GateHouse — There will come a day, sometime in the mystery years ahead, when my son, who is now 5 years old, will tell me he’s having a kid of his own, and when that day comes it will be change everything that I know about everything that I know. It will be a crazy, life-rattling event, a strange and magical thing, and probably a great deal unlike the first time he told me he was having a baby, which was Thursday at lunch.
My son, who is, again, five years old, is convinced that he has a baby in his belly. For the record, there is not. I checked.
But I also know this because I know that he is five years old, and a dude, which are two pretty crucial factors to consider when deciding if the person before you is or is not pregnant. However, the little man, being five years old, and a dude, does not much care what Science has to say about anything, really: pregnancy, bedtimes, why sharp wet things do not go in toasters. He is adamant, and there is no amount of haggling, explaining, haranguing, Googling, Encyclopedia Brittanica-reading or screenings of “Junior” that will convince him otherwise, because his fundamental misconstruing of the wonders of reproduction comes exactly at the time he has decided that everything he says is factually indisputable, while everything I say is a piping hot load of pllttthb.
If you have ever met one, you already know how hilariously futile it can be to argue with a five-year-old, particularly one who is wrong much of the time, because if yours is like mine he finds opposing points of view mere bothers, things to brush off while hustling someone to fetch juice. This afternoon he pointed to the sky and asked what the flying object was, and I told him it was a plane. “No,” he said after some quiet reflection, “That’s a jet.” I argued that planes and jets were, for his purposes, one and the same, and he responded by disagreeing forcefully, and then calling me, and I’m quoting here, a “pizza head.” (Can you think of a comeback for that? Because I couldn’t. I just sat there, mouth dangling open like wow, I just got totally barbecued by a five-year-old).
But for whatever reason, he has totally dug in on the baby-belly thing, responding to my assertions that he is not, in fact, carrying a child with the kind of disparaging eye-roll that I fully expect from him when he’s 14 years old, but seems a little precocious for now. “No, buddy, only girls can have babies,” I’ll say one, two, sometimes three times, trying while doing so to imagine some other scenario in which I’d have to make this point consecutively. “No, Daddy, boys can have babies too,” he’ll reply, and then turn his attention to the Tony Stewart car that is his current obsession (in his world, incidentally, Tony Stewart could totally be a mother). “No, they can’t,” I’ll reply. “Yes, they can,” he’ll shoot back, barely looking up. This has gone on, at press time, for three days. At one point it sort of culminated in a “No, you don’t”/”Yes! I! do!” sort of back-and-forth that was a note-for-note reproduction of one of those scenes where Bugs Bunny turns the tables on the guy he’s arguing with by spot-reversing his word: “Out!” “Safe!” “Out!” “Safe!” “Out!” Out!’ “Safe!” “Out!” “Safe!” “OK doc, have it your way – I’m safe.”
Tragically, that was kind of my last and best plan for getting all this out of his head, so these days we’re content to sit back and let this phase pass, and hope that his natural lack of an attention span takes care of the problem for us (I mean, we eventually stopped watching “The Polar Express” three times a week, although that took months). And I must admit, there’s something comforting about knowing that he is, at this young stage anyway, confident in himself enough to make an argument and stick to his guns,. There’s imagination at work there, and wonder, and a chance to see how five-year-olds struggle to make some little sense of the madness around them. This is what I think, anyway, but what do I know? I’m just a stupid pizza head.