“Parents are supposed to be interested in what their kids are interested in!” Amos declared in a fit of despair when I said I had no interest in dueling him with his Yu-Gi-Oh cards. For the ninth time that week.
Boy, did he know how to get to me.
All my life I’ve been worried about the emotional lives of children, animals, even objects (don’t even get me started on the uneaten banana being conveyed to its death on some heartless classmate’s messy cafeteria tray in college). Whether weeping for a banana that gave its life for nothing, or choosing to buy the ninety-five dollar Benetton sweater with the snag (because if I didn’t do it no one would, poor sweater), my life has been one long Charlie Brown Christmas special; I’m a walking the-girl-who-bought-Corduroy.
Given that history, it’s hard to imagine NOT making it a priority to nourish and stroke every budding interest and every tender thought my children have.
And so, with the possible exception of the Yu-Gi-Oh obsession (the mythology of which makes my eyes glaze over) I have doted on these children. I’ve saved every scribble (literally), answered (or googled the answer to) every question, nodded and purred along to every observation (only some of which deserved this level of awe), and I have felt incredibly dutiful and mostly satisfied.
“I find parenting to be bloody boring!” Eve announced at the dinner table at a moms’-night-out. I felt responsible for this particular mom, having been the one who brought her along to this larger group of friends--vital interesting women who, for the purposes of illustrating this particular moment, you should picture as a flock of pigeons.
Here’s the scene:
A pack of pigeons pecks away at a million specks of birdseed scattered on the ground beneath them. I’m one of the pigeons too, by the way. Pecking away, admiring everyone else’s pecking...and on occasion pointing out a particularly heartbreaking moment in pecking--oh wow that’s sad, peck peck peck--, or a refreshingly witty aspect of pecking--ha ha ha, peck peck peck. We are clever and we are pecking. Perfect puffy pigeons. Peck peck peck. Then the Eve pigeon swoops down, lands in the midst of them, and blurts out “this birdseed is bloody boring!’ Up pop the other pigeons’ heads. The pecking stops. Part of the pigeon that is me is finally free.
Bloody boring? I’d never considered that an option. Am I allowed to think that? I gasped at her honesty. And my life as a mom has never been the same.
“Mommy watch me I made up a magic trick!” My six-year-old takes a dollar out and folds it in half. “No wait! That’s not it! Keep watching.” She folds it a different way and puts it in her pocket, then realizes something. “No wait, that’s not it either.” She folds it again and tries the other pocket, then, “I have to start again, keep looking. Mommy!”
I look up from my magazine for the fourth time. I answer weerily “huh?’
“I’m starting it again. Keep watching.”
But now...there’s Eve in my brain tossing out a penalty flag. ”Bloody boring!”
This is bloody boring! I think, suddenly refreshed.
“Honey, why don’t you go practice the trick and let me know when it’s really really ready?”
It works. She disappears.
My eight-year-old comes over “Mommy what if the Clones were really Jedis?” he prompts, as if I’ve been paying attention to all of the different Star Wars species he’s been describing to me, in stages, over the previous three months.
I try to summon the correct knowing smile and wonder if I should ask him for a quick refresher course, but then-- “Bloody boring!" Eve shouts from the lifeguard chair at the edge of the kiddie pool that is often my mind.
I say “what do you think would happen?” and then allow a pleasant daydream to take over while he speaks. And since it’s officially boring, I don’t feel guilty at all.
(Peck, peck, peck)
7 years ago