Ancient Parenting Techniques

So it was dinner time and I went outside to call in Tornado A and Tornado S. Who were wrestling on the trampoline. Wearing only shorts. With newly shaved head.

Me: Spartans! Dinner!

You know it fits. Last summer the boys somehow learned about Leonidas yelling “This is Sparta!” and kicking someone in a pit. They practiced this move all last summer, using the pool as their pit. They also taught themselves some rudimentary stage fighting techniques.

This is my family. Apparently, I’m raising Spartan men.

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Existential Crisis

Tornado S did not want to go to religious class. But I made him. He whined. He cried. He begged. Video games were not going to be in his future.

When we arrived, Tornado A jumped out of the car. I told him to go ahead and go without us; we’ll catch up. I opened up Tornado S’s car door.

Me: Come on, Tornado S. Time to go.

Tornado S: (crying) But why are we here?

Me: Because I am raising you Catholic, so you have to come to classes.

Tornado S: But why?

Me: Because this will give you a place to start. A place to start questioning and searching and trying to understand the world.

Tornado S: But why here?

Me: Because this church has a lot to offer, and it agrees with a lot of what I believe.

Tornado S: (still crying) But why are we here?

Me: (sigh) Because you have to go to class.

Tornado S: No. Why are we here?

Me: What?

Tornado S: Why are we here? Why do we exist? Why do we live?

Wait. What?

Me: You want to know why we are here on earth, living this life?

Tornado S: (sobbing) YES!

Me: Well. I think we’re here to learn. To experience. To love.

Tornado S: But why is life so horrible?

Kid, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But then this is the kid who cried watching a Save the Children Fund commercial.

Me: I don’t know, baby. A lot of people have tried to find out why. Listen. Let’s go home. You can rest. You don’t have to go to class. When you’re ready, we’ll talk more about this. Let me just let your teacher know.

So I walked into the building to find that Tornado S’s teacher wasn’t there. In his place was the director of children’s ministry.

Director: Hey. You don’t look like Tornado S. But I see a resemblance. (Yeah, we’ve been in the program for a few years now.)

Me: It’s the nose and the cheeks. Yeah, Tornado S is having an existential crisis in the car. So I think I need to take him home.

Director: A what?

Me: He wants to know why we’re here. Not here for class, but here as in our lives.

Director: OH! Wow. Ok. Yeah. Tell him I wonder that myself. It’s fine. He’s a good kid. He told us all about the homily the other day.

I stopped making eye contact as I watched Tornado S walk past the windows to the door. He came into the room.

Tornado S: Hi, Mama! I figured it out!

Me: Um, ok.

Tornado S: We’re here to have fun!

Um.

Tornado S: I’ll stay for class.

Director: Tornado S. I won’t make you do any work today. Just listen. Ok, bud?

Tornado S: Ok. Can I go get a snack first?

Director: Sure, go ahead.

Me: Um. Ok. Well, then. See you in 50 minutes.

What the hell?

Studying

I should have put up a sign. Sorry, grading.

Last week was midterms. I actually said to my kids, “Sorry. All laundry services have been suspended until midterms are graded.”

But all midterms were graded. I magnanimously graded late work. All grades were in on time.

Instead of collapsing into a nap/read/gorge-on-salads-and-fruits to regain my strength and sanity, I had to study for a test. A test that I need to be an official teacher, not a temporary-we’ll-see-if-you’ll-make-it teacher. And I misjudged my expiration date. Because I left time to retake the test if need be. Nope. It’s a one shot. From the free throw line. No pressure.

But I’ve done my share of free-throws. And I know how to study. 15 minute increments with 5 minute break. A little every day. Don’t stress. Except the two weeks of intense grading consuming my every waking minute. So I was a little nervous.

During the afternoon, on our first official day off, I sat down to study since no one wanted to go to the movies with me. Thanks, boys.

Me: Tornado E! Here take this. Help me study!

I got a teenage look of boredom and are-you-kidding-me.

Tornado A: I’ll help, Mama!

He grabbed the answers for the study guide.

Me: I’m going to take this test and tell you the answers, and you’re going to tell me if I got it right.

Tornado A: Ok, Mama!

I started to read the long, intricate problem.

Tornado A: You can do it, Mama! This one’s easy!

I glanced up before returning to the problem I was reading.

Me: A!

Tornado A: Yea, Mama! That’s right! Now what’s number 2?

Me: Hold on. I have to read it.

I started reading the problem.

Tornado A: This one is easy, Mama!

Me: Thanks.

I kept reading.

Tornado A: It’s an easy one, Mama!

Me: D!

Tornado A: Good one, Mama! Now 3! It’s easy too!

Me: Baby, you only have the letter answers. I’ve the test.

Tornado A: I know, Mama! But this one is easy!

And so it continued through out the practice test. Except when I got it wrong. Then Tornado A would console me and encourage me to do it again.

He makes a heck of a cheerleader.

 

 

 

Oh, and I did pass my test.

A Book Signing

We had a Festival of Books this weekend, and Tornado E missed it as he was off on an all-weekend school trip. Unfortunately for Tornado E, several authors he likes were in town. Fortunately for me, one of those authors was one of my favorites. So I decided that I HAD to see her and get her to sign a book.

Because I’ve never been to a book signing, I worried that I would only get one book signed, so I slyly asked Tornado S to come with me under the guise of a Mommy Day. Tornado S said yes.

But first we went to the lecture. An hour talk. Which included two other authors in a panel discussion about world creating. It was great. It was funny. I learned a lot. Tornado S was bored out of his mind.

But boredom is good for the mind.

After the lecture, while I waited in line, he ran around in circles to get the energy out. Then he came and stood with me, holding Tornado E’s book. We got to the front of the line.

HB: Hi! (She reached out for a book)

Tornado S: Hi!  (handing her the book) I don’t read your books yet. But my big brother does. But he can’t be here because he’s away for the weekend for school. So can you sign it for my brother?

HB: You stood in line for your big brother? (Tornado S nodded) That was very kind of you. Do you want me to make this out to your brother? What’s his name?

I spelled it for her.

Me: (Whispering to Tornado S) Did you want to ask her your question?

Tornado S: OH! Are you going to make a movie out of your books?

HB: I hope so. Fingers crossed. It’s not up to me.

Tornado S took back the book.

I handed her my book.

Me: I’m a huge fan. Thank you for writing such great books.

HB: Thank you. What’s your name?

I spelled it.

Tornado S: She has two books! Can you sign both of them?

HB: Sure! That’s what I’m here for!

Me: Oh, thanks. (I quickly pulled out the second book and handed it to her) I’ve loved your books since the first one.

HB: (Laughs) Thanks for sticking with me.

Me: I’m making it a family thing. (I patted Tornado S on the head and grabbed my book.) Thank you.

And that’s how my quiet, shy introvert had more guts than me.

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.

A Bit about the Black Panter

My boys are feminists. They easily identify with female heroes and scorn sexism. I’ve taught them feminism since they were babes.

And I’m hoping I’m making sure they are not racist either or any other kind of bigot. I want them to see people for who they are, and I want them to realize that they have white privilege. So within ten minutes of watching Black Panther Monday night, I knew I had to take my boys as soon as I could.

Today was that day. While we walked up to the theater, we talked about “representation matters.”

And they loved the movie.

So I asked them why they liked it.

Tornado E: The set. The architecture. The scenes. They were really cool. (reflection a few hours later) I liked the characters and the story too.

Tornado S: The rhinos! They were so cute! Especially that scene (Edited).

Tornado A: I liked the story!

So here’s hoping for movies with a diverse cast and film crew. We need more of these stories.