Mama’s don’t get sick days. I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat. I sound like an 80 year old chain-smoking grandma. It took me by surprise because I’m not sick, my seasonal allergies have been dormant, and I wasn’t screaming at a concert last night. In one sense, it is kind of a neat novelty because I’d like to think I sound like those sexy women with raspy voices even though in reality I sound like a squeaky, 12 year old boy going through puberty. Once that reality sank in, I was over this frog in my throat. If I were in a paid job, I’d file for disability today or cash in a sick day. Not having a fully functional voice is definitely a hindrance to my job requirements. How am I supposed to yell at my kids all day when nothing comes out but sandpaper sounds? I’ll be doing the usual, “Ethan, work it out yourselves! Use your words to tell Connor instead of tattling on him. And Connor…” when I realize that my useless voice cannot even compete against the softest clinking of Legos. The boys have not heard a word of my invaluable mom-lecture thereby surely dooming them to a life of endless bickering and poor conflict resolution. Then again, even when reprimanding with my full performance voice, their tuning out my pearls of wisdom is exceptionally skilled. I remember that this job although filled with immeasurable benefits does not come with sick days.
Reverse psychology is powerful. My mom used to try to make good on this when I was little, but it somehow was not quite effective. Maybe it didn’t work because it played out like this:
Mom: “Leslie, practice your piano!”
Me: “No! I don’t want to practice piano!”
Mom: “Leslie, DON’T practice piano then!” and waits expecting me to suddenly have a change of heart and start banging away on the ivory keys.
Last week was Connor’s teacher’s birthday, and he had made a wonderful card for her with lots of scribbled drawings on every surface. Since Ethan also had the same teacher for his two years of preschool, I left a small part for him to draw and sign. When I told Ethan about it, he was not interested. I tried unsuccessfully to convince him to write his name at the very least. He was in the middle of something fantastic like nose-picking and could not be bothered. Connor got wind of it and decided that it was HIS card and no way could Ethan even dream about touching it. Then all of a sudden, Ethan was begging to write and draw on this tiny amount of saved space like his life depended on it. That of course convinced Connor to share. No, we are not living in opposite world so of course another brother battle ensued. Somehow we got Connor to relent after fierce negotiations possibly involving bedtime stuffed animals and Ethan went to town. He went from refusing to come near the handmade card, to squeezing three separate scenes with pride and dedication all because it came after a hard fought war with his little sibling.
When it was Ethan’s birthday, I was partied out and did not have one for him. Connor will be turning 4 next month and when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he had very little to say. His brother had plenty of ideas. Connor, however, just wanted to have Mommy, Daddy, Ethan and a new bike. Really? That’s it? Yep, that’s it. As you know, each child has his or her own distinct personality. Ethan loves his friends. He may not be able to stand more than two seconds of snuggling with me, but he will party with his peers till the sun goes down. Connor, on the other hand, will snuggle the day away (YES! Score for Mommy!), but has no friends. He is more than happy to be alone. At this age, Ethan had best buddies. I’d be happy if Connor just had buddies (besides his imaginary ones, Big Man and Bagel Bagel Man). I am a little worried that I have a future unabomber in the making. It strangely makes me want to have a party for him now. After vowing off parties, I am suddenly making lists and planning the shindig of the century. Unfortunately, my husband shares Connor’s sentiments and is nixing all my grandiose ideas. It did occur to me that maybe Connor has mastered the art of reverse psychology unlike his Grandma Kim.
Reading puts me in my happy place. While Mike was out playing poker and the kids were asleep, I had an evening of heaven. George Winston and Itzhak Perlman played on the iPod, Refresh Tea was hot in my hand, and I was reading my new book “Forgotten Country” by Catherine Chung. There is nothing better than a good book except for the fact that it goes by so quickly and the end page comes way before you are ready. I know it’s good when I finish in 24 hours, and my children are running around the house neglected and unfed. It is so nice to read good writing but also to have aspects on print that I can relate to that are usually not found in majority voices. I love reading about race and identity. I LOVE IT. The book I read previous to this was “The Color of Water” by James McBride. Reading his reflections on life with his mother made me want to start a book club whose reading would somehow connect to issues of race whether it be nonfiction memoirs like McBride’s or poetic fiction like Chung’s new novel. If anyone is interested, let me know! If not, can you at least recommend some more books that you think I’d like? Thanks! 🙂