It has come to my attention that I may have inadvertently managed to bias my readers, a little bit, when it comes to the presentation of my darling children. Although it should go without saying that I find the two of them equally charming, there are some factors, perhaps, which may cause my representations of them here to be a bit… distorted. Some have said that I often post about Chickadee’s transgressions but rarely about Monkey’s, leading some to believe that Chickadee is a hoodlum-in-training and Monkey is a tiny, male Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way.
This is patently ridiculous, of course. Chickadee is ALREADY a hoodlum, and Monkey doesn’t even own a magical carpet bag.
No, no no no no. I mean, come on. There is no favoritism here. My children are different and wonderful in their own ways, and just in case there was any doubt, my son is just as capable of being a complete buttmunch as his sister.
Take yesterday, for example. (Please, TAKE IT. Burn it out of my memory. Please?)
I may have begun to crack under the strain of recent events, just a little bit. I’m not sleeping well. I’m preoccupied. And last week I blew off a metric ton of work thinking that we would be running off to Boston at any moment, and the good news is that so far that hasn’t happened, but the bad news is that yesterday I realized that I had a lot of work to get done if I wanted to keep my jobs and be able to pay for things like plane tickets.
So I thought about taking the kids to church—we have maybe found a new church, one that we’ve been attending for a couple of months—and then I remembered that there was some potluck thing after the service, and I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to socialize, and even just going to church and then having to make excuses for why we weren’t staying seemed like more effort than I was willing to expend, so I decided we’d just stay home.
“Well what should I do?” asked Monkey, my early riser with the infinite energy.
“I don’t know, buddy. Go amuse yourself. I need to work for a while.”
And so it was that I was curled up on the couch around lunchtime, still in a ratty t-shirt and some flannel pants (a.k.a. my pajamas), tapping away on the computer, when my son headed outside to ride his bike for a while.
Remember when I worried that Monkey would never master his bike? And then when one day he finally did? Well, there’s absolutely no stopping that kid, now. He rides his bike ALL THE TIME. It’s like he invented fire and there’s a bottomless bag of marshmallows out in the driveway. I swear the child is wearing grooves in the pavement. And it’s AWESOME. I can think of very little that makes me happier.
So I’m working away, and he’s riding his bike, and Chickadee is upstairs reading, and all is calm and bright.
And then Monkey comes inside and asks if one of the neighbor kids can come over to play.
Let’s recap: It’s the middle of the day, but I am still not dressed. I am in my pajamas. I am NOT WEARING A BRA. I’m sorry to spell it out that way, but those are the facts. I am Not Fit For Public Viewing, is my point. And I am tired. And cranky. And I VANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.
So I tell Monkey that no, I don’t think we’re going to have a playdate right now.
“But WHYYYY?” Why does he ask that? It’s because I’m a mean, horrible, angry hermit of a woman. Obviously.
“Buddy, I’m sorry, but I’m not dressed, and the house is a mess, and I’m trying to get some work done, and I’m really not up for company right now.”
“But we could just stay outside!” he says, all hopefulness.
“Right, except that whenever you’re ‘just staying outside’ you always end up coming IN at some point. Look, I’m sorry, but not today, okay?”
He grumbled and muttered and went back outside to ride his bike some more.
About five minutes later I heard the back door slam and footsteps approaching from the office.
“Did you finish riding your—” I stopped, because upon looking up I was not facing Monkey, but the neighbor kid. Who had just walked into my house. ALONE. And was now smirking at me.
“Um, hi, sweetie, where’s Monkey?”
“He’s outside,” he replied. “He told me to come in and talk to you!”
I got up off the couch and tried to smooth my rumpled hair and act natural. “Did he, now?” I asked. He nodded. I put my arm around his shoulders and steered him back to the door. “Well, I’m sorry, but Monkey had already been told we’re not having guests right now, and it’s not your fault, but Monkey is going to need to come in now because he chose to disobey me. Please go home.” The neighbor kid turned tail and ran while Monkey took one look at my face and knew he was in Deep Doodoo.
Inside, I conducted the Inquisition. Had he sent that child inside to “convince” me to change my mind? Was he unclear on the meaning of “not inviting anyone over?” Did he understand why it would be embarrassing to have someone walk into the house when I’m not dressed? His head drooped lower and lower as he continued answering, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry.” I gave him a hug and a kiss and sent him to his room to read for a while.
A little bit later, Chickadee came downstairs and noticed Monkey’s bike helmet sitting on the couch. “Why is Monkey’s helmet in here?” she asked.
“Because he did something I asked him not to do and I had to go outside and drag him in here by his helmet,” I answered.
Her eyes went wide. “REALLY??”
I sighed. “No. I didn’t drag him. But he was wearing it, and then I forgot to tell him to take it back out.”
“What did he DO?” she asked, clearly electrified by the notion of her brother catching hell.
“Let me ask you something, Chickie. If I told you no playdates today, and you knew I was sitting here in my pajamas, would you send some other kid in here without you, thinking that might make me change my mind?”
I thought her eyes were going to bug out of her head. Then she laughed so hard I thought she was going to choke. Finally she sputtered, “You sent him to his room, right?”
On the one hand, I don’t want her taking joy in her brother’s misfortune. On the other, you do sort of have to admire how when he screws up, he really commits to the role.