Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beware the Ides of March Madness

I like titles. I always have. When they say you can't judge a book by its cover what they're really saying is you shouldn't, because everyone does. Show me a person who is judgment free and I'll show you a corpse. Reminds me of the joke where a crowd of people has gathered at town square to stone a woman for infidelity. Fortunately, Jesus steps between the woman and crowd and pleads, "Let he who has never sinned throw the first stone." The crowd is stunned, silent, motionless, until a single rock sails over their heads and pelts Jesus right in the face. "God damnit," Jesus cries, "you can be such a bitch, mom."

I also like Shakespeare. And basketball. And what better way to celebrate both than to write on the day after the anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination and the eve of the greatest three weeks in all of sports? The Ides of March, the fifteenth, was made famous in William Shakespeare's tragedy of Julius Caesar when a soothsayer cautioned the emperor to beware its impending arrival. Sure enough, he was murdered that day in 44 BC by his good buddy, Brutus, and the envious senator, Cassius. March Madness, on the other hand, was made famous by being the greatest three weeks in all of sports - domestic and international. Some might argue that the World Cup or the NFL playoffs hold this title, but to them I say, "Beware the Ides of Being Wrong, Suckers."

March Madness is the end-of-the-year tournament for the top 64 Division I basketball programs (technically 68 but I won't get into that). Each of the first two weekends the field is reduced by 75%, first to sixteen, then to four. Last year, I took Amari to her first Sweet Sixteen party - a gathering where fans can come and bid on teams they think will survive the next weekend. This year, I let her fill out her first bracket, placing it her writing desk and giving her several crayons to choose from. Since she can't write yet, I had to come up with a system to interpret her choices. For example, when she carefully placed each crayon on the floor beneath the desk and squealed loudly with delight, I assumed she was picking top seeds to advance (straight chalk as the experts say), and when she crumpled up the bracket and tried to draw on our cat, I picked twelfth seeded Clemson to upset West Virginia.

Amari may not actually be capable of filling out her own bracket yet, but by next year this time I guarantee she'll be able to pronounce - if not spell - Krzyzewski (coach of the highly favored Duke Blue Devils). Lately, she's been developing extremely rapidly in all sorts of cool AND not-so-cool ways. On the cool side, she's mimicking us more and more, and she's taking risks with language.


For a while now it's been clear that Amari understands most things - she follows directions, retrieves things, takes items from one place to another, identifies correctly, and so on - but when it comes to saying words, she shies away. Can you say..., I'll ask, and she'll shake her head. The past few days, however, she's sounding things like ball, doll, book, and other words that sound similar. I've found that when I get her into a rhythm of words she knows, "Dada, mama, more," and then throw in a new one, it will slip out of her mouth before she has time to think about it and shake her head. It's pretty freakin' cool to watch her learn, and I'm really excited to have conversations with her in the future.

Not So Cool

On the not-so-cool end of the spectrum, Amari has started hitting Hunter without provocation. Granted he spent months poking, hitting, grabbing, taking, pulling, but to see her do it now without concern for reprimand is kind of a bummer. Hunter isn't phased in the least, but I still get her attention with a loud no, sometimes coupled with removing her from proximity. Unfortunately, her response to my attempts at discipline as been to develop greater speed and sneakiness. Towards the end of our visit this morning, I saw Amari sitting with Hunter, appearing to play quite nicely with a pile of his stuffed animals. Suddenly, like a Mr. Miagi-trained karate master, she reached up with an open palm, slapped the side of Hunter's face and returned the palm to its resting position. I might not have believed what I'd seen had she not glanced back smugly at me to see if I was watching. I shook my head in disbelief before reiterating my loud, "No." What the hell happened to my sweet, little Amari.

The good news is Hunter's parents actually believe he deserves the retaliation, that it's about freakin' time,  and they actually prefer the play dates where he gets his ass kicked. The bad news is, I don't like it at all - and I hope it doesn't last. The best news of all is neither of their hitting or poking or taking or pulling last very long and they almost always get quickly back to the business of being adorable little toddlers. Here's one of the latest music videos I put together as a tribute to their growing friendship.

That's all for tonight.

Hail Caesar and go UCLA Bruins (even though I picked you to lose in the first round)


1 comment:

  1. That video is so cute! I love how you trick her into saying words.