I wish I were the type of parent with some harbinger of wisdom. I try my best to think about what words I can instill within my children to make them happier, more successful, and all around just good human beings. Unfortunately, I’m not the type of parent who can come up with little nuggets of knowledge on a whim. Nope. Instead, I’m a stealer of ideas, notes, words, wisdom, one-line zingers. One would not think that of someone who considers herself a writer, but alas that is me.
I find myself writing down tidbits from movies and television shows I watch, at times annoying the shit out of my husband as I pause and rewind what Claire Dunphy had to say to her three smartass kids, just so I can make sure to get those words down. And what do I do with those words? Why, I write them down in a notebook, of course, that way I can pull them out and use them word for word on my children. In the end, I lose all credibility with my children as someone who is an “all-knowing mom, bursting forth with words of wisdom and encouragement”, especially when they see me thumb through my notebook to find just what I want to preach to them. And I suppose before we go any further, I should really discuss these notebooks.
I have various notebooks. When the good Lord decides to call me home (I really hope He does and not the other dude downstairs), my children are going to be responsible for cleaning out the craziness of what I hope will be a life well-lived (hey maybe Willie Geist will still be hosting Sunday Today and I’ll be his feature for “A Life Well Lived”). And of course, they will find a plethora of notebooks, well organized and tabbed. For example, I keep notebooks with both children’s names on them. These notebooks hold who broke what in mom’s house, on what date, and if anyone owns up to it. If no one owns up to it, then it gets written down in both of their notebooks. Why do I do this you may ask. Well, you see, my children seem to be completely devoid of any respect for how hard their father and I work to provide a nice house with nice things. In the end, there’s a wrestling fight and something in my house gets pulverized, broken or destroyed only a weekly basis. We’ve had shower rods ripped from the wall, holes kicked in doors, utility drawers literally pulled off of their railings and the occasional broken picture, plate, glass, lamp, you name it. And I get it. They are boys and they are children, so I should give them some grace, but yeah I’m not gonna. So, when they leave this house that their father and I have provided so generously to them, and they get their own places, mom is coming to their house with her trusty notebook and breaking everything in their houses that they broke in mine. A bit juvenile? Perhaps, but it is my way. So that is one notebook.
There’s another notebook where I write down snide comments, heartfelt cuddlings and words that make me sound like I am the most intuitive mom around. They’re not my words, but instead diatribes of various authors, poets, song writers (Willie Nelson has a LOT of snippets to share in this notebook) and screenwriters. When I hear or read something that just really rubs me in a good way, then I whip out this notebook and write it down. This notebook is tabbed and labelled with everything from “smart ass back hands” to “I love you, but I don’t have to like you” to the “you are great” tab which is where I keep all of the pep talks, the loving conversations, the affirmations of love and support. So, as you can see, this notebook is pretty well-balanced. All of this leads me to the day when I didn’t have my full notebook and I needed to impart some parental words of admonishment and wisdom on my oldest. You know, I needed the tab “words of wisdom to make you a better human”, but I was unprepared and had to wing it with my own words of wisdom. For the first time, my children didn’t have to hear mom say, “Wait!” as I pulled out my notebook, licked my finger, and perused through the pages to find what I was looking for. Side note – this usually elicits an eye roll, a slight huff and an exasperating whine of, “not the notebook again, mom.”
My oldest is a bit of a glory hound. He wants to be number one, he feeds off of affirmations from his elders and peers (it’s his own personal drug). So when he started out on offense on his soccer team, he was in his element! He was quite impressive with a few tackles, some spot on shots and even a couple of saves. He hustled and stayed with the ball, but of course that had to end and his coach shuffled him around for the second half of the game and put him on defense. My son has not grasped that “defenses win games”. He doesn’t see helping to protect the goalie as a legitimate option. He just sees that he’s lost his drug. He’s lost his opportunity for a goal, for his teammates to raise him up high on their shoulders and carry him off the field for scoring the winning goal. All of that is lost to him and at that point, he sees no need in moving forward. It’s not about the team for him. I’ve tried the whole “there’s no I in team”, but I just get your typical eye roll. This time, I decided I would try something different and I did it all WITHOUT my notebook.
“D, the world does not revolve around you, son, and I am so terribly sorry if your dad and I have given you that impression. Clearly, we have failed you as parents. You have a part to play on this team, in this family, and in this world. We all have a part to play. We all have skillsets and we have to use those for the betterment of the team and this world. The sooner you realize that, the better life will be for you, for me, your friends, and really the whole world.”
WHEW! I did that! That was my own personal speech without the use of a notebook. I took a deep breath after that. I was so proud of myself. That was an awesome speech! I mean who doesn’t like a “you have a part to play in this world” speech???? It’s not just a homerun speech, it’s a grand slam speech, and I again I did it all on the cuff and without my notebook! Pat myself on the back.
I looked down at D, a smile on my face, ready for him to hug me and say, “wow, you’re so right, mom. Thank you for helping me to see the error of my ways.” Instead, I’m looking at my first spawn, a child who shares my DNA, and he’s squinting off into the distance. I look off in the direction where he’s staring.
“Is that kid running around mooning everyone?” I ask.
“Yeah, he is,” says D, as he’s laughing hysterically.
“Did you hear what I was saying to you? Were you even listening to me?” I ask with a slight twinge of a whine in my voice.
“Yeah, I have a part to play, mom. Can I go hang out with my friends and play the part of their friend?” And with that he’s off.
Clearly, that entire grandiose speech was a waste, but I immediately went home and wrote it down in my notebook because it WAS good and I might get the opportunity to use it on my youngest at some point in the near future. Which makes me wonder, perhaps if I had kept my notebook handy, I would have had something better to offer D.