Ace gets up, agitated in his appointed role of The One Who Has To Take The Big E To Hockey. I lie in bed and listen to the fussing and whining. And then silence.
I get up. ”E! Get up! You have to go to hockey!” I open the shades and glance at the mound of covers. ”Get up! Now!”
Threats follow. Because threats are such an effective parenting tool. Not physical threats, of course. We’re slightly more enlightened than that. Slightly.
And I’m thinking Oh my gosh. We’re raising an entitled little turkey who doesn’t realize how good he has it! Hockey is expensive. Hockey is a privilege. He should bound out of bed, thrilled at the opportunity to exercise body and mind.
But he didn’t fall asleep until midnight. What if he’s chronically underslept and that’s the root of all trouble?
The night before, Ace (comatose in front of bad television after a bad stretch of work) said goodnight to him at 9 pm. E was, indeed, in bed – clothed, with unbrushed/unflossed teeth, and a stack of books. I arrived home around 9:25 and proceeded to grump out. What do you mean you asked if he was in bed and he said yes so you said goodnight and assumed he’d go to sleep?
And when did reading become an activity in need of punishment?
How do we get him on a better sleep schedule? Whenever he’s in bed at 9, he lies awake till 11 or 12. Maybe I should give him melatonin. Because drugs are the answer to everything.
E manages to stagger out of bed and much whining ensues as he struggles to even begin putting on his hockey gear.
Am I just substituting worry? I don’t have to worry as much about farm accidents and polio epidemics and a clean water supply so I worry about sleep?
Poor me in my Summit Hill house with my neurotypical, apparently cic-gendered white son who has no chronic disease, thinking things are so rough. Am I even allowed to complain?
Oh my gosh. What if I just jinxed him? What if now he’ll have a dire encounter with cops or if he develops -
Ace makes The Big E a piece of toast with Nutella. E complains that the toast is burned and refuses to eat it. (He later licks off the Nutella.)
We’re feeding him sugar! All sugar! How do we expect him to behave if he’s only consuming corn syrup? Ack! I sound like a privileged snorty-toot.
We have to limit his media exposure. That’s it. No more movies. No more Pokémon Go. And chores. All chores all the time. Does he even know how to clean a toilet? Am I raising a pig? I’m not setting a good example with the condition of my desk. If my desk were pristine would he get up for hockey cheerfully?
The Big E sits on the couch, wearing only his t-shirt and cup, moping. ”What are you doing? Why are you just sitting there?” He has the audacity to ask if he can take his iPad to hockey. ”Are you kidding? With the way you’re acting you don’t get your iPad for twenty-four hours!” Things do not go well and I retire to the kitchen to take apart the Ventahood, ’cause nothing makes a morning better like getting down and dirty with ten pounds of rancid cooking grease.
Ace heads out to the car.
I can’t remember exactly what I said, something about I don’t care if you go to hockey half-naked, but pick up your bag and leave. They leave.
What will happen when he goes to college? Will he ever make it to class? Will he lie around in his dorm room eating MSG-laden Doritos and playing first-person shooter games? How can I even worry about this from such a privileged position as ASSUMING MY HEALTHY WHITE NEUROTYPICAL CIS-GENDERED CHILD WILL GO TO COLLEGE?!!
I call my friend, Christina, to commiserate, while eating a piece of triple-layer chocolate cake from Cafe Latté. After the reassuring but solution-less call, I return to my greasy Ventahood job.
Does The Big E devalue homemaking? Does he think less of me because I don’t work for money? Does he understand the sacrifice I made when I essentially gave up my career for the sake of family life? Don’t be so melodramatic, Anne. You made an informed decision. But what if he never gets it? What if he grows up to be a sexist, racist, entitled jerk who treats women badly?
I take a shower.
Did parents used to love their children less? Did they think – Gee, there’s a fifty percent chance that this kid will die before he/she turns ten so I might as well not get too attached. How could they launch into parenting at all under those conditions? They had no birth control! So they had no choice! When will evolution realize that it would be best for everyone involved if fertility were something you elect to turn on instead of off?
Does the GOP understand the full ramifications of defunding Planned Parenthood? That unplanned pregnancy and abortion and cancer will increase? The chasm between those who can afford medical care and those who can’t will further widen!
By the time I’m out of the shower, the boys are back. The Big E apologizes for the way the morning went, asks for his iPad back (“No!”), and proceeds to elaborate on all the ways we’ve treated him unfairly. He then asks for his allowance, plus an additional dollar.
To reimburse him for the Doritos he purchased at hockey.
What if all the parents reading this actually have perfectly behaved children? What if their kids bounce out of bed, responsible, thrifty, and empathic? Maybe they make their parents unprompted breakfast-in-bed before heading off to church where they willingly serve community meals, fully understanding their own advantaged position in the world and vowing to correct all injustice. Immediately.
The Big E narfs down the last of his cheesecake from the night before.
I will be judged a bad mother – “BM” will be my scarlet letters!
I take a deep breath. And close my computer.