Monday, July 28, 2008

In which I would like to crawl under a rock and hide

What am I going to do with Landis? His "potty-humor" -- which I'm not sure is an appropriate title for it, since it also consists of body parts and bodily functions -- is totally out of control. I understand that because he's 4 it's age appropriate, or perhaps I should say that I understand it's developmentally appropriate for him to be constantly talking about poopy and butts and weenuses. It's just that he looks like he's 6, so the general public thinks he should have a little more sense about him -- and frankly, so do I. Not that I don't expect it to some degree. I do. He is, after all, my second child. My second boy. I knew what was coming down the pike. It's just that he seems to have a knack for busting out with it at the most hideously inappropriate times.

These days, the thing that he thinks is the most hilarious in all the world is his butt-crack. (Butt-crack!! Butt-crack!! Butt-crack!!!!) He uses any opportunity he can to work it into a conversation. For example, the conversation we had at the lake the other day went like this:
"Mom, can you fix the strap on my life jacket?"
"Which one?"
"The one that's in my BUTT-CRACK!!"
Which, to be fair, maybe isn't the best example. He did actually use that term appropriately since, after all, the strap he wanted me to adjust WAS well up into his butt-crack. But let's take, for instance, that time when he worked it into a conversation with a little girl in the child-watch. Apparently, as they were eating their snack together at the table, he turned casually to face her, batted his big blue eyes in her direction, and waving his banana around in the air, announced loudly to this innocent and unsuspecting child that he was going to stick it in his BUTT-CRACK!! And then he proceeded to laugh like a hyena. I'm not so sure she found it to be as hilarious as he did. I, on the other hand, did not find it to be hilarious at all. Instead, I stood rooted to my spot in horror as I listened to the staff member recount the story, which she finished by saying " we came down on that pretty hard." "Ummmmm, yeahhhhh.....of course you did." I managed to stammer, as I looked around for a rock to crawl under. Banana in the butt-crack. What will this child come up with next?

Well, it turns out I didn't have to wait long to find out. Because 2 days later, at a member-appreciation cookout we attended for the Y, he was on -- in full-form. We'd already eaten, and were sort of milling around and gabbing with the other members. A gentleman whom I'd never met was squatted down talking with Landis. This man been putting his baby in a stroller, and being that Landis loves babies, his actions had captured Landis's interest. I could see them talking about the baby and I watched them out of the corner of my eye as I chatted with another member. There were quite a few people wandering around, so the air was buzzing with lots of banter. But as it occasionally happens, it seemed as though everyone had a lull in their respective conversations at the same time. And at that precise moment -- as a wave of quiet calm washed over the crowd -- Landis leaned forward and began to speak in a loud clear voice. Eyes sparkling with excitement, and in a voice loud enough to be heard by everyone in attendance he announced to this perfectly nice gentleman: "I'm about to kick you in the NUTS!!!"

All heads swiveled in our direction. I took stock of the situation as quickly as I could. Too many people knew us for me to pretend he didn't belong to me, so my Plan A -- pretending that I had no idea who this appallingly rude child was -- was foiled. Time to enact Plan B. I smiled at everyone, the brightest, most high-wattage smile I could manage -- fully worthy of a place at the Miss America Pageant -- and then turned and began clawing frantically at the base of a nearby boulder to see if it was actually possible for me to hide under a rock until everyone went home. Alas...... I couldn't make enough progress in 20 seconds to stuff my entire body under it, so I sucked it up, publicly acknowledged that I was his parent, and went to deal with it.

I approached the gentleman, -- who was not only standing up, but had also backed himself up a few feet in what I could only guess to be an effort to keep his nuts as far out of the range of the 4-year-old standing in front of him as possible -- and apologized for my son's atrocious behavior. Then I made Landis apologize, which he was reluctant to do until I whispered some life-threatening words words of encouragement into his ear. Then I hustled both the kids to the car and got out of there before either one of them tried out their particular brand of "humour" on any other unsuspecting person polite enough to make small talk with them.

Exasperated, I explained to Landis that it's completely inappropriate to talk like that -- especially to someone you don't know, and especially in public. I told him that no one thinks that kind of talk is funny -- which I'm not sure he fully believed since at least four of my friends could hardly stand up they were laughing so hard. Did he get what I was talking about? He nodded, but I don't know. I never really know what actually sinks in. I turned back around in my seat, sighed, and drove away wondering to myself "Where in the world do they pick up this stuff?" I have no idea. I swear they don't get it from me, so you'd better not point your finger in my direction or I'll kick you in the nuts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now serving stir-fried snake

It's been so dang hot around here, the only thing that sounded even remotely appetizing for dinner tonight was a big fat salad. Well.............. that or Popsicles. And frankly, the Popsicles almost won the coin toss. Less prep, less clean up, less hassle, and -- let's face it -- tastier. I almost did it too, but then I took a few minutes to imagine what the rest of my evening would look like after I got the boys all hopped up on 20,000 grams of sugar apiece, and I immediately got to chopping lettus. The hitch in my salad plan was that my husband, who is 6' 9" and has the metabolism of a hummingbird (bastard) needs something of substance for dinner in order to not lose weight. (See? Bastard.) So I dug around in my fridge to see what kinds of hearty additions I could throw in.

To my spinach and lettus combo, I added a few chopped hard boiled eggs, 1/2 an onion sliced thin, some sauteed mushrooms and some bacon. That oughta do it, don't you think? I added some dressing to it, tossed it around, loaded up the plates, and we sat down to eat. Here's what Gibson had to say about my salad masterpiece after his first 2 bites:
"Mom......... Ummmmmm.......... I don't like this meat" (pointing his fork at a sauteed mushroom) "It tastes like snake."

Apparently, my eldest son doesn't enjoy eating snake meat. And frankly I can't imagine why. I bust my behind to catch the critters -- crawlin' around on my belly under the house and the shed, baggin' 'em in an old pillowcase -- and skinnin' 'em sure ain't no picnic. Especially when they're still wrigglin' around a bit, which they tend to do when they've just had their heads removed with the sharp end of a shovel. I mean, I'm hear to tell ya...... preppin' those suckers for a meal, and figurin' how I'm gonna disguise it in the main course is hard work! And here he has the nerve to just up and announce at the dinner table that he don't like snake? Now what am I going to do with all that snake meat I got stashed out back in the smokehouse? And all that snake sausage I been storin' in the freezer? It's not like we ain't been eatin' it in various dishes since he was 6 months old, and this is the first time I've ever heard tell of him complainin' about it........... What gives?

I'm gonna hafta' re-work my dinner plans for the rest of the year if he up and decides tomorrow night that he also don't like coon.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A letter to my oldest son

Dear Gibson,

Hi there. It's me.............. your mom. I know that your birthday isn't today, so let me just go ahead and apologize upfront for the fact that I am late in delivering your letter. You see, you've been gone for a week visiting your Grammie and Grampy up in Ohio, so your father and I.................. Well................... We've been having a BLAST! In all seriousness child, I can't even remember the last time we had so many evening plans. The whole week you were gone it was night after night after night of fun things to do! Early in the week we had a leisurely dinner out at a restaurant, and we were there for an hour and a half! Can you believe it? We ordered, ate, and drank our bottle of wine at a snail's pace. And not once did I have to tell anyone to get out from under the table. Good God -- It was GREAT! And on Saturday we didn't even get home from watching fireworks until 11:00! So even though it's been on my agenda this week to finish your birthday letter, you'll have to understand that I've been too busy "dating" your dad again to actually get around to finishing it. (And while I'm sure that statement will gross you out for years to come, someday, when you're married and have kids of your own you'll look back and get it completely.) Not that you'll even notice -- or care -- that I was late in my posting, seeing that you are so busy playing, yourself.

You turned six yesterday and I'm sure that Grammie and Grampy made it an extra fun day for you. I've heard bits and pieces -- about you making new friends, playing at the pool, swimming in the pond, going putt-putt golfing, "helping" Grampy build a clubhouse by misplacing each and every tool he needs, and keeping your uncle in stitches with your antics -- so I can't wait to see your face and hear all the details of your visit when you get back home tonight.

I want you to know that it's amazing to watch you grow into a kid -- not a "little kid", but a regular, grown-up kind of kid, with more mature thoughts and feelings than I thought possible in a 6 year old. And it surprises me every now and again, when I catch small glimpses of the person you'll become as an adult. Not that you don't act like a typical 6 year-old -- you do -- it's just that sometimes I see these reflections of a grown up you in the things you say, or the expressions you make, or the way you clear all the plates from the dinner table without even being asked. My own heart swells a little when I see you taking such pride in the more mature tasks you are able to accomplish, and I love the satisfied glow that radiates out of you when you know you've done something well.

You are a sweet, sweet child. Sweet in the way you care about people and their feelings, and also how adeptly you can express your own. You talk frequently in terms of your heart, and how it feels -- like how sometimes thunderstorms make your heart feel scared, or how snuggling with your Lovey makes your heart feel happy. You wear your emotions on your sleeve, and even though I sometimes find it frustrating that you are so quick to be moved to anger and/or tears, more often than not it's a winsome quality. You find excitement and joy very easily, and your ability to be quick to laugh also brings laughter to those of us around you.

There is an innocence about you that is so wonderful and endearing that I wish I could do a better job of putting it into words. Your big blue eyes, coupled with your complete earnestness sometimes make you hilarious -- without meaning to be. And when I collapse in laughter at something you've said that was completely genuine (but totally crazy), it hurts your feelings. So I'm trying to do a better job of reigning it in, because -- let's face it -- even though I'm not in any way trying to make fun of you, I'm laughing at you and not with you, and you know the difference.

Just recently, you've gotten a good handle on your letters and numbers. It's happened all of a sudden -- like you turned 6 and something clicked -- and I'm so happy for you. Because if I'm perfectly honest, I truly thought it was possible that you'd make it through another year of Kindergarten and still not quite have those basics nailed. But I think you've finally got it. You can count to 100, though you do still get 6 and 9 confused, and for the first time since you started going to school you can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. It's fantastic, and I'm proud of you for it. However, not so long ago you used to tell me that you loved me "51", since that was the biggest number you could conjure up. You thought it was the most massive thing in the world. And as proud of you as I am for learning that maybe 51 isn't the biggest number out there, I'll miss that.

You have a captivating personality and seem to have been born with the ability to charm and engage anyone. And that has been the case for as long as I can remember, even when you were a baby - even before you could talk. You always drew people in. I watch you strike up conversations with random people, often complete strangers and watch you capture their interest as you share your stories with them. It's a gift.

Your energy level is frequently through the roof, and you have a hard time being still -- especially at the dinner table, which exasperates your father to no end. You are always springing up out of your seat to act out part of the story you are telling, or to refill your drink, or to shout out the back door to the neighbor kids. Sometimes I think the top of his head is going to explode when you've gotten out of your seat for the 5th time in four minutes, or when the rest of us are all done eating, but the food on your plate has hardly been touched because you've been so busy yapping. It's my fault, I suppose. I passed you quite a few of my traits -- and that super-short attention span and non-stop yakking are just 2 of them. Ironically, those are the things that make me lose my patience with you. I don't presume that it's really fair, but Landis is wired more like your dad and so in that regard I am more tolerant of his antics than I am of yours. And yet, it's because you are so much like me that you really know how to push my buttons. I try to be conscious of it -- after all, who better to understand where you're coming from than me? Nevertheless, sometimes I think I get bent out of shape with you because you reflect back to me that things I find frustrating about myself. So I'm promising you that I'll do better to try to retain my composure and overlook some of your shenanigans, like I do for your little brother, OK?

A few weekends ago, we were floating out on the lake in our huge raft -- rowing around between all the wave runners and water skiers -- and you were jumping off the raft and swimming and basically having an all-around great time. At some point in the afternoon, when you were sitting in the front of the boat taking in all your surroundings, you looked at me and said "I love being a kid!" Then after a pause you amended that statement to add "I love being a KAFSKY kid!" And I want you to know that I love that you are a Kafsky kid too. Because you were my fist-born, you changed my life in ways I could have never imagined, and you certainly bring more joy to it than I could ever adequately express. So welcome to another year. I can't wait to see what's in store for you, and I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

I love you,