I can’t get enough of messing with my kids. It makes me feel better. I get a little zing of satisfaction when I say or do something that startles them out of their zombie-like trance while watching iCarly, or puts them in their place to just the right degree in front of people. I don’t embarrass them, or at least, they aren’t aware they should be embarrassed and that makes it both o.k. and extremely funny (to me).
Take my 13-year old son. There aren’t enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the opportunities he hands me to get a laugh at his expense, and therefore, feel younger, less marginalized and more in control of my universe. Most of these situations are due to the fact that my son is actually the superhero I like to call, Scenario Man. Like Clark Kent, he switches at a moment’s notice, and the trigger is always the same: what if?
Recently, I had to check my son out of school early for an orthodontist appointment. It was the middle of the day, during lunch, and he was back at school without even missing a class. The next day, we decided to take off a little early to get some summer clothes, which means driving for an hour to the nearest community that has stores that don’t have ‘mart’ in their name. Since the last class of the day for him is study hall, I told him I’d pick him up just before that class started, at 2:15. I gave him a generic note that I scribbled while driving in the car line in front of his school. It read:
“Please excuse Jackson from school at 2:15.”
He wasn’t ok with that, for the same reason he’s not ok with things like hairy spiders in the shower, stains on his sweatshirt (the white one that he insisted on owning), or a loose bracket on his braces: He is Scenario Man.
“What if it bites me?”
“What if it’s a Brown Recluse?”
“The hospital is three minutes away.”
“What if someone is standing close enough to me to see the stain on my sweatshirt?”
“They’ll think you’re a 13-year old boy.”
“What if the bracket gets worse over the weekend?”
“We’ll go on Monday.”
“What if I have to keep my braces on for more months because the bracket’s broken?”
“I’ll kill the orthodontist until he’s dead.”
These conversations always end with one of two responses from my son: “Ok” if he doesn’t realize I’m joking, or “Mom! Stop!” if he’s finally had it up to here with my nonsense. Either way, I’m laughing.
On this particular day, Scenario Man reared his precious head in a way that drove me to take ultimate action. We had the shopping day all planned out, until this:
“What if it’s too early?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What if it’s too early to buy shorts and I have a growth spurt and grow out of them by July.”
In all honesty, I’m exhausted just writing about this. I simply can’t figure out how, with all the really important things I do in an average day, like four loads of laundry, cooking dinner, picking up, dropping off, picking up, dropping off, picking up, blowing my brains out, dropping off and a few hours of actual work I get paid to do, I have to expend oxygen explaining things like this to my son.
I adopted my best Dramatic TV Narrator voice for this one:
“If you grow out of them, we will go in search of more shorts. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, will keep us from our quest. We will find more shorts that fit you, and we will buy them with the dollars in my purse from the nice lady or gentleman behind the counter of the store where we find them. Then, we will walk back to the car, and – “
“Mom! Stop! I know what you are talking about!”
“Don’t worry,” I say, resuming my mom persona. “We’ll find shorts today that have a little room to grow. Okay?”
The reason for this particular “what if” scenario is because my son is thoughtful. He feels bad that I have to spend money. Again, I’m not exactly sure how he got every single one of the marbles on this one and my daughter is completely lacking:
“Where is your backpack?”
“I don’t know. I think I lost it.”
“Don’t you think you better find it?”
“We can just buy another one.”
So, my son was not satisfied with the note excusing him at 2:15. Remember, we’re in the car line. There wasn’t much time to discuss this. A bus was behind me; the bell was about to ring.
“What if the office lady wants to know why I’m leaving school early?”
“It’s not her business.”
“But Mom, what if she asks me? Should I tell her I have a doctor appointment?”
“Yes. Tell her you have a doctor appointment.”
“What if she asks me what doctor?” At this point, he was getting out of the car. I had no time for this, and neither did the bus full of kids behind me. He was about to slam the door.
“Tell her you have a cyst on your ovary.”
“Ok. Bye mom.”
“Bye, honey,” I said, blowing him a kiss and trying to wipe the grin off my face.