Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Object permanence

Remember flick football? You’d rip out a sheet of notebook paper and perform origami magic until you had a thick, sturdy triangle and you’d use your fingers to flick it into the opposing team’s goal, only the field was the cafeteria table or maybe your desk if your class had a substitute, and the other team was your classmate, and those goal posts were the other kid’s forefingers.

I made the tightest flick footballs.** It’s the important skills in life, you know? You needed a tight flick football because a loose one wouldn’t flick straight, and its edges would get gray and battered too fast and then you’d spend all your time flick-football-folding instead of flick-football-playing, and then the sub would realize you weren’t completing your math worksheets and your loose flick-football failures would be confiscated and that was the other thing about a tight flick football, it was flatter and more deftly hidden. I was so good at doing my math worksheets fast at the last minute before turning them in and I was so good at that game. I can also shoot a rubber band at you with dangerous accuracy. You gotta be fingertip-nimble. I always thought nothing had come of those years of flute lessons, but maybe now I’ll reconsider that opinion.

(**This skill also translated to making the best paper fortune tellers.)

Maybe it’s not the flute, maybe it’s all those years of living on the Canadian border. I’ve always loved curling. And I spent my childhood shooting crokinole until the nail bed on my middle finger went numb. Distance, accuracy, and don’t go over the edge or you will lose possession – I was so good at flick football.

G was having a snack. He loves a whole pear. He loves its weight in his hands and he loves all that biteable surface area and he loves to drop it, to see if it will return, to clap at the magic of its disappearance and reincarnation.

My wrist and G’s tushie have been having a dispute as of late, which is to say that my wrist is threatening to mutiny if it has to bear G’s weight much longer. It is going to walk away and find a warm petal-sprinkled bath to lie in. It is going to light a candle and open a magazine and lock the bathroom door from the inside. It is not going to return. It is going to leave a gaping maw of air between my palm and my forearm, like when the cat took a cannonball to the stomach in all those old cartoons and then we could see the sunny sky through his donut-hole abdomen. So I offered a concession to my wrist: I propped G up on the kitchen counter.

His knees against my belly, I stood close and shook my arm out in a stretch. Then G had the most amazing revelation: the kitchen counter is not like his highchair tray. There is no lip.

He shot that pair straight for the edge and willed its drop with his eyes. But did I not tell you? I was a flick-football MVP. I blocked that play so fast and sent the pear right back next to his thigh.

His tongue curled to the side in concentration and he aimed his fruit again. But again I was there with the block. We danced a few moves but in the end G lost interest. It was a disappointment for G, I think. But Mama’s fingertip-nimble: there will be no turnovers tonight. You’re not going to fall off of that counter, and neither will that sticky fruit.
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