I lost my shit on Waldorf. I am not proud of it. It doesn’t happen frequently. But there is one thing that makes me insane. And Waldorf is a prime time offender.
I was Little Miss Academic in school. I’m fairly sure I never got a B in grade school or high school. Only A’s. I have a brain, yes, but I earned those grades because I worked my goody-two-shoes tail off. I studied until I knew everything by rote. Not the most effective of the study skills, but the outcome was certainly to my liking. And to my parents’ liking. Dad’s only gripe with me? My high school boyfriend.
Dad: “So, you’re going out with the basketball player again tonight?”
Me: “Yes, Dad. He’s my boyfriend.”
Dad: “Why do you have to have only one boyfriend? You’ve been dating the same guy for 4 years! Why don’t you play the field a little?”
Me: Exasperated, “Dad, I’m wearing his jacket. Isn’t it obvious that we’re in love?”
Ah, to be so hopelessly and ignorantly enamored. Oops, I mean it’s exactly how I feel after almost 18 years with B&B.
It’s been…how shall I say…an adjustment bearing witness to the study habits and absentmindedness of my sons. Actually, that’s putting it too delicately. It’s been a goddamn nightmare.
Me: “Kenyan, I am signing your homework notebook, but I don’t see your minute math.”
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph this kid with his forgetfulness
Me: “Define ‘oops’. Please. Because I don’t understand ‘oops’.”
Kenyan: “Um, oops. I forgot it.”
Waldorf: “I never forgot my minute math.”
Me: “I don’t remember inviting you to join this powwow, Waldorf. Zip it please. Back to your own homework. Thank you.”
Is that a twitch? Under my eye? Dammit. They are doing it to me again. These kids are giving me twitches.
Me: “Yes, I realize that, but precisely how did you manage to forget it? You read your teacher’s instructions. You copied her instructions into your notebook. You gathered the materials you needed for homework. Yet you didn’t double check to make sure you had your minute math?”
Kenyan: “I guess not.”
Control the flaring of your nostrils, Bethany. He’s not crying yet. Don’t make him cry. Back away from the minute math argument. Encourage him, he needs encouragement…this is boy#2, remember? Positive reinforcement with him.
Part of the reason I’m so frustrated is that he is a repeat offender of forgetting his minute math. To the tune that B&B actually made up a dance to help jog the Kenyan’s memory.
B&B: “Kenyan, I’ve come up with a plan. To help you never to forget your minute math again. Now watch this.”
B&B then performed a most hideous act. I can only describe it as his interpretation of an ancient tribal dance.
B&B is very tall. And has very long arms. And extremely long legs. He is uninhibited with his dancing. Yet, his body awareness isn’t spot on. By that, I mean he doesn’t know where he is in relation to inanimate objects. He passed this trait along to my sweet little Kenyan. Between the two of them, they are constantly banging into counters and door frames, and tripping over items lying on the floor. Like their own shoes. Out of which they’ve just stepped. To see B&B do that dance was equal parts entertaining and frightening. To watch the Kenyan repeat the dance back to him was absolutely hilarious. The Kenyan is an exceptional mimic. Voices, faces and mannerisms…the Kenyan picks them up and regurgitates them perfectly. These two fools danced around my living room, banging into sofas, knocking pictures off walls, and bruising their shins in tribal delight.
B&B: “Now, Kenyan, every time you write the words “Minute Math” in your homework notebook, I want you to remember this dance.”
Kenyan: Hiccuping from laughter, “OK, Daddy. I will. Wait, why?”
B&B: “Because when you remember this dance, you’ll remember we’ve created this dance to trigger in your memory that you have to do something. Do you know what you have to do?”
Jesus Christ and all the saints. There’s my eye twitching again.
B&B: “You have to remember to put your minute math into your homework folder!”
Kenyan: “Oh, right, hiccup, right! I’ll never forget! Hiccup!”
They danced up the stairs, laughter trailing behind them.
Me: To the empty room, whose pictures are crooked and whose furniture is overturned “Or you could just remember the minute math because you’ve already written it down.”
That dance ritual took place a solid 3 months ago. And, while I wish I could forget the visual, it seems that my Kenyan has had no trouble erasing it from his own memory. Poof! As though it never existed.
So, back to my present day conversation with the Kenyan…
Me: Remembering to be positive, “Kenyan, it’s OK. I know you work very hard and you do your best at school. And I know it’s a long day for you. I guess Daddy’s dance, which remains singed on my brain, hasn’t helped you to remember your minute math. And that sign your teacher placed on your classroom door hasn’t helped you remember your minute math. Maybe you could just try to take your time, even though you’re tired, and read what you’ve written. Then, make sure you have everything you need before you put your coat on for dismissal. What do you think?”
Kenyan: “OK, Mom.”
Great, now both of my eyes are twitching.
So, the Kenyan is forgetful. But my Waldorf is a procrastinator. And it brings out the crazy in me. Because I can’t fathom leaving things until the 11th hour. And it doesn’t seem to faze my children in the least. Which makes me even crazier.
Me: “Waldorf, I’m reading an email from your teacher about a story that’s due tomorrow. What story?”
Waldorf: Putting his hands on his hips, and lifting his eyes to the ceiling, “Oh, oops. Yeah. Right. That.”
OMG. It’s 8PM. Is he…Is he sitting down to do homework? That he’s had all weekend to do? I am going to lose my wig.
I follow Waldorf to the dining room table. He is showered, in his pajamas, laying out his books. My arms are folded. He ignores me and acts very studious and diligent. I stand there glowering for a minute. Then leave the room to find B&B.
Me: “Did you hear that?”
B&B: “What? That whistling noise? That’s just the Kenyan, I keep telling him to stop whistling. He’s a good whistler though.”
Me: “No, not the whistling! Although, the Kenyan’is pretty good. I feel like my grandfather is walking through the house with all that whistling he’s doing. What was I saying? Oh, Waldorf didn’t finish his homework! He totally forgot! Until I reminded him. That’s not my job. That’s his job. I went to school. I did my homework. My parents never had to remind me to do my homework. This is ridiculous.”
B&B: “Well, let’s be honest. You were a total nerd. I mean, I’ve seen the pictures. You had a stretch of some very awkward years there. “
Me: “Oh, really, Mr. Sergio Valente size 14 slim jeans? You can’t be serious. Because your pictures are entirely worse than mine are. And that’s a fact.”
B&B: “Oh, I beg to differ. The fluorescent socks with the sequins sweatshirt? And the striped corduroys? Now, that was an awkward time for you.”
Me: “Yes, it was, but those socks were very cutting edge back then. Stop changing the subject! Waldorf is a procrastinator! I don’t want him to be! He’s the oldest! He is supposed to worry about things! What does this mean for the rest of them? I will be like Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus by the time the Verb has homework! Twitching and threatening to kill everyone!”
B&B: “Hey, Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus, in honor of you, let’s watch one of the Pink Panther movies tonight!”
Me: “You’re no help. None whatsoever.”
B&B: To my back, as I retreat, in his best Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus impression, “But I want to kill him!”
That was actually a good impression.
I walk back towards the dining room table, only to find it filled with books, yet empty of their owner.
I look into the living room. I see the sofa cushions and pillows fashioned into a makeshift fort. From the fort, I spy one of Waldorf’s long legs and I hear meowing.
I run towards the sofa and leap into the air, opening into a Jimmy Superfly Snuka. Wrecking the fort with my throwback WWF move. Luckily, the cat hears me coming and darts from the sofa at the last second. Waldorf is pinned under the cushions.
Waldorf: “Um, excuse me, Mommy, but you’re squashing me.”
Me: “Listen to me and listen good. Because I’ll only say it once. This is the last time you leave homework until a Sunday night. You’ve had an entire weekend of fun. But you neglected to get your work done until I reminded you. This is unacceptable. It is your job to remember. Not mine. I do many things for you boys, but thinking for you is not one of them. You must be accountable for your work. And PLEASE STOP GETTING DISTRACTED!”
Waldorf: “OK. I, uh, can’t really breathe with you lying on top of these cushions that are on top of me. Can you get up now?”
Me: Hissing, “Yes. Now, Back. To. Work.”
I leave the room to attend to the Interrogator and the Verb, who are in the bathtub.
Interrogator: “Mom, the Verb called me a stupie poopie!”
Me: “Verb, please don’t call anyone that. It’s not nice.”
Interrogator: “That’s right, Verb. You’re not being a good citizen when you call me that. You’re being a bad citizen!”
Verb: Getting concerned, “But I want to be a good citizen.”
Me: “Well, good citizens don’t say ‘stupie poopie’. So you can be a good citizen by speaking kindly.”
I realize this good citizen talk sounds ridiculous. It sounds absurd to me as well. But it’s the one thing that resonates with the Interrogator. He has learned that good citizens don’t spit, don’t bite, and they certainly don’t lick their younger brothers’ faces. Because, naturally, he’s done all of these things. The good citizen chat usually helps to keep him in line. I guess he’s a country first kind of guy.
Me: “You boys have 3 more minutes in the bath. Please keep as much water in the tub as possible.”
I go back downstairs to check on Waldorf’s progress.
WTH? What’s that noise? I hope it’s not the dishwasher; I have a full load in there.
I feel the smack of a flying helicopter against the right side of my head. And then I hear the muffled laughter of my 10 year old. I find him lying on his stomach on the bench, attempting unsuccessfully to put some distance between himself and the helicopter remote control.
Click. There goes my crazy button.
Me: “WALDORF!!!! THERE WILL BE NO ELECTRONICS! AND THERE WILL BE NO DESSERT! THERE WILL BE NO ELECTRONICS AND NO DESSERT UNTIL JUNE IF YOU DON’T FINISH THAT HOMEWORK IN THE NEXT 20 MINUTES! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!?! AM I MAKING MYSELF CLEAR TO YOU?”
Waldorf: Averting his eyes from the hot mess who vaguely resembles his Mom, “Yes, Mommy.”
I leave the room to get myself under control. I hear Waldorf’s pencil scratching and know he’s finally focusing on his work.
B&B is sitting in the family room, grinning at me.
B&B: “So, Former Chief Inspector, no electronics AND no dessert? You really meant business up there, didn’t you?”
Me: “I know. I sounded like a buffoon. I know. Clearly it’s neither a timely nor an effective punishment, but I had to threaten something. They were the first things that came to mind.”
B&B: “What about wire hangers? Are you going to threaten to take those too? Until June? No wire hangers until June?”
Funny guy. So funny. Oh, what a laugh riot.
He’s given me no choice.
I begin running, and then leap into the air. Crushing B&B with my best WWF Jimmy Superfly Snuka.
I now have two twitching eyes. And one pulled hamstring.