Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Bedroom Smells Like Tangerines

(That title has nothing to do with this post, except that I'm writing it up in my bedroom, and N is here, dancing around and eating a tangerine that he just plucked directly from the tree right outside our back door. The tangerine tree from which all the children WHO CAME TO HIS PARTY got to eat from. Which leads me to...)

So Monday brought a few things to light. First, Baroy came back from dropping N off at school that morning with two presents from kids who couldn't make it to his party and were sorry they missed it. Both were Korean kids. This is relevant, as it turns out, because while most of the churches in our area tend to be done with Sunday services (or whatever y'all call them) by around 1 or so, as it turns out, the Korean churches go until 4. Which made it hard for the Korean kids to be at a party that goes from 2 to 5, as N's did. And since more than a third of his class is Korean (which is actually low, considering that over half the school population is Korean), it explained a lot.

That made me feel a lot less bad--for a few minutes, at least.

And then Baroy told me the other half of the story from that morning...the part where bratty little Troy came sauntering over to N and said, "So, I didn't see you at Susan's party yesterday while I was playing games and eating ice cream. Where were you?" N apparently responded by hiding behind his hands; Baroy, apparently feeling the need to fill in by becoming the emotional equivalent of a kindergartener, said, "He was having a great time in the bouncy house at his birthday party, that's where he was." (Gee...I wonder where N gets his social issues?)

Obviously, Susan has a right to have a party, and not to invite N (though I'm surprised, because I thought her mother and I were fairly friendly, and Susan happens to be one of the kids that N talks about and seems to like in his class, but that's my problem, not theirs). I'm betting that mom sent out ACTUAL INVITATIONS, too, and before I sent out N's. So of course people would have chosen that party over N's.

So I should be happy, right? The Korean kids didn't come to the party because they were in church. The rest of the kids were at a party that they had been invited to long before N's. This isn't an indictment on N; this isn't about his issues. HOOOO....ray.

Aw, who'm I kidding? That part had me in tears. Why? Because that's even WORSE, that's why! Because now, on top of having social issues of his own to overcome, apparently my poor child has a mother who can't even manage to do a BIRTHDAY PARTY right! It's not like I didn't know it was coming up, after all. It's not like I didn't know when he was BORN! I'm just a freaking loser, who couldn't get her shit together in time to make something important happen for her kid. The same freaking loser who can't manage to find the time to set up playdates for him, either. I mean, if I'd sent out invites weeks in advance, maybe a bunch of kids would have chosen Susan's party over N's party anyway. But maybe not. Maybe they'd have chosen him, at least a few of them, and I wouldn't have this feeling of having failed him hanging over me.

Thus, I'm more than a little pissed at myself. I'll get over it, but for now, I have no one to blame but myself. So I'm having at it, throwing a pity party here, in my tangerine-scented bedroom, with my 6-year-old son, who's wearing tiny boxing gloves and singing a made-up song about Spongebob. I have a feeling this party ain't gonna last long tonight.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Wonderful Thing

The wonderful thing is that N was surrounded at his birthday party today by people who love him. The wonderful thing is that his uncle was there. The wonderful thing is that the only friends he really cares about having around--Weeyum, Ben, Sam, Joey, Sarah--were there. The wonderful thing is that between the friends who are really our family and the neighborhood kids, there were as many as 16 kids running around at one point. The wonderful thing is that his new teacher, Ms. F, came by and stayed for a few minutes.

The horrible thing is that not one child from his class--not one of the 16 children in his class, all of whom received invitations (only six days in advance, admittedly, and via email, but still, they were invited)--showed up. Not one.

The wonderful thing is that N didn't seem to notice--and if he did, he didn't seem to care.

The horrible thing is that N didn't seem to notice--and if he did, he didn't seem to care.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I can't remember the last time I felt this acutely depressed.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

He Says Potato, I Say What The Fuck Are You Talking About?

Baroy and I connect on some very fundamental things and on a very personal level. But sometimes, when I look around this house, I wonder how we ever found each other, much less came to live together.

We both have areas in our family room that are designated as our offices. The area he chose is in the darkest, windowless corner of the room. My desk is situated between a wall with two windows and another that has our double french doors (each with 15 small panes of glass), and has not only a light overhead, but a lamp behind me. And I still complain abour it being too dark.

We rarely watch television together any more, because he keeps the sound up at decibels levels that I consider assaultive, while I need it so low that the padding of the dog's paws as he walks across the floor can make it difficult to understand what is being said. My greeting to him almost every morning, as I come downstairs while he's listening to Air America, is "Could you turn that down, please?" If it were up to me, even dance music would be kept at a whisper. (And I wonder where N gets his "sensory defensiveness"--his tendency to put his hands over his ears whenever there's a lot of noise around him?)

Baroy opens the windows in the living room to let the cool air in no matter what the temperature is outside, and likes to run a fan in our bedroom even in the dead of winter (whatever that means in Los Angeles). I am a heat seeker, and will pump up the thermostat in the house and then STILL insist on putting a fire in the fireplace.

He dislikes coffee and beer, my two favorite beverages. I could live on pasta and cheese; two foods he absolutely despises. (Imagine trying to cook for a man who eats neither pasta nor cheese...nor cream sauces, nor avocado, nor yams, nor pretty much every other thing I love. It's hell, I tell you. Hell.) Our refrigerator might as well have lines of demarkation for 'his foods' versus 'my foods.'

He likes action-adventure movies; I like documentaries. He likes 60s doo-wop and show tunes (gayest stright man I've ever met!); I'm a child of 70s rock (Rush, anyone?), though I've mellowed in my old age a bit.

I know these are all superficial things, but sometimes--after I've walked through the house turning on lights, shutting windows, turning up the thermostat and muting radios and TV sets--I just have to shake my head.

It's a good thing I like him, that's all I can say. And I'm sure he'd say the same about me.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

He's Not Crazy About Being The Center Of Attention

N turns 6 today, and you know I'll have more to say about that later. But today was special for another reason, too. He was awarded Student of the Month for his class; his teacher told me it was an obvious choice because he's been making such a huge effort to go beyond his comfort zones. (He sits on the rug with the rest of the kids! Every day! And he's even standing and facing in the direction of the flag when they say the Pledge of Allegiance! That's progress.)

At his school, they give out the Student of the Month awards at their monthly award ceremony, and the kids are asked to come up in front of the whole school, which assembles on the main playground. (Yes, they do assemblies outdoors; we live in LA, and I can think of only two times in five years that an assembly has been rained out, and maybe one or two more where it's been uncomfortably cold or windy.) There, he was to receive his certificate and then go stand on line facing the assembled students. This whole idea FREAKED Noah out, poor thing. But, really, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

They Say It's My Birthday...

I'm 43 today. I'm not especially impressed. Aside from it being a prime number, there's really nothing special about 43, you know?

On the other hand, any day when you get presents is a good day, right? (My favorite, because it was so unexpected: A t-shirt Baroy tracked down after we saw it on a TV show--or was it a movie?--after which I laughed for about three straight days. It says, "You had me at Shalom.")

I do find it funny that people just assume that I don't want to talk about my age, now that I'm, you know, old. That's so not me. Me tells everyone she encounters exactly how old she is. As I've said probably a dozen times today, I worked hard for these years. I want credit for every single one of them.

N's birthday is Friday. 6. Now THERE'S a birthday worth celebrating. I'm feeling really down about it, though. I invited all of the other 16 kids in the class (late, admittedly, but via email), and the only RSVPs I've gotten have been nos. Part of me knows that at least half the class will show up on Sunday without RSVPing, or after doing so at the last minute. Part of me worries that he's become the kid everyone thinks is so weird that they won't even show up at his birthday party, you know?

The thing is, he won't even care. His Best Friend of All Time, WeeyumWise, will be there. His friends Joey and Sam and Ben from our "group"--the people we went to Big Bear with--will be there. He'll undoubtedly ignore anyone over and above that who shows up anyway. But I want him to have lots of friends around. I want him to have lots of friends, period. I live in a world of fantasy, apparently.

Case in point: He came home from school with ripped and dirty jeans. I smiled when I saw him, and said, "Well, SOMEbody had a good time at recess today."

"Yeah," N replied. "I played doggie and fetched rocks and sticks."

"And who did you do all this fun stuff with?" I asked, smiling even more broadly.

"Ms. F," he said.

Oh. "Anyone else?" I tried hopefully.

"Nope, just Ms. F."

Then, yesterday, on the way to religious school, just Em and me, Em suddenly asks about whether I think N could use some therapy. The conversation meanders a bit until she asks, quietly but firmly, "Mom, are you sure that N isn't a little bit autistic?"

I know I seem compelled to say this almost every time I write about her, but I need to say it again: She's 9. This, from a 9-year-old.

What follows is a long conversation in which I explain to her about the number of people who have assessed and are assessing him, and how none of them think he's actually autistic. But she's firm on this point, asking me several times, "But isn't it possible that he's just a LITTLE BIT autistic?" We talk about spectrums, and how maybe he's further along the spectrum than she is, but everyone says he's still well on her side of normal. She seems completely unconvinced.

"OK," I say. "Tell me why YOU think he's autistic."

"Well," she says slowly but without hesitation. "He doesn't look you in the eye much when he talks to you. He has a hard time playing with other kids, and he seems to play by himself most of the time. He has a really hard time making friends with kids. And he won't even LISTEN to me when I tell him to get out of my room; he just screams."

If you toss out that last one (her personal gripe against him these days, though the screaming/tantruming is a concern I've been working on with him), she's right on the money.

I told her that, in the end, it doesn't really matter what label he has or doesn't have (OK, we here all know that's bullshit--sorry, mom--but she doesn't), that what matters is helping him to be the best Noah he can possibly be, and I'm not going to stop trying to do that whether he is or isn't 'really' autistic.

But, really, it gives a mother just a leeeeeeeeetle bit of food for thought when her 9-year-old--whose entire experience with autism includes two friends of hers she's known for several years, a boy in her religious school who is having a Very Hard Time and has thus been the subject of more than one conversation on autism lately, and the new boy in her class, who has a one-on-one aide but is otherwise indistinguishable from the rest of the kids--thinks that the experts around her are missing the forest for the trees.

Not to mention how perversely proud I am of her, carrying on the tradition of practicing medicine without a license. That's my girl!

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tiger Coconut

If you know N, you know how HUGE it is that yesterday Baroy took him to his first-ever golf lesson and, aside from a hitch or two, he...you know...took a golf lesson.

And, I might add, he ROCKED. The teacher was impressed. I am beside myself.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Two Steps Back

I've been hesitating to write about this, because I know that Jane is going to hurt herself trying not to scream I TOLD YOU SO from Kansas to California. But I'm needing thoughts and advice, so I'm going for it.

When I volunteered in N's classroom on Thursday, I saw a few things that upset me; clear regressions and some not-so-clear issues. For instance, apparently N has been hiding behind the play-corner furniture during 'calendar time' each morning, when the rest of the kids sit in their place on the rug. So the teacher, Ms. F, came up with a 'compromise' and had given him a chair at the back of the rug to sit on. So there he is, elevated and differentiated from all his friends. Not Good.

He's also apparently decided that he no longer wants to sing along with/participate in the morning pledge of allegiance. Or, rather, he's turning his back on the class/the flag and covering his face with his hands and whispering the words to himself. The teacher is forcibly turning him around, but he just crumples to the floor when she does so. Not Good.

Later that morning, I heard her discussing with him the fact that it's his turn to be the Calendar Monitor. This is THE job in the classroom; the kid who stands up in front of the class and leads them in their morning calendar routine. He flatly told her he didn't want to do it. This is not surprising--it's entirely possible he wouldn't have felt safe enough to do it even if Mrs. W were still around--but it's a little disappointing nonetheless. Not Good.

So, at recess, I pulled Ms F. aside and asked her if it would be OK with her if I called in the school psych to maybe have a look at N. She agreed that it could be useful, but then hit me with her own, not-entirely-unexpected shot: We might want to keep in the back of our minds the possibility of retaining him in kindergarten next year.

My immediate reaction was strongly, physically negative. The kid's turning six in a week; it's not like he's at all a young kindergartener. He's doing fine academically. (Well, sort of. Some of his fine motor skills leave a bit to be desired. His coloring and drawing are pretty awful. But he's not the only one in that boat.) And it would hurt MY PRIDE if my kid were held back. Ugly, but true.

Since then, I've had the chance to think about it (obsessively) for a few days. And, pride aside, I'm still pretty much against it, for a number of reasons, the main one being that I think it's a cop-out, this whole "you'd be giving him another year" thing:

Another year to grow?
He'll still be shortest kid in kindergarten; he's that far behind physically. The kid's adult height AT FULL POTENTIAL will be around 5' 4", and it's not that likely he'll hit that, considering his growth delays as an infant. He's going to have to deal with being short his whole life. No getting around it. Not a reason to hold him back, especially since the one year won't put him ahead of his peers physically.

Another year to mature? That one's a little trickier. But here it is: If there is a reason for the way he is--a developmental delay, an anxiety disorder, whatever--next year? Same story. He'll still hide behind his hands when asked to come up to the board. He'll still refuse to be calendar monitor. He's been like this since he was 2, or even younger. This isn't a maturity issue. It's something else, though God help me, I still can't find a label for what it IS.

Another year to learn?
Fuck that shit. (Sorry, Mom.) But, see, I did call the school psych--unfortunately, a new one, not the one who knows him from his previous assessments and said she'd be watching out for him in kindy--and yes, she's going to go observe him in the classroom on Monday for a while (and apparently already stopped by on Thursday after my call to talk to the teacher a little). And she made a point of telling me on the phone that he was unlikely to qualify for services, BECAUSE HE IS DOING FINE ACADEMICALLY. And thus, retaining him? Seems to me just an easy way out. If he's doing fine enough to not qualify for services (a bullshit--sorry again, Mom--assertion if ever I heard one, and yes, I'll fight that), then he's doing well enough to go on to first grade.

In other words, retention sounds to me like, "We don't know how to help him, so we'll just hold him back and hope that he can help himself."

Clearly, these extra days to 'think about things'? Haven't really calmed me down much.

We're already dealing with some of the individual issues (bribery is my friend; he sat nicely on the rug on Friday with the rest of the kids after being told that his precious half-hour of TV in the morning was hereafter dependent on his doing so). But the larger issue can't be bribed away. It needs to be dealt with. And retention, to me, doesn't seem to deal with it.

So, now, have at it. Tell me why I'm wrong. Or right. Or what I can do to make it all better, aside from turning back time and chaining Mrs. W to her desk so she can't leave.

[I'm not even telling you about the social stuff--like how nobody wanted to be in N's group for reading when he was picking. Luckily, he seems fairly oblivious to the fact that nobody asks him over for playdates and that moms yes me to death but then basically avoid me when I try to set them up myself. That won't last, either.]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


There was snow. There was skiing for (most of) the kids, and most of the dads. There was bowling for those too little, or too scared, to ski. There was sledding. There was snowball-throwing. There was snowman-building. There was a roaring fire. There was bacon and eggs in the mornings, pasta and tacos in the evenings. There was booze. There was a lot of booze. There was hot chocolate. There were nine kids under the age of 10, and eight adults. There was screaming (especially after the now-annual scary-story telling). There was giggling. There was laughing. There was the beginning of the planning for next year, our fifth annual trip up to Big Bear as a group.

And how was your MLK weekend?

Last week, N took his first kindergarten 'word ring' test. Ten words, including such stumpers as "I" and "a" and "on." But I was a little concerned about it. Not about N knowing the words, but about N being willing to read them, aloud, to Ms. F. He's been hiding his face a lot in class, refusing to come up to the board, not wanting to raise his hand, Ms. F has told me. She's been working on it with him. He's coming along. (Two steps forward, one step back.) I'm wasn't--and am not--actually worried about it. Except for the words rings.

See, before Mrs. W left, at that very illuminating parent-teacher conference, she talked about some of the testing she'd done with the kids, and how N had either refused to answer or had pretended not to know stuff she thought he clearly did know. Her take was that he was overwhelmed by having to both deal with lots of noise and kids in the class and with the stress of being singled out for testing at the same time.

Again, not a huge deal, but...in order to be promoted to the first grade, N has to be able to pass the tests for the first three ten-word rings. And while I'm fairly sure he can already read well over 30 words, I wasn't sure he could handle the testing itself. In fact, I was so unsure that I spoke with Ms. F about it ahead of time, and we came up with a strategy for dealing with the possibility that he would clam up or melt down when testing time came.

Of course, he did neither. Belted out the words without hesitation, first time around. He was the first kid that Ms. F tested, so that he wouldn't have time to get nervous about it, which I really appreciated. (I was working in the classroom at the time, so I was able to observe.) And when he got through it, she made a HUGE deal about it with him, congratulating him, giving him a sticker, giving him a hug. All good.

Fast forward a few days to last night. The phone rings just as we're finishing a late dinner, and it's Mrs. W, calling for N (who of course suddenly became shy and panic-stricken and wouldn't get on the phone) to tell him that she'd heard he'd passed his first word ring, and how proud she was of him. That was it. She just wanted to congratulate him. He was absolutely beaming as I held the phone up so he could hear her, too. He couldn't give in and say hi to her...even she realized that, because she said "I didn't think he'd be ready to just get on the phone with me"...but he was so simply happy to hear her voice.

It's the next day, and I still can't get over that phone call. How wonderful it is to have had that woman in N's life, even if only for a few months. How much we all miss her.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I had to ground Em for a week yesterday for a relatively minor infraction, but one for which I had set the punishment in advance if she didn't do XYZ, and she didn't do XYZ. I am a hardass.

N is behaving like a feral animal, deliberately disobeying each and every rule we set. I would assume he's being raised by wolves, except I know he's being raised by me. Hey! Maybe I'm a hardass *and* a werewolf. That would explain a lot. Or not.

Baroy and I screamed at each other for a good half hour last night over how best to handle N. We don't do that. Ever. But N's been that difficult.

I'm pretty sure that, at last count, I've worked for the last 763 hours straight without sleep. I may be off a few hours one way or another, but it's pretty close.

I'm juuuuuuust about to snap.

Of course, Em is also being a total doll these days. She apologized up and down about the minor infraction, and didn't once ask me to back off of the grounding.

And when I was explaining to N the new set of consequences for his behavior (first major problem results in loss of computer time; second major problem results in loss of TV time; third major problem results in an immediate bedtime), he had only one concern: "But you'll still lay down with me, right? Even if I have to go to bed early? Because I loooooooove cuddling with you!"

Be still my heart.

And on a totally, completely, uncategorically unrelated note: Doesn't this make you want to smile? Stem cells from amniotic fluid! Totally cool! And not because of any hesitation I might have about using embryonic stem cells (I have none) or because I think it will settle the debate (it won't, and it shouldn't, because it's a debate that needs to be had), but because, hey! We didn't know there were stem cells in there! And now we know that there are! And it's yet another source for cells, and yet another hope for cures, and yet another advance for medical science.

I also like it because I wrote about Dr. Atala in one part of my first book, Superhuman. At the time, he was trying to tissue-engineer a bladder. This is definitely cooler.

Of course, this story left me with an indelible image of scientists chasing pregnant women around with buckets, trying to be there just at the moment their water breaks...But maybe that's just me.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Time Traveling

It didn't occur to me until the last words passed through the earbuds of my iPod and I found myself unable to do anything more than just continue to walk, walk straight ahead, that I had just finished, within days of each other, two books about time travel. And that I had been nearly paralyzed by the beauty of both of them. That they made time stand still for me.

Sometime last year, after a fairly long hiatus during which time Em was working on her reading-on-her-own skills and I was working on trying to transform N from a special-needs kid into a plain old special kid, she and I began reading together again. Mostly old classics and not-so-classics from my childhood, with some newbies thrown in for good measure. In fact, now that I think about it, I probably left those off of my books of 2006 list, didn't I. I'll have to do something about that.*

In any case, just a few days ago, we finished reading A Wrinkle in Time. I will allow no argument when I say that it is The Greatest Child's Book Ever Written, bar none. There are excellent books out there for kids. There are books I loved. But A Wrinkle in Time is in its own category, and I was thrilled to watch Em sink into the story with the same delight that I did when I was a kid.

Last night, when the kids' beloved Uncle was over, he, Em and I had a rousing discussion about the book, complete with re-enactment of the final scene, when Meg realizes that the one thing she has that It does not is the ability to love. Em talked about how much she loved the whole concept of moving the atoms in a wall aside to be able to walk through a solid wall; I talked about how much I loved the explanation of tessering, which is illustrated using an ant walking along the hem of a skirt. We were talking excitedly, our words and ideas interrupting one another's. It was exactly the sort of moment that I used to envision back in my younger days, when I thought about what it would be like to have kids.

If I could tesser through time and space, that is a moment to which I'd like to regularly return.

And then, today, I finished listening to The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger.

Let me begin by saying this: I am a total book snob. The title of this book turned me off, made me think it would be some genre, pulp-fictiony, sci-fi-ish tale. The popularity of this book turned me off even more. How could anything millions of people can read and enjoy be deep or insightful or smart? It might be entertaining, but only on the most superficial level.

I am an ass. And I was totally wrong.

I loved this book. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and oh, this was a good love story. I was awed by the precision of the plotting, the brilliance of the language, Niffenegger's ability to make me laugh out loud and to make me gasp out loud. I envied her her skill as a writer; I envied Clare and Henry their relationship. I never wanted the story to end, and I realized just how much that longing mirrored some of the basic concepts of the book--the inexorability of time, despite its elasticity. When the audiobook ended during my hike to the supermarket and back, I walked the last quarter-mile to my house with the earbuds in place, the iPod still on, silent. I couldn't bear to break the spell.

All I can say now is that I hope there's a sequel in the works. I want to know what Alba decides; I want to know what happens to her. And that in itself is amazing, because I hate sequels. They never deliver. But I have a feeling that if anyone can do it, Niffenegger can.

And one more thing: God, I wish I could tesser. God, I wish I could time-travel. God, I wish I could love and be loved the way Meg loves Charles Wallace, and Clare and Henry love one another. [Insert standard disclaimer here about how much I love Baroy and he loves me, but how of course it's not like in the these books, and you all know it, so stop looking at me like that.]

*I'll post a Books I Read with Em in 2006 entry in the next day or two. Promise.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Heard in the Kinder Classroom This Morning

As I was filing the kids' work, the new teacher, Ms. F, was going through the morning activities with the kids.

At one point, she told them that, as of next week, they would no longer be allowed to get a toy after collecting 10 Super Stars (a daily reward for good individual behavior), but would have to wait until they got 12 Super Stars.

"How many more Super Stars do you need now, if you used to have to get 10, but now you have to get 12." She points to a girl raising her hand. "Rachel?"

But before Rachel can answer, Tom shouts out, "Two!"

Ms. F frowns at Tom. "Let Rachel answer, Tom. Rachel?"

"Two!" Rachel answers proudly.

"Great! And how do you know that?" asks Ms. F.

"Because Tom said so!"

The kids are learning about coins, and trying to amass the same number of cents as the number of days they've been in school (71). They were up to 66 cents.

"Now what coin should you ask for?" Ms. F inquires of Jean, who is raising her hand.

"A nickle!" Jean exclaims.

Clearly thrilled that a kindergartner was able to do that sort of math, Ms. F exclaims, "Right! And why did you ask me for a nickle?"

Beaming, Jean replies, "Because I like money!"


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

She Has Her Father's Sense Of Humor And Timing

As her guinea pig, Buddy, ran around the room while Em and I talked the other night, Em began to ask me questions about my childhood guinea pig, who was creatively named Streak for the...yup, you guessed it...white streak running along the side of his ginger-colored body.

"Look, Em," I finally said. "You have to remember that, back then, people didn't really think of guinea pigs as needing a lot of room or entertainment or anything. I gave him food and straw bedding and kept him in a tiny fish tank, like the one..."

"Like the one we had Buster in?" she gasped, mouth agape, referring to our recently dead beta fish, who lived in a TINY goldfish bowl.

"No, you silly!" I began to laugh. "I meant the one we kept all our other fish in, our 10-gallon one, NOT the goldfish bowl. Can you imagine a guinea pig in one of those tiny bowls?" It took half an hour for both of us to finally stop giggling at the image of a guinea pig in a goldfish bowl; the minute one would stop laughing, the other would start up. We were incorrigible.

The next day, I had a brainstorm. I went into Em's room and found her little stuffed ginger-and-white guinea pig, and stuffed it into Buster's old goldfish bowl and left it on her desk. She had tears in her eyes from laughing after she walked into her room later that day. I was pleased with my comedic prowess, since it's usually Baroy who gets that kind of response out of her.

But apparently, nine years has been more than enough time for Em to learn a thing or two from her father as well, because when I went into her room to put her to bed last night, I found an addition to the sight gag:

I don't think she's ever been as proud of herself as when I began to roar with laughter. She gloated and preened for the rest of the night.

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