Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Interrogator

One wonderfully infuriating thing about the one we call Miles, the youngest one, is that, as fate would have it, when his earliest language skills were forming, his older brother happened to be in the deepest throes of his "Why (insert every damn thing here)?" phase. While Max has moved on to his "This-is-my-universe-please-explain-to-me-why-I-should-continue-to-tolerate-you?" phase, Miles still thinks it's OK to question everything.

In fact, the boys' first conversation went something like this:

Max: "No, Miles! No, you can't have the crane. I'm playing with the crane."

Miles: "Why playing, Max?"

"Because I like playing with the crane, Miles."

"Why crane, Max?"

Max, exasperated: "Because it's a crane, Miles." Then, under his breath, "I don't know why 'crane', Miles."

For the most part, Miles figures the last word he heard is should be the subject of his question, so there's lots of exchanges like:

"Ok, let's go out to the car!"

"Why car, mommy?"

"Because we have to Max to school, Miles."

"Why school, mommy?"

"Because we go to school to learn things."

"Why learn, mommy?"


That's not to say the boy isn't capable of the occasional curveball. Recently, I was getting the boys ready for bed, walking around with Miles on one arm, looking for his damn blanket. Now, another great thing about Miles is, when has a really important question, he'll twist around in your arms and lean right into your face to make sure he gets his question across. So, here we are, moving from room to room, searching for Blanket when, apropos of nothing, in my best "Grover" impression, I call out, "Blankie! Oh, Blankieeeee?! Where are youoo?!"

Suddenly, I feel all 30 pounds of inquisitive toddler contort so his big, oceanic eyes are right in my face. I was thinking about how incredible his eyelashes are when, in the most "WTF" tone a two year-old can muster, Miles wondered, "Why Grover, Daddy?"

"Why not Grover, Miles?", I volleyed.

Thankfully, we found Blankie about then, 'cause I doubt I could've handled it had the philosophical debate gone much further.

Yes, Max, There is a Santa Claus

For a long while, I liked Christmas. If we weren't packed, cousins and cousins and cousins and sisters and uncles and aunts and grandparents, into the living room of my dad's childhood farmhouse home -- this, after desperately waiting for the Christmas dinner dishes to be done so we could open presents -- we were later that same night in the car, driving through the snow, looking for Rudolph's nose peeking through the clouds, on the way to Christmas at Grandma Coke's. Some years we'd trek to my Lord-of-the-Hippies uncle's, dress in layers and huddle around the wood-burning cook stove (for many years, the only source of heat in the house) and not think twice about taking a soak in the mini log cabin sauna before jumping into the Yellow River.

Some years we stayed home, creating adventures between recently unwrapped Tonka front loaders and plastic horses on a fantastic orange shag carpet.

Then, as it tends to happen, things got more complicated. Hell, even before we had the boys, you'd need an itinerary and an egg timer to make sure you stayed on schedule.

This year, though, things sort of started to crystallize for me. The boys, especially Max, are becoming active participants in the whole coo-coo Christmas experience. You'd think this would just crank the insanity dial to eleven but, really, the experience of watching Max draw a picture for Santa to put next to the plate of cookies left out for said same St. Nick, was so full of pure, innocent magic, I couldn't help but get pulled on in.

We all got up Christmas morning, looked at the crumbs, the note and the Santa diorama left behind; we opened presents; had a big, yummy breakfast and then went out to play in/shovel/blow snow. It was so stupid idyllic, the old me would've puked. I still kinda want to puke, but that was only because I drank too much Scotch with those damn Santa cookies.

Next year, watch out: both Max and Miles will fully comprehend Santa and Rudolph!

Max Von Hefner-Capote-Rubirosa

International playboy and occasional pants-wetter, Max, would like to wish everyone the happiest of holidays, coming to you here from the comfy confines of the robe given to him by his super-hip great-grandmother, Gi-Gi. Two things happen when he puts this thing on: 1. Even though no one in the house owns a pipe, he begins to stomp around the house looking for his. 2. This music and this music begin to spontaneously play every time he walks into a room.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Max Unplugged

Like any good drug, you build up a tolerance to The Cute. When they first started giving The Cute out for free at the playground, you know, like tickling Max to make him laugh, that would be enough to get us through the day. Nowadays, though, we'd have to tickle him for an hour just to get a buzz on. But then, after they go to bed, we'd have to look at old pictures of them on Picasa just to top off. Part of this, of course, is because their increasingly epic tantrums are totally harshing our buzzes. Jerks.

Yesterday, though, was pure, uncut, Columbian Cute. Crazazy Thai Stick Cute that could have you pushing off blissfully for decades. The kind of cute that, fifteen years from now, when you're bailing Max out of jail. . . again, will have you saying, "What lawyer's fees?"

It was Max's first Holiday Concert at his pre-school. All week, he had been saying he wasn't going to sing and would probably just come sit with us when his class filed in. No biggie: I've seen the kid sing every song off of Here Comes Science just while he's taking a bath. So, I was, to say the least, intrigued, when Max actually walked in with the rest of his class, stayed in line and started to sing. In about 3 seconds, 20-odd years of cynicism and spite were blasted away by a one billion-degree furnace fueled primarily by instant oatmeal and insane levels of Cute. Kinda like the sun in this song but, yeah, hotter. I wanted the whole world to see this. . . except for Joe Lieberman. He can rot in hell. Everyone else? In time, you may have a hit off this bong.

While I do love that Max spent the first bit of the song phoning it in while he tried to pick me out of the crowd (I had moved to get a better shot) and then really got into it once he knew I was watching. . .yeah, I love that. What really blows me away is that each kid was doing just that to each of their respective families: everybody in the whole joint was having their mind blown in that old, echo-y basement. Really, if you watch the video enough times (as I have), you'll see that every little goofball does something completely uproarious at some point during the song. Just check out the kid in red, starting at about :44 in.

So, crazy world, if I don't get a post up before the holidays go all ten-pound sledgehammer to my head, consider this my gift to you. No matter how many times the figurative or literal Maxes in your life refuse to put their jackets on or freak out 'cause you asked them to turn off the TV or won't vote for a public option, remember: we'll always have this video.

Memmorrrieeeess, Light The Corne. . . . . . Oh, Snap! TORNADO!!!

Since August 19th, if you -- stranger or not-stranger -- met, talked to, or looked at Max for a second too long he'd drop this little tid-bit on you:

"So, the wind came up! And leaves were shaking! And the tornado was really windy! and it spins around and around! And all the trees on ParkPortland came falling down! . . . and it was really windy."

Now, if you're a polite person, and you want to humor the small person or if you still had your wits about you, enough, say, to respond at all, you'd muster up a faux (or possibly not) amazed/interested, "Oh, really?"

Like a lion sensing weakness in his prey, Max would pounce on this opening and blister you with a series of lefts and rights: "Yeah! Then, the trees all came down, all over, 'cause the winds of the tornado blew rrreally strongly and it was really rainy that day when it all got blown down. All the trees came down. Mmm-mm."

I usually keep a bottle of OTC vertigo medication at the ready for times like these. I hand the victim the pill and a glass of water, place a reassuring hand on their shoulder and calmly repeat, "It'll pass, it'll pass." until they get their color back.

The non-head spin version of the story is that, one pretty rainy day in August, Katie left for work. Not long after she left, I looked out the window and thought, "Hm, now it's kinda windy, too." As it turned out, about six blocks away, Katie sat in her car at an intersection, when, all around her, the trees did, in fact, begin to come down: the tornado went right over her.

Our immediate neighborhood was untouched but several streets near us were devastated. Every day, we would drive past the huge, downed trees and the damaged houses. Every day, we would have to explain to Max what had happened. Every day, the image in his head of what had happened grew into even larger mythic proportions.

Even now, I'd wager heavy money that were he to bump into a real-life Bob the Builder or discover some magical talking backhoe, without missing a beat, he'd launch right into his tornado story. They'd hang onto the narrative until, seeing no end to the tale of destruction, the talking backhoe would go find some kid who just wanted to talk about bunnies.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Kind of Two

The yes-we're-gonna-party-party party isn't until Saturday so tonight, after some killer take-out, we celebrated with a wee cupcake, a little frosting, some sprinkles and two candles. The cupcake is apparently one of many destined to become part of some elaborate, dinosaur-themed, cupcake-based mosaic.

I'm starting to think that Katie does these things to make us all feel inadequate.

As for Miles, Miles and his dreamy blue eyes; Miles and his impeccable comic timing; Miles and his daredevil tendencies, we love this maniac child who is wonderful and spectacular in ways that generally leave us dumbfounded.

Here's a video that's pretty much Miles's life in a nutshell: The kid can out-crazy Max like falling out of a chair (which he has done many, many times and now does just for fun). So, here's Miles, schooling Max on some crazy jumping. Max, taking a page from Bush-era diplomacy, rather than being impressed and applauding his brother's efforts, just tackles him. Later, he would say, he just did it for his little brother's safety. And Freedom.

Happy Birthday, Little Miles!

The Thanksgiving Pinata or You Don't Gradually Turn Into Your Parents, It Happens Quite Suddenly

I don't really want to say that our family-based Thanksgivings aren't as good as our annual "Friend's Thanksgving", held annually the Sunday after the actual Thanksgiving. However, none of the family Thanksgivings included a pinata so, uh, how could they have been as good? In fact, all future holidays will be judged on a "Pinata, yes? Pinata, no?" scale.

The Friend's Thanksgiving is also better, not only because the drunk-getting is based on recreation rather than desperation, but because of the total and absolute chaos generated by the ten friends' kids, all but one under the age of seven; with most in that two to five year-old sweet spot, when running around while screaming really isn't a pass-time, it's a way of life.

Speaking of screaming and chaos, Max has been experimenting recently with the design tolerances of his parents' fragile psyches. This has resulted in two things, one tragic and one less so. First, tragically, (and, I guess, unsurprisingly) the time for me to utter that great truth of parenting, "Because I said so." arrived. The only way to become more like my father at this point is to put on a few pounds, sell somebody some Crop Hail Insurance and tell many bad jokes only I think are funny. Frankly, when I said, "Because I said so!", I thought all those things were going to happen spontaneously.

Less tragically, the failure of Max to get his jacket off the kitchen floor, which resulted in an epic tantrum, which resulted in me uttering the dreaded BISS, which resulted in Max being exiled to his room, resulted in this comic relief:

I'm standing in the hallway, holding Max's door shut as he steadfastly refuses to pick up his jacket, pounding on the door and screaming. Max is gloriously indignant: distraught not only that he's in his room but also because we have the audacity to ask him to pick up his jacket.

Miles toddles up and, since the crazy person having a conniption couldn't be his normally pretty nice big brother, he wonders, "Who's that? Who's that, Daddy?"

Rather than try to explain the complexities of the situation, I just replied, "Who's in there, Miles? Ohhh, I don't know. Linda Blair?"

See what I mean about not being funny anymore?

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