Sunday, June 02, 2013

Dinnertime at the asylum

“My ice cream has bunny ears growing out of it,” my son Evan reported from the dinner table.  His little brother Zack smiled, then scrunched up his face and shrieked, executing a perfect mood U-turn, his specialty.

“That’s false,” I said, and Evan nodded. 

“Can you tell me something false now?” he asked.

“There’s a T-Rex riding a scooter across the yard,” I replied.

“Now something that’s true,” he said.

“You’re a cute kid,” I replied.

Evan just learned the words “true” and “false” from his Ranger Rick Jr. magazine, which taught him that it’s false that sea otters eat cheeseburgers (the buns get too soggy).  For the past few weeks, we’ve been encouraging his ensuing fascination with true and false.  We figure it’s good preparation for school, especially since he recently bombed his first exam on purpose. 

“What do you see now?” the nurse had asked him, holding up the eye chart.

“House,” Evan replied.  He’d already done his other eye perfectly and was starting to fidget.

“Good.  How about now?” the nurse said, pointing at the next symbol.

Evan paused.  The choices were house, heart, circle and square.

“Circle-heart,” he said, laughing. 

“Evan, be serious,” I said, holding a spoon over his left eye.  His jokes were going to get us sent to the optometrist’s office.

“Square-house!” he replied, cracking himself up.  The nurse continued pointing.

“Can you point at the bigger ones?” he asked.  She shook her head. 

He relented briefly, dashing off a few correct answers before resuming his comedy routine. 

“He sees fine,” the nurse said, surrendering.  As she walked down the hall, Evan called out after her: “Circle-square!”

Back in the dining room, I took another bite of ice cream as Zack squawked.  We try to eat together as family when we can, but coordinating the effort requires its own control tower.

“Babe, can you concentrate on feeding the baby?” my wife Kara asked.  She’d just started eating her own dinner.  We eat in overlapping shifts, each person starting at a different time as the other person runs around the kitchen getting things for the kids, like culinary rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. 

“On an airplane, when those masks fall down, you’re supposed to put your own mask on before assisting the child,” I said.  “Pretty sure ice cream is the same way.”

Kara looked unconvinced.  I started wielding two spoons, one with cookies n’ cream, one with strained sweet potatoes.  Zack swallowed and smacked the tray on his high chair in approval. 

“Did Anna’s baby come out yet?” Evan asked, inquiring about our pregnant family friend.

 “No, not yet.  Her tummy’s getting bigger, though,” I said.

“How does the baby get in there?” Evan asked.  For the first time in four years, our house went silent.

“Well, babies happen when the mommy and the daddy decide they want to have a baby,” I said, getting no help from Kara.

“But how does the baby get in her tummy?” Evan asked.

“It starts out in her tummy after the mommy and daddy, you know, decide they want a baby,” I repeated, hoping the same words in a different order might trick him.  Kara nodded, assuring Evan that he just received a really good answer.

“But how does the baby get in – CEMENT TRUCK!” Evan yelled as a construction truck rumbled down the street.  Just when the situation looked hopeless for our hero, the reinforcements arrived.   

Two seconds later, Evan turned back to us and said, “What’s something that’s true?”   

That’s too bad he got distracted.  I was really looking forward to explaining where babies come from.  (That’s false.)

You can mark Mike Todd with a red pen at

No comments:

Post a Comment