Teno Goes to Kindergarten

Self-portrait, hanging outside Teno's classroom. Note the propeller hat and slingshot.

Last year I posted a short, non-fiction story I wrote called Steve’s Going to College. It was my contribution to a book of non-fiction short stories – and the only one about a mom who’s pretty sure she’s going to mess up her kid. In the story I ponder the fact that this kid is going to grow up and be a man someday, and that the kind of man he turns out to be depends heavily on how Tony and I react to his constant attempts to drive us insane.

Well, he isn’t quite in college yet, but Teno has started kindergarten, and I thought that was cause enough for another post. I think I’ll conduct an interview with Teno sometime when it’s not so far past his bedtime, so he can tell you what he thinks of it himself.

From the little bit Tony and I can get out of him, Teno likes P.E., and hates music class. He loves numbers and art, and hates waking up early. He has a friend named Niko that we hear about a lot, and is in love with at least two of the girls in his class. On Monday one of them took his face in both her hands and put her forehead on his forehead. The look of pure joy on his face was all I needed to come to grips with the fact that I’m going to spend the next 15 or so years trying to talk Teno out of falling in love with every girl who snuggles his face.

Teno reminds me so much of my little brother sometimes, and then other times Tony shakes his head at me and says, “Aaron never did this?” Like, when I see him in a crowd of little boys and I can tell how much he wants to play with them, but even at 5 he’s unsure of himself and just kind of plays near them. Kindergarten has definitely helped him get over some of the awkwardness (that I’m sure he gets from me, because Tony is at ease with everyone he meets.) I remember seeing my brother playing with some kids not too long after he started karate and marveling at how much he’d come out of his shell. It’s the same with Teno, every day he’s a little less sad to go to school, and a little more outgoing when we get to the playground.

The Wizard

Then of course there are the times when he’s lying in the bathtub squirting his wiener with a squirt gun and laughing. I absolutely promise you I never saw my brother do that.

My brother also never donned weird outfits at night and called himself The Wizard, which Teno has taken to doing as of late. I can pretty much count on being challenged to a fight by a five year old in a hamburger hat and furry vest right around 6:15pm every day.

His imagination is totally bonkers. This kid builds Angry Birds levels out of cardboard bricks. He makes warp tubes out of anything he can fit inside. One of his favorite things to do is to log onto YouTube and have me look up weird stuff. Tonight we looked up “screaming frog” and “crying animals.” A few days ago he only wanted to watch Japanese Kirby videos.

Lost in Chicago? Just call Teno. He not only knows almost all the stops on EVERY El line, but he can also tell you which stops to transfer to what trains at. All night he asks Tony and me “Which Pink Line stop is the best one? What’s your favorite Green Line stop?” No matter what we answer, we’re always wrong. On slow week ends I take him on long train adventures. A few weeks ago we took the Brown Line to the Red Line to the Yellow Line. We took that all the way to Skokie and back, then switched to the Purple and took it all the way to Linden. I was bored stiff but didn’t want to be one of those shithead parents that just iPhones the whole time they’re with their kid so I stared out the windows alongside Teno. He could not have had a better day.

This entire photo was Teno's idea.

So anyway, everything’s pretty radical in the world of Teno Destructo. He’s still getting over the fact that some of his classmates eat meat, and that some of them actually wanted vanilla cupcakes on their birthdays. He can’t decide what he wants more, a cat or a baby sister and he’s getting neither. He’s really god damn good at Bejeweled. Oh! And he was customer of the month at our favorite pizza place, Ian’s Pizza. Somebody actually recognized him on the street for that, he was pretty stoked.

I’ll try to interview him this week end, but he’s kind of a butthole so I’m not making any promises.

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4 Responses to “Teno Goes to Kindergarten”

  1. I’m glad that this was the last email I read before I went to bed. It was so good.

  2. Super fun reading. I too am Headed to bed. Kai is turning 10 tomorrow . This totally made me smile when all I want to do is cry and squish Kai until he is a baby again. Our kids pretty Much rule. we created pretty bitchen little humans.

  3. Wow! I have recently turned 31, an am childless at this point. Reading things like this kinda makes me and my husband want to get in and add another awesome person in this world! You and your husband seem like awesome parents, and your writing is fantastic!!

    This is a very lucky an special little boy you have!

    Thank you for sharing part of your life with us!

  4. Haha, what a butthole. This is the first thing I read this morning and it made me laugh. Thank you, Teno.

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