Shoes. You gotta wear ’em to know ’em. Sure, they’re comfortable when you’re strutting up and down the hallway of your bungalow with your pyjama pants pulled up to your knees. Try wearing those pleather suckers on George Street for six hours and see how you feel. You be hobblin’ like Tiny Tim in drag.
Same thing goes for your kid. You never really know what kind of youngster you’ve got until you test him out in the real world – beyond your 12-foot by 12-foot living room where his audience consists of dinkies, dust bunnies and the dog.
Our recent trip to Orlando confirmed that our little junior is quite the joiner. Not one of those annoying little assholes whose hands are permanently raised in class, volunteering for everything from erasing the chalkboard to shining the teacher’s apple with his face fuzz. Max is the kind of kid who just wants to participate, see what it’s all about, and doesn’t mind that everyone is looking at him.
As soon as we arrived at Hollywood Studios, we got stopped in our tracks by one of those impromptu entertainment troops. They pulled up in the middle of the square in a funny little truck and a slew of crazy characters piled out. A crowd of onlookers quickly gathered around, each one with the kind of smile that hurts your face. After a few tricks and zingers, the actors said they’d now be giving away an ultimate Fastpass and asked for a few pint-sized prospects to come forward and compete for the prize. Max didn’t start shouting “me me me!” He didn’t know the war was over. But with a teaspoon of encouragement, he was game. “Do you want to go up there and try to win?” we asked him. Blank-faced and open-mouthed, a little stunned by all this excitement, he nodded his head. And with a gentle push of my hand on his shoulder, he was gone out there into the big, bad world. He skipped up into the epicentre of the action, stood politely in place, and said his name into the microphone on cue. Phew. I was terrified he’d say his name was “meatball” or “toaster” or “dicksmack” or something. Who really knows what’s going to come out of their mouths? Seriously. He followed his father into the bathroom the other day and said, “Daddy, your bird is disgusting.” And he did NOT hear that from me. Nor can he read thoughts.
We shouldn’t be surprised by his courage, I suppose. His nickname is Turbo Ginger for god sakes. He chewed his way out of his crib. He ran before he walked. His first crayon drawing was titled, Riptide of Emotion. But I just don’t know where he gets it. When I was little, I’d have crawled up my mother’s hole before I’d get up in front of a crowd. And his father is kinda shy. Except when he’s drinking. Geez, I don’t suppose Max was drunk the whole time we were at Disney… Hmmmm.
So our gutsy little guy didn’t mind doing his own thang during our excursion to the land of mice and magic. And thank goodness; I didn’t pay a zillion clams to have him cling to my thigh like a loser koala bear. This is a buffet of fun, dammit, get your money’s worth.
His audacity was an endless source of amusement for us. Except at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie set which should be called Honey, I Lost Our Kid. Max was up the big leaf, down the dog’s tongue, in and out of giant Cheerios and tunnels. Our kid would go into a little nook, we’d watch and wait, and someone else’s kid would come out. Me nerves. I’m going to have to teach him a new word soon: kid-nap-per. It took all four sets of eyes – two parents, two grandparents – to keep him from ending up in a Columbian brick factory. “Rust hair, strong, make good worker.”
I reckon this audacious child of mine loins is my ticket to greatness. I mean, it’s not like I’m ever going to strike it rich with a bestseller or anything. In Orlando, I kept looking around for opportunities to win things, where I could shove Max up on stage to try his luck. “Remember that time you ruined mommy’s vagina? You owe me. Dance, ya little frigger, dance!”