Sunday evening here, in stately Brooklyn Baby Daddy Mansions. The child is a asleep, the wife is asleep for now, though she will surely wake up for "Mad Men" at 10:00 p.m. Our cat Cromwell is meowing about something, I don't' know what, and it's Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. It's a serious day, the most serious in all the Jewish year. Is it the holiest? I am not sure, I think Shabbat is actually more important, and that comes ever week, not every year.
Our pre-fasting meal was chili, not exactly what Moses commanded from the mountain, but, as Randi said, it's not like the ancient Jews had bagels either. The important thing is that I ate a lot of it, and it was good. I'm not eating at all tomorrow of course.
Randi's show ended last night, and she celebrated by going out and having fun. She stayed out late, which was fine with me. I was glad that she got to have a good time.
I've gotten to take Stella, the Brooklyn Baby Baby to the playground a lot over the past few weeks. I'm that dad you see following his kid around everywhere she goes. She goes up on the jungle gym, I'm a step behind. She runs around the rubber mat on the playground I am right behind her. If she's hungry I get some food, or some water. I try not to dominate her playtime, and I especially try to not dominate her interaction with other kids, but sometimes I have to intercede. This is the danger of Stella interacting with Other People's Kids.
Of course as parents we divide the world in two. Our kids, the light, the sunshine, the joy of our lives -- except for when they don't sleep and make us want to jump from the nearest open window -- and Other People's Kids. And Other People's Kids can be a wildly mixed bag.
Now, if you are a parent and reading this, you should automatically know I am not talking about YOUR kid. Your kid is perfect, almost as perfect as my kid, in fact. We're friends, right, and our kids will surely be friends ... right?
No, it's those Other People's Kids that are really getting to me. Here are some examples.
We were at the Tot Lot, a playground designed for toddlers, as the name implies!, and there were a bunch of bigger pre-schoolers, or even schoolers I guess, running around, dominating everything. Their parents, these Other People, just laughed, and continued their video-taping.
One kid, a little boy I'll call Jack comes to mind. On the Tot Lot jungle gym, you know, the one designed for tots, there is a little Plexiglas bubble for the little tykes to stick their head into. It's fun for them, and what not. Well, Stella wanted to do it. So she pokes her head in, but before she could get too far Jack, who is probably four or five years old by the way, pushes her aside and sticks his head into the Plexiglas bubble. Mind you this bubble had been empty.
"Mine!" the little brat screams, totally unaware that he could have hurt my kid. At this point my blood began to boil, and Jack is lucky he wasn't near an open window. Making matters worse his dad was standing right there and missed the whole episode.
"Now Jack," he said, "you have to share."
Jack shot back something that was oddly perfect "Sharing is nothing!" Which might be true, but that's really not the point.
"Jack," I said, "this is the tot lot. For little kids. The other playground is for big kids like you."
He looked bewildered. "It is?"
"Yes," I said, "and you can play here ... if you share."
Then I picked Stella up and walked away, as Jack sputtered in the background, while his dad placidly did nothing. I think I had just hit Little Jack with his first Zen koan.
There are other Other People's Kids too. Like the little girl at the party today who pushed Stella aside and knocked her down for no good reason.
Then there's the little blue-eyed boy, maybe two years old, who shoved my kid aside at the playground and refused to let her play at the fake counter top in the tot lot. (It's some plastic molded to resemble the counter top at a bodega.) Each time I wanted to take these kids, and scare them, let them know that just because they're two, it doesn't mean everyone else in the world is one.
But that would be silly. These are just children, and their parents, almost to the person are just as nice as I am, and do their best to teach their children to be kind, to share. It's just that sometimes they don't. To which I say thank god these are other people's kids.