Be Batman

Tuesday was registration day for seniors, so Younger and I spent a half an hour at his high school as he dragged himself from table to table.

At the first stop, the ladies gave Younger his schedule and said, “They have you in ceramics, Younger.”

“Uhhhnhhh,” Younger drawled, reluctantly accepting the paperwork. “No.”

So, we had to make a quick stop at the counselor’s table.

Eventually, we made it to the last stop — his picture for the yearbook. I tried to straighten his tie and comb his hair, while he ducked and grumbled, mortified. Then, with me laughing at him, he walked over to stand in front of the screen for his last school picture.

Afterward, we took a trip to the grocery store. And Younger, who had been slumped in his seat, suddenly straightened at the sight of a bicyclist riding against traffic, some length of material flapping behind him.

“Is that Batman?” he questioned, peering closer. “Is it? Oh.” He deflated. “It’s a vest. I thought it was a cape. I was excited for a moment.”

I’m not sure if he was excited at the prospect of seeing Batman or at the prospect of seeing some nut who thought he was Batman.

But a skinny guy in a flapping, yellow vest riding a wobbly bike the wrong direction is apparently a severe disappointment in Younger’s entertainment realm.

He’s a hard one to please.

 

Balancing Act

Younger had to entertain himself last night at the restaurant. So he begged a penny off of me and confiscated both of our forks.

Balancing Forks 2

He then trapped the penny between the tines of the two forks, pointing in opposite directions, then balanced his creation on the lip of his soda mug.

Balancing Forks 1

He was impressed with himself.

I asked him, “Do you know how many hands have touched that penny? And now that penny is wedged into my fork?”

“Well,” he drawled, “after a while, the number of hands is immaterial.”

He’s not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

Well, he might be as clever as he thinks he is.

But he’s not as funny as he thinks he is.

I better not die laughing, anyway.

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.

Recommended Ages

Yesterday was Younger’s eighteenth birthday, so today I thought I would share this story from 2004. For the record, Younger can still out talk the best of them . . .

My youngest nephew loves balls, so I thought I might buy him one as a little extra present at Christmas.  And I found one that resembled an octopus with a thousand legs, and uncharacteristically, I did not check the recommended ages.  I just bought it on a whim.  But, apparently, the hundreds of tentacles that actually attracted me to the ball is a danger to children under three.

My nephew is one.

Younger, however, is six.

“Mom,” he said, pulling the ball from the depths of the paper bag from the toy store.  “Owen is not over the age of three.  He cannot have this ball.”  Then he cast me a glance from the corner of his eye.  “You need to find someone who is over the age of three.  Like me.  I’m six.  I am over the age of three.  I could have this ball.  Can I have the ball, Mom?”

I believe that the children under the age of three simply cannot  out talk the children over the age of three, which is why they are not allowed to have the ball with the thousand tentacles.

And that is what they mean by recommended ages.

Define Normal

From the age of two, Elder has had the habit of sitting on his heels, crouched in the position of a baseball catcher waiting for a pitch. When playing video games, he perched on the carpet, sitting crouched on his heels. When eating at the kitchen island, he balanced on the high chairs, sitting crouched on his heels. When reading a book, he settled on the floor, sitting crouched on his heels.

As he has grown older and, more importantly, taller, the habit faded.

I thought, anyway.

The other day, after work and before joining his friends, Elder disappeared into his bathroom to shave his beard. A few minutes later, needing to run the Roomba and not wanting the little robot to jump the divider between the open area around the stairs into the bathroom, I reached to shut the door he had left open.

Only to pause in mid-stretch when I found Elder perched precariously on the counter over the bowl of the sink, sitting crouched on his heels.

“What?” he queried, meeting my eyes in the mirror, pausing with the electric razor hovering over one cheek.

“Nothing,” I blinked, shutting the door slowly. “Nothing. Just clean your mess.”

“Sure, Mom,” he agreed, easily.

Recently, apparently, (I discovered after discussing my experience) Younger wandered into the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, startled to discover his older brother brushing his teeth, balanced on the sink counter, sitting crouched on his heels. And, also apparently, this imitation of a catcher is a more alarming sight when it greets a person suddenly and unexpectedly with the flick of a light at two o’clock in the morning.

And, again apparently, Younger has learned to control certain urges until dawn has broken the horizon.

“A gargoyle, Mom” Younger whispered. “I thought he was a gargoyle.”

I’m not sure what normal is, exactly.

But I’m pretty sure we aren’t the definition of it.

 

 

 

A Penny Saved

The other day, Younger and my husband joined me in the cleaning of the house. Because Younger wanted a video game and the only way I agreed to take him to buy a video game was in a trade — his effort for my driver’s license.

His dad, on the other hand, is just an easy mark.

But as I rushed down the stairs in one of my many trips between floors, I stumbled to an awkward halt on the bottom stop.

My husband, one hand automatically and rhythmically and blindly pushing a mop over the hardwood floor, glanced up from the video he was watching on the phone in his other hand. “What?” As I blinked at him, trying to find my words, he added, a bit defensively, “I’m mopping.”

“Yes, you are,” I agreed, nodding my head. “You are mopping. Yes, you are.”

And I turned into the hallway without finding any additional words. Because help is, well, help, even if it is cheap help.

And I guess I can’t say he wasn’t worth the money.

Well, I could say it.

But I  won’t.

Time and Again

Well, Younger is officially a senior.

When my children were younger, other parents warned, “Enjoy them now. They’ll be grown before you know.”

Then when I agreed to enjoy the boys while they were young, other parents would give me that smile — a smile that was not quite condescending, perhaps a little nostalgic, maybe even regretful, always knowing. And I know when the boys were little, some days seemed longer than forever and bedtime was really the only goal of the day.

But anyone finding a five-year-old where a toddler used to stand a blink ago cannot remain blissfully ignorant of the passage of time.

So, I always knew my boys would only be little for a very short time. I would close my eyes and try to imprint into my heart the feel of their arms around my neck, the softness of their breath in my ear, the absolute trust in the relaxing of their bodies against mine.

I wrote their stories so I wouldn’t forget those everyday little moments that get lost in the past.

A long time ago, not so long ago, Younger and I used to snuggle on the sofa and watch Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. When we lived in an apartment, I took him with me to the laundromat, and we did puzzles while our clothes spun in a washing machine.  Every week, we would do our grocery shopping, and we settled at Applebee’s for lunch where he got macaroni and cheese and a balloon.

Every year before school started, I would take him back to Applebee’s for his “last supper” and spoil him with dessert.

We have one more last supper, I guess.

I always understood that time was slipping by me too quickly. I just never figured out any possible maneuver that slowed it down — wishing, arguing, throwing tantrums, begging. Time can ignore all attempts at manipulation.

Even greedy fingers can’t grasp the sand in an hourglass.

So, Younger is a senior.

And, somehow, still my baby.