Odds Are

Every now and then, Younger and I manage to leave the house early on Friday morning, so that he can have breakfast at McDonald’s. And, taking advantage of his presence, I hand him the receipt to tuck into my wallet, leaving me free to concentrate on moving along in the line.

“I should get paid,” he muttered, one Friday morning, slipping the folded white rectangle behind the other similar ones.

I glanced at him, eyebrows furrowed into a frown. “Paid?”

“If I’m gonna be your bookie, I should get paid,” he clarified, stuffing the wallet back into my purse.

My frown deepened. “You aren’t my bookie, and I’m not paying you.”

“Well, if I have to take care of your receipts, I should get paid,” he insisted, completely overlooking his free breakfast, I suppose.

But my attention had now been caught. “Younger,” I said, a little carefully, beginning to be amused but not wanting to embarrass him. “Do you know what a bookie does?”

He ducked his head. “Maybe not,” he admitted.

“I think you mean bookkeeper,” I told him, a grin curling the ends of my mouth. “A bookie is the guy who takes people’s bets.”

“Oh.” And in the blink of an eye, he had glanced over his shoulder and through the rear window. “Then I’ll take your bet on the red car beating the blue truck to the first window.”

Again…we were sitting in line at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

One of us had a sure bet.

It wasn’t me.

He had apparently learned the meaning of “bookie” pretty quickly.

A mother can only be so proud.



Talking to Myself

My husband and Younger share their own language. They have entire conversations that only they understand.

I ignore them mostly.

But one can’t always.

So, every now and then, I hear Younger in another room say, using a growling voice and quoting John Pinette, “Get out of the line, get out of the line.” And from a different room, I hear my husband laugh.

It’s rather like Pavlov’s dogs.

And, then, when they really want to annoy me, they talk in Monty Python.

“This parrot is dead,” my husband will declare. “This parrot has ceased to be.”

And, like the dogs salivating at the ringing of a bell, Younger giggles his way through the house.

But I think the moment I knew all was lost was the day I was standing in the laundry room with my husband in the back yard beyond one wall and Younger preparing to take a shower in his bathroom behind another wall. Minding my own business, loading clothes into the washing machine, I heard my husband perform his imitation of an owl call in the hopes of earning a response from the turkeys that sometimes reside in our woods.

“Who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-all,” he hooted.

And — I kid you not — from the bathroom I heard the response, “Gobble, gobble, gobble.”

And I would just turn to Elder for conversation, but I guess, somehow, “How was your day?” gets translated to “Tell me everything you know or did or thought about doing or what anyone else might know or did or might think about doing and did any of it involve a girl” whenever I try to start a dialogue with him. So, I get a “It was fine, Mom, why do you always have to ask so many questions?”

So, that is why I talk to myself.

But that’s okay.

I find myself to be a particularly brilliant conversationalist.

As long as I don’t start an argument.

Or quote Monty Python.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

When Younger was in first grade, he left his jacket at the school. Then, the next day, he left his extra jacket at the school. Then, the next day, he left the heavy sweatshirt masquerading as a jacket at the school. And, the next day, concerned that we would eventually move his entire closet to the school one article of clothing at a time, I threatened to send him without any kind of jacket. He managed to return home with at least half the misplaced articles, but his habit of absentmindedness has continued to dog us.

And probably will for the rest of his mortal life.

A few weeks ago, the boys’ grandfather decided to take the boys and my husband, who were all home for a snow day, to lunch. On the way back, they stopped by my work for a quick visit. While Elder was meandering around the computers, their grandfather informed my husband and myself of where he had placed Younger’s latest abandoned item in his house, so that we might find it the next time we visited.  Meanwhile, Younger stripped off his sweatshirt, draping it over a chair while trying on his new jacket.

And, of course, the sweatshirt remained, even when Younger did not.

Entering the house later, I hollered, “Younger?” When two eyes peeped at me from over the back of the sofa, I lifted the heavy gray material in one hand. “You left your sweatshirt at my work.” The eyes disappeared when he ducked his head in chagrined acknowledgment. “Let me tell you, sweetheart, you better not ever think of becoming a thief. For every item you’d take, you’d leave at least two behind.”

His head popped up within sight again. “Don’t you think I should avoid a life of crime for moral reasons?” he demanded indignantly.

“Sure,” I agreed, dropping my own paraphernalia in a chair. “I just thought I’d give you a few practical reasons, too.”

Because the only thing worse than being the mother of a criminal is…

Being the mother of the criminal that leaves his driver’s license at the scene of the crime.

How embarrassing.




All Charm

Here’s an old story from 2007…

I had been home about fifteen minutes without even a greeting when my husband turned his car into the drive, his appearance announced by Younger chanting, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” as he scrambled noisily down the stairs.

“Younger,” I bellowed indignantly, jerking him to a halt in the middle of his mad dash along the hallway to the door.  “You never, never say, ‘Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,’ when I get home.”

“I only did that for Daddy because I haven’t seen him all day.”

I merely glared at him with lifted eyebrows.

“I didn’t know you were home,” he tried again.

My eyebrows climbed higher.

“I love you?” he finally offered.

All that finagling charm in one small seven-year-old body.  No wonder it spills from the one orifice he usually has open the widest.