Even a whole month after returning from Italy, Drew will whisper to me, “Mister Mommy, I missed you so much in Italy.” He says this at night when Gordon is reading to Madeline as I recline on the floor of her room. Drew sprawls out across my chest, pinching the loose skin on my slack elbows. “I missed you too,” I say back.
That boy is just too much. I’m ready to melt away like a hot lava stream whenever he looks up at me with those brown-eyeball-bombs and reminds me what it was like to be away from him. Of course, he drives me up the wall 76% of the time. But the other 24% I’m so helplessly in love, and there’s nothing really to do about it except kiss his cheek, make him a sandwich, and fuss with his hair.
My temper has been better this week. Our fall schedule is under way, and after overhauling my mudroom/laundry room with a magnetic dry erase board, a new door mat, and new backpack hooks, I’m feeling the edges of my life being pulled up into a manageable envelope, a nice package with no leaks. That helps me not “lell” at the kids as much. “Mommy, don’t lell at me,” says Drew. I try not to, but it feels like the only possible way he will turn his head, nod, and STOP ENDANGERING HIS LIFE OR THE LIFE OF HIS SISTER.
A few weeks ago, I might have said he seems hard of hearing, or so wrapped up in his own little world, or just not developed enough to comprehend what I was saying. After his extensive testing with the Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic at TCU, however, we have come to learn he has the comprehension skills of a seven-year-old. As well as perfect hearing. He still stutters, yes, but there’s nothing stalled out about his sly little brain, and this gives me a terrible permission to LELL away, and yet I know that I shouldn’t.
Our biggest point of conflict is when he is whining. Do the Tony Awards grant a special honor for children with great dramatic potential? If so, Madeline would win the Future Belter award for her explosive wail, and Drew would win the Future Lifetime Achievement Award in Tragedy for his knack of making the slightest difficulty seem like a day in a Siberian work camp. He whines about the color of the juice in his cup; he whines for me to carry him upstairs like a baby; he whines at dinnertime, lunchtime, breakfast time, nap time, bedtime, and whenever it seems like things have gotten a little too quiet around the house. I wonder if I have been rewarding him for this whining, but I don’t think so. I do not comply with whiney requests. I send him to timeout when a whine becomes a tantrum. I sneak upstairs or into the pantry for a fruit roll-up when it becomes just too much for me to handle.
And sometimes, I lell.
If someone could invent a cure for whining, I bet a lot of moms would be hawking kidneys left and right to buy it, just like I’m sure kids would sell their baseball cards on Ebay to pay for a no-yell serum to stir into their parents’ Wednesday afternoon Shiner Bocks. Problem is, are baseball cards still a thing? Am I the only parent who drinks Shiner in the afternoon? There might not be a solution here.
Maybe the cure is simple: more Italy trips.