Sunday, May 2, 2010

The charmer

Along with all the well-documented difficulty that comes with parenting Mihiretu, I have to admit that the kid has a certain magnetism. Star quality, you might say. He's popular at school, it seems. Kids always light up with a "Hi, Mihiretu!" when he walks by. Often we'll be out at the park or running errands and some small child will run up to him with a grin and a greeting. Given what a brute he can be, it's a bit surprising. Maybe he's like the foxy, surly boy in school, the one who mounts his motorcycle with barely a glance at the surrounding throng and consequently sends all the girls atwitter.

I remember Ben's sister, Anne, once saying that when you look at a photograph of a baby, there's no way to predict what they'll look like when they're older. But when you look at the growing child or adult and then back at the baby picture, the person that will one day emerge is all present and accounted for. I could extrapolate that to personality. There are many seeds in a small child. You just don't know which are going to sprout. I find myself, as most parents do, wondering how my kids will mature, who'll they'll be in twenty years. The other day I found myself making those predictions out loud. I told Mae that I thought she'd be preserving endangered species in some far-flung corner of Africa. Lana, I mused, would be a fashion designer in New York City. And Mihiretu, I'm certain, will be a movie star.

He has an extraordinary sense of humor for a three-year-old, I'll give him that. We were at a little league game this weekend and he was spending some quality time with his grandpa. He and Bob, Ben's dad, have really been enjoying each other lately. Mihiretu is sparing with his trust but he's firmly decided that Bob is deserving. Half way through the game, Mihiretu was nestled in Bob's lap, getting soundly tickled. He gazed up into Bob's face and with his customary twinkle, said "Gamma", his pronunciation of Grandma. Bob, thinking he just had his English confused, said, "Oh, no, I'm Papa. I'm your grandpa." And Mihiretu said, "No. Gamma," and laughed. Soon they were engaged in mock battle, Bob saying, "Mihiretu's a little girl," and Mihiretu saying, "No, you Gamma!" They were both in hysterics.

It's a good thing, I guess, his ability to charm. From what I know of the world, good looks and a sense of humor go probably farther than they should. But he's going to have a hard enough time growing up African in white-white-white Marin County, let alone making his way in the world beyond. He needs all the ammunition he can get.

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