Stay Out of It

Here’s a story from 2003…

We have a new phrase in our household.

Stay out of it.

It appears whenever one child is in trouble and the other chooses to become involved.

For example, when Younger is in trouble, Elder apparently believes that he can more properly explain the shorter one’s infraction, the reason for which the adult found it objectionable, and the more appropriate behavior. I then look at Elder and say, “Stay out of it.”

Then, later, when Elder is in trouble, Younger, unless he’s been flattened during Elder’s excursion into misbehavior, skids between his older brother and punishment and demands, “Give ‘im another chance.” And I then look at Younger and say, “Stay out of it.”

I’ve said it so often that even the boys have learned my lines.

So, the other day, when Younger was in trouble and Elder insisted on punctuating my explanation with his own bits of wisdom, Younger thrust out his chest, clenched his fists at his sides, and launched, “Stay out of it, El-der.” Frowning, I looked at my youngest.  He automatically lifted his chin. “Well, he was in it.”

And, yet another time, I had Elder in my parental crosshairs when Younger dodged into range, offering a quick argument in Elder’s defense. I ignored him. But then he returned to fire a true shot. “Give ‘im one more chance, Mommy.” Jaw locking, I looked at him, a look he recognized usually accompanied Mommy’s new one-liner. “I was already in it,” he told me. “I was in it from the beginning. Ya just didn’t know it.”

All righty, time for a new script.


A Public Announcement

Today, at lunch, I attempted to call Elder on his phone.

“Hello,” he answered in a whisper.

“Hey,” I responded. “Are you done with football practice?”

“We’re hanging out,” he told me, still whispering but with an edge to his voice.

“Okay?” I murmured, confused.

“Look, Mom, I’ll talk to you later,” he whispered before I had an answer to the question I needed to ask. “Bye.”

Pulling my phone away from my ear, I studied the brightly lit screen, trying to determine the seriousness of the little pings bouncing on my mom radar screen.

Fortunately, about ten minutes later, after a couple of impatient texts sent to both boys, my phone suddenly trilled with Elder’s designated ringtone. And no one was dead or even seriously injured or hiding some evil secret — like a girl — from his mother.

And, now, I will — randomly — make a public announcement.

If you receive a call from me while you are occupied in a restroom, you don’t have to answer. You can just call me back.

In fact, I would prefer you would.


Going on Six Foot

This Saturday, Younger will celebrate his fifteenth birthday.

For the last six months, he’s been telling me while standing nose-to-nose with me, “I’m taller than you, Mom.”

And I reply, “I want you to grow taller than me, Younger. Boys should grow taller than their moms.”

“Yeah,” he will say with his special smile, “but you don’t want me to be taller than you, yet.”

Dang, but someone raised him to be smart.

The other day, he was at the grocery store with me, trailing behind me when I pushed our cart into the aisle filled with chips. Immediately, I noticed a lady about halfway down the confined space struggling to reach a bag shoved several inches back on the top shelf. Since the shelf was made of interwoven metal mesh, she would poke the very tip of a finger through one hole and inch (more like micro inch) the bag towards the edge and then poke her finger through the next hole and inch the bag towards the edge.

“Can I help you?” I asked when I reached her.

She eased back on her heels with a laugh. “Are you taller than me?”

Behind me, I could practically feel Younger vibrate, ready to prove himself when his mother could not retrieve a bag of chips from a top shelf. Ignoring him, I grabbed the chips, offering the lady the bag while resisting the urge to toss the deflating Younger a look.

Just because he’s going on fifteen doesn’t mean I’m short.

It just means I’m old.

And I’m trying really hard to be okay with that.

And maybe a little bit okay with him getting taller than me — if he was, which I can’t admit because he reads my blog.

Happy 15th Birthday, Younger!!

That Thing I Can’t Talk About

On Saturday, Elder will celebrate his eighteenth birthday.

Which makes me sad that he’s not my little boy any longer.

Until I remember days like the one in April of 2002 when he was five-years-old…

Elder hasn’t been feeling well lately. I haven’t been feeling tops myself, either, I guess. Two facts that often lead to strife in our household.

The other day, after he had watched a few cartoons, he asked to watch another. I told him that he had watched enough television. Immediately, he cranked into full wail.

“Why not?” he sobbed.

“Well, like I just told ya, you’ve watched enough television today,” I responded.

“Mom, can I just watch one more?”


“Why not?”

“Because you’ve watched enough television today.”

“Mom, I didn’t get to watch Scooby Doo. Can I watch Scooby Doo?”


The crying increased a notch. “Why not?”

“Because you’ve watched enough television today.”

After a few  more rounds, I told him I wasn’t going to argue with him. He knew my reasons, and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“What are your reasons?” he questioned.

“Because you’ve watched enough television today.”

“But can I watch Pokémon?”

“Elder, no.”

“Why not?”

“You really don’t want to ask that question.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ve already answered it. I won’t be a very happy Mommy, if I have to answer again.”

“What was your answer?”

“Elder, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“Can I watch Veggie Tales?”


“Huh?” He sniffed. “Can I?”


“Why not?”

“Stop talking about it, Elder.”

So, eventually, still sniffing, he crawled to the sofa, curling around a pillow. He allowed me a few minutes peace then he announced, “But, Mom, I sure would like to do that thing I can’t talk about.”

Eyes bugging, I bit my lip, keeping my face towards the computer and my back towards the kid. “Elder, let’s be quiet. Okay?”

“But, Mommy, you want me to be happy, right? It sure makes me sad not to be able to do that thing I can’t talk about.”

My husband rescued Elder with a trip to Grandpa’s, and in 2002, I didn’t know if he would actually survive to adulthood…

…But he has, apparently.

Happy 18th Birthday, Elder!!



My Life

The other day, I had to ask the boys to stop arguing over whether or not the color red has an opposite.


This is my life.

It’s not enough that I have to settle disputes over time spent on the X-Box or the owner of the sock tossed on the table. I have to decide whether the color red has an opposite.

And the truth is…I just don’t know.

I thought it had an opposite on the color wheel. But Elder tells me that is an abstract concept and doesn’t actually prove the existence of an opposite.

And then he started to explain why, and I realized that the real truth is…I just don’t care.

Because I know the opposite of my life.

It’s sane.