Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Man's Trash Is Elliot's Treasure

When I was Elliot's age, I lived in the backwoods of Western Massachusetts. So even though I'm now fully citified, I have no idea what it's like to be a young kid growing up in an urban area.

He loves playing in front of our apartment, and I don't want to discourage him. But there's often a lot of really gross stuff lying on the street — and he makes a point of trying to touch all of it. We're desperately trying to clue him into the concept of "trash."

His favorite activity is to play with the rocks that the city puts around trees on our sidewalk.

In the best-case scenario, these rocks are continually showered with dog urine. Worst case, they might be home to feces, empty beer bottles and discarded prophylactics.

After he gathers up the rocks, he likes to leave them on neighbors' doorsteps. They probably think they're the victims of some bizarre gang initiation rite.

I don't allow him to pick up cigarette butts, though I guess you could argue they're pretty sterile. I mean, they were lit on fire, which would kill the germs, right?

He was very excited about finding these raver glow sticks on the sidewalk. I didn't let him touch them, since they would probably test positive for methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

In a sign that he's already well adapted to street life, Elliot knows how to use a shiv.

To give him a different experience, we took him to a farm near Santa Cruz a few weeks ago.

He enjoyed himself — until he got bitten by a chicken. (This shot was taken briefly before the incident.)

Fortunately, the chicken didn't break the skin. But Elliot looked at the bird with such an expression of betrayal.

No one has ever bitten him in the city.