Thursday, January 27, 2011

Make Mine Nerdy

I was visiting the great Finslippy earlier this week when I came across this quote from John Green:
"Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff.... Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like, jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can't-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they're saying is, 'You like stuff.' Which is just not a good insult at all, like, 'You are just too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'"
And that reminded me of the story of my Favorite Sweatshirt Ever.


You see, on the first day of the eighth grade I was super excited because I was finally going to get to wear my new Favorite Sweatshirt Ever!! (hereafter referred to as "the FSE").
My sister had spent the summer in France on an exchange program and she'd brought the FSE back for me as a gift. It was light blue, and right in the center of it was this big picture of Snoopy wearing a beret (and, as I remember, smoking a cigarette, but now I'm thinking that can't possibly be right). Underneath the picture was the phrase, "It's Not Easy Being This Cool". In French.

My sister had given me the FSE at the end of July, but I resisted the temptation to wear it all summer. Instead, I kept it safe on a high shelf so that it would be in flawless condition for its debut on the first day of school.

When September finally arrived, I pulled the FSE down from its hiding place. Was I actually leaping back and forth from one foot to the other in excitement while clapping my hands giddily?

I won't say no.

I fluffed my hair into two perfectly Aqua-netted feathers, carefully attached two ribbon-covered barrettes, pulled the FSE on over my spankin' new Golddigger jeans, and headed off to day number one of the eighth grade!



...only to learn in dramatic fashion upon arrival at First Period that exactly zero percent of my fellow students shared my delight in the FSE.

Instead, my peers exhibited what can only be described as blatant hostility towards the FSE. They made this clear as they taunted me throughout the day with cries of

"Snoopy? Seriously, what are you five?"

"Who wears that? You freak!"

...and the simple, yet to the point...

"Nice sweatshirt, loser."

The taunts continued until lunchtime, when in desperation I changed into the t-shirt I'd brought for gym, snuck out behind the cafeteria, and hurriedly threw the FSE into an out-of-the-way trash bin.


Looking back, I wish I'd had the inherent sense of self to instead hold my head up high and strut through the hallways secure in the knowledge that the FSE was in fact, AWESOME, misunderstood though it may have been in its own time.

But I didn't. Because I was twelve, and I was a nerd, and I really didn't want to be a nerd. And so I allowed the tidal wave of scorn coming from my eighth grade peers to destroy the love that I'd been nurturing for the FSE throughout those long summer months.


Which brings me to the Snood, who at the age of two is pretty much the KING of non-ironic enthusiasm.

(The Snood - age 14 months)

The list of things he currently loves with the white-hot intensity I once felt for the FSE includes, but is not limited to

CHICKEN!

RUNNING!

PLAYGROUND!

CLIMBING!

KETCHUP!

DADDY!

HOT DOGS!

IIIIIICE-CREAM!

LEAVES!

JUMPING!

MICKEY MOUSE!

THE NUMBER THREE!

MORNING TIME!

OVALS!

SANDWICHES!

SIDEWALKS!

PIANO!

SWINGS!

SWEEPING!

FRIENDS!

CAKE!

DVDs!

LETTERS!

CURIOUS GEORGE!


MOMMY!

....and the list grows daily.

Snoodie celebrates each encounter with one of these beloved items by jumping up and down, clicking his fingers above his head as if playing imaginary castanets, and yelling the name of said item (let's say "CHOCOLATE MIIIIILK!!!") at the top of his lungs.

And it is awesome.


Well, except maybe at Sunday mass when he occasionally drowns out all the reverent praying by screaming, "I LIKE SOUP!" repeatedly. That can get a little awkward.

But for the most part I can't get enough of Snoodie's excitement. It's kind of like having Double Rainbow Guy for a housemate, and it makes taking life too seriously on any level nearly impossible.

But it also worries me. Because I know from personal experience that life is not always easy on the non-ironic enthusiast.

I think of how much I want Snoodie to maintain his joy in all the things he adores, and all the awesome things he has yet to discover, even though I know that his love may take him down some rough roads.

Because there will surely be days when people are going to tell Snoodie that the things he loves so much are dumb, and that he's dumb for loving them. There will probably even be days where he throws away something he loves because of how those people make him feel.

But I really hope I can help him find a way to keep on living life full of his own wacky brand of Snoodish glee --- to cherish the things he delights in no matter what other people tell him, and to maybe even rock his very own FSE someday on the first day of school, come what may.

I guess what I'm saying is that I hope Snoodie can grow up to be a nerd.


It shouldn't be that hard. As my Grandma Conroy might say - the kid comes by it honestly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thin Ice

Last weekend, David and I decided to take our 28-month-old Snood...


...ice skating.

This was news which caused a friend of mine to remark:

"Ice skating? Really? I can only assume this is because there were no openings at the skeet shooting range?"

But allow me to defend myself by providing a bit of backstory. A week ago my husband came to me with the following announcement:

"There's this alumni event at the downtown skating rink this Saturday, do you think we could take the kids?"

At which point I realized I had a choice:

A) Let my husband go to said event by himself, thus condemning me to an entire Saturday at home alone with both boys....

OR

B) Strap some sharp metal blades to the feet of my tantrum-prone toddler and hope for the best.

I chose "B" and never looked back, people.


And so it was that we found ourselves at the Pershing Square ice rink bright and early last Saturday morning pulling on our rental skates and attempting to formulate a plan of action.


We opted to leave Crinkles on the sidelines under the watchful eye of some alumnae pals so that David and I would each be free to each take a Snoodie paw and help guide him around the ice.

This seemed like a fairly foolproof plan until I witnessed my husband take the ice, creeping forward one-eighth of an inch at a time while clinging to the wall like a drowning animal. No, I saw, my dreams of the two of us sailing across the ice with our little Snood snuggled between us were never to be.


I was going to have to go it alone.

And so I grabbed the Snood under each arm and set off. By holding his feet towards the ice as I propelled myself forward with awkward jerking motions, I was able to circumnavigate the rink two or three times to Snoodie's vast delight and happy cries of,

"I YIKE DIS IIIIIIICE!"

And so it was that TOTAL FAMILY OUTING SUCCESS WAS ACHIEVED!

For exactly 76 seconds.

At which point my back began to give out, slowing my forward progress significantly. This lack of speed caused the Snood's excitement to evaporate immediately, a fact he conveyed simply yet absolutely by rolling about the rink while shrieking, "I NO YIKE DIS ICE!!!!!" Did a multi-skater pileup result? I refuse to answer on the grounds that I may incriminate my offspring.

David and I managed to pull Snoodie from the ice. We then put our eyeballs in mortal danger in order to remove the skates from his flying feet of fury...


...without foreseeing that the moment Snood's unencumbered feet hit the ground he would be OFF and running, a significant problem considering that my husband and I were both still wearing our skates.

Off he took, heading across the astroturf area that surrounded the skating rink at top speed. I attempted to lumber after him but with skates on I was no match for Speedy GonSnoodez - the fastest toddler in Christendom.

As he reached the end of the astroturf-coated skate-friendly area I feared all was lost. He was heading across the paved expanse for the wilds of downtown Los Angeles, a place where I, his be-skated mommy, could never follow.

And so, not seeing any other option, I simply shut my eyes and screamed at the tops of my panicked lungs:

At which point a kindly park security guard heeded my call, gave brave chase after Snoodie's departing blond head and managed to catch him just before he was about to make it down the subway stairs....


...and won a permanent place in my heart as most favorite park security man EVER.

After lovingly leading Snoodie back to me, he put a firm hand on my shoulder before solemnly intoning,

"I think maybe skating's not the right activity for you guys."

You may have a point, favorite ever security man. You may have a point.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Talkin' - Part the Second

Last week I discussed Snoodie's first word ("DADDY") and our LONG journey to what I believe was approximately his 274th word - - - "MOMMY".



It was a fraught period, but as soon as we had those first words behind us, I got busy looking forward to all the Snood-talking that was to come.

There would be oodles of chatting!

Barrels of conversing!

Gobs of discourse on an endless range of topics!

We were finally going to get a much-desired glimpse into what the Snood had been thinking for lo these past two years.


And let's be honest, there was some small part of me that believed that my son might have been spending the past two years just waiting to master the power of speech so that he could finally express to me his appreciation for the kick-ass mothering I'd been handing out all his life.


Yeah, that was not so much the case.

It turns out that what Snoodie was waiting to express was his exasperation with the speed with which his needs were being met on a daily basis -- a truth that he began to rectify the moment he gained the power of speech by barking out a seemingly endless list of demands.

Our daily interactions went something like this:

"I WANT CHICKEN!"

" I WANT CHICKEN WITH KETCHUP!!!!"

"AGAIN!"

"I WANT MICKEY MOUSE DVD!"

"AGAIN! AGAIN!"

"I WANT HOT DOG!"

"AGAIN"

"I WANT BLUE BEAR!"

"BLUUUUUEEEEE BEAR!!!!!"

"I WANT TEE-VEE!"

"AGAIN! AGAIN!"

In between trying to convince Snoodie to insert the occasional "Please" into his long list of "I WANT"s, I made a sad and sorry attempt to gently steer the conversation in more mom-appreciation-centric directions.

The results were... underwhelming.

ME: I love.....Snoodie. OK, now you try. Snoodie loves........

SNOOD: CANDY!

ME: Right. Of course you do. Because candy is delicious. But let's think of some other things we love. Like maybe even a mention of our family? I love........Daddy!

SNOOD: I love......

ME: That's it! What do you love?

SNOOD: JUICE!

ME: Right, but like I said we are trying to move AWAY from the foodstuffs!

SNOOD: I love Curious George!

ME: I LOVE MOMMY! I LOVE MOMMY! Just say it, OK?

SNOOD: I love........CUPCAKES!

ME: OK, forget it.

SNOOD: I WANT PLAYGROUND!


And so it was that, as with the many Snoodie-centric plans that had come before, I abandoned my attempts to make things go my way (with a verbal confirmation of my Mommy greatness) and instead ceded to Snoodie's way (by simply and quietly working to meet his demands as quickly as humanly possible in order to quell his omni-present rage).

All of which is to say I'm afraid I have to sign off now. My Snoodish overlord is deeply unhappy with the service he received this morning, and it seems he'd like to meet with me pronto....in order to discuss it.