21 October, 2007

De familia

I haven't written much about my family in a while, so a few sketches follow.

My wife has been decorating the house lately and trying to survive our sixteen month-old daughter. This latter, for her part, is determined not to talk, not even to use the word papa the same way twice in a row, but to stare at me in incomprehension whenever I correct her for pointing at mama and saying, papa! (Of course she always uses mama correctly.)

She is also determined to kill herself in the manner that her father almost did a couple of weeks ago, by climbing and standing on chairs. Whenever I come home, she walks up to me and grabs my pants legs, looking earnestly into my eyes. She wants me to pick her up, throw her up & down a few times, then spin her around wildly.

Yes, she's discovered the joys of dizziness, and sometimes she just starts walking in circles in the kitchen, humming "ooooooooohhhhhh" until she can't stand straight anymore. She likes it even better when I join in, but I can't hold on as long as she does.

She also like pencils, and has already taken the initiative to redecorate a couple of walls, as well as our refrigerator. I've given up on erasing the pencil marks, since the eraser sometimes leaves an even uglier mark.

Mostly she looks like her mother, and she doesn't seem to have much of my personality. She does have that penchant for dizziness, though, and in case I should try to protest my paternity, she has, I confess, inherited a distinguishing trait from me. At times, she stares blankly into space, processing thoughts in her own little world, or whatever it is that sixteen month-olds do in their own little worlds. It's a stare that looks exactly like the one I get sometimes in the middle of a lecture. Even my wife recognizes it. The clincher is that I can wave my hand in front of her and she still doesn't pop out of the zone. Sadly, there's no doubt where this behavior comes from.

My son, who as I have pointed out before is a genius, has been chosen to represent his school in a regional mathematics competition. This does not reconcile him in the least to the Russian mathematics my wife assigns him for homework.

He's playing soccer again this season. Only a couple of weeks remain in the season, and his team hasn't won a game. He likes soccer a great deal, and would be a great defender if he'd only stay in position!!! I've given up on telling him to do so; today instead I took him to a Lady Eagles soccer game and he saw for himself how great defenders play. It was a superb game; the Lady Eagles came from behind to win it, scoring two beautiful goals during the second half.

Some of the fans were rowdy. "Boorish" might be a better word; they reminded me of some of the ugliness that made me lose my enthusiasm for soccer in high school. My son was appalled, and he isn't nearly the square that I am. Are all soccer fans like that? he asked after some of them screamed insults at the ref for making a perfectly good call (or not making a call that he shouldn't have). Not all of them, I answered, but the English, for example, have their hooligans, and the Neapolitans are not know for their sportsmanship. It does amaze me that in the United States, fans of baseball and football aren't known for rioting. I've never heard of it, anyway. The worst I ever heard was when another college team using NC State's field won a game, then tore down the goal posts & took them half a mile down the road. Ah, the mindless stupididity of youth! (And alcohol.)

A while ago I bought my son a LEGO Mindstorms NXT (with my parents' help, for which I am grateful); he didn't do much with it for a while but lately he's been doing quite a bit. I'm not entirely sure what he does, but every now and then he emerges from his room to show off some song he's programmed it to play. Mostly he modifies other people's programs. I hope he learns to write his own programs, but as a matter of fact I got started by painstakingly copying other people's BASIC programs out of Rainbow magazine.

I haven't written much about my wife, so I want to end with something about her. I am immensely fortunate to have married her. I met her on an internet pen pal site that no longer exists. I was depressed that my Italian pen pals weren't writing me and that my luck with American women was, well, nonexistent. At first we exchanged emails that, from a certain point of view, were rather mundane. She would write about something nice in her home city, or about Russian literature. I would write about something nice in the States. We would attach photos, and so forth.

Even now, I can talk with my wife. We've only been married a little more than two years, but we still talk to each other, not at each other. We do talk about silly things a lot now, but we can also talk about the same interesting things, as well as a lot of important things. Talking about the bills and the budget is not very interesting, I admit, and not always very pleasant, but we do talk about them, and by the end we have agreed. Sometimes she starts talking to me about various things—religion, say, or something in American society that she doesn't understand, and we have the most marvelous conversation. What she lacks in knowledge she often compensates with insight. I wish I could remember and exhibit the clever things she says on any given day. She isn't at all stupid, having obtained a degree in astronomy from a Russian university at a time when they didn't just hand out degrees to anyone who paid a bribe. I secretly suspect that she's much, much more intelligent than I. But you didn't hear it from me.

1 comment:

Clemens said...

Your wife sounds suspiciously like mine. Especially the insights on American society.