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.

Mama

I went from Mommy to Mama. As Tornado E gets closer to 12, I’m waiting for the day I’ll no longer be Mama but Mom. Or worse yet, Mother. Whether it’s the simpering formality of mother or the way I say it like a cuss word at my own mother, but I do not like Mother. I will truly miss Mama.

So the other night at dinner, I was relating a story of what happened in class.

Me: And then I said Tornado E said “Mama.” Before I could get any further in the story, one of the boys said “Mama?” Another kid asked if I was Mama. Another girl asked if my kids called me Mama. And another girl thought it was cute. And then-

Tornado E: Why? Why were they confused? They have mamas.

Me: They do, but they don’t see me as a mama but as Miss. They probably call all their moms Mom. When you get older, you’ll probably call me Mom. (I swear I didn’t sigh or put any guilt in that.)

Tornado E: No, Mama. I’ll always call you Mama because you’re Mama.

Me: Thanks, kid.

Collections

On our way to the second-run movie theater last weekend, Tornado E tried to spark conversation.

Tornado E: If you could collect whatever you want, what would it be?

Tornado S: Money.

Say what you will about Tornado S, that kid is smart.

Timing

My father’s family is legendary for their jokes, pranks, stories. Their timing is spot on. Their ability to find a person’s flaws and insecurities is the stuff of legend. These are dominant traits, passed through the genes. The oldest of the family like my grandfather has the strongest sense of this Comedy Force. The oldest passing it to the oldest while teaching it to all the children. Until it came to me. I am teaching my sons. The boys’ senses of timing are amazing.

This morning Tornado E had a question about Boaty McBoatface that I answered with the Internet is a strange place that allows people to voice whatever is in their heads. (Please pause for a moment to let that sink in; author points up at the title of the blog. Right, moving on.) As an example of this phenomenon, I told Tornado E and my mom about the Death Star petition to the White House and President Obama’s perfect answer.

My mom looks at me, blinks.

My mom: I don’t even know what a Death Star is.

Before I could open her mouth a remind her that I was born the night after they saw The Empire Strikes Back or that now she has to watch the Star Wars marathon the boys are dying to do with the all the movies and Clone Wars episodes or that she is a part of a Star Wars family whether she likes it or not.

Tornado S: (causally walking though the kitchen) Wow. Just wow.

I point down the hall after him and mouth “That’s my kid” to my mom.

My mom: (calling after Tornado S) We can’t be experts at everything.

I’m Prepared

In college, I was walking to class when I noticed a friend on a bench, looking worriedly at the sandal in her hand, so I walked over to see what the problem was.

Me: What’s going on?

Friend: Hi, Fae. My sandal broke, and I can’t go back to the dorm until I have my next two classes. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hey, you don’t happen to have a safety pin, do you?

Me: (Smile as I take off my backpack) I can do one better. How about a leather needle and some thread?

I took the needle out of the sewing kit.

Friend: You have a leather needle on you?

I handed her the needle and thread and shrugged.

Me: Always be prepared.

 

You should see my car. In the back, I have a tool kit which include two needle-nose pliers, two towels, two small blankets, a comforter, water, juice, two different kinds of granola bars, clothes (including underwear) for all the boys, emergency car kit, a couple of balls, a church bag (full of books, notebooks, and crayons), some hats, and a spare jacket. In the console, I keep two first aid kits, suckers, napkins, a pocket knife, a combination tool-thing, a notebook, pens, pencils, a brush, toothpicks, Q-tips, tampons, pads, tissues, trivia cards, hair ties, chapsticks, bobby pins, hand sanitizer, a book (for me in case of emergencies), glue, and tweezers. The last two are for removing cactus needles from small boys. There’s also various toys and books.

I’m always prepared.

 

You should see my purse. I have a notebook, a pencil bag (filled with pens, pencils, permanent markers, and highlighters), a flashlight, a compass, a pocket knife, a small tape measure, a cell phone charger, chopstick trainer, a hair tie, earrings, a tampon, a condom, a pad, bobby pins, safety pins, paper clips, two fruit leathers, hand sanitzer, chap stick, a tube of sunscreen, ipod, earbuds, a bunch of gift cards, my school keys, my regular keys, change (enough quarters for the boys to get a treat in a coin vending machine and enough pennies for plenty of wishes), my wallet, my sun glasses, and my cell phone.

I’m always prepared.

 

I bought the boys all small backpacks to wear while hiking and camping. Tornado A, being the youngest and not having as many hikes, got his last. Unlike his older brothers, he *loved* it. He packed his backpack up as soon as he had the opportunity.

While we were getting ready for the zoo, Tornado A was skipping around the house with his backpack on, rattling. The sound of many unnecessary toys. But, hey, can you guess that I was any different? Nope.

He skipped into the big family room and skipped back into the kitchen with his arms full of two juice boxes and a water bottle. He dropped them all on the breakfast bar.

Tornado A: Mommy! Can you please get me TWO granola bars? And TWO fruit leathers?

Me: (giving him a quizzical look) Ok, baby.

I retrieved the items from the shelves and put them by the water. Tornado A was trying to jam his juice boxes in with the toys.

Me: May I show you something?

Tornado A nodded. I unzipped a smaller pocket in the front of the backpack and put the juice boxes into the pocket. Tornado A put in the granola bars and fruit leathers. I zipped it up.

Me: Now watch.

I placed the water bottle in the side pocket and held out the backpack to Tornado A.

Me: Tada. Now let me help you in it.

I helped Tornado A in his backpack. He turned and grinned up at me.

Tornado A: I’m prepared! I have TWO snacks and TWO juice boxes! I have toys and water! I’m prepared for anything. I’m prepared.

He skipped out of the room, chanting “I’m prepared.”

Yup, that’s my kid. No doubt about it.

The Tooth Fairy Cometh

About a year ago, Tornado A lost a front tooth. With the excitement and seriousness of any five-year-old, he placed it in his homemade tooth pillow and placed it under his bed right before he went to bed at 8pm.

And I promptly forgot about it.

Until I was getting dressed the next morning  in the dark in my bedroom while Tornado E slept in my bed.

Well, at least, I remembered the tooth before Tornado A did, and I would do my classic move of “Did you look underneath the bed?” and then toss the dollar on top of the bed. Then the boy would look on the bed in disappointment and wonder how the money got there. Weird.

As soon as I was dressed, I extracted my wallet from my purse. I opened it up and pulled out the first bill. I have a system, small bills in front, moving to larger bills in back. Not nearly as cool as Matt Murdock’s system, but we can’t all be as cool as Matt Murdock, and this system works well.

Like a ninja, I crept into the boys’ bedroom, removed the tooth from its pillow, and placed the bill in the pocket. I stalked out of the room, back into my room. I tossed the tooth into the trash with a slight clang.

Yes, I used to keep their teeth. All their baby teeth that were not lost on the way to the tooth pillow. Until I looked into the special box that was holding the teeth. Then I realized I looked like a serial killer with trophies. Out they all went.

As I was doing my hair, the boys woke up and started getting dressed. Tornado A, determined to beat his brother’s to breakfast, was the first dressed and into the kitchen, where my dad asked if the tooth fairy came.

I curled my hair with a smug smile as Tornado A ran by back to the bedroom. I was on the next section when he ran by again. That’s right, folks; I have this parenting thing down. Then I heard:

The tooth fairy gave me TWENTY DOLLARS!!!

Crap.

I put down the curling iron and ran out into the kitchen, where Tornado A was dancing around the room, waving a twenty dollar bill. What stupid person puts her biggest bill in the front of her wallet? My dad and I made eye contact. I ducked out of the room, laughing. I couldn’t catch my breath as I ran back to my room, pulled out my wallet, and saw the dollar bill still sitting in the wallet.

I overheard my dad.

Papi: Tornado A, that’s a lot of money. Do you think it was a mistake?

Tornado A: No, the tooth fairy never makes a mistake.

Papi: Do you think the tooth fairy wanted you to share it with your brothers?

Tornado A: No!

Papi: Do you think the tooth fairy wanted you to share it with Mommy?

Tornado A: No!

Papi: That’s a lot of money for a kindergartner, do you think you should donate some of it?

Tornado A: No!

I walked back into the room. My dad looked at me. I shrugged. I was a long term sub; I got paid half of pennies; I could use that $20. But I couldn’t take it from my boy. It was my mistake.

Me: I’m sure Tornado A already has plans for it.

Tornado A: Can we go to the store this weekend?

This is my dad’s favorite story to tell. I wonder if it reminds him of another blonde kindergartner with deep-set blue eyes who found $5 dollars in a church parking while walking to church one Sunday morning.

My dad: Fae, do you think someone dropped that on accident?

Me: No, Daddy. It’s from God.

My dad: It could be someone’s tithe. They could be giving it to God.

Me: And God gave it to me because I tithe every Sunday at your church and at Mommy’s church.

My dad: But Fae, it might be important to someone. That’s a lot of money. I have to ask around.

Me: But, Daddy, God gave it to me.

I dutifully handed it to my dad, who asked around. When he returned it to me because he couldn’t find any one to claim it, I insisted that it was a gift from God.

The trenches

How about a lighter fair today?

A couple of days ago, my husband and I were discussing a pseudo-partner of his.  I don’t trust the guy.  I go with my gut instincts on these things, and now you know why.  But my husband is a generous soul and is determined to see the good and give the benefit of doubt, no matter what.  His greatest strength and his worst weakness.

I was searching for a way to describe the guy (and still am looking for the perfect discription).  I mention how the guy gives loving compliments about women and women’s work (and yes, the guy called it women’s work) and how he called us queens and how men could never do what women do, but all the while it really is bullshit because guys can change diapers, make dinner, clean the house, and deal with boogeymen at 3 am.  It’s just some guys don’t.

Me:  We don’t need compliments.  We need to know you’re in the trenches with us, working with us, helping us.

Husband: So you want us to get into your trenches after we have been in our trenches ALL day?\

Me: Yes!  Because you can leave your trenches.  I can’t leave mine.  Whether it’s 3am or 5pm or 10 am, I am ALWAYS in my trench, and I CAN’T leave.  I’m ALWAYS here.  I need you here with me.

Evan: (piping up from his plate of spaghetti) I’m in the trenches too.  I need you, Daddy.

Well, that ended that argument.  I beamed at Evan.  God, he’s amazing.  Have you ever looked at your child and realized he’s a clone of you?