Listen, I know you all must be so sick of me writing about my kids. I know this because I’m sick of writing about my kids. But it’s cheaper than therapy, and you don’t interrupt, so you’re, like, a gazillion times better at listening than my husband.
Perhaps some of you can help me understand what happens to a boy’s brain when he leaves home and takes up residence at Any College, USA. He’s now a junior, and I’m telling you, he’s more of an animal than ever before. He just had a small break and surprised us by coming home. I was thrilled. For about a minute and a half.
The dirty clothes were flung by the washing machine, toenail clippings on the floor, the apples, Pop Tarts (unfrosted, which, he informed me, means I don’t love him), Cheez-Its, Fiber Bars and ice cream … all detonated and obliterated within 20 minutes. He was thirsty. Would I mind if he had a beer? What! Would he mind if I whacked him upside the head with a 2-by-4?
God. Help. Me.
The worst part is that he hasn’t cut his hair since … since … well it seems like since Bush was in office, but that’s impossible, right? He thinks he looks like Kurt Cobain and gets really angry when I call him Betty White. He’s going through a phase and I realize the more I frown and wretch, the more he does what I don’t want him to do. That’s Parenting 101, yet I cannot control my gag reflex.
At any rate, I’m actually happy when he visits — for about a minute and a half — and I made plans for us during this break. I was excited because he’s such a fun kid, with zero drama and less awareness of say, body odor. He goes with the proverbial flow, just like the hair.
Well, he deigned to spend about three hours with us. That’s not counting sleep or toilet time. Before I could tell him to get his laundry out of my dryer, he was gone like my bladder control. Where? Where did he disappear to so quickly? Of course! To his friend’s pad. Who has his own home. With no parental overview or opinions. Who answers to no one. Who is born free. Maybe he really is Kurt Cobain, because this certainly is his Nirvana. Hell, even I wanted to spend three days there.
After that marathon, I felt sure he’d spend Sunday quality time with us. I know he misses us when he’s away! Um, not so much. Even though I said no, he went to the other parent — the fun parent — who says yes to everything, and secured a car for some further out-of-state shenanigans. This would not aggravate me so much if he weren’t visiting the very roommates he sees every day at school! He preferred to spend his off time with the people he plays with daily and not with the mother who has to wear Depends when she runs because his big, fat head got stuck during The Push.
And … he’s back. And … he’s leaving again. I asked him if he would mind spending more than a day with us over Thanksgiving break. He said he would if I bought the frosted Pop Tarts. And I said: “Have a great Thanksgiving in New York, Betty White.”
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.