What Have We Learned Today

I am in the middle of grading first and second drafts of final essays and am not finding my family amusing at all, so I thought I would share an old story from 2005 when Younger first started his educational career . . .

Last year, at our conference with Elder’s teacher, she announced, “I have learned so much.”  But with Younger we heard stories such as when his kindergarten teacher explained that the principal would take the Good Citizen to McDonald’s, Younger told her, “Now, when you said that about McDonald’s, you re-ee-eally got my attention.”

And when another kid was apparently poking him relentlessly with a pencil, Younger announced, “Now, I’ve asked him nicely to quit, but if he don’t quit pretty quick, it ain’t gonna be so nice.”

We pray that all of his teachers will have a sense of humor.

And a lot of patience.

What Does Tomorrow Matter

Today, I thought I would share an old story from 2006. Younger would have been seven years old . . .

Younger does not like chicken.  Not even a little.  And mashed potatoes are only a little higher on his list.  So, yesterday, at school, for lunch, he ate grapes.  Then he wanted Pop Tarts immediately upon his arrival at home.  Instead, I fixed him a plate of leftovers – meatloaf and corn.  And, later, when he was still hungry, he consumed a corn muffin.

I thought he had been appeased.  But, apparently, I was temporarily insane, from which I was cured at bedtime when Younger’s caterwauling echoed through the house.

“Younger.”  My husband stuck his head in the boy’s bedroom.  “What is wrong now?”

“I’m hungry,” he wailed.

“I’m sorry,” my husband responded, leaving the child to persevere in his attempt at pitiful moaning.

But after a few more minutes of his racket, I climbed the stairs.  “Younger, I want you to stop.  Now.  Or you won’t be able to play Nintendo tomorrow.”

“What does tomorrow matter,” he cried dramatically,  “when I’ll starve to death tonight?”

And it was at that point that even I started to doubt he would live until morning.

Mug Shot

On Tuesday, Elder skipped class to participate in his first presidential election then met me for a quick meal at his favorite sandwich shop.

Standing in the line at the counter, I tilted my head, eyeing him. “You need a haircut, Elder,” I told him, despite my best intentions. Usually, I try to leave minor decisions to the boys, so that my voice is heard on the major ones. But seriously. With his long, wild, frizzy curls and scruffy, full beard, he looked like he had just emerged from the woods after a six-month hibernation. I did manage to add the conciliatory, “At least a trim.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, easily. “But I probably won’t have time to come back home until Thanksgiving break.”

“You can find a place in Columbia,” I suggested.

He shook his head. “Nope,” he pronounced, a simple statement of loyalty to the one who has cut his hair for the last five years or more. “Besides, at least now people can recognize me from over a block away.”

Which, I guess, means he doesn’t intend to rob a bank or participate in any other nefarious activity where recognition is a disadvantage.

So, you know, that’s a relief.



Evil Kin

Younger has a convenient excuse to visit his grandparents several nights a week — internet.

“I need to use the internet, Mom,” he will tell me.

But it is often an excuse. Because the library has internet.

The library doesn’t have grandma and grandpa. And the library doesn’t spoil him rotten.

The library doesn’t  “feed him against his will.”

“I’ll just tell Grandpa I’d like pizza,” he told me one day as we sped along the highway.

“You leave your grandpa alone,” I warned him, shooting him a glance, shaking my head at his mischievous grin. “Younger . . .”

A few minutes after I arrived home from delivering him to his grandparents I received a text —

“I swear on my life, first thing he said when he came in was, ‘younger, you want to order a pizza.’ ”

Yeah, he’s fed against his will.

These grandparents are evil, evil folk.

Stop the Suffering

Younger does not enjoy mornings. Ever, really. But particularly on school days. Oh, most particularly on school days.

Every week morning, I announce, “Younger, time to go.”

And he will remain on the sofa, hidden beneath piles of bed covers, hoping I have forgotten the actual existence of a younger son.

“Younger,” I repeat.

“The blankets and I have formed a bond. I cannot break their trust by leaving them now.”

I shake my head at the muffled voice. “Time to go.”

When I have finally prodded him to the truck, he slumps in the seat, his eyes closed, ignoring the existence of sunshine, mothers, and schoolhouses.

So, the other day, allowing him his fifteen minutes of stubborn oblivion, I listened idly to the music spilling from the radio. Then one of the deejays made the announcement that soda sales had dropped to their lowest in thirty years.

“Mom.” My comatose son popped upright, animation lighting his eyes. “The soda companies are in trouble. I can save them.” He thrust his palms outward in a gesture of earnestness. “Sales are down. I can stop the suffering.”

Yeah, well . . .

Who’s going to stop mine?

Not Eating That

After I scrub my kitchen sink, I always throw my sponge into the microwave for thirty seconds to kill any germs.

Does that work?

Well, I read it on the internet, so . . .

Of course.


Well, sometimes, I don’t always respond to the microwave’s first notification that my sponge is finished cooking. Especially if I am in the middle of fixing dinner at the same time.

So, one night, Younger wandered through the kitchen, checking the contents of the pots and pans. Then the oven. Then the microwave.

He took one look at the green, rectangular pad on the glass plate and declared, “I’m not eating that.” And swung the microwave door closed with an emphatic thud of determination.

Yeah, he’s a real riot.

Close Enough

For the last few nights, my niece has stayed at our house.

Thankfully, she is now old enough to arrange her own hair. Having only boys and lacking any interest in spending time on my curls, beyond what is necessary to look somewhat civilized, I never quite knew what I was supposed to do with her long, straight, dark hair. I would shrug, she would shrug, and we would settle for “combed” as an acceptable style.

So I was relieved when she grabbed a hair dryer and styled her own hair.

But she still requires us to feed her.

So, on Tuesday  night, after picking her and Younger up from school, we visited the grocery story to gather ingredients for tacos. Unfortunately, I had forgotten I didn’t have any grape juice, which I tend to stock when I know I have her or my nephew for a meal. So, when my husband called on his way home from work and asked if he needed to grab anything, I asked him to stop at a convenience store for an individual-sized carton of grape juice.

He came home with grape soda.

Apparently, they didn’t have grape juice.

He thought he was close enough.

My niece did, too.

And her parents, well, we won’t ask them, now, will we?