You shouldn’t say you miss your grown-up kids because within minutes of speaking such a sentiment the gods will bring them home on the Coach Canada bus.
A few weeks ago I had just finished saying how nicely my son had turned out. How he was quite the lovely young man, how he’s grown up and stopped visiting friends in his boxer shorts, how he’s stopped scratching body parts at the dinner table, how he’s stopped asking his girl friend to pull his finger. I was saying how good he is with money and how he can make soup. A man that can make soup is a good man in this day and age. But then he came back home on the same weekend he had decided to quit smoking. Now I do want him to quit, believe me. I wish he hadn’t started. But he was trying to quit in my home, on an island, without the patch, without the gum, without bringing me a three-day supply of Atavan. He tried this last Xmas and well there was no fa la la la that time either.
For the first day or two he slept and ate and said it was good to be able to breathe. The kid is apparently addicted to oxygen. And then there was the deep breathing phase, and the breathing turned to yoga – strange bird poses in the middle of living room. A leg would unexpectedly swing behind him. He walked in the woods happy like Cinderella. I expected to see little blue birds buzzing around his head. And then he started lifting weights. Me. Without any warning he’d lift me up and try to bench press me screaming in a Scottish accent, “How many stone are ye woman?”
As the nicotine leached out of his system the emotional outbursts started. Think of the terrible twos with a terrible two that could bench press you. He was like someone who had Tourettes where he just started swearing and freaking out for no reason. ‘No. I don’t want to do the dishes.’ ‘No I don’t want to go to bed. No. No. No. But not as cute as a two-year old you could distract… or slip a Gravol into his sippy cup.
Then the cranky stage got replaced by the ridiculous question phase. The following exchange is a sample:
“Mom, Mom. Mom. Hey mom. Was I a bastard? “
“No Son. You certainly were not a bastard.”
“But you and Dad had to get married. “
We didn’t have to get married. We chose to get married.”
“Because you were having a baby. “
“No we had you and then got married. Remember I told you I had to breast feed you in my wedding gown?”
“I see. So, I was born out of wedlock?”
“Well technically, yes.”
“So am I a technical bastard!!”
“What, are you from the fifties kid? You’re not a bastard. How many times do I have to tell you?”
The whole night was full of tangential bursts and non-sequiturs.
“Mom, tell me honestly. Do you think the Ninja Turtles was a better TV show than Power Rangers?”
“I don’t know. They were both better than that flipping Little Mermaid we watched a million times. Where was that girl’s mother? I will tell you where. Dead.”
An hour went by.
“If you were forced to sleep with Sailor Moon or Pink Power Ranger who would you pick?”
That’s easy it would definitely be the Pink Power Ranger. Sailor Moon is under-age.
“ Do you think Polly Pocket or My Little Pony was the worst toy ever?”
“Pogs were the worst toy ever with Crazy Bones coming in a close second.”
I made some supper and he ate half a side of beef, which I served on purpose. I thought all that red meat would put him into a drugged out coma, but all that blood seemed to just wake him up.
“How would you survive a Zombie attack? Would you shoot them with a gun? Or stab them with a knife?”
Let me say, I don’t believe in Zombies. They are right up there with aliens as far as I am concerned. They better not come to my house in the middle of the night dripping their alien goo all over my clean floor. As for sticking a probe up my arse, well that just makes me cranky thinking about it. I don’t think you should give aliens or ghosts or Zombies any sort of encouragement. Because I am sure it’s like the law of attraction. If you start believing in them they start believing in you and before you know it you’re on Connell Four at Hotel Dieu because every time you see a meat thermometer you burst into tears.
By the way, the reason I knew about the Zombie thing is from Facebook. In fact when I YOUTUBED the “How to survive a zombie attack” there are many handy tips. And it has over a hundred thousand hits. While Jane Jacobs’ thoughts on urban sprawl and how we can survive as a human race has only 688 hits. Go figure.
In honour of surviving the family relationship I played along with the Zombie thing.
“I’d kill the Zombie with a knife because I don’t believe in guns.”
“That wouldn’t work mom. Zombies have strong lower arm strength and would take it out of your hand and you’d be dead.”
“Why did you give me the knife option?”
“Calm down, Mom. Calm down. I was testing you. I need to assess your chance of survival.”
See this is the thing about my son, he likes to have a plan. He always got up and needed to know the schedule. He always wanted rules, which I wasn’t great at. I remember one day after I had been out for the night, the army called my house. The woman from the recruit office asked for him.
“Is master Brendan there?”
“No. He’s at school.”
“Well, he called last night about joining the army.”
“He’s in grade six.”
When I asked him about why he wanted to be enlisted said he needed discipline and his father and my methods were too willy-nilly for his standards.
So I knew if we were going to get any rest we needed to get the Zombie plan in place.
“All right. I’d splash them with water then like the Wicked Witch of the West.”
See, I am an improviser. I was thinking outside the box but it just made him very hostile.
“If you’re not going to be serious about this, we’re not going to play.” By this point he was trying to light the pencil in the toaster.
“Play? This is supposed to be fun?”
“ No I mean it Mom. Smarten up. Or, I’m not even going to talk to you.”
“Really? You promise?”
I excused myself and put myself to bed before I did some serious damage. As I was drifting off to sleep I heard a voice drifting up from the TV room.
“If you don’t shut your mouth I am going to stick a cigarette up your butt.”
No, it was not an alien from another planet. It was the shrill sound of my daughter screaming at her Zombie-loving brother.
As they hissed back and forth “Screw you. No, screw you.” I thought wow it’s great to have the tittle tattle of big people in the house.
The next day he bought the patch and I Googled Jane Jacobs, making her hits on YouTube 689.
As for the boy, to date he has kept the Export A’s and Zombies at bay! (THIS IS ONE ESSAY from THAT WHICH DOESN’t KILL YOU–GET YOUR COPY TODAY!! UNDER SHOP