A Two-fer

Story 1.

Koko asked me why I wasn’t as wrinkly as Grandma. I told her it’s just that I wasn’t that wrinkly yet, but she wasn’t listening because I had hardly said as much when her eyes lit up with the epiphany. “Oh!! I know why!” she said,” It’s because of that spray you use that you keep in the bathroom.”

For those who know me, or who have surreptitiously looked through my medicine cabinet, know – I don’t stock up on youth serums or cremes and such, so I, too, looked at her for further clarification.

“You know, that wrinkle spray!! That wrinkle release spray!!”

I had to tell her that unfortunately that spray only cheats you out of needing to iron, not anything more exciting, like aging. But I guess I’ve never tried it for other means, so maybe I shouldn’t knock it till I do.

Story 2.

John and John John and I were talking about the fact that giraffes and humans have the same number of neck bones, and that somehow turned into did you know you can eat chicken feet? No you don’t eat the bones, just the cartilage and maybe skin. John John let us know that he thought that was disgusting, and the only thing he would eat that was like that was a pig’s butt.

I did almost spit out the beer I was having. John started questioning him – where have you seen that?

“Oh, at the butcher shop,” he answered.

I had to excuse myself from that conversation – as I walked toward the restrooms, I heard John continue, “Which butcher shop?”

“Galvans,” I heard John John’s reply in the distance. I tried to imagine our local butcher shop selling any kind of off cut like that. I mean, I knew people ate it, but it seemed a reach for our neighborhood full-service butcher shop.

I was relieved that the topic had been dropped by the time I came back to the table. We were watching the US Open on the big screen at the brewery. There were some sets that came and went. John leaned over to me.

“He meant pork butt,” he shared.

I knew I had to memorex this along with the Downy Wrinkle Release story, as Kathy V. urged me to do. They won’t be this age forever.

I mean, cheese IS the best…

At Sensoji Temple there was a large Daibutsu sculpture – enlightened Buddha – and I told Koko it was a sculpture of Buddha meditating. I told her he meditated until he attained enlightenment.

A few minutes later she asked me why did Gouda (I started laughing then, which interrupted her); why did he meditate until lightning struck?

She’s our girl…

Solace in the Solidarity of Strangers

Adolescence? Pre-adolescence? Childishness? Growing-pains? Boundary-pushing? All of this and more? Whatever the reason, going to the grocery store as a family on the weekend has become the most dreaded event of John John’s life. And he isn’t shy about sharing his feelings before we leave, as we are leaving, on the way, while at the store, and again when we’ve returned. It’s not a question of if he will be mad about it, it’s a question of how mad. And, for how long.

For last weekend’s trip, the answers were “very” and “end-to-end”. At the grocery store, as we weaved through the aisles, he was so mad that he stayed just out of range the whole time. Never straying too far away, but always far enough to let us know we were being ignored.

Happily, by the time we were ready to checkout he seemed ready to acknowledge our existence and was there to help put our items onto the check-out conveyer. But he started putting things up while the lady in front of us still had a few items in her cart. I asked him to wait until she was done. The scowl I got in response told me I was pushing my luck giving directives. But the woman – a nice lady, in her late 60s or so – invited him to go ahead and put our items on. She would just put her few remaining items in front of our plastic divider. But it was too much. John John grumped, not exactly at her, but in response to her offer, then huffed out of eyeshot.

“I’m so sorry,” the nice lady said, “I didn’t mean to upset him.”

I assured her that it wasn’t her; he’d been upset before.

She looked at me with empathy in her eyes.

“Don’t worry,” she said to me, “it starts getting better after they turn 26.”


We recently got rid of all our subscription streaming services and instead doubled down for Hulu to watch live sporting events this fall – we got to watch the World Series, and have been in with basketball, hockey and now even World Cup fun. John John and John are the main audience, but I watch my fair bit and Koko will pop in from time to time, too. And with Live TV comes ads, and with sports programming, those ads aren’t always targeting young kids. There is a new show on some platform whose commercials are making the rounds – seems like a teenage love drama except the teenagers are cannibals. John John was pretty freaked out by the whole thing. But, he hasn’t needed to sleep in our room. Yet.

Anyway, today on our drive to John John’s soccer game in Alameda, we found ourselves driving through downtown Oakland. It was Sunday morning, so mostly desolate. I was making my way to the Webster tube when John John pipes up, “What’s ‘cannabis’?!”
There was just a beat before John answers simply, “Marijuana.” I wait for the onslaught of follow-up questions.

“Oh, PHEW!!” John John says. John and I look at each other.

“Why?” we ask him.

“Because the store was called “Have a Heart” and I got worried.”

It took us a second to figure it out, but I’ve been laughing all day!

The Great American Icon

“Papa,” he asked John excitedly. “Do you know what our country’s animal is?! It’s the Bald Eagle!!”

That was my fact du jour to John John but not before I asked him if he knew what our national animal was. He was very excited about this concept and came at me rapid fire with his thoughts.

Question: What is our country’s official animal.

John John’s reply: Tiger?! Cheetah?! …Dinosaur?!

Like Like

John John just finished 3rd grade but was home sick from summer camp today. Not “sick” sick, but, like, taking-antibiotics-for-a-rash sick. 

So at the lunch hour,  I took him with me to the little deli where John and I have been getting sandwiches on the regular. It’s in a strip mall convenience store run by the cutest couple. I’ve seen their kid there before and she seemed around John John’s age so had no hesitation to take him with me. 

We ordered. We waited for our sandwiches to be made. The wife made them and eventually brought them to the counter to ring us up. “He looks just like you!” She commented. He and I were both wearing masks but even with the limited exposure it was clear to her. “Yeah, people tell me all the time that he’s my mini-me.”

She showed him his sandwich to let him know that that one was his. It said “BLT” in sharpie and had a smiley face drawn next to it. The other sandwiches were unmarked, so smiley was special for the kid. So sweet. 

Back at the house, we were eating our lunch and telling John about the excursion. “What did you think?” John asked. “It was fine,” John John answered with almost-nine-years-old nonchalance. 

“The wife made our sandwiches,” I told John. Then, remembering how nice she had been, I asked John John, “Did you like her?” 

“NO!!!” he erupted. 

His tone was that saved for only the most onerous of offenses.  Like when his honor is being challenged by the accusation of ‘Liar’ from someone of dire import, like his sister. 

I was stunned to silence. 

“No, I didn’t “like her”!” he emphasized with a touch of sarcasm. 

I began to unravel. And as I realized I was unraveling, I caught John’s eye. There was a glint. I lost composure. 

The idea that he thought I was asking if he “liked” liked this lovely sandwich lady was just too, too much. I was slain. 

But now that I’ve regained composure, the question is, in light of the illumination above, what the hell meaning did he read into that smiley face?! 

I can’t ask, I won’t ask. But, I’m not sure if we can go back to that place en famille again…