First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pumpkins Float, Right?

There is never a time when the sight of my kid, red-eyed, soaked, and coughing, doesn't fill me with delight. Chlorine poisoned, rasp-throated, water slide otter. Sick from the amount of water he swallowed and refusing to come out even though his lips are the color of blueberries. It's the best. His sister is a bit smoother, more competent in the water, but when she gets cold, she comes out. I've seen "help me" written in ice crystals on the boy's tummy, yet when you ask him if he wants to come out he just shakes violently, and stutters "N-no." This is when we take him out, of course. Wrap him up in his towel until the shakes wear off and his lips are no longer a severe indigo.

Often throughout the fall, we visit the ocean. Sometimes impromptu. We always tell both kids to stay out of the water. The Peanut almost manages it. Usually almost manages it. The bottoms of her cuffed jeans get dark, wet, then sandy and crusty with salt.

The boy will shout a hearty "ok" as he runs top speed into the surf and plunges both arms in, and comes up dripping and crowing about the fish he almost caught or waving a new buff colored half clamshell for all to see. He has spent his fair share of car rides home wearing my billowing t-shirt and nothing else. We always tell ourselves we're just going to keep changes of clothes in the car for both kids, but we don't always manage it.

The Peanut is an athlete. There is no doubt. She watched an eight year old boy doing flips into a pool this summer, decided she could do that, and then did. She can do pull-ups, a handstand with little help for balance, and scale our living room door jam. She flows up and over the monkey bars, she's graceful in ballet and confident in gymnastics. It's like owning a spider monkey.

The boy is a little more like me. He's quicker than you might first think, there is a general impression of physical strength despite his meatless frame ("his" frame being the only meatless one here. Mine has extra capicola), but "grace" would not come to mind.  Rock slides, clumsy bear cubs, a drunken Chris Farley, all these things might come to mind, but not grace. If the statues at Easter Island suddenly grew little legs and started running around, smashing into each other and falling and rolling around on the ground giggling, this might be an apt image for myself and, to lesser-in-stature-degree, my son.

But what he does have over me, is his affinity for water. He loves to swim and he has no fear. One time we were at a local boardwalk type area called Salisbury Beach. It was Mother's Day and the place has lots of skeeball. My wife loves skeeball. We didn't plan on going in the water that day, but the kids did.

The surf was pretty rough and the boy did not seem to notice. I shouted multiple, useless warnings about undertow and current. "Okay," he shouted back absently. "I hear you father," his tone said" Now would you please kindly shut the fuck up?"

Then it happened. A big wave came crashing in. He got knocked off his feet and sucked right into the vortex of the wave. He went around like clothes tumbling in the dryer. I ran down and grabbed his upper arm, yanked him out, set him on his feet. He looked up and said, "Well! That never happened to me before!" No fear, just marveling at the power of his salty mistress. The dude is crazy for the sea.

Most scenarios he spouts for when he's grown-up include the water. He's going to "travel all around the world, and I'm gonna know all the ocean animals and I'm gonna help them." Or he's going to live in "Maine, near the Aunties. And I'll fish and sell the fish and have a nice little cute little life."

Grand or humble, his plans include the water. Ocean child. Young Man and The Sea. The Pumpkin Man floats.



  1. Must be a water sign. I remember the many times I nearly drowned and the pouting I did when I was made to sit on the edge of the pool, lake, or ocean for my safety. Adults were such idiots back then. There were always good reasons for my near-death experiences. A crazy undertow is just one of many I could list here. Kid's gonna be all right. I've survived being graceless by compensating with charm and dignity. A shit-ton of fucking dignity, brother.

  2. I practically have to breathe into a paper bag the entire time my kids are past that first set of breakers. Keeping an eye on the Pumpkin Man would kill me.

  3. Superb character sketch. (And quite a little character too.)

  4. How did I miss this post? It's lovely. Big smiles here as I read.

    I want a nice little cute little life too!


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