Last Saturday afternoon we invited one of Leta’s best friends over for a play date. She’s the other five-year-old kid in the class who knows how to read fluently, so I like to think that Leta is already cultivating her nerd tendencies, surrounding herself with people who will one day not bat an eyelash when she says, no, I appreciate the invitation, but I cannot spend my Friday night at the movies because that’s when NOVA is airing a special on ancient Maya hieroglyphs. Maybe next time.
Her teacher shakes her head every time I refer to Leta as My Little Nerd, but COME ON. She’s the one who pulled me aside and said, look, I don’t know what else to give her to read, she finished the school’s set of encyclopedias yesterday. And it’s not like I’m going to pull up to the curb at her high school, jump out in my bunny-covered nightgown and start screaming WHERE’S MY LITTLE NERD?! WHERE’S MY LITTLE NERD?! It’s just thrilling to see my own kid excited by the idea of knowledge, and it reminds me of the rush I got as a kid when I figured out how things worked. Although, there have been many times in recent months when I’ll look up and realize that my five-year-old has been sitting in a corner reading books for three hours, and I want to go, sweetie! Put down the literature and come watch TV. Tyra’s on.
It’s been a few months since Leta’s had a play date, and we sort of forgot how that one extra little body can increase the blast radius of destruction by about a thousand percent. Afterwards there were toys sitting in the middle of the room that we forgot we’d ever bought, toys we hadn’t seen in years, and then we spent the next two days trying to figure out where we had stored them in the first place. At one point I was like, wait a minute, how did you guys manage to get this box of games down from the top of your closet, Leta? She didn’t say a word and instead slowly tilted her head to the side while slyly turning up the corners of her mouth. And I knew instantly that I should just carry on with my life without being burdened by the answer to that question. I imagine that the exact same exchange happens almost every hour with women who have given birth to boys.
The following morning I heard an alarm going off at 6 AM, and after a few groggy minutes of pained concentration I realized it was the alarm clock we had put next to Leta’s bed a few weeks ago, the one she’s supposed to look at every morning to see if the first number says 7 and not 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. We grew tired of her nightly 3 AM visits to our room to ask if it’s time to get up yet, so now she’s not supposed to get out of bed until the first number on that clock reads a full on 7, barring crisis or catastrophe of course, and if some emergency takes place while there’s a 5 on that clock, be sure to run toward Dad’s side of the bed. The woman on Mom’s side has a tiny bit of trouble maneuvering her body anywhere these days, and by the time she’s on her feet the house will have burned down or those dudes will have totally stolen the television.
Leta had not ever heard that alarm before, and suddenly there was a blur of tangled hair and gangly arms running madly into our bedroom screaming THAT NOOOOIIIIISE! THAT NOOOOIIIIISE! I hate to admit this, but I could not stop laughing. I don’t know why, maybe because of the many, many mornings ahead of her that will be filled to brimming with THAT NOOOOIIIIISE! The years of her life spent hitting snooze, snooze, snooze, and the ensuing panic when she realizes she’s late for Calculus. Also, it’s obvious that in the commotion of the play date SOMEONE flipped the switch on that clock and turned on the alarm, and here our lives had been reduced to cursing a play date. I mean, seriously. Here a grown man and woman lay in bed on a Sunday morning waving their fists in the air, grousing about preschoolers. DAMN THOSE KIDS AND THEIR NEED TO PLAY! Who do they think they are, being curious about the buttons on that clock? And suddenly we missed those days in LA when all we had to worry about on a Sunday morning was whether or not the drug deal on the roof of our building would go horribly wrong and the police would force an evacuation of the entire neighborhood. SIMPLER TIMES, I tell you.