4 15 year old young men, video games, sugar, chips, mob mentality and nerf guns. Overnight.
What was I thinking?
Mr. Cynic quote of the week after dinner at the hibachi restaurant:
“I had fire thrown in my face! Did you have fire thrown in YOUR face?! No, you didn’t. I had fire thrown in my face!”
Happy Birthday, kiddo.
Mr. Cynic, my first born, arrived on April 28, 1995 at 12:41PM at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. His arrival was nearly as eventful as the rollercoaster pregnancy that saw my weight drop from 98 pounds to 78 pounds with biweekly IVs -up to 4-5 bags worth of fluids and nutrients- during the first 5 months; and then ballooned up to 147 pounds largely because of the 16 ounces of water I had to drink per hour for the last 2 months just to keep my Braxton-Hicks and then some contractions 7 mins apart rather than 2 minutes apart. Anytime it dropped down to 2 minutes apart necessitated another trip to the hospital for monitoring, and you got it, more fluids. We thought he was going to arrive too early, but he bungee jumped his way into the world with the umbilical cord figure-eighted around his neck and under one shoulder, 9 days late.
He is still rather all about numbers and facts.
Here are fifteen facts of my fifteen year old:
1. When he was 4 years old, he became the grocery store budgeting calculator. He added every item price we picked up into the budget allowed, until we shopped, essentially to the penny, with enough left over that he could have a candy from near the cash register.
2. He makes lollipops last longer than any lollipop maker ever intended, longer than humanly imaginably. He should be in the Guiness Book of World Records for longest lollipop last. The old owl in the Tootsie Pop commercials ain’t got nothin’ on him.
3. He is a very empathetic and compassionate person, but you would probably not realize this through his liberal use of deadpan expressions and sarcasm. As a toddler, he was the kid at the park, who, when someone else fell, ran over to pat them on the back, ask if they were okay and kiss their boo-boo. He has been known to give his last dollar to a homeless person on many occasions.
4. He is an absolutely beautiful, though slight and skinny young man. Yes, I know I am biased, but there is a load of objective evidence to support this foregone conclusion.
5. He sings in the shower. About two years ago, the soprano became a bass literally overnight, and I wondered, who is that man in the shower whose singing vibrates the house?
6. He is a genius LARPer. And has been since he was kissing boo-boos way back when. He can show up at any gathering of kids, now teens, and the next thing I see, the entire group is on some covert mission, embattled with giant aliens, or whatever else has popped into his head. Parents everywhere are amazed at his ability to involve even the most generally reluctant of personalities. This happens spontaneously.
7. He writes songs. The lyrics are heavy on broken hearts and bloody ends, but they are quite well-written. He also writes books, big on the lone wolf personality with some kind of science fiction powers, and again, big on blood and guts and clean-bladed decapitations. But they are well written, and I’m glad he’s working out that aspect of himself on paper, while remaining a somewhat gentle soul in life.
8. He took up playing bass in September, with the intent of starting a band he has been devising for a couple of years. His bass teacher says he is a very quick study.
9. He took flute in elementary and quit when his asthma got harder to deal with, especially for parades. Music appreciation is a big part of his life.
10. His 10th year was a medical doozy, including 3 major emergency hospital visits for getting asthma, Lyme’s Disease Bacterial Spinal Menengitis, and the discovery that he was largely blind in one eye due to a retinal tear that required immediate corrective surgery to prevent it worsening. “The Big E? What Big E?” (looking at an eye chart with the other eye covered)
11. He’s very funny in a very dry way.
12. He’s very smart, but still has plenty to learn. He’s a self-motivated, planning type of student.
13. He has a special way with Toots who absolutely adores him. Actually he has a pretty easy way with kids of all ages and though he can act like a know-it-all, at times, generally finds it very easy to get along with everyone. Mostly. Unless he disagrees on a matter of principle.
14. He has a strong moral fiber, and wants to right all the wrongs of world and domestic politics.
15. He is my son, the one who made me a mother, and when I first held him in my arms, though I knew nothing, and was going to learn it by him, everything, and I really do mean everything, suddenly made perfect sense.
And one more for luck:
16. He is his brother’s archnemesis, while conversely, his greatest defender. You better not mess with Captain Comic when Mr. Cynic is around.
I’m not complaining, but this state of mind is leaving me rather cotton-stuffed between the ears. So not much to say. I have things I’m thinking of and a big week ahead, so possibly I will post better in the coming days. Wednesday should have a big one.
I was so tired, I found myself blubbering this Sunday about how on Wednesday, “the child who made me a mother turns 15.” As I said it, and as I blubbered, in my head I was thinking, “where on Earth is this coming from?” and laughing at myself for it. And then I remembered, “Oh yea, I didn’t sleep at all last night! It’s sleep deprivation!”
I have a lot of experience in this department.
And it begins:
Capt. Comic: Mom? What’s POT?!
My MIL: It’s something you cook in.
Capt. Comic: No, not that kind! The OTHER kind!
Mr. Cynic (my 15yo in 5 days): Marijuana.
Me (humorously, I hope): That better be all you know!
Mr. Cynic (eye roll): It’s a smokable illegal substance that makes you high.
My MIL: Except it’s legal in California.
Mr. Cynic and me, in unison: Only for medical purposes.
Me to Capt. Comic: and don’t do it, because it’ll make you stupid. Stoners are stupid (lame imitation of a stoner including ‘whoa, duuuude’).
Shea: What’s a STONER?!
Toots, quietly at the other end of the table: sto-neh?!
Mr. Cynic: Someone who smokes pot.
Me: Like skaterboyz.
Capt. Comic: What’s a skaterboy?
Mr. Cynic: Remember when I had long hair? Like that, but with a skicap.
Capt. Comic: What’s a skicap?
Honey, motions with his hands as if he has ski poles at the dinner table: It’s what you wear when you ski to keep your head warm.
(And it continues while the light slowly crests over the horizon of his mind until, eureka! We seem to strike gold)
Capt. Comic: OOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooohhhhhhh…….
Sooo, I will kvetch no more – this week anyway – as after my last two days of considering every option and feeling like I had none left, suddenly:
a friend offered to barter my tutoring her 13 year old daughter for watching my 2 year old daughter on writers’ group days.
Honey’s cousin needs some of Honey’s professional expertise on a public speaking gig in Colorado in a couple of weeks. And he offered to let me tag along, too. I will go to his public speaking gig, but largely, I am going to blissfully sit in my hotel room, without any interruptions and edit the bejeez out of my manuscript on Honey’s laptop!!!
and Grandma offered to watch the kids for that weekend.
I hope I didn’t die, because this sure feels like heaven.
So yesterday’s post was a bit of a rant about how things just seem to not be going my way and I have to take a little more charge in order for me to show up on the family priority list. Today, is another thwarted day for creativity, but I shall try to make the best of it.
Since I won’t be able to write effectively, I am making a public list of want to dos for the day.
1. Remove the insane piles of clothes in my room by finishing the switch of summer clothes and actually putting last week’s laundry in the appropriate drawers. Grandma is home today, so I can leave Toots with her and disappear for my own sake and sanity in this endeavor.
2. I think 1 is about enough, but maybe I will sneak the current book I am reading up there with me for breaks in the above and
3. Maybe I’ll sneak in a little journaling, too. The binding on that thing is getting creakier than a haunted house door hinge. And maybe in doing that, for tomorrow, I’ll have freed up enough brain space to actually accomplish an edit or two.
I talk a good game about letting go of what I can’t control, making time for me and for creativity, but the fact of the matter is that for a while now, I haven’t been writing what I need to write: big edits on my manuscript.
I’m getting very frustrated with not having any independent time. Most days look like this for me:
6-9am get everyone up and off to school and work and exercise classes.
9-12ish: Toddler duty sans my live-in mother-in-law while she goes out for her own things most mornings. And that’s fine, because it is important to her to keep fit. While on toddler duty, I can usually focus enough to write a short blog post and garden, thank goodness for gardening. A couple of days a week, do load after load of laundry. Family of six, you know.
12-2ish: maybe Toots goes down for nap on the early side, but typically it’s later now, and she is wound up and I have been trying to feed her, myself and get her down for a nap while she alternately squeals and clings or runs around like a maniac, getting into everything, and my mother-in-law arrives back home and sits at her computer to play Farmville and the like. Sometimes we talk well, sometimes she has to get something off her chest after spending the morning out with her sister and friends, and that’s usually when I really start to feel frustrated because I have been here, unable to work on what I really want to focus on: the manuscript, and Toots is out of whack and won’t logically take her nap the way she should. Because her nap is all about me you know.
2pm: Eldest , Mr. Cynic arrives home from high school, checks in, walks dog, maybe unloads dishwasher then goes to hang out around the neighborhood. It’s a good neighborhood, he has good friends here. Maybe Toots is down for her nap or we’re still struggling to get her to take one, but I’ve largely given up by then and am just trying to tune her out, hoping she’ll do like one of the boys did when they were her age, and she’ll wear herself out, pass out on the floor with her butt up in the air. This is not how she works. I don’t know why I persist in putting hope into this fallacy. More Farmville from the neighboring computer. Or Grandma lies down with Toots on the guest bed, because Toots needs to hold someone’s belly while sucking two fingers on her other hand, in order to fall asleep, which she still heartily resists. Or maybe I give up, and take the lay down with Toots duty.
I’m exhausted by now, unfocussed, can’t think straight, and usually can find some housework to do, etc.
3:15pm: Captain Comic, my 11 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome comes home and starts buzzing around the house, has to be micromanaged to wash his hands and get a snack, check in about school day, and then he gets 30 minutes of videogames if it’s a good day. He is typically a constant stream of noise. All writing is completely out the window by now. And my evening is filled with lessons that start at 5:00 for boys, getting dinner together, which is an a la carte challenge with differing dietary needs and wants across the board from basic pickiness, to vegetarian, to soy and lactose intolerance, to ‘I’m so sick of pasta with red sauce’ to just griping to gripe about it.
So by evening, I am completely tapped out. And then micromanaging re: homework, shower, bedtime rituals, etc.
A while back I was invited to join a children’s authors writer’s group that meets on two Tuesdays a month during midday. We write and critique, Usually focussing on one or two people’s work per session. This was a godsend. I asked my mother-in-law if she would watch Toots on those days. It worked for a while, but now she has a particular class that meets during my critique time. And I’m SOL.
So as of this morning, while the discussion has occurred between Honey and me in the past, I have made the decision, that I don’t care what it costs, because it’s either going to be financial support or logistical family support, I need to write. I am getting on the horn with daycare centers and plunking my daughter into strangers hands a couple of days a week.
It’s that or I go completely and utterly, frustratingly insane. And my book will never get finished and sold.
So there. I will make the balance, because it obviously won’t happen any other way.
On any other day, you would never see this. Captain Comic and Toots usually keep their distance pretty well, and if they happen to wander into each other’s personal space in any capacity, screams ensue. It could be either one of them screaming.
But this morning, I heard something unusual coming from the least populated room in the house, and found them like this, cuddled up, Capt. Comic reading a picture book to Toots, and both of them enjoying it calmly, together. They both have been sick for about two weeks with a cold that seems to subside and rev back up again.
I’m going to enjoy this picture perfect moment a moment longer, because, as soon as they feel better, I’ll likely ne’er see it again.
Norman Rockwell does not live here. We do.