They played Mosquitoes for literally 45 minutes that day. It broke my heart to finally dispose of the jack-o-lantern. I felt like I was throwing away a beloved toy, reliable babysitter and political analyst all in one fell swoop. I was tempted to set out our Thanksgiving turkey carcass of the front porch and see if they would be inspired to play Mosquitoes with it, but after doing some research discovered that leaving holiday carcasses of any kind by the front door would violate rule 9.2 of our neighborhood HOA bylaw. Stupid HOA, always wrecking my fun.

They also have this new game that Rollie calls Mail. It all started when Rollie, who is notorious for spending roughly 15 hours on the toilet taking care of business, called out to me to bring him a book. And since my hands were full with Finn, I delegated the book selection to Elsa.

"Just shove it under the door," I instructed, since Rollie has a heart attack if you walk in on him too soon.

Thus, Mail was born. The first time they played, it kept them so entertained that I just ignored them for like half-an-hour and got some stuff done. When Rollie finally summoned me for some ass-istance (get it?) I opened the door to find an interesting variety of objects Elsa had 'mailed' to him...books, crayons, Matchbox cars, Legos, coins, hair clips, diapers, school papers, empty juice pouches, Calista Flockheart....pretty much anything that was slim enough to clear the 4-centimeter space beneath the door.

The only problem with this game is that once Rollie's done with the bathroom, anyone not wearing a gas-mask runs a major health-risk by staying in there long enough to clean up the mail. And when it's not cleaned up right away, the mail is left forgotten on the floor. Until I go in there without turning on the light and end up with one of Elsa's barrettes stuck in the bottom of my foot. But it is the small price I pay for having a few minutes of uninterrupted productivity. During which I play Words With Friends. And lose.

Five also seems to be about the age when children's questions turn from the exhausting Why's and What If's, to ones that are a bit more analytical, in-depth and thought-provoking. And oftentimes centered on lyrics to one-hit wonders of the late 80's and early 90's.

So we're in the car, on our way to school. There is apparently something quite stimulating about that long stretch of highway between our house and his classroom that causes Rollie to sit back in his booster seat and let the little tentacles of his mind feel around, hoping to grasp meaning wherever they can get it. Even within the song To Be With You, by Mr. Big. One of the great songs of our time. And by great I mean cheesy. And actually pretty terrible.

I was singing it in my best Chest-Tone vibrato, a voice which I'm sure will elicit more than a few eye-rolls and Stop it, Mom's when my kids are teenagers.

Me: Hold on, little girl, and show me what he's done to you--
Rollie: What is she holding on to?
Me: What? Oh...nothing. Not literally.
Rollie: Then why is he telling her to hold on?
Me: He's just saying like, hang on a second. I think. Like, hold on, Rollie. I'll be right there...Stand up, little girl--
Rollie: Why is he telling her to stand up? Did he push her down?
Me: No, he doesn't really mean stand up. He means like, stand up for yourself.
Rollie: ...Why does she need to stand up?
Me: I think she needs to like, take control of her life.
Rollie: ...Why?
Me (who has never actually cared to dissect these lyrics before, and now finds them incredibly deep and fraught with emotion): ...Well, he's saying that she shouldn't let other people be mean to her. I guess.
Rollie: Why are people being mean to her?
Me: Not people. I think just her boyfriend. I think he wasn't very nice and she's still pretty upset about it, and so this guy is telling her that things aren't so bad if she just like, stands up and sees the beauty in life.
Rollie: Can she see it if she stays sitting?
Me (Hmmm. Another stumper): ...Um....Yeah, I guess....
Elsa: I can see pretty trees, and I'm sitting!
Me: Well there you go.
Rollie: Can we listen to something else?
Me: What, you don't like this song?
Rollie: He's singing to a little girl, and I don't like little girls.
Elsa: I'm a little girl.
Rollie: Well...if you're in my family I like you, but I don't like other girls.
Elsa: You like Ainsley!
Rollie: No I don't!
Me: All right, all right, hang on....
Rollie: You mean, hold on.
Me: ......

And while I've always heard that the ages of five through seven or even eight are supposedly golden, I sometimes really do miss the little toe-headed rascal of yesterday. The one who used to dress in his sister's tights instead of taking a nap. Who used to torment me at mealtime, see how far he could push me until I threatened to throw him out of the window of a moving car, or just generally behave like a potential juvi inmate.

Okay, so maybe it's a good thing he's five. At least I know what to get him for this birthday. Anyone know if pumpkins are still in season in February?

Rollie and his Doppelganger
Pregame jitters

Lord of the Flies, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. What a riot! I can always count on a laugh from you Bekah! I got quite a few on this one. Loved the mosquitoes, and the conversations you write - priceless! Fun blog. You're one of my favorite writers!