Art and Literacy

Every week the Gremlin participates in a class for the Chicago Park District. This time around he is taking an art class which he talks about all week. It is a multi-media class, and he frequently does painting, clay, and beading all in one day.

Last week he had just finished his clay sculpturing, washed off, and sat down to paint when he keyed into a conversation one of the mothers was having with the rest of the table.

“My little Mave is just so advanced! She’s already learning her alphabet and can write her name.” The mother pulled out a clean sheet of paper and dipped her daughter’s brush into the paint. “Here you go Mave. Write your name! Remember? Just like we practiced!”

The mother started the M and the girl picked up on it. She scrawled out a rough approximation of M-A-V-E with an extra loop on the A and a few extra dashes on the E. The Gremlin took a sideways glance at the signature.

“That’s not an A,” the Gremlin stated. Mave looked over at him.

“Yes it is.”

“No, this is an A.” With a flourish, he reached across the painting, and marked a perfect A underneath the swirly &-type sign. “And, that’s not an E.” The rapport repeated with Mave disagreeing and the Gremlin again dipping his paintbrush and putting the correct number of horizontal dashes to the E.

He returned to his own painting for a moment.

“This is how you spell my name.” The parents at the table looked over to see A-L-E-X printed out in the corner of the page. “Okay, momma, I’m ready for a new paper.” And he went on with his painting. The other mother was silent for the rest of the class period.

It’s A New Generation…

I still remember my first computer – this awesome IBM with an orange-print screen. We set it up in the family room and I was allowed to mess around with it while my dad wasn’t working on it.

The Gremlin is growing up with computers, and it was bound to happen that he was going to pick them up earlier than I did, I just thought he was going to be able to … oh, I don’t know … spell first. Apparently that’s not an issue to the wiles of the Gremlin.

This morning, while the Mother of the Gremlin was making coffee in her beloved Bodum Brazil 8-Cup (34-Ounce) Coffee Press, the Gremlin was begging her to let him play on – his favorite site to interact with shows like Curious George or Caillou (I’d never heard of him either). The MOTG agreed that as soon as the coffee was ready, she’d get the computer there and play with him.

The Gremlin decided this wasn’t fast enough, and climbed up to his mother’s netbook. When the MOTG came over to her computer, she was amazed to see the Gremlin already playing the Curious George game.

“Buddy, how did you do that?”
“Shhhhhh, momma!” the Gremlin was intent on his game. Once he finished it, she closed out the browser.
“Can you show me how you did that?”

The Gremlin looked up at his mother – considering pulling his “how I do what?” trick again, but realized he’s already shown he could get to it. So he put his finger on the touch pad, opened up an internet browser, clicked the URL space, hit the ‘p’ button, and scrolled down to (and he still claims he can’t read).

“So momma, I can play another game now?”
Update: The Gremlin decided he wanted to play on my laptop, so I took video of it. And no, that’s not Arrested Development – Season One playing in the background. Okay, ‘Maebe’ it is….

Delicious Distractions

So the other day the Mother of the Gremlin was heading out to get dinner – she usually does a homemade meal almost every night, and rarely takes a night off. So when she asked to take a night off, both the Gremlin and I were okay with it. We began the ice-cold schlep over to foodie row (McDonald’s, Subway, four middle eastern places (two Lebanese, one Iraqi, one Egyptian) a Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts, two pizza places, and brand-new hot dog store. All within two blocks of each other.

Once we stopped at the bank, we had to again pass by the Dunkin’ Donuts. The Gremlin, having already figured out that 1) donuts are delicious and 2) you have to have money to get one (he’s currently saving his regular holiday money from grandma for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway – Rocky), saw that we had just gone to the bank.

We have been trying to get the Gremlin used to walking with us and not being carried, and he’s always been extremely good about walking with us, not crossing streets without us, etc… But when the guy walking in front of us stepped into Dunkin’ Donuts, the Gremlin darted in after him. The man was so amused that he held the inner door open as well, and the Gremlin was off to the races.

He ducked in and out of the maze of tables, glanced at the twin 5-person deep lines, and stepped right in front of everyone. The Latino man, short but sturdy and looking like a craftsman or construction worker by trade (read: tough), that the Gremlin had just brushed aside began to chuckle as the employee looked confused between the two.

The Gremlin was undaunted. “I would like one chocolate donut please!” The Dunkin Donuts worker just stood there staring at him, so the Gremlin made an addendum. “Oh, and a coffee for momma. Thanks!”

We finally caught up with him at that point and tried to pull him to the back of the line, but all 5 men the Gremlin cut off were chuckling and telling us it was okay. So the employee rang it up as the Gremlin looked at his mother. “Okay momma, you can pay for it now.”

He’s gonna be fun in high school. Especially when he learns about credit cards.

Every Morning a New Adventure

The Gremlin loves his family. So much so that he literally hates the work week. If I tell him I am going to work, he starts crying immediately.

“I don’t want daddy to go to work! I want daddy stay home RIGHT NOW!” (As rude and demanding as the phrase is, his ‘w-wight now!’s are some of the most adorable demands I’ve ever heard.)

As I leave for the day, I will give my wife a kiss, and my son will open the front door. He will give me a hug out on the landing, and then go to the window. As I leave the building and walk to the L, the Gremlin will stand at the window and wave to me.

In the summers we had the windows closed, and in the winter we have the windows closed too. So I didn’t know until the Mother of the Gremlin told me that aside of the frantic arm waving, he also would yell various things to me like “Daddy, I want you stay home!” and “I love you! Don’t leave!”

Well, as he realized his pleadings wouldn’t work, he began going to direct action. He first struck as the weather turned cold. He noticed that daddy always made sure to have his special hat – one given to him by the MOTG for our first Christmas in our first house.

So one morning, after searching for his hat for 15 minutes, daddy ended up going to work anyway, just with a different hat. After daddy was down the block, the Gremlin left the window and went into his room. He emerged with daddy’s lucky hat (above), and confessed to his mother that he didn’t want daddy to go to work and took the hat to try to get him to stay. Yes, I really do like that hat that much.

His next try was more subtle. He realized that I had duplicates of all the winter garments I needed to be ready to brave the Chicago winter and decided to go for the other part of my morning – my lunch.

Being a young, fist-time home buyer with new car, new wife, and new child, I bring my lunch to work just about every day of the week. Most days I pack it, and the MOTG steps up to the plate when I’m unable to. Okay, that’s a lie – my wife packs my lunch, and when she doesn’t, I buy it. But anyway, I walked into the kitchen and the Gremlin was sitting on the counter pitching a fit.

“What’s wrong?” The MOTG looked up as I asked her.

“I don’t know. All day yesterday he was eating granola bars and mini-applesauces, and he just had two this morning. He freaked out when he saw me put them in your lunch.” The Gremlin looked up as tears streamed down his cheeks.

In so many words, we found out that he was consuming these things so that I wouldn’t have a lunch, and therefore wouldn’t be able to go to work.

He Swears He’s Not Bi-Lingual!

So the Mother of the Gremlin (MOTG) has come to the realization that she’s not an intimidating presence in our son’s life. This is good and bad. When he’s being bad he goes straight for her, however it does make issuing instructions in possibly perilous predicaments problematic (hehe, alliteration is fun!).

Various things have been tried to combat this, and the MOTG has found that she sounds significantly more serious when she orders the Gremlin in Spanish. For instance, when he persisted in grabbing the laundry right after it was folded, his mother said

“AJ! No mas! No mas, arrieta!” (AJ, No more! No more, immediately!)

The Gremlin paused at this and considered his answer carefully.

“No, momma, I’m not going to stop, I don’t speak Spanish.”

“Oh really? Then how did you know that I asked you to stop?”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, momma, be quiet.”