I get knocked down, but I get up again…

John John is almost 6 and the world of knock-knock jokes has arrived unceremoniously on our door step. I vaguely remember some David Cross bit that had to do with hating family gatherings because of all the knock-knock jokes he had to endure from his nieces and nephews, and I only am thinking about it for the first time because we are literally under assault.

The thing is, knock-knock jokes are by nature totally lame. How could they become even less tolerable? By kids thinking that the structure of the joke is the joke, so as the adult we are forced to part-take in meaningless set ups like, “Knock knock,” “Who’s there?” “Truck.” “Truck who?” “Truckee,” (then child laughs maniacally) or whathaveyou. I made that one up to represent because the actual versions I’ve been told, which have been so so many, are so unmemorable I cannot even recall a single one. I believe that today alone I have endured dozens. Literally zero made the recall grade. I really tried but, nothing.

However! There can be a silver lining to such inanity. Especially if you are married to John Hoppin! At breakfast today, we were both indulging John John as he was bandying about his new found craft. We even told him some vintage knock-knock jokes of the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” variety. But it went on so long and knock-knock patience was wearing thin….when John turned to John John and said:

“Knock knock,”

“Who’s there?” said John John, delighted that Papa was playing the game.

“Your father.”

“Your father who?”

“It’s your father,” said John, “Open the door.”

I immediately started crying from laughter, which made John start crying from laughter. For minutes we were laughing so hard no sound came out, wiping our eyes in a feedback loop of hysteria. John John got so mad at us, partly because he didn’t understand what was so funny, but mostly because we were no longer being his knock-knock pawns.

It’s been hours and I still can hardly write this out because it is cracking me up so hard. Either it was hilarious or my brain has been cracked by too much child humor; I can’t tell.

Two Things John John

Item One:

John John is a bit of a fraidy cat. Example: He’s been sending his little sister to go turn on lights in dark rooms since she was about 2 1/2. When I say ‘boo,’ his screams echo far longer than Koko’s. There are no two ways about it – brave in that way, he is not.

Recently at dinner, he was recounting some scary experience he had had recently, neigh, shared with Koko recently. Maybe it was something on TV that he thought was scary. The actual item is unimportant.

“Koko and I are both scardey-cats, right Papa?” He asks John for confirmation and reassurance.

“Well, yes,” says John, it seems the ever obliging dad. But no.

“Except Koko’s is a function of her age.”

Stated so matter-of-factly that the meaning is totally lost on John John, who just agrees, “yeah.”

Meanwhile, I’m busting a gut over in the corner by myself trying not to draw any attention.

Item Two:

John John has requested some fruit after finishing his meal, and he is allowed. He departs to the kitchen to choose said fruit, and wash and clean it for consumption. This latter period is taking some time.

“Is everything OK back there?” I ask worriedly.

“Yes, and you will all be so amazed at what I am making to share with you,” he lets me know.

The time finally comes, and he bring out a bowl of nectarines and peaches which he has cut up for everyone in our familiy’s consumption. They are, certainly, delicious.

“Aren’t you happy that I’m sharing so well?” he asks me in a weird reverse humble moment. Just as I am busy eye-rolling John across the table, John John pipes in with his other wisdom:

“Peaches are mammals.”

A better parent than I would not have laughed as hard. I did try to keep it in, long enough for him to eek out, “I know, because of their fuzzy hair.”

I either aged 10 years, or got back the same. Not sure which, not sure that it matters.

Teach your parents well…

Koko is now big enough to be trusted to walk next to me through a parking lot. She won’t run off putting herself in harm’s way because she knows the rules and mostly abides. Number one rule, of course, is holding my hand through the parking lot. But when we are holding hands through a parking lot, old habits have a way of creeping in and I still instinctively make the pinky-thumb-wrist-lock on her sometimes. You know, the kind you do when they are newly ambulatory babies prone to breaking from your handhold, rushing off to certain danger. It is not conscious and I would not have even noticed I do it, except for the little voice recently.

“Mama, you’re hurting my ankle.”

I looked down at Koko, confused. Her ankle appeared fine. “Your ankle?”

“You’re hurting my…little ankle,” she said, hesitating. “My ankie?” she added, helpfully.

At this point I realize she is referring to her wrist and just about melt from the cuteness.

She still refers to most any joint as an ankie lately – shoulder, elbow, you name it. But I am trying not to put the lock on her hand ‘ankie’ anymore lest I cause discomfort, to say nothing of preventing her from being the big girl she is.

Back To Back

hot mops

New Music: Hot Mops “Back to Back”

Ensemble of hand drums, shakers, and cymbals, organ, bass, bass saxophone, tenor saxophone.

Recalls Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way groups. “Back To Black” is Mops’ breakthrough statement.

Tryad A

Tryad A

Blowing Fearsome Wind

“Tryad A” for bass, drums, arpeggiator, clarinets, trumpet, and saxophone. Exploring the textures of brass and wind. The simple brass harmony is based on the direct approach taken by rap producers like The Heatmakerz.

The core trio is bass and drums playing to an arpeggio.

JJJJ

Laundry

Feeling, not thinking

New to my Soundcloud feed, a flowing glitchy trip-hop number. I’ve been working on the feel of the music and focusing less on the structure of the compositions. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but there it is.

Sessions occur in the late morning or noontime, often when I’m trying to use music to relieve stress and increase positive feelings. They get quite strange and out sometimes, and it can be difficult to tell whether I’ve achieved my goal. I think JJJJ here is alright.

The Fluidity of Language and Meaning For Children

It’s such an amazing journey to watch the kids as they work through understanding and the English Language.  John John just started Kindergarten and is being exposed to the wide wide world outside of his relatively sheltered pre-school existence.  He knew about things in pre-school, like Star Wars, and Power Rangers Ninja Steel, and Ninjago, but “knew” in a way that’s like he’s the fourth person in a game of kid-culture telephone.  But now, he’s at Kindergarten.  He is around kids his age through 8th grade.  They “know” things and he’s impressed.  He’s learning and trying his best to hold his own.

We have a small fake game boy in the house.  It’s not the height of modern technology, but it has a color screen and a ton of games, at least by what the box says.  I won it at Christmas though still haven’t opened it or powered it up.  But John John loves to look at the box.  The box says it’s for ages 8+.  He knows he’s too young to open it to play (plus, it’s mine – right?) but is holding out till he is old enough.

So, he comes home from school the other day asking me, when he turns eight, can he also play Fork Knife.  His question was in such earnest, I had to turn away to crack my smile at the cuteness.

But this episode reminded me of a few things that I have been meaning to write about and need to do it before too much more time passes.

Story 1:
It was a weekend morning, and we were at the breakfast table.  The kids were getting rowdy due to hunger and I was making toast.

“I’m hungry!” the kids complained.

“The toast will be done in a minute,” I said, as I took the pieces out of the toaster and began buttering them.

“That toast is bad,” John John declared.

“What do you mean? It has butter and jam.  It’s going to be good!” I said in exasperated tones.

“No, it’s bad,” John John assured me.  “It’s not kind.”

I have so many questions.

Story 2:
John’s sunglasses case is on the kitchen table waiting to be put back in the car.  John John saddles up to the table and starts messing with the case.  “Papa, your glasses are on the table,” he informs us.

“We know,” says John, “just leave them alone.”

John John picks up the case and starts messing with it again.  Not being super rough, but what is the purpose of touching something like that – it’s only going to potentially damage the contents.

“Be gentle with them,” says John, quickly followed by, “John John, yuk! Stop kissing my glasses!”

Koko’s on her own trip, with much influence from her big brother.  Right now she’s on a Mother Goose kick, her favorite rhyme being “Humpty Humpty.”

I can’t wait to see what comes next.