I have children. Four of them. the oldest is 20 and the youngest is not yet 3. (Please, don’t ask me what I was thinking…clearly it’s debatable.) The point to sharing that is to give credibility to the wisdom I share next.
I am always The Heavy. Not because I am good at it or enjoy it, it happened by default. Since the first little monster came into my life and I realized that I could not just stand there and smile hoping it was all just a phase and someday the little terror would transform into a prince charming. Nope, boys need a little more direction…otherwise you end up with Tarzan and as it stands…well that is debatable too.
“The Police”, that is what the six year old screams when I come to rein in the bed jumping, pillow throwing, booger picking, ball tossing, drone flying in the house, furniture breaking parties.
“Quick! Hide! It’s the Po-Leece!”
Thank-you Husband, joy, love of my life. Thanks for making me the bad guy…I know the reason lies in your fear of growing up and, that now, I am already a bitter, snarky old lady…so why shake things up? Except I have either become worn-down or just lazy–in truth I think I’m just more relaxed about all of it but I haven’t yet ruled out that it is only because I am too worn out to care.
So when I find myself trapped, (the husband’s master plan to bring adventure back into my life) in a car with six hours of road trip, an almost three year and just turned six year old boys, both screaming at the top of their lungs, poking each other, slapping each other, biting, crying, kicking the back of my seat, spitting spit-wads, about to start picking their noses and basically behaving as though possessed, I knew I needed a plan. I looked over to my sweet husband. No help was coming. He was laughing and blithely taking in the amazing scenery. I could have brought a movie player, ipad, leapfrog, handed over our phones, beat them, rolled up a magazine and started blindly playing “whack-a-kid”. (Did anyone else have a mom, aunt or grandma who played that game? Me either.) Anyway…I weighed my options… then I realized… I haven’t been sucked down that rabbit-hole for months, and it feels good. So why go now? Nor do I need to relegate myself to headphones and iTunes, won’t accept not getting to speak to my lover for six hours or more, I’m not good at storing resentment, and as good as I am at being scary…I am done with that…too exhausting…not enough payout. That is when I had one of those rare moments of clarity. The ones hard to have when you’re in the thick of things. Nicotine.
You may have heard of Charlie the Chimpanzee? A chimp in a South African zoo who became addicted to cigarettes. Visitors would give him cigarettes, eventually he was so hooked he did tricks and begged, was on his best behavior to get his hearts desire…if only my kids were addicted to…OH! Wait…um what are my kids addicted to…? Sugar…like the Mentos I have in my travel bag.
I had just bought them as we filled up with gas. I don’t know why. I never waste calories on sugar unless it’s chocolate. I now believe that moment, divinely inspired. I fished around in my travel bag, held up the prize in total silence until the car fell hush, the monsters calmed and their attention locked onto the bright package.
“…Mama, I want candy…”Aw, that little guy is so sweet sounding…I won’t be fooled, not this time. Here, when I have their full attention is when I lay down the rules of play:
- If Big-Brother makes Little-Brother cry, or scream, Baby-Brother gets a candy.
- If Baby-Brother screams (usually its at the highest and loudest decibel known to man) for no reason except to test his lungs, Big-Brother gets a candy.
- If anyone kicks the back of my seat, spits a spit-wad or picks their nose, mommy gets a candy.
- If I hear anymore songs where the lyrics are only about farts, poop, butts, penis’s and being stupid…mommy gets a candy.
- If I think you are playing me to give each other candy…mommy gets a candy.
- if anybody cries, everyone not crying gets a candy (except daddy…rules of supply and demand.)
After asking if everyone understood the game we started. Of course the six year old tested me right away, the baby was screaming less than three minutes into the game…now is the good part.
I explain how I’m now forced to give candy to the baby (who has his greedy hand out already) and how it makes me sad but those are the rules. It’s not fun for me but learning self-control is that important…the Six year old is secured in the car, booster, seatbelt the works and yet somehow, there’s a silent convulsion going on. There are no tears, no whining, but his face is contorted, and his body follows. I watch as he eventually finds himself nearly upside down. His feet on the ceiling of the car and his head hanging off the seat. I’m watching pretending to sympathize with him that ‘yes, this does suck‘ when I look over at his dad.
There are tears streaming down his face. His body is silently convulsing. He thinks this is the funniest thing he’s ever seen…or seen in the last ten minutes…
I hope this inspires you to quit giving your monkey nicotine and just use sugar, you’re welcome.