A Partly True Short Story
My name is Matthew. I am riding my horse today. I am very happy because we are going to have a party. The party is for me because I am two. I am not sure what two means. I can sing the alphabet, but I don’t know what that means, either. But I like parties. Ride’em cowboy.
Grandma and Grandpa are coming, so we have to wait for the party till they get here. Grandma reads books to me. Sometimes I go to her house and stay. Sometimes she comes here to babysit. I am the baby. I have a big brother. His name is Vincent. We fight over toys, and he wins. Sometimes mama helps me, and I win. This is Mama power.
This is a door at Grandma’s house. It goes down some stairs. When I go to this door, somebody says “NO, NO, Matthew”. Sometimes I can get the chair off the door. I Push it, it falls off, and makes a lot of noise. It doesn’t stay very well. Then somebody says “NO, NO, Matthew”. There is some part of NO that I don’t understand.
I like doors. Doors are very powerful. Some doors are outside doors. When they are open I go outside. I can’t open some outside doors, yet. Some doors get people to talk to me, and some don’t. If I go to a “NO, NO, Matthew” door, somebody yells at me. You know what they say. Sometimes, somebody gets up off the couch and comes after me. Sometimes I run, and sometimes I wait. When nobody is in the room doors are not powerful, but I can play with them all I want. I like doors. I know how to use door power. I also know how to use Mama power.
Grandma and Grandpa got here. This is Grandma with me on the floor. Pretty soon we are going to have a party, but first we have to open some presents. The presents are for me on my birthday. I have a mama and a daddy, and a brother to fight with, and a lot of doors to play with. I have a whole bunch of toys to play with like my horse, this little piano next to me, and you can see two more baskets of toys. I can go days without playing with some of the toys. Maybe I will get something I don’t have. We can get another basket to fill with toys, and maybe I can go a week without playing with some of the toys. I have a lot of toys, – baskets and baskets of them.
Grandpa said when he was a little boy, he only had one toy, and it was broken. He had to play with rocks. There are lots of rocks around. Rocks are just like doors, – they are everywhere, and they are all different. I don’t know if I believe Grandpa.
It is finally time to open presents. I could probably open all the presents by myself. It would take me all day to do it, so Mama helps me get to the presents in a hurry. Some presents are wrapped with a lot of paper. I can almost hide in this paper. That is me under the paper. Then there is a box inside the paper. Then there is something inside the box. That is where the present is. First you have to open the box.
As soon as I am through playing with this paper, Mama and I will open the box. I wonder what is in the box? Grandma told me when Mama was a little girl she would pick up each present. She would shake it, and listen to it, and squeeze it, and hold it up to the light to see a picture or read what it was through the paper. Did you really do that, Mama? Why do you hide my presents?
What is in the box? It’s a potty chair. I have my own potty. Mommy and Daddy have their potty. Vincent has his potty. And now I have my own potty. I wonder if I can find a basket big enough to put it with my other toys.
I am not sure just what I am supposed to do with a potty chair. This middle part turns around. I can sit on the potty chair. If the middle part is not turned just right it hurts to sit on a potty chair. I may not like sitting on a potty chair. Maybe I can take the middle part out, and then I can sit on it. I think I may just throw it in a toy basket, and forget about it. OK, Mama?
It’s not much of a toy, but maybe I can figure out how to play with it. Maybe I can sit on it and sing my ABC’s, or read like Daddy does. Mama, will you teach me how to play with a potty chair?
How many hands does it take to open a Polish present? Six. Look at the hands on my present. Count them. One, two, three, four, five, six. Six hands are opening my birthday present. Mama, are we Polish? Maybe there is some Polish blood on Daddy’s side of the family. Maybe we better ask Daddy.
I asked Daddy if there was Polish on his side of the family. He said he was from New Jersey. His family didn’t talk about any Polish on his side of the family. They were mostly just Italian. There are a lot of Italians in New Jersey.
I asked Daddy how many Italians it would take to open a present. He said to tell Mama and Vincent to take their hands off the box. Then he said I can open the present all by myself with my two little Italian hands. Italians are powerful.
I asked Mama,- if Daddy is Italian, and you are not Italian, then what am I? Mama said I was Scotch, English, Irish, Welsh, German, Swiss, and a little bit of Italian. Then she said when I was being naughty, I was all Italian. Naughty Italians!
Here is my favorite present of all. Mama has a car. Daddy has a car. Grandma has a car. Grandpa has a car. Now I have a car. This is my car. I am sitting in my car. The door opens so I can get in and out. It has a horn to toot. It even has a trunk. It’s not a very big trunk. But best of all is its engine. It is powered by a little Italian. Beep! Beep! And away we go. Go, little Italian.
Here is another one of my presents. It is Tinky Winky. He is a Teletubby. No, Vincent, Tinky Winky is my toy. You can’t have it. Look at Mama. She is pinching his foot to get him to say something. Tinky Winky says OUCH. Mama, you are pinching too hard. Let me show you how to make Tinky Winky talk.
Tinky Winky is all purple. He says a lot of things. My daddy says Tinky Winky will talk to the television set if you treat him just right. Grandpa said that he had an Uncle who talked to a television set, and his Mama sent him away to a funny farm. My daddy talks to the television set all the time when the Mets are playing.
You can tell Tinky Winky right away because he has a triangle on his head. That is funny, isn’t it? If Tinky Winky talks to the television set, will you send him away to the funny farm? I don’t care what everybody says about Tinky Winky. If daddy talks to the television set, Tinky Winky can talk to the television set. Right, Mama? Mama is powerful.
Mama says we need to pick up the mess from the presents. Then we need to put the presents in the baskets. After that we will eat birthday cake. The cake part sounds like fun. I should have time to examine some of the doors here before we eat cake.
These doors are where Mama keeps her old pictures in books. Most of the pictures are of people I have never seen before. They are mostly old people like Mama and Daddy. Sometimes I take all the books out, and sometimes I put them back. If I don’t put them back, Daddy will do it for me. Daddy likes things to be neat and all picked up. Sometimes he picks things up and puts them where I can’t find them. Then I have to go around opening all the doors I can find. I am looking for toys that daddy has picked up. Sometimes Vincent takes my toys, too. No! No! Vincent. That’s my toy.
On the other side of this thing are two drawers. There are bunches of tapes, and books, and other stuff in these drawers. It takes me a long time to take all the things out of these drawers and put them on the floor. Mama doesn’t like me to do that. She can put them back faster than I can take them out. She has big hands, and can pick up two things at once. I have little hands and can only pick up one thing at a time. Mamas and Daddys can pick up messes a lot faster than I can make them. She won’t let me make a mess when I am sitting right by her. That is the way Mamas are. Mama doesn’t like messes either.
Grandpa said that when Mama was a little girl she was supposed to keep her own room clean. All the toys had to be put away, and all the clothes put away in drawers and closets. After the room was cleaned she could go out and play. One day a tornado came through her room and it was changed from clean to terrible in one minute. All the clothes were on the bed and the floor was a foot deep. It just had to be a tornado. Was it a tornado, Mama?
This is one of my very favorite doors. It has all these neat bowls in it. It is OK for me to take all of them out to play. They are all supposed to have tops. Some of them have tops and some don’t. Some have tops that don’t fit. Some tops don’t fit on anything. It is quite a mess. Some bowls go inside other bowls. I like to take a big bowl and see how many things I can put in it. That’s fun.
One day Mama wanted a bowl to put salad in. She wanted a bowl with a lid that fit. She looked and looked and looked and never did find one with a lid that fit. Then Mama had a fit. Isn’t that right, Mama?
If daddy went through this drawer and threw everything away that didn’t fit, he would have to throw everything away. Then Mama would have another fit, and I wouldn’t have anything to play with. Mama likes things to fit, and Daddy likes things to fit, and Vincent likes things to fit. But I don’t care.
This is another one of my favorite places. It has dragons on it. Mama said it was my great grandma’s. She brought it from the Philippines. There is a little latch at the top of each door right here. That is what keeps the door closed. Sometimes Mama puts little catches on doors so I can’t open them. In a little while I will be able to open them, too.
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Now you can see the dragons real well. You almost can’t see me at all. I can almost get clear inside this dragon place. When you are playing with doors sometimes you can get all the way inside. Then if you close the door it gets real dark. I like to do that with the door that has the vacuum in it. Sometimes daddy opens that door. Then, Boo! There I am. Surprise!
Boy! Boy! This is the first time I have had a whole piece of anything. I have never had a whole wiener, or a whole egg, or a whole mashed potato, or a whole apple, or a whole anything. Now that I am two, I have a whole piece of cake. For two years, all my food was in pieces. Just pieces. A piece of this and a piece of that. When I would run out of pieces, Mama would cut more pieces and put just a few on my highchair. I would eat some pieces, then I have to wait for more pieces. Mama I want more pieces.
I am not really sure just what I am supposed to do with a whole piece of cake? I guess I will just grab some of it, and stuff it in my mouth. Hey!, that works pretty well. It makes my fingers sweet. As Daddy would say, this is a whole new ballgame. Mama puts the spoon in my right hand. That way I can stuff cake in my mouth with my left hand.
You are right, Daddy. This is a whole new ballgame. Even my milk tastes sweet now. It is just like the internet. Everything has changed now that I am two.
One thing is really clear. The frosting that was on the cake is now on my face, and my hands, and my spoon, and the table, and on my bottle. The cake is all gone! I did it all by myself without having to eat just little pieces. Mama didn’t have to pinch off a piece at a time and give it to me.
Now that I am two, I figure I will save Mama and Daddy 15 minutes every meal because they don’t have to cut my meals into little pieces. That saves 45 minutes a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. When they are sixty I figure I will have saved them over four years of their lives just cutting my meals into little pieces. Yep! It is a whole new ballgame.
Right now the cake is all gone. Well, most of it is gone. Some is still visible. I didn’t know how much you could see until I saw this picture. You should know that today is the first day I have been in a real chair at a real table to eat with real people.
Every day till I was two I sat in a highchair and could not reach the table. As my arms got longer, my folks pushed me farther and farther away from the table. There was a good reason for this. In the old days, if I could reach it, I put it in my mouth. I tried to eat everything. If I could not eat it, I dropped it on the floor, or threw it across the room. I couldn’t throw it very far, but six feet around the highchair is what Grandpa called the drop zone. Grandma has a drop-cloth she puts on the drop zone at her house. Grandma is pretty smart.
All this food on my face and hands would be on the floor if I were in my highchair. This big change should be thoroughly understood. Right now the floor is perfectly clean. The mess is on my face and hands. It is clear to me. Moving me to the table to eat moved the mess from the floor to my face and hands. You can see how smart my folks are. They moved me to the table to keep the floor clean.
Now that the floor is clean, Mama and Daddy can sit with me at the table, and don’t have to be cleaning up the floor all the time.
My Mama is a math teacher. She figures it takes ten minutes to clean up the mess around the highchair every meal. She and daddy have been cleaning up three meals every day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Altogether she says they have spent 38 days just cleaning up the floor around my highchair. Mama says she doesn’t want to think about how much time they have spent cleaning up my face and hands, and other exotic body parts.
Speaking of exotic body parts, Grandpa says that frosting on your hands is like having mud between your toes. You can wiggle your toes and feel the goo go squish, squish. I have never had mud between my toes. Now that I am two, I wonder if I can get mud between my toes? I wonder if Grandpa still gets mud between his toes?
Now that I am two everything has changed. I get to sit at the table with other people. The floor is still clean. My milk is sweeter. I get to eat whole pieces of things, like cake, and the cake is completely gone. I think I did a pretty good job. Now lets go outside. Grandpa says I should get some mud between my toes. Is that OK Mama?
Mama and Matthew compare tongues:
As may be seen, tongue size is quite relative.
“You win Mama. Your tongue is longer than mine”