My Funny Valentine

Valentine’s Day is something of a deal in my family. Not a big deal. But a deal. 3 boys need to learn to be romantic somehow. So they get candy and Star Wars toy or some sort of craft. We discuss remembering our loved ones and showing them that we love them on any day of the year. But you never know if they’re actually getting it.

Tornado S: Mama, I need money for school.

Me: For what?

Tornado S: To buy a flower.

Tornado E: For who?

Tornado S: I want to bring it home.

Tornado E: You can’t. They’re for sending to kids at the school.

Tornado S: But I want one!

So Sunday I took Tornado S to the florist and showed him around.

Me: What flower do you want?

Tornado S: Carnations! Because they last longer.

Thanks, mom.

I looked around and didn’t see any large single ones, so I flagged down an employee.

Employee: What color?

I looked down at Tornado S.

Me: What color?

Tornado S: (with an excited little jump) Red!

Employee: (To Tornado S) How many?

Tornado S looked at me.

Me: How many?

Tornado S: (with another excited jump) Three!

The employee left and brought us 3 red carnations, telling us to go to the front to get them wrapped.

Cashier: Would you like these wrapped with baby’s breath?

Me: Do you?

Tornado S: What’s baby’s breath?

Cashier: Hold on. (She went and brought out a clump of baby’s breath and handed it to Tornado S.) This is baby’s breath.

Tornado S: (Handing it back to the cashier) Ok. Yes, please.

Cashier: And you can get a card to fill out.

Tornado S followed where she pointed. He picked a card and showed it to me. Then he carefully wrote out a message as I paid.

Then he handed me the card: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mama!”

When I got home today, Tornado A greeted me at the door.

Tornado A: You’re home, Mama! Do you want your present now?

Me: Sure?

Tornado A: OK! (runs out of the room) Brothers! Brothers! Mama’s home! We need to give her our present! Hurry! (Tornado A runs by with Tornado S following) Tornado E! Come on! (Tornado E follows)

The boys ran into my parent’s room, demanding the present. Then they ran out to find me. Tornado A swung a plastic bad. He reached in it.

Tornado A: Here, Mama. It’s from all of us.

He handed me a heart-shaped candy box.

Tornado S: And it’s metal, so we can use it again.

Me: Thank you, boys. I guess I should go get your presents out of the room.

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A Religious Debate

It was a full out rebellion when I came home. To be fair, they were ready to revolt, patiently waiting for me to come home. Like a trap to be sprung on an unsuspecting victim.

To be fair. I was running late. And they had just spent 5 days at their dad’s, which usually means late nights and early mornings.

Tornado S: I don’t want to go to religious class.

He spoke as I set down my things.

Me: Give me a good reason.

Tornado S: You only make me go because Tornado A has to go.

Me: That’s not a reason. If you must talk to me, say it louder because I need to use the bathroom.

Tornado S: I don’t want to go!

Me: (from behind a closed door.) Still not a reason!

Tornado S: Fine! Why do you want me to go?

Me: (Finished with my business, hands washed, and walking back into the common area on my way to my pretzel) That’s not a reason.

Tornado S: Well, I want one.

Me: Fine. You need to be educated in the religion you are being raised in.

Tornado S: (silently fuming)

Tornado A: I don’t want to go to religious class.

Me: Follow me while I get something out of my room. What’s your reason?

Tornado A: I know everything.

Says the 2nd grader who has only been in religious class for this year.

Me: …..

Tornado A: Ask me something.

Me: Prove it.

Tornado A: I know what those winter candles are called.

Me: What are they called?

Tornado A: One is called Love. I can’t remember the others.

Me: So you don’t know everything. Keep following me; I have to get something in the kitchen.

Tornado A: Ask me anything about Jesus. (pause) Or Moses!

This would be too easy.

I turned. I stopped. I leaned down so I’m face to face. He meets my eye.

Me: Tell me about Isaiah.

Tornado A: (opens his mouth. shuts his mouth. thinks.) I can tell you about a saint! (My eyebrows went up.) I can tell you about Saint Pius. (Now he has my attention)

Me: Oh?

Tornado A: He knew Saint Patrick.

Nope.

Me: You’re going to religious class. It’s time to get going. Everyone in the car!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Devil

Me: Tornado A, what do you want to be for Halloween?

Tornado A: Satan!

Me: Ok.

My mother: You’re letting him be Satan for Halloween?

Me: Sure, why not?

My mother: Because. It’s not right. How about you go as a devil, Tornado A?

Tornado A: Satan is The Devil.

My mother eyed me. I shrugged. I envisioned a red suit with red shirt and tie.

***

The Fem Spot: Maybe you could call him something other than Satan? Doesn’t Paradise Lost have other names for him? Like Lucifer?

I had just finished telling her the costume plans. I decided to ask Tornado A what he wanted to wear, just in case he preferred red sweats and a red turtleneck (none to be found). He asked for a black suit and red shirt and tie. AND HORNS, MAMA!

Me: Well, I am Catholic and an English teacher. I should be able to come up with something….. The Morning Star, The Light Bringer, The Deceiver, The Fallen One. He Who Must Not Be Named. Wait. Wrong book.

The Fem Spot: You’ll think of something.

***

So it was my youngest son went as the Lord of Hell with a black suit, red shirt, red tie, a pitchfork, and HORNS. And the best joke I heard was at a Halloween event at the zoo.

Comicon Guy: Why isn’t it The Man, himself? Hello, sir. Good evening. But I believe you’re early, and that is a breach of contract.

 

 

The Bag

Oh no.

I whispered as my eyes fell upon the bag Tornado A was using for a backpack.

It was a cheap employee laptop bag, a desperation move, a life saver thrown out by my dad when I was told last Wednesday that Tornado A needed a new backpack. That the teacher had told my mom. My mom had told the ex several days before. That Wednesday I counted the stores I needed to go to while the boys were in kung fu and the grading I should do instead. The Rice Krispie Treats that needed to be made at the same time as tomorrow’s lunches. The horrible exhaustion I felt. I thought about tomorrow with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings and the training I was suppose to go to instead and the popcorn money needed to be collected and the lunches to be made.

I don’t know when to get it… Not until the weekend…

I whispered in a near panic, thinking about the to-do list so long that it took up the entire page of a loose leaf sheet of paper, the one that started out as a column, then two, then like vines spread across the paper, choking the white with black ink. The to-do list that rarely shrank but kept growing without an end in sight. Everything needed to be done THIS VERY MINUTE. A to-do list that frightened me more than any other to-do list I ever had. I was failing.

So the next morning my dad produced this work bag, and Tornado A looked at it with disdain. So I fixed the straps to make it his length and ran out of the room. I grabbed my heavy, nearly-full messenger bag. I put it on.

See? We have the same type of bag! We both take it to school!

Tornado A laughed and put it on.

Or like Sheldon!

Just like Mama!

But that was last Thursday, and now it was Monday. I was running late, feeling sick to my stomach because of bad food or not enough vegetables or that To-Do List. I wasn’t dressed or showered though the clock read 7, and I needed to be gone in 15 minutes. I didn’t prep the night before because I was sick and exhausted, waiting only for my hair to dry enough to put it in curlers. And I had forgotten to get a backpack all weekend.

We did a movie night instead. Ant-Man because the boys have to watch the Marvel Universe unfold in order, and I did laundry and graded while the boys slept. And Comicon took most of Saturday. But then we watched Simpsons after we came home while I graded. Yesterday the karate tournament in Phoenix with the long drive and-

It didn’t matter. I forgot. I should’ve put the exhaustion aside and gone to the store. My dad mentioned getting one during work Friday. But it doesn’t matter. I’m the mom. It’s my responsibility. And I. I failed.

I forgot to get Tornado A a new backpack.

I said loudly to the house.

My dad walked by the foyer. “That’s ok, Fae. Tornado A doesn’t want one. He wants that one. Just like his Mama’s.”

Aspirations

We were discussing my cousin’s son’s martial arts pictures. He wore a gi that my boys’ sensei would be annoyed with. But Sensei has the right to his opinions and judgements. He’s the top kung fu martial artist in our fair city. And he’s a great teacher. So what if he perfers the gis to be traditional.

My mom: So he doesn’t do what your boys do?

Me: No. My boys do karate and kung fu. I don’t know what our little cousin does. It doesn’t look like either.

My mom: How many martial arts are there?

Me: A dozen? Two dozen? Let me google it. (Pause. Search. Shock) Wikipedia lists 150 different types. Wow!

Tornado A: Looks like I’ll be getting 150 black belts.

Willing Teacher’s Assistant

Tornado A: Mama, can I go to school with you?

Several years ago, when I worked at a charter school, Fridays were only an optional day for students, who could only come during the morning. Friday afternoons were for faculty meetings. And one Friday, I didn’t have anyone to watch Tornado A.

I got permission from my principal. And I brought Tornado A to my school. I brought movies, books, coloring books, toys, snacks, the works.

As luck would have it, I didn’t have any students who needed my help, so I was able to hide in the computer room, grading; while, Tornado A watched movies. He charmed the students. He charmed the teachers. He loved that day. And has been looking for a way to return.

I work at a normal public high school, and Tornado A is a second grader with classes every day. Yet he still asks.

Tornado A: Mama, may I go to school with you?

Me: I’m sorry, baby. You have to go to school. And you would be so bored in my classroom.

Tornado A: I wouldn’t be bored.

Me: I teach the exact same thing 5 times.

Tornado A: I could help!

Me: I’m sure you could. You could teach them how to read a clock.

Tornado A: They don’t know how to do that yet!

Me: Sadly, no. Many of them missed that class.

Tornado A: Mama, may I go to school with you? I can teach them to read a clock.

What have I done?

Silly Rules for Spelling Sentences

At their school, the second graders have to put their 20 spelling words in sentences, due at the end of the week. Tornado E and Tornado S’s teachers did not care how many spelling words were jammed into a sentence. Tornado S could get up to five words. It was impressive. Tornado A has no such luck. He can only put up to two spelling words in a sentence.

So he did.

He got full credit for his ten sentences and a little note from the teacher. “Don’t start with I so often, please.” All but one or two sentences started with I.

Part of me thinks this is a stupid rule. He’s in second grade. But I realize this will make him a better writer.

Tornado A has acquiesced to the demand. But since my genes naturally run deep, he has started all his sentences this week, so far, with “We.” If he does this for every sentence, I’m going to give the kid five bucks.