i have a son. his name is kenneth michael. he is named after his grandfathers. i was huge when i was pregnant with him and while he wasn’t the biggest baby ever, he is a very large preschooler. he is currently forty-six inches tall and a whopping forty-four pounds. he wears big boy clothes in a size five-six, and a size thirteen shoe. he will be four years old this coming wednesday. and while he is black, i have recently discovered that he is living the secret life of an italian gangster. yes. an italian gangster (and, i mean “italian gangster” in the nicest way possible).
as with all children, their desire to exert their independence outweighs their actual ability to handle the responsibility. for instance, my son tried to pour himself a glass of orange juice the other day. good thing those eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head were open and my ninja-like mommy reflexes were on point. as the mommy, i always feel the need to try and avoid a spill or a “situation” before it actually happens. when i get him something to eat, drink or snack on, he wants to carry it himself. i am usually able to convince him to let me carry the spillables while he is in charge of the non-spillables. most of the time, this works in my favor as he is mostly interested in consuming the food/drink items. more so than he is interested in cleaning them up. (we’ve been down that road too many times). when he is permitted to carry an item, i always reinforce his duty with “two hands, kenneth, two hands.”
let me explain one thing real quick. my son’s name is kenneth. most people in our lives call him kenny or even ken. except me. i almost always call him “bubba”. or bubs, bubbalicious, or bubbe. when i use his name, i, more often than not, refer to him as kenneth. i associate “kenny” with my father. that’s what everyone used to referred to him as, so i make a point to use kenneth when talking about my son. he refers to himself as kenny. as a matter of fact, we had a little spat over it earlier today.
me: what’s your name?
him: i kenny.
me: what’s my name?
him: you mommy.
me: what’s mommy’s name?
me: what’s kenny’s name?
him: i KENNY!
me: kenny’s name is Kenneth.
him: NO! i kenny! mooommmmmy, i kenny.
me: ok. you can be kenny if you want to, but your name is kenneth.
him: hmph. (that’s him kinda blowin’ me off. if it was me, i would have been saying “my ass!” if it was me (just sayin’)).
all-in-all, it was pretty dern funny. he was very adamant (and it makes the rest of the story a little sweeter).
back to my story. whenever he walks away, i try to remind him to use “two hands”. it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time that i told him “use two hands”, that i realized that he didn’t actually grasp the concept of “two” hands, he just knew that he needed to hold it. so one afternoon, we get into this same little conversation around snack time. it went like this:
me: mama’s gonna carry it.
him: no. kenny two hands.
me: no, let mama carry it.
him: no. kenny TWO HANDS!
me: no, bubs, let mama do it.
just then, he turned his head and cut his eyes at me (i know, right?) and with all the certainty of The Godfather himself, he says in a firm tone:
“no. kenny… two hands.”
even with that explanation i cannot tell you how these four words came across to me. the pause between “kenny” and “two hands” was so purposeful. he had certainty in his voice. it made me giggle a little because (in my head) i instantly heard the gangster voice, the one that says “fuggeddaboutit” or maybe even “luca brasi sleeps with the fishes.” i also pictured a classic expression, like that of my favorite gangsters: robert deniro and al pacino (in just about anything), when they are nodding their head, yes, repeatedly, but you already know that the answer is NOT yes, and you are going to be told that the answer is NO in a very firm and undeniable manner. a manner that, if you survive, you will never, ever, EVER forget.
or perhaps you’ll be made an offer? one you can’t refuse?
this time, the voice said “kenny… two hands” making me picture two hands coming together as if they were… i dunno, say, around a neck? kinda like:
“you ain’t neva heard the story of kenny? ‘kenny… two hands’?? that’s one guy i wouldn’t mess with. word is … you don’t wanna make him use those ‘two hands’. ’cause if he hasta use um, well… let’s just say, you’ll be breathless”
the story telling is over, but the hands remain in the silent, yet intimidating “immachokethe$h!touttasomebody” pose. (like this, but without bart. ha!)
with that said, we went to the local walmart and i noticed some hats sitting up top the folded pant section. there were many hats, but one caught my eye:
as soon as i put that hat on him, i just about fell out laughing. too funny, and it brought that voice back in my head. “kenny. kenny… two hands.” i had recently discovered picnik.com and i decided to have some fun:
doesn’t it look like a WANTED poster? one of my favorites. i can see my son rockin’ a designer three-piece tone-on-tone suit with some equally impressive and expensive shiny shoes. i laugh at the thought of him securing the neighborhood in exchange for jell-o or french fries. keeping the cats out of the planters and the dogs off the lawns. ensuring the senior citizen gardeners that they won’t have any trouble from the neighborhood strays “as long as [he’s] on the block.” bahah!
anyway, let’s update the secret gangster activity with this most recent little doozy. in the last month or so, my son has become increasingly affectionate. he is now asking me for hugs and kisses and cannot, absolutely cannot, give me a kiss without saying “i lub yew too.” (i ❤ it). but this new activity? i dunno, you tell me. he’ll give me a hug, then a kiss on the lips. he leaves his right hand on my shoulder and with his left hand, he grabs my lower jaw and turns my head (for me) to my left. he then kisses my right cheek, turns my head to my right and kisses my left cheek. he says “i lub yew too” as he walks away.
ya get that? the boy is kissing me on both cheeks. the way full blooded gangster men kiss other full blooded gangster men at family functions, gangster meetings and obviously, funerals. ya feel me? funny.
what does my son do when i’m not looking? perhaps my ninja-mommy skills are not what i need for this particular preschooler. perhaps i need to be a mommy-CIA agent: tappin’ [his] cell, and the phone in the basement.” my little gangster will be four years old this coming week. “they grow up so fast” doesn’t even begin to cover how much happens in these first few years. from growing inside to living outside. from crawling to walking, followed immediately but running. from toothless to talking. and even when you think you know them, you learn something new.
perhaps instead of cupcakes and thomas the train birthday gifts, i should get him a nice prosciutto, some “al dente” pasta and a couple cannolis? i wouldn’t want him to hafta use those “two hands”… ’cause “fuggeddaboutit”, i don’t wanna hafta use my belt. (that’s right, i said it).