Kid quirks

Be Still My Melting Heart

On occasion, children create moments that melt hearts. As a mama, you want to grab the nearest roll of the Quicker Picker-up to soak up every drop… Maybe because you’re a clean freak and can’t stand the thought of drippy heart staining your good linens … But, more likely, because you want to lock that messy ball of melty moment in a vault to sneak into and hold every now and again.

Even boys need to share the, albeit rare, heaviness on their hearts… especially when that heaviness is in the arena of sports disappointments. A mom sometimes panics when surprise tears well up in the eyes of her nearly grown little boy at the most random of moments.

Is someone hurting him?? Is it a girl??!? What kind of life altering struggle has befallen my son??!

He fights to choke out a few words that express a deep pain at a loss in that afternoon’s hockey game, and, while I feel relief in the quick realization that no one was breaking my son’s heart, or face, …  those choked up words strangle my heart and I still want to say all the right things!

After a little coaxing to understand the current hardship, in all my imperfect mama wisdom, I respond in soothing tones and share waaaaaay too many words while my mind questions me at every syllable…

Am I talking too much?

Am I being too hard?

Is he analyzing the thread count of his jeans??

Not being hard enough?

Maybe I should listen more?

Wow, the knees are pretty worn on those jeans.

Is this even helping?

He’s gonna pick a hole in those jeans!

Should I stop talking?

“Dude, leave your jeans alone for a sec!” I don’t claim to have any discernible amount of patience.  We arrive at the moment where I am certain his eyes have glazed over and the innocent jeans will need a patch, so I wrap it up.

“Ok, buddy, how about we do some Christmas shopping on Amazon?”

His eyes moved! He’s alive!! “Bored to death” seemed to be sniffing at the edge of literal there for a sec.

The evening then proceeds in normal jovial fashion… hugs, lame jokes, typical goofy atmosphere. With the regular bedtime routine of praying, tucking, hugging, tickling, and the sort, complete, hubby and I retire to the kitchen table.

The first 30 seconds are the most peaceful, as the boys lay in near darkness, holding their breath in ultra silence, doing that “hearing with your eyes” thing, waiting for the perfect moment to get up and go to the bathroom. Never fails. They take their turns staggering out with squinty “I just woke up” eyes because obviously sleep hit hard and coma-like in the past minute since tuck-in.

After the theatrics, the boys each return to bed, the next 5 minute phase of silence has passed and I hear a “Mom, can you please come here?”

“Buddy, I was just in there!”

This is a very regular occurrence… always one more hug…or kiss… or report of some cool mind-blowing trivia that must be shared this second lest it be lost forever.

I’m a sucker tho.. I always go in ooooone more time. I lean in to see his face, dimly lit from the hallway light, and my boy says …

“Mom, I just wanted to say thank-you for taking the time to talk with me today.”

Clean-up in aisle 2, bring the Bounty.


Dr. Jekyll and the Blood Moon

There exists but one window in our home that peeks towards the southern sky, and so it is that our walk-in closet became the cozy venue that hosted the lunar eclipse gala. Thick fuzzy blankets spread on the cold laminate floor (yep, still waiting for that plush chocolate brown rug to finish off the new closet), I squished together with only 2 of my 3 handsome fellas as we lay in wait to each claim our view of the brilliant moon’s time in the spotlight… Or rather, out of the spotlight. A warm memory to be cherished.

With slumber party whispers, because, in the dark even your inside voice takes on a certain bullhorn quality, we observe the slow cloaking of the bright glowing orb which eventually leaves only one tiny portion lit giving the perception of an enormous eyeball engaged in a cosmic staring contest with the teensy shy star down to the right. With Mars keeping score, the orb ultimately grants victory to the little star as it darkens into an eerie red slumber.

Unfortunately, only 3 sets of heavy lidded eyes were to behold this sight. As thrilled as he was while being tucked in the evening before, those that truly know my baby will understand my futile attempts to wake him at 1 am for the rare event of the red moon. A soft coaxing voice, gentle nudges, kisses on the cheek…all met with sleepy, faint smiles and confirmation that he would love to come lay with us in our moonlit nest…that is, until this mean mama had to make it clear that this would require acting upon the absurd notion that he dislodge himself from his current cocoon.

Given that the boy can walk around tossing cookies in his sleep and is prone to being vexed at pulled pork while merely preparing a school lunch at 7am, this idea of waking the child at 1 am seems a rather kamikaze mission. But, in love for the sweet boy, I gear up and press on despite the angry groans and incomprehensible words, limbs flailing but then, just as quickly, retreating to grasp his crumbling cocoon. An offer to carry him to the viewing area was answered with more grunts of compounding dismay.

In my continuing perseverance, my brain pulls a book off it’s “currently reading” shelf and waves it frantically in comedic warning. A classic recommended by my 10 year-old, the bold black title pulses in my mind’s eye…”Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. I honestly don’t know how it ends yet, perhaps a partial factor in my retreat and decision to let this sleeping dog lie.

After a night of wonder, the morning dawns far too soon for the audience of three. My heart breaks just a bit when my little Jekyll wraps his arms around my waist and softly inquires why I didn’t wake him for the eclipse. A vision of the tiny rage-filled creature from a few hours ago threatening my mind’s capacity to believe this is the same child. Returning the embrace, I chuckle in sympathy…

“Oh, sweetheart… I tried”

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Teen

It’s a bit of a blow to one’s youthful pride when your child begins to poke fun at signs of your imminent death (ok, just that you’re getting old), yet last night’s wound was soothed with the salve of delight that cleverness is increasingly abundant in my G. The 45 minute journey home through the winter woods often breeds excellent family bonding. Last night was date night, and after collecting the boys to head home, I was particularly jovial and lively on our trek.
Amidst my singing and goofy outpourings, my eldest spouts from the back seat, “Mom, what did you have to drink?”

Shocked, my initial response is laughter at what must be running through his mind…perhaps it was a touch maniacal, but I managed a “Water. Why do you ask?”

Eyes rolling I’m sure (yes, he is exhibiting signs of the teen species), he says “You are not acting like yourself”

Doubly shocked, since everyone that truly knows me has experienced, also with occasional rolling eyes, my unwavering ridiculousness and love of laughter, I reply in complete confusion now… “What?! When am I not like this??”

There in the darkness of the back seat I, now in hindsight, envision a slow smirk as the 10 year old sets up for delivery. Without even a chance to brace myself, the blow crushes the jaw of my pride with no warning … “Anytime after 8PM”

With my dignity out cold, mom-joy steps in to shake the hand of the crafty opponent.

Well-played, boy. Well-played.

Did I Give Birth to a Robot??

The question that itched my mind as I came upon an intriguing scene last night. Lounging in the living room absorbing the silence of the day’s end… a victorious silence, probably something akin to that following the reverbing of final gunfire in battle (cinematic battle, of course… with settling dust & a dirt-smudged weary soldier gazing across the carnage)… I sit and assess the day, do a body count.  Zero again. I bask in the relief that patience spares lives.

A quick, but faint, new sound across the house breaks the coveted silence. I wait and do that thing where you cock your head, eyes peeking upwards like you’re searching for better reception…. nothing. Peculiar… perhaps it was a fabrication of my chaotic brain. Hubby inquires in a sleepy drawl… “What was that?” … Bugger! Confirmation that it was real and I do, indeed, have to peel myself from my cozy post battle reprieve. I stumble up my menacing stairs (still sensitive to an old feud between us), mentally drawing conclusions as I see the bathroom light on and match that fact with “sore tummy”, found in my mind’s Rolodex of the day’s kid conversations . A little perplexed about the complete silence following the mysterious sound, I approach the open bathroom door.  As my unsuspecting feet are greeted by a threshold of  warm gush, the mystery sound instantly floods back into my mind…Kind of like a full pot of creamy waffle soup, should such a thing exist, cascading out onto the clean kitchen floor.

And I am standing in it.

In the bathroom I witness my seemingly mute boy, oblivious to the surrounding ruckus, dispensing one last small serving of waffle soup onto the floor, still not quite having found a container that suits his purpose. He looks down, shrugs his shoulders, and turns to leave the bathroom. Noticing the sink and an empty cup on the way out the door, he pauses, turns on the water and proceeds to drink. Paralyzed on instinctive tippy-toes in my mire of yuck, grasping the door frame for support as though I will melt into this stuff, I can only watch in awe as he operates without expression, robotic… the boy’s lights are on but ain’t nobody home.  Water still running, he places the empty cup back on the sink and turns off the light. nope… something is amiss. Light back on..hesitates… then off again. Water still running, he repeats the light switch toggling process. I’m bursting trying not to laugh, after all, my baby is sick! My little robot baby that is peering coldly right through me. Finally the right synapses fire for the brain to convey the message that the water will stop running by pushing down the tap, not the light switch. On that note, he staggers quietly past me to return to his interrupted sleep. During the entire escapade not one word or sound escaped this child… only gobs of chunky fluid.  For a boy that wails and shoots fire from his eyes (another possible robot trait, oddly enough) when rudely awakened, this has me baffled!

As I do a final tally, body count is thankfully still zero… but, gosh, that’s a whole lot of carnage.


Life. It’s taken in through a mosaic filter of emotions.  The view altered, as through stained-glasses, by the depth or absence of color, the opacity, the obscurity of the feelings with which we filter each exchange. From dark rippling to smooth transparent clarity.

Case in point, My Keags gets along with morning like a hurricane gets along with coastal cities. Left unchecked, the chaos that ensues could easily necessitate MDS relief. On this particular morning, his eyelids grudgingly peek open to reveal a filter of, what seems to be, a dark intense loathing for all things great and small. The task of making lunch clearly a very inhumane request. Options: Pulled pork – served as a taco or as a sandwich. Neither option seemingly favorable, he disdainfully spews forth his choice, “sandwich” (which comes out in muttered growl, but, luckily, I’m fluent in Morninglish). Presented with the container of pulled pork, immediately vexed, he glares at it as though being presented with a camel that he is to fit through the eye of a needle…”What do I take it out with??!!” … When your brain in so tangled in loathing the world, “fork” is obviously a trapped thought lost under the rubble. Thus progresses the painstaking preparations for the day. During backpack rummaging, he produces (with agonizing movement) a note from school. I beam over this note which announces that my tiny offspring has been specially selected to participate in the Art Enrichment Program. “Oh, my amazing boy!”  Proud mama’s exclamations of her baby’s artistic talents seem to have a ‘smack to the face’ effect in which Keags’ filter snaps to a delightfully rose colored shade, suddenly an advocate for joy and sweetness!  A transformation so stunning, my foggy morning lenses have been cleared up, and with a bonus pink tint at that. As I nudge those stained-glasses back up on the bridge of my nose I ponder…  Bet that pulled pork won’t taste too bad after all.