Third Grade

Because I recently wrote about Brodie, my second-born is now desperate to be the topic of a blog post. He won’t let it go, or for that matter, GO TO BED. He insists on reading over my shoulder at this very moment to prove that I am, actually, writing about him.

“OK, mom. I’ll go upstairs now.”

Having read the opening sentences, Teddy is appeased and off he goes… moonwalking to the stairs, then catching a glimpse of himself in the hall mirror, giving quick finger guns to his striped pajammied image. If I stop him now to remind him to brush his teeth, he’ll turn around with a raised eyebrow and say in his best Jackée,

“Gurrl… I was just going.”

Teddy’s never seen Jackée, and we have no idea where this half Asian third grader picked up the mannerisms of a sassy black woman… but that’s Teddy.

Yesterday, I eavesdropped on a gaggle of kids watching mine on the tennis court. They were wondering whether my boys were twins or brothers. Just last summer, Ran’s sweet little girl turned her blond-ringlet head toward me and asked in all earnestness, “Mrs. Lee, how can you tell them apart?” It’s true, these two Bernie clones are Pete and Repeat, nearly Irish twins, and often mistaken for each other. But they couldn’t be more different.

While I’ve been worrying about Brodie and the endlessness of Fourth Grade Torture, Teddy is cruising through Third with nary a care. Teddy is a good sport about his athletic shortcomings, knowing he’s destined for greater things: the fame of a multi-platinum rapper/zoologist. He dances without provocation or embarrassment, suddenly channeling Michael Jackson, but really looking more like a frenetic Bill Cosby. Teddy knows all of the words to a catalog of (inappropriate) songs, and few things are funnier than his sultry rendition of Beyoncé, “…surfboardt… surfboardt… grainin’ grainin’ on that wood.” Bernie and I are forever trading those oh, dear head-shaking looks as this skinny kid in a Star Wars t-shirt croons, “Oh, I’m drankin’.”

Teddy has an unquenchable thirst for explanations, and our appetites were curbed at the dinner table last night as he insisted on details about the spaying of animals and particulars of menstruation. Poor Brodie suffers through these embarrassing discussions, but I think benefits from the fearless inquiries of a little brother who Needs to Know. Fully debriefed on monthly female physiology, Teddy turned to me, aghast,

“Ugh, Mom! This happens to you?”

“Well, no… chemo kind of zapped it all out of me.”

“Oh, phew! Hey, high five!”

And then turning to his 22-year-old cousin, with grave alarm:

“You need to get a boyfriend NOW. And get married and have babies so you can stop bleeding.”

We didn’t take a moment to address all of those ideas, still snort-giggling about the inspired High Five for the awesome convenience of chemical menopause.

When asked in polite conversation, “How are your boys?” I light up with uncontainable joy. These are hilarious, touching, soul-warming days with my still-innocents who smell good and love me most and never lie. Teddy is right to insist I capture them now, particularly him of course, in all his glorious nine-year-old-ness. Teddy who doesn’t stop talking from the moment I pull him from warm covers until droopy eyes won’t let him finish just one more page. Teddy who occasionally swings his butt side to side doing his “supermodel walk.” Teddy whose tearful queries about why parents “get un-married” reveals a fear that rattles his belief in a safe world. Teddy who thinks anything below 94% is “failing” and wants to discuss tampons at the dinner table and wore a lion costume every single day for two years. Teddy who wants me to show everyone this ridiculous picture.

Teddy Tut

Teddy Tut

And this one.

This lion costume. Every. Single. Day.

This lion costume. For two years. Every. Single. Day.

And this one.

Lacking neither cuteness, nor confidence...

Lacking neither cuteness, nor confidence…


Personalities captured perfectly by

Personalities captured perfectly by

Delicious moments sit right alongside the heartbreaking ones. Brodie’s soulful introspection contrasts daily with Teddy’s infectious silliness. I’m astutely aware that I’m swinging in the sweet spot of parenting. It’s hard to imagine I could like and love them more than I do right now at these fun ages. And recording their blossoming personalities and peccadilloes and perfections here may be more valuable than what gets banked in my undependable memory.


14 responses

    • He’s totally hot shit. He just asked permission to listen to another song with lyrics he calls “inappro-pro.” Permission granted, with the promise that he’ll never sing these aloud outside the home.

  1. This is oh so delicious, I can’t even manage a snarky reply. I love it. If Teddy is in search of more inappropriate songs to sing, I’m happy to share some. You might introduce him to the Phish version of Gin & Juice.

  2. Yikes! Teddy is an amazing young man. Good thing you’re a doctor and can answer all his physiology questions – no way I would be able to keep up with that inquiring young mind. He’s a crackerjack. So intelligent and yet so endearing. His choice of costumes – be it Lion, Pharaoh, or the Boss – makes it clear that he will be in charge: means yet to be determined. Look out world, here comes Teddy! Or more like: Look out Britt, here comes Teddy! Ha! Oh, since Teddy will no doubt be reading this, please mention to him to not let it go to his head – or his hat won’t fit. Ha!

    • I love the questions. I had to remind both boys last night that none of their classmates will know this stuff… so please keep it under those snazzy hats until 5th grade sex ed gets the rest of the boys up to speed. These are the fun days, indeed!

  3. I just love your writing and your ability to describe these intense, lovable little creatures of yours. Turns me in to a big ole pile of Mommy goo. Your boys will appreciate your talent for capturing moments like these when they get older. I’m at the almost 2 and 5 ages now. I drink more but I laugh A LOT! And I also am blown away pretty much daily by their intelligence, sense of humors and simple joys…like a snuggle with their Momma. I just eat it up!

    • Nothing is sweeter right now than Teddy in the morning, all warm and quiet and perfect. In three minutes they’ll be teenagers and I’ll be lame and irritating and invisible. Now might be where it’s at. Thank you for reading, Dawn… and for your always sweet words.

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