The other day, when I picked up my oldest, he bolted out the school door and said, “Wait, can’t we go to the book fair?”
I was herding us all down the sidewalk. I hadn’t even had time to ask about his day. There hasn’t been any hugs or hellos yet.
I was confused because he’d been to the book fair twice already last week. Each of my boys picked out three new books. Four, if you count the science experiment book I bought for all of us to share.
Um, no…?” I said.
Him: “Aww, but I really wanted Super Rabbit Boy!”
Readers, I have no idea what Super Rabbit Boy is. I had never heard my son utter those three words in the same sentence ever before that point in his life at 2:46 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
And yet his tone would indicate that I was supposed to know exactly what that was, and I should have known that OF COURSE we would be making an extra stop at the book fair. He said this as if he were reminding me of something that has been on my calendar for a year.
Me: “… I don’t know who Super Rabbit Boy is, but this is the first I’ve heard of him, so there’s absolutely no way I am prepared to march you into the book fair and buy you that book … or whatever it is.”
Him: (sniffs…tears…sad-Charlie-Brown walk down the street…)
As you can see from this anecdote, I am the meanest mom who ever lived and he is the most deprived boy who ever walked the earth.
And still, even under these dire circumstances, there was no earthly way this child was getting an extra trip to the book fair.
It hurts to put my foot down when it comes to books.
I have a lot of books. Their father has a lot of books. The boys each have a vast collection that would rival Oxford. If Oxfordians were really into Dogman and Pokémon and Captain Underpants.
And I have no intention of pairing down our collection of books. I’ve done it twice before and it was more pain than I could bear, to be honest. Didn’t care for it; won’t happen again.
But this sudden request and my need to say NO was not about books. I had to tell myself “this is a teaching moment. He cannot have everything he wants, when he wants it.”
This is an ongoing process. It is also the best and maybe only parenting advice ever given by The Rolling Stones. “You can’t always get what you want.”
I am sure Mick is singing about wanting something that is very much NOT books.
The only way this child was going to see the book fair again would be if the kind media center specialist agreed to put him to work so he could earn more books. She seems to like him pretty well … maybe she’d be agreeable to that, I thought.
Oh but that was nothing until we arrived home and he asked, “Since it’s Friday, do I have to do my reading?”
Him: (wailing, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments) “BUT IT’S FRIDAY!!”
Me: “Well, then you shouldn’t have given me the idea. You can either read or practice your Taekwondo.”
But honestly, he had forgotten about Super Rabbit Boy after an hour of being at home, surrounded by his hundreds of books.
And then after that, we had a delightful weekend together.
I watched him test for his next taekwondo belt. I watched him follow the liturgy like a champ on Sunday morning because this child, Kal-El of Krypton, is an angel baby who actually WANTS to follow along. The other child, who is the mini-me of emotions, was laying flat out on the carpet under the pew.
I noticed changes happening in the older one, before my very eyes these last two days. He’s getting more autonomous. Asking more “why” questions.
He invented a new mythical creature and then I watched him carry on an engaging conversation about the Mothman with the unsuspecting neighbor who was only trying to walk her dog.
(Mothman and other legends are kind of a thing with me… more on that subject one day)
The reason I’m telling you all this is I’m hoping maybe to try to notice more of these delightful moments during the week, and not just on weekends.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss these sweet moments on a Monday or a Tuesday, when everybody’s upset about something and kids are fighting and the house is a mess and it’s October 8 and yet somehow Ninety-Thirteen degrees outside which makes you think about global warming which makes you grit your teeth which triggers a hot flash and you’re just wanting all these tiny humans to Get. In. The. Car. And then oh crap-on-toast, you forgot to pack money for that school thing.
Thankfully, there are no taekwondo classes today or tomorrow. So we have this blessing of two nights in a row of zero obligations.
Instead of filling these nights with work and catching up and engaging in the hamster wheel of “what should I be doing right now,” I’m going to try to do more “nothing important” with the four of us.
My goal is to report back Wednesday with a full list of wonderful things I noticed about my children in the first half of the week.
Remind me, won’t you?