Zuke, I Am Your Grandfather


Were my dad alive for his birthday today, he’d be eighty years old. I wish he was here just to stump my boys mathematically – they couldn’t fathom it – eighty years. Just the other day, Zuki asked me if I was alive in 1812.

I asked him if he was serious.

Then he asked me if I was almost a hundred years old.

I told him yes just to stop the conversation because I knew he would never do the math.

Although my dad and Samu only spent a year and a half together on Earth, Samu sometimes says he misses him. Since I doubt he has that extraordinary of a memory, I’m assuming he’s missing the potential of pilfering another grandparent out of money.

To Samu’s credit, he does remember something about “Gigi” – that he would lie on the daybed to take a nap. That’s about it. I told him how my dad used to praise him for neatly putting his shoes away before entering the house. It was a rather “obsessive-compulsive” action for a one year old to take and little did I know it would get much, much worse – but that’s another story.

Zuki, of course wanted a story of his grandfather praising him.

So, I recounted a time when Zuki accidentally turned on the oven cleaner and almost set the house on fire. My father clearly called him a little rascal.

How is that praise?

Because since his stroke, he never made any sense. He’d call me “Machi” and he’d call everyone else “Pachi” – but “rascal” – was reserved just for his grandson.

He didn’t look disappointed with that story – he didn’t seem affected at all. In that way, he reminds me of my dad. The punchline was always way over their heads. My dad would laugh at a joke a good ten minutes later, while Zuki made you explain it until he turned into a gay fish.

And there are other ways: the way it takes forever for them to get to the point, the way they are remotely fascinated with the military, the movies and accessories.The way they they take forever to leave, which is how my dad was dubbed “The Prince” by my mom. Naturally, Zuki is “Prince 2.”

Samu is “The Princess” but again – that’s another story.

My mother thinks my comparisons are fixated, delusional bullshit based on a father complex. Perhaps she’s right. We all see what we want to see – or in this case – who we want to see. Maybe Zuki is just like me but I see my father because I don’t want to see myself.

Does that make me Zuki’s grandfather? There has to be a punchline in there somewhere.

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Twilight of Tween


We have graduated to “tween” status with Zuki’s 9th birthday the other day. Wish I could say it felt like only yesterday I brought him into this world but to tell the truth, I didn’t do anything except lie on a table while my doctor cut me open, piled my guts on top of me to yank the sucker out. More to the point, it doesn’t feel like yesterday, it feels like nine friggin’ years ago. It’ll probably be another nine years before my boy finally remembers to put underpants on, but what the heck, that’s what moms are for – making sure little cracks are covered.

I tried to refrain from using the growth years terminology, like “terrible twos” and “punk-ass teenagers” but I have to admit, it does help when there’s no logical explanation for your child acting like an asshole. My parents didn’t have any of that, they’d just say, “it’s brain damage.” It did wonders for my confidence.

My introductory lesson to tween-hood came when Zuki became fixated on a pleather jacket (that’s plastic and leather, no Stevie Nicks). We bought it because it was the first time he ever expressed any interest in clothing that didn’t have a superhero plastered on it. Of course, he still wears his shirts and pants backwards. He takes a full two minutes to put his socks on because he forgets what he’s doing by the time he gets to the other foot. And I mentioned how he forgets underpants, right?

But when it comes to this pleather jacket, he’s like a different person. He got chalk on it the other day and went ape shit screaming, “OH MY GOD, I GOT CHALK ON MY SLEEVE.” Meanwhile the corners of his mouth were caked with tomato sauce. Then this morning, he left for school with his jacket zipped but his fly was wide open.

The things that used to make him happy are history and are being replaced by big kid things. No longer a child but not a teenager; too old for toys but clueless with fashion. I’m beginning to see the twilight of tween and I can’t see why I ever thought twos were terrible at all.

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At two and then….seven years later


Sibling Priority


Zuki did it. He got his little brother into his school. A big thank you goes to our Parent Coordinator, who among other miracles, made this dream a reality. After two years of looking for a way in, sibling priority overruled zoning – now both my boys are in the same school.

I admit, the past two years and three weeks were great for the little guy in the other school. He made really good friends, learned from excellent teachers and a developed a keen system of singling out the nicer lunch ladies. But there’s nothing like having siblings in the same school. If I had to describe how full my heart felt, seeing my two guys entering the schoolyard together, I’d say it was like an MSG heart attack. Damn you, House Special soup!

Three days in and Samu was already ecstatic that he had music class. With a real music teacher – who also taught Zuki. So I asked Samu if the teacher knew he was Zuki’s little brother.

Samu said, “Yeah, he knows – he said, Zuki is a nice boy.”

And I sighed because any time a teacher had my younger sister after they taught me, they’d say something like, “Better not do what your big sister done.”

Samu studied my smiling face and said, “You know what I told him? I said, No he’s not! Ha, ha, ha, haaaaa!”

As I watched Samu’s scrawny legs take off, still laughing with that toothless gap of a mouth wide open and succumbing to his nervous tick of punching himself in the stomach, I thought how much Zuki is going to love bumping into his wretched little brother in the hallways. Just love it, yeah.