Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Other People's Children

I spent the afternoon with other people's children.

I met Mr. 6 in the courtyard of his magnet school, where he informed me that we didn't have to say good-bye to his teacher and that he wanted to go to Frost.  We collected Mr. 4 and his 2 Leggo guys from the Montessori school and he thought that ice cream was a pretty good idea, too..  As we approached the storefront I asked "Who is going to hold the door for me?" and they both ran toward the handle screeching "I will" "I will."  A mom dining al fresco with her daughter told me how polite they were and I beamed.  So did the boys, who were rewarded with gumballs on their gelato and a dime each for opening the door (5cents) and for having someone compliment their actions (5cents).

Yes, I bribe them.  Look at it this way: it's Make your bed and Mommy will love you versus Mommy loves you.  Make your bed and you'll earn a quarter.   A behaviorist by training and a parent by plan, I quickly saw that there was nothing intrinsically seductive about a made bed to a 7 year old.  Quarters, however, were highly potentiated, as we say in the trade.  That is - the kids really really really wanted those quarters.  I will present empirical evidence for the truth of this theory..... read on.

In the same inbox where Amster and I were confirming our plans for her boys, there was an email from my junior high crush and his wife who loved him then, too, telling me that their eldest child was traveling from El Paso to Phoenix with a friend and asking if I wanted them to stop by as they passed through Tucson.  Sure, why not?  I'd never met him, but I've known his parents since we were 12.  The chance to see the person they'd created was a rare and wonderful opportunity.

We texted and emailed and while the Messers 4 & 6 were riding in the boy-powered Testarossa which Daddooooo made for the Big Cuter 25 years ago, the son+1 pulled into the driveway.  Introductions were made and we started to go inside when Mr. 4 squealed and smiled up at me and said "You know what we forgot? We forgot 'nice to meet you'" whereupon he promptly skipped (yes, he skips) up to the son, stuck out his hand and said "Nice to meet you - I'm Mr. 4."  His grin was infectious and any awkwardness about dropping in on your parents' friend who you've never met was floating away on the kid's joy in the process of being polite.  We shook hands all around and came inside for brownies and chocolate milk.

My house was suddenly filled with the off-spring of some of my favorite people.  Four boys.... because no matter how old they become, they are always boys.  The little ones were running around and around the big ones perched in their grownup chairs and the big boys were enjoying every raucous minute. We admired Leggo creations and talked about Tucson and writing and Scottsdale and then the Lakers/Suns game came on the screen and TBG and the son engaged in 5 or 10 minutes of sports patter... old sports patter because the son lost interest in the game in the late '90's .

And they looked like men look all over America, men who were boys and still are boys and who are fed and nurtured and loved by their mothers and surrogates for their mothers, women who bake them brownies and buy them ice cream and send them off with cherries and bottles of water and the original idea for today's post.  Because when your friend's son is a writer it seems only right to share.