Dad’s Way

My husband has never really been the disciplinarian of the family. He tends to follow the whatever-you-want-as-long-as-it-doesn’t-kill-you-immediately path.

A long time ago, when we were still spending summer nights at baseball fields, Elder patted my side and asked, “Hey, Mom, after the game, can we get some ice cream?”

Exhausted, I relinquished my usual role of decision-maker. “Oh, Elder, I don’t know. Ask your dad.”

Elder threw up his arms in victory, ran to Younger, and announced, “We’re getting ice cream. Mom said to ask Dad.”

And I sighed a little.

Then the other day, as soon as my husband walked in the door after work, Younger asked, “Hey, Dad, did ya bring me some soda?”

My husband shrugged off his coat. “Now, what kind of father would I be if I encouraged your bad habits?”

“So . . .” Younger tilted his head, eying his father. “Yeah?”

“It’s in the fridge,” my husband admitted.

And I sighed a little.

Or maybe a lot.

I sigh so much, it’s hard to say any more.

Advertisements

Book Smarts

Today was the first day of classes and after teaching five college classes in one day, I am absolutely exhausted, so I am sharing an old story from 2000 when Elder would have been four years old . . .

I have been reading a book in which the author states that after each disciplinary action, you should discuss with the child his misbehavior and your response.  Common sense, right?  I had actually already made a habit of such talks, although I decided I could probably do better.  So, the other day, Elder misbehaved – I can’t even remember what – and I had to scold him.  It wasn’t anything of any major importance – he didn’t even get sent to his room.  But I thought I should follow the verbal reprimand with an explanation.  Right?  So, I finished my scold with, “And do you want to know why?” only actually pausing for a breath, not an answer.  But before I could continue, Elder, who had patiently listened to the reprimand, barely glanced in my direction, and in a voice of absolute indifference, said, “No,” and walked away, leaving me staring then blinking and deflating slowly.

I guess I need to read the book to Elder?

Listen and Learn

Today, I am in the midst of grading final essays, which does not always positively impact my humor. So, I thought I would share an old story from 2000, when even at four years old, Elder knew one of life’s simple truths . . .

Last Wednesday, Dad dropped Mom off at the office, so she was with me when I picked the boys up from the babysitter.  On the short drive home, Elder was explaining something to his Mama — I didn’t even know what it was at the time.  But whatever it was, he apparently didn’t believe he was receiving the attention the matter warranted because he told her, very firmly, “Listen, Mama.  If you don’t listen, then you’ll never learn.”

. . . And of course, Elder has always believed we should be listening to him to do our learning.

What is painful is when he is right.

Y Chromosomes

Yesterday, as I was working diligently in the kitchen, I requested Younger help brown the hamburger.

“Are you asking because you need help? Or because you want me to learn?” he asked suspiciously.

Rolling my eyes, I latched the can opener onto another can. “I would appreciate the help, and you should appreciate the learning.”

“We are listening to my comedians,” he told me, as he reluctantly straightened from his slouch on the sofa and onto his feet.

“Why do you and your father believe you need either incentives or rewards for participating in the cooking of your own dinner?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged then offered, “Y chromosome?”

“I don’t know why chromosomes, either,” I replied, dryly.

“See, Mom,” he responded, shuffling into the room. “We all have two chromosomes –”

“I understand about the Y and X chromosome, Younger,” I interrupted, now with an edge.  Then I pointed over my shoulder at the pan on the stove behind me. “Brown the hamburger.”

“Well, Mom, some of the kids at school don’t know about chromosomes, and they just learned about it. It would have been a long time ago for you.”

So, Younger was the only one of my three males who didn’t feel it necessary to explain everything to me.

And, apparently, I’m old.

It was a rough day.

 

 

Nekkid Horses

Here is an old story from 2001 when Elder would have been not quite five years old and Younger not quite two . . .

Younger loves Toy Story I and II and, therefore, he loves all the related toys — Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Rex the Dinosaur and Bull’s Eye, Woody’s Horse. One Saturday, the boys and I decided to visit Mama and Papa — and my sister and nephew who were also at the house. On my way out the door, I grabbed Younger’s toys but I deliberately left Bull’s Eye’s saddle at home, as I figured it could easily be lost among all of Mom’s toys.

Once we were at Mom’s, I scattered the toys on the table in front of Younger then proceeded to converse with my sister as she made cookies. After a moment, my nephew appeared at my elbow to inspect Younger’s toys. Pointing at Bull’s Eye, he told me, “I have one of those.”

“Oh, you do?”

“Yep.”  He nodded. “But mine’s not nekkid.”

So, later, having heard my nephew’s comment, Elder dug through the basket of toys beside our sofa until he found the saddle. Unaware that I watched, he firmly stuck the saddle on Bull’s Eye back, muttering, “Well, now he’s not nekkid.”

But, you know, if horses without saddles are nekkid, I pass a farm on my daily trip to work that has some sorely embarrassed animals.

One More Time

Today, I helped Elder carry boxes, baskets, and bags to his car. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pressed his cheek to the top of my head.

“I love you so much, Mom,” he told me.

“I love you so much, too,” I responded, patting his back.

Then I watched him climb into his car, surrounded by a significant portion of his material belongings. And I stood in the driveway until he and his car bounced onto the gravel road, heading towards another school year at Mizzou.

This parting thing — it doesn’t get any easier with practice.

Just sayin’.

 

Wake Me Up

Since  Elder started kindergarten, I have always worked my schedule so that I was with the boys before and after school, except for the two years I worked part-time at the local army installation. But, now, for the next few months, I am again working part-time at the local army installation.

And, Monday, I had four hours of training and would leave with my husband long before the boys were awake for the day.

So, Sunday night, I told the boys, “I won’t be here when you wake up in the morning.”

“Okay, Mom,” they responded, their eyes never leaving their Smash tournament taking place on the television screen.

I finished some laundry then wandered back into the living room, halting behind the sofa. “Okay, well, good night, I guess.” I paused, folding my arms tight against my chest. “I won’t be here when you wake up in the morning.”

“Yeah, okay, Mom.” Neither one glanced in my direction, buttons clicking beneath their busy fingers as their Nintendo characters engaged in an apparently fierce battle. “Good night.”

I sighed. “Night. Love you.”

“Love you, Mom.”

And I retreated to my bedroom. “I worked hard to be here every morning their whole lives,” I told my husband, grumpily. “And they can’t even act sad about tomorrow.”

My husband offered that tolerant smile he has when he thinks I am being less than reasonable. “They’re eighteen and twenty-one,” he reminded me, gently.

“But I was supposed to get something out of it, too,” I wailed.

I guess he didn’t think that was any more reasonable, judging by his patting of my head.

Men.

They understand nothing.

Nothing.

And I am surrounded by them.