Me and Daddy Think

Today, I thought I would share an old story from February 2003. Elder would have been six years old. My husband would have been old enough to know better…

After a day filled with housecleaning, my vacuum exploded in a puff of smoke in the middle of sweeping the boys’ room. “I think you have it too full,” Elder told me, posed in the middle of the room with two Nintendos lifted high above the danger zone. “You need to empty it.”

“I don’t think that’s the problem,” I told him. Now, I will admit the canister needed to be emptied. But the hose extension worked while the base did not. Besides, I had been fighting with the thing since July. “I don’t know what’s wrong. Maybe Daddy can fix it. Or maybe we’ll have to buy a new one. Just don’t make any unnecessary messes.” Then, when my husband arrived home, I announced, “Something’s wrong with the vacuum. I need you to look at it.”

Walking towards the bedroom to change clothes, he glanced carelessly at the vacuum propped against the sofa. “Looks like you need to empty it.”

My jaw locking, I glared at his back while another voice pitched, “See, Mom, me and Daddy think –“

I switched by glare to Elder. “Shut up.”

Grinning, he followed his precious Daddy. And I really think I could have found a good use for a broken vacuum and any woman on any jury would have let me walk.

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No Problem

Elder is now playing basketball.

Well, actually, I guess, technically, he’s playing football on a court with fewer guys and a rounder ball.

After one game, his aunt was teasing him about the pushing and shoving in which he and an opposing player had engaged beneath the basket. A battle of pure wills that had the other player in such a state of agitation he had earned a technical foul.

A little sheepish, Elder shrugged with an air of confusion. “Yeah, I don’t know what his problem was. All he had to do was let me stand in front of him.”

Such a simple view of defense in any sport.

Just allow me to prevent you from winning.

All I want to do is keep you from putting that ball through that hoop, into that net, across that line, over that fence.

All you have to do is let me.

So where’s your problem?

Seriously

I apologize for posting late. I am having internet issues. But here you go…

Younger turned fifteen in July. But he refused to study for the written exam for his driver’s license.

Finally, I decided patience was no longer a virtue.

“I’m picking you up after school,” I texted him, last Friday morning. “And you’re going to take the test for your permit. I’ll have the book with me.”

And so I did.

We sat in the parking lot for an hour while he crammed numbers and road signs into his head. Then, after a quick search for an unnecessary pencil, we ventured into the building.

He didn’t seem too anxious before the test.

He was a wreck after passing.

“I’m not driving home,” he told me.

“I already know that,” I assured him.

And I drove him across the small town to finalize the paperwork.

While the woman chatted with him, friendly and laughing, he quietly answered her questions, his knee bouncing in a wild rhythm. Uncharacteristically subdued, he barely seemed aware of her constant conversation, wiping his palms from thigh to knee.

Then she asked him if he wanted to be an organ donor.

He stilled. No bouncing knee. No hands rubbing against his jeans.

He did not even blink.

His eyes rounding, he stared at her. Then shook his head once, slightly. Then again, with a little more emphasis, but without removing his eyes off of her.

Laughing, I patted his shoulder. “She doesn’t mean immediately, Younger. They’re willing to wait.”

And so he reluctantly agreed to organ donation, although he appeared offended that she would discuss accidents and death and body parts within fifteen minutes of him obtaining a permit.

But then she was done with the questions, instructing him to stand in front of the blue screen, saying “Wait for the flash of light.”

Younger arranged his facial features in his usual I-don’t- want-to-do-this expression whenever a camera is aimed in his direction.

“You’ll want to smile, Younger,” I told him.

And he opened his mouth – most likely to tell me off – when a streak of light flashed before his eyes.

Immediately, he whipped his head towards me. “Seriously, Mom?” he demanded, his voice rising. “Seriously?” Then he was laughing. “Seriously?”

“Oh, hon,” the lady said. “You’re going to want to do that again. You look like you’re kissing the camera.”

“Seriously, Mom?” he repeated, squaring back up to the camera, struggling not to laugh, to not even grin. A picture is a picture, after all, and he has a reputation to maintain. “Seriously.”

So he failed. He actually looks happy in the picture.

“When I go for my license, I’m going with Dad,” he announced, as we trudged back towards our truck. “No, I’ll go with Elder. He won’t make me laugh. Seriously, Mom?”

I rewarded him with ice cream. So, he still likes me a little.

He’s my baby. A baby with a learner’s permit.

Or maybe a young man with a learner’s permit

Same difference.

Independence is all fun and games until my sons gain a little of it.

Seriously.

Know It All

Younger spent his last day of Christmas vacation hoping for snow.

He’s always hoped for snow.

Or fire, earthquake, or volcano eruption.

Even in 2008 when he was in the second grade…

Younger does not like school.  He doesn’t understand why he has to go for five days a week.  He doesn’t understand why he has to go for nine months out of the year.  He doesn’t understand why the inventor of school ever had a reason to torture innocent, little children.  And he wants to know who he was, this Machiavellian scroundel who thought to force little boys into chairs and bore them by repeating information they already have.

 Because Younger already knows it all.

 “I’m not learning anything,” he announced from the back seat of the truck,  one fine Monday morning.

I choked on a laugh.  “Younger…”

“Well, I’m not.  You think I am.  But I’m not.”

 “You are learning something,” I told him, cheerfully.  “You’re learning to sit quietly even when you are bored.”

 He mumbled something, which I pretended not to hear, and the conversation was dropped for a day or two, until a Sunday night when Isaiah realized that apparently snow was not going to save him from school the next day.

 “And they’re wrong, just wrong,” he concluded after a magnificent tirade.  “They think they’re right.  But they’re wrong.”

 “Younger…”

“They say it’s a fun place to learn,” he said, emphasizing his ire with a stomp of his foot.  “But I ain’t learning anything.  AND IT AIN’T FUN!”

 And apparently he has to say a pledge to the school with those exact words, which he finds morally reprehensible.  They shouldn’t make you say it, he has advocated, if you don’t mean it.

And he doesn’t mean it.

 And now even I am counting down the days left of school…

Poke, Poke

I apologize for posting a day late. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I guess I focused so much of my attention on him that I forgot it was a Thursday.

I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Actually, the kind of attention I gave him, he may thank me for the neglect.

The other day, he and Younger wandered into the house after an afternoon on the farm. And almost immediately they were engaged in a wrestling match in my kitchen, while I tried to step around them between the counter and the stove.

“Hey, Mom,” Younger panted, attempting to thrust one finger successfully between my husband’s swinging arms. “You need to poke, Dad.”

I ignored him.

“No, Mom, hey, poke Dad,” he insisted, still struggling to thread his hand through my husband’s defenses. “I’m serious. You need to poke, Dad.”

“I know he’s ticklish, Younger. So is Elder.”

“No-oo-oo,” Younger drawled. “Not ticklish.” He connected successfully with his target, earning a groan and flinch from my husband. “Sore. From chopping wood all morning.” With a grin, he sauntered from the room. “You can think me for that piece of useful information later.”

So, yesterday, while I was trying to watch Mizzou, my alma mater, in the Citrus Bowl, my husband aggravated me and abused me and taunted me with his bring-it-on attitude until I jabbed one finger into his pectoral.

“Ahh,” he groaned then laughed then groaned again because laughing hurt worse than the poke.

And from the other room, Younger hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

All day long — aggravation, abuse, and taunts ending in a jab and a groan and a hollered, “You’re welcome, Mom.”

So, yesterday was my husband’s birthday…

But I got the gift.