Have You Eaten?

If I have to endure the teenage years when he’s actually only in first grade then I get to skip them when he gets there proper… right?

I came home from work later than usual yesterday. I had told my husband to tell the boys that I would fix them dinner when I got home. So the first thing I did when I got home was ask the two boys, sprawled each on a different couch, if they had eaten.

“I have,” said Daryl, who actually is going through puberty but is typically (not always) even keeled. “But Hal hasn’t.”

“Oh, yeah, Bubba?!” Hal exploded from his couch. “I did too eat! I had a yogurt! What is that, huh? That’s food! I ate!”

“Hal,” I said gently. “Eating some yogurt is not eating dinner. I didn’t ask if you’d had a snack. I asked if you’d eaten dinner.”

“Fine!” He slammed his tablet down on the couch and pushed himself angrily to standing. He began stomping into the kitchen.

“Hal? What are you doing?”

He turned around and did his fish-out-of-water routine. Too frustrated to speak, he flapped his arms at his side and opened and closed his mouth repeatedly.

“Hal, come sit back down.”

“Fine! Then I won’t fix myself some dinner!” And with that, he stomped back to the couch, flung himself upon it, and curled up into a ball, burying his face into the corner.

“Hal,” I said calmly (barely), “I didn’t tell you you needed to go fix yourself something to eat. I merely asked if people had eaten. I asked that so that I could fix you some dinner. You need to drop the attitude and quit exploding.”

“Well!” he said as he kicked his legs out and flailed about.

“No. You need to settle down. Do you need a nap?”

And there’s the rub. A real teenager would have taken me up on that. This fake one just exhausts me constantly instead of blowing up in short little bursts and then sleeping the rest of the day away.

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The Summer of 1989

I didn’t plan on posting anything today, and indeed there will be thousands upon thousands of blogs about Robin Williams today.  If there were not already thousands before I even roused from bed this morning.  I don’t have anything profound or significant to say about him or depression or suicide or even life.  I have no expectation to rise anywhere near the top or even any level of significance in the mass mourning of a great man.

What I do have is a fond memory from my pre-driving teenage years and since this memory involved him and resurfaced because of his death and because this blog is called mybrightspots and the memory is definitely a bright spot in my life, I will share that tale.

It was the summer of 1989.  I would be heading into tenth grade in the fall.  My best friend invited my mother and I to join her and her mother to watch Dead Poets Society at the theater.  I asked my mother if she wanted to go and was befuddled by her response.  There was no “Oh, I’d love to, but…”, no hesitation nor consideration.  Just a strange look on her face followed by, “No, that’s ok.  You guys have fun.”

My mother loved this friend and loved the friend’s mother as well.  She loved Robin Williams.  I couldn’t interpret the look on her face.  I couldn’t understand why she wanted to spend that Saturday afternoon cleaning house and doing laundry instead of watching this movie with these people.  I shrugged.  Oh, well.

I don’t recall if we went on opening day or if we just arrived late or what.  All I know is that when we walked into the theater, it was immediately obvious that we would not be sitting together.  I have never been in a more full theater in my life.  We found two seats near the back and I think my friend’s mother had my friend and I sit there before she wandered off to find her own seat.  I have a faint memory of guilt that mother and daughter did not sit together but relief that I was not cast out on my own.  I also remember thinking maybe it was best my mother hadn’t come.  Where would she have sat?

The movie was incredible.  Inspiring.  Moving.  Heart-breaking.  To this day, it remains one of my favorites.  And it’s at the top of my list of Robin Williams movies I want Jane to see this week.  My husband and I were up late last night, cruising IMDB and commonsensemedia.org to bring to mind all of his works that we loved.  I have this deep desire to show my children this wonderful actor, to help them understand what the world has lost.  Popeye for Hal.  Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire for Daryl.  Dead Poets Society and maybe Good Will Hunting for Jane. Maybe not The World According To Garp just yet. It feels important.  This honoring and remembering and educating.

Back to 1989, though.  I came home on an adrenaline rush.  I could barely contain my excitement as I burst into the house.  “Mom!” I exclaimed.  “Man, you should have been there!  That was awesome!”

The strange expression on her face from earlier was back but intensified.  “I’m glad you enjoyed it,” she said, in a mildly disconnected and certainly not enthusiastic way.

“You’ve got to go see it, mom!  That was the best movie ever!  Robin Williams was wonderful!”

“It was a movie?” she asked.

Now it was my turn to be confused.

“Um… yeeeessss…?  What did you think it was?”

“I thought you were going to some group that was going to sit around and listen to people read poems written by dead guys.  I couldn’t figure out why you wanted to go, but more power to you.”

It took awhile for the laughter to die down.

And even though Robin Williams is gone, it’ll take awhile for the laughter he left me with to die down.  If it ever does.

Rest in Peace, you talented, flawed, and wonderful man.