You'd probably say something like, "Way harsh, Tai."
But of COURSE he's a complete jerk. He's 11 and has inhaled steroids every day for the better part of 6 years now. Puberty has sucker-punched that boy, and hard. The only thing more disheartening about him right now than his disposition is his aroma.
The boy makes Axe body spray smell like heaven. And Axe deodorant. And Axe shampoo. And whatever Axe they come out with next. Lesser of two evils, yo.
The thing is, he's just not that into me anymore. I am no longer a deity; I am nothing more than a boss whom he occasionally has to hug. He'll still throw me a sideways glance and a coy smile if he sees me in his school, but he'll never approach me. At home he spends most of his days trying to dodge me in new and creative ways.
Just because you turn all the lights off and totally bury yourself under a throw blanket, that doesn't mean I suddenly can't hear the Super Mario Brother's theme on the DS from under there, you dumb ostrich.
I've noticed a sharp and speedy decline in both the length and quality of our conversations as of late. Where he used to talk my ears off over dinner, now he powers down his veggie burger* and runs out the front door before I can catch him. Now I know where the sudden interest in Marathon training has come from.
We don't giggle on our drive into school anymore; I giggle and he curls himself into a tight, fetal ball of over-it and prays for a quick death or the end of the torturous drive to school. Which takes 42.36 seconds. Drama Queen.
He still loves me, of this I have no doubt, but the boy has moved on. He's matured. He thinks that I am a moron.
He told me one day that he wished I'd stop wearing all that Eye Shallow (liner). Why? Because he thinks it makes me look dumb. His friend came to the door three nights about at 7:45 to ask if he could go outside to Ripstick and when I said no, he looked me dead in the eye and screamed, "Oh, COME ON." And yes, I let him live, thankyouverymuch.
I actually think this whole thing is quite endearing and almost funny. See, I wasn't allowed to so much as say Huh? to my mother without loosing my front teeth and so the fact that I've cranked out this man who isn't afraid to tell me what he thinks, who isn't afraid to be a normal teenager, well....I'm feeling pretty damn good about that whole situation. I think I win, you know?
And I am going to keep repeating that to myself when the kid comes up to me and says, "Why are you dressed like THAT?" and I say, "What?" and he says, with a little finger drawing an air circle in front of me, "That. That thing you're wearing" and I say, "You mean this dress?" and he says, "Yeah, that" and I say jokingly, "You're mom's a girl, dude. Did you forget that or something?" and he, dead serious, says, "Well, yeah" and walks away.
I'm a better parent than my mother. I'm a better parent than my mother. I'm a better parent than my mother. But I'm starting to see where she got the idea to kill us all came from. Bygones.
*That is a whole other story entirely.
Speaking of being over-protective:
My son came walking across the bridge the other day exactly when I'd asked him to so that we could get out the door for an appointment. I shouted down from the deck that it was time to go and he should get a clean shirt on, and when he looked up at me I saw that he was almost but not quite crying.
He came upstairs and we sat down together and I asked what was wrong. He said that Older Liam had called him 'kid who plays with Barbies' in front of all the older kids. And then the tears came a'pouring down.
Older Liam lives across the street. Older Liam used to come over for sleepovers and dinners last year, but then he hit grade 4 or 5 or whatever he's in and decided it was high time to become an asshole. He doesn't come over anymore. One of his little thugsta' friends lives in our neighborhood and so he's around occasionally, riding his skateboard with all of our neighbor kids. He's a jerk, but a harmless jerk, and I don't worry about him too much because he knows that I have his mom's digits, so if I tell him to knock it off already, he usually listens.
He does, however, like to pick at my 2of3. Most thugsta's do. He's kind of easy pickings.
I have countless times had the talk with 2of3 about how some people have brown clouds around them (not to be confused with brain clouds, which are incurable except by long rides at sea on luggage and sex with Meg Ryan) and some people have rays of sunlight around them, and the people with brown clouds like to block out the sunshine, so it's best to just keep your sunshine as far away from them as you can. I have countless times told him that the only way he's going to get Older Liam to get off his back is to stop caring, that when he reacts, he makes Older Liam act more. I've explained to him a bazillion times that people who call names do so because they don't have any better weapons in their arsenal, and that smart people have much better ones, like intelligence. Like the ability to laugh at stupidity and walk away from it. Like the ability to look over their shoulder and say, "It must really suck to be so obtuse" and then go somewhere else. Because god knows, the nany-nany-boo-boo kids have no fucking clue what Obtuse means and the most fun way to stop an asshole in his tracks is to make him think for a second.
I'd much rather have an intellectual snob for a kid than a bully. Personal preference.
I decided when I saw 2of3 crying for the upteenth time over something Older Liam did that it was time for me to stop coaching and start fixing. So I got my shoes on and off we went.
I always bring him with me when I have to put out his fires. When he got mugged at the bus stop and the school did nothing to fix it, I let him stand right next to me when I found the kids who did it and scared them so bad one almost peed in his pants and the rest started out all, "Whatever, bitch" and ended up all, "Sorry, ma'am" because I want him to see that I will protect him, and I want him to see how to stand up to a jerk. Because god knows, no one ever showed me how to do it. So he and I started walking across the bridge together to go find Older Liam and Let. Him. Have. It. when I paused for just a second, thought really hard about what I was about to do, and for whom, and then asked him, "Dude, how about you tell me the whole story before I go do this."
He swore he had.
I glared at him.
He said No, really.
I said he better start in with the whole truth.
He sighed and said okay.
And then he told me his whole story about how some little "chubby" girl was riding her bike and Older Liam was making fun of her because she was wobbling on it and that he told Older Liam to stop teasing her and then Older Liam told him to shut up, kid who plays with Barbies, right in front of everyone.
Fair enough; time to put and end to this once and for-all. After much ado we found Older Liam across the street at the tennis courts with, you guessed it, Kid Who Mugged 2of3 Last Year. That explains a lot. So I call Older Liam over and he came over and I said, "Dude, you see that neighborhood right there (points to mine)? 2of3 lives there, you don't. You cannot come into his neighborhood and call him names and make him cry. Go find somewhere else to play from now on." And he starts in with the whole But he's and the I didn't's and I put my hand up and said, "Stop. I know what happened and you're not talking your way out of this one. This is our home. You can't play here anymore." And then he said, "But he chased me with a skateboard."
Enter the slow, painful glare of death towards my son.
You. Did. What?
No I didn't, mawwwwwm! Yes you did, 2of3! Nah uh! Uh huh!
And then Older Liam told me his whole story. That he'd been teasing the chubby girl on her bike and 2of3 told him to stop and he told him to shut up, kid who plays with barbies and then 2of3 came at him. With a skateboard.
Enter blue-screened, Matrix style head explosion.
And that's when I let 2of3 have it. Right in front of Older Liam, right in front of Kid Who Mugged Him at the Bus Stop, right in front of every neighborhood kid, because god knows they'd all gathered around to watch the mom get all up in the thugsta's grill. I may or may not have rather loudly informed him that I didn't appreciate being made to look like a asshole in a public forum, I may or may not have reminded him that dirty little self-serving liars get grounded until they go to military camp, I may or may not have had my finest parenting moment ever in front of a suburban tennis court.
I may or may not have over reacted slightly.
The other kids from our neighborhood chimed in that, in fact, Older Liam had initiated the whole thing and that he's always mean to 2of3 and that he totally had it coming. They backed their little dirty liar of a buddy up and said that Older Liam was the instigator, and that 2of3 was just standing up for himself the best he could. I don't think they much like Older Liam. So I turned back to Older Liam and said that I was sorry, that I thought I'd had the whole story, but that now that I do my argument still stands, that he just can't get along with 2of3 and since 2of3 lives here and he doesn't, he needed to find somewhere else to play from now on. He said okay with a very, very demonstrative eye roll.
And for the better part of the rest of this week, I am on possession of one shiny Nintendo DS that my kid can't so much as breath on. And I'm thinking it's high time I start following my own advice and letting him sink or swim all by himself.
You can guess how that girl's entire life ended up.
This generation, the one of our children, seems to be fairing better, perhaps to the extreme in the other direction. My kids' world is bacteria free whether I like it or not (and hello swine flu), their heads are helmeted and their knees padded, they get graded in numbers on three different scales, and after every meal they get a reward. You know what my reward for eating my dinner was? NOT getting my ass kicked. My children think dessert is a god-given right.
Now, as much as I think the man who invented the Happy Meal should be strung up by his toenails and plucked from head to toe with 50 year old tweezers for creating a generation of children who think they should get something for everything, the fact of the matter is that I bought the damn happy meal. And it took me 8 years to figure out I could just say, "Oh, and hold the toy."
I'm slow, but I get there.
And I do love the knee pads and the elbow pads because god knows I don't want to see my kids bleed but the problem with that is that they never bleed. And then they never have to learn to get up after. They never have to learn to shake it off and keep playing. They never learn.
Unless, of course, they're at the skate park.
The rules of conventional society do not apply at the skate park. The older kids have dominion, and the younger kids have to learn damn fast what that means exactly. There is a hierarchy at the skate park that is not to be ignored, and so long as you respect that they will take you in under their wing and help you along. You fuck with them, however? Your day sucks. And if you even think about having your mom come rescue you? Yeah, good luck with that. Skaters can be some of the kindest, most gracious kids you'll ever meet until some helicopter mom comes swooping in telling them how to behave around her child on their turf. It's kind of a funny thing to watch, actually, mostly because that mom never wins.
I started taking my boys to the skate park when they were 3 and 5, and we started out going when the older kids were all in school, just so they could get the feel of it. When they got older, we'd try it on the occasional weekend, and by the time they were 5 and 7, they were brave enough to go mid-day, over summer break. Right when I was 80 months pregnant with 3of3. Which means I couldn't help them at all.
And I swear, you've never seen a sweeter group of 17 year olds helping my boys every time they got stuck, pulling them to their feet if they fell down, helping them get helmets on tight enough and showing them where the good spots for littler ones to play were.
And that smae group of kids, those ones I wanted to bake cookies for, would eat alive the errant child who came in thinking they owned the place, zooming around any which way they chose, tripping everyone up and being inconsiderate. Because you don't fuck with a skater at a skate park. It's sacred territory.
And it's a great exercise, as a parent, in letting them swin with big fishes all by themselves. It's hard, because my instinct is to bubble wrap them in rainbows, but now that my boys are the older boys, and I see them being the ones taking the younger kids under their wings and enforcing the rules of engagement when need be, I see that me squirming a little when they were young has paid off in a big way for them now.
Now, they are fairly accomplished skaters, because they've been taught how to do it by older kids they admire.
Now they know that even though mom says it's rude and tacky, sometimes it's just art.
Now, they aren't afraid to try new things, they aren't shy or self conscious, because they've watched the older kids and seen how they try until they get it.
And now when they fail, they're starting to get right back up, shake it off, and try again.
Which is something I've been trying to teach them their whole lives, but was really something they just had to learn by watching this guy damn near kill himself.
And thank god for that, because now they'll actually wear the fucking helmets.
Loads more on FlickR, as always.
The first time I started it, I was maybe 14. I gave it another whack when I was 19. At 25, once I knew everything there ever was to know in life, I sincerely had an honest go at it. For the four years I've had this blog, I've tried every year to use NaNoWriMo as my motivation. I even had a team of fellow wanna-be writers to dream work with for a while, but we always ended up wine-drunk and no good ever comes from wine-drunk. Unless you're the guy who's getting the tip at the end of the night.
It's always been the same story, it just keeps getting longer and more convoluted the longer I wait. Now that I'm comfortably wedged somewhere between menstruation and death, and I have all new motivation to get this thing going (see: greying hairs, kids hitting puberty, bunions), still I just can't. I blame this on the fact that I've read too many good books already. Maybe I'm just lazy. Bygones.
When I go through my "serious" phase on my blog, like I seem to be in now, and sorry about that*, I can't read other people's blogs because I can't sort out my own thoughts from all of yours. When I go through my "oh my god I'm so close to 40 I could pick its nose" phase, I can't read other people's books because it makes me cringe that I still can't do that after all these years. Reading The Bloggess just makes me want to go work at McDonald's. I'm not the only one, either.
That said, when I got into it with one of the eleventy-hundred people at the mall trying to push their credit card down my throat, when I explained that I think credit cards are the downfall of modern society, but thanks, and the guy went from sneering at me to really asking me why I thought that and we got to talking, not just pitching, he asked me what I did for a living. I didn't hesitate for a second when "writer" fell out of my mouth and landed on his tie.
Apparently, I think I'm a writer. Which explains why I can't read anything right now. I can't even listen to anything more that the first Live album and The Kings of Leon at the moment. Both of which are great, but not that great.
I got through Marshall Karp's book with flying colors, mainly because he's kind of hot and more mainly because Beth asked me to and mostly mainly because they gave me three bags of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups afterwards. Also because it kicked ass. Also also because his book isn't the type of book I'm trying to write.
The main problem I have is that I want to write the kinds of books I like to read, and I've read them all. A million times over. I am a repeat reader, and I am happy that way. I read authors, not books. I love authors, and so I love what they write, even what the thing they write goes on for fucking ever and makes me wonder if it isn't time for him to retire. I'll still read it because I love that man and I can glean what I love about him through his ether-induced ramblings.
So, naturally, I'm a little concerned about how long it's going to take me to get to, and then through, Chuck Palahniuk's new book that's sitting on my desk right now, all autographed and shit. AUTOGRAPHED.
Zoeyjane and I drug all of my kids and all of her kid down to a bookstore where he spoke for 90 minutes and then autographed copies of his new book. My boys loved him. They talked to him after and he talked back and now they want to read all of his books, which of course I said no to, until they're ten, which makes me the worst mother ever but do you know how awesome it is when your kids appreciate the stuff you're into? Best. Feeling. Ever.
So I've got this new book sitting there on my desk, and I've got his older book Choke which I still haven't read for some crazy reason, and i've got World War Z as well because it was screaming at me from the endcap in the store, and I just can't bring myself to open any of them right now. Because if I do, I'm perching myself up on the shoulders of these authors who have done what I dream of doing, I'm seeing how far down the fall is, and I realize that I'm left just cold.
And so, for now, I'm going to light my own fire and hunker down and let the world wait while I find a way to tell this story. While I find MY way to tell it. But I better do it soon, because god damn do I want to read about the zombie wars.
*Really, I almost got weepy all over my final American Idol recap of the year. Weepy, I tell you.