Friday, May 15, 2015
As we drove home from school today, I told my daughter to show her brother her loose tooth.
("Loose" is perhaps not the right word: The tooth was sideways in her mouth, with its thumb in the air. It was ready to go.)
She'd spent the last few days at home and/or my office with a stomach bug, so I was minutely familiar with the progress of the tooth -- her first to wiggle. Her brother had been gone several hours and was due for an update.
From his booster seat, my son regarded the tooth with a practiced eye. A second-grader, he had lost many teeth, most within a couple of months one gummy winter. "I assure you," he now assured her, "it's gonna come out today."
While trying to figure out how he picked up this phrase (had I ever "assured" him of anything? And if so, what? "You'll be fine. I'm not getting up." ??), I could see him in the rearview mirror. His expression was solemn, knowledgeable, medical.
"Try this," he said. "Just press down on it a little."
There was a silence from the back. "IT CAME OUT!" she squealed with joy. "It didn't hurt at all!"
The mood was suddenly post-natal: The mom was my daughter, the baby was the tooth, and the wise old physician was my son. High-fives all around!
Yet when we got home, he had no interest in taking victory photos: All he wanted to do was go to his room and play Kung Fu Pets. He has perfected a tone of polite disinterest in whatever we are doing: Regrettably, he must decline, for he would prefer to be in his red-and-white Dr. Seuss hat, lying on his floor, eating a sandwich, gaming.
I watch his development with interest. On the one hand, he is a sophisticated consumer of Minecraft parody videos -- some of which are funny, but none of which I really understand. When my phone got a new interface, he figured it out in seconds, then explained it to me.
On the other hand, he is an intense fan of Beatrix Potter's stories about small animals in waistcoats. If, after a long day, I beg off reading The Tale of Pigling Bland or The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, he is genuinely pissed. Just read the tale, already!
Overall, I feel like no one could ask for a better brother or son. He often strikes me as brilliant . . . or wonderfully odd . . . or something.
A few hours after school, my daughter was in the backyard, stirring a large bucket of garbage with a stick. She had put dish soap, dirt, trash, and food coloring in water and let it sit overnight. "Come out!" she called him through the window, the air whistling through her tooth-gap. "The soup looks delicious! Come try it!"
"You are a nincompoop!" my son screamed out the window. Then he laughed a long time.