Philosopher Princes

I’m a sucker for intelligent, funny boys. While the humor comes from the bloodline, I blame the drama boys who easily linked their crazy sense of humor to philosophy, engineering, pop culture, and literature. And so it was just a natural step that I encouraged the same thing from my own boys.

I’ve written dozens of posts on their sense of humor, and dozens more to come, but lately it’s the intelligence that catches me off guard.

My boys do not seem to inherited the quick-witted, street-smarts, jury-rigged intelligence that haunts my family. Perhaps I should just drop a box of wood, gears, and tools at their feet and see what happens. Although, I do see glimmers of it as they build unique Lego structures.

But what my boys have inherited is my lust for knowledge, the delver of something in books, something hidden that must be found. We have “scientific” books on monsters. The boys fish for articles and videos on video games and their theories. The why stage never ended.

Why are they burning Nikes?

Why does Grandma get so mad?

Why did our President say that?

Why can’t you take me to school?

Why do we have to have spinach again?

Ah, life’s mysteries. (Because spinach is good for you, and I’m hoping the taste will grow on you. Do you need to hear the hummus story again?)

But my favorite part of this intelligence is the connections. The boys come up with a theory, work it out in their heads, and then present it to me in a mini-lecture. On video games, on movies, on characters, on history, on philosophy. Marvel, DC, Trump, classmates, teachers, 9/11, environment, racism, sexism, Hello Neighbor.

They want my input. Without asking, they wait for the judgement. Did they guess right? Did they put the pieces to make the right shape? Is it strong enough?

Hoping I’m doing the right thing, I ask questions, prod their theories, correct assumptions, help recalibrate their understanding. I marvel as they try to figure out human understanding, to figure out how to solve the world’s problems, remembering that at their age, no one would listen to my philosophies.

I look forward to the day of peer-to-peer discussions with my own philosopher kings.

Advertisements

A Punny Teen

He’s growing tall, my boy. Four inches over the last. Still more to go. And still very goofy.

I went after the Bookfair, where I left him, to pick him up. He was the last student to stay to clean up. He looked over at me.

Tornado E: Hi, Mama!

Me: Hi, sweetheart. Are you done?

Tornado E: I don’t know.

Me: Go ask what else you can do. Ask until everything’s done.

I want him to be helpful. I want him to be of service. I want him to stay until everything is done.

One of the moms: Thanks, Tornado E. Could you go get me my fan?

She was loading up her car with several tables. There was nothing for me to do. Tornado E came out of the school, carrying a large box fan. The mom turned and reached out for it.

Tornado E: This is my biggest fan. Be careful with him.

The mom burst out laughing.

She turned to me: I love his sense of humor. (She turned to him) I love those types of jokes.

He beamed.

The mom: That’s everything. Thank you so much, Tornado E. You can go home.

He came to me. I put my arm around him and walked to the car.

How did this kid get so much of me in him? I wonder if anyone sees anything else but me hanging out behind his eyes.

I kissed his head.

Nah. It’s all him. I could never enjoy math the way he does.

Telling a Lesson

Me:

Me: Sit down (to the kid who was up for the 10th time)

Kid: I can’t miss.

Me: You’re 14; you can sit for 50 minutes.

Kid: But you don’t. You never sit for 50 minutes.

Me: First, I chose a career where I don’t have to sit for 50 minutes at a time. I like standing. And kid, I went to Catholic school. I had to kneel for 50 minutes. Now. SIT.

I smirked at the end of the story that I was telling my mom in the kitchen.

Tornado E: Mama, why did you have to kneel for 50 minutes?

Me: It was a punishment. I talked in church.

Tornado E: Did you tell your student that?

Me: What? No. I’m not an idiot.

Tornado E: Huh.

Huh, in deed…..

Early Bloomer

Tornado E: Mama? Remember in third grade when the kids didn’t get my jokes?

Yes. Like when your teacher came up to me to tell me how bright you were and how advanced your humor was, that your classmates didn’t understand your jokes or sarcasm. Like when I started sending school notes with corny kid jokes to expand your humor to something closer to your peers. Like when you wanted to give your best friend a My Little Pony Pinkie Pie for her birthday because she had a nightmare about it and that would be hilarious.

You’re right. It would’ve been. If you were older. Like teenagers. In college. Adults. Not third grade.

Third grade when I had to explain it was ok to tease someone but when that person is hurt or offended, you apologize and never make that joke again. It’s ok to make a mistake and cross a boundary you didn’t know was there. But it was never ok to keep hurting a person like that. Sometimes people won’t be able to tell you they are hurt, so you have to watch for physical cues, and then you back off when you hurt someone. Always.

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: They get my jokes now. They think I’m funny. They try to copy my jokes. They like insulting each other now. They’re trying to be sarcastic. It’s kind of funny.

So it only took them three years to start catching up to Tornado E. I’d pitch him against any of my freshmen any day of the week.

Carbs and Calories

All day Tornado E had been saying “carbs and calories” to anything that was bad. Often with a shake of the head.

We sat at dinner at Panda Express eating Americanized- fast food Chinese. The boys eating their favorite offerings but mentioning they wished I would cook more at home. As we were in California for a wedding, it really wasn’t an option that night.

Tornado E: Mommy, why are grown ups afraid of carbs and calories?

For years, my boys have been exposed to their father’s dieting habits and my mother’s comments (to me, to my dad, about herself). Long ago I resolved that I would never “diet” in front of them. I would model healthy eating habits. I would not do fade diets, yo-yo diets, weird dieting concoctions, or deprive myself. I promised to be careful what I said about my body and my weight, to monitor what I said about their bodies and other people’s bodies. I would not fat shame or thin shame within my boys’ hearing. They heard enough negative body comments from others.

I don’t want my boys growing up with body or food issues. I don’t want them to stay away from food for their body images. I don’t want them to look in the mirror and have demons criticize their bodies. I want them to be happy and healthy.

Me: Well, baby, many adults don’t run around and have fun like children, so they have to worry about what they eat instead. Many adults are not happy about their bodies. Sometimes they have to worry because of their health. Sometimes they just don’t like their bodies. And that’s sad.

Tornado E: Yes, that’s sad.

Pause.

Tornado E: But not you, Mommy. You like your body. You’re not afraid of carbs and calories.

I smiled and bit into a piece of orange chicken. The demons that lurk behind my mirrors were safely locked away from my boys. Maybe one day I won’t meet them in dressing room mirrors or when I take a closer look at my outfits.

Fake it until you make it.

Vacation Recap

The weekend of the wedding began our fall break. I did a mini-vacation with the boys.

  1. Highways make the drive so much smaller. But you get to see interesting things.
  2. The Salton Sea is creepy, isolated, stinky, and creepy. I’ve got to do more research on it. Tornado E said it was something out of his nightmares.
  3. My body reminded me that I’m no longer 21 and can’t eat fast food several days in a row. Next time I’ll save more money for real restaurants.
  4. Tornado S left his toys, books, and DVD choices in Tucson. We discovered this 45 mins out of town. I decided to buy all the boys a toy and Tornado S a DVD at Walmart in California.
  5. It’s so awesome to see, hang out, and catch up with old friends. It was so sad not to have more time to hang out longer.
  6. Everyone reads every day. Those are the rules.
  7. Tornado A was thrilled to share a bed with me.
  8. I think I can do this single parent thing on vacation. I just need more money. Like a lot more. I’m not greedy, just really, really poor.
  9. When we got home, we still had several days together. So we did the zoo, worked on Cub Scout stuff, and worked on school work.
  10. Tornado S likes being dragged across the finish line of school work. He fails to realize how much he’s missing. Like movies and crafts. And ice cream.
  11. Tornado E built a fire and grilled hot dogs and bratwurst for dinner one night. For Cub Scouts. With Papi’s supervision.
  12. Tornado A has a new baby. A baby narwhale. Because it was the closet thing he could find to a unicorn at Walmart. It joins the baby unicorn, the tiny baby unicorn, the mountain lion cub, and the leopard cub. So cute.
  13. We have decided on Halloween costumes.
  14. I filled everyone’s tummy with fruits and vegetables to make up for the 5 days of fast food.
  15. After 9 days with the boys, it was hard to let their dad take them.

The Fourth Child

No, I’m not pregnant. Though the boys are lobbying hard for a fourth child. A girl, please, Mommy. A baby sister, please, Mommy.

Um, it doesn’t work that way.

Take the other night.

Tornado E: When are you going to have another baby?

Maybe, never. You kind of need a willing male partner for that. Or a sperm bank. But that’s a little complicated to go into with a 5yr old, a 8yr old, and a 10yr old.

Tornado E: I would like a baby sister.

Tornado S and Tornado A: Yeah.

Me: You have two little sisters.

One half and one step but sisters nonetheless.

Tornado S: But we want you to have a girl.

He gave me that adorable smile.

Me: Maybe one day. I’m very happy to have my three boys.

Tornado S: Did you know you were going to have three boys?

Me: It doesn’t work like that. But each one of you was wanted and planned.

Tornado S: So did you know you would have three kids?

I rubbed his nearly shaved head.

Me: Not at first. I did want four kids though.

Tornado A: That means a little girl!

Um, not yet. Your grandparents would kill me if I had a baby now, living at their house.

Tornado E: So when will you have another baby?

Me: I don’t know. I always seemed to get pregnant when everything is perfect in my life.

Tornado E: What if I’m 15?

God, I hope it doesn’t take until Tornado E‘s 15 to be settled and married and have a perfect little life to ruin with a baby.

Me: Then I guess you would be babysitting.

I rubbed his nearly shaved head.

Tornado S: I won’t be!

If Tornado E is 15 and two years older, then Tornado S would be 13. Legal babysitting age is 12.

Me: You would be too.

Pause.

Tornado S: Hmmm. I would be good at babysitting. I helped calmed down Tornado A today.

Me: You’re a good big brother.

I kissed his head.

I fear that once they figure out the mechanics of the whole thing, they’ll put me on Match.com or start a GoFundMe page to raise money for sperm. Lord help me.