The Grossest Part of Deadpool 2

We double dated with our daughter and her boyfriend opening weekend for Deadpool 2. Since she was the only other member of our household we were willing to let see the movie, it seemed like a good time to see it.

First thing I noticed as we sat down was that there was a large party of people sitting in front of us. It looked like an extended family – many of whom were children. And I don’t mean just-about-to-enter-high-school young teenagers like Daryl (who is unhappy we won’t let him see it). I’m talking twelve or younger.

I shook my head but “what evs” – not my monkeys, not my circus – a mantra I’m trying more and more to adopt. But then the movie started and it was soon made my circus – and everyone else’s – in a funny way.

It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the movie started with a lot of blood and gore and guts and death and mayhem. If you didn’t see that coming, you probably weren’t planning to watch the movie anyway. Lots of people’s heads were sliced off, blood spewed everywhere. Typical Deadpool.

But then Deadpool returned home from his killing spree to put his domestic side on display. Think “honey, I’m home!” He and his girlfriend bantered back and forth, talked about big future plans. Big upswell of emotion for Wade Wilson (that’s Deadpool when he’s not all masked-up and violent) that led to them making out.

Now, if you don’t know much about Deadpool, Wade was hideously burned in the first movie. He’s really quite horrendous looking, which is why he covers his face completely when he goes out killing, or really, goes out just about anywhere. Only the undeterred love of his woman made him more at ease with his appearance.

And here he is in a beautiful display of love and affection with his lady. That’s when the monkey invaded my circus. In a little high-pitched voice that I would place at maybe 8 years old – tops, a little girl shrieked in disgust, “Ooooohh!”

The theater erupted in laughter, myself included. But it also made me a little sad. I mean, think about it. That little girl had just watched dozens of people killed in very violent and bloody ways. That didn’t disgust her. Didn’t upset her. Didn’t make her cry out in horror.

But two people kissing? That was simply a step too far. Parents, listen up. I’m not going to tell you how to run your circus, but I will pass on this suggestion. If your kid isn’t old enough to see two people kissing without reacting – loudly – then they really, really aren’t old enough to be watching a rated R movie.

 

{A big thank you to Jane for helping me with the title. I think she came up with a perfect one. All I did was add the -est to the second word.}

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When Cool Isn’t Cool

“You should really take a look at your son’s Instagram account.”

This came from my sophisticated, always-in-her-brother’s-business daughter, not from a fellow adult.

As he laughed, she continued: “I’m serious. It’s not funny, Daryl! His user name? Daryl69_420.”

“Wha-at?” he asked in a shrill voice as we gave him a disapproving (and surprised) look. “I saw it on a website. It’s what all the cool people use.”

“Do you know what 69 means?” I asked him.

“No,” he laughed, a little embarrassed. “I just know it’s cool.”

“69,” I said, leaning towards him, “is where the guy puts his mouth on the girl’s privates.” His face scrunched up in a disgusted expression but I continued, “And the girl puts her mouth on his penis.”

Pandemonium broke out as Hal called out in a sing-song, tattle-tale voice, “She said penis!” at the same time Daryl started fighting his sister for his phone. “Give it to me! Give it to me! Oh, gosh. That’s gross! That’s so gross! Give it to me now so I can change it! I didn’t know! I didn’t know!”

“That’s why you don’t use stuff that you don’t know what it means,” Jane lectured. “And 420 is about smoking weed.”

(She took great amusement in the fact that I didn’t know 420. I don’t find that part of the conversation important to include here at all but I know her and her dad well enough to know that they will comment on my selective editing of events so here you go. Full disclosure. I’m not all up-to-date on all the lingo and I’m ok with that.)

We are at the rather fun stage with Daryl where he’s essentially growing a mustache and maybe thinking about girls but not brave enough to act on the impulse and still hopelessly naive. One of his best friends went to the movies with a girl the same day we were having this conversation and his Destination Imagination team was waiting to pounce on him the next day. They are right on the threshold, teetering on the edge.

The transition from child to teenager holds many points of amusement for parents.

The Great Lizard Race

The lizard skitters along the road, no cares in the world. Sure, there are people here but they mostly leave him alone. Besides, they can’t catch him. A few of the little ones have tried.

A boy appears along the road. The boy sees the lizard. The boy remembers the conversation over dinner the night before. Specifically, the part about the lizards. His family had commented on how fast the lizards were. I bet I’m faster, he thinks to himself. And then, on the kind of whim that only young boys seem to have, he decides to prove it. He takes off running.

The lizard doesn’t know he’s been challenged to a race. He only knows one of the not-so-little-but-not-full-sized people is running roughly toward him. He picks up speed accordingly.

The boy steps it up a notch. He is faster than the lizard. He knows he is. He runs alongside the lizard, gaining ground. He’s winning! He’s winning! He knew he was faster!

Suddenly, the lizard leaves the boy in his dust. The boy doesn’t know what happened. He was winning. And then he was on his back, dazed and confused. He rolls over and struggles to his knees. He sees a rock nearby. He crawls over to it before attempting to stand.

Once on his feet, he sees a concerned woman nearby. “That was quite a crash. Are you OK?” she asks.

He stares back at her blankly. She asks again. He mumbles his response before heading off to find his mother.

At least, that’s how we think it happened. We have to fill in the blanks because my son Daryl, the great and mighty lizard racer, doesn’t remember anything between winning the race and the second time the woman queried him.

When he walked away from the woman, she assumed he was embarrassed and trying to act tough. He entered the room where his sister and I were working on our stained glass projects. He was sweaty and agitated. I could tell something was wrong but was unsure whether he was in physical or emotional pain.

“Mommy,” he started shakily. He looked back behind him and then turned back. His words came out in a rush. “I was racing a lizard and I ran into that white thing out there and… and… and… my head really hurts! It hurts so bad!!”

He grabbed his forehead and burst into tears.

Jane hurried to get some medicine out of her backpack while I gently moved his hand to check his forehead. There was nothing there. No bump or bruise or abrasion. I found a nasty line of bruising on his right forearm, but nothing even remotely tender on his forehead.

“You said you hit your head?”

“Yes. It hurts! It hurts! It hurts!”

This was not like him and I was confused. I glanced out the window. “What did you hit your head on?”

“That white thing out there.” He motioned vaguely out the window. I didn’t see a white thing that he could have hit his head on. I gently pulled him outside and asked him to show me.

He pointed to a white barrier, about three feet off the ground, that was essentially permanently across the road between the buildings at the camp and conference facility we were staying at.

“Honey,” I said patiently. “There’s no way you could have hit your head on that. Especially not at the same time you hit your arm.”

“Well, maybe I didn’t hit my head then. But it really hurts!”

“Maybe you didn’t? Did you or didn’t you hit your head?”

“I don’t know!”

I was confused and a little concerned. I sent him back to our room to tell his Daddy and then went back into the stained glass room to gather my things for my basketry class that was starting in a few minutes.

When I came out of the room, my husband and son were standing nearby and my husband was trying to get a handle on what happened.

“So you were chasing the lizard and then…?”

“I was racing the lizard.”

“Ok. And then what happened?”

“I don’t know. I think I hit my head.”

We exchanged glances. I ran my fingers through Daryl’s hair. He winced. I checked the back of his head, where I could see that a portion of his scalp was red.

“Did you hit the back of your head?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did you have for lunch today?” my husband asked, after checking the abrasion on the back of our son’s head.

“I don’t know.”

“Daryl,” I said sharply, getting worried but hoping he was just playing it up for some sort of perceived benefit. “This isn’t funny. It’s very serious. Don’t think that it’s better to act like you don’t know what’s going on. You won’t like where this is headed if you can’t answer our questions. So please don’t play it up. What did you have for lunch?”

“I don’t know.” Lunch had been less than two hours earlier. Each ‘I don’t know’ statement was delivered the same. He wasn’t getting irritated or defensive. He was just calmly and a little distractedly answering. This didn’t feel right.

“What did you have for breakfast?” my husband tried.

“I don’t know.”

“What day is it?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Shoot, honey!” I said. “Jane couldn’t tell you what day it is. It’s summertime! Daryl, what did we do yesterday while Daddy was at his meeting?”

“We waited.”

“Yes, we waited at first. But then we went and did something. What did we go do?”

“I don’t know.”

“You and Sissy and Hal and I. We all put on our swimsuits. What did we go do?”

“I don’t know.”

I looked at my husband. We were at least a half hour from the nearest hospital.

“I’ll take him back to the room and keep an eye on him,” he said.

So I went with Jane into our basketry class, where I sat down next to a woman who turned to me and asked, “Is your son OK?”

I glanced up sharply. “Did you see what happened?!”

“No, but I heard it. I thought he was on a skateboard or something – it made so much racket.”

“No, he was just running. Racing a lizard. What happened? Where was he?”

“Well, I don’t know, but I guess he ran into that road barrier. He didn’t get up right away. He crawled over to a rock first.” She would later decide that she was pretty sure he had been on the far side of the barrier, crawling under it to get to the large rock. This led us to believe that he had likely run into the barrier, flipped over it, and landed on his back, hitting the back of his head.

With a pediatrician and two nurses attending the conference with us, not to mention my husband’s own past emergency medical training, we decided that we did not (yet) need to take him to an emergency room. In fact, he seemed to be doing better that afternoon and soon returned to his own sketching class, with Dad in tow to keep an eye out for further symptoms.

For the rest of the week, he’d complain of headaches if he was too active. He felt a little nauseous the first day. We nixed his participation in the high-ropes course on the last full day and grew irritated with him when he reported a new headache after spinning on the tire swing “really, really fast”.

It’s hard to get kids to take brain injuries seriously.

But he rested as much as could be expected and limited his screen time and tried to take it easy. It’s been three weeks since the concussive conclusion of his lizard race. He’s doing much better.

And he’s learned to grin sheepishly when folks ask him if he’s seen any lizards lately.

You Are Not Special

I was bombarded all week with warnings that if I told my children they were special, I’d be turning them into narcissistic adults. I saw it flash up in Google News. My friends shared it all over Facebook. NPR devoted air time to it.

Having interacted with some narcissistic individuals, I found the prospect alarming. I began to wonder if I fell into the “you are special” parenting camp. I didn’t think so, but… you know, that teenager does have a strong sense of entitlement and a frequent inability to empathize with others. Then again, she’s a teenager. That’s exactly how she’s supposed to be. So maybe that’s not a good indicator.

I wondered about it for several days. Yesterday, no one was going to work or school. A holiday, of sorts. We were not in a hurry to get up or get moving. Around 8:30 or so, Jane came wandering into our room.

“Have we ever told you that you are special?” I asked.

“No,” she said, as she reached down to retrieve her ipod cord she had left in there the day before when she, apparently, took over my bed space as hers.

“Never told you that you are better than anyone else?”

“No.”

“Never said you deserve special things?”

“No. But I do. I am special. I deserve special treatment.” She grinned and then crawled onto the bed.

“Right. You aren’t special, honey. Not at all.”

“Well, fine. I’m going to go back to my room and cry now.”

“Oh, we love you. I just don’t want you thinking you are anything special.”

About then, Hal came bounding onto the bed.

“Hal,” I said. “You aren’t special.”

“Yes I am!” he responded with way too much sunshine in his voice. “Because I’m just so cute!”

We laughed and messed around, enjoying each other’s company. At one point, in response to something ornery they had done, I said, “You kids are awful.”

“Wow,” my husband said. “In just a few short minutes you guys went from special to not special to awful!”

“No!” I said. “They were never special – remember?!”

“You guys are special to me,” he said.

“This,” Jane said, as she snuggled up to his arm (while stretched across me), “is why I’m a Daddy’s Girl.”

“Fine. You guys are special to me too. Just as long as you understand that you aren’t, like, special. You know.”

Probably not my most subtle parenting, but I think they got the drift. Guess I can check that parenting-panic-of-the-moment off my list. Done.

Oops. Except Daryl. He was still passed out in his bed. Guess I’ll have to give him the news bulletin sometime soon. Then again, he’s a Mama’s boy. He is kind of special. To me, anyway. Is that enough to turn him into a narcissist? I sure hope not. Maybe I’ll say something. Just to be safe.

Cold Days, Warm Memories

I have very strong (and oddly fond) memories of sitting in a chilled but warming car as my mother scraped the ice off the windows of a morning. I remember watching through the ice, seeing her first only as a blur and then clearly as the ice was removed. I recall wondering whether she’d get that last little bit in the corner or if it’d be a quick job. I remember noticing that sometimes the ice came away more easily than other times.

These memories evoke a warm, comfortable feeling not unlike the memories of a grilled cheese sandwich and chicken noodle soup brought to me  when I was sick. Or of laying my head on her chest as I cuddled in her lap and listening to her talk to other people in the room, marveling at how different her voice sounded when heard through her chest. Listening to her heart beat. Relaxing in her strong and sure presence.

This morning, the weather had turned unexpectedly cold. Because of a shortage of pants brought on by rips in knees, holes in crotches, and massive stains on seats, I had mistakenly encouraged one of my children to wear shorts, thus saving me from the daily washing of the one pair of pants remaining (which itself was missing a button). We all rushed out to the cold car – no prewarming from this mother.

What appeared to be just water on the windshield and the windows on one side of the car turned out to be thick sheets of ice. As I scraped the windows, I saw my children’s faces silently watching me through the disappearing ice. Warm memories flooded my cold body. And can I just say this?

It sucks being the grown-up outside doing the scraping.

What To Teach Your Child

I have some more thoughts that have been percolating in my head over our little social media scandal.  The boy’s mom posted something on Facebook about the permanence of stuff on the internet and in the course of the ensuing discussion, remarked that she and her husband had failed as parents somewhere along the way.

I don’t think so.  How did they fail?  Did they fail because they hadn’t talked to their children about not posting mean pictures about other kids online?  How many other things that might be good to talk about have they not talked about?  Do those things make them failures too?  Do they make them failures even if the kid never stumbles over the non-knowledge?

How many things do we assume our children understand?  It never occurred to me that Jane needed to be told not to microwave her jacket.  How could I know I needed to talk about that?  “Well,” you might say, “there’s a big difference between microwaving a jacket and cyber-bullying.”

Of course there is.  But if you never imagine your child doing something – if it never even occurs to you, is it really so different in practice?  As parents, what exactly are we expected to teach our children over the course of their lives?  Does anyone have a checklist?

Don’t throw your food.
Eat your vegetables.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, put yourself back to sleep.
Pee in the toilet.
Clean up the surrounding area if you miss.
Wipe your bottom.
Wash your hands after you use the bathroom.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
Use soap when you bathe.
Share your toys.
Don’t steal other children’s toys.
Don’t bite.
Apologize if you do bite. Or steal a toy. Or fail to share.
Tie your shoes. Like this.
Dress yourself. And promptly so we won’t be late.
Say please.
Say thank you.
Keep your room clean.
Don’t pull the dog’s tail. Or ears. Or leg.
Don’t touch a hot stove.
Check both ways before you cross the street.
Don’t rest your elbows on the table.
Chew with your mouth closed.
Wait until you’ve swallowed your food before speaking.
Don’t whine.
Control your volume.
Get someone’s attention before you speak to them.
If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.
Pay attention in class.
Always do your homework.
Give us any papers your teacher sends home from school.
Don’t try to hide things from us.
Come to us if you are having a problem.
Participate fully in any activity you sign up for.
Follow through on your commitments.
Speak and write correctly. Here’s how.
Don’t put non-food stuff in the microwave.
Don’t put the cat in the dryer.
Don’t stick a fork in any outlets.
Don’t put small objects in your mouth.
Horseplay can be dangerous.
Keep your hands clear of closing doors.
Don’t climb up on the roof.
Respect your teachers. And your coaches. And all adults.
Except the bad ones. Run away from them.
Don’t let anyone touch you inappropriately.
Tell us if anyone tries to. Even if they tell you not to.
Don’t talk to strangers.
Unless you have an emergency. And then pick an officer. Or a woman. Or…
Here’s how to dial 911.
Never dial 911 unless it’s a true emergency.
Your parents not letting you have your way is not a 911 emergency.
Always, always wear your seatbelt.
Do not wear any inappropriate clothing. Like that. That is inappropriate.
Don’t listen to music too loud, especially when using earbuds.
Stand up for yourself.
But don’t be a bully.
Participate in conversations but don’t dominate.
Find what you are good at. What you love. Let us help.
Just because other parents allow it doesn’t mean we will.
Be a good friend if you want to have good friends.
Don’t make anyone feel excluded. Ever.
If you see something seriously wrong, tell someone.
Don’t cheat. On schoolwork. Or anything.
Don’t steal from anyone. For any reason.
Don’t vandalize property.
Even more than that, respect other people’s property.
Make church an important part of your life.
But think for yourself. Don’t just follow the crowd.
This is what will happen when you go through puberty.
This is what sex is all about.
And this is why you should wait.
And please don’t let anyone pressure you into it.
Or pressure you into anything you aren’t ready for.
And you aren’t ready for that.
Trust me.
Don’t break up with anyone via text message.
In fact, don’t have any serious conversations via text. Pick up the phone.
Call your grandparents.
Write thank you notes.
Take care of your chores before leisure time.
Don’t talk back to your parents.
When you grow up, don’t talk back to the boss.
Don’t do drugs.
Don’t drink alcohol. Unless you are with us.
But if you do, call us. Please don’t drive drunk.
Please, please don’t text and drive.
Don’t even answer the phone while driving.
Pull over instead.
Yes, I know you’ve seen me do it. I’m working on that.
Be home by midnight.
Participate in the community.
Help those less fortunate than you.
Let me show you how to cook.
Let me show you how to clean.
Let me show you how to set a table.
How to ride a bike.
How to roller skate.
How to fish.
How to swim.
How to make your bed.
How to mend your clothes.
How to iron.
How to style your hair.
How to apply make-up.
How to shave.
How to change a tire.
How to drive.
How to shop.
How to write a check.
How to talk on the phone.
Wear deodorant. Trust me – you stink.
Set aside some money for savings and tithe. Just get in the habit now.
Don’t allow yourself to go into credit card debt.
Keep a budget.
Here’s how you balance a checkbook.
Learn to do math in your head.
Don’t watch too much TV.
Don’t believe everything you see or hear.
Think before you speak.
Don’t post anything negative on social media.
Remember, once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.
Please remember the golden rule.
Don’t stay in an abusive relationship.
Respect yourself.
Love yourself.
Remember – we are always here for you.
Remember – we are always here for you.
Please. Remember. We are always here for you.

Is it any wonder that with a never-ending exhausting list, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we feel we have failed to teach our children something important?

We are going to fail.

We can’t possibly teach them everything they need to know before they need to know it. We can’t guarantee that they will absorb the lessons that we attempt to impart. All we can do is try. And try a little harder the next day. And pick ourselves back up and try again when we stumble. Or when they stumble.

No, our children’s one-off actions are not nearly as indicative of our parenting quality as is our response to those actions.

I Want the Epidural

Birthing a child is painful. Birthing a teenager is more so.

I believe in natural childbirth. I do not personally find the avoidance of pain worth the risks (no matter how remote) of an epidural. I also believe that the process typically has fewer complications and a swifter and smoother outcome when the mother stays directly involved and can feel what is going on.

I’m ready for an epidural now though. I no longer wish to feel the pain of raising a teenager. I still believe the outcome is better if the mother stays involved, but I want the relief of pain avoidance. I want a block between me and her harsh words. I want to withdraw.

Yesterday was the last day of school. My husband opened the boys’ bedroom door that morning and cheerfully announced as much. On impulse, forgetting months of experience, I attempted the same with our daughter.

She didn’t blow up at me. At least, she didn’t until I forgot to close the door as I walked away. Then she angrily and loudly yelled, “Will you please shut the door MOTHER?!” Her incredulity at my thoughtlessness was remarkable and I found myself shutting the door with too much force and then fighting back tears as I stumbled into the boys’ room to wish them a good morning.

See, that door haunts me. It is always closed. I would love to take it off the hinges. It’s not that I reject the notion of her having privacy. It’s that she has to have that privacy 24-7. The door is never open if she is in her room. In fact, the door to any room that can be shut off from the rest of the house will be closed if she is in there.

The door is a physical representation of the emotional distance she has put between herself and the rest of the family. I recognize that this is a fairly normal part of passing through the teenage years. That doesn’t mean I accept it easily.

She tried to indignantly claim from behind the door that morning that she was naked except for her underwear. That, she believed, was sufficient justification for the door being closed, despite the fact that she was still wrapped in her sheets. Despite the fact that she regularly walks the house in nothing but her underwear. It was not accepted as valid justification. Nor was her tone or attitude acceptable, as her father attempted to explain to her.

I did not leave the door open out of spite. It was not a passive aggressive response to it always being closed. It was not deliberate. It’s just hard to remember that while no other door is routinely used, that one must be. When our bedroom door opens in the morning, it stays open until we retire again that night. The same is true for the boys’ door. I think that by my action, I was greeting her and then subconsciously inviting her to join the family.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” my husband said when I expressed my frustration. “But it will pass.”

It’s getting harder to resist the spinal block that is available if I just withdraw and don’t interact with her. Such withdrawal is probably just a fantasy anyway since we live in the same house. And she’s not always so difficult. Sometimes, the contractions ease and I have a blissful bit of time that is so peaceful and magical, a time that is perhaps magnified in its perfection because of the memory of pain. But then the next wave hits and I’m thrown back into the chaos of surviving, forgetting the peace in between.

I’ve learned to accept the mild pain reliever injected in my IV at various times as I struggle with this process. When I entered the boys’ room after shutting her door, the pain on my face must have been clear. The continued shouting from the next room definitely was. My middle child sat up in his bed and with complete sincerity and a soft,gentle tone, said, “I love you Mommy.” He then reached over the edge of the top bunk and embraced me, holding on until I was ready to let go.

There are great pains in raising children. But there are great joys too. I can’t responsibly avoid the pain so I will have to hope instead that the joys can anesthetize me enough to still consider it all worth while.