“NO, you be the SPACEMAN!!! Here, put this ON!”
It didn’t matter that Benjamin didn’t want to be a spaceman. My son had already twisted him into a half nelson and was wrestling a plastic bucket onto his best friend’s head. At five, my son was bossy and inflexible. He had difficulty navigating unstructured situations, like playdates.
Which is a nice way of saying, he was a tyrant. I knew someday, his fierce little warrior soul would have its upside. But someday is a long way off when you’re exhausted from refereeing every playdate.
Even a five-year-old knows his basic civil liberties are being violated when he’s forced to wear an inner tube and dance like a ballerina.
One afternoon, I took my son and his best buddy to the neighborhood pizza shop. I mentally prepared myself for a migraine-inducing battle of whose slice was a millimeter larger than whose.
Behind the counter, the pizzeria owner whirled an enormous disc of dough into a velvety umbrella. The boys had already begun bickering.
I pointed excitedly at the Pizza Man.
Both boys turned to look at the Pizza Man, twirling and stretching the dough. They stopped squabbling and stared.
“This is an art form. It takes years of practice! Watch how he never stops, not even for a second!”
They stood, transfixed. With expert hands, the Pizza Man tossed dough high into the air and caught it without breaking his rhythm.
“See how he moves his hand in a circle? It’s all about the hand movement. It’s like putting a spin on a basketball.”
“Wow!” Benjamin said.
“What happens if he drops it?” my son asked.
“That’s just it! He NEVER does,” I answered knowingly.
The fact is, good pizza making is an art. It’s also a science – physics, to be exact.
“It’s science, you see? In order to keep the pizza airborne, the optimal motion is a semi-elliptical trajectory. The dough moves through the air at an angle, rather than flying flat!”
Their full-on blank stares jolted me out of my geek moment.
“It’s just SUPER COOL! Okay, guys, who wants what?”
We munched our pizza, never taking our eyes off the Pizza Man and his magical feat of aerodynamics. The boys were united in a brotherhood of wonderment and a new found appreciation of pizza.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And so it was with my son and his friendship-making abilities. The art of friendship is as finely nuanced as that of handling pizza dough. Today, at 12, he is a fabulous friend.
He still likes to bring his pals to watch the Pizza Man. It’s a tiny miracle to watch a lump of dough, rigid and unyielding, expand and become flexible in the right hands.
And there is very little in the world that a perfectly made pizza won’t set right.
This essay was my submission into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. I didn’t win, but I was totally stoked to try my hand at writing in a voice different from the one usually found on my blog.
I’ve been submitting my work to other publications lately, which is HUGE for me. I’ve been fortunate to have my work syndicated before, but I don’t usually submit my work to other publications.
Now I am.
I’ve had some really encouraging experiences, sandwiched in between lots of rejections. It’s taken me away from my blog a little bit. If I’m not around, just know that I’m pitching my little heart out, and I’ll be sure to share any good news I have with you.
Oh! Speaking of the competition. I am going to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the end of the month! Woo hoo! I’m not ready to throw up daily at the thought of it, like I felt when I was going to BlogHer. After all, I lost my blog conference virginity already.
It’s only a little daunting, because there are gonna be a WHOLE lot of kick ass humor writers there. This conference sold out like a rock concert in six hours. SIX HOURS. This has to be the most exciting event to hit Dayton, Ohio, since the 2014 conference.
I’d say that I’m going to tell you all about it, but what happens in Dayton, stays in Dayton…
Anyone else have an intense, willful kid who dominated the other toddlers? How does that turn out? Please tell me they grow up to be CEOs and stuff.
Can anyone recommend any good lesbian bars in Dayton?
Talk to me. I’m listening.