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Posts Tagged ‘rules and expectations’

Last summer, I blogged about my sweet children driving me insane.  We spend a lot of time together, and a year ago, I didn’t even have work to separate us.

I remember that feeling of, “OMG CAN I READ TWO PAGES OF MY BOOK WITHOUT YOU NEEDING SOMETHING?”  But I also remember taking deep breaths and, for the most part, keeping my swearing only to myself because I knew someday it would change.

Someday, they would have lives.

That day has arrived.

This summer, my son is teaching himself Latin, in addition to continuing his own Japanese IMG_7939language studies.  He spends a lot of time translating Japanese poems and Latin books he finds online.  Starting in a week, he’s working at the UW a couple days a week helping Japanese students.  He’s heavily involved in BloodBourne and Dark Souls , and he’s also watching a lot of Japanese anime, with and without the captions, as part of his Japanese self-studies.  He speaks a lot of Japanese to me, and I either reply in stilted German or bad Spanish.  Not that I know what he’s saying.  But then he doesn’t know what I’m saying, either, so we usually end up laughing.

He walks about 20 miles a week, and he comes out of karate rolling on laughter about inside jokes that he happily tells me, and sometimes I even laugh, but I’m removed from it all.  We used to walk together, and he would tell me all his story ideas and goals for the future.

He used to cry if I left the dojo before his practice was over.

IMG_7953Meanwhile, my daughter has discovered a social life and social media.  She texts her friend travelling in Italy and takes solo bike rides around town. She makes music videos on an app called Music.ally, which is pronounced musically, not Music Ally, OMG.  The music videos are complete with outfit changes, scene changes, sound and video mixing, and sometimes, the dogs’ participations (not necessarily willingly).  I’m horrible at memorizing lyrics. I tend to make up my own.  My daughter remembers everything after hearing it once, and she wants to “help” me learn the real words. But it’s rapid fire, and I am left behind, like I was for years when I would have sworn it was “Amber rain” and not “I’m all right.”

She goes into her room and talks to her friends or stays up until 1 am reading or makes music videos or creates amazing animals out of clay while listening to Rachel Patten, who is her most favorite singer ever.

She still tells me everything she and her friends do together, or what they texted or said and shows me her videos and theirs.  She talks to me about her books in depth and lets me read them and asks me questions that are echoes of questions I have asked her about books down through the years.

Bu she closes her bedroom door when she goes into her room to do anything.

This summer, I am find myself longing for still moment when we can all just sit in the same room for more than 30 minutes.  I find myself wanting to hang out with them and listen to their silly jokes about sex and “out of the mouths of babes” reactions to news, politics, life.

They still annoy me with their lack of understanding for how to put toilet paper on the toilet paper roll or take the garbage bag out of the garbag can before it is so full, it literally explodes when I try to take it out.  They still need me to buy food for them, apparnently, because several independent expeditions I have sent them on have resulted in a lot of not-what-I-asked-for. And they still need me to be there for them when they need me, and tell them everything is going to be OK when they don’t think it is.

They don’t like it when I’m gone too much in one day or too many times in one week.  They miss me when I take a weekend.  They talk to me all the time, and we spend a lot of time together, still, especially given that they are 16 and almost-13.

But.

Last summer, I was still parenting children.

This summer, I would say I am more of a mentor–much loved, I know this– to two amazing people.

And, I hesitate to say this because of all the “DON’T BE YOUR CHILDRENS’ FRIEND” articles out there, but…they are my friends.  Young friends, still.  I still need my own friends, and always will. I still get to make them do things and I have no problem calling them on their stuff.

But…I like them.  As people, as kids…the toilet paper and garbage bag issues aside….I like them.

 

I will be honored if, someday, they choose to call me their friend in return.

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Alternate History.

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Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed.  It usually follows a night of dreams fraught with all the stuff I haven’t done or finished or even started yet.  I rarely remember such dreams other than a tangle of dark shadows and frustrated emotions.  I don’t really want to remember the specifics.  It’s enough to wake up feeling overwhelmed.

Seeing as no one else is awake, I jump in to tackle some of my “undones,” hoping to resolve the mess of anxiety roiling in my gut. As I start working on a client’s blog article, my son trails in, tears already on his cheeks because he was so tired last night he and his dad didn’t play the game he’d wanted to play.  My first reaction is to snarl in frustration: I’m not going to get anything done at this rate. But I shove that nasty part away from me, pull him to me so he’s snuggled up against my side (at 11, I wonder how much longer he’ll be willing to lean on me like this) and we talk about why he woke up ready to doom the day.

Genetics?  Environment, growing up in a house where Mom wakes up overwhelmed and, in the past, didn’t handle it so well? It doesn’t matter.  What matters is I focus on the weight of him, the sound of his breathing, his constant 11-year old fidgeting.He gets into the open notes on the laptop in my lap and we talk DNA testing methods.  Apparently comforted, he wanders off to find his dad and see if some of their aborted plans from last night can be resurrected this morning.

Before I can dive back into my work, my daughter flies in on a few thousand sentences and half of a song.  The definition of a morning person, she rarely wakes up on a tide of anxiety or distraught emotions.  Those come later in the day, usually when she stops moving long enough to think about all the things she wants, longs for, dreams of, can’t have. But in the morning…she wakes up as if the day started awhile

 ago and the rest of us are slow to catch-up.

She wants to go to a park. She wants breakfast. She wants to watch TV. Did I notice the sun is out? She wants to know the plan for the day. She doesn’t want to do anything. She wants to play with the dogs. Can she eat the last donut in the box or will her brother get mad?

I stare at my notes, the blank page for my article. I think about the garden that needs weeding, the bookshelves that need moving, the family room that I’ve started priming for paint, the grocery shopping I need to do, the ribs I need to get cooking, the 100 pages of my novel I need to print so I can ready the package for Interested Agent #3….

My heart beats faster and my chest constricts.  It’s not even nine a.m.

My daughter is whirling around the house, dashing from her room to the kitchen, chasing the dogs, singing a song…the sun is shining. She is full of life and zest and…I breathe, focus on the sound of her voice, the memory of my son leaning into my side.

Life could end tomorrow. Would it be any better a life if all my “jobs” were closed out, completed?

I shut my laptop and breathe.

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My daughter’s room is a probably a fire hazard, but I will take it over the contentious relationship we use to have when it wasn’t always like that.

After fighting some serious, awful battles over the tidiness of her room with her over the last several years (she’s packed to “run away” on two occasions and asked for a new mother on more occasions then I can count), I realized a few months ago–belatedly, I fully admit–that the whole room “tidiness” issue is in the eye of the beholder. Life around here has been simpler, calmer and so much quieter since I stopped battling her. As an added bonus, our relationship has drastically improved. Some of it I can attribute to her own maturity in general, but most of I know, deep down, is because I’ve stepped away from what she so passionately cherishes as “her” space.

I’m no Martha Stewart when it comes to housecleaning myself, and our house is generally what I like to describe as “comfortably cluttered.” We used to clean up every night before bed, but when my daughter in particular began constructing elaborate playsets, whether it be with blocks or legos or stuffed animals, we would let her keep them up for a few days. But then she began “collecting” things–anything from the homemade confetti she used to make once she discovered scissors and the usual kid stuff like rocks, shells, and party favors to the more eclectic: shampoo bottles, pieces of string she found, deflated balloons that she loved, seeds from apples she particularly enjoyed, a bucket of sand from the time we went to Ocean Shores on Mother’s Day, a tupperware container of grass where she had kept a “family” of worms one summer, beads from a broken necklace, old baby clothes she “remembered” wearing and didn’t want me to pass on….the list goes on and on.

I have never begrudged her the “collections.” I am, after all, the mom who has a cut-glass bowl full of rocks as the centerpiece on our side table or a stack of notebooks–never used and therefore pristine in their beauty and possibilities–on the small counter in the kitchen. My empty vases hold seashells and seaglass, and the shelf that runs the length and width of the living room holds my “collection:” my grandmother’s figurines, a a ceramic statue from a friend who went to New Mexico, replicas of Dutch shoes from my brother when he went to Holland, photos of people I have known and loved, places I have been, a metal rooster from Key West, unicorns and miniature beer steins from long gone friends who travelled places I have yet to go. As a kid, I had a long dresser with six long drawers, three on each side, and six small drawers all along the top. Most kids, I found out somewhere along the way, used those small drawers to separte socks from underwear, tights from tshirts. I threw all that stuff together, so that I could I use those drawers for my treasures.

I never liked cleaning up my room, either.

When I was around ten, my sister moved into my room while our dad renovated the upstairs to add on my brother’s room. She was–and is–Martha Stewart. To my mind, obsessively so. She was constantly picking up my clothes, my books, demanding that I clear off my bed, asking me how I could sleep, get dressed, simply live, in such disarray. At one point, we had to draw a line down the center of the room. I wasn’t allowed to throw my clothes or stacks of stuff on her side; she wasn’t allowed to straighten up my side.

To this day I remain perplexed at the entire situation: surely I wasn’t that bad, was I? I just didn’t like putting things away. One never knows when something is needed again–and that goes for a pair of socks to that scrap of paper with half a poem written on it.

I’ve been thinking of this a lot, lately, whenever I am forced to peek in my daughter’s room. Surely, I wasn’t this bad, was I? When I ask my mother what she used to do with me, she laughs and tells me she just turned a blind eye. “It was your room,” she said. “The only place, really, in the whole house where you had complete control.”

I’m still not my sister, but living in small spaces in college taught me the value of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” To a certain extent.

I wish I hadn’t learned this at all.

Despite my happy memories of my own mess, my daughter’s room drives me beyond sanity. Two days ago, I couldn’t even get through the door because she had placed an upside down rattan footstool crammed full of her stuffed animals (they were on a boat) right inside the door and then closed it.

She leaves her clothes in heaps at the end of the day instead of putting them in the easily accessible laundry basket in her closet. She takes stacks of books down to read and doesn’t put them away. Last week, she created a “sun” design on the floor with her collection of Disney books. In the middle, she set up some dollhouse furniture and her favorite dolls. She began to have a panic attack when I suggested we pick up her “design.” She collects boxes from various places and turns them into houses or spaceships or boats or trains for her dolls or herself. Today I found a ziploc bag of clear liquid far back in the shelf where one of her drawers was supposed to go. The drawer itself, of course, was on the floor.

“What’s this?” I asked her. “That’s my experiment,” she said.
“What is it?”
“It’s water,” she said. “Remember I told you I was keeping it to see what would happen?”

I had a dim memory of her talking about wanting to see what would happen to water if she kept it around for awhile. I wasn’t aware that conversation was a request or even a statement of intent.

“Ah,” I said. “So, why does it have to be here? Isn’t the drawer supposed to be here?”
“But the cats might pop the bag,” she said. “So it can’t go on the floor. The drawer can, though.”

Of course.

She’s been looking for her DS–and mine–since we returned from San Diego over Spring Break. Today, I suggested we just “tidy” up her room, and maybe we’d find them.

“But I cleared a path last night,” she reminded me. “I know,” I said. She had, in fact, shoved everything to the edges of the room in jumbled piles. “But let’s tidy up a bit more.” There were six boxes of various sizes in her room, along with a two foot tall stack of books and mounds of clothing. In the “path,” she’d set up her Polly Pockets and had been in there for several hours playing that afternoon.

When she is almost-41, and her daughter’s bedroom makes her cringe, will she remember her own “mess?”

In the process of “tidying” up, she found 1)her slinky, 2)several of her horses she’d been looking for, 3)her Laura doll and Laura’s furniture which had gone missing awhile back, 4)her Indiana Jones hat, which was “camoflauged” by the floor, 5)several books she’d been looking for, 6)her “tornado” bottle she made in science class, which is made out of two 2-liter bottles held together at the openings and, makes a tornado when the liquid in one is poured into the other, 7) her stuffed dolphin “Dolfinny,” and 8)both DSes. One DS was in her “oven,” which we’d made out of a cardboard box last fall. The other was in her drawer with her music and storybook CDs. “Well, it is electronic,” she said by way of explanation. “And the box oven?” I asked. “I guess I thought it was a good place to put it,” she said.

Having hid notebooks under my mattress, special pens in my pillowcase and money in my encyclopedias as a kid, I don’t have much room to argue.

When she got into the bath, I threw out four box “creations:” all of which were falling apart, one of which I didn’t recognize as helping her with, and none of which I had understood what they were supposed to be in the first place. I also threw out a pile of Easter grass she’d told me she’d already thrown out, but had apparently decided to keep under her bed instead.

Her room is neat and tidy and even accessible now. I don’t expect it to last more then a few days. But I will bite my tongue and take deep breaths, be thankful her neat-and-tidy brother doesn’t have to share a room with her, pray she will find a bit of organization in her future, and finally, do what my mother did with my room: close the door.

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It’s been awhile, I know but here’s the deal: I’ve been writing a novel. A real, fiction, murder-type mystery novel. I even have a “contact” on the local police force, and a lawyer friend who helps me with stuff. To be perfectly honest, I started this thing over ten years ago, when I was struck with what would be a scene from the book while visiting a friend from high school. In an instant a character was talking in my head. Nothing new, really–I’ve got people talking in my head all the time. The difference was, she wouldn’t go away.

Before we go on, a disclaimer: I am not insane. Really! I have a therapist, and he assures me I’m not insane. Creative, he says, and “tuned to a different rhythm,” (whatever the heck that means), but definitely not insane.

I immediately went home and started writing. Although I knew, even then, that it was a novel-length thing, the idea of writing a novel terrified me. So, I tried really, really hard to squish my voice’s story into a short.

It didn’t work. I’ve spent the last eleven years alternately working on it, tearing it up, starting over, etc. etc. all while having babies and trying to manage a household.

Not to mention the whole husband-wife relationship in there.

Turns out, writing a book is haaarrrrdddddd. Especially when I’m supposed to be nurturing and naturing two kids, a husband, three cats, a dog, a gecko and fish, too.

For me, it’s what I think jumping off a cliff must be like. My brother sent me photos of him doing this very thing when he was in the Air Force. Of course, there was ocean or a big lake below him, but still. The idea of diving off a cliff, of giving up complete control of your body, of giving over complete faith that you will land safely without crushing your spine or smashing your head on a rock…..for a long time, every time I started this book, I thought of his photos and tried to jump. It didn’t work. I just couldn’t take that leap, give up control of my life and the lives of those around me, give myself up to a faith that it would all be OK.

That I would be OK. Even if all I did was to prove myself NOT to be a writer, after all.

For the last year, I’ve been making steady progress, with the help of a good friend who made me give her weekly reports. I missed my first self-imposed deadline, and I will miss my second coming up here in three days. But I’m OK with that. I’m making progress: I have 178 pages and am 200 words short of 100,000. I know what I’m doing–well, more then when I started–and better yet, where I’m going.

Even though I have been writing steadily for a year and four months, it took me an entire year before I actually found the courage and strength to jump off that cliff. But once I did….it is like nothing I have ever experienced, including (shhh) seeing my children for the first time. It’s not that I like writing over them. The two cannot be compared. All I know is…if I have the chance, the opportunity to write another novel, whether anyone ever reads that one or this one, I will take it. I can’t imagine giving this up anymore then I can imagine giving up my children.

Of course, in the process of taking that leap, chaos has, as I suspected it would, ensued. All for the better, I think (at least, that’s what I’m going with).

My children have become remarkably self-sufficient. My son gets most of his own snacks, and usually helps my daughter get hers, during the times I set aside for writing. They have also become used to my “Ummmm…….I forgot to take the dinner out of the freezer. Who’s up for Breakfast-for-Dinner/McDonald’s/Forage Night?” To their credit, they are good sports and happy to play along, although my son does has started asking me “What’s for dinner…..in three days?” to help “remind” me. They have also been good sports about the whole grocery shopping thing, since I often choose not to do it when I can be writing, instead.

My daughter’s response to finding out we are out of yogurt again (one of her main food groups) is a cheery, “That’s all right, Mommy! We’ll get some probably before I’m old.”

Probably…..

My husband, also, has been a remarkably good sport, learning the nuances in my voice or facial expressions that tell him I am not in the mood to be a wife–in any way–that evening because
I have words in my head that need to get out.

I figure I must be doing a good job of balancing all that because otherwise he’d be complaining, or having dates with call girls or something. And I’m almost 100% certain he’s not.

To be honest, I’m not sure I would care, right now. There was a time when I was driving this project. That time has passed, and this project is driving me.

It’s 2:32 a.m. right now. I finished working on the novel half an hour ago. My fingers ache, and my eyes are crusty with sleep-longing. And yet, my brain isn’t done. In the background of this blog, it’s going on and on about the next step, the next twist and turn….

It might totally suck. I might totally suck. But I’m beyond caring. It’s not for anyone else, anymore. I jumped off the cliff awhile ago. I will hit ground by March, if not before. And I’m already planning my next leap.

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As I write this, I’m in the library with all of my worldly possessions at my feet. Or at least my cell phone, keys and credit cards. In today’s world, one could make a go of it for awhile with one high limit credit card, and since I have at least two on me, I figure I could stick it out for at least a week.

Do you think a week would be long enough for my children to mature beyond their ages and STOP WHINING?

Probably not, but a mom can dream. The last few days, I’ve felt that my dream of a light at the end of the whiny kid tunnel is all that’s kept me sane and relatively patient.

In truth, my kids are amazing. They are fantastic. They are both smart and funny and silly and beautiful. Never in my wildest imaginings did I imagine I’d be blessed with kids like these. Most of the time, I don’t want anything to change. I want my daughter to run into our room and climb into bed with us in the middle of the night, wiggling in between me and my husband, slipping her little legs through my own, wrapping her warm arms around me and pulling me close for always and forever. I want to watch Jurassic Park with my son over and over so his laughter at the lawyer’s attempt to hide from the TRex in the bathroom will resonate within my heart for eternity. I want time to stop so they will stay eight and four forever, and since I felt that way when they were each newborns, and again when they were each one, and two and every day in between, I know I will always feel that way, even when they are fifty-five and telling me I can no longer drive.

Most of the time, I know I live my life better because of them, and with them, and for them.

Most of the time.

Then there are the days when I want to run screaming from my house. “Mommy can’t hear you,” I tell them, when the yelling and the whining and the crying and the fighting becomes overwhelming. “She’s going to Aruba.”

Of course, I’m not really going to Aruba. I’ve never been to Aruba, and to be honest it’s not even on my List of Places to See Before I Die. I’ve been to Hawaii, several times, and I figure Aruba, Hawaii–they’re both probably very similar, what with all the sand and the water and the sun. I’d tell the kids I’m going to Hawaii, except the kids have been to Hawaii with me. Just the very mention of Hawaii would stimulate my daughter’s Hawaiian memories, and her monologues have been known to last for hours.

For some reason, telling the kids I’m going to Aruba shocks them out of whatever crabby state they are in. Usually, it stimulates pure, deep laughter from my son, who never ceases to find it hysterical that he could actually drive his mother to a point where she has to run away in her imagination. My daughter loves the word: “ARUBA.” She often begins to make up words that rhyme with Aruba, which only pushes my son’s laughter beyond hysteria (try it: Aruba, Gabluba, Jofluja), which in turns makes me laugh.

There are a few times, though, when even “going to Aruba” doesn’t work.

Today would be one of those times.

Today, I was prompted to run away for real after a very long week of my eight year old acting like a cranky two year old, my daughter’s constant whining (and not just the usual kid whininess–but whining like she thought she was part of those old SNL skits with Wendy Whiner and her family. That skit used to annoy me even before I had kids), and a cloying clinginess on the part of both of them that was odd even for my daughter, who tends to be demanding on the best days.

It doesn’t help that the temperature out here hasn’t risen about fifty in many weeks. I’m still wearing my Uggs and my winter sweaters, and when we see the sun during brief moments of the day, none of us are sure it’s not a hallucination. On top of all this, due to an abnormally busy schedule, I was constantly running from the house to the car to wherever, back and forth all day long. One morning, my daughter and I came home for fifteen minutes before we had to leave again. I don’t even know why we went home. It was more out of some obsessive need to be home, if only for a few moments.

Now that I’ve written it all down, I understand why I bolted out of the house this morning after my son began yet another more-appropriate-for-a-two-year-old emotional outburst during a game.

“I’m going out,” I told my husband, “and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“I’ve got it,” he said. “Take your time.”

He is the best husband and father ever, and it’s times like these I wish I would remember when he forgets to do something.

In my head, I was going to Aruba for real this time. I could drive to the airport, I thought, and buy a ticket on the next plane out. Sure, I didn’t have clothes, but I could get a job at a resort or a bar or a fishing boat. I could work and earn money for clothes and food. It would be nice to see the sun, and all that work and not very much money for food would be better than the treadmill five days a week.

I thought about it while I worked out at the gym. I thought about it while I shopped for despeartely needed jeans. I thought about it when, having nowhere to go but no really wanting to go home just yet, I drove here, the library, where I hauled out my computer and surfed EOnline. There would definitely be sun in Aruba, I thought, and it would be nice to have a job where my expectations, duties, and lunch breaks were clear.

But I would miss my kids. I would miss my daughter’s face when I pick her up from preschool. I would miss my son’s flying leaps onto me when I was least expecting it. I would miss the four of us, me and the kids and my husband, driving for hotdogs on Saturdays, singing silly songs and making jokes about porta-potties (singularly the most hilarious idea according to my kids).

I would even miss the tears and the tantrums and the fears and frustrations, because without all of that, none of the joy would give me that sweet, heady sense of success. Serving drinks to drunken, sunburned Aruban tourists would definitely be easier. But none of those tourists would bring me a handwritten letter that said, “I still miss you at skool. But I am funding waas to handel it.” None of those tourists would say, “I need to tell you a secret. You’re the best friend ever!”

I would miss being a mother.

That said, it’s time to go home.

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I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy until I was twelve. I swear. Sure, there were rumblings about them not being real from as early as first or second grade, but I resolutely refused to buy into the rumor. When my friends entered into blatant, bold discussions about their parents being involved in the ruse, I simply did not join in. It was obvious to me that they had their truths, and I had mine. Of course, doubt occasionally surfaced in my mind–the older we got it seemed like everyone I knew no longer believed, so maybe there was something to the gossip. But I never saw any evidence to support their claims. I probably wasn’t looking very hard, but I never saw any evidence to support my own beliefs, either. True believers don’t need evidence. They simply believe, through every corner of their being, without question.

The year I was twelve, my dad asked me if I wanted to help with the wrapping of the Santa presents. While neither he nor my mom and I had ever had a discussion about the reality of Santa, in his defense–I was twelve (almost thirteen would be closer to the mark). My sister was nine, and she was one of those kids on the other side of the fence already. So he probably figured my belief was just a facade for my little brother.

It wasn’t, and I will never forget that moment when my belief system came crumbling down upon me like the very earth itself. Dramatic, yes, but that’s how I felt. I can still see myself, standing in the living room, right before the stairs, with my dad saying those words and then flashing me a conspiratorial grin as he jogged upstairs, off to commit fraud with wrapping paper and “Love, Santa” labels.

From that day forward, I looked forward to having my own children, so that I might relive the true spirit of Christmas and Easter and losing teeth through them.

Instead, the god of Desire was up to its usual mischief, because my first child has been wisely wary of the whole Mysterious Midnight Visitors since Day One.

My son was one and a half when Santa started freaking him out. He didn’t like the idea that Santa would come down our chimney, while he was sleeping. I know; you say, “He was only 20 months. Did he really understand?” Trust me. He understood. The only way we were able to stop his rising hysterics that Christmas Eve was to promise we’d get Santa to leave the presents on the doorstep, outside, and not to come in the house. Thankfully, my son was young enough not to question exactly when we brought the presents inside the next morning, so it was a good Christmas despite his fears.

We decided it was just some free-floating anxiety, and it wouldn’t happen the next year.

We were wrong. The following Christmas Eve, when he was two and a half, we had to perform several almost-OCD-like checks on the windows, doors and fireplace grate before he went to bed–to make sure Santa wouldn’t be getting in no way, no how.

I began to wonder if he’d been murdered by red-velvet wearing burglars in a past life.

My son’s anxieties have lessened as he got older, and when he was five we were even able to “let” Santa come down the chimney. Having a little sister has definitely helped: while his serious doubt about magic and Santa’s ability to exceed the speed of light proves he doesn’t completely buy into the whole Santa deal, he definitely puts on a good front for Little Sis. I’m also convinced he’s accepted Santa’s existence, for now, because of the end result: all those pretty presents underneath the tree.

But absolute belief? Down deep life sustaining belief? Not for my boy.

Strangely, the Easter Bunny and, later, the Tooth Fairy, have not disturbed him nearly as much. While he’s not real sure what the heck a Fairy would want with a bunch of teeth, he apparently puts it down to her business, and is OK with her sneaking into his bedroom and leaving money underneath his pillow. He was, in fact, very excited for his first Tooth Fairy visit, and while he has questioned her ability to fly, as a tiny creature, with a big bag of teeth or heavy coins, nothing much has come of it. He likes money, maybe even more than gift-wrapped presents, so he’s apparently made his peace.

As for the Easter Bunny? I like to think–imagine, my husband says–that I have enjoyed at least a little of that absolute, down deep life sustaining belief in the Easter Bunny. Easter has always excited him, and we never saw any anxiety about the giant bunny hopping into our house in the middle of the night. I suppose a giant bunny sneaking into your house is more benign then an actual man–red-velvet wearing or otherwise–sneaking into your house. After all, CNN never reports about giant bunnies murdering people in their sleep.

Last year my son did spend a few hours ruminating on the Easter Bunny’s ability to hop so fast he could hide eggs all over the place in one night, and he did question the Bunny’s storage capacity for carrying all the candy needed. But these were merely theoretical musings, and we as a family came up with several creative ways this could be possible, if we did away with a few rules of physics (if we’re ruminating with my son and my husband, the rules of physics are always taken seriously, and they view my motto, “Anything is possible” as sheer heresy).

For the few weeks before Easter this year, my son has been talking about staying up late to catch the Easter Bunny, or setting a trap to catch him in the act. I laughed and played along with trap variations until Good Friday, when my curiosity got the better of me. “What,” I said, “exactly will you do with the Easter Bunny if you catch him?” “Prove he’s real,” my son said. “Or prove he’s just a man in a bunny suit.” “Why?” I asked him. “Who’s been saying he’s not real?” “Well,” my son said. “Some of my classmates don’t believe in other life forms outside of this universe.”

Not sure we’d heard him correctly, my husband and I both said, almost simultaneously, “What do other life forms have to do with the Easter Bunny?”

Then my son gave us the preview of his teenage “You are such idiots” look, opening his wide eyes even wider and sort of rolling them at us, dropping his jaw and throwing back his shoulders. “He’s a Giant Bunny,” my son said, “who lays eggs and hops around the world delivering candy. There’s no life form like that on this planet. He can’t be from Earth! He’s got to be of alien origin!”

For the first time, I have hope that little twelve year old diehard believer did live on in him, a little bit–that he didn’t get all of his dad’s black-and-white views on life. He’s thinking harder and better then I ever did, but…there’s nothing wrong with a little skepticism to balance out the dogma .

The world might be a better place, if we all thought long and hard about our own down deep life sustaining beliefs and didn’t just naively follow our convictions.

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