Dad is out of town, traveling for work. L and I swing by a local pizza joint for a to-go pie. We look up and there he is…
The Great and Powerful Oz. No, not the guy behind the curtain. The one who has a television show which, up until yesterday, I’d never seen.
The subtitles are flying by, (phonetically spelled, always a plus for a kid), and suddenly we realize this Great and Powerful Oz is talking about the dangers of eating (too much) red meat, the alarming rate of salmonella in poultry, not over-indulging in calcium…
Animated visuals are showing platelets zipping through the bloodstream like pinballs, an ominous buildup of plaque. Ultimately, we see a heart cease to beat (in cartoon, natch).
L: “Ack! I don’t think I’m going to eat red meat anymore. I barely do anyway.”
L: “Is hamburger considered red meat?”
L: “What did it say about turkey?”
L: “So milk is bad? Should I stop taking my vitamins?”
I do what any good, responsible parent would: I pull out my iPhone and command him to play.
L has been thrown off the scent.
All I can think is “The Exorcist” might have been less traumatic.
We have a mandate in our house: Always tell the truth. You will not be punished for telling the truth. There may be consequences, but telling the truth is paramount.
Okay, got that outta the way.
How about bending the truth?
I’m not proud about this, but these things that may occur in the near future:
–L’s Nerf gun may “go missing.” (A pox on them… Yeah, I’m a chick, I don’t get it.)
–L’s Hoodie, (which I wisely purchased in white and is now stained, soiled, disgusting no matter how many times I wash it) may get “lost” on laundry day.
–L’s newest pet, Tofu the Tadpole, may end up going through his metamorphosis “outside.” In a bucket. (He seems so cute now. In a few weeks he’ll be a giant, loud, jumping all over the place bullfrog. Not gonna happen.)
–The ‘Captain Underpants’ Opus may be “donated.” (They’re past tense at this point. Why not share the love?)
Walk the talk takes a pause.
Dad is transitioning to a new job. That and a hard drive failure (#@$##@!!), equals plenty of change (and silence).
L to Dad: “Why are you leaving your company?”
D: Because someone else thinks I’ll be great.
[SIDEBAR: This work move does not entail a physical move for L. It means Dad will work closer to home. Better commute. Better benefits. Exponentially better life.]
L: But what about your old company? What will they do?
D: They’ll be fine.
L: Dad, sometimes work isn’t about the money or fame or power. It’s about love and family and friends. Please don’t turn your back on them.
L: Dad, do you understand the implications of what you’re doing?
D: Yes, I do. And sometimes when your teacher or your friend or your boss doesn’t think you’re doing a great job, you need to find another situation.
L: I hope you’re making a good decision.
D: I think I’m making a great decision. And I’ll keep everything you said in mind.
Just as L began talking about his many conquests (the holding hands, pulling hair variety), this morning he asked where all of his stuffies had gone.
L: “Do we still have Stingy and Sharky and Woofy?”
M: “I think we do.”
Pan to the bed where Sammy the ice-cream sandwich, Bully the bulldog, Ali the albino alligator, and the above are now resting.
There is a reason we don’t throw everything away. The purple blanket he’s slept with from his first breath is still accessible in a heartbeat. Especially because I have it in triplicate.
Can never be too prepared for age eight or eighteen.
I arranged for L to take a swimming evaluation and start private lessons. My error? I did all of this a couple of days ago and somehow forgot to tell him.
M: “L, we’re going to go swimming today! Woo hoo!”
L: “What do you mean?”
M: “We’re (I’m using the royal WE) going to a great, heated pool and are going to see where you are and then start lessons.”
L: “WHAT?! I’ve been taking lessons at school for three years.”
M: “Yes, and they just concluded, so now you get to have cool, individual lessons.”
L: “Why didn’t you tell me? What if I drown? What if I’m not good enough? Mom, this is the kind of thing I need to prepare for. I need to have enough time to mentally get myself ready. You can’t just spring this on me. This is becoming a problem. You sign me up for things but you don’t ask me and you don’t give me enough notice. This doesn’t work for me. Who knows if these people can really swim? If I’ll be supervised? Do you want me at the bottom of the pool?”
M: “Got it. Discuss then act.”
Yesterday as I was chopping some veggies for dinner, I nicked my finger and let out an F-bomb.
L: “Mom, I think it would be more appropriate for you to stop using that sort of language. If you’re telling me not to use it, I think you should stop using it. You’re sending a confusing message.”
L: “Do you think you can stop using that sort of language? Because you’re sort of telling me it’s okay. And I know it’s not.”
M: (DREAM SEQUENCE: You betcha, I will not say s–t, f–k, a–h–e, d-bag, d–k wad, h–l to the no. I will abstain from such language.)
M: “Got it. No more potty mouth.”
L: “Great. What’s for dinner?”
While sitting in the general waiting area at L’s doctor’s appointment yesterday, I was handed a pile of paperwork. The usual stuff… Brushes teeth, eats a billion servings of vegetables every single day, doesn’t spend 12 hours in front of a video game… We happened upon a printout on puberty.
Apparently, girls can start puberty at age 8 these days. Who knew?
L was reading over my shoulder and said, “what starts to happen at age 8? What does that mean?”
(He’s terrified. I can hear it in his voice.)
M: “Well, that age applies only to girls. Seems some girls’ bodies can start to change when they’re eight years old.”
L: “Like what? What kind of changes? Like they get wrinkles?”
L: “Okay, so what happens to boys when they turn 10?”
M: “How would I know? I’m not a boy. You’ll have to ask your dad.”
A good punt if ever there was one.