April, 2009

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Did I promise you Wesley stories?

Oh, I did. Let’s just cram a few in one post, shall we?



A few weeks ago, I got the sad news that one of my sister’s dogs, a Doberman named Pepsi, had died suddenly after developing a fast-growing tumor (4 pounds overnight). Since we were going to her house for Easter, I knew I had to break it to Wes. I will admit that the thought crossed my mind that a relative’s pet might be a nice gradual way to introduce death to a preschooler – and I was punished for the selfishness of that thought a few days later.

Had I spoken to my sister about this, you see, I might have known that she had somebody else’s Doberman staying in her dog run. The conversations between Wes and various relatives and party guests that began, “My mommy thought Pepsi died, but look, there she is!” were legion. The relatives and guests explained the truth, but it was not sticking in the face of concrete evidence.

Finally, most of us sitting at the dinner table watching him explain Pepsi’s resurrection to someone else, there was a collective giving up. So I’ll need a redo on this one the next time we visit, I guess.

“Well, it IS Easter.”

“Yeah… wait, did she die three days ago?”

Close enough. I like a little Jesus/Doberman humor at the holidays, don’t you?

As those of you with little kids doubtless know, Jack Black recently made an appearance on Noggin series Yo Gabba Gabba. The day it first aired, I picked Wes up at school and told him about this new episode with this really funny guy on it and how much he was going to love it – except I didn’t check that the DVR had picked it up. Which it hadn’t. Are you detecting a theme regarding me being a dumbass?

So naturally, my child was reduced to heaving sobs over not getting to see this awesome person he had not known existed 15 minutes earlier. It was then I remembered someone had sent me – for Wes – a DVD of School of Rock. I remembered, fuzzily, people having mentioned showing this to 4- and 5-year-old kids. Were these smart people? I do not recall.

What I should have realized, though, was that my kid, with his explosive energy, hilarious delivery and intense musicality, was primed to find Mr. Black an excellent role model. And then maybe I should have thought about whether I was ready for him to blossom in quite that way just yet.

First, it was the stage diving. My lord, the stage diving. He engaged me in an intense 20-minute discussion regarding the circumstances under which one would stage dive wearing a shirt, or shirtless (I did not actually know, so I said that maybe you kept your shirt on when wearing a jacket and tie – any stage-divers who can clear this up?). Weeks later, his tiny shirtless form is still propelling itself floorward from various items of furniture.

Then he asked to watch it again, and the quotes started, in flawless Jack-Black delivery. He’ll change them up to fit his circumstances, though. I don’t always recognize them as quotes right away, so you can imagine my WTF expressions when my kid says stuff to me like:

“So, uh, Mommy, you think I could cut out of nap a little EAR-LY?”

Or, after handing me a friend’s Guitar Hero guitar: “OK, Mommy, the blue one right there? That’s G. OK, you’ve got it! Now just keep that G coming all day long.”

I suspect his recent habit of referring to “um [eyes rolled to the side, tongue click], my GIRLFRIEND” (apologies to Zoe’s parents) is related to Mike White’s character in the movie, but will have to watch again to be sure.

Finally a few days later he realized his dream: To see Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba. While watching, he said this, which I believe I will leave you with:

“Mommy, he’s going crazy! He’s one of the leaders of going crazy!”

Technical note

Hey kids – I got buried in spam on that last post, so I’ve installed a plugin that, the theory is, will zap it without making you guys do math or figure out convoluted letters or anything. It claims to do this with no false positives, but I’m not all that trusting – so if you attempt to comment here and it doesn’t work, shoot me a note at elizabeth at this domain name and let me know? Thanks!

I’ve got some stories to tell, such as how W. has discovered a new role model in Jack Black, and how my first parental Conversation About Death backfired, but I’ve also got some editing to do today. So I’m going with responsibility over frivolity. Just this once, though!

Two phrases I’d like to abolish from the discussion of music.

1. Self-indulgent. Pretty much any creative endeavor is self-indulgent to some degree, isn’t it? The other option appears to be, “I made this music because I wanted to use my gift to touch others. My goal is just to inspire people.” Next thing you know, you’re on a televised talent competition and you’re singing “I Hope You Dance” and Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and “Jesus Take The Wheel” and you’re bathed in white light and reaching out to the camera all Christlike and a sizable portion of the nation is looking at you and thinking, “Jesus, this guy’s a tool.” You get some people thinking that if you go the other route, sure, but you probably have more fun along the way.

Often, from the words surrounding self-indulgent, I suspect that what the speaker/writer means is, “Yeah, I didn’t get this.” But there are times when an alternate phrase might be valuable. I believe that phrase may be: “Frankly, this artist has his head way up his ass.” Try it – see how it works. (I should note that the offending term has been misappropriated by TV’s own Simon Cowell as “indulgent,” which I take to mean the singer has allowed the performance to eat far too much candy and also bought it a puppy.)

2. Emperor’s New Clothes. When you take your turn in a music discussion and announce that, oh, say the new album by Of Montreal is “a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes,” if I recall my fables correctly, the opinion you’ve introduced is something like: “All of you who’ve been talking about how great this is? You are BLIND. That’s right – BLIND. I ALONE am able to see the truth!”

And really, is that polite?

(This applies to other art forms as well, but I didn’t want to have to use ninety slash marks in every sentence. I’m lazy like that.)

Important Wesley career goals update

The boy and I were driving to town last night, listening to a mix CD. He wanted to know how his Uncle Jon could play all the instruments and sing on a record all by himself, so I explained. He thought for a minute and said, “Mommy, do you remember when you showed me that guy who could play three horns at once?”

It was a few months ago, but hell yeah I remember.

“Do you think Uncle Jon could do that?”

“No,” he said gravely.

“Probably not.”

“But I could!”


Just then his grandma called and I passed the phone back to him.

“Grandma, guess what! When I get bigger I’m going to play three saxophones at the same time! … Yeah!… And if I get good at that, I’m gonna play three basses!”

Ladies and gentlemen, my son. Destined to be either a jazz legend or a one-man tribute to Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom.”