More Things I Didn’t Think I Needed to Say

I walked into the bedroom after bedtime. To find. Tornado S still getting dressed and Tornado A lying face down with his naked butt in the air.

Because it’s totally normal for a seven-year-old to go to bed naked and stick his butt in the air.

Me: Get dressed.

Tornado A: Why?

Me: Because no one goes to bed naked around here.

Tornado A: Why?

Me: Because you’re not old enough (to remember to put on clothes if we have to do an emergency exit).

Tornado A: Fine.

Then he got underwear on.

Is this going to be another Penis Rule? We go to bed with clothes on.

Shopping

I promised the boys $25 for souvenir money for the Renaissance Fair. Tornado A handed me a $5 bill on Thursday to add to his total for Sunday.

While we browsed, I refused to buy anything before we left because I didn’t want to carry it, I didn’t want it lost, I didn’t want to deal with buyer’s remorse, I didn’t want to deal with regret, and I didn’t want to deal with more whining, pleading, and begging for more money. This is nearly the rule for all places with gift shops.

First we stopped at a pirate store where Tornado A inquired after one piece of finger armor. $10.

Then we were at a wooden store shop, where he inquired over several swords. $25, $30, $5, $10, $15.

Then we found a soap store, where he inquired about a bar of “Bite Me” soap. $5

Tornado A: If I get the armor and the bar of soap, I can get the $15 sword, Mama! Please, Mama! May I buy the soap now?

Me: Not yet.

Then he wandered through a store that sword staffs. The cheapest he could find was $45.

Then he wandered through a store that sold stones. Fishing for stones would cost him $7. And he did not see a carved stone he liked.

More staffs that were too expensive for him, but he mused over the wands at $12, $20, and $28.

He found plastic helmets at $50.

Tornado A browsed a candle shop, but I knew just by looking at the intricately carved candles, they were too expensive. But the candle maker humored Tornado A and explained the process and such.

Then we found the boys’ favorite wooden armory, where we have purchased nearly every year.

After much browsing and questioning of the staff, Tornado A settled on a small sword and a small shield. Each shield had to be scrutinized. No unicorns. Perhaps a wolf. Ah, but we are dragonlings. There were five of those. Not the baby dragon; not fierce enough. Maybe, no, not the head of a dragon. Not twin dragons. Not the somewhat, sort of Welsh dragon. But wyrm with wings!

He chose unpainted to paint it himself, and the artist explained what to use for paints and what she likes and thanked the boys once again for their business.

Then we went back to the wand store where Tornado E and Tornado S debated over wands for 30 minutes.

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.

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.

So It Begins…. Again

It’s been a hectic two weeks. And I know it’s just the start.

First, school is in full swing. I’ve been to four open houses. One for each boy and my own.

At my own, I repeated myself five times with the same speech, same jokes with the same silence. I really need a sound machine with the sound of chirping crickets. I talk about the course, my expectations, my joy of teaching their kids. I assure every parent that yes, your kid is doing fine. (Really, it was this last week that they were given the ball to drop; sometime this weekend I’ll learn how many decided to turn in their first homework assignment.)

The first open house was Tornado A’s where I learned he’s so bright and sweet, so smart, so with it. I’d wish you luck, but you already have him. Good luck, any ways. You’re going to need it. Behind that sweet smile lies the mind of a mad genius.  I also was stopped by several teachers to ask how my year was going, to exchange notes and ideas, to whisper good luck and congratulations. You have no idea how much high school freshmen are like elementary kids.

Then it was Tornado S’s open house. Usually we discuss his many weird, complex issues. But my parents have already talked to the teachers, and two out of three teachers had already had Tornado E. So I introduce myself. And Tornado S is so sweet and kind, so brilliant; we just need to help him get it out, and by the way, how’s the school year? I exchange notes and ideas with the other teachers, explaining the math common core for a few families while the math teacher talked with another family about homework. You have no idea how much high school freshman are like 5th graders.

Finally Tornado E’s open house arrived. I carpooled with a friend, and I was spoiling for some answers because Tornado E had been bumped to the regular math class because of a pre-assessment. Then he was getting a solid C in his new math class after I had lobbied for a retest or re placement. But since my boy is becoming more cautious in new situations, I don’t start out with, “Hi. I’m Tornado E’s mom; I’m so sorry.” I introduce myself, and immediately I get, “Ah, yes, Tornado E. Smart kid. Really smart. Just quiet.” Yeah, give him time. Then it was time to talk to the math teacher about her methods, expectations, her weighting practices. After all that in front of the parents, I talked to her privately about Tornado E, who is impressing her greatly, who she thinks is capable of algebra with a little help, who she hopes isn’t discouraged. Well, he is. He loves math, and he’s proud of his math scores. Oh, but he took a test the day after he got into my class and got a C without instruction; that was impressive. That C has him off computer and video games. Oh, well, then. We hammered out a plan.

And this is just the beginning. Cub Scouts goes into full swing next week. So does religious classes. Tornado S wants to join Kung Fu with his brothers. Tornado A would like to add a third martial art. Uh, no.

And I should have 140 essays to grade this weekend.