I signed the paperwork to partner up and distribute a Dutch brand of children’s clothing when Roman was two. Actually it was on his exact birthday, which also happens to be Cinqo de Mayo. Maybe this is why he loves Nacho Libre so?
So needless to say, Roman has been pretty stylish, right out of the crib. We’re not talking Downton Abbey or anything, but smart nonetheless. Which is the main reason that it has always been so jarring when he rips out a barb.
Here’s a quick walk through the ages.
Years 1-3: Not talking, I prefer to think of this as the time when we so perfectly anticipated his every need that he just didn’t have anything to add. Besides, Einstein was like 16 before he started talking, right? Robert Plant-quality screamer though, definitely a rock star in the making.
Years 4-6: A lot of echolalia, making us feel very smart. Single words, then emerging sentences, not always flattering.
- Age 4: “Hey Roman, would you like some salami?”- salami. Yes! "How about some pretzels?"- pretzels. Got it right again- I am a genius! Time passes, and we progress to multiple choice questions- the SAT’s are a mere decade away. “Boxers or briefs?”- briefs; “Do you love Papa or me more?”- me. Damn, I meant to phrase that differently- I hate the SAT’s!
- Age 5: Walking in Old Port with the kids, we approach a lady relaxing on a bench. Charmed by Romi’s curly hair, prescription sunglasses, and cool Dutch clothing, she can’t help but say out loud how cute he is. I guess Romi can’t understand why she gets to just sit there while he has to walk, so he says to her: Did you poops yourself? We walk faster, not daring to look at each other until we are well out of earshot.
- Age 6: Mia (editorial note: my kids have always called me Mia, which means mine in Italian. We lived in Florence when our first born Quinn was one, and he had the absolute best nanny ever named Pia, which he promptly merged with Mom to dub me Mia forevermore). Mia, I love you. Heart exploding, I say: “Oh, I love you too buddy!” Your arms look like little fat girls. Ouch! Ok, maybe that kewpie doll tattoo wasn't the best idea, after all.
Years 7-8: Coming into his own, audience is starting to laugh on occasion now. Better with color recognition, although he asserts that money is so yellow, and that we have green laundry- although that last bit could be true on occasion. Super sensitive to odors- tries to convince us that you can smell a seahorse. Often seen randomly posing in a wide stance recalling "Washington Crossing the Delaware," and cuts a serious rug- Snoopy-style- when his favorite songs come on ("Good Girls Go Bad" by Cobra Starship is at the absolute summit of his musical world). Loves multi-syllabic words, although he has no idea what any of them mean, and his vocabulary has exploded. Saying the word “prestidigitation” will send him into a prolonged fit of laughter- don’t even get him started on “Emancipation Proclamation!” Hopeless with cookie-cutter jokes: “Knock, knock!”- Who’s home? Despite these Joke School 101 failures, his sense of humor is developing, mostly around butts. This will continue to evolve.
- Age 7: At Whole Foods with Roman securely buckled into the cart. What could go wrong? Feeling a bit- dare I say- typical? Then… we bump into the former director of Jeff’s graduate arts program, a SUPER stylish, platinum-haired Swedish lady that even women develop crushes on. “Roman, say hi to Katarina!” Hi, Grandma. Zing!
- Age 8: His in-home support buddy took him to Deering Oaks Park on a warm, sunny day. The water jets were on and a ton of kids were playing, but Roman didn’t have his swimsuit with him. Undaunted, he stripped down to his boxers and jumped into the fray. A chubby bully kid started teasing him about being in his UNDERWEAR. Roman’s reply: You’re a circle. Round boy rolls away.
Years 9- 10: Comedic timing improves, sometimes has enough patience to wait for just the right moment for the money shot. Loves the ladies and flirts shamelessly, prompting our dead-funny friend Lisa to scold our then 15-year old son for passively observing as Roman chats them up: “Quinn, what are you doing? Roman is cuter than a puppy- you have to follow up!” We wonder on occasion if Roman was actually French in a previous life, as he assigns random genders to things. Looking for his jacket, he says: have you seen her? Still flummoxed by geography: has inexplicably convinced himself that Portugal is actually called Pork-and-Butter-Pants, and that England is also known as Great Britches. Roman is delighted by the Mainer accent, loves saying lobst-AHH!, and adores the Direct TV ad for the Hopper (the hop-AHH!). Still working on common courtesies- when prompted after sneezing: “Rome, what do you say?”- I am so ashamed.
- Age 9: Tells older brother Quinn: Your father sells butt chips! unfortunately, not realizing that they have the same dad. And how did he know about Jeff’s profitable side business? We have got to work on the soundproofing in this house!
- Age 10: Back home in North Carolina for the holidays, Roman is just starting to cotton on to the wonders of Santa Claus. Beloved cousin Hazel asks: “Romi, are you naughty or nice?” Hazel, I’m naughty for life!
Roman turns 11 this Cinqo de Mayo- cue verbal contortions, version 2.0.