I live in a small cul-de-sac where there are a lot of kids. One, in particular, lives across the drive from me, and is a very active, inquisitive guy. Tonight, while his mother cooked dinner and his father fixed our sink, I offered to watch Kid and Little Brother so everyone could get their stuff done in a relatively sane manner.
For this, his parents paid me with a cider ale.
Thus began the questions. After going upstairs (where the sink is), Kid saw my bedroom and came down and asked “Why do you have a giant stuffed teddy bear in your room?”
“It’s a hippo,” I corrected. Kid looked at me inquisitively.
“Are you asking why I, a grown woman, has a giant stuffed hippo in her room?”
“Yeah, why do you have a stuffed hippo?”
“Well, it was given to me by my ex-boyfriend because, when he asked, I said a hippo was the animal that reminded me of him the most. So I have it because it’s special to me. I guess.”
I’m not even sure I’m that attached to the hippo, but I also can’t get rid of it.
We went outside where I sat on the stoop and watched as Kid rode his bike to the right, then the left, then the right again, and back to the left. Little Brother toddled around, found the sidewalk chalk, and set to work making blob-looking art.
Kid looked over and asked: “Where are you shoes?”
“In the house,” I responded while checking Facebook on my phone.
“Why aren’t you wearing them?” he asked very seriously.
“Because I don’t want to.”
“But you’re supposed to wear them when you’re outside.” Kid said this like wearing shoes while outdoors is just a thing people do, and not wearing shoes when outside is like opting not to breathe air: you can’t. One just wears shoes.
“Well… I’ve chosen not to,” I said.
He zipped back and forth on his bike for a bit longer, quiet, as if he was pondering this new knowledge that he could NOT wear shoes when outside. It was possible to leave the house barefoot, if even to just go to the sidewalk. After some moments of quiet, he must have settled the shoe thing for himself and moved on to new topics.
“Who is your best friend?” he asked seriously.
“Well, I have several.”
“Who are they?” he insisted.
And thus commenced listing and relisting all my best friends. I was allowed to go up to 10.
“Who is your best friend?” I asked, trying to redirect the conversation.
“Well, first would be Max. No, wait! Can I start over? PLEEEASE?”
“Dude. You only got to one. Yes, you can start over.”
“Ok. My best friend would actually be Gaby. Then Max.”
Gaby is the girl around the corner who has a bit of a crush on Kid. Max has been Kid’s best friend since birth.
Kid listed the rest of his best friends, and I lost count at 17. He did happen to include me on that list though. Then he wanted to know who was on my kids best friend list.
Later, while Kid was supposed to be eating dinner, he asked me: how old I am, how old my siblings are, if my dad passed away, if I always do what my mom says, why I don’t make my bed every day.
“Are you married?” asked Kid.
“I don’t know… I guess I haven’t met the right guy?”
“Who have you met?” Kid wasn’t going to let this go with a standard answer.
“Well, I’ve dated guys that were nice, but it wasn’t going to work being married to them.”
Oh jeeze. How do I explain this to Kid?
“Well, we had different goals in life.”
Fortunately, Kid’s mom came out with bowls of pasta for Kid and Little Brother. It was dinnertime, and Kid insisted on eating it on the stoop, next to me.
He ate slowly, asking me lots of questions. As he ate, his mother supervised Little Brother, and kept reminding Kid to eat his food. He’d look at her, then make a face at me. It was clear he didn’t want to eat his mushroom pasta dinner; he wanted to continue discussing the intricacies of the universe with me. The Battle to Eat Dinner was underway.
“KID! If you don’t eat THREE MORE BITES, you are going to bed WITHOUT dessert!” threatened Mom.
“FINE!” And he made a dramatic show of taking a (moderately sized) big bite. Mostly, he just opened his mouth VERY wide.
She sighed, and looked at me. “This is why we can’t get anywhere on time.”
Kid looked at me. “Don’t have kids,” he advised sagely.
He finished his bites, then had to go inside for dessert and to get ready for bed, so we said goodnight.
I’m not a kid person, but this kid is growing on me.