Tag - greek mythology

Twins Take Manhattan, Part 2
My Son, the Fact Checker

Twins Take Manhattan, Part 2

So, Night at the Museum. My sister is awesome and she knows my boys. She knows, for example, that if the theme night of “A Night at the Museum” is Come dressed as your favorite mythical creature, then Sam MUST be there. Not only is she a special education teacher AND the principal of her school, but she adores my boys and they adore her.

There are a million reasons why John would hate it. More. So we hatched a plan. The two of them would ride the subway into the city that evening (Sam’s first!) to SLEEP AT THE MUSEUM and John and I would stay in her adorable Brooklyn apartment reliving my city days.

But first: the costume. What mythical creature could he be? His first choice was a Chimera. Well… my sewing skillz are mad but not that mad (a fire-breathing monster: a lion’s head, a goat’s body, AND a serpent’s tail? No.) His second choice was Pegasus and for the sake of brevity, I will not tell you how much money and time I poured into the all-white costume only to have it look like a fluffy unicorn — not at all like the fierce warrior horse it was supposed to be. I will instead tell you that, with just five days to spare, I went back to the drawing board (Sam a little worried but fully on board), and began creating a Gryphon.

Body of a lion. Head and wings of an eagle. Pretty simple, right? These are the mad steps I took:

  1. I found a simple child’s pattern and faux tan fur.
  2. I studied the directions and inexplicably sewed the wrong sides of pants together (confusion and delay, up until 2 a.m. ripping stitches).
  3. Finally figured out how to measure and sew elastic into pants waist. Did I mention this is the first outfit I’ve ever made? I’m a whiz at curtains though.
  4. For the wings, I used pliable wire that I found in the garden section and fashioned wing shapes the length of Sam’s arms, then I inserted an old cardboard tube at one end so that he would have something to grab when he wanted to move the wings by raising his arms.
  5. I covered the wire structure with some very cool mummy-mesh type fabric and then glue-gunned a feather boa down the middle. Since the wings were the first part I made for Pegasus and were originally all white, I got a bag of brown feathers and added several to look more like an eagle (well, not really since eagles wings are black, but to make them less white). I sewed up the hood with some white felt and was spare with attaching additional feather boa pieces to the top (because, you know, I wanted to avoid making him a fluffy gryphon). 
  6. The beak took shape with a piece of yellow foam board. I hand sewed it to the top of the hood and pinched the tip (assisted by glue) to make it “hook” and then added googly eyes on a couple pieces of felt.
  7. The tail was made with extra fabric and stuffed with polyfill. I hand-sewed it to the back of the pants (see below).
  8. Feet were borrowed brown shoe covers and I attached six “claws” made out of black felt. They look pretty authentic, I think.
Walking to subway, carrying rest of costume in bag.

(If anyone ever tells you that a home-made costume is cheaper — it is definitely not.)

How I wish I had been there to see the joy on his face in person. All reports indicate that not only was he not overwhelmed by the crowd and the sensory stimuli, but he was in his element. He loved every minute of it and was quite independent. My sister reports that “Sam knows his limits and asked to rest when he needed it.” It was a big costume night and nomination slips were everywhere. Several people came up to ask his name in order to nominate him for a prize (first place in the hybrid category). I wish I had been there to see how proud he felt, to see how he liked being the center of attention (my guess is immensely). But there are pictures!

Love you, sister.

My Son, the Fact Checker

Sam’s latest obsession is Greek Mythology. It may be an extension of his flying off the couch as if he were Icarus, but his curiosity for all things myth has increased over the last several months.

Scene: In car, driving to library. Sam, not content to just enjoy the short ten-minute ride, must read a thick tome of myths while on way to acquire new thick tomes of myths.

From the back seat: “Mom? This is really confusing!”

“What is, babe?”

“Atalanta and Hippomenes. The wrong person wins the race!”

“Hmm,” I say.

“Did you hear me? Mom! This is wrong!”

I’m fairly certain I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“Mom, on Starfall, it’s Atalanta who wins the race —not Hippomenes! But this book says that Hippomenes wins the race.”

I hear how upset he is and realize that 1) Even if my son is smarter than I am, I must not show it and 2) I need to come up with a better answer. But my mind and myths? A sieve.

“Okay, honey, we’ll consult Google when we get home.”

“That’s good and whoever has the most-rights will be the one I believe and the other will be most-wrong. Okay?”


The book is correct, of course. It is my motherly duty to write a letter to Starfall:

RE: The Woman Runner (under “I’m Reading;” “Greek Myths.”)
My 7-year-old son, who happens to have a photographic memory, was reading a book on Greek mythology and came to me confused about the ending of the myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes. The book he was reading ends with Hippomenes (the boy/prince) winning the race after Aphrodite gives him 3 apples with which to distract Atalanta (the girl). My son said “On Starfall, Atalanta wins the race.” So we came back here to your site and while I appreciate the girl-power twist on this myth, we both thought you should know it’s incorrect. If only you had 7-year-old fact checkers who are obsessed with mythology!

Their response:

Tell your son he is correct! The Woman Runner we modified so the kids can choose their ending. The kids can choose to let the prince win or let Atalanta win, and depending on the outcome of the race the final page is different.  But your son is correct that in the traditional myth the prince wins the race. Thanks for using Starfall!

Does that seem right? I mean, I know it’s mythology and not world history, but for kids like Sam who trust what they read, especially on educational sites —he can choose the ending? I don’t think this answer will appease Sam. Not at all. I think I will unleash him on the rest of the site. What say you, dear readers?

And here, a few additional Greek characters whose names I know not at all:

Cyclopes et. al.

Um devil guy, a centaur? Will consult with in-house expert and get back to you.


Icarus  (ˈɪkərəs, ˈaɪ-)
— n

Greek myth: the son of Daedalus, with whom he escaped from Crete, flying with wings made of wax and feathers. Heedless of his father’s warning he flew too near the sun, causing the wax to melt, and fell into the Aegean and drowned

There’s a type of mother I envy: she is calm in a crisis. She knows just what to do and does so serenely.

I am not that mother.

The first scream is high-pitched, so high that I’m not sure it’s human — is it our cat? I pause upstairs and listen, John has just arrived home from school and he stops too. I take a deep breath, and will the sound to be a false alarm, but instead it is followed by another. “Sam?” I race towards the basement just as he begins to limp up the stairs, his right arm hanging at an odd angle.

“What’s wrong, baby? What happened? What happened!” I ask although it’s painfully obvious that it’s his arm.

“I fell, I fell!” he sobs. I mentally review the downstairs, the kid-friendly soft couches, the large bookcases bolted to the wall. I pray he isn’t bleeding. I sit him down and scan the rest of his body, all seems okay but the arm is already swollen. We’re going to the ER without a doubt. I grab a pillow, my phone, and tell John we have to go in the car. The sound of other children crying usually agitates him but right now he is uncharacteristically quiet and still.

We pile into the car and my heart feels like it will thump right out of my chest. Despite this surge of terror, I am somehow able to carefully strap Sam in and place the pillow under his elbow to cushion it. “How did you fall, honey?” I am close to tears. He tells me he fell off the couch. Impossible, I think. He’s been climbing that couch since he could toddle.

“How could you fall? I don’t understand.”

“I jumped off, Mom,” he cries, “I was trying to fly!”

“You were what?” I say, incredulous. “What were you trying to do?” I tell him that people cannot fly, why on earth and all that’s holy, did he think he could fly?

“I thought I could! I can fly in my dreams! And I-care-us can fly,” he says.

“‘I-care-us’?” I ask. “Who the heck is ‘I-care-us’?”

“You know, from the greek mythology,” he tells me. Ah, Icarus. Of course you’re reading greek mythology.

As we race to the ER, I explain that mythology is like fiction. And fiction is the opposite of non-fiction, which means it’s a made-up story. Never even mind that the story does not end well. Did he read the whole story?

The wait in the ER is interminable, but at last they take us back for x-rays. The techs slap up a couple of pictures and say nothing — that’s the doctor’s job — but even my untrained eye can see the break at his elbow. He’s a trooper, but scared and worried and starting to fret about all the possible scenarios. I figure there’s a cast in his future.

As it turns out, the break is severe enough to require surgery and pins to help set the elbow. And because he is so young he must be transported to Children’s for a pediatric specialist and an overnight stay. This after I’ve assured Sam that no way, no how will he need surgery again, a cast probably, but not surgery.

Silly, stupid mommy.

This is just one of the reasons I blogged not at all during the month of May.

Here is another:

To be continued…

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