The battle of the past few mornings has been pretty predictable: POPCORN, NO, POPCORN, NO, POPCORN PLEASE, NO, PLEASE POPCORN, NO, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH, I SAID NO, AAAARGH PLEASE BOO HOO POPCORN, NO, POPCORN NO?, NO… That is what I get for saying that J seemed more flexible…
We have not reached “meltdown” level, but we have reached “mom’s too old and having too many hot flashes for this” level. J knows this, and -like the Jedi Mind Trick Master that he is, he is playing around with the question and the answer to see if I, out of exhaustion and desperation, offer him popcorn for breakfast. The temptation, my friends, is there; perhaps it’s because the whole thing seems overwhelming in this heat, but the temptation is definitely there. So far, however, I have managed to transport myself to my “happy place” and neither have I given in, nor have I roared at J so loudly that he has run away. I’ve kept the reactions quite measured…a consistent and firm NO, and the occasional steady glare that says “I’m very close to raising my voice.”
I’m sure that, by now, our routine has become tedious to J. That’s the way it works: we find a groove and fall into it, and then we want a change. With 22 calendar days and 12 teaching days left until summer program is over, the time has come to alter the landscape of J’s days once more. The trips to the pool are, indeed, a nice break from the usual day-in, day-out, but we have to find something more. Silly as this may sound, I’m about to ask the foreman from the construction site for small wood remnants, and maybe J and I can come up with a simple project to work on.
Tonight is ice-cream truck night. On Thursday evenings, the soft-serve ice cream truck drives by, and the neighborhood’s children spill out onto the street to wait for it. One of those children is my husband. I’ve actually seen him skip over steps and dig frantically for change when he hears the truck in the distance. This evening I expect to be done with dinner early enough that all three children in the household will be waiting downstairs on the back deck for the truck. And then, with how quickly the ice cream will melt in this heat, I will hose them down before letting them back into the house. I will not tell J that this is an “every Thursday” thing or he will learn to measure the week by that little routine, and -once more- the element of surprise and fun will quickly dissolve. The only reason Market and library continue to be fun is because we buy different things from different stalls in one, and some Saturdays I only drop books off, and don’t even go in to borrow anything to read that week.
Even the dinner menus are getting rebooted. In the mornings, J is choosing his breakfast (and, yes, POPCORN is his go-to, but -as you know- he gets shot down) and helping prepare it. He is a master sandwich-maker, and he is becoming very adept at preparing eggs in the way he picks from his cards. Yesterday morning (an egg morning,) he chose poached eggs and insisted on using a plate rather than a shallow bowl to serve them. After a while of “shooting” the egg around his plate and laughing, we realized that he was doing this for entertainment. We had to stop him, of course, but it was pretty funny to watch him do this.
Once done with his eggs, once more, J requested POPCORN. I again said NO. This went on through chores, and getting ready for the pool. I told him, look, if you behave and go to the pool, when you get back I’ll give you popcorn. The scowl was quite impressive, but off he went with Dada.
When I got there ten minutes later, J had pushed Dada to a corner of the pool with what was described to me as “relentless fire.” I pointed out that there’s no way fire can come out of J’s water gun, and Dada -who was feeling a little frustrated by J’s lack of cooperation- snapped that he KNEW that, but that it was the same nonetheless…J kept repelling Dada’s attempts at getting him to go in the water. I walked past J and into the water, and I was welcomed with what can only be called the most mischievous water attack since last Friday’s. Contrary to Dada, I was not going to take it…and I was not going to retreat. “Follow me!,” I called out to my not-particularly determined husband. In less than three minutes, J was soaked, laughing hysterically and his willingness to get into the pool was evident.
“How do you do that?,” my husband asked. “It’s simple,” I told him. “I don’t take any unjustified bull from anyone, much less this blithe spirit you see sitting on the edge of the pool. He can smell fear and he runs with it.” People showed up, and entered the water with great ease, so Dada and I sat near J on the edge of the pool, and instructed him to not horse around with other people. It was obvious that he was dying to shoot water at some unsuspecting neighbor, but one look was enough to dissuade him. By the time three more people were in the water, J announced his readiness to go home, and home we came.
It was nearly 10:30 when we walked in the door. J was dripping wet, smelled like sunscreen and had a huge smile on his face. As is his habit, he made sure we all changed into dry clothes, hung towels to dry on the balcony, put away the pool toys and removed our sandals. It was all very organized…and in a much better chronological order than I’ve stated right now. By 10:45 we all reconvened in the kitchen area, and J -with an even bigger smile than before- happily giggled the word: POPCORN!
Hey, at least it wasn’t BREAKFAST TIME anymore!!!!