Pig Vegan Part 2

On vacation, we had lunch with Wally, her wife, and a college friend. 4 women, 3 boys. I have amazing friends.

The topic veered to diets. Not the I’m-so-fat-I-can-only-eat-this talk. No. It’s I-own-chickens-and-I-can’t-eat-chicken-anymore. And it’s so-hard-for-us-to-find-a- restaurant-to-agree-on-anymore. And Tornado S piped up that he was pig vegan, which confused two of the women. So Wally and I went about explaining. When Tornado A, a huge fan of Tornado S, declared that he too was now pig vegan.

NOOOOOOOO!

Wally: What’s so wrong with that?

Me: Ham!

To which, Wally responded with an eye roll.

And before I could respond.

Tornado S: Then I’m going to become a vegetarian.

Me: What? You can’t! You love hamburgers. Aaaaah!

Wally: What’s so wrong with that?

Processing…. processing…. processing… Damnit, no, real logic was coming to my aid.

Me: (grumpy) It’s harder on me.

To which, Wally responded with an eye roll.

The next day, I took the boys to our favorite seafood restaurant. They are only in California and one in Phoenix. I go whenever I get a chance. And all three boys order fish and chips. Then they change the chips to mash potatoes and one macaroni and cheese. The restaurant has amazing mash potatoes and macaroni and cheese, but I’ve never seen any of my kids forgo fries. And then there was the other question.

Me: Tornado S, I thought you were becoming a vegetarian. You can’t eat fish.

Tornado S: I changed my mind.

Well, he did have a hamburger the night before….

Then my clam chowder came, and it was amazing. So amazing. The boys wanted to try it, so I gave them each a spoonful. Then another. I refused third helpings.

Tornado S: Mama! Does this soup have bacon in it?

Me: Yes.

Tornado S: No! But I’m pig vegan! Did I eat any bacon?

Me: No. I made sure you didn’t have any on your spoon.

Tornado looked at me, then the bowl, and then at Tornado S.

Tornado A: I’m sorry, Tornado S. But I can’t be pig vegan. Bacon is too good.

Pig Vegan

Back in Novemeber, Tornado S declared himself pig vegan. Which is to say, he decided to stop eating all meat from pig.

Bacon?

Tornado S: No.

Ham?

Tornado S: No.

Pork chops.

Tornado S: No.

Sausage?

Tornado S: No.

Bacon?

Tornado S: I already said no.

We tempted him. We tried to bribe him. We scolded him. We teased him. We tried to trick him.

On New Year’s dinner, I told him if he didn’t eat the ham, he had to eat everything else, including the beans. And Grandma’s Beans are gross. So very, very gross.

And the kid ate them.

Then I remembered when I was a little older than Tornado S I learned that that dolphins were getting caught in tuna nets. So I gave up canned tuna. I tried to get my classmates to boycott tuna noddle casserole lunch day. It didn’t go over well. The bullies had a field day. But my mom never made me eat another bite of tuna.

So I stopped pestering Tornado S. I gave him real alternative choices to pig meat. He is proud to be pig vegan. And I explain to everyone what it means. Everything has been fine.

Until he tried to ban pepperoni pizza.

Whoa. Whoa. Little man. We respect your believes and allow you to get cheese pizza. Respect our beliefs to eat pepperoni pizza. The one, true pizza.

 

It’s just a book

Of all the things I want for gifts, the one I ask for, the one that means the most to me, is for someone to take my boys shopping for me. Show them we buy gifts for the people we love. Show them that we remember special days for the people we love. Show them how to think and empathize with people we love. Buying gifts is a skill. Remembering important days of your love one is love.

My mother likes to give practical gifts. My dad likes to give gifts that will make the person happy. He has been taking the lead gift giving with the boys the last couple of times. For Mother’s Day, the boys and my dad got me a cool Wonder Woman picture.

So my parents took the boys shopping form birthday. Tornado E found a Star Wars gift but abandoned that for a Star Wars movie. Tornado S decided to give me the Star Wars gift. Tornado A walked into the book aisle and brought my dad a book.

Tornado A: (Smiling from ear to ear) We should get Mama this book! (Holds up the book)

Papi: (looks at the book with Donald Trump on the cover) I don’t think your mama will like that book. She isn’t a big fan of Trump.

Tornado A smiled bigger and nodded.

Papi: No prank gifts.

Tornado A sighed and marched back to the aisle. He came running back with a Star Wars book.

Prank gift giving in second grade. That kid is mine.

Best Friends Forever

We were watching the news, and they were doing those emotional pieces. While filming his son’s championship little league game, a dad had caught his son’s first home run ball.. During the interview, the dad said about his son, “He’s my best friend.”

Tornado E: Mama, am I your best friend?

No, Wally is, obviously. But does he want to me to say yes. The boy on the TV is Tornado E’s age. But that’s weird to be an adult with a 12 year old best friend.

My mom: No, I’m your mom’s best friend.

WHAT?! Mayday! Mayday! We’ve been through this before. I need you to be my mom, not my friend, not my best friend, my mom.

Me: Tornado E, do you want me to be your best friend?

Tornado E: No. I already have one. A—– is my best friend.

Sigh. That was close. Now to sneak out of the room, silently, gracefully like a ninja to avoid my mother’s comment.

Fandom

Wally: You know I’ll never have a mom like the country songs. The ones where my mom is my biggest fan. I’ll never know what that means.

Me: I know.

During the hellish year of being a temporary sub, I had all sorts of people from the school and district come and observe me and then offer me advice, starting with “if you don’t mind, I have a few critiques…”

And I would say, “I’m great at handling criticism. I have a overly critical mother.”

In fact, I’m wondering if I should make her a reader. She would really shred my manuscript apart.

So, yeah, my mom is not my biggest fan. Will never be. And that’s ok.

Yesterday I was at Panda Express with the boys, enjoying their company as we chowed down. We got to the fortunes, and we naturally became the Star fanboys and fangirl that we are.

Tornado E: (pretending to read his fortune) A great evil has been released.

Me: (pretending to read my fortune) Love is always the answer.

Tornado S: Love is never the answer.

Me: Hey. I wanted to say that!

And then we all read our fortunes for real, and I went last.

Me: “The world is ready for your talents. Don’t hold back.” Huh.

Tornado E: You have lots of talents, Mama! You should show the world!

Me: Thanks, Baby. (Then forgetting I was in public, in front of the boys, I said to myself {I totally talk out loud to myself, a horrible habit picked up when I was a lonely kid who had no one to talk to and still as an adult when I have no one to talk to; a cruel joke, an introvert with a need to talk.}) I wonder if my boys would be my biggest fans. Huh. Weird to create your own fandom.

Tornado E: We are your biggest fans, Mama! You’re awesome!

With that, I realized that my tornadoes, my herd of dragons, my entourage was really my fandom. I’m kind of lucky that way.

Movie Critic

I took one for the team. The Ex should thank me. The boys watched Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

The movie is ok. The Ex hates the movie. It soiled the Indiana Jones name, but he already watched Raiders of the Lost Ark with the boys. And I. I love anything with Indiana Jones. When I was a child, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.

(Guy Friend: Oh come on, you can’t be Indiana Jones; you’re a  {Looks over at me and realizes his next words should be chosen wisely.}. Look, there are lots of great girls in Indiana Jones.

Me: Like the Nazi? Or the screaming wuss? I don’t to date Indiana Jones. I want to be him.

Guy Friend: Mariam! You can be Mariam! She’s cool.

Me: You can be Mariam. I’ll be Indy.

Guy Friend: But she’s-

Me: Not as cool as Indiana Jones. Exactly.)

So the boys watched Temple of Doom as I drove us home from the karate tournament in Phoenix. And I hear:

Tornado E: Why would you drink anything from a Chinese gangster?

Tornado E: How is that believable?

Tornado E: That would never work!

Tornado E: That’s not Indian food! I thought they were in India. Did no one research this?

Tornado E: I wonder how chilled monkey brains would taste. I would eat that. (No, he wouldn’t. He won’t even eat fruit pie.)

Tornado E: I don’t believe that.

Tornado E: Mama! Did you see that? (Driving!)

Tornado E: Why is she screaming?

Tornado E: That could never happen!

Tornado E: Does no one understand the Hindu religion?

Tornado E: Why? Why would you do that?

Tornado E: You can’t do that! You can’t pull out someone’s heart! Why is he alive?

Tornado E: *snort*

Tornado E: Voodoo dolls are not in India! Did no one do any research?

Tornado E: Mama, don’t they have to research movies?

Tornado E: No one researched this movie.

Tornado E: This is so stupid.

Tornado E: There is a bone to keep you from taking out his heart!

Tornado E: What?!

Tornado E: She’s always screaming!

Tornado E: FAKE!

Tornado E: This is so fake!

Tornado E: Why does she keep screaming?!

Tornado E: Mama, you never scream.

Tornado E: Oh, sure, there are some random crocodiles.

Tornado E: That’s believable.

Tornado E: Why are there only old people in that village? It’s only old people and kids. Where are there parents?

Tornado E: She’s so annoying!

Tornado E: Is she in the next movie, Mama?

Me: No.

Tornado E: Thank goodness.

Yeah, my kid is hilarious.

Grace

We don’t go to Mass as much as we used to. With the 50% custody and the illnesses and homework and trips. Life. When we show up after a break, people greet us as though they were worried that we wouldn’t show up again. Who would miss three rowdy boys and their beleaguered mother?

Today, thanks to Tornado A’s inability to leave the car in a timely manner, we arrived right before the procession. Like right before. I scanned the church and was defeated.

Nearly two years ago I learned the boys did not know the parts of the mass, did not understand the mass, did not know the prayers, the chants, the responses. Why was I killing myself to take them to religious classes every week? What were they learning? I bought a couple of children’s Mass books. I sat us in the middle of empty rows. Like I was explaining baseball or football, I whispered the parts of the Mass, explaining what they meant. I had the boys follow along with their books. I pulled up the daily readings on my phone and handed them to follow. Six months ago, I learned that the older boys were sorely behind in their prayers. We know spend the time after communion reciting prayers as I whisper the prayer line by line so they could repeat them. About a month ago, I started bringing rosaries, letting the boys hold them and ask questions.

Today there were no safe places. So we sat in a pew in front of an older woman. I stood straight, squared my shoulders, and refused to show any shame as I whispered things to the boys. I did as we normally do, even though giving peace became a full-contact sport of wrestling and crushing under the guise of hugging.

The boys were on rather good behavior. I didn’t have to threaten the loss of doughnuts. Doughnuts are the consequence for behaving well at church. Consequence, not bribe. If the boys can tell me what the homily was about, I buy them a candy bar. Tornado A takes notes. Tornado E is getting better on grasping the main idea, not just a few interesting details. Tornado S always gives me the first few details.

Today Tornado A was too busy drawing to take notes.

At the end of the services, the woman behind me said, “My youngest is 28. I had boys too. I miss those days. But a friend once said to me that God gives mothers of children special grace for taking their children to church. I hope you received your grace.” And she left.

And I wondered. Had she noticed that once the congregation sat after communion’s prayer, after I recited prayers with the boys and asked them to sit, that I remained kneeling, grasping for a few moments to pray honestly, earnestly, passionately? Did she noticed the tears in my eyes when I opened them as she returned to her seat? Did I reach up and wipe away a tear or two?

I smiled at the boys. Yes, we can leave. Yes, we can go do the labyrinth. Yes, we can go get doughnuts. Yes, we can go to the Children’s Museum.