As the lone female in our house I get that I am more detailed oriented when it comes to self-care and the minutiae of running a home. It then lands on me to decide how important I think something is and to the degree I want to pursue it.
Take toothbrushes for example. I took it upon myself to buy everyone electric brushes because I believe (or at least believe the marketing) that these will improve my boys’ oral hygiene (especially with T.Puzzle newly in braces). This particular kind sends you replacement heads every three months.
So the three month mark arrives and it’s time to replace. Absolutely no one other than myself cares about this.
Either I replace them all or all three of my guys will use the brush they have indefinitely.
While I did drag my feet on principle I couldn’t take it anymore and set about getting new bristles in place.
The grime I encountered on the boys’ brushes as I did so made my skin crawl. I’m not sure what it was or how my boys had not yet contracted a flesh-eating bacteria from it, but the muck and guck in and around the toothbrush holder and on the toothbrushes themselves, made me queasy, queasy, queasy.
How they saw that and still used the brushes is a mystery or a remarkable act of courage.
I now have a choice. I can give them instructions on the ins and outs of daily brush care, or I can let it go.
If I let it go, which is the direction I am leaning, I am praying that I can Amazon Prime myself a hazmat suit for when the next replacement bristles arrive.
Words more dreaded than this for a teenage boy simply do not exist.
This is where the story of our beleaguered hero begins.
He had a humble upbringing. Raised by a beautiful, age-defying, always-dancing mother and an extremely handsome (you’re welcome, Mad Dog) and benevolent father, our hero rose unassumingly through life’s ranks and, as any good story would have it, found himself face-to-face with doom (aka high school).
Our Humble Hero was not afraid for he new his birthright.
Great men are born to great men.
He had done the math (sort of, just don’t check his eighth grade Algebra 1 transcript) and realized he had everything he needed to succeed. He had wit, he had charm and he had incredible good looks (you’re welcome, Full Speed).
He had everything he needed except for one thing …
Most academic heroes, grammar gods and algebraic warriors know that without such skills, failure looms large. Their parents also know this. These parents state the obvious and hope their progeny take heed. Things like attending tutorials with teachers, studying in study hall (gasp!) and taking your time on tests all fall under the wisdom arc of great, parental knowledge.
Did our Humble Hero listen to these time-tested tenets of success?
Here is his story told in his own words:
Call to Adventure: The call to adventure occurs after parent night. Mad Dog learned that the Humble Hero’s L. A. teacher had tutorials. He came home and said “The Great Teacher has tutorials Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning.
You should go”.
Refusal of the Call: Our hero ignored the call thinking that he was too cool for more school. He assured Mad Dog that everything was under control.
Acceptance of the Call: One day, the hero got his grammar/vocab quiz back. He had missed 9 grammar questions for a score of 82. It was at this moment he knew he had messed up.
Crossing the Threshold: The hero arrived at The Great Teacher’s door and he entered the special world of her classroom.
The journey had begun.
Meeting the Mentor: All heroes need a guide that shows them the ways of life. The Great Teacher showed the hero how to become one with the grammar gods.
Trials and Tests: In class, the hero had to deal with worksheets about grammar. The days went by and eventually the hero finally figured out what a preposition does.
The Supreme Ordeal: All of the hero’s hard work had prepared him for this moment. A 50 question quiz with half of those being grammar. Mere mortals could not withstand the pressure of this quiz. But, our hero isn’t mortal. Brandishing his magic weapon, (a worn down mechanical pencil), he was able to complete the quiz with only minimal suffering.
The Reward: Much to his surprise, the hero had accomplished his goal. He had gotten an A on the grammar quiz.
Return with the Elixir: The hero was overjoyed. He couldn’t wait to tell his parents what he had accomplished.
Mad Dog’s response “I was right, wasn’t I?”
The hero could only muster, “Maybe”.
From this moment forward, strange occurrences became the Humble Hero’s new normal. As he began to attend other tutorials along with continuing to be mentored by the Great Teacher, all his test scores and grades improved.
How could it be? Do you mean to tell me the Humble Hero had the power to succeed THE WHOLE TIME. Move over sister, your ruby slippers got nothing on this guy.
I’m pretty sure July 3rd is ‘Take Your Kids To Work’ Day. I asked Mad Dog about it, but he wasn’t buying it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my time with my boys, in fact it’s kind of awesome. Being able to hang out with them with no agenda has been incredibly fun. However, after they spend loads of unstructured time together, this leads to frustration and maybe occasional acting out. Therefore, please, “Take Your Kids to Work” Mad Dog.
In all seriousness, I am grateful how much I enjoy their company. This is the reward of parenting. All the blood, sweat and tears has paid off. Not to say their won’t be challenges ahead, but at least for this moment, being a mom is a lot of fun.
Moving forward I understand that they will not want to hang out with me forever. Even though I am entertaining, am an excellent Jazzerciser (this is cutting edge cool, right?) and know a lot of really famous people:
Ah, but we will always have the memories of this summer … I intend to make the most of them.
I have always loved Mad Dog’s athleticism. When we were dating, I would take great pride watching him from the sidelines as he crashed his way to the end zone for his touch football team.
Lately, he has been playing more and more basketball with the boys in our backyard. These games consist of trash talk, spin moves and flagrant(!) fouling.
Yesterday’s game was no exception. It was 1 v 1, Mad Dog against T.Puzzle. I sat on our back porch and watched the glory unfold. Full Speed was next to me spouting off the official referee calls as Mad Dog muscled his way towards victory. One shot shy of the win, he dropped back deep on the pavement and launched a beauty. It banked off the backboard slamming home the win.
Something about the whole thing reminded me of those good ol’ days of dating. I’m not gonna lie, my stomach did some flips.
Mad Dog’s still got game.
At dinner in our post-game analysis, Mad Dog recounted that winning shot.
“I did it for my woman,” he said.
Both T.Puzzle and Full Speed asked, “Yeah, but was she watching?”
As in was Miss Lady watching? As in, Miss Lady is clearly THE lady Mad Dog was showing off for and I was just a random spectator.
Where we live, while awesomely close to downtown, having a yard is unusual. Giant houses that take up every square inch of their lot are the norm.
I treasure my small backyard. With so many statuesque trees flanking our streets, songbirds abound. If I am really lucky, I might see a deer:
Just kidding. Our alley is being reworked so the only deer(e) I see cause quite a ruckus.
Besides the mild annoyance of construction noise, where we live is very fun. We are a few blocks away from excellent restaurants. We try to walk to meals out as much as we can.
Most of our family loves this.
T.Puzzle hates this.
He hates to walk anywhere. To him it is slow, boring and ultimately pointless.
Seated at lunch last weekend, the four of us had walked to a new taco joint. The food was great and the weather perfect for our outside table.
We debated if we would walk to get ice cream before hitting Target (yes! we can walk to Target!). We didn’t want to push T.Puzzle’s attitude because we know better, and he is only a mild fan of ice cream, weird, I know.
“You up for walking for ice cream?” said Mad Dog.
Then, slowly, T.Puzzle formed a response as his shoulders lifted in a slight shrug.
“I guess so.”
I read the meaning behind his words.
“Basically, T.Puzzle is willing to walk with us but he will be super depressed about it the whole time,” I said. “Did I guess that right?”