Drastic Measures

I tend to avoid dragging the boys into the grocery store with me, which generally isn’t hard as they resist being dragged. But the other day, Younger accompanied me as I wandered through the aisles, grabbing, at one point, a box of macaroni and cheese.

Turning towards me, he waggled the box. “Can I try to make this tonight?”

Already exhausted, I shrugged. “I don’t know, Younger.”

“Mom,” he said, quietly, dropping the box into the cart. “I watch Elder cook, and you are still fixing my plate for me.”

“Oh.” I took a deep breath. “All right then. You can make macaroni and cheese tonight.” I sucked in another deep breath and added, “And I’ll stop fixing your plate.”

Lifting both hands, palms outward, one corner of his mouth tilting into a crooked grin, he stammered, “Well, now — let’s not — you know — ”

“Do anything drastic,” I supplied with my own sardonic humor.

“Yeah,” he agreed, nodding. “We don’t need to do anything drastic.”

So, we didn’t do anything drastic. We just made some macaroni and cheese from a box.

Just one small step towards declaring independence.

And breaking a mother’s heart.

And You Are Welcome

It was late and I had to rise early, when Elder knocked on our bedroom door.

“What?” I mumbled into my pillow, grumpy as always when my sleep is delayed.

“I need you to check my grammar homework,” Elder announced, flicking on the light as he walked towards my bed.

Not bothering to fumble for my glasses on the nightstand, I squinted at the ten questions, marking four as definitely wrong and another as possibly wrong. “I don’t know about this one,” I admitted, returning the worksheet and pencil to him so that I could bury my head once again into my pillow. “Some people get their tails in a knot over the use of ‘which,’ but I’ve never understood why. I think it is fine, but you need to check your textbook.”

Elder levered himself up from his splayed position on the bed beside me. “Thanks for your help, Mom. I think it’s right. I’m just gonna leave it. I don’t have a textbook.”

“You don’t have a textbook?” I questioned, confused, peering at him with unfocused eyes. “How does your teacher teach grammar without a textbook?”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Elder reassured me, as he strolled from the room. “I’m sure she knows a lot more about grammar than you do.”

He really is an intelligent young man. All the standardized tests say so.

And I guess he did engage that intelligence at some point.

After all, he did wait until he was walking out the door before he insulted me.

Beyond His Years

Every Friday night, my husband and I find ourselves in the bleachers of various high school football stadiums, hoping to cheer Elder and his teammates on to victory. Younger isn’t always an enthusiastic participant, preferring the quietness of home over the roar of a crowd. So, last week, I gave in to his pleas, allowing him to remain behind at home while I ventured into the noisy world of football.

“Okay,” I began my list of admonishments as I gathered all the necessary equipment for a mom at a son’s sporting event — in other words, my camera. “Don’t be eating anything. Or shooting anything with your gun. Or bow, either. Don’t answer the door. And don’t be doing anything that might start a fire.”

Younger, with his special crooked smile, walked over to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, making the fact that he is almost as tall as me now wa-aa-ay too obvious. Then he squeezed me, adding a few pats to my back.

And then he murmured, “Thanks for caring about me, Mom.”

So sweet.

And wise.

Way beyond his years.