Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stories Too Long for Facebook

Yesterday, Thumper was running off to do something in another room when I told him, "Come here and let me comb your hair, then you can do whatever you want to do." His eyes lit up, and he immediately, without a pause, said, "I can do whatever I want to do?"

Realizing my semantic mistake, I said, "No, I mean you can go do whatever it is you were going to do in there." Aerie immediately pointed out how smart he was to see the loophole, so I asked him, "Who's the smartest: you, me, or Mama?"


"Who's the 2nd smartest?"

"I'm sorry to tell you, Dad, but it's me."

"Well, am I smarter than the kitties?"

"Yes. You're 3rd smartest. Then the kitties."

So, at least I outrank the kitties.

We spent the afternoon today trying to entertain ourselves without any TV or video games. While I did dishes and changed the bedding around the house, he ran on the treadmill, jumped on the trampoline, and beat up the standup punching bag. Then we worked on learning chess. When he couldn't figure out how to beat me in less than 30 minutes, he wanted to move on, plus it was about time to start cooking dinner.

I went into the kitchen, hooked up my iPod to the portable speakers, and kind of bopped along while I cooked. I turned around and saw him in the kitchen rocking out. He works his hips, his shoulders, his head, his arms. He has rhythm. He's gone to Zumba classes with Aerie a couple of times, and people there commented on his rhythm. He jumps, bounces, throws in lots of variety. I can't begin to move like he does. But he inspires me to dance less self-consciously, at least when it's just the two of us. Maybe in time I'll dance in public like I don't care what you think.

I started this summer with difficulty, trying to remember what it was like to spend all day every day with him since he just finished his first year of school. I'm beginning to remember how to talk to him like a person instead of snapping instructions at him and yelling at him when he doesn't listen. I'm remembering how to appreciate him, his sense of humor, his charm, his perspective on the world.

We spent two nights and three days camping with four other families (an entire post of its own, if I ever get around to writing it). It was his first camping trip. I told him that for the entire course of camping, he could make his own decisions about what he wanted to do and what he wanted to eat as long as he told me when he was going into the lake and when he was leaving the campsite. With the removal of all expectations for him to behave in a certain way and all expectations for me to limit his choices, we both were completely relaxed. For the most part, he made good choices, was kind to the other kids and polite to the adults. It was so fun and so calming that I found myself wondering why I was stressed and angry and snapped at him so much. I suppose we all do better when we're treated like people and aren't yelled at.

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