The importance of being Monkey

By Mir
September 12, 2007

I don’t think I’ve talked about Monkey much, lately, because we all know that my favorite thing to write about is ANGST, preferably the most anxiety-fraught, annoying angst I can get my hands on. (Fortunately there is no shortage of that in my life, generally speaking.) And while my daughter seems to share my proclivity towards “the glass is half empty and also has water spots, and a crack! WHY GOD WHY?!” my son rides on a much more even keel.

I was prepared to fight the school district to get him comparable services to what he received last year, and they offered very reasonable accommodations and I didn’t have to fight anyone. I was prepared for him to have a hard time fitting in and to have meltdowns that would really put off his new classmates, and he has shown remarkable maturity this year in managing to hold himself together at school. (He still has tantrums for me, at home, but let’s just pretend that’s because he loves me, mmmkay?) In short, I steeled myself for a rocky beginning here, for him, and I was just plain wrong.

(Thank goodness his sister has generously provided twice the drama I anticipated, to compensate for his easy adjustment, as a service to us all. She’s always thinking of the family, that one.)

The best part of settling in to life here, thus far, is that Monkey’s best friend back home was named Franklin*, and although that’s a pretty common name, we were all surprised when he went right out and made a NEW best friend here named… Franklin.

* His name isn’t really Franklin. Also—and I’m sure this will come as a complete shock, but as long as I’m being honest—Monkey’s given name isn’t Monkey, either.

Knowing my son as I do, I worried at first that he had gravitated towards New Franklin based upon his name, but of course it turns out that New Franklin is sweet and charming and loves Pokemon and the two of them play together for hours and seem to have a genuine bond. Plus Old Franklin’s mom was… ummm… if not exactly weird, she was certainly standoffish, and New Franklin’s mom offers me wine and also invited me on a ladies’ night out thing and in general is someone I would like to tuck in my pocket and carry around with me because she is not only Good People, she is super nice.

So I enjoy Monkey’s friendship with Franklin both because he seems to have picked himself a nice friend and because he was kind enough to basically present ME with a potential friend on a silver platter while doing so. (Chickadee has only brought me a woman 15 years my senior who doesn’t speak any English. Clearly she doesn’t love me as much as her brother does.) There WAS that one time that Franklin and Monkey decided to play ball inside the house… and yes, that ended badly; but overall, I couldn’t be more pleased.

As for school, Monkey has firmly wormed his way into teacher’s pet status, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. There will come a time when he may need to cut back on the unabashed love and hugs, but for now it’s still very endearing. For the curriculum night presentation in his classroom, the teacher showed a quick slideshow of the kids working, and she started it off with a shot of Monkey grinning over his math book like the cat who ate the canary. “That’s Monkey,” she said to the other parents, “and as you can see he is having NO FUN AT ALL in our class.”

Right now Monkey is having a rough few days because he has a tooth about to fall out. His sensory issues mean that the small annoyance of a dangling tooth put his nerves on a constant setting of JANGLING. So he’s a little more hyper, a little more easily set off. Still, the difference between last year and this one is HUGE; I can finally see what his occupational therapist told me last year about how he will outgrow some of this, and learn to control himself more as he ages. That tooth is driving him nuts, though, and he’s not sleeping well because of it.

He appeared at my bedside at about 3:00 this morning.

“Mama, I’m afraid of the monsters.”

“Honey, there aren’t any monsters,” I told him, while he stood there, all bedhead and sleepy warmth, twisting his loose tooth. “I think you need to go back to bed for a few hours, okay?”

“Okay, Mama,” he said, giving me a quick kiss and heading back to his room without argument. I wonder if he was even awake. (Maybe I should have asked if there were snakes in his bed?)

Soccer is starting up, and this morning at breakfast while I combed knots from Monkey’s mop of hair (his preferred method of hair brushing is to just wave the brush over the top of his head, or maybe just smooth the top layer, somehow, without touching any of the hair underneath) and he squeaked protestations, he said he thought it was time for a trim because the front is falling into his eyes. This sparked another chapter in The Great Hair Debate, because if he’s truly going to keep growing his hair, and run around on the soccer field, should I keep trimming the front? Or should we let it ALL grow so that eventually he can pull it back in a ponytail?

I confess to not understanding his obsession with having his hair long; especially around here, boys typically keep their hair VERY short. Monkey still lets me pick his clothes and generally is not so much fashion oblivious as that he just has no interest in thinking about these things. Plus with the sensory stuff, I’d think hair hanging down his neck and onto his face would be maddening. But this is his “thing” right now, and I’m happy to play along. I’m curious to see how far he’ll take it.

Maybe for the first soccer game I’ll put a couple of barrettes in the front there. That coupled with the big gap he’s gonna have in his mouth shortly would be right purty, dontcha think?

“Bye Mama, I really love you, have a good day!” he called as he left this morning. I’m sure that he started telling me to have a good day because I say it to him, but I dunno… I think he really means it. He’s just that sort of a kid.

Then again, somehow “don’t let the bed bugs bite” from me has somehow morphed into his closing line to me each night being “BED BUGS MAKE YOU ITCHY!” followed by hysterical laughter, so maybe I oughtn’t read too much into what he says.


  1. Burgh Baby's Mom

    What do you mean Monkey’s name isn’t really Monkey? Here I thought you had named your kid the most perfect name ever. When I see little boys, I nearly always think they are practically little monkeys, what with the constant running and jumping and climbing and chattering, etc.

  2. Barb Cooper

    Good for you and good for Monkey. Isn’t it great when things finally work the way we’ve all been led to believe they will work? (Of course, I base most of my ideas of the way things should work on Leave it to Beaver and the Brady Bunch so what do I know?) We’re having a magical school year with my fourth-grader. I had no idea it was possible to just send your kid to school… just like that. It pretty much rocks!


  3. ChristieNY

    What a wonderful little Monkey you have there, it’s great to hear he’s adjusting so well!

    Too funny about the hair though! :)

  4. Megan

    Good for Monkey! Any kid who can cat-and-canary over math is doing well.

    As for hair… my male Child went through the Temporarily Dye It The Current Soccer Jersey Color (which was a great help in picking out which small blond kid was mine), and recently went through the Grow A Haystack phase (less good – but shortened when Child realized its hair grows out bushy and… well, bushy) and is now in Cut! It! All! Off! phase. That’s not so much of an issue except that yesterday it was caught quite early in the morning giving itself a “trim.” With the buzz cutter. Without a mirror. On the back of its head. Then it claimed that all of its friends thought the result looked great! I wonder if they also thought Child’s left ear is set an inch lower than the right?

  5. prophet

    you remind me of the benefits of standing on one’s desk (because life looks different from up there), Mir, a la ‘Dead Poet’s Society’. I so enjoy your switch-up of the “usual” point of view!

  6. tammy

    I love his hair! He looks like Beck!

  7. tammy

    (You know that’s a complement, right? I really really like Beck.)

  8. tammy

    In fact, I might just start leaving you comments about Beck all the time.

  9. dee

    Aww, he sounds awesome.

    Regarding long boy hair and soccer, we had a new kid with Shawn Cassidy hair move down from Michigan and join my son’s soccer team. After the first practice, my son came running up to me (in front of everyone, no less), “Wow, Mom! That new girl is pretty good!”

  10. Busy Mom

    Actually, there was a boy on Busy D.’s team whose hair was so long, the parents put it up in barrettes for soccer. For reals.

    But, then again, the mother’s armpit hair could have used a barrette or two, as well. Because, well, there’s “natural”, and, then there’s “good gawd!”

    Wait, this isn’t your point, is it?

    The “glass with water spots” part did prompt me to check on some glasses I have soaking for that very affliction.

  11. Lauren

    I love your blog!!

    Hope monkey gets rid of that bothersome tooth soon-and has he considered the mullet hair style? Business in the front, party in the back! perfect for soccer ;) he would be welcomed at any of the local biker bars for refreshment after the games…

  12. MomCat

    I love reading about the angst, but I also loved the wonderfulness. You paint such compelling images, Mir. Thanks!! :D

  13. Crisanne

    You know what? Once you emailed me and used Monkey’s “real” name. I had to stop and think…who?…for just a second. And then I felt like a complete idiot.

    I do think your little guy means it when he says “Have a good day!” because that’s just how I choose to look at life.

  14. sumo

    Oh, I think a mullet would be just lovely for Monkey. The pictures would be nice to tuck away for future embarrassment. Unless he really likes it and decides to keep the mullet for life.

  15. jennielynn

    Buy him a sweat band and do not, for the Love of God, put barrettes in his hair. Yes, I know you were joking, but hand to Him, my mom actually did that to my brother.

  16. Heather

    Aww :-) What a doll. You’ll have to keep us updated in blurry-faced hair pictures, especially if it gets to looking really funny ;-)

  17. hamiam

    I totally relate to this post…particularly the anticipations of dealing with a new school and accommodations…
    I am so waiting for this: Still, the difference between last year and this one is HUGE; I can finally see what his occupational therapist told me last year about how he will outgrow some of this, and learn to control himself more as he ages. That tooth is driving him nuts, though, and he’s not sleeping well because of it. Well, maybe not that last one, b/c I can see LMNOB’s freakout squeamishy self on TOP of her sensory issues making the loss of teeth especially difficult.

  18. All Adither

    Friends who offer wine are good friends indeed.

  19. Heather Cook

    Ok, remind me how old Monkey is? I keep losing track… My son seems to be obsessed with having his hair as short as possible… he loved it when Grandma used the #1 instead of the #2 blade and he wound up looking like one of the Natural Born Killers.

  20. Aimee

    The next thing you know, you’ll be telling us that Chickadee’s name isn’t *really* Chickadee.

    Well! I never!

  21. zuska

    This is the favorite time of my morning! I love your posts!

    My 9 year old daughter has “loose tooth” issues. She won’t touch them, and totally freaks out over them. She just had to have 2 baby teeth yanked, because it turns out that if you don’t wiggle baby teeth, they sort of stay put, regardless of the giant 4-pointed white thing breaking its way through the gum above. Funny how the process relies (at least in part) on the kids’ fascination with wiggly teeth.

    All that to say – I feel your pain.

  22. Mama Bear

    The tantrums once Monkey gets home are a positive. Really, they are. Miss 9 does the same thing. They hold it all in at school and are on their best behavior there. When they get home, they KNOW it’s ok to let loose. They are comfortable there, and they know we will love them no matter what. See… a positive spin on tantrums!

  23. Bob

    if you trim his bangs and nothing else, that boy’ll wind up with a mullet, which, come to think, will let him merge right in with a good bit of our rural population.

  24. mama speak

    Writting about it may jinx it you know. (My glass is just sitting on the counter for the last two days w/the dregs of something in it, no one is sure what anymore…)

    If his hair is too long for a headband then use a hair band (pony tail holder). It’ll be a very short “pony tail” and it will look weird, but it’ll do the trick AND won’t be “girly”. Not that Monkey probably cares about that.

    My husband had long hair for years and he said when he hit the point where it was in his eyes, but too short to pull back he wore a baseball had constantly. I imagine it’s not an option at school or soccer, but otherwise that helps a lot.

  25. StephLove

    My Monkey seems to be off to a good start in school, too, despite the fact that we kept putting off starting his occupational therapy. He has a borderline case of SPD and at least so far, it seems like having more sympathetic teachers and maybe a few more months of maturity has made a big difference even without the therapy.

    BTW, I have named your kids in my mind. They are Cynthia and Michael, to me anyway.

  26. carolyn

    My son has always let his teeth just hang around until they plopped out on their own. This could sometimes be MONTHS of a loose tooth, accompanied by the new tooth coming any-which-way around the loose one. Gross!!

  27. Ani

    Hmmm…I think BED BUGS MAKE YOU ITCHY is better than…

    “Don’t let the bedbugs bite your butt…or your penis!”

    Which is what I get every night from the local monkey.

    Boys. ‘Nuff said.

  28. Nothing But Bonfires

    As long as Monkey’s hair doesn’t reach Cindy-Crawford’s-son’s-hair proportions, I’d say you’re all good. HAVE YOU SEEN IT? Google a picture of her children. You’ll think the blonde one is the girl and the dark-haired one is the boy. Um, no. Guess again.

  29. Tracy

    I found the quickest way to avoid the whole how-long-should-I-let-his-hair-get-before-it-really-bugs-me stage is to put him in a football helmet. Nothing… and I mean NOTHING….convinces them to cut their hair faster than football season here in Arizona! :)

  30. Daisy

    Sweatband. Definitely a sweatband. He might not care if you pull the hair back in a barrette or two, but the other kids would never, ever let him forget it.

  31. Karen

    Dylan is also into the long hair and OY. The long bangs and inability to see versus the clipping of said bangs and possibly making him look like me at 9? Conundrum.

  32. MsRebecca

    My ex hub is obsessed with the genius boys hair, so obsessed in fact, that he shaves it off every chance he gets.. I’m so confused!!!

  33. Not The Mama

    I’m so happy for Monkey. I’m glad he’s adjusting so well and is so happy at school. I have to say though, given all your encounters lately, I’d cringe everytime I heard, “Bed bugs make you itchy!”

  34. Susan

    Monkey and Henry need a playdate. Henry can wax eloquent about the joys of the buzz cut, perhaps inspiring Monkey to let you cut his hair, and then they can play Pokemon together.

    While we drink wine (or eat brownies!) in another room.

  35. Ayla-Monic

    The way things are going, I half expect Georgian bed-bugs to be ten feet tall, possessing giant, head-crushing pincers. And feelers that tickle.

    I’m glad to hear that Monkey’s got himself a good friend. :)

  36. Mallory

    “When Bad Haircuts Happen To Good Monkeys” on the next Geraldo! I vote for the headband cum ponytail rather than continued bang trims, or sure as sugar, you will have a Mullet Monkey on your hands. As much as I see the potential for future blackmail material, I hope you can resist temptation.

    Monkey is not really named Monkey?! Next you are going to say that the picture on the t-shirt is not really him, either!

  37. Mom on Coffee

    Monkey sounds absolutely cheek-squeezingly adorable!!!!

    As an adult with SID, I can tell you that he will outgrow so much or re-route things so they are less HERE I AM, I’M WEIRD!!! As a child I would FREAK OUT if my shoes and socks didn’t feel JUST right, that has morphed into a dinnerware weight thing(my silverware, glass, plate have to be a certain weight in my hand or I’m UBER uncomfortable). Damn, I’m still weird aren’t I. Crap.

  38. raina

    I have a son with SID and would somebody please explain to me why he cant stand up for longer than 3.4 minutes before he starts to freak about his legs being tired and hurting OH SO BADLY, but I can go pick him up at school and have him greet me with a cheerful “HI! Ive had my pants on backwards all day! (jeans,by the way. How does one DO that?? and not notice???) and then I will really look at him and not only are his pants on backwards, but his shirt is inside out and his shoes on the wrong feet. And none of it bothers him one bit. But to STAND? On his feet? Oh the sheer agony.

    and clearly??? I need to start drinking more coffee before dropping him off at school. Or at least start giving him the once over to make sure his clothes are on right and his underwear is actually inside his clothes. Or that he is wearing underwear. But I also have two little ones that need me to dress them and get out the door…and Im not good in the morning. so bah.

  39. Sheila

    If indeed you do go for a headband for Monkey, put on the headband so that some of his hair is pouffing out both the top and bottom, and please be sure to get matching wristbands a la Bruce Jenner. Chicks will dig it.

  40. Fannie Mae

    Just found you through another site. Am enjoying meeting another “glass half empty”. I’ll be back.

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