The Hunk and I do not pamper our boys. I think we don’t, anyway. But when they run to us with their little owchies and boo-boos, we do the same thing our parents did with us.
“Are you dead? Are you bleeding? Well, it’s a long way from your heart. You’ll be fine.”
In other words… suck it up, buttercup.
The boys are out of school now, and very regularly beating the piss out of each other.
We were at the park the other day, grilling out, and the boys had been sent to the car for misbehaving. My friend Fiona happened to walk by the car and see The Rockstar kicking The Dinosaur in the head repeatedly. The Hunk dealt with the punishment/discipline/beating and F went back to check on D and make sure he didn’t have, like, a concussion or something. She said, “D, are you ok, honey?” And he looked at her, his little face still with wet tears running a path through the grime on his face here and there, and he said, “Well, I’m not bleeding.”
She about wet herself laughing.
And then ran over to relay what D said. And then we about wet ourselves laughing.
Very, um, interesting, this having children thing. I’ve been at it for almost 11 years now, so I think I might be qualified to say a couple things on this subject. So you’re thinking about having kids?
Don’t do it.
I’m almost kidding. Seriously.
Don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t give up my boys for the world. Well, most days, anyway. But having children is shockingly different from what I thought it would be. I was sure I would have enough kisses and kodak moments (every time I see a kodak commercial it makes me want to travel to kodak headquarters with a bazooka and a one way ticket to the roof) to make it truly fulfilling. I have not. I cannot say having children is truly fulfilling. Crazy-making, yes. Frightening, maddening, frustrating, yes; fulfilling, no. Being pregnant was kind of cool… ish. And when they’re teeny tiny brand new little (insert baby gibberish here) that was pretty cool. Then, ladies and gentleman, they start talking. This is the car poised at the very top of the roller coaster, you’re all big-eyed and your heart beating about a bajillion times a second, and then… clack…. clack…. clack… clack… clack.. clack.. clack. clack. clack clack clackclackclackclackclack! You’re off on the biggest ride of your life. And the only perk you get are moments like this….
©1987 by Bill Watterson
I just hope when I finally get off the damn thing, I don’t puke.
The Rockstar is 10. For about six months, we totally had him thinking that he was the second R. We told him that we sold the first R on eBay because he was too mouthy, and now he lived with a family in Florida that made him work all day long. We kept it going for quite a while. He was asking all kinds of questions about the first R, trying to trip us up. We came up with answers off the cuff, and you could see the little wheels turning (and smoking) as he was re-evaluating whether we were putting him on or not. Finally, one day we were all in the car on the way to walfart and R had asked yet another question about the first R, and H was going on about exactly how the first R’s parents had gotten around child labor laws to be able to make him work every day all day long, and I was trying to stifle my laughter. R crowed triumphantly, “I know you’re lying because Mom’s laughing! I see her shoulders shaking up and down!”
By this time, I was laughing so hard I had tears running down both sides of my face, so I turned around to him in the back seat and said, “No, honey, I’m crying because I just miss him so much!” His jaw dropped and his eyes got about as big as dinner plates. And he didn’t say another word until we got to walfart five minutes later. So consequently, we got to carry it on for another couple months. I don’t even remember when we finally told him we were kidding. He still asks questions though, and it’s a big joke to get us to come up with even more far-fetched answers.
My favorite story I like to tell about my little Rockstar took place a few years ago. We moved into a house we were renting and it had just turned spring so people were out and about for the first time. We had just met our next door neighbors. We were talking across the fence and getting to know each other and then the husband followed H into our house to show him something. R popped around the corner, looked up at the new guy, and said cheerfully, “Who are you?”
The guy looked down at him and said, “I’m God.”
R looked up at him, furrowed his brow, tilted his head a little, and said, “I always knew you’d look like that.”
The guy laughed so hard he cried.
And he still tells that story to his friends years later.
R used to say he was going to be either (duh) a rockstar or a policeman when he grew up. Now, several hundreds of dollars worth of drum lessons later, he says he is going to be both a rockstar AND own his own business building custom cars. He will. I’d put my bottom dollar on it. Saying R is determined is akin to saying Jack Russell Terriers are a little active.
The Dinosaur is… different. He is, and always has been, not really all with us. Sometimes he even takes the Space Shuttle from his planet to visit ours. When he was 2ish until 6ish, his obsession was Thomas the Tank Engine. He really would’ve preferred to live on the Island of Sodor, I’m sure. Then in a matter of what felt like just a couple weeks, he traded that infatuation for a fixation on anything to do with (duh) dinosaurs. He is, and here I will make the understatement of the century, hard to communicate with. I knew that he was different when just as I had gotten used to R literally bouncing off walls, D would lay down his side and push his Thomas trains on the carpet and putter with them, for like, an hour. Where R was so affectionate that he crossed the line into clingy, D would actually push people away and would really rather not be touched. When he was big enough to respond when I read to him, I had a rather concerning exchange with him. I was reading him a book about under and over and in and out, and I pointed to the cat in the house. I said, “Where is the cat?”
He said in his tiny little voice, “The cat is happy.”
Thinking that was just a fluke, I tried asking several other questions, which apparently the answer to every single one of them was “The cat is happy.”
He still does things like that, and he’s about to turn 8. It pushes my buttons. The teachers advised me to work around it, and just not to ask questions that may go into the danger-mom’s-head-might-explode zone. I don’t ask him a lot of questions.
The neighbor girl was over to our house a couple weeks ago to play with D. They were playing with the water in the bathroom, and there was a scuffle. The shower curtain came down, and the girl ended up in the tub. She came to tattle and D was asked for his side of the story. All he had to say was, “She was bugging me so I pushed her. I guess I don’t have a girlfriend anymore.”
Both my boys are extremely intelligent, and I’m not saying that with the Yeah Right Mom Bias. R has tested in the 99th percentile in the nation on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. D has also tested several grade levels higher than his peers. It blows my mind sometimes how frickin’ smart they are. They are gifted and talented, the schools tell us. Brilliant, is how the school psychologist referred to R. But. There is always a but. R has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and is severely AD/HD as well. His IEP (Individualized Education Plan in School Speak) reads a little like War and Peace. D is currently being tested for Asperger’s Syndrome, more heavy on the autistic than R. They are, in a word, challenging.
I see so many parents spend an evening with us and exchange knowing glances when they think I’m not looking. You know the look. “If those were my boys, they wouldn’t act like that.” Yeaaah, riiiiiight. I frickin’ double dog dare ya to spend one week with my children and then tell me you can do any better. You’ll bring them back early, and buy me several tequila shooters the next time we go out, I guarantee you. I used to beat myself up pretty badly about my mothering skills (or lack thereof) but I don’t much anymore. I’ve come to think that I do pretty ok, the very best I can do with what I have, and a lot of parents could have, and have done, much much worse.
Yeah, I do pretty ok.
Rip it, roll it, and punch it, dude. This is my stop.