Scene: playground in Portland, OR

Abe: dad, it’s so hot! Can I take off my shirt?

Me: Sure, I guess so

Abe: Max! Look! You can take off your shirt!

Max: No thanks! I’m not taking off my shirt at a playground.

Abe: Max, but it’s Portland! You can do whatever you want here!

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Max, standing up at breakfast.

Me: Hey, sit down there, fella. Finish your breakfast.

Max: I can’t

Me: Why not? Sit down and eat

Max: Dad! I just feel crazy. And standing helps

Me: crazy? Crazy how?

Max: you know, don’t you ever get that feeling like your neck has no bones in it?

Me: What? No

Max: come on dad, you know you do

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Yes, Max, your life is so hard

Abe: Maxie, look at all these bug bites

Max: Uh huh. Mom has Calamine. It stops the itching

Abe: They itch really bad! Maxie, get me that Calamine

Max: Ask mom. Mom has it

Abe: Can you get it? [whining] It REALLY itches

Max: Abe, I told you what to do: ask Mom. And, I was nice about it. But really, Abe, I have my own problems

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Abe: dad! Get a picture of me and Jesse

Me: oh, look, the flash made your eyes look weird. I’ll take…

Abe: No no no! I want to see it!

(Checks it out)

Abe: Awesome! I love it! I’m a zombie with me zombie dog!

Me: how do you know what a zombie is?

Abe: (classic zombie voice) I’m going to eat your brains…..


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Abe the Magpie

In my living room, there is a box. It belongs to Abe and no one can touch it unless they enjoy being berated. Things in it include:

  • photo of Abe’s soccer team
  • tiny orange wallet
  • mini scissors
  • silver pencil
  • orange marker
  • $1.34 in change
  • set of 10 screwdriver tips: phillips, regular, square, star
  • ~4 feet of clothesline
  • tiny notebook that Leah and I used to make Spanish shopping lists in Barcelona in 2003
  • hotel soap from Conrad Hotel, Indianapolis, IN
  • screwdrivers, assorted
  • unidentifed threaded bolt from something
  • min SD card, 128MB
  • rachet attachments: 7, 8, and 10 mm
  • hook for holding garment bag to hotel room door
  • Max’s missing watch (shhhh!)
  • 2 shells
  • Mardi Gras beadds
  • plastic baseball player
  • chestnut
  • “Disloyalty” coffee card from Ula Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA
  • toothpick with teeny conch shell glued to end
  • toilet paper roll with bottle caps taped to it
  • black crayon
  • tiny plastic Playmobile sword

I have at least four more boxes like this all around the house. Love that kid.

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The scene: Shabbat dinner

Early signs of trouble: Leah is out to dinner, I can only find one candlestick, and we’re out of wine

But wait: Look! We have sparkling cider. Everyone can enjoy that

So I pour some for Abe. He begins to gulp it down.

And that’s when I read the label: “…pregnant women should not consume alcoholic beverages because of the risk of…”

He was not happy when I knocked his favorite glass out of his hand, but he was also not drunk.

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Report card day

Max’s report card made its way home from school. Like everything else sent home from bps, it arrived without fanfare or context. It had a bunch of 3s and 4s on it, so, great, but max wasn’t very excited.

Except in “Writing,” that is, where he had gone from a 2 to a 3 since the fall. “I guess I improved at that,” he said, eating some of his waffle and getting syrup all over the card.

“Yeah,” said Abe. “You crushed it, Maxie.”

Max didn’t look up. He was counting up the days he was marked absent and trying to remember what he had done on those days. “Yes,” he said absently. “Yes I did crush it.”

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One day, two conversations

Conversation I

The scene: just before the children’s Rosh Hashana service

Max: Why do we have to wear these hats?

Me: Um, because, you know, it shows respect for God, basically. (For those of you keeping score at home, the words Max really understands in that sentence do not include “respect” and “God.”

Max: Huh? What are you even saying?

We enter the room with the service. The student rabbi is there. A ha! This is her job!

Me: Rabbi Sue, could you explain why we wear yarmulkes to Max?

Sue: Well, it’s, you know, to show respect to God. To be kind to God, the way we’re kind to our friends.

Max: With a hat?

Sue: So, what grade are you in?

Me: Max, have you ever heard of God? Do you know what it means?

Max: Yes, but…no. Not really.

Adults: Blah blah being kind doing stuff for people energy spirits blah blah not really a “person,” you know blah

Max: Is there singing in this service?

Later…in the midst of a conversation about lunch…

Max: Dad, remember that conversation about God? I think God is just basically what makes everything you love be alive. Even plants.

Me: I think you pretty much have it. Thinking: Clearly, I am the best parent in the world.

Conversation II

The scene: just out of the bath

Leah: Uh, go ask Dad

Abe: Dad! Daaaaaaaad!!!!! DDDaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddd!!!!!!! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Me: What, what, stop yelling?

Abe: Do I have a bone in my penis? [shoves the member in question all up in my business]

Me: No, no bones in there

Abe: Look! It was soft, now it’s hard!! Look! Dad, look! Isn’t there a bone in there? Why is it so hard? Dad? Dadddd!! Look at my penis!!!!

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No. Not the Eagles. Anything but that.

Max: Hey, it’s Sunday! Can we watch the Giants?

Me: No, they’re on tomorrow, after you go to bed.

Max: Well, can we watch the Eagles?

Me: No, they’re on late, too. But it would be fun to cheer against the Eagles, huh?

Max: I decided I only hate the Redskins and the Cowboys. I sort of like the Eagles.

Me: What?!? We hate the Eagles!

Max: No, because Grandpa Mark’s brothers are from Philadelphia, so we have to like them a little.

Me: No way, man, we hate the Eagles.

Max: Nope, not me. I guess you just have more hate than me, Dad.

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Holy f*&%king s%$#, watching Abe in a pie-eating contest is go$%#^mn funny

Oh, Labor Day weekend, you are the best thing about not being a teacher any more. I used to hate this holiday, because why would you like a holiday that is all about having a stomachache? But now, since I have ceded the 8 week summer vacation (ok, ok, I still had a pretty good summer), 3 days off in a row, especially when Cape Cod is at its most lovely, well, that does not give me a stomachache at all.

A side note: teachers are always saying that they don’t really get summers off, but in my experience, that is just something we said so you didn’t feel bad. Because I remember watching tv sometimes all day in July, just because I could. Then sometimes I had a popsicle and went for a bike ride. Not now though.

Anywho. Leah’s fam went to the Cape and I went back and forth on weekends and saw them all, and we had a lovely time. Spending that much time with your kids reminds you of just how different they are.

Grandpa: Who wants to come with me to the dump?


Grandpa: Abe, you can come.

Abe: Yip-yip-yipito!

Grandpa: Hey, Max, do you want to come, too?

Max: (not looking up from the picture he is drawing) No, thanks. I don’t like things that smell.

So it was no surprise when today, at the Truro Ag Fair, they chose way different things for face painting. See below:

Especially because seagulls (that’s what is on Abe’s face) love the dump so much.

Onward we went through the Fair. A Pie-Eating Contest was announced. Max was super excited, but then he said, “If it’s winning and losing, I don’t want to do it. I just want to watch. And maybe next time I’ll enter.” We explained that there was just one, and the guy running it said he would get a ribbon, and I said that he would get half a pie (yeah, that’s a little too much pie for kids, but, still, there it was), but he calmly declined.

Abe was not jumping around like a maniac. After all, it was just a pie eating contest, not a trip to a stinky dump. But, in a strangely businesslike way, he agreed to do it. Max offered to “coach” him, which mostly meant sitting very near him and yelling.

The organizers put down a sheet of paper and Abe assumed the position:

Abe looked very small, in part because the other kids were all about 12. They had to lie down with hands behind backs, which pissed Abe off because it made his face go into the pie, but he complied. Again, ice water in the veins. We prepared ourselves for him to cry – another kid did – yeah, that’s right, a 12 year old cried in a pie-eating contest and Abe wore his game face the whole time. Ha ha.

And the gun went off, and Abe slowly, confidently, gnawed away at that pie. Max cheered him on from right behind, ever the supportive older brother. He had made it through about half of the half – in maybe 3 minutes – when one of the big kids was declared the winner. Hmm, we thought, we should no take him for a ride in the new car just yet. Because he will throw up.

He picked himself up, slyly wiped his face on Max’s shirt, and headed to us to pose for pictures.

This really doesn’t do it justice. He was purple before he rubbed his face all over Max. Note that he somehow preserved the seagull.

He then said that he wanted cake, but we talked him into looking for a pony ride, figuring that he could throw up on a horse without our having to detail it afterwards.He insisted that he was hungry. We tried to ignore him. My father in law wandered off to pick up a dozen littlenecks, a food that is so good that I am glad my kids don’t yet like it, and Abe, of course asked for one. He poked it with his tongue, declaring, thankfully, “Yuck. Now I am full.”

Next year, the Coney Island Hot Dog Contest.

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