Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On Contracts and the End of the World

It has been a banner summer so far, replete with a large-scale violent attack (see: Aurora, CO) that makes you question everything from gun control to racial profiling in the media, and a weather-related inconvenience (see: derecho) that gives you new-found appreciation for climate control.

Here in our little corner of the world, we have also experienced one broken arm, two heads of lice, and three sore throats (one necessitating antibiotics). Is it the end of the world? According to my son, it has to be. Witness:

(Scene: Morning in the Jacob household. Children are running amok, avoiding clothes and toothbrushes. Husband is looking for clean laundry. I am on computer but soon give up to pack lunches for children. Sam, age 6, enters my office with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in his hand.)

Sam: Mommy, can I take this to camp today?
Me: Why?
Sam: So I can read it. So I won't be bored.
(long beat)
Me: Sweetie, I think this one is a little tough for you to read on your own. Why don't you take something else to read?
Sam: (whining) Liiiiiike whaaaaaaat?
Me: I don't know. Ask your sister for a suggestion. I've got to go pack your lunch.

Sam: Sydney, what book can I take to camp to read?
Syd: I don't know. Look on your shelf.
Sam: I've read all of those a million times. Can I take Diary of a Wimpy Kid?
Syd: But it's mine.
Sam: I just want to borrow it. J--- is reading it.
Syd. Hmmm. Hold on a sec.

(Long beat, as I reenter the picture and overhear:)

Syd: Just sign here.
Sam: Okay.
Me: Wait, wait. What are you signing?
Syd. Just a contract. It's nothing.
Me: Wait a minute. Let me see that.
Marc: Sam, don't sign anything without reading the fine print.
Me: Don't sign anything from your sister without showing it to me first.
Syd: It's too late. He already signed.
Me: Give me that.
Syd: No!

(Scrappling for paper ensues. I win and read contract, replete with cost of book and ISBN. I immediately tear up contract.)

Syd and Sam: No!
Me: No way.
Syd: He signed!
Me: Now it's null and void.
Sam: I can't take the book?
Me: No. Because you promised that if you lost it, got it wet, or basically breathed on it, you would buy her a new one.
Syd: So?
Me: So?! You don't put a contract on your brother.
Sam: But now I don't have anything to read! You said I couldn't take The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and you told me to find another book. So I found Diary of a Wimpy Kid and now you won't let me take that either. And everyone in camp is bringing books to read, and I won't have one and I'm going to be bored! It's not fair!

(Commence tantrum that lasts 10 minutes, escalates, and involves counting and a timeout. He repeats some variation of the above lines, and ends with the following phrase, repeated over and over, as he is escorted, crying, to the car to go to camp:)

Sam: It's got to be the end of the world! It's got to be! It's got to be the end of the world!

(End. Finally.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled that he wants to read. I'm slightly perturbed that he is "bored" at camp and feels the need to find ways to amuse himself, but of all the ways he could do so, books are definitely at the top of my list.

But the end of the world? C'mon, kid. I'll see your tantrum and raise you a derecho. Just don't tell Pepco!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From today's journal:

It is amazing how clear the solutions to problems become when I look at them from a position of love, not fear. Fear never did anything for me except hold me back and make me eat.
I am done with fear.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Thought

I just want someone to look into those big brown eyes and say, honestly, "You matter. You. Matter."

Monday, July 09, 2012

Journey On

(I hesitated for a moment on capitalizing the second word in the title, but my editor brain said, "Capitalize the first and last words in a title," so there you have it.)

I went back to the beginning of my blog today and realized that I started writing this behemoth before my son was born. He will be seven the first week in August. That's a long time and a lot of words. Seven! Seven. That's substantial in kid years. Although he still thinks his sister has it all over him. He was talking about her impending Bat Mitzvah (in three years!) and said, "Wow, she'll be the only kid in the family that has two numbers [double digits]." He cracks me up. She'll be in double digits in less than a year. But his brain doesn't work that way.

I took him to get his hair cut yesterday. I was watching him in the mirror, watching him as he couldn't watch me, because his eyes were closed and his head was down. His face was a little flushed from the heat, and his skin was tanned from our recent, unplanned trip to the mountains. Every so often, he'd look up and see me staring, catch my eye, and smile at me. His grin would round his cheeks and show his dimples, and the two front teeth that are partly grown in. We'd smile at each other, and the stylist would ask him to put his head back down.

And I'd watch, not seeing my almost seven-year-old, but seeing the 12-month-old sitting up straight in the red metal car, dodging the comb every time the stylist came near his face. The three-year-old with his eyes fixed on the TV screen, unwilling to look down at his belly, even with the promise of a lollipop if he did. The five-year-old who shyly tugged at my arm and whispered to me to remind the lady that he "doesn't like the water" sprayed on his hair.

I hear echoes of the future, wondering what battles lie before me. He wants to grow it longer, and I think it looks better short. We're disagreeing over style, and maybe even color. I glance back to the present, to the rounded cheeks, and fight back the urge to gather him in my arms and make him swear to me that he won't grow it out too long, or fight me on his curfew. Or break my heart.

I blink back the tears and look away before he can see them. When the stylist finishes, I ask him if he wants a little gel in the front. This is usually the highpoint of his haircut, getting a little product and strutting around like a "cool dude" for the rest of the day. But he smiles and declines. She offers it to him and he says no thank you. "A little water, then," she says, wetting her hands and combing them through his now-shortened locks so that the front stands up just a bit. I expect him to recoil at the touch of the water, but he takes it like a man.

When we exit the shop, I grasp his hand to cross the parking lot to the car. He doesn't pull away as he usually does, and I am grateful. His still-small fingers entwine with my own. I breathe deeply, trying to memorize the moment and the feeling, knowing the next seven years will pass by just as quickly.