by jkatejohnston

30 March 2014

Dear Max,

Enzo went to a birthday party for Zoe, a girl who he says has a crush on him. Possibly it’s the other way around. I heard him telling Jonah that Zoe chases him all the time, and—”She might be considered to be my girlfriend. Don’t tell the fellas.”

When he learned about the birthday party, he set about making her a gift: a beginner’s fishing kit culled from his own supplies, also leaves and flower buds from the back yard so she can make her own lures. He wanted me to write instructions, which I was happy to do if he would dictate them, but he just handed me a fishing book and wanted me to write what was in the book. I had him mark a few pages for me to photocopy, which he did, and then we put those together as a little pamphlet, sewn together using a hole punch and chunky woolen yarn, Waldorf as all get out. He strung some foam Nerf bullets along a fishing line (to act as bobbers perhaps) and had me tie a hook on the end.

“Mom!” The barbed treble hook was hanging from the front of his sweats, right over his crotch. “I think I got my penis!” Good God! We got the hook out of the sweats and the sweats off the boy. I examined him. No sign, but then, what exactly did it look like before? I hadn’t looked at it closely in about five years—or perhaps ever. “What the totally heck! It made a small scar on my penis!” He went to the bathroom and put a band-aid on it, which soon became a crisis in itself, because he taped his penis and testicles together in a way that I’m sure is not recommended. Then he got a bowl of water and managed to sort of crouch and splay himself over it so as to give the whole area a good soak in cold water. Teresa finally got the band-aid off with a decisive rip.

It was a pool party. As we were driving there, Enzo said, “I think I may die at this party.” I asked him why, and he said, “Two reasons. Drowning and being covered by girls.”


We are armed. Enzo got a little Saturday-night-special type water pistol from a friend, which he loves because you cock it and it makes loud CLICK! when you pull the trigger. And he’s been hearing all about Uncle Mark’s Colt .45 in The Great Brain, not to mention the repeating air rifle that Tom swindles Parley Benson out of, so when he and Teresa went to the hobby store to get Zoe a present (to supplement the fishing kit) Teresa got him a cap pistol without the caps. He loves it. It looks very old-fashioned and small, and, like the water pistol, you cock it and when you pull the trigger, CLICK!

At Zoe’s party, there was an inflatable obstacle course in the pool. Enzo crushed it. Afterward, one of the moms said to him, “Your mom couldn’t even get a video of you going through the obstacle course—you were so fast.” He took this in with a kind of joyful shyness, looking down, walking around a bit, and then said, not exactly to her, but looking off into the distance: “I’m fast on the draw too.”

That night while Teresa was loading up his toothbrush before bed, he ran into our room where I was reading. “Quick!” He got under the comforter, and I arranged pillows and myself over him, in casual manner. “Shhhhh! Don’t make a sound.” Teresa came in, “Where could he be?” She pretended to look in the closet, “He just disappeared!” And then from under the comforter: CLICK!


Teresa insists that I explain that Enzo’s not allowed to point the gun at anyone, including Duncan, not allowed to play with it with friends or outside the house or in the car, and that he will never have caps for it. And I guess someday I should tell him about all my former clients who could have done a few days on the work project instead of 35 to life, if only they’d expressed their displeasure with their fists instead of their guns.