Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's probably okay

One day, friends, my grandchildren will read my blog and will ask: but who was Donald Trump? This occurred to me this morning, and it is well on its way to making my entire day.

In the meantime, while Mr. Trump and his Hair that I Will Not Mock -- because we don't make fun of how people look in this house -- are engaged in their attempt to make the country just a little meaner and more ugly, I am cheerfully failing my children, as evidenced not only by my own unfortunate hair situation (mommies who work two jobs put less thought into the preschool drop-off line than do other mommies, I guess) and also the fact that my beautiful, intrepid, creative son is kind of, well, a jerk.

He bosses me around. Sometimes he tries not to, and sometimes I don't even know if he's trying not to.  Sometimes it seems as though he has been told that speaking one's mind is, in and of itself, some kind of virtue, regardless of whether what is on one's mind adds or detracts from the net quality of the world.

I would suggest that if what one is thinking is I want more, or I don't like this, or You didn't give me enough milk.  or You have a big butt, mommy, well, the act of sharing these thoughts is at best morally neutral. You'll get no points from me for speaking your mind until and unless your mind takes it up a notch, son. Does your mind have any ideas on how we can help Syrian migrants? Thoughts about The Blind Watchmaker? Thank Yous for the five per diem shifts mommy is working on her "week off" so that you can have milk?

The thing is, my son does have an abundance of clever and interesting and wonderful things to say, but he's doing absolutely nothing to separate the wheat from the chaff, brainwise, these days, and is instead expecting the same reaction for verbally abusing his grandfather as he gets for speculating on the differences between engines in cars and engines in trains. In both cases, kiddo is speaking his mind; it's just that actually, sometimes your mind could just remain unspoken and we'd all be happier. And there's essentially no social pressures in place to help my three year old distinguish welcome and valuable mind-creatures from the sundry whines and demands that comprise his interior landscape.

It's like we spent three years in Brooklyn and the kid got titrated in such a way that without the constant pressure, the sense that a grown-up near by is about to come unglued and start screaming at you at any moment, he just can't act like a decent person.

It's also like moms in Pennsylvania spend a lot more time planning family vacations than I am used to, and a lot more time actualizing their children, not so much by instructing them in the practice of not being jerks as  by buying and making cooler and more expensive things for them than my kid is likely to get out of this mom.

I mean, I felt good about my little hand-quilted train bag, completely furtively during a week on-call --  until I saw all the other kids' back-to-school  bags, which had, not 99 cent swatches of fabric stitched on, but personalized iron-on monograms of their names. One mom appears to have simply bought, or else constructed, an entirely new bag, one made not of canvas but of some sort of printed Frozen fabric, because CHEATING. Several parents appear to have invested an amount of money comparable to that I spent on my kid's entire back to school wardrobe on little bits of flare for their kids' bags.

I 'm joking, of course. I spent nothing on my kid's back to school outfit, because when your kid starts day care at twelve weeks old, there really is no "back to school" outfit. The back to school outfit here is that we are consistently wearing pants after an eight week pants hiatus while mommy was on maternity leave and the world was ninety-eight degrees.

So there we are, folks. I left my babies at Child Watch at the Y this week to hop around on the elliptical machine, where I eavesdropped on two moms debating the merit of a ten thousand dollar Disney Cruise for their wildly blessed little ones. Meanwhile, in this house, we have yet to start a college fund and are just now getting the hang of keeping our balls covered. As we are only to happy to discuss with anyone who will listen, up to and including the seventy-fie year old "check out girl" at Wal-Mart.

Is this why my kid's such a brat lately? Is he just now having to contend with the reality that mom's not actually very good at her job? (The mom job, I mean -- not the other two jobs I also have, which are perhaps what's damaging him in the first place, and why didn't I think to be rich before having him?)  And does "good at my job" mean giving him more stuff or finding a way to bring his appalling attitude into check before he becomes a monster, fit only for Fox News sound bites? Fifty years ago, was a now-forgotten Mrs. Trump facing down this same dilemma?

Geez, I don't know. But I've gotta believe it's probably okay. That one day my kid will show signs of giving some semblance of an eff about someone besides himself.  That being a working mom with a hand-sewn bag and baloney sandwich lunches  ultimately will be enough, because it's literally the only option for one malcontent little ginger.

In the meantime, at least he humors me with daily little bits of serendipity and genius interspersed between demands and complaints and entitlement. The first words out of his mouth today were I Want, true-- but later, when the 35 grams of sugar rom his daily hit of instant oatmeal kicks in, we can talk Halloween costumes (he wants to be a lemon).

His costume will look nothing like this

It's entirely possible I'm doing everything wrong -- and that, like my son, I lack even the will to pull my shit together -- but here we are. And on occasion, at least, it seems that I got pretty lucky anyway.

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