Kids


Should I take it as a comment on LB’s personality that his role inthe school play is a mule?

It would be accurate.

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BB has become a pretty good reader.  He’s primarily interested in non-fiction, particularly science stuff. That’s cool.  His teacher, who I really respect, says that some kids love stories and some kids love the non-fiction.  That said, I’ve been a little disappointed that he really hasn’t been interested in reading classic stories, even if mr. jolt or I am doing the reading.  I do most of my story reading with LB, and my bedtime reading with BB consists of factual recitations of the planets or some such.

So when BB showed interest in the old cartoon collections mr. jolt and I had, I was happy – stories in another form!  That said, it’s clear that Bloom County is over his head because he doesn’t have the 80s political info that gives a lot of that series its bite.  But, Calvin and Hobbes was pretty appealing to him and while I think Calvin has a bad attitude about school (understandably given that most of the lessons that happen in the background appear to be seriously uninteresting), BB loves school enough that it doesn’t worry me.  And I try to point out to both BB, and now LB, who has also picked up the C&H habit, that some of Calvin’s actions are, um, a tad insensitive.  Which may make me humorless mommy, but so be it.  You take your teaching moments as you find them.

So perhaps I shouldn’t have found it surprising that BB found a C&H strip about Calvin singing/manipulating his parents into stopping at a burger joint, for the umpteenth time, on a long road trip.  The song? 99 bottles of beer on the wall.  Only Calvin starts with 10,000 bottles of beer.  No surprise the strip ends with a stop at a burger joint.  BB was avid to hear me sing the tune so he could learn the melody.  I obliged.  And so, tonight at betime, BB and I sang it together, starting at 30 bottles of beer. 

I fear I have given him the weapons for my own future capitulation.

Last Friday, mr. jolt got a frantic email from the ‘team mom’ for BB’s soccer team.  The subject?  The critical importance of everyone keeping their kids home from school today to avoid President Obama’s speech.  Attached to the bottom of the email was some link to Glenn Beck.

mr. jolt, being far more reasonable than I would have been under the circumstances, responded to her (not reply all, he is so much more tactful on this stuff than I) by pointing out that one shouldn’t rely on Glenn Beck and that the speech would be published on Monday (yesterday) and perhaps she should read it and decide whether or not her child should listen to it.

Her response?  “I don’t want my children listening to anything that man says.”

Hmm.  Yeah, I guess we won’t be inclined to get to know them better.  And frankly, keeping one’s kid home, missing a whole day of school, just to avoid a 15 minute speech (if that) is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.  Assuming the school is even planning to show it in the first place.    If the situation were reversed and my kid had to listen to Bush, I’d counteract with speech of my own & a discussion with my kid.  But that’s not the way of the nutters.

In recently reading a series of intensely personal posts on another blog (which I won’t link to b/c they are password protected) it occurred to me what courage and strength it takes to write, in detail, about an active personal problem: a problem one hasn’t yet found the solution for.  I’m not talking about the 3 sentence ‘can you believe what happened to me today’ post, but the in-depth, holy frijoles, this is what I’m going through and I don’t know how to get out of this spot type of piece.

Is it because we are conditioned by op-eds  and feature articles that not only complain, but provide solutions (at least the better ones do)?  Perhaps.  I think also we don’t want to admit when we feel like a failure, which is what the most complex problems, particularly those we have little control to fix, create in us.  And we don’t want to whine.  Well, maybe a little.  But we’re generally only going to whine in an amusingly snarky fashion that distances ourself from the problem and its causes. 

For instance, BB has a quasi-medical thing that has some pretty embarrassing side effects.  It’s fixable, but its taking a LONG LONG time to fix.  A week ago, there was a Positive Event that had BB, mr. jolt & I celebrating.   I was so hopeful that progress would move forward from there, but like many things that are medical/behavioral, it’s not that easy.  Yet that night, I imagined forward about the self-congratulatory blog post I would write, full of advice for parents dealing with the same issue and how we ‘overcame’ it.*  But I can’t write that post yet.   (not sure I ever will given privacy issues).  But I thought it was illuminating that something I’d never considered writing about (and until recently basically didn’t talk about) suddenly became a ‘writable’ subject once I thought success was within our grasp. 

I dunno.  Maybe its just me and my own inability to get out of my own way when trying to write.

*I now, of course, blame myself for ‘jinxing’ further progress for even thinking we were done.

I am appalled and still dumbstruck with embarrassment at my own son.

Earlier this evening, we had a very nice person over to meet the boys in anticipation of an occasional summertime babysitting gig.  She seemed very nice and very qualified.  After chatting for a few minutes, I took her downstairs to meet the boys, who were watching a show.  I introduce her and LB turns to look at her and then, to me, made a really really rude comment about her appearance, referring to her in the third person as if she wasn’t even there.   While she is standing, in our home, not two feet from him.

I felt her stiffen to the side of me as I gaped at my own child.  I was completely dumbfounded and did not handle it well, saying something  to the effect of ‘that’s rude and inappropriate and we do not comment on people’s appearances.”  I made some attempt to normalize the situation, but LB went into oppositional mode (he knew I was pissed) and BB, who I think was either horrified or picking up on the tension in the room also became uncommunicative, when he is normally a chatterbox.

Anyway, we went back upstairs and, to give the woman kudos she continued to talk politely with me as we discussed various aspects of the kids’ bedtime routines and possible times she could babysit.  She then left.  Less than a half hour later she sent me a text saying she would not feel comfortable sitting the kids.  I texted her back saying I understood and that I was really, really sorry.

I tried to talk to LB about it again later and he basically became intransigent on the subject.   I am pissed and disappointed and embarrassed.  LB has somehow completely missed the clue train on how other people ought to be respected and treated and that it is kindness that matters, not what someone looks like.  (and, to be frank, I think she looks great).  The fact that we also now have no leads for an occasional babysitter (our regular sitter moved two weeks ago) when we had the opportunity to have someone who seems very nice and very experienced with children is just the shit-cherry on the pile of crap that came out of my son’s mouth tonight.

What’s worse as I don’t even know how to get these horrible ideas out of my kid’s head.  He may be only 5, but that is no excuse for the level of rudeness and insensitivity he displayed this evening.

Despite my best efforts, BB is a tad acquisitive.  He’s always looking for ways  to accumulate more stuff and making lists of stuff he wants to get.  So, I wasn’t surprised when last night at bedtime he asked me to sit with him for a few minutes while he wrote up a wish list so that if he needed to know how something was spelled, he wouldn’t have to come and find me.

 

I was surprised to learn, however, that he was writing said wish list in the form of a letter to Santa.  For those of you not near a calendar I will confirm your sanity and state that, yes, it is March.  More than 9 months away from Christmas.  I firmly told BB that he was not permitted to mail the letter to Santa before November.  “Santa doesn’t read letters sent before November,” I explained.  BB was okay with this.

 

When I balked at sitting beside him for potential consult on a second letter to Santa, he asked me what I wanted.  Thinking about what I wanted at that particular instant I replied that I would like a day on a beach with a good book and someone to bring me drinks and that would require a good babysitter to keep an eye on BB and LB.

 

BB informed me that my request was too complicated for Santa because a beach couldn’t fit into the sleigh.  I retorted that Santa could simply send me plane tickets and reservations for an appropriate beach resort. 

 

BB continued, “Well, Santa can’t provide babysitters.”

jolt, “Why not?”

BB, “Besides daddy could stay with us, he probably wouldn’t want to go.”

jolt, “Oh, I think daddy would like a nice day on the beach.”

BB, “Nah,  that sounds like stuff for ladies.”

jolt, totally mystified, “What about beaches is only for ladies?”

BB, “You know, the man servant to bring you the drinks, if the servant is hot.”

 

I spluttered internally, Hot!?! Hot!?! How the heck does my kid know anything about hotness or people’s desire to gaze upon hotness and, holy cow what is going on in this kid’s head!

 

jolt, “Do you even know what hot means?”

BB, “Kinda cool, . . ., you know.”

 

And we dissolved into giggles.

 

There you have it folks.  Not only does BB now know what I want for Christmas, he thinks I’d prefer it without mr. jolt so that I may freely gaze upon male hotness without mr. jolt’s boredom/indifference to said hotness interfering with my day on the beach.  Oy. 

 

Mr. jolt’s mom died yesterday.  Fortunately, it was peaceful and he and one of her sisters was with her.  We didn’t get the boys there, in part because it’s a seven hour drive each way.  If we had any other family to be with in the area, we might have all gone up, but 14 + hours in the car combined with a 5-10 minute ICU visit & camping out a hotel didn’t seem like a great idea.

 

So far the boys seem to be taking it okay, although it was really difficult for me to tell them. I had some good books on hand, one a recommendation of a friend; the others I found in the bookstore when looking for the other one.  In the event you are faced with a similarly sad situation, I recommend “I Miss You” – a very factual explanation of what death is, what people tend to do after a loved one dies, etc.  I particularly liked it because it doesn’t refer to heaven or God specifically, but rather has a more generic approach, i.e., that people have many beliefs about what happen, many of which involve the special part of that person joining with the special parts of other people who have died. (I’m not paraphrasing well, but it’s nice).   Anyway, the other two books are “The Waterbugs & Dragonflies”, which is a nice parable that explains why nobody knows what happens after death, and Freddie the Leaf, which talks about the circle of life. 

 

I will probably not be blogging until next week. 

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