Did you ever hear of six-word memoirs? A few years ago, NPR did a story about the online magazine, Smith, that challenged people to write their life story in six words. I was intrigued by the idea and after a lot of consideration, I decided that mine would be, the glass is half full. I know it’s only five words, but it worked.
Anyway, I don’t know why, but this conversation came up at dinner, the other night, and I challenged the kids to come up with a phrase of their own, with little success. As with all our mind blowing family conversations, it wasn’t long before their answers turned into fart and poop jokes.
Well, I’m still thinking about that conversation and I’ve decided on a mini-memoir for Second Son, SO NOT EASY. Again, not six words, but the shoe fits.
My boy has been keeping me on my toes since he first made his arrival in this beautiful world, five weeks early and decided to land himself in the NICU. Look at me, Mom! He’s been going strong ever since.
I love this boy. With all my heart. And I love him for all his misunderstood, silent brooding, loud ranting, any attention is better than no attention, ways. I’m sure that his strong will is going to do him well some day (or, land him in prison, it could go either way), but it’s not doing my frown lines any good in the meantime.
The trick with Second Son is figuring out what is going on underneath his masterful poker face, because nothing is ever what it seems with him, and though sometimes, I can get to the bottom of the anxiety that is projected in utter mayhem, other times, I am utterly confounded.
Take Friday, for example. You remember the morning rec camp I signed him up for, the one he begged me to do, the one that I tried multiple times to get him enrolled in, the one where I said, “Are you sure?” fifty times, before hitting the submit payment button? Well, come Friday, he said he wasn’t going.
Did I tell you that he can also insight rage? I’m telling you, this kid has got a purpose, like special ops or a job in the US government, disciplined and focused, can live on crackers and water, and little sleep. He’s someone who could manipulate and break the most hardened criminal or loyal jihadist. (Of course, he better find another purpose, because if he goes into the Army I will kill him. I can’t take a lifetime of worry.)
Anyhow, this digging in of the heels started because I would not let him bring his iPod to camp, something, another mother had told us, that some of the kids do. As it turns out, this wasn’t true, but neither of us knew this at the time, I simply did not want my kid bringing an iPod to camp.
We battled, as in I, after a five minute effort at friendly, rational persuasion, resorted to threats, which ended with me physically walking (ok, maybe dragging) him to the car. It didn’t get better in the parking lot, where he held tight to the seat, and simply refused to get out.
It got worse, when he pulled his trump card and started crying, saying, “Mommy, I don’t want to go!”
Second Son is not a crier, anger and obstinance are his weapons of choice, not tears. He was pulling out the big guns.
Normally, that would be it. Cry and say mommy, don’t go, and you’ve won, and most likely moved me to tears, too, but Second Son is tricky (and I already paid for camp), so as he changed his tactics, I changed mine.
I calmed down and walked him inside, begrudgingly. I sat with him while he warmed up to his surroundings. He would not even look at me. I strategically left him to go get him some chapstick from the car. He always has chapped lips.
When I returned, he had stoically joined in some games. I forced a hug on him and left.
The rest of the morning I wondered, did I make the right the decision? Why did I have to lose my temper? This was camp, after all. As I usually do when it comes to matters with Second Son, I decided I was the worst mother. If I only I gave him more attention, played more games, spent more time with him, kept my cool, not left him to nap on my bed as a baby, where he rolled off and banged his head, prevented preterm labor, held him more….you get the point. I brooded the rest of the morning.
It turns out, he, did not.
We picked him up early, because he had swim team. When I walked in, not only was he sitting with his good buddy, but he didn’t want to leave!!!!
“Just one more game, mom?” he begged.
That night, he packed up his book bag with Legos and Pokemon cards, and started telling me what else he was going to bring to camp, tomorrow. I told him he didn’t have camp until Monday.
He was positively indignant! He had to wait until Monday?
So, today, he was ready, a half hour early, back pack on his back, shoes on his feet. At his request, he’s skipping swim, today, so he can stay until one, when camp is over.
The kid is going to break me.