Thursday, October 12, 2017

Showing Out

Though I have four children, and have for some time now, I would be hesitant to give any kind of parenting advice to anyone who asks.

No one has asked, ever, but that is not the point.

The point is that my five year old son is really bad at magic.

For his birthday one year, I bought him a vintage Fisher-Price My First Magic traveling box of tricks and illusions.

Like everything I buy for my children, it was used, incomplete, and reeked of attics and deferred dreams.

It was from my style of gift-giving that the phrase "the thought that counts" was born, and my thought when I buy presents for my children is:  

I had this when I was a kid; I desire to own it again. To disguise my wasteful spending, I will call it a 'present' and choose a recipient at random. Everything they own is really mine, anyways. Ha ha. Their belief in their personal agency and ownership are amusing to me.

Because nothing is more interesting to the general public than a retelling of an anecdote about one's child, I will return to the topic of my budding Blackstone.

One of the flaws in his magic act is his sense of timing, as in, when is it an appropriate time for magic?

Though he is bright (in his little way), he has proven to be incapable of reading the language of the face. And of the body. And of the spoken word.

When I protest that I am too tired for magic, he understands that to mean I am so desperate for magic that if someone doesn't start doing some card tricks or separating rope illusions right this second, I'm going to freak out and put my head through the bedroom window.

But to give this gripping yarn a bit more grip, you will have to be patient with me as I delve into a little exposition.

Speaking of exposition, I recently submitted a story I'd written to a group of online critics.

I received a lot of encouragement, but it wasn't the kind of encouragement one gets that makes one think, gracious, I might be the next Edna Ferber.

It was more like this kind of encouragement:

One critic told me to keep trying and never give up.

Another wrote, "I understand your desire to minimize lengthy exposition, but in doing so, you seem to have eliminated other important things, such as 'plot' and 'description.' What we're left with is a few lines of dialogue apparently spoken by no one, and a little drawing of a cat with 'possible cover art?' written beneath it."

Several more people wrote that they couldn't read it at all because it was in a weird format. Those ones stung the worst.

The bedtime routine for my children has been, to my eternal detriment, an enthusiastic reading of four story books and the tender singing of six songs.

Though the four books count across the board, each child requires a separate song list. 

To one of my delightful loinspringa, I have had to sing "Life is a Highway" every night for seven years straight.

My grasp of the song's lyrics was pretty shaky in the beginning, and over the passage of a decade, with all the collapses of an aging mind, it has only grown worse.

I had a friend in college who thought the song "Take on Me" went "Sa-a-a-y Gandi".

That's about where I'm at with "Life is a Highway."

Old standards fill out the rest of the set: "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain", "Workin' on the Railroad", "Put a Jelly on the Sill for Tom Picker"; all the sleep summoning ditties long beloved of urchins and hobos. 

Then comes the eternal wrestling match that is the brushing of the children's teeth.

"Say ahhh."
"Don't bite the toothbrush."
"Say eeeee."
"No, eeeee."
"No, don't put your beloved stuffed elephant with the unpronounceable name of Phbbooo in front of your mouth."
"I don't appreciate it when you lock the toothbrush between your back molars."
"Yes. I know you can say eeeee with your lips clamped tightly over your teeth. It's a hilarious thing that you have discovered you are able to do, however-"
"No, no. Phbbooo does not have teeth. He's not real."
"Those aren't teeth. Those are mottled fabric extrusions vaguely resembling tusks. I refuse to brush them."

Now at last does the magic set rear its head.

The pageant mother in me cannot resist giving some direction.

The show finishes near dawn, but I do not see the sun rise.

I have passed away some time during the night.