Category Archives: boys

Sunday School, Weenie Sabers, and The Sign of the Cross

I confess:  I miss the lazy Sunday mornings, the mornings where I could stay in bed, or if not in bed, at least in my pajamas, until almost noon, reading a book while Snags watched cartoons.  If we went to church, it was to the last mass of the day, but mostly we didn’t go at all. 

Now though, Snags is enrolled in Sunday school.  Our neighbor is his teacher. Her son is Snags’ friend. Two more of his friends from first grade are in his Sunday school class as well.  He enjoys it, and I’m glad.  Some weeks my neighbor drives him to Sunday School and my husband and I pick him up at the end and we all go to Mass together.  Other weeks we drop him off ourselves and go to mass while he’s in class.  Snags has decided we should alternate this.  One week he’ll go to church, the next he won’t.  I think he wants to ease back into it.

Most recently, Snags learned how to make the Sign of the Cross.  Last Sunday he happily reported: “Mom!  I earned a gold star for doing the Sign of the Cross right today!  I only had to do it twice to get it right!” 

“Wow,” I say in response.  “That’s great!”  I think back just a few weeks prior to this when he held up both hands and made an X with his forefingers.  “Isn’t THIS the Sign of the Cross?” he asked.  “No,” I said, “That’s more like the sign against vampires.”

Snags goes on to explain that it was difficult to make the Sign of the Cross in front of his Sunday school class because he was facing the class and because he holds the Wii nunchuck in his left hand… And no, I don’t have any idea what the Wii gaming system has to do with making the sign of the cross.  We have Wii Sports and We Ski, Star Wars the Force Unleashed, and Star Wars Legos, the Complete Saga.  Nowhere in that mix have I happened upon Wii Catholic Church, the Sign of the Cross (nunchuck required).  Go figure.

Next up in Sunday school learning, if you’re in First Grade and want to earn another gold star, is memorizing The Our Father.  “We can’t read it,” Snags informs me.  “We have to memorize it.”  I worry that he’ll mix it up with the rules of Tae Kwan Do he has to memorize.  Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, I’ll always finish what I start, sir!”

I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be teaching the rules of Tae Kwan Do to Snags.  I’d read them myself, of course, but when I got to number two, “I will always be a good brother or sister, sir!” I put the book away figuring that didn’t apply to Snags, as he’s an only child.  A week or two later his instructor corrected me, put it into perspective, and said to think about it in the biblical sense.

Which brings us back to Sunday school.  As Snags was going on about having to learn the Our Father, I thought to warn him that the Hail Mary is HAIL Mary, and not Hell Mary, as I once thought.  But before I could even form the sentence completely in my head, Snags took another breath and said, “And then we have to learn the Hell Mary!”

Hail Mary,” I said, trying to suppress a laugh.  It’s “Hail Mary.”  There isn’t a cuss word in the prayer.  Snags started to get upset, he hadn’t meant to say a bad word.  I tried to reassure him, told him how I also thought it was Hell Mary when I was a kid, but that it’s not.  The apple, they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Or is it, Great Minds Think Alike?

I keep meaning to tell my neighbor, the Sunday school teacher, about the Hell Mary.  That maybe she ought to explain to the children the difference between Hail and Hell, Fire and Brimstone, whatever.  But then her son was playing in my yard the other day, playing with plastic light sabers, fighting a battle against evil.  He took the light saber, stuck it between his legs, and deemed it a Weenie Saber. 

I’d mention this to my neighbor, but then Snags has been going around and using his favorite tag blanket as a whip. We recently let him watch the first Indiana Jones movie, the one where Indie goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant, the container that held the tablets of stone that the Ten Commandments were written on.  Only Snags doesn’t call it the Ark of the Covenant, he calls it the Ten Commandments Box. 

I wonder if it’s big enough to hold a Weenie Saber?

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Filed under boys, church, humor, kids, life, parenting, Snags, Star Wars

Perfect Insanity

There are certain things that drive me to the brink of insanity and they are these:
The sound of the dog licking her paws at night when I am trying to fall asleep.
The sound of cellophane crackling.
The sound of Snags playing Perfection in his bedroom at five o’clock in the morning.

That last one?  Heard it this morning.

The rule is, the kid is supposed to stay IN BED, and preferably in bed ASLEEP, until 7:30 a.m.   And that is the sole reason why I bought him a digital alarm clock.  So there could be no mistake on the hour. 

When I decided I’d heard enough, heard enough plastic pieces rattling around, heard enough small explosions as the timer ran out and the Perfection pieces flew into the air, I shakily climbed out of bed and opened his bedroom door. All the while repeating to myself, “it’s just a noise, don’t kill him.  It’s just a noise, don’t kill him…” 

GO.BACK.TO.BED! I nearly barked. 

He looked at me mildly, said, “But Mom, I’m just playing Perfection.”

GO.BACK.TO.BED!” I said again, perhaps a bit louder this time. “You don’t play perfection in the middle of the damn night,” I added as I turned out his bedroom light and yanked the door shut behind me.

“It’s not the DAMN NIGHT!” he cried back at me from behind his closed door. 

He’s been crying a lot lately, this child of mine.  I’m not sure but I think it’s the stress of first grade. Summer is over and now he can’t spend endless hours playing video games or building starships out of LEGOs.  In first grade, unlike kindergarten, there are no naps.  The kids have to be up and alert like the rest of us, for a full six hours straight. That kind of paying attention can wear you out, wear you down.

Snags comes home from school in the afternoons and lies upon the sofa.  He watches whatever cartoon he can find on Nickolodeon, his eyes glazed over.  He denies being tired even as he yawns, even as he “rests” his eyes.

And little things are getting to him.  Little things are setting him off.  Like yesterday, when I made him set the frog free. Snags caught a frog, or maybe it was really a small toad.  I don’t know.  I’m calling it a frog.  He brought it home and made a home for it inside an old aquarium that he set out on our front porch.  He put in some water, and some rocks and the frog.  And then he more or less left him there, in the aquarium, all alone.  He played with the frog sometimes, but he didn’t feed him.  He dropped the frog at least half a dozen times on its head, on the pavement.  I’m sure the frog, if he had the ability to think, must have wondered if he’d been captured and sent to Gitmo.  There was the small room where he was kept, Snags the guard who occasionally tortured him by manhandling him and dropping him on his head, and there was the isolation. Left all alone in the aquarium, in the bright sunlight, for days on end.  Five days to be exact.  And then there was the starvation. I’m not sure what frogs eat but I assume they eat bugs.  And no bugs were flying into the aquarium.  And the frog wasn’t let out to hunt on his own.  By yesterday I’d had enough and told Snags he had to set the frog free.

He went out to do so, but reluctantly.  I followed him out to make sure he did as I had instructed. He told me that he’d opened the frog’s mouth and looked inside.

 “HOW?”  I asked. 

“Want me to show you?” He said. 

“Yeah,” I said, curious now. 

But Snags wasn’t having any luck.  The frog’s mouth wasn’t opening.  In fact, the harder Snags tried to open the frog’s mouth, the harder he pressed upon the frog’s… chin? neck?, the more I feared he was going to rip open the flesh of the frog’s throat. I couldn’t bear it and so I asked Snags to stop.  I yelled at Snags to STOP.  Let the frog go NOW.

And Snags got upset.  “YOU NEVER LIKED FROGGY!”  He screamed, tears streaming down his face. “YOU DIDN’T LIKE HIM FROM THE MOMENT I GOT HIM,” he cried.  His face was red, contorted in anger.  His eyes bulged. Except for the tears I think he was a perfect picture of me, the way I felt when I heard him playing Perfection in the middle of the damn night. In the blink of an eye, the leap is made from peaceful calm to perfect insanity. Over a noise. Over Perfection.  Over a frog.   

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Filed under anger, boys, frogs, kids, life, parenting, Snags

Defective Parts

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request an exchange on my son’s olfactory parts.  It seems that when you supplied all the parts for this child of mine, you accidentally inserted a vulture’s sense of smell into him in lieu of a human’s sense of smell.

I submit the following as evidence:

Most human beings like the smell of such things as:
Flowers
Chocolate
Perfume
The ocean
A good steak

My son likes the smells of such things as:
Anything burning
Gasoline
Used model rocket engines
Boxes in the freezers at the grocery store
Farts

Used model rocket engines smell very much like sulphur, which smells like rotten eggs.  And rotten eggs smell like something dead.  And vultures like the smell of dead things.  And my son, as I indicated above, likes the smell of used model rocket engines.

Thus, the following equation must be true:
My son’s nose =  vulture nose

A vulture, as you know, is a bird.  My son is, for all other intents and purposes, human.

So I respectfully request an exchange of parts.

I understand my request may be outside the limits of your normal service agreement, as my child is approaching the age of seven.  However, it took this long for me to really notice the problem.  Yes, I suspected something was off when he was three and would open the freezers at the grocery store and deeply sniff the frozen pizza boxes.  I thought it strange as well when he asked me to leave the car door open while I filled up the car’s gas tank  because he liked the fumes emitted from the pump.  But honestly, it wasn’t until he said he was going to start collecting used model rocket engines because they “smelled so good” (with deep sniffing inhale) that I really became suspicious.

When some toast burnt recently, he was very excited when he asked “What smells so GOOD?” 

And the clincher, what prompted me to write, was the day he was home from school because he was sick and he proudly announced “my farts smell like burnt rocket engines! Doesn’t that smell GREAT?!”

If you would kindly mail the replacement olfactory parts to me I will insert them myself.

Thank you,
Belle

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Filed under boys, death, humor, kids, life, parenting, rotten food, sick, Snags, steak, things kids do

Slipping Away

There was a time, as recently as 2 months ago, when summer fun here meant shooting each other with water guns, and for my son Snags the water guns were simply a toy, a cool way to get each other wet.  He was never one of those children to bite his toast into the shape of a gun or cock his fingers into one while shouting “Bang! Bang!”  He had a cowboy hat and a sheriff’s badge but he rarely played with them.  When he did, he never bothered about a gun.   And unlike so many of his preschool friends, he wasn’t into acting out Power Rangers on the playground and didn’t watch them on T.V.  He didn’t really understand fighting, didn’t understand much about good versus evil.  Because at the age of five there just wasn’t that much evil to have to understand; the world was basically good.  But above all, he certainly didn’t know about igniters or bombs, explosions or lasers.

In fact, until just recently my son was into Disney movies, particularly animated ones where there was a sleeping princess somewhere needing to be saved and he could pretend he was the prince responsible for the saving.

I understood him then.  I understood that language.  I am a girl, after all.  I know about princesses and frilly dresses and pretty shoes and sparkling jewelry and prince charming and all that.  And while I may not be a princess, I can certainly play one on TV.  You know, like if you video tape me pretending to be a princess while playing with my son who has his favorite blanket safety pinned to his shoulders so it resembles a prince’s cape trailing behind him.

Now, I admit, I like these games best when I can be Sleeping Beauty after touching the spinning wheel or Snow White after biting the poison apple so I can just lie on the sofa and hope that maybe Snags will get bored after a time and start watching something on Nick Jr.  Because maybe then I can get a nap.  But it rarely works out that way.  Often I’m Belle and he’s the Beast, stomping through our castle and leaving messes in his wake, or worse, he’s Gaston, ripping the book I’m trying to read right out of my hand, knocking it into a puddle, and demanding that I pay attention only to him.

These games I knew.  I understood my role.  I could play them.  And later, after we’d played, I could follow his never ending commentary about them and participate in conversations with Snags who, firmly ensconced in his booster seat in the back of the car, would question me as I drove him to preschool:

“Are we in the same forest as yesterday?” he’d inquire.  “Because I don’t remember those trees being there yesterday.  I think this forest is growing!” he’d proclaim. 

“Oh no!”  I’d retort.  “We might have trouble finding the castle.  I hope we don’t run into that old hag with the apples again.” 

And because I could, and because even if I didn’t he would continue the game without me, I’d play along for the duration of our little trip.

But now… well, now it seems as if this magical innocence of the very young, the world of fairytale princes and happy endings, is slipping away. My prince charming has been lured away from me.  Another woman has captured his attention and his heart and helped to fill his mind with bigger, more sinister things like lasers guns and explosions and violence and heavy breathing.  The kind of heavy breathing that announces “Luke!  I am your father!” And the woman who has done all of this is Princess Leia.  To my chagrin, but to my husband’s utter delight, my five year old has discovered Star Wars.  I neither understand nor speak the language, Star Wars.  This is not my native tongue. 

It started out simply enough when Snags came upon my husband playing the Lego Star Wars game on his Xbox.  He sat down to join him and before long, the game was second nature to him.  Somewhere along the way Snags found the original Star Wars movie in our video collection and one Friday night he and his father sat down to watch it.

It might have ended there.  We might have returned to a world of princesses and castles and magical fairies but we didn’t.  We had to attend a wedding and while my husband and I were busy eating and dancing and looking for my grandmother’s hearing aid, my son was being entertained by his Uncle Darth Mikey.  Darth Mikey also likes Star Wars, and he was content to watch the movie with Snags again and again before taking him to a nearby field and teaching him all about model rocketry, something Darth Mikey has held an interest in since he was a mere child himself.

So when we went to retrieve Snags and relieve Uncle Darth Mikey on that fateful evening, the first thing Snags did when he saw us was to scream in the excited voice of Luke Skywalker, “GUESS WHAT!?  WE WATCHED STAR WARS AGAIN AND WE LAUNCHED ROCKETS AND UNCLE MIKEY GAVE ME MY OWN ROCKET AND WE JUST NEED TO GET SOME MORE ROCKET ENGINES AND IGNITERS AND THEN BOOM!  THE ROCKET WILL EXPLODE UP INTO THE AIR…”   

And that’s how quickly Snag’s innocence began slipping away.  He has been officially indoctrinated into the more violent world of boy things. 

Now he prefers to play Star Wars in the back yard using sticks for light sabers shooting out deadly laser beams.  The water guns are stand-ins for whatever kind of guns they use in the movie.  Soccer balls represent bombs that some character named Greedo can throw.  When I’m enlisted in the game, I’m assigned to play the part of Princess Leia, although I don’t care for her hairstyle or the jobs I’m given – mostly pulling invisible levers to open invisible doors while the boys do all the fighting, occasionally hitting me with their light sabers. 

I’ve found, in all of this, one small ray of hope left as far as innocence is concerned.  I’m clinging to it tightly, but I fear it’s a silken thread that will be easily broken.  Right now you see, my son refers to Darth Vader as “Dark Vater” and as we drive toward preschool he explains to me how Dark Vater kills people with his “life saver.”  I’m not eager to correct him.  These small inaccuracies show me that regardless of how much he talks of lasers and ignitors, bombs, “life savers” and recovery wadding, there is still some five year old left inside him.  Still a tiny bit of innocence that has yet to slip away. 

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Filed under boys, growing up, imagination, Star Wars