When I woke up Friday morning, after yet another mind-numbing night of ‘sleep’ involving one child throwing up, wiping someone else’s behind at 2.30am, and the inescapable presence in our bed of the sleep-kicking-talking boy-baby, I made coffee. And checked email.
I logged onto Facebook and all manner of status updates clouded my screen. Most of them addressing Veteran’s slash Remembrance Day. While others fixated upon the fact that it was 11.11.11. Some even taking it a step further; showing screen shots of 11:11am on 11.11.11.
These are the sorts of things that simply don’t pop up on my radar screen: symmetrical dates, Friday the 13ths, etc. But with all the Facebook and media hoopla, I somehow felt obligated to at least bring it up to the boys while I sat at the dining table drawing robots for them. The pointless conversation went something like this: ‘what day is it today?’ and the Gort possibly replied Saturday, so I had to try a different approach. ‘Today is the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the [two thousand and] eleventh year,’ I announced in a chirpy voice meant to cover over the fact that I didn’t care at all.
‘Whoo,’ the Gort replied with pseudo-enthusiasm. ‘Yes, and in an hour or so it will be eleven minutes after eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month….’
And then I finished the robots and dispatched the professor to the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery for treats. Which means we were not able to take a commemorative family picture at 11:11:11:11:11 because one of us was driving along Macleod Trail looking for scones.
I can’t say I’m a fan of these long, no-school-on-Friday-or-Monday-weekends. Because most of the time, when the boys are around each other for a very long time, they become easily, constantly annoyed with their brothers and I or the professor spend the day saying pointless things like ‘stop bothering your bother,’ or ‘go play by yourself’ far more than is pleasant or reasonable.
After Percy’s nap, I decided we needed to get out. ‘Should we go to a movie?’ I asked the troops. And they were filled with enthusiasm…until I gave them the choices. Cars2. Smurfs. SpyKids. Dolphin Tale.
They’d already seen Cars2. The professor nixed the Smurfs and SpyKids, which left us with….Dolphin Tale. ‘I don’t want to see that,’ the Gort protested, convinced it was the movie ‘Flipper’ which he’d recently seen. The Hen, who will watch pretty much anything, put on his jacket and stood in the front entryway – despite the fact that the movie wasn’t starting for another hour.
When it became clear the other members of our contingent were heading to the movies, the Gort decided he would go. We were fifteen minutes late by the time we settled into our third-from-the-front-row-seats. The Gort gnawed on some Skittles. The Hen ate a Kinder egg. And Percy sat on the professor’s lap, while he [professor] made snarky comments about the predictable plot. ‘Let me guess, he doesn’t have a wife…she doesn’t have a husband….I think I’ve watched this movie before.’
Two hours later, we got back in the car. ‘So, what was your favorite part of the movie,’ we asked the boys. ‘Nothing,’ the Gort replied somewhat sullenly. ‘Oh, wait, I liked it when that [toy] helicopter exploded. That was cool!’ ‘Yeah, I liked the helicopter,’ the Hen followed suit, and ‘helicopter so high’ Percy agreed, raising his hand towards the van ceiling to indicate height.
It wasn’t as if I’d expected them to say something heartwarming about the movie’s message about disabilities or prosthetics, but the scene with the remote-controlled helicopter that goes awol?
We got home past the dinner hour, so the professor scrambled to make tacos while the boys painted at the table. ‘This meat tastes spicy,’ the Gort announced after sampling a bite of the taco meat. I took a bite. My mouth felt like there was a very small fire on its roof. ‘This is not going to go well,’ I thought to myself. Silently. Because it is part of the parental code of conduct not to make any potentially negative comments about dinner in front of the children.
The Hen began his usual ritual of ‘I don’t like this’ while pushing his plate away, which he does every night, no matter what is on the table, without even tasting what’s in front of him. His displeasure disintegrated into a tantrum of epic proportions. One that had the professor admonishing ‘the neighbors can hear you screaming like you’re being tortured and no one is even touching you.’
I had just tucked the Gort into bed, a mere stone’s throw from his still-inconsolable brother, when he sat up, solemnly. ‘Mom, I’d just like to tell you thank you for a couple of things.’ And I had to keep a straight face, because this boy was not-so-subtly going to throw his younger brother under the bus. I find it comical that they seize these little moments when one boy is in trouble, to set themselves apart as paragons of sonship. As if we, their parents, can’t see through the ultra-polite speech and overwhelming sense of gratitude.
‘I just want to thank you for washing my clothes,’ my oldest began and really, I had to bite my bottom lip for fear an awful snort would escape. The professor, who was [still] trying to console the Hen, visibly shook with laughter. ‘And you make my bed, and you make me dinner.’ ‘Well, actually Daddy made dinner tonight, so you should thank him,’ I reminded – just to be fair. ‘Yes, but you make dinner too. You’re the best!‘
After dinner, I asked the professor, ‘so what did you put in that taco meat?’ ‘Chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes…’ ‘Red pepper flakes and kids don’t go together,’ I broke the news, ‘yeah, well I only added half the called for amount but then I tasted it and it didn’t taste like anything, so I dumped in the rest.’