I am Totally Paying Attention to You.

#5 was looming.

I don’t mean he was sulking and brooding in the corner; I mean he had the Rainbow Loom and assorted bands spread out all across the dining room table.

His sudden reinterest in the Loom was, unsurprisingly, spurred by an argument. A little girl came to visit: our babysitter’s niece, age 3. She spent most of Saturday at our house and as it turns out is just as inquisitive and stubborn as #5. At the babysitter’s suggestion, they played with the Loom and found themselves at odds over many things: namely, the right way to do it, and whether maroon should be referred to as “red”, “pink”, or “purple”. He rehashed so many of their arguments for me that I could tell he is smitten. I fully expect them to marry.

Sunday morning all the supplies were still out on the table. #5 ran in through the door after Sunday school and went right to it.

There is an internal law in a kid’s mind that says unless someone witnesses every step of what they are doing, it didn’t happen. I am often called to witness. At times this witnessing is a mutually enjoyable experience; this was not one of those times.

This was one of those times where I didn’t care about the damn Rainbow Loom and I could tell he wasn’t listening to me anyway and would have been just as happy with the dog as a witness. All morning he kept dragging me away from what I was trying to finish, making me watch something that to my eye looked exactly like what he had shown me five minutes before, and would then run right over anything I attempted to say in response with his own internal, out-loud monologue. This is when I would walk away, invariably to be pulled back several minutes later.

I did, finally, get his attention.

#5: Look! Look!

Me: What.

#5: I’m inventing a new weave!

Me: Cool.

#5: Do you know what this design is going to be?

Me: What.

#5: Awesome, that’s what.

Me: Nice.

#5: Man, I hope this holds together when I pull it off the loom.

Me: Man, me too. Otherwise you’re just a complete and utter, abject failure.

#5 looked up with his mouth open to find me smiling. I could see him working through how to respond, first thinking you’re not allowed to say that! followed by an immediate realization of who he was actually talking to. He and the two sisters in the room all laughed at the same time.

#5: Oh my God. I can’t believe you said that.

Me: I can’t believe you finally listened to me.

He carried on looming.

Me: Hey, let me know how that works out for you, okay?

Despite all that, I would like to report I am now the proud owner of two new bracelets (of a traditional weave).

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How do you get your kids’ attention?

 

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The Last Time This Will Ever Happen

We were watching the Miss America pageant last month and #5 was waiting for his turn in the shower, dividing his attention between the television screen and spinning around in circles.

He spends an awful lot of time spinning in circles. He also has abs of steel. I do not believe these two things are coincidental. I’m working on him to make his own exercise video, but I need someone else to do the camera work because I get dizzy just watching him.

I heard his sister leave the bathroom while I was in the kitchen and called out to him that he could go in.

No response.

I walked out to find him standing completely still, transfixed, staring at the screen. Bikini-clad Miss America contestants with their million-dollar-smiles, and other assets, paraded across the stage and down the runway, one after the other. Hot American chicks as far as the camera could see.

Me: Hey bud, the shower’s open.

#5: {silence}

Me: Yo. Shower?

#5: {silence}

Me, stepping in front of him: Do you want to stay and watch all the pretty girls in bikinis?

#5: {looks at me, then back at the TV, coming out of his trance} Eww! No!

He ran out of the room. Another beautiful moment of boyhood, never to be repeated again.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I met #5’s friend’s parents because of a pickaxe accident? Yeah, that happened. You can read about in my new post over on Family Circle’s Momster blog: Meet the Parents…the Awkward Version.

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Now THAT’S a sandwich!

On Boys Being Boys

I took my leave of #5 on Sunday at a Scout camp somewhere in the pretty part of New Jersey. For the first time ever, he wouldn’t hug me goodbye.

He’s a month shy of eleven.  I’m pretty sure that he would have hugged me goodbye had he not been surrounded by other similarly-aged boys.

However, he was, and he didn’t.

It happened like this:

Me: So, hey bud, I’m gonna take off now, ok?

#5: {turns away from me, jams fists in pockets and kicks the ground} Bye.

Me: {torn between trying not to cry from my heart breaking and trying not to laugh out loud at his transparency} Bye. See you next week.

And I drove over an hour back home alone, contemplating this stage he has entered into:

Little-big.

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He can still fold himself up into small spaces: under CC’s arm on the couch for movie time, in between CC and I when we’re napping, into a tiny sliver of his twin-sized bed when I read him Harry Potter, behind furniture so he can jump out and scare his sisters. But gone are the days when his face and my elbows were the same exact the height and he was always getting whacked in the eye from hovering behind me in the kitchen. His pants are all at least three inches too short, and he can hide his candy on the second-highest shelf in the pantry.

He was still four years old for a couple days when he began kindergarten. We debated whether to start him or keep him out, but his mind was so ready. He pulled out pads of paper when his sisters were at school and played school by himself. He covered our driveway with the powers of ten in chalk and when he ran out of driveway, used the neighbor’s next door. Starting him in school also guaranteed he’d be around other boys. He’s a little outnumbered in our house. It was definitely the right decision for him, but it did take a while to catch up socially.

He’s totally caught up. He’s making up for lost time.

He’s digging holes, building forts with zip lines to and from, riding his bike on a ramp that has broken the wrists of three friends, and “accidentally” kicking over nests of ground bees; he’s pulling snapping turtles out of the lake, always looking out for ways to earn a buck, and getting in trouble for pushing his boundaries. A lot. With friends. In short, he’s being a boy. Rejection is inevitable.

Back at the camp, I didn’t force a hug out of him, though I was caught totally off guard. I felt like I was in middle school again when suddenly the boy I was “going” with wouldn’t talk to me in front of his friends. Someone wisely suggested to me that I switch to the goodbye fist bump; it’s the best I’m gonna get out of him until he graduates high school. When he’s way past Little-big.

This camp allows no electronic devices, not even radios. It’s one of the reasons we sent him there. I can’t reassure him myself with a goodnight text. I think he must be homesick. Then I laugh at my own transparency.

Being a stepmom gives me an edge in handling the rejection.  After all, it isn’t as if all five kids accepted me wholeheartedly from the get-go; as the Roger Clyne song goes, “I’ve seen a slammin’ door a time or two before.”

But there is one thing I really wish I could tell him this week, right now while he’s there. One thing I really wish he knew, and it’s killing me that I can’t. If I could text him, I’d say this:

Dude. I just found out: they filmed the first Friday the 13th movie at your camp. Chh-chh-chh ahh-ahh-ahh. Lookout!