Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Conversationalist

Ethan, himself
The other night, Ethan was all wonderful and full of surprises.

Early in the evening we were looking for a book for him to read as he had finished “The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda” and was ready to move on.

We have about a thousand books in our apartment, but he tends to reject a lot of books out of hand, as either "boring" or "too scary to read at night."  So it is often tough to come up with something he is willing to read, if it’s not a Pokemon Adventure book, that is.

I spotted a book I had bought some time ago thinking it might be helpful to him, but he had shunned it for years. It’s a story written by a (then) 8 year old girl about her autistic brother, called “All About My Brother.”

I handed it to him with a casual “How about this one?" fully expecting scathing rejection. It had pictures and was written by a GIRL (cooties!) but he said "cool" and took it.  And readers, he read it!

And afterward he said "Mom, maybe we should write a book together about Jake."

You could have blown me over with a feather.  Lately his statements about Jacob usually begin with "Do you know why Jacob is the most annoying brother in the world, and why I hate him?"

I recovered quickly “Sure, Ethan I would really like that." And felt more than a little glowy for a while.

A little later that same evening, we had this conversation, out of the blue:

E: "Mom? Maybe I’ll get married in my 20’s"

Me: (not sure where this is coming from or leading to) "Umm, OK."

E: "My late 20’s."

Me: "Um, OK."

E: "Then I can have kids in my early 30’s and you’ll still be young enough to help take care of them."

Me: (oh, a plan) "…OK."

E: "Like when I’m 30 you’ll be (brow furrowed in mathly concentration)… 72.  That’s not too old, right?"

Me: "No, not at all."

E: "You’ll still be alive then right?  Promise?"
(Oh how I wish I could make that promise, but I’m a realist)

Me: "I would certainly hope so honey, I plan on it.  I want to be.  I really would love to be a Grandma to your kids.  But you know I can’t promise these kinds of things, right?"

E: "Yeah...  (pause)  Can I have a cookie?"

With all the Grandparents dying lately death must be on his mind.  I forget how with boys just because they're not talking about it doesn't mean it's not sitting there under the surface, hot lava bubbling away.

Later still, he started up a conversation again.

E: “Mom, what’s your favorite flower?”
(Ethan is all about the icebreaker question that comes out of nowhere.)

Me: "Well, I love all flowers so much, so I don’t have just one. But I do love hydrangeas, especially the blue-violet ones, you know that, I’m always pointing them out to you. And peonies, because they smell so lovely.  Also lilacs, definitely lilacs."

E: "How about carnations?"

Me: "They can be pretty, but they're not my favorite."

E: "I like carnations."

Me: "That's fine, we don't have to like the same things.  But Ethan, later on, when you're grown up and you like a girl?  Don't buy her carnations, they're cheap, you'll never impress her that way."
(I'm all full of useful, womanly advice)

E: "How about Daisies? Oh, wait, Daisy is a girl’s name."

Me: "That's true. There are lots of flower names that are girl’s names. Daisy... Lily... Rose... Iris... Heather... Violet..."

E: "Hey that’s a color!"

Me: "But also a flower."

E: "Did they name the color for the flower or the flower for the color?"

Me: "Good question. I would guess the flower was probably named for the color, but it could be the other way around."

E: "What about emerald?"

Me: "You mean the green color?  That's a color named for a gemstone, not a flower."

E: "But is it a name?"

Me: "No.  Well, yes.  It's not really used in English for a name, but in Spanish emerald is Esmeralda and that IS a girl's name"  (I should really shut up now, but I don't, I'm on a roll.)  "There are also lots of girls named for gemstones and jewels: Pearl... Ruby... Opal... Amber..."

E: "Oh! I know amber, there’s an amber Pokemon, it's the amber fossil Pokemon!"
(I love his frames of reference… it always all boils down to Japanimation)

Me: "OK, I didn't know that."
(I think I'm ready to end this conversation now. Bedtime rapidly approaches...)

E: "So what should I name my kids?" (Um, is there something I need to know here?) "How about Daisy and Amber for the girls?"

Me: "Why not?"

E: "Can I name my daughter Venus-Fly-Trap?"

Me: "Um I don’t think that’s a great idea, honey."

E: "Why not, it’s a flower?"

Me: "Well, it’s not a flower, really, more like a carnivorous plant.  Just plain Venus would be better, that’s a Goddess." (Because goodness knows we don't want to give his hypothetical children weird names.)

E: "But it’s a planet."

Me: "That’s right, and the planet is named for the Goddess, the Roman name for the Goddess of love and beauty, whose Greek name is Aphrodite." (Because TMI is my MO.)

E: "What about Jupiter? Boy or Girl?"

Me: "Jupiter is a boy, he's the king of the gods."

E: "I thought that was Zeus!"

Me: "The name Jupiter is Roman, that’s the same God as Zeus to the Greeks.  The Greeks created the pantheon of the Gods and the Romans borrowed them and changed their names." (Someone stop me, please, it's getting late.)

E: "How about Mars?"

Me: "Boy"

E: "Neptune?"

Me: "Boy again, God of the ocean."

E: "I thought that was Poseidon."

Me: "Roman / Greek thing again, honey."

E: "Mercury?  Hey, I know a Mercury!"

Me: "Look, except for Venus, they're all boys, OK?"

E: "That's not fair!"

Me: "I know, probably some ancient boys did the naming, what can I say?"

E: "Well, what about Earth - girl or boy? Can you name a kid Earth?"

Me: "Well, I don’t really know where name came from," (What, me admitting to not knowing something?) "but we always call the planet she, and there's this concept of Mother Earth, so I would say girl. But it's not a name."

(Oops, I had forgotten all about Eartha Kitt. Sorry, Eartha!)

E: "OK, for girls: Venus and Emerald, for the boys: Mohawk and John.  And maybe Uncle."

Me: "Um, honey, how many kids are you planning to have?" (Not that I don’t want to be a Grandma & all…)

E: "Is Rocky a boy or girl name? Can it be a girl’s name as well as a boys’s name? Because that would be awesome. I want to name my girl Rocky."

Me: "Sure" (I'm starting the "just say yes" phase of the evening)

E: "So how’s this: Speed, Lightning… and Jewel"
(He's not even waiting for my answers now, he's on fire, he's on a roll...)

E: "Oh, I know, the boys: Houdini and Marvin" 
(Where does he GET this stuff?)

E: "Wait, what about middle names?  Flame Daisy for the girl, and Lightning Hank for the boy.  That way they each have one cool name and one normal name and they can decide what they want to be called."

Me: "Good thinking honey, you’re really planning ahead. But, um, don’t you think you need to grow up and go off to college and meet a woman and date her and get married before you start planning on naming your kids?  And then she is going to want some input into this process, too, you know."

E: "Uh, Huh.  How about Jupiter and Pegasus?"

Then it started getting really silly:

E: "Count Dracula?"  (Giggling.)

E: "Hand-cuffs & Underpants!"  (Much Giggling.)

But in the end, he was all sensible about some things.

E: “I know what NOT to name my kid: Evil.  That would be a bad idea.”

(Yes, dear, you are all wise like that.)

Me: "You're right, very bad idea. And now, BEDTIME!  For reals."

And finally you should know that while the earlier conversations took place in the living room, this last one took place in the bathroom, Ethan on the toilet, me perched on the tub next to the sink at the far end, thumbing through a Mimi-Boden catalog (and then frantically writing notes all over the catalog white spaces so I could quote him verbatim as everything he said got funnier and funnier).

Because sometimes it’s spooky in our low-lit bathroom at night and he needs a bit of company.

Because while I like to read on toilet, he prefers to talk.

My son is a conversationalist. 

A bathroom conversationalist. 

I pity his future wife. 

And his future children, my grandchildren: Houdini, Uncle and Venus-Fly-Trap.

(Very long) P.S. on why this post is not like the others and giving credit where credit is due:
I am trying something new with this post.  I am trying to be flat-out funny.  For a long time I have wanted to “lighten up” things around here at The Squashed Bologna.  But it’s been kind of hard to do that, what with all the dying going on.  And then there’s Jake’s autism popping up around every corner.  But since my mother has promised to try to stick around until the boys bar mitzvahs, and with things going well at school for Jake right now, I thought it might be safe to attempt a humor piece.  Well, me being me, I had to stick in some autism and a little death stuff.  But still, for me?  We’re in fluffernutter range here.

And what made me think I could do this, what gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone? My inspiration totally comes from two of my favorite bloggers, my blogging heroes:  Kris of “Pretty All True” and Adrienne of “No Points for Style.”

These women are writers.  Their blogs have a genuine voice.  And they both are not afraid of deep emotion and fierce thought.  They to go where their hearts, minds and souls take them.  And they are hysterically funny and totally irreverent when they chose to be, which is often.  One post will rip your heart to shreds and the next will have you peeing in your pants in hysterics.  And their willingness to go from one to the other, and of their readers to journey with them from tears to laughter made me think of the possibility: “Why not me, too?”

Kris & Adrienne are often at their funniest when they are “reporting” conversations with their husbands and kids, which is why when Ethan stared down this road the other night I immediately flashed on the idea of turning our conversation into a blog post.

So thank you, ladies, for being my bloggy mentors.  Unless this post totally fails and falls flat on its face.  Then of course, I don’t know you and you don't know me.  Wink, wink.

P.P.S. Disclosure: I have linked to the books mentioned in this post, and I am an Amazon Associate. So if you follow my book links to Amazon and buy them I get a few cents. (Yeah, I hate his politics, but B&N doesn't have this program, and I could use the few cents.)


  1. This was just the laugh and happy place I needed today after 3 hrs sleep. Terrific!
    My 8yr old likes to talk to me when he's on the toilet too. What is with that?? Although usually he's rattling off a list of the next Lego Star Wars set he wants since he reads his Lego club magazine on toilet :-)
    I'm going to check out your book suggestion on Amazon. I'm looking for Chanukkah ideas (it's so early this year!) and I think we might have the same kid :)
    thank you for the humor this morning!

  2. This was hilarious ... loved it! I'm so glad there is someone else who takes notes during their conversations with their kids, in order for a more accurate blog post later. :)

  3. Love this so much!!! When I was expecting my 3rd child, a favourite game I used to play with my older two was coming up with the maddest names possible. That's actually pretty easy in Ireland XXX

  4. You forgot an important girl's flower-name: Varda (Hebrew for Rose).

    And what about Evel Knievel?

  5. best conversations ever! I love how he wants to write a book with you!

  6. Hee! Love the names! I think it's awesome he wants to write a book with you. I think you should totally pursue that.

    p.s. I also love Kris and Adrienne, but you have your own unique voice. Don't ever underestimate the power of that.

  7. It worked, I laughed through the conversation as it sounds so very much like something that would happen in my house. I too have a Pokemon obsessed boy:) Jen

  8. I think your future grandchildren are going to be Gladiators!

  9. Thank you for sharing the conversation! It was truly funny - don't you love the things they think and say sometimes?

  10. I love your new style! You had me giggling to myself...please keep breaking out into this style every now and then!

  11. You are inspired by ME?

    That is crazy talk. I love your writing. I love your passion. I love your family and your intellectualism and your crazy hair.

    I have never met you.

    I love all of these things because of your words.

    You have a gift with words.

    And this conversation right here?

    I love this kind of post. It's a moment captured forever . . . a conversation that could not have occurred five years ago and will not occur again. So quickly he will grow and be past this silly talk.

    That you have taken this moment to pour your ambered words over that conversation? To preserve it?

    Happy sighs at your magic.

    You are lovely.

  12. I have had so many of these conversations!! I love "Venus fly trap" Your boy is great!

    Over from blog gems..always lovely to find new blogs..:)

  13. OMG I love love love it
    what a great conversation '
    Such a bright child
    ( love the plan of you taking care of the kiddos LOL )
    Too funny

  14. oh and I am here from Jen's Blog Gems
    really enjoying this particular blog spin

  15. And I've chosen a Granfather name for the time when my kids have kids - I shall be Obi Wan. None of the kids like it and I may change my mind anyway coz I reckon Mohawk is a great name :)

    PS I'm here from Blog Gems too

  16. I loved reading this again and I laughed again right the way through it. I still have a pokemon obsessed boy here and it was my first thought (again) when you mentioned them. Yay for japanimation!! Jen (thanks for joining in blog gems)

  17. Funny, Funny! Glad to have met you via the rewind! I have two sons on the Autism spectrum - I may have to get my hands on that book for my daughter (11year old). Will be following you now!

    Rachael in Austarlia x

  18. This really made me laugh, and I have a feeling when my son is older he will be just like this!

  19. The way kids minds work and the seemingly random, but strangely connected way ,they jump from subject to subject always makes me smile.

  20. Loved reading this funny! Reminded me of when I was pregnant with no. 3 eldest wanted to call him Corderoy..'cos the principal of his school was a Mr Corderoy! He was six years old at the time, my son that is.

  21. I thought you hit your funny mark! And, seriously, you are going to HAVE to stay alive as long as possible to meet Mercury, Earth and Rocky. ReallY! x

  22. LOL - I love the way the conversations go. I'm with Maxabella - how could you not be around to meet the gang? As for Venus Fly-Trap...

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!

  23. A roaring laugh! Loved it. And especially loved Venus Fly-Trap.

  24. I love this post! Found you over at the Pink Fibro.

    I must say, I'm looking forward to some birth announcements in a dozen or so years. There'll be some corkers!


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!