Monday, November 28, 2016

SEVEN


We stopped by Diana’s mom’s grave on the way back from Thanksgiving. As we stood there trying to find something to say, Luca scurried back to the car. I was sure he just wanted to join Eli in shelter from the frigid Central Illinois wind.

He came back a few second later with a little sandwich bag full of Valentine’s Day candy dug out from the deep recesses of his car seat. Luca placed a little green heart on Sheila’s grave.

This is the clearest representation of Luca I could ever give you. Sweet, sensitive, silly and utterly himself. What other child his age could think to leave a candy for his dead grandmother?

On the drive home, we were talking about how nice the grave visit was and Luca piped up, “I would like to hook up a camera to that big tree by grandma Sheila’s grave so I could watch the candy and see when a squirrel tries to take it and then I could yell at him and shoot him with a laser!”

On second thought, that is the clearest representation of Luca I could ever give you.

Per Luca’s request, we had a party at our house yesterday with board games and pizza and a Baskin Robins ice cream cake the consistency of a speed bump. The immediately party devolved into a giant boy tornado. They had managed to find every weapon or violent implement in our house within 45 seconds and at one point Luca simply stood in the center of our living room and screamed at the top of his lungs. Also, someone smeared dog poop on our backyard slide.

It was a complete success.


Luca, I love you pal. You are the smartest, nicest, most creative guy I’ve ever met. I am honored to be your dad.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Recital



A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the dining room table, staring at my computer and dreading the papers I had to grade. Oh yeah, did I tell you I taught a college class? Much like Elijah’s Taekwando classes, guitar lessons, cooking classes and drama classes, I went into it with high intentions. And like Elijah, was stunned to learn I actually had to do stuff. But unlike Elijah, I couldn’t quit three weeks into it.

Anyhoo, I was just about to give 20 kids the old “Hamann A Minus” when I heard something peculiar from our front room. The “Flintstones Theme.” It was a little janky and hesitant, but I could make out “Flintstones…meet the Flintstones…they’re the modern Stone Age fam-i-ly…”

I raced into the room and found Eli plucking out the song on our little keyboard.

“Hey!  That’s the Flintstones!” I said.

Eli pointed to the sheet music that said “The Flintstones” and said, “Uh huh.”

“You can play the piano.”

“Uh huh.”

“When did this happen?”

“I dunno.”

“Do you even know who The Flintstones are?”

“Yes. They are on our vitamins.”

My son could play the piano. With real notes. From sheet music. I was flabbergasted. I mean, I knew he and Luca were taking lessons, but I assumed those were spent giving their teacher increasingly bizarre excuses for not practicing. “Uh…there was this dinosaur, see. And he was driving a spaceship and it crashed into our piano. Also. He ate the piano.”

I became overly enthusiastic about piano. I was so excited that they were into something, anything. Even if it was not something I could dominate them in.

Diana then told me the boys had a recital on the weekend she was going to visit her sister. I became a lot less enthusiastic about piano. Don’t get me wrong. I was really fine with listening to the boys play in front of a crowd. It was listening to 13 other kids play that bothered me. When your kids suck it’s adorable. When other kids suck it’s hell.

The recital was at an incredibly fancy piano store in an incredibly fancy town north of us. On the way, Luca began his Hamann genetic pre disposition panic. “I’m scared. I don’t want to play.”

I pulled a Jedi Mind Trick on him. “Fine. Don’t play. This is your life. No one will care if you play or not. Those other parents aren’t here to see you anyway.”

This confused him enough to convince him to sit at the massive grand piano and hammer out “Little Brown Jug.” But not before a very nice sales woman tried to convince us all to purchase a $9,000 piano as part of some kind of time-share con for letting us use their store.

Luca nailed his two minute piece. Then Eli nailed his two minutes of “The Flintstones.” And then it dawned on me. Every kid had just a two minute piece. We’d be out of there in 20 minutes! Their teacher was a genius!

I almost bought a $9,000 piano out of gratitude.




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump News



Last night, around the time James Carville had a hissy fit about Donald Trump’s chances in Michigan, I began to snap at the boys. I even made Elijah cry about some minor infraction involving fish sticks.

I apologized to Eli, explaining I was very upset about the possibility of Trump winning. Which caused him to become even more upset. What if Trump wins? Will we go to war? Will we have to move? Should we be scared?

We’d been portraying Donald Trump as a villain for months. We’ve encouraged the boys to make fun of his hair and dumb orange skin and they overheard us talking about Donald dropping nuclear bombs and going to war with China. About walls and illegal alien squads and punishment for abortion. We pushed them to say, “I hate Donald Trump” and, “Trump is a stupid head.” We threatened to move to New Zealand if he won. Ha ha.

We encouraged this talk because there was no way this bad, terrible monster could win. We would protect them. Their parents would never let this racist, homophobic, misogynistic demon succeed.

This morning, I opened Diana’s computer and the first article I found was “How to talk to your kids about the Trump victory.”

I was overwhelmed by a desire to slip out and let Diana deal with it. But I waited for the boys to wake up so I could break the news. Like a dad.

As I brushed my teeth, Eli burst into the bathroom and furiously peed. He noticed me and asked, “Who won last night?”

“Trump.”

He ran from the room and jumped in his bed to hide. I sat down next to him and he said, “I feel like I want to throw up and have diarrhea at the same time.” Articulating exactly how 50% of America felt at that moment.

Luca came in at that moment and burrowed his way into Eli’s bed. I said, “Guys. You have nothing to worry about. Even though Trump won, I promise I will protect you. You will always be safe. Do not be scared. I will always protect you.”

Eli said, “I’m scared.”

Luca said, “I’m sleepy.”

We all went downstairs and found Diana in her office, looking as though she was going to vomit in her coffee.

I announced in a very loud voice, “It’s all going to be ok! Do you hear me? Everything is going to be ok.”


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Right? Everything is going to be ok. Right?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Words



Words are important in our family. For instance, the other night Luca informed Diana that the name of his new rock band is “Luca and the Hot Farts.” Upon hearing this, I gave him $100.

But sometimes words hold valuable lessons. Horrible, valuable lessons.

It was a brisk Friday and I indulged the boys in a trip to Chipotle. I like taking them to Chipotle because I get to take them to the neighboring frozen custard shop for dessert. I also get to talk to them about E. Coli.

After mushing up his famous burrito bowl recipe (white rice, beans, lettuce, sour cream), Elijah asked, “Dad, what’s a Retard?”

I immediately went into Evanston Dad Mode. “Buddy. That…WORD…is not cool. It’s not a word we ever use. Some people use it to talk about people who are disabled. I mean, differently abled. We never, ever say it. It’s almost as bad as the N-word.”

Uh oh. What did I do?

“Wait. What is the N-word?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. Forget I said anything. Say, do I detect a little E. Coli in this sour cream?”

Then Luca said, “Is it (a guess that was wayyyy too close to the actual word)?”

“Stop talking,” I said very loudly. This got the attention of a nice group of young men at a nearby table. A group of young men who would be particularly offended by the use of the N-Word.

Luca then made another guess at the word, he almost hit the bullseye.

I leaned over to him and did my best angry dad whisper. “If you continue guessing, I will take away your screens for a month. And…and…and…no frozen custard!”

That quieted him.


Eli didn’t even look up. “So we can’t say Retard either?”

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Tooth Fairy Game



Luca lost his first tooth! There is nothing that can drag you out of thinking the world is going to hell in a hand basket like a six year old showing you a tiny, off white little tusk and telling you the tale.

"I thought I threw up some pretzel with no goopy part so I decided to just eat it but when I bit into the pretzel it was hard. It was my tooth!"

And then we began the game. Luca knows there is no Tooth Fairy. We know he knows there is no Tooth Fairy. But if you want to receive, you have to believe. And when Luca wants to convince us he believes in something to get money, he adopts a little baby voice.

“Can I wite a wedder to da Toof Fairy to see if she’ll wet me haf my toof?”

I swallowed a tiny bit of irritation and said of course. Luca also suggested that since this was his first lost tooth, he should get $10. Before I could stop myself, I loudly informed everyone that we got twenty five cents for teeth when I was a kid. My old man dadness hung in the air like humidity.

Eli laid it on thick, telling Luca that he had to go to bed early so the tooth fairy wouldn’t pass our house by. He then theatrically winked at me to let me know that he knew I knew he knew and Luca knew.

We sent Luca to take a bath and then went about the process of trying to find paper money in 2016. Miraculously, I found a crumpled $10 bill in my backpack. Luca called from the other room, “Did you say you had five dollars or ten dollars?”

The next morning, I was taking a shower and Luca burst in. He held a tiny little white piece of paper that was folded into tiny little envelope. Inside was a $10 bill and a little note written in tiny letters that looked a lot like my handwriting.

“What does it say, da-da?” Luca said in his little baby voice.

Dear Luca,

Magic is real.

Love,


The Tooth Fairy