Junepbear 1, Outside World 0

This computer game from 1992 pretty much says it all. http://www.gamegraveyard.net

As it was, neither of us had to grow up. This morning, I asked Mbot if I could borrow Junepbear to give him a bath before show-and-tell. Mbot put his face close to Junepbear and I could hear him take a deep sniff. “But he smells great!” he said.

At the first opportunity, I loaded Junep into the Automobot so I wouldn’t forget him in the chaos of getting everyone else loaded up. And then Mbot announced that he wanted to take his new superhero book for show-and-tell, instead of Junepbear.

“Are you sure, Bug?” I asked, now a little disappointed that Junepbear wouldn’t be introduced to the Outside World.

“Yeah! I want to show them my favorite page.”

I put the book in the car so I wouldn’t forget it.

“You can decide which you want to take to show-and-tell on the way to school,” I told Mbot as he headed out.

“But I already decided,” he said. “I’m going to take Junepbear and the book.”

“But you can only take one,” I said.

“But I’m going to show everyone how I read to Junepbear.”

Now, I have a high regard for logic, even if its source is a three-year-old angling to take his bear to school.

At the door, Mrs. Pursell greeted him, with his armload of superhero book and Junepbear, eagerly exclaiming, “It must be your show and tell day!”

Mbot, his superhero book, and his giant, great-smelling bear disappeared onto the playground. It’s the first time he hasn’t run back to hug and kiss me goodbye.

Three hours later, he was the first kid to emerge from the classroom. “We really enjoyed “Superman versus Mongul,” said Mrs. Pursell.

“What did you tell the other kids about Junepbear?” I asked Mbot.

He smiled, hugging his bear. “I told them I sleep with him and play with him.”

“What did they say?” I asked.

“They said that he’s beautiful.”


Did you dare to share your bear today?

Junepbear: Out of the Closet

The folks at giantmicrobes.com have made a rhinovirus that looks a little like Junepbear.

It’s show-and-tell time again in the Joshua Tree classroom.

Last week, when I asked, Mbot wanted to bring what’s known around this house as The Cold Book (to the rest of the world, it’s Your Body Battles a Cold, by Vicki Cobb, Andrew N. Harris, and Dennis Kunkel), and which is to the common cold what The Stomach Book (Your Body Battles a Stomachache, by the same trio) is to throwing up. (See Recycle Robot vs. Sister Mary Villus.) He got it for Christmas. Now he wants to be a macrophage for Halloween. (For those of you who aren’t students of physiology, a macrophage is the blobby white blood cell that devours bacteria and other dead macrophages and ends up as pus. It’s a good guy.)

“Gbot, you can be a rhinovirus,” Mbot told his younger brother.

“No!” replied Gbot petulantly. “I want be Batman!”

Mbot: “But Mom, Batman doesn’t go inside the body!”

“It’s okay, Moon Pie. He can be Batman. I will be the rhinovirus.”

The sacrifices we make in the name of motherhood.

But yesterday when I asked, Mbot asked if he could bring Junepbear to show-and-tell. “Yes,” I told him, inwardly cringing.

Because Junepbear is…well…so loved. So sacred.

He’s the giant blue bear Mbot has had since birth. His extravagantly raggedy fur has absorbed blood, sweat, tears, chocolate, dust, and love. What if a friend makes fun of him? Or asks why his feet are so dirty? Or tells Mbot he’s not real? Or that he’s babyish? What if they make fun of his name? Or are mean because they’re jealous because he’s really a big, cool bear?

Will Mbot have to grow up tomorrow? Or will I?

Show-and-Tell, with Meat Thermometer

Is it done yet? (www.mostphotos.com)

Today is show-and-tell again. This time, Mbot wanted to bring a cardboard alligator. I was suspicious. “Is that what someone else brought?”

“Yes!” he said.

“Then let’s bring something that’s all your own,” I suggested. “How about leaves and pictures from our trip up to the cabin?”

Joy of joys: enthusiasm. That was Friday. We had all weekend to work on it. And so this morning I found his baggie of brittle mustard-colored leaves, a stick, and a pine cone. I found acid-free paper in an autumn tone. And a piece of cardboard to attach it to. I found the printer. (It’s portable, and easily hidden beneath paintings of butterflies that channel Jackson Pollack and the water bill.) I found two-sided tape, and two pipe cleaners. I found photos on Kodakgallery, and I found the photo paper. I found the meat thermometer. While I was doing this, Mbot found the Swiffer. Gbot found how fun it was to chuck orange wedges on the floor. Mbot took Gbot’s pipe cleaner. I took it back. I got everyone extra pipe cleaners. I picked up orange wedges.

I printed pictures, cut them out, and affixed them to the cardboard-backed autumnal paper. I punched holes  with the meat thermometer and used pipe cleaners to attach the stick, the pine cone, and a leaf-bedecked twig. Mbot pushed tape-backed leaves onto strategic places. I put the meat thermometer back in its safe place.

I wrote on the back: “Mbot’s vacation to Flagstaff. October 2011,” just in case he needs prompting from Mrs. Purcell.

It was done.

He is ready for show-and-tell.

No one was hurt, only three tears fell, and just one person’s blood pressure rose slightly. He will  not be late to school.

Is this a sign that I am growing up? Or did I just get lucky?

Recycle Robot vs. Sister Mary Villus

I made it through Mbot’s first show-and-tell three weeks ago, but only barely, and
now I was faced with a second. He had wanted to bring a fiberglass cast. Another kid had brought a cast, cut off his wrist after an accident we have not (yet) had. He had wanted to bring shells. Another kid had brought a bagful of shells, sending one home with each child. In the shell department, we had only one tiny limpet. It was not a large one. He wanted to bring seeds. The kid yesterday had brought seeds. Pressure and panic were mounting.

Then I had a brainstorm. We would make a robot out of stuff in the kitchen! Recycle Robot was constructed of Handiwrap tubes, a granola bar box, an egg carton, mini-bubble wrap (the wings, duh), pipecleaners, and a few inches of duct tape. “We” was constructed of “me” more than “he.” I was particularly proud of Recycle Robot’s articulated elbows. Forgive me for overachieving, but I am new to the show-and-tell scene. The last time I did show-and-tell I was in the first grade and I brought in my little brother, who I introduced as Freddy. Freddy is not his name.

Recycle Robot was as big a hit as Freddy had been forty years ago. But the next day I realized, as a proud little boy and his wise mother paraded into class with a flashlight–that there are simpler solutions.

Yet I dreaded the next show-and-tell.

As the day drew near, we discussed it. Mbot wanted to bring Buzz Lightyear, the one with all the buttons, the one the Toy Fairy had not picked up (You Can’t Shoot the Toy Fairy), but Mrs. Pursell does not allow toys. He wanted to bring Tesserwell. Mrs. Pursell does not allow cats. He wanted to bring poop. I am sure that Mrs. Pursell does not allow poop.

The day came at us as though shot from a cannon, and that morning, we were still empty-handed.

“How about the magnifying glass?” I asked with false cheer. I’d already suggested it, days before, to a profound lack of enthusiasm. But I’d just found it again behind his little brother’s crib. I’d gone hunting for it that morning because Mbot had wanted to examine the dried cat puke on the bathroom floor more closely, and who am I to stand in the way of scientific investigation? “Just don’t touch it,” I’d advised. The weedy, yellow puddle had appeared during the night; it wasn’t hurting anyone, it wasn’t going anywhere. Unlike breakfast and Griffin’s diaper and the cat’s insulin shot, it could wait. It might as well pay its way.

And it did. As Mbot rushed into the bathroom armed with the magnifying glass,  I thought about the object of his fascination. And then it hit me. “How about the stomach book?” I asked. “For show-and-tell?”

Mbot looked up from the kitty bile long enough to exclaim, “Yeah, Mom!”

The stomach book.

The stomach book has been a part of our lives for over a year, since my then two-year-old had pulled it off the library shelf–coincidentally, soon after he’d had (and shared with us) the toilet bowl blues. He insisted on reading it every night and also several times a day. Since then, I had renewed it, returned it (an act accompanied by tears from the backseat), and checked it out again. And again, and again. The real title of this fab classic is Your Body Battles a Stomachache (by Vicki Cobb, Andrew Harris, and Dennis Kunkel). It is a book dedicated to describing in detail the mechanics of throwing up.

The stars of the show: intestinal villi, magnified 16,000 times. http://www.allposters.com

Inside it, we meet, up close and anthropomorphized, the major players in puking. The muscle cells, who look like superheroes. “Who’re those guys again, with the fancy heads?” asked Mbot. Those are the brain cells, with pointy axon noggins and dendrite limbs. There are also goblet cells (attractive for their ability to produce mucous), and villi (singular, villus), the fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine to absorb nutrients. The
shapeless and benevolent villi call to mind efficient, well-meaning, and, at
one point when one of them explodes, extremely distraught nuns. There is also an image of a tapeworm, magnified ninety times. I’m telling you, this book is terrific.

After school, Mrs. Pursell thanked a shyly proud Mbot for helping teach the class about villi.

What is it about the stomach book that he is powerless to resist? I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply the attraction of a character-driven saga, the good guys versus the bad guys, with the benefit of body fluids and a giant tapeworm. Or that it all happens to him. (Except the tapeworm (yet)). It is far more interesting to him than Recycle Robot, no matter how bendy he is at the elbow.

The day after show-and-tell, Mbot removed Recycle Robot’s arm and inserted several small plastic toys through the shoulder socket into the granola box body. They were unrecoverable, because Recycle Robot cannot throw up. I performed surgery, amateurishly. Recycle Robot did not survive. But the stomach book lives on.

What would you bring to show-and-tell?