A pair of green cargo pants and a red scrum cap walk into a school…

Every year we decide what it is we are giving up for Lent.  Every year God reacts in the same way:  HA!  He knows what he scoffs at…this year we barely made it to seven o’clock on Ash Wednesday before I, Eve of the household that I am, tempted my husband with a piddly amount of dark chocolate chips that were left in a small bag.  God, perched on his lovely oak throne up in a cushy cloud in Heaven, started laughing his fanny off…a loud roar of thunder announced this fact.  We made him cry so hard it started raining buckets.  I, for one, was glad I could tickle the Big Guy’s funny bone for it is better than when I make him angry…

J seems to have given up any pair of pants that is not his pair of green cargo pants.  They were his Fat Tuesday pants (Monday was a holiday) and his Ash Wednesday pants.  Today they were his “hey!  It’s Thursday!” pants.  Right now I’m making him wash them or they will be his “don’t come near me, I’ve been wearing the same pants all week” pants for tomorrow.  His sudden fascination with that ONE particular pair of pants is surprising…he has another pair in another color, and treats it like it’s got mange.  Five pairs of long pants he owns, and only one is he willing to wear.  Is that a “guy” thing?

The horror on his face as I take the green cargo pants and throw them in the washer is only exceeded by his horror when I do the same thing with the red rugby helmet.  Toddlers might sit in front of the washer waiting for their blankie to emerge and then be remanded to the care of the dryer, J waits for his helmet and his pants.  The machine has just started its cycle and I feel like I personally shot Bambi’s mother.  J’s reaction tells me I have stripped him of his beloved helmet, stomped on his dignity and he must now ignore me until I make amends by returning his pants and his scrum cap to him…until then I am on the crap list.

The funny thing about all this is that, while The Great Gonzo seems -from time to time- to have outgrown that type of reaction, J never truly will.  These are the moments when the melodrama of the eight year-old bubbles up and overflows.  Just like when I say no and he lets out a loud complaint and stomps around, I am taken aback and realize that his size can be deceiving.  In my heart I expect him to sniff and pout as he stomps up the stairs and slams his door, but I know he will stomp around in circles, howling and yelping, possibly scaring the neighbors in the process. There have been moments when I’ve wondered if, during one of those stomps of his, he will go through the floor and get stuck between levels of the house…we will walk downstairs and say hello to his legs and then go back upstairs and say hello to his chest, arms and head.  Other times I wonder if the next-door neighbors will suddenly find them in their dining area if J accidentally goes through the wall as he’s running up the stairs.

We no longer worry about his as much as we did before.  When J was having his behavioral issues, he could easily clear a store of all its shoppers by letting out a growl.  He was not the Cowardly Lion either, with a growl that meant to intimidate because he was truly not as fierce as he seemed…no, J could scare the crap out of people and mean it.  Now, he expresses his discontent and acts as if we’re being the most amazingly unfair parents the world has ever known, also known as every single teenager’s parents.  My reaction is no longer “will he scare people” because I now think “this luxury townhouse is not very sturdy.”  That is about size and weight, not about fierceness…well…yes, if he’s really pissed off he will put more effort into the stomping, but -as a general rule- he stops when he hears a suspicious creak.

If I could rationalize Lent for J I would probably ask him to give up the stomping.  I know it gives him pleasure to mark his territory and express his displeasure in that manner so it would, indeed, be a sacrifice.  I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that he give up his green cargo pants or his red scrum cap; I wouldn’t even suggest putting aside Slinky or the boxing gloves.  I don’t worry about those things as much as I used to because, in all honesty, they now seem natural to everyone here.  We used to feel self-conscious, but we now realize that, after the initial impression, people aren’t really that put-off by them.

God made the platypus.  I believe Robin Williams has indicated this particular piece of creation as proof that God gets stoned.  God gave bees the ability to make honey.  God, I suppose, made porcupines and hedgehogs…he also made human beings that resemble all these creatures in one way or another.  My aunts, bless them, each looked like a different type of hen, something that always caused quite a bit of joy in me and which would have prompted a rather long, drawn-out and unpleasant speech from one of them in particular.  J comes from the same catalog as all these things, and I think he’s yet another way God has of gleaning entertainment out of us.  I am certain of this because, as I type this, I can hear my son shifting his weight on the bottom step of the kitchen stairs, waiting to make an entrance and casually stand by the washer, attempting to fish out his helmet and plant it, soaking wet, on his head…

I’m glad we don’t give up mirth for Lent…it would be too hard, and God would not enjoy it either…

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