Reopening and the Boys

I just told y’all that Cody’s playing little league (he’s killing it, too.) Y’all might be wondering why it is that Jacob isn’t. The answer is Maya, who’s still being super careful about the boys. I’m not sure what she’s waiting for, but I reckon it seemed a little too soon to get Jacob involved in playing sports with other kids back in February, which is when most teams out here were having little league tryouts. Although some kids finally started back to school a few weeks ago (just in time for the year to be over…it’s pretty lameass), Jacob and Matteo are definitely finishing this school year with Dr. Peterson and normal sports are probably going to have to wait until they go back to school in August.

Dr. Peterson is going to keep coming during the summer, but just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (I’ve rearranged my schedule with Daphne and Simone, so now I’m going to be working with Cody when the boys are working with Dr. Peterson.) I’m sure the boys are way ahead scholastically having been taught by a private tutor all year long, and Matteo’s smart as a whip anyway, but Maya wants them to have a leg-up for when school starts again. Maybe the private school they go to is super advanced, I can’t say. I guess a little studying in the summer can’t hurt, but I just want to get the boys outside and together with other kids again.

I don’t really even know if Jacob and Matteo have any friends, that’s how few of them I’ve seen. And I’ve been living with them for getting on five months. I know Jacob wanted a birthday party with kids, but all he got was adults. There’s some question about what kind of party Matteo’s going to have next month when he turns 10; he keeps saying he doesn’t have any friends to invite, so it might just as well be all grown-ups. That’s pretty dang sad. Y’all may remember that he was being bullied in school back before COVID, but even bullied kids usually have a few close friends. He just never talks about any the way Jacob talks about seeing his buddies again.

Matteo having friends may end up not mattering, since, while Maya and Robert have made it clear that, while Jacob’s going back to school in the fall, they’re considering going on home schooling Matteo because of the bullying problem. I don’t get a vote obviously, but I think it would be a terrible idea. He needs to be with other kids. Every kid needs to be with other kids, and, like Dad taught me, running away from a problem never solved anything. Matteo probably doesn’t realize it, but his sports skills have improved a heck of a lot since we started working together. Robert knows I suck at basketball, but he had a hoop put in anyway. I can’t dribble, but I’m decent when it comes to free throws, and I reckon that a kid who can make free throws like Matteo can now won’t get picked last. And not getting picked last every time seems to me like one of the best ways to keep a kid from getting bullied.

Of course, if Matteo goes back to school, that’d put Dr. Peterson out of a job, but I’m not sure he doesn’t want to move on as well. Me and him don’t exactly go grab a beer after work, but we do talk some, and I don’t think he was ever imagining this as a lifetime job. He admits that he was lucky as heck to land the “teaching gig” (as he calls it) during the pandemic, but I don’t think he got a Ph.D. so he could teach 5th graders. (Come to think of it, what do you do with a Ph.D. like he’s got?)

But back to the bullying. Y’all probably can guess I’d like to teach Matteo how to give a bully a bloody nose. Keaton agrees with me, but we’re not sure what Maya and Robert would think if we taught Matteo to fight, so we’re laying off for the time being. Still, I like Matteo too much to let him get bullied if there’s anything I can do about it. I was always a jock and pretty popular (plus I knew how to give another kid a bloody nose), so being bullied wasn’t a problem I had in school. Ok, maybe I didn’t stand up for kids who were getting bullied the way Keaton did (bully a helpless kid in Keaton’s school and you had him to deal with…and y’all can probably guess how that ended for the bully), but I’m danged if some jerkoff 5th grade bullies are gonna keep Matteo from attending school with other kids.

There’s actually something a little weird going on with Matteo: he’s still losing weight. He’s dropped 7 more pounds since they put him on the ‘maintenance plan’. He’s allowed more food now (it’s 1500 calories a day), but he’s not really eating as much as he’s allowed to. Like when we have popcorn and watch movies in the pool house, me and Jacob usually finish our bags of popcorn and Matteo barely eats half of his. Like I said: weird. I was expecting him to put back a little of the weight after he hit his goal weight, but seems like I was wrong. Nobody else seems worried, so I reckon it’s ok. But it’s still weird.

I reckon we’re in for some big changes in California this week…and not just at the Sharpman house…when the mask mandate gets lifted today. I hear they’re already copping out and still making masks mandatory at businesses, but I for one can’t wait to get rid of my lameass mask (Keaton: “that’s because you’re totally gayass and can’t wait for people to start admiring you again, bubba.” It’s not that. What I miss most is seeing if people are smiling at me.)

With Dodger Stadium going back to full capacity, I’ve decided I’m gonna take the boys to a game. It’ll be fun to have an outing, and it’ll be a good way to see if they’ve absorbed what I taught them about keeping score according to the THuG method. (Me, Turner and Gardner invented a whole scorekeeping system when we were teenagers. It’s still the best system I know of.) It’s funny, but Matteo, even he’s not too interested in watching baseball and rooting for the Dodgers, really gets into keeping score.

I’m thinking about Disneyland, too. Or maybe Six Flags. It’s summer and the boys only have school two days a week (what’s that cartoon with the song about there being 104 days of summer vacation?) so they deserve to go somewhere where we can just have fun and put the pandemic behind us.

When I shook Keaton’s hand that night we all went out for the Volcano’s reopening, t I had one of those ‘aha!’ moments. It felt like normal again…and made me think that normal was within reach again.

I know that there are people who think we’re going too fast: Dylan was saying that the night we all went out. I’m sure Maya doesn’t want to rush into anything either, seeing as she’s been so careful all along, and even Joyce isn’t too sure about giving up her mask…but literally everyone I know (except of course for the kids) has been vaccinated, and…yeah, I know I’ve asked this before…but isn’t the point of being vaccinated so that we can get back to normal?

But maybe normal is here at long last. Let’s hope so. As soon as I post this, I’m gonna go see Sandy and see about getting Dodger tickets…and make sure the boys have Dodger gear that fits.

If we’re going to our first game in two years, we’re gonna do it right.

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