We’re barely two weeks into summer.
“Yeah, because like they’re all my friends at school. It’s like Friend Central. You know what I mean?”
“Sure. I also remember that the last few weeks of school you couldn’t wait for the summer vacation.”
I know. He busted my gonads every day about how tired he was of school and homework and classes and this and that and everything.
“How many months is summer, dad?”
“As in how long is the summer vacation?”
“Almost exactly two months.”
“And how many months is school?”
“Duh! Use your brain, Noah.”
He arches a brow at me.
“If you know the answer, dad, why don’t you just, like, tell me? It’s so much easier. You know?”
“Brain fail brain fail brain fail.”
I grab my head like I was experiencing a brain freeze.
“Stop it, dad. I get it.” He looks around to see if anybody was watching.
We are crossing the park on the way back home. There are couples necking on blankets in the sun. Others are necking in the relative cover of trees and shade. A juggler is running after his balls as they roll away. Bikes zip around like mosquitoes. A big-breasted creature in an ill-fitting bra cradles a kitten between her bosoms… something about milk, I guess. A group of homeless men and women scour the garbage cans and the grounds for returnable bottles and cans, like survivors of a holocaust. A typical day in the park. Nobody is watching me. Everybody is way too busy furrowing through their personal burrows.
“When does school start?”
“The last few days of August. So start with September.”
As we walk, he pops out a finger, “September…”. He pops up a second finger. “Uhhhh….”. He looks up at me, sheepishly.
“You don’t remember the months?”
He shakes his head.
“Did you ever learn them?”
He shakes his head again. I immediately jump him, roll him on the gross and poke him until he is totally liquefied in giggles bordering on the insane.
“Uncle, Uncle, Uuuunnnnnccccllleeeee!”
I relent. He catches his breath.
“You’re nuts, dad.”
“Yeah, but I know the months of the year.”
I get back up and brush off the grass. I’m mostly dressed in white, so the roll on the lawn was a poor choice. I’m now white and green and white and green and white and green, like a punchline waiting for the joke.
“Come on, Noah. Time for your lesson.”
“Awww, dad. It’s summer vacation, like there is no homework.”
“You said you miss school, so…Today’s lesson: the months of the year in English and in French.”
“Come on, you’re nine and a half. It’s just memorizing. Easy. Repeat after me. January, February, March…”
“January, February March…”
As I rattle off the months and he repeats after me, I store, for further consideration, the information that my kid, who sometimes acts like a world weary forty year old doesn’t know such basic things as the months of the year.
I am suddenly assailed by doubt.
“Noah what’s the day after Tuesday?”
“Ehmmmm…”. He looks up at me with that same sheepish look.
“You don’t really know?”
He shakes his head and smiles in full buck-toothed rabbit glory.
Damn! This is like an illiterate man who hides his inability all his life by faking it. Or an unorgasmic woman who goes “ouh-ouh-ouh” at the critical moments but never gets off. And never will, because she won’t admit the truth.
“Yay…Summer School for Noah.” Sung to the strains of School’s out Forever.
“Oh, My God!” he says.
“Yes, that’s me.” I say. “So, repeat after me. January, February….”.
No bloody way my boy is going to be illiterate and unorgasmic….in anything!