Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Age is More Than Just a Number

Kiddo is enthused to be a nine-year-old now. He likes to announce his advanced age with great ceremony. “I am NOT eight years old. I am nine years old.” Spoken with pride. 

Because I am always looking for an advantage when it comes to prodding him along to mastering life skills, I have turned this into my latest tool. Yes, I am the ninja mom of spying out the advantages I can take in my battles with my child. No, I feel absolutely no shame in this. 

One of our many skirmishes involves Kiddo’s bath. He likes me to wash him. I think he finds great comfort in having me scrub his spindly little body while he luxuriates as Lord and Master of All He Surveys. I’m sure it’s relaxing. Yet it is something that he needs to take responsibility for. 

So I wash his back and hair for him, since these particular areas are still problematic. Then I hand him the soap-lathered washcloth. “Time to wash your feet,” I instruct, because he needs the initial prompt to get going. Once he washes his feet, he’ll move up his body on his own. 

It’s the start that is hard to master. He’s enjoyed having his back scrubbed and his scalp massaged. He’s at his ease. “You wash the feet,” he tells me. 

Until last month when he turned the grand old age of nine, a back-and-forth of several minutes would ensue at this point.  

“No, you can wash your own feet.” 

“You wash it, Mommy.” 

“Wash them. You have plural feet, so you wash them, not it. Now wash your feet.” 

“You wash them, Mommy.” 

And so it went until he bowed to my tyranny. What a cruel despot of the household I am. 

Then he became a nine-year-old, and the proud pronouncements of such gave me a new weapon to wield.  

“Wash your feet.” 

“You wash the feet.” 

“I can’t. I can only wash your feet if you are eight years old.” 

“I am NOT eight years old. I am nine years old.” 

“Then you’re a big boy. If you’re nine years old, you have to wash your feet. Are you nine?” 

“Yes. I am nine years old.” 

“Then wash your feet, big boy.” 

After a moment’s consideration, the proud young man gets to scrubbing. After all, he’s not an eight-year-old baby now. He is a nine-year-old boy. It’s time to man up and wash up. 

Age does matter. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brushes With Fortune and Freaking Out

I don’t do stress well. Even occasions of good fortune send my nerves into overdrive. On the other hand, I mundane very well. I was made for ordinary. Give me disaster or triumph, and I’m in over my head. 

Case in point: I am in talks with a television producer about a pilot script I wrote for a new science fiction series. For most people, this would be cause for celebration. Even if nothing comes of these negotiations (which the odds say are most likely), it is still reason to be proud and shouting from the rooftops. 

Instead I am totally freaking out ... and not in a good way.


Exactly. But in letters a mile high.

I can’t sleep. My stomach rages. My mind constantly worries over every little nuance that the producer utters. Will he offer me an option? Will the project see the light of day? Did my natural social awkwardness doom everything right from the start to sink like the Titanic? What if things go well? What if the unlikely happens and a television show is greenlighted? Will I have to move my family away from family and friends and the support system we’ve come to rely on? Can I handle rejection? Can I handle success? 

On and on my brain churns. I exercise like I’m training for the heavyweight championship of the world to distract myself. I meditate to clear my mind. I keep plugging on with everyday life, reminding my anxiety-prone personality that if things do fall through, then nothing is lost. Life will continue on in its comfortable, well-known order. My life is already good. I don’t need this type of success to be fulfilled. It would just be icing on an already scrumptious cake. 

But then I start thinking again. Thinking begets worry and worry begets obsessing. I’m much too good at obsessing. I should wear the Queen of Obsession crown. That’s how amazing I am at it.


The right-hand side is also what my brainwaves
look like at this point...a big tangled mess.

If you happen to cross paths with me, please forgive the wide-staring eyes; the mumbled, half-coherent responses; the nervous shaking. Be gentle with me. The opportunity of a lifetime is crashing on top of me. I’m not dealing well with it. Remind me to breathe and remind me that no matter how this turns out I will be fine. I know all that already ... I just need the rest of you to keep repeating it to me. Maybe at some point, that squirrely part of my brain will believe you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Late Night With Kiddo

My son has a new thing: late night TV watching. No, not the Tonight Show or anything like that. Whatever his father and I are viewing after sending Kiddo to bed holds new fascination for him.

This all started a few nights ago when Hubs and I settled in to watch some Netflix. The second Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. was playing for our enjoyment. At one point, I needed to get up and put my recliner down. From beyond the den’s door came the distinctive THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of not so tiny feet racing for the back of the house. Hubs and I exchanged a look. 

“Was he watching the movie?” P-man asked. 

“Must have been,” I replied. Well, Kiddo was back in bed now and it wasn’t a school night, so there was no point in doing anything about it.  

As the movie progressed, it went from an action sequence to a more sedate dialogue-heavy scene. After a few seconds of that, we again heard the heavy pounding of child racing away (the kid never walks anywhere in the house ... unless it’s to sneak up and watch TV behind our backs, apparently). Another exchange of looks. 

“He’s getting up to watch the movie,” I said. 

“It does have some pretty good action,” Hubs pointed out.  

“He’s not into the ‘feels’ portion,” I observed. “He’s definitely an action-adventure kind of guy.” 

This happened three more times during the movie. It was funny to us because my son usually protests if the television is played during his awake time. We chuckled and chalked it up to curiosity every time he ran away.  

The thing is, this after-hours viewing continues. Kiddo sneaks through the house to watch our shows despite not liking the TV to be on before his bedtime. When our program reaches a point that he doesn’t care for or one of us makes a sound that he believes means he’s about to get caught, he stampedes back to his room. 

“Stay in bed and go to sleep!” has become my new parenting mantra. It is often ignored. So now as we catch up on our new fave ‘The Walking Dead’ via our pal Netflix or watch a concert or movie, Kiddo is watching with us. Sort of. And I wonder if he realizes zombies aren’t a real threat. Or that you can’t really stop a bullet with your teeth. Or a hundred other things we accept as plausible when we suspend disbelief to enjoy our entertainment. 

I can’t imagine why movies and TV are so fascinating to him once we’ve said our good nights. Maybe it’s a forbidden fruit deal. Maybe he enjoys it more when it’s clandestine. Maybe he’s training to infiltrate the average American home during prime time without average Americans knowing he’s there. 

I also wonder how he knows to sneak up to watch but hasn’t figured out his retreats need to be equally silent in order to keep us clueless. He’s not ninja-ready ... yet. I have no doubt he’ll get there, and sooner rather than later.