Goodnight. Goodnight.

Me: Goodnight, Sweetheart.

Tornado E: Goodnight, Mama.

Me: I love you.

Tornado E: I love you too.

Me: I’m proud of you.

Tornado E: I’m proud of you too.

Me: (Smug smile) Thanks, baby.

Tornado E: I didn’t meant that. I was copying you. I didn’t mean to say that. (Sigh) I’m proud of you, Mama.

You have no idea how much that means to me.

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Tag

The boys were lounging on my bed as we watched YouTube videos. Some Honest Trailers.

Me: What do you want to do now?

Tornado E: Nothing. We don’t have any time. Daddy will be here soon.

Me: Sure, we do. Tag.

I slapped his leg lightly. His brothers scrambled out of the bed and ran out of the room. I walked out. I walked down the hall.

Tornado A: Mama! Run!

Me: Naw. I can walk. Your brother is too slow to catch me.

That was it. Tornado E ran out of the room at me.

So started a ten-minute game of tag so funny that I nearly peed myself from laughing so hard.

Tornado E is not nearly so fast that I can’t play a game of Gotcha Last.

References

We’re developing quite the private language with inside jokes and references. My boys and I are like a little club. You have to watch Star Wars movies and shows. You have to watch The Simpsons, Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go. And you have to watch Star vs the Forces of Evil.

Which brings us to the other day.

I am very honest about my political beliefs with my boys. Because, you know, they’re my boys, and I’m raising them right. Allies aware of their white male privilege. Empathetic. Compassionate. Inquisitive. Honest. Rebels.

I got off topic.

Any ways. I was explaining President Trump’s apparent need for attention. I don’t know how we got on the topic. But there it is. And I tell them if you can’t back up an opinion without a reason and example/fact, then it’s worth hot air. So I explain my logic.

The boys thought about it for a moment.

Then.

Tornado E: What Glossaryck hears is me, me, me, me!

It was perfect. The moment. The reference. The timing.

If you’re curious, it’s season 2 episode 26a “Page Turner,” or you can watch this link. Star Vs The Forces Of Evil Episode 26 Part 3

Character

Tornado E: But why are we here?

Me: Because it’s your brothers’ duty to sell popcorn for their pack.

Tornado E: But I’m boooooard.

Me: You could’ve stayed home. You’re old enough.

Tornado E: But it’s scary to be home alone.

Me: Well, it was your choice.

Tornado E: Why do we have to stay longer?

Me: Because no one else signed up for the second spot, so we’re helping out.

Tornado E: But why?

Me: They call this character building.

Tornado E: But the only characters I like are in cartoons!

The other mom started laughing. I sighed and ignored him.

Asking Personal Questions

Tornado E: Mama, I need to interview you for homework.

Me: Ok, kiddo. What do you want to ask me?

Tornado E: (reading) Who was the most important person to influence you?

Me: As a child? As an adult? As a teacher or writer?

Tornado E: (in that exasperated teenage sigh and voice) Who is the most important person in your life?

Me: Well, the most important people in my life are my boys because I have made them my first thought with every choice I have made in the last 12 years. Ever since you were born, I have had to question and strengthen my beliefs, I have worked to become a better person and role model. For my boys.

Tornado E: That’s a stupid question and a stupid answer. Let’s begin again.

Me: Hey! That was a great answer!

Tornado E: All parents say that.

Yeah, no. And those who say it, do they do it?

Me: Well, what else do you want to know?

Tornado E: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done.

Crap.

A Snapshot of a Depressed Moment

Tornado E didn’t seem like himself. Hadn’t since he walked into the room. I was so excited to see my boys on a Sunday that did not belong to me. But Tornado E. He seemed distance.

So I sat next to him, and we stared at the blank TV, sitting in the middle of the play area. We just sat.

Me: Is there anything wrong?

He shrugged.

Me: That’s ok. I understand. But I want you to talk to me. I’m not letting you go silent. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok not to be happy. But I’m your mama, and I will always love you. No matter what.

I hugged him. He leaned into me.

Being twelve. Not getting enough sleep. Home life. School. Who knows?

But we’ll get through it together.

Just the Way He Thinks

It was a parent-teacher conference for Tornado E. And even the principal was there. Apparently I’m gaining some sort of reputation. Sure, I’ve advocated in the past, but I’m not unreasonable. It’s just that I’m a teacher too, so I have read the studies on kids who are held back, and I have read the articles on testing. So you better be ready to present your data when you make an educational decision about my kid that I do not agree with.

The last battle they agreed to retest Tornado E, and they received the same results, not ready for advanced math, but by that time, he was earning a C in regular math already. I was near losing it. But it turns out he got a C on his first test, two days in the new math class, and the teacher was impressed and kept the grade. I was less than impressed.

So that brings us back to the conference with the principal and two of Tornado E’s teachers. Since they cannot have ever teacher attend ever conference, two teachers attend; while, the others write notes. Today’s teachers were the language arts teacher and the art teacher, who Tornado E has for 3 classes. The language arts teacher ran the meeting.

LAT: We just love Tornado E. He is so smart. He asks questions. He provides great answers. He’s sharp.

AT: He’s so creative.

LAT: Let’s look at his grades. Oh, A’s in everything but math. Huh. Let’s see what he wrote for his self-reflection. He enjoys language arts. (Wait. My scientist, math-kid?!) But for his weaknesses, he says he isn’t doing well in math and he doesn’t know why. Can you enlighten us?

Most, certainly. You listening, big guy?

Me: Tornado E is a math person, a numbers person. He has always prided himself on his math skills. But then he took the math test and was taken out of the advanced math class and put into a regular math class. He was given a test the second day in, and his teacher told me she would have tossed the grade if it had been bad. But he got a C with only a review and no instruction. She was quite impressed. I am not. Tornado E is capable of more, and so he has been without video games since. At least, at my house. I think he’s struggling because this has been a blow to his ego. He is also a creature of habit and does not do well with change. This whole thing has knocked him off kilter. But thank you for retesting him.

LAT: Oh, thank you (makes some typing notes). This is good to know. Can you shed any more light?

So I went on the usual explanation. The differences in the two households. The stress it puts on Tornado E and his brothers. The actions I’m taking on my end to even things out.

LAT: You’re proactive. That’s great.

The principal: That’s a lot of stress on a kid….

LAT: Let’s go on. (Enter all the good things the teachers have to say. Like he’s a good student and he’s so smart and he’s funny.) Here it is again. Tornado E interprets instructions differently from others.

AT: He interprets instructions in a very creative way.

LAT (rescanning notes): It looks like we have all seen the same issue. It’s not a bad thing. It’s-

AT: He just sees the world different. In a unique way. I think it’s a positive. I can’t wait to see what he does this year.

LAT: I just make sure he understands something clearly. He’s very good at asking for clarification.

AT: I just make sure the block is the correct way or whatever else he’s working on. It’s just…. a Tornado E thing.

A unique thinking. Doesn’t interprets things like everyone else. Where have I heard that before?

“Fae, you just don’t think like everyone else,” said my exasperated boss as he looked over my completed task. Then he pointed where there needed to be changes to match the rest of the population’s understanding of the world. I nodded, took the work, and returned to my desk to make corrections. As I was leaving for the day, my boss called out to me, “Fae, I like how you think. That’s why I want you as an artist and a writer on the website. We need more of you. Have a good night.” I yelled thanks and ran down the stairs to catch the cafeteria before it closed.

So Tornado E inherited more from me than just my hairs and blond hair.