Lil E has been out all week with a bad case of what I had no idea until today is strep throat, or what in our house is recognizable as barf-and-popsicleitis. He spent one day out of the five at school, tired and unable to make decisions but on a break from the fever and warily eating the tiniest possible bites of apple sauce. On that day, he cried because he couldn't decide whether to play Chase or Stomp the Toad with his friends on the playground, couldn't remember if he had art or music, didn't have the energy to share his normal, everyday details of who he sat next to at lunch and who got red-carded for bad behavior.
Alas, he did have the wherewithal to complete a four-sentence sheet all about me. Or rather, all about the me he sees. Even better -- all about the me I think he wants me to be.
It's nearly Mother's Day, so this is supposed to be precious. Mostly, it made me laugh. Well, first it made me puzzled, then it made me question, and finally it made me laugh.
Read and you shall see why.
Can't read it? Not to worry. Just take a moment to feel the ooze of sweetness drip over you, considering how this child, probably feverish and actively spreading germs to all of the kids in a 20-foot radius, took the brainpower, raw emotion, and complete love to honor his mother in such a confounding fashion. All done? Awesome. Let me walk you through it.
While it is true we've seen every single "iCarly" and "Martha Speaks" ever produced and that my kid is pretty adept at navigating oand onDemand to "his section" (that is, the family movies priced $4.99 and up), I am a pretty stingy mama when it comes to watching television. Unless it is one of our Lazy Saturdays or he's sick or he's finished writing up several homework worksheets full of lies like this.
He seems to have conveniently forgotten that last fall I cut out morning TV altogether and we've barely seen any episodes of (what I hope he always refers to as) "America's HOME Funniest Videos" that was made after 1997 and that three of the most-oft used words in my vocabulary string together to form "NO. MORE. SHOWS."
Oh, and please note in the tiny TV illustration accompanying the text, he's drawn Sponge Bob dancing around on the screen gaily, one of the shows I've vowed -- aloud and often, nonetheless -- will never, ever play in our home. Moving on...
OK...WHAT?! Reading this was very much for me like those moments in a conversation with a really, truly crazy relative. You know this crazy relative. She's the one who is telling a story about how terrified she was when you were kidnapped by Arabian knights as a small child and were finally negotiated home by a group of dictators who happened to be vacationing in the area and bearing large amounts of foreign currency and museum-quality artwork and traded it all for your release..and..and..and you pause to think, "Wait...was I really kidnapped by Arabian nights? This sounds true. Could it be true? Maybe I was returned to my sobbing mother wearing only a turban adorned with a crown jewel."
Totally like that. I actually paused and wondered if somehow I'd forgotten I'd kicked off the platform heels and pummeled some dufus goal-keeper to earn the winning point and finally read up on what "off-sides" means and scored big in the office fantasy football league. The answer is no. No, I haven't.
I'm really proud that I've been running for about a year-and-a-half, that I've hit double digits in my mileage, that I've trained my brain to find a treadmill on the days I'm most stressed. I'm even working on embracing the athlete I never new existed within me (this is really not the time to make college jokes, friends, so don't even think it). Oh,and I did (reluctantly and probably not well) coached Lil E's first year of t-ball (with my dad, whispering to me on the sidelines and stepping in to give batting pointers). Really, I am the farthest thing from being good at sports there is. I just happened to be wrapped in professional-looking workout gear and have loads of make-up caked on over sweat.
Sure, I love to outscore my son at soccer at the park and I'll happily cheer on a near-championship team during the final playoff games. I've loved running across the finish line with Lil E and I am weirdly obsessed with the Olympics. But good at sports? Ohhhahahahahahaha. So funny.
Here's what I imagine: Lil E's kindergarten teacher, with whom I maybe got a teense too indignant with at one parent-teacher conference when she suggested I might play some phonics computer games with him at home, reads this and winks knowingly at my son, looking deceptively innocent in his little chair, coloring with big crayons.
"I knew it...it's always the most resistant ones. It's always them," she thinks, her mind traveling back to the virtual soapbox I stood upon while explaining that since my entire professional life is online, I am quite aware how soon and how inundated my boy will be with tap-tap-tapping away at a keyboard or on his phone, how quickly he'll be enveloped into social media, how fast he'll learn to navigate whatever arises in his 3.0 or 4.0 or beyond world. THEREFORE, I may have said with a finger pointed like a mighty sword in the air, he will learn to read and write with paper and pen in our house as did many generations that came before -- even before there was a mouse or Atari 800.
I could have said "no, thank you" politely (as I insist my son does). Instead, I felt some weird mom/online guilt I had to lay out all over the teacher's table that my knees were uncomfortably wedged under and Lil E's report card was resting upon.
Clearly, that was all for naught. Now that the fake word is out that I let my kid troll dating sites and buy sad knit caps from Etsy.
The honest-to-goodness truth? I hunt for kitty cat videos for him on YouTube, let him watch the talking twins 17 times in a row and shamefully introduced him to the Rebecca Black video. But I swear, I SWEAR, he still jabs at my keyboard like it is some unknown life form, only occasionally asks to visit one of those damn educational game sites PBS is always pimping out to preschoolers, and doesn't seem to care one bit at home that he's not commandeering the computer.
Who knows? Maybe by leaving my laptop running all night (please don't get all IT on me for admitting that), he's taking it as permission to get up and surf some crazy, 6-year-old site with Justin Bieber lyrics or monkeys you can make jump over piles of letters. It could be far crazier here than I even know.
Is there anything more adorable that a kid who can't spell the very currency he's clearly begging for? No, there is not. Or maybe I'm aging myself simply by saying that. M-U-N-N-Y could very well be the new kindergangsta way of convincing your dopey parents that the quarter you find on the street next the car is insufficient allowance.
So how much M-U-N-N-Y does Lil E love me for so generously bestowing into his plastic sandwich bag wallet?
And look at all of them! There are so many that the president actually looks worn out from being shuffled from my purse to his sticky little apple juice hands. There are so many Benjamins that, as illustrated here, the simple exchange of cash has induced bleeding on nearly half the bills. It's bounteous to tragic proportions.
Could this be Lil E taunting me for forgetting to give him his dollar allowance for 19 of the last 20 weeks I promised he could have it? Or is he making a play for some strategic savings venture to get new rims on his scooter?
I looked it over thoughtfully, which really means I was pondering ways to keep myself from laughing out loud and the boy from bursting into tears.
"I love this," I said. And I do. I think it is awesome and hilarious and totally false and I love it.
"I love YOU, Mommy!" He said it in a high-pitched little, adorable squirrel of a voice.
"Ummm, is this really what you think about me?" I promise I was treading carefully.Still, a look of horror flashed across his little face."I mean, this is what you really, truly think about Mommy?"
"YES!" He said it so emphatically, like a teenager who is 1000% positive they are ready to take the family car out on the big street. "Do you not believe it?"
He speaks like this sometimes, in these chopped up sentences that almost sound reversed, the indication he genuinely means what he's saying.
"Oh, honey. I do."
"Then what?" If he'd said in an all-caps kind of way, it would have been easier. Angst and fury are simpler than disappointment and near whispers.
"It's not how I see myself," I replied.( Did you gasp to read that? I gasped to hear myself say it. Luckily, I am good at recovery.) "But if this is how you see me, then I love knowing that. I love seeing what you see. It's a wonderful perspective."
He nodded, hugged me, ran off to count his money during "Phinneus & Ferb" commericals while CNN loaded up on the computer. I kid. I DO! He went off to do self-inspired baseboard dusting and reorganize his Lego bin. More lies. (OK, this is getting to be a bit much.)
My mom says every kid this age writes this stuff about their mom. Crazy enough, that felt like an insult. I mean, if any child is going to excel at falsifying a Mother's Day tribute to his mama, I want it to be mine.
I get that it isn't really lies. I see that it's what he wants to see in me, or at least wants from me. When it comes down to it, I got such a good laugh over it -- long after he went to bed -- that I might even let him believe I buy it all.
With one-hundred dollar bills, of course.