I’m Gonna Write about You

When I started writing, I was told never to befriend a blogger because I wouldn’t know when I’d end up in print. Next, that I hadn’t made it till I woke up and found myself in someone else’s blog. Both are true. The first time I woke up in a blog or had myself retweeted, I was horrified. Now, I realize it’s par for the course–fun even.

Now, I do it to other people. Sometimes I leave clues so the people I’m writing about can find themselves, and other times I disguise them completely. Once in a while, I mention them by name. I haven’t found my close group of friends has dwindled out of fear, but I do wonder if my son will hate me one day. I tend to write about him a lot. He doesn’t listen very well and he has a mind of his own. That part he gets that from me. His athleticism and ability to blow up in a second–that’s the other side of the family. It can be a great combination when it goes well–creativity, intellect, athleticism, and entrepreneurial drive. Or, it can be quite deadly–stubborn, rage, digging heels in–a recipe for a lot of time out.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.02.23 AMOne day, I’d reached my limit. I looked him square in the eye and intellectualized. “You do realize I’m going to write about you.” The ultimate punishment. Worse than time out. A permanent record of misdeeds. He didn’t seem to notice. Only pictures get his attention–a picture is worth a thousand words–for him, it’s worth a thousand bucks. He charges for pictures whenever he can.

He saw the picture I posted on the first day of school, and the words below. I hadn’t paid for the rights for the photo so he insisted I read the caption. I’d written that while most parents get a smiling picture of their Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 9.59.23 AMkid coming off the bus, mine was receiving an admonishment for being inappropriate. My troublemaking friend shared the picture, saying “Don’t listen, buddy. Always be inappropriate. Be highly, highly inappropriate.” Declan smiled. I should have told him it said, “Always listen to the bus monitor.” I was stupid to read it.

“I like your friend better than you, Mommy. I’m going to be inappropriate.” He references that quote often. He lives up to it. His life in the public eye.

Six-year olds are fickle. They’re becoming sentient beings. He is aware. He gets embarrassed and doesn’t like people to laugh at him. We left basketball tryouts in shame because he felt the world was laughing. That’s either narcissism or paranoia. I probably need to get him treated for both.

I use it as a threat. “If you keep that up, I’m gonna write about you.”

“DON’T WRITE ABOUT ME, MOMMY!” He stopped the bad behavior. I reneged–I’m writing about him now.  The way I see it, this will be a nice chronicle of childhood for him when I leave this planet. Before I do, however, it’ll be a series of links to send all future significant others and maybe his future spouse. I told him my plans.

“When you get married your family can read this.”

“I’m not gonna get married. I’m going to be a paleontologist. But I think I’ll marry you, Mommy.” I explain that while paleontologists can get married, only Oedipus can marry his mom. It’s a problem. I told him he’d have to wait till he was older to hear why.

“When I’m a teenager?”

“Yes. Maybe.”

“When I’m a teenager, I’m gonna do whatever I want. I’m going to watch Total Drama Island and swear. I’m going so say ‘shit’ when I’m a teenager. Teenagers can do anything you know.”

I explain that he can do anything when he moves out or hands me a rent payment. I pay the bills and I set the rules.

He puts a quarter on the table. “I have lots of money.” That’s true. He got it fleecing me for pictures and walking around the house and car scouring for all money not deposited in a bank.”Can I say ‘shit’ now and do whatever I want?” This is going badly. Very badly.

“No. Save that money. I’m not saving for college, you know.”

“I have to go to college. I’m going to be a paleontologist.”

“There’s a shovel outside. Dig. It’s cheaper.”

He grumbles and whispers “shit” just one more time. I correct him and he says, “I was saying ‘ship.’ You know, like the ships that go in the water?” I’m vaguely aware of what a ship is, and that he has not said ship. He does something similar using a couple other words that cannot be said. I tell him to knock it off. He smiles the sneaky smile that indicates if I give this more attention it’ll continue.

I tell him, “I’m gonna write about you.” I’ll win this one in the end.

He asks, “Will you write the word ‘shit?‘” I glare. I’m not winning. “I mean, ‘ship?'”

Yes. I guess I will.



Jurassic Frogs

dino frogWe found a frog in the garden. A big, green Calavaras-county style bullfrog hiding under the straw.

“Mom, he reminds me of a palaeobatrachus. That’s a dinosaur that was an amphibian. A dinosaur frog. Frogs are amphibians, you know. They live in the water and on land.” He continued, “Mom! I discovered a lot about frogs. They’re slimy because of the water, and they have feet like a duck. That’s how they swim.”

I googled this fact. Not the part about the duck–about the paleo-frog I couldn’t spell. He was, in fact right, down to the last detail I couldn’t understand.

This is serious. I think he might get locked in a gym locker earlier than I previously expected–do they have gym lockers in kindergarten?

He tells me lots of facts–math facts, obscure facts from the dawn of man, geo-facts, and he carries a little piece of shale in his pocket with a leaf fossil. Or a crinkle in the rock. We want to think it’s a leaf fossil. He’s been digging intently to find more for three days.

“Be careful, you’re going to dig to China, and I didn’t get your passport yet.” I said.

“MOM! You CAN’T dig to CHINA! You would only dig to molten rock and lava. That’s what’s at the center of the Earth.” Point well taken.

“How do you know this?” Inquiring minds want to know.

“Because I am a Man of Science.” Indeed.

He loves his class and his friends. He has just one critique. “School is boring, I just want to play.” Fair enough.

“Let’s do your math first. We have to draw the circles near this problem.”

“I don’t need the circles. That’s for babies. I know how to add the numbers.”

“Let’s check.”  I put a handful of plastic dinosaurs onto the table. “How many dinos?”

“17.” Correct.

“If I take eight,” I do not touch them, “How many will there be?”

“Nine,” he says.  Nine is correct. He’s doing better than Wall Street.

What if school were all about dinosaurs. What if we added dinos, subtracted dinos, talked about how dinos interacted with people and how we have dino shows today? We could graph the extinction pattern, project meteors throughout space, and classify geo-material I can’t spell. I’d learn too, though. Bet he’d never be bored. What if we could do that for every kid? I think about that a lot lately.

Yes, my kid’s a giant nerd–he reminds me of my friend’s kid when he was the same age, but his thing was robots, and he didn’t get locked into a gym locker. He’s in high school now. But if Declan isn’t as lucky, I feel confident that when he gets let out, that in twenty years he’ll fire the people who put him in.

And that is what life is all about.