Saturday, August 15, 2009

Death, Entimology and Semantics

The kids found a dead cricket yesterday. They were going to keep him as a pet - which , if I'm perfectly honest is exactly the kind of pet I'd like the kids to have. The dead cricket would never need to be fed or let out. He wouldn't bark in my face while I'm sleeping, poop like a horse, or pant hot dog-breath in my face. He'd never barf on my floor after consuming untold amounts of dirt and garbage, try to sneak food off the table, or eat anything out of the trash can. We wouldn't have to make arrangements for his care when we left town, and the best part would be that the dead cricket wouldn't shed all over my house! YES! Please, God, Yes! Let's keep the cricket! But after a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of having a dead cricket for a pet, they decided instead to bury the poor little guy in the flower-bed. They laid him to rest in their carefully dug cricket grave, filled it back in with dirt, gave it a reassuring little pat, and then went hunting for some bugs they could catch alive.

Sneaking around the side of the house with their bucket, they scanned the plants for a good specimen. And they found one. They captured him while he was feasting on the sunflowers. They created a little bug-house out of an old plastic container and sat watching him for a while. After much observation, Landis decided that what this new bug needed was a little companionship. A little companionship from a dead cricket. He wanted to dig him back up.

Me: Landis, let's not dig up the cricket. He's dead, so he wouldn't really be a good companion for your new bug. Let's just let him rest in peace.

Landis: He pees?

Me: No. "Rest in PEACE".

Gibson: Peace. It means quiet.

Landis: (Nodding solemnly) Ohhhhhhhhhh......... He rests in quiet. AND he pees.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Raging Bull

Let me give you fair warning. Gibson may not be for this world much longer. If you'd like to see him or talk to him before I have to take him out, now would be a good time. (And when I say "now" I mean right this minute, because if he flaps his lips one more time I refuse to be responsible for what happens next. In fact, if he even parts his lips to take a deep breath I might lose it.)

I don't know how he does it. This sweet-faced, wide eyed 7 year-old child is capable of pushing me to places I don't like to go. Pushing with his smart mouth. Pushing with his nasty attitude. Pushing, pushing, pushing - despite fair warning about what's coming next - until he can chink my calm demeanor, and my matter-of-fact answers about why there are consequences for poor behavior choices. And he's only 7.

It's almost audible. That sound that happens from deep within my body when he tosses out his very last smart-mouthed condescending remark.

And I can feel my self-control unwind, loosening it's grip on my tongue and unleashing the discretion I've been able to attach to the level of my voice each time I've turned to address him before now.

Stripped of my stoicism, I am reduced to a wild-eyed snorting bull, pawing the ground and nearly exploding with rage. I know it's obvious to him what's coming next. It's obvious to all of us. Steam is pouring from my flaring nostrils, and he's close enough to see it. But there he stands, chin jutting out, defiantly, willfully waving that red cape. And even though I know better -- Even though I don't want him to know he's gotten to me, I can't help it. I lower my head and practically roar while I charge.

And immediately, I see the recognition in his wide eyes that he's gone too far. That he's pushed me past my limit. Way past my limit. And he's already apologizing, stumbling all over himself to take it back, to admit that he's completely out of line. But my forward momentum is moving, and frankly it's too late for that. Positioning my own face inches from his, index finger extended, millimeters from his nose, I hiss at him to Shut. His. Smart. Mouth. With my angry eyeballs bulging out of their sockets, I remind him in no uncertain terms who is in charge in this household. He cries fat tears and begs forgiveness as I sentence him to 45 minutes hard time on his bed. In my final frenzy, I screech at him to use this uninterrupted chunk of time to think about the consequences of the choices he makes as he defeatedly drags himself up the stairs.

And then it's quiet. The only noises in the house are the sounds of his quiet sniffling and the sounds of my slowing breath as my blood pressure returns to normal.

And, OK -- I admit it. I'm not really going to wipe him out of existence today. Maybe not even tomorrow either, because here's the kicker.... After the 45 minutes have passed I inform him that he may get up. And when I ask him if he has anything he'd like to say to me, he comes up with this: " I'm sorry mom. I really am. At first I thought that you were the one being mean and unfair, but after I thought about it, I realized that I was the one being ugly. That I DID have a smart mouth, and I know I was being an ungrateful brat. And I'm sorry."

I sat there gaping at him, and he smiled. And he hugged me. And he even giggled a little while he shot me a sheepish grin. Then, like all was right with the world again, he turned and went downstairs to play, leaving me here staring at this computer and shaking my head, wondering how we got to this miraculous spot of self-realization. Is turning me into a out-of-control Raging Bull part of the process for him? And if so, (God help me) will I make it through his teenage years without suffering a massive coronary?