You can keep your damn jack

Ian got upset yesterday when he accidentally was hit in the face with a soccer ball and someone laughed. Ian wanted the coach to make that kid not laugh. 

I reminded him that there is an entire genre of comedy based on people getting hit in the face. And while it may have been upsetting for Ian, another person can't help but laugh just a little. Also, laughter is a nervous response. He's done it himself when I'm monologuing at him about flushing the toilet and say the word poop with such fury. 

Daddy tells a story: A man was driving along a country road very late one night when he got a flat tire. Opening the trunk, he realized he had no tire jack! Far in the distance was a porch light.

The walk was a long one. As he trudged along, the man began to imagine waking a farmer up from his sleep and finding him unfriendly about the intrusion. Other thoughts came to him. What if the farmer had a gun? What if he sicked a big dog on him? What if the farmer robbed him when he realized he was alone?

After almost an hour of stumbling, getting caught in sticker bushes, and losing a shoe in a mudhole, he could finally see the front steps.

The man was so upset about the whole situation. He just knew the farmer was going to have a fit about a stranger at his door! It's not like the man could help this predicament. How could someone treat a fellow in need that way?!

The man knocked on the door. A light came on. The man was wracked with worry, stress, fatigue. Surely, this farmer would be furious with him. 

Footsteps. The door cracked and a voice said, ”Can I help you?”

The stranded man, red-faced and raging shouted, ”You can keep your damn jack!” and stormed away.

 Bold and self-soothing all in one

Bold and self-soothing all in one

Right now Ian is that stranded man. He's sensitive, in a vulnerable position, feels alone, and spends a lot of energy scripting how things can go wrong. 

My job is to help him calibrate. And to remind him that like Rich would say, "Everyone is the hero of their own story." There are 40 kids at soccer camp. Most of them are kind to him. And every single one of those kids has a life they're struggling with and navigating the best they can. Some of them don't have the emotional or supportive resources he does.

Stand your ground. Be kind. Try not to yell at farmers. 

Imperfect and awesome

Something I've noticed recently with all of my online dating: Every single person on the planet is just a little funny looking. All of us. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson has eyes that are just a tiny bit too close together and a fantastic smile. Megan Fox has fat stubby thumbs and gorgeous cheekbones. 

 Dwayne and Megan

Dwayne and Megan

Also, every single person has some hang-up or quirk. You don't get to the adulthood without a few dents. 

Every single human is a little bit flawed, physically and emotionally. It's like we're all expecting to look and perform like the burger in the commercial and we wake up like the burger that we get in the drive-thru. 

 Burger commercial versus reality

Burger commercial versus reality

It's interesting how people rank others based on features they had no control over other than a genetic lottery. Bald men are a thing. Short people can't magically be taller. Voices will be nasal or shrill. 

What makes you attracted to someone? Is it just dat ass? I have a distant cousin who married an "ugly woman" according to his mother. The mother was concerned she would have ugly grandbabies. My cousin's wife is the sweetest woman on the planet. After several years of marriage and some beautiful grandbabies, my cousin grinned at my mom, "She gets prettier every year I'm with her!"

I get that there is biology involved. The species wants to survive, and so our body chemicals want us to mate with wide-hipped women and broad-shouldered men. We can be a bit more cerebral than that, though. I can attest that some very handsome men around this town are downright hateful. 

Everyone being imperfect is pretty freeing. We can enjoy ourselves and each other. Soak up those picky eaters, bow-legged bad dancers, and nail-biters in your life.

I remember lamenting the stretch marks on my thighs as a teen once I "blossomed" into puberty. Until maybe the last few years I would have claimed the circles under my eyes rivaled a raccoon. Amazingly, no one else cares. People (to my knowledge) don't point me out as "that mom with the stretch marks and dark circles," because let's be real, that's every mom.

I also have adorably small ears. I have naturally wavy hair. I have those little dimples on my lower back (Rich called them cutie booty dimples). I am so flexible, I can fold up like a lawn chair. I can lift a 100 lb dog and push a Suburban.

I have a giant sign on my fridge that says: 
"YOU ARE (imperfect and) AWESOME!"

Things are rough these days for a lot of people. There are some truly awful people in this world. But most people are imperfect and awesome, just like you. Brush your teeth, clean your room, wear fresh undies, be kind to people, speak up when people are mean. The rest will sort itself out.

 Scandalous sexting

Scandalous sexting

Tugging on Superman's cape

Summer is supposed to be easy. Carefree. No schedule, no tests, no worries. But let me tell you there is a lot of worry going on around here.

Ian never wants me out of his sight. I can normally grocery shop without him, but now he’s right there in the produce aisle with me lest he is sobbing at home that something made a sound and I’m not there. I told him the other day I was going to mow the lawn. He looked up from Fortnite and quivered, “You’re not … leaving, are you???” Dude. By definition, I will be on our property. You can hear the mower and see me out any window in the house. 

As I was three quarters done with the lawn, he came racing out the back door. He looked pained and he had his fingers in his ears from the noise. I stopped the mower, killed the engine, paused my music, took out my headphones. 

“Are you ok, Stink? What’s up?” 
“Are you done yet?” 

I just blinked at him. My child is in the gifted and talented program, I swear to you. And he just asked me if the lawn that I’m clearly in the middle of and has sections which are demonstrably taller than others was done. 

So yeah, he’s been like a very large barnacle. If he had his way, I would wear him around in a backpack like Master Blaster. 

 My kid is a lover, not a fighter.

My kid is a lover, not a fighter.

Adding to that mix, he’s been sorta argumentative with me. He tried to tell me this weekend that “pumptism” is an actual disease. I said, “I highly doubt that.” He countered, “Yes, it is! Look it up!” 

You know what, you little asshole, I will. And so I looked it up and read the definition to him that it was a term MADE UP by a YOU-TUBER. And so maybe he should shut his trap about internet diseases, Dr. Short Stuff.

We were driving home from a movie last night and he asked me about the order of homes the orphans went to in “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I told him I wasn’t sure. He said he knew they went to X and Y but he wasn’t sure in which order. I conjectured that it was Y and then X but I wasn’t sure. “No! That’s not right!” 

“You know what? Why are you even dragging me into this discussion? I was happy over here just singing along to Hamilton songs. But you asked me a question just to tell me I’m wrong. And I’m super sick of having you tell me I’m wrong all damn day. I broke up with the last person who spent all his time telling me I was wrong.”

We had a tense ride home and a quiet dinner. I didn’t want anything to do with the little jerk. 

I remember Rich telling me that people have to be right when they have low self-esteem. I tried to think of what would make Ian feel insecure. And then I remembered the kid at camp. Cameron is literally half the size of Ian but has been harassing him and even hitting him during camp. It’s hard being a giant child. Ian could snap this kid in half, but he doesn’t. And if he even defends himself, it just spins up this little guy, so he goes all howler monkey on him. And Ian didn’t feel like he could get away from him at camp. 

After two weeks of this little asshole, Ian needed to feel like he had some control over things. Some power. Some security. And that manifests itself in being right about stupid stuff. 

We went upstairs and he was super apologetic about his attitude. I told him I think I knew what was wrong. We talked about how bullies tend to be that way because something isn’t going well for them in their own lives. And they project it on other people. And that maybe he was mean to me because he couldn’t get away from the people being mean to him. He nodded his head and started sobbing. 

So we made a plan. He would tell the counselors very specifically that he didn’t feel safe and he was being bullied. And if they did nothing, he would use his phone and call me. We talked about how if someone tries to insult you but you treat it as a compliment it usually confuses them and frustrates them. 

“You’re fat. You look like a girl.”
“Thanks! I get to wear my hair however I want and I eat lots of really healthy food. I’m really tall and strong and I’m going to be really tall and strong as a teenager and adult too.”

We talked about how bullies need to be fed like a flame. If you can starve the flame of air, it will usually fizzle. It takes practice to do it. And I told him if he ever hits a kid in self-defense, I will never be upset with him and I will support him to the ends of the Earth. 

We did camp drop off this morning. I talked to the Coach. He knew about Cameron and said they had separated them as much as they could last week. And Cameron isn’t at camp this week. I told him about the other two possible kids that may pick on him and Coach said he would keep an eye out. And that he would talk to Ian about it. And he would make sure Ian felt safe. He thanked me for bringing it up.

I reminded Coach that one of my favorite things about Norfolk Academy was that as a sensitive kid I felt safe and heard by the adults. It was exactly what I needed growing up. And I need my kid to feel safe at NA summer camp if he’s ever going to attend NA school in the future.

We took Ian out of the afternoon swim lessons too. It was exhausting him and he was a hot mess when I picked him up. He wants to go to the library in the afternoons. Fine by me, dude. 

It’s been an emotional week. Irritation, smothering, whining, arguing, crying, feeling hopeless, making a plan, feeling heard, having some hope. 

I hate bullies. I want to smash their faces in with a brick. And I also want to scoop them up and find out who hurt them to make them so mean. Then maybe smash that person with a brick. It’s a long road to get to Bully Zero that started it all. Probably Cain getting shitty with Abel. 

Shitty people exist at all ages. Living well is the best revenge. 

 Ice skating in July

Ice skating in July