From Beer to Socrates

We began dinner with a reference to our fourth grader’s birthday party. His friend made quite an impression by rapidly gulping down a bottle of water and burping.

“He’ll be good when he has to shot-gun a beer,” remarked my husband.

“What’s that?” all three boys wanted to know.

So, Dad described how to shot-gun a beer. The speed of the pour.

“That’s disgusting!” said two out of three. But the third claimed his friends shot-gunned Coca-Cola. Easy for one. The other spewed soda everywhere.

Then… Politics. Hollywood. Moral corruption. Innocent before proven guilty. The power of political parties.

We hit them all, but…

How in the world did the conversation end with our eighth grader commenting, “I sometimes get confused between Aristotle and Socrates”?

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Flu Shot Fiasco

In the imagination of my ten-year-old, flu shots hurt. He claims that his arm still aches from last year’s shot. “I have been in pain for years and years,” he cried today in a plea to skip his appointment.

Moms typically find no humor in public meltdowns. However, the ability to re-watch the scene through the eyes of his teenage big brother – twinkling with both awe and amusement throughout the scene – can turn drama into comedy.

The not-so-little-anymore ten-year-old began the appointment hiding under the chair in which I sat waiting for the nurse. Crying. Shaking. “I’m going to throw up!”

The baby wailing in the next room could not compete.

When the nurse entered, he stepped up his game. Screamed. Leapt out of my arms. Flew open the door, and raced down the hall.

By the time the nurse and I ran after him – big brother didn’t move, by the way – the waiting room showed no evidence of a mad ten-year-old in flight. She searched amid the quiet children and parents waiting their turn. People, like I used to be, who assume a modicum of sanity from their offspring.

I checked the bathrooms. Down another hall.

Where could he be hiding?

I found him outside in his socks.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be me!”

I talked him back into the doctor’s office. Threats of returning tomorrow with Dad. Waved at the nurse. Read to him while she recruited a colleague to help us pin him down.

He screamed to stick his left leg. “I need my right leg for sports. It’s my strong one.” Then….

“Nooooo!”

By the time his doctor entered, he was finished with his fluorescent green ice-pop and riding an adrenaline rush that entertained her with stories of farting, bad school lunches, baseball and his struggles with spelling.

“Next year,” she said, “you get two shots.”

And his big brother grinned.

October Snow Dance

Rumors of an early snow day had three boys in my house in a virtual tizzy last night. And they concocted a few odd rituals to deliver the snow.

The eighth grader ran outside while we were finishing dinner and yelled into the dark, snowless ski, “Snow gods, make it snow!”

The fourth grader followed him out the door, but decided the snow gods would take more notice if he stripped down to his orange striped underwear. “We want a snow day!”

“No school!” called the ninth grader from the doorway.

I am not sure who came up with the final plea. For that, they dumped ice cubes into the toilet.

Then this morning, when only a dusting graced our lawn, they blamed the little guy. “You put too much ice in.”

Funny. I assumed it was the dance in his underwear.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

On Thursday, our eighth grader didn’t talk for two hours after school because he had screwed up on a Math quiz.  But the next day was Friday. Nothing can bring him down at 3:00 on Friday, and the afternoon car ride tends to be full of his chatter.

You know Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”? He should drive with my kids. Rename his show “Comedians in Cars Eating Kit-Kats.”

Yesterday, the grumpy one was ready when his older brother punted him an easy one. “Can you believe Apple is worth over $800 billion?”

“So what? I’m going to make more than a trillion,” was the quick response.

“How?” challenged the punter.

“Well….” having shed his school-week gloom, he grinned, “I already own the Illuminati. The problem is, no one will ever be rich enough to buy it from me. So I’m a bit cash-strapped.”

“You could go public,” I joined in. “Then everyone could buy stock.”

Gasps all around.

“You can’t go public with the Illuminati! The public doesn’t even know we’re real!”

Then he went through which Presidents and celebrities are members, and which are “persons of interest,” usually for bad reasons. Trump and Kanye West both persons of interest.

“Was Steve Jobs a member?”

“Person of interest. He was kind of weird about stuff.”

“That guy who founded the Mormons? John Smith?”

“A little crazy.”

“Ronald Reagan?” As good as Apple in the mind of the eldest.

“That was my predecessor’s time. I wouldn’t know.”

They kept laughing.

“And then that stupid Youtuber, PewDiePie. Definitely a person of interest. Tells everyone our corporate headquarters are in Israel. I always thought that was too obvious anyway. My predecessor’s choice. But still! Then I had to move us, and that cost me a couple hundred million.”

“Where did you move?”

“I can’t tell you that!”

“Come on!”

“Somewhere no one is ever going to bomb. Or even think of.”

“Canada?”

“Exactly. That would be like kicking your dog. But don’t tell anyone. It’s top secret.”

“Well,” bringing it around, “I still think you can’t beat Apple.”

How Was Your Day? Who’s Your New Friend?

As a mom, I lack patience. I want to know how their days were. Who said what? Anything fun? How was the test? What did you eat for lunch? Who’d you play with at recess? Did you make a new friend? Who did you talk to at…

Maybe after all these years of saying I was meant to have boys – and being happy about it – I really needed chatty girls who tell mom all.

But I am trying. During the ride home from school with my teenage boy, I am limiting myself to a quick “good day?”

“Yep.”

And in this quieter approach, I am starting to hear more. His first high school friend has two younger siblings, and he wouldn’t want to be an only child.

That was all I got Week One through Five.

Then yesterday, my son offered that his new friend “doesn’t know anything about Social Studies. Not even who the bad guys were in World War II. Or World I, but I guess that’s okay, because that’s more complicated.”

Apparently, the kid is good at math.

“He didn’t even have Social Studies in elementary school, the teachers were so bad. So, he couldn’t catch up in middle school. And now…”

Pause.

“I’ve made it my mission to teach him everything I know about Social Studies by the end of the year.”

I grinned. “And how does he feel about that?”

“Great!” as if every fourteen year old boy is eagerly waiting for his friends to teach him world history in the lunchroom.

It sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

His Favorite Food

“Sesame Chicken and Indian food are tied for my favorite foods,” said the fourth grader. “But Sesame Chicken might win, because whenever I eat Indian food, I have to sit on the toilet for about 20 minutes.”

Yuck.

“But I love it anyway. I just don’t like it for lunch. Then I might miss a minute or two of recess stuck on the toilet. Which probably means I like Sesame Chicken best.”

His Teenage Name Day

Sitting in the stands at yesterday’s late afternoon soccer game, I held my breath when my son got the ball in front of the goal.

The goalie caught his attempt, but it was a nice shot. Everyone cheered, and above the din, I heard his teammate – their best player nursing an injury – yell, “Nice try, Kelly!”

It took me out of the moment. Until then, none of my boys had been called anything but their first names. The names we chose for them.

But he is 13 – that age when teammates or classmates choose a different name for you. A last name. A shortened version of your own. A weird mashing of words that somehow, they think, describes you. A teenage badge of honor.

I was the only one who noticed. The only one who marked the moment as important.

Then today, another friend, “See ya tomorrow, Kelly!”