Thursday, July 22, 2010

Swinger

You know how some kids, when they get hungry, get really cranky? Well, when Ben gets really hungry (as in, he's been watching cartoons so intently that he doesn't realize he's starving until I tell him to turn off the t.v. for the ninth time and come eat), he morphs into Satan's spawn. People tell me all the time how cute he is, and I tell them that it saves his life every day. They laugh. I'm not kidding.

Ben is a lover of structure. This is only a problem in summer, when schedules are more lax. We spend a lot of our days at the beach. But since no one ever wants to leave, we tend to get home later, eat later and go to bed later. All this sounds very relaxing, and it is, except for Ben.

Remember the movie The Exorcist? That scene where little Linda Blair's head turned completely around? That's Ben if he doesn't eat within an hour of waking up. Or when he has eschewed snacks and is waiting for dinner to be ready. I'll be standing at the stove cooking, and the conversation will go something like this:

Ben: "Mom, give me something to EAT!"

Me: "Excuse me? Ben, if you're hungry, eat a carrot. Dinner will be ready..."

Ben: "MOM, GIVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT NOW!!"

Jacob: "Ben, I'll peel carrots for both..."

Ben: "SHUT UP, JACOB!"

Me: "That's enough, Ben!"

Ben: "MOM, I JUST WANT SOMETHING TO EAT!!"

Yeah, that I get.

Having seen his intense mood swings, I cannot tell you how much I dread his teen years, now that I know how vicious, loud and mean he can be when a number of factors all come together at once. It's like the personification of a perfect storm.

How can you live like that? you might ask. It sounds like insanity! Yes, it is like that, and we yell a lot at each other when things get out of hand.

But then Ben eats, brushes his teeth, reads a story with me and asks me to lay in bed with him a while before he falls asleep. I tell him I need to jump in the shower first--for 15 or 20 minutes--to wash off the sand from the beach. When I'm done, I hear him calling me. I get dressed and go into his room.

Ben: "Mom, what took you so long?"

Me: "I was just drying off."

Ben: "Oh yeah. Sorry I rushed you."

Me: "That's OK."

Then I'll lay down next to him, and as he starts to drift off, he says things, things that are like little, open windows that let me peek into his brain.

"Mom, I never want to get married. I want to live with you forever."

and

"Mom, is this real life or a dream?"

and my favorite,

"I love you Mom. You're the perfect mom. It's like you were made just for me."

Though I joke about the tough moments and the challenges Ben throws at me, it's moments--and comments--like this that actually save my life every day.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Chris - Loved this blog! Just this morning, I got up late (bouncing back from surgery) and found younger son cranky - like a squeaky victrola handle. The first thing that came to my mind - "hmmmm, did somebody not eat anything yet today. Of course, this was the culprit. Finn's like a fireball of energy, a comet streaking across the sky at his highs. Then "the crash". Most of the times, the kids don't want to eat very first thing in the morning and they do get absorbed in whatever it is - tv or video game / wii. Finn also forgets to eat or doesn't think of it 'til it's too late. So often, I need to offer and it needs to be specific. "what do you wnat to eat? " or "Do you want something to eat?" doesn't work. It has to be "Would you like Rice Chex or the Golden Grahams this morning?" and if he responds with an "I'm not hungry," I know that will be trouble later so I say "How 'bout I'll pour you out a little bowl now for when you do get hungry." Then 30 - 45 minutes later - if the cereal's not been touched - which often it has been gotten to - I'll say "Oh, you forgot your cereal..." at which he shovels massive hand-fulls into his supposedly "not-so-hungry" gullet.

I definitely can relate to the blog - thanks chris. :)