Noah gives me a slack jawed, ‘what the F…are you talking about now’ look.
“Not the what. The No Matter What.”
“Dad, you know you can be like sooooooo annoying!”
This, as he takes a bite out of his delightful cranberry/lemon muffin and sucks his warm milk….courtesy of the ‘oh so annoying!’ dad.
“Me, I will explain to you more slowly with puppets so that you, not very quick this morning, can understand…hokey-dokey?”
He turns to me with a dead-eyed fish look that confirms how annoying I am being.
“The ‘No matter what’ principle, the ‘No excuses, No Limits’ principle, the ‘No Passaran’ principle. All the same thing.”
“The No Excuses, No limits, I know that one, Dad, that’s Luca Lazylegz who says that. I’m the one who taught you that, remember.”
Last week, Luca Lazylegz, a break dancer with atrophied legs and crutches fired up Noah’s school with his amazing moves and with his auditorium exploding chant, “No Excuses, No Limits.”
” ‘No Matter What’ means the same. No matter what happens, no matter what anybody says, no matter what your impulses are, today, at school you get all M’s.”
He picks out a cranberry from his muffin and stares it down like I probably stare him down when he’s misbehaving. He flips it into his mouth.
Noah has been having a hard time with discipline and listening to instructions at school. A daily progress report chronicles his efforts on a number of dimensions…M for doing the right thing Most or all of the time, P for Part of the time.
“Dad, you know like I try everyday and I got like 4 M’s and only 3 P’s.”
“And today aaaaaallll M’s, right!?!”
“Yeah, I’ll try.”
“You won’t try. Today, you’ll get all M’s, kid. No matter what, even if you get bored or your brain pushes you to do something or you tell yourself, oh it’s not perfect, but its ENOUGH…you’ll give it everything, no matter what and get MMMMMMMMMMM’s.”
“Hmmm… .” He is not sure.
Neither am I, of course. But it’s worth a try.
I was up at five this morning, battling the waves of anxiety… the meme of sadness, death, uselessness, fear passed on to me by generations of over-wrought Italians. So I channeled the Spanish Civil War instead. I repeated like a mantra, the resistance fighters’ cry, ‘No Passaran!’, they will not pass, as they fought the murderous Fascist troops.
By the time Noah woke, I had held back the mind assassins and was winning the siege.
“If you get thoughts that push you to do something that you know is the wrong idea, Noah, you tell yourself ‘No Passaran!’…its Spanish for ‘They will not pass’.
I tell him the heroic story of the Spanish Civil War. Make a mental note that I’ve got to introduce him to George Orwell. Animal Farm, a great book to start his political education.
“No Passaran!, nice,” he says with senior citizen wisdom as he vacuums the muffin remnants off the tablecloth.
“But dad, I prefer No Excuses, No Limits, I don’t want to like, insult you, you know, but yeah I prefer that. It’s more like, modern you know. Sorry.”
“No Excuses.” I pump out with force.
“No Limits.” He hollers in a shockingly loud shrill Minnie Mouse voice.
“All M’s.” He confirms.
If I was blond and cute I could be a cheerleader.
Better! Dark and sexy like a revolutionary Passionara.