Thursday, September 2 2021

kindergarten, charles mingus season, and the village

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. Is somebody cutting onions around here? Maybe it's ragweed season? Maybe two bugs simultaneously flew into our eyeballs? Inexplicably, Marissa and I keep tearing up, and I can assure you it has nothing to do with Rodney leaving for his first day of school a minute ago.

It's a big day today, but for how much anticipation led up to this milestone, the morning unfolded so quickly and unceremoniously. Rodney sprang out of bed and gave me a tired thumb's up. He threw on some clothes, shoved a handful of Captain Crunch in his mouth, and took a sip of milk. He threw his backpack over his shoulders, and then he stepped out of our backyard into the next chapter of life.


Marissa saw only a little more of the precession than I did. "He's so ready," she said after returning from our first school-dropoff. "He just waved and ran off - no hesitation."

We're holding up just fine. Behind the brief, quiet tears, we're feeling proud of Rodney. I don't question whether or not he's ready - I just question how he got to this point so quickly.

Last night, Marissa rearranged plastic letters on the cork board we use for photos. She had to first undo my work spelling FART KING ASS before spelling out FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN.

"It's just been us at home," she reflected. "For the longest time, it was just me and him, and I'm going to miss that."

These same feelings bubbled up while I was making his first school lunch. I buried a marshmallow in his baggie of flavor blasted goldfish crackers, and Marissa drew a silly face on his napkin. I was crying by the time I wrote RODNEY on the brown paper bag.

Avoiding the present existential dread around sending my firstborn to school, my mind drifted into the childish. "What's the most ridiculous lunch we could send him to school with?" I asked, opening the fridge. I held out a gallon ziploc bag filled with a single mass of chilled cheesy rice pilaf. "This whole bag of cheesy rice. And a half empty bottle of white wine."

Marissa chuckled. "Rodney, tell your teacher to warm up the sauce over the stove," she added.

"What if we just gave him a head of cabbage," I laughed.

"A raw chicken. And a recipe card," said Marissa.

"Rodney, make sure your teacher has a shallot, she needs at least one to make chicken marengo."

Sip. Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday, and what a day for new beginnings. With Rodney shipped off of to Kindergarden, our family opens a new chapter: Charles Mingus season. Our house feels eerily quiet today. Just three dogs staring at a one year old aimlessly jabbing at toys in the living room.

Some of you know that Marissa and I have a special pretend voice for Miles. The way we think of him, he's proud, overly-articulate, and dorky. He announces his presence with the sociability of a HAM radio operator and the swagger of a chess club president.

Miles breached his doorway, tottling into the hallway on chubby toddler legs. "AT LAST," he proclaimed. "I SHALL FINALLY GET THE MENTAL STIMULATION I DESERVE - unencumbered by my noisome big brother, of course."

Marissa guided him to the doorway of Rodney's room. "Ah, the forbidden abode," said Miles. "What unknown unguarded wonders await me here?"

It will be weird just keeping an eye on Miles throughout the day, especially because he feels mere months away from what we think of as the golden age of child development: the same-movie-on-repeat-all-morning phase.

"I remember getting tingles in my body sitting down on the couch with a big pot of coffee hearing the intro song to Sing," I said.

"I remember the first time I realized I could doze off on the couch while Rodney watched the movie," said Marissa. "I couldn't believe it."

We love the movie watching phase. Something about the movie Sing hits so well in the morning. We love the movie so much that not once have I ever brought Marissa a cup of coffee from the kitchen without quoting Ms. Crowly: "Got a little thirsty coming up 'dose stairs."

Life goes on. At least we still have pets to care for. Glassy, our curly hair tarantula, molted exactly a week ago. Tarantulas usually remain in hiding for a week after molt waiting for their fresh armor and fangs to harden up, and exactly one week later Glassy returned to his skittish exploratory missions outside of his burrow. His legs reach longer, his hair came in furrier, and interestingly the molt completely changed his color from brown to black. Between pre-molt, molt, and post-molt, it's been almost a month since I've seen my beloved little Glassy above ground. It feels like an old friend returning from a trip.

I had a busy work day, closing things out with a short grocery run with Rodney. We put the kids to bed and jumped into our chores.


Minnie was on dishes, of course.

As we worked, Marissa and I debated our latest screening of M Night Shyamalan's The Village.

[Warning: spoilers for The Village ahead].

"I'm surprised you liked it," I said. "The movie's got layers, I'll give you that. But one of the things that bugs me the most is how phony the dialog sounds."

"What do you mean?" questioned Marissa.

"It doesn't really sound like a real time period," I laughed. "It's like Scarlet Letter fan fiction."

Marissa froze in thought. "Well... isn't that kind of the point?" she said. "The big twist is that the movie takes place in present time. They were making it all up. Actually, I thought it made them sound even more 'brain-washy'."

I sighed. "That's a good point," I said. "And also just way too convenient of an excuse for bad writing."

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Thursday.