Category Archives: identity

Forty

Wow.  So I’m turning forty in a few days.  40.  40!

But you know, I don’t FEEL forty.  And I don’t think I LOOK forty.

Except a few things that have happened over the past few days have really made me question how I am perceived by others.

There is this: A dermatologist gave me a prescription for Retin A to try and combat the oily skin I’ve had my.entire.life.  I read in a magazine that there are things you can actually do now to try and reduce the oily shine besides wiping it off your face every half an hour, your carefully applied makeup being wiped away along with it.  So I decided to see a dermatologist.  And he said Retin A is the best thing out there for this, my shiny face. 

But when I dropped my prescription off at the pharmacy, the person behind the counter asked how old I was and then said with a half smile-half sneer on her face, “Well you know, your insurance won’t pay for this.  They don’t pay for Retin A for anyone over 35 because it was developed as an acne medication for TEENAGERS but older women started using it when they discovered it helps diminish their wrinkles…”  And she nearly harrumphed as she smiled at me in her pharmacy coat with her gray hair up in a bun.  I just stood there, nearly dumbfounded, until I finally managed to say, “Well, my doctor prescribed it for me, so I’d like to fill the prescription anyway.”

And then there is this: I was telling some co-workers about my son, and how he had taken our calendar off the refrigerator and written “START” in the box for June 1, and “END” in the box for November 30th.  And then he drew a line through all the days in between to show that hurricane season will be occurring during that time.  One of the co-workers, whom I don’t know very well, turned to me and said, “What does your son do?”

“What does he DO?”  I asked, perplexed.  “Well, he goes to Kindergarten.”

“Oh!” the co-worker said.  “I thought he was working or studying something in college…”

And then, possibly realizing he might have just insulted me, he backpedaled and said, “Or high school.  Do they learn about hurricane season in high school?  But, oh, I didn’t know he was in kindergarten.  Hmmm…” he trailed off.

And so I wonder, do I LOOK old enough to have a child in high school?  Or worse, college? 

Technically, yes, I admit it’s possible that I am old enough to have a child in high school or college.  I recently connected with some former high school classmates and many of them have children who are teenagers, juniors and seniors in high school, a few with children in college. 

That could have been me.  If I had had my son when I was 25, well, he’d be 15 now, and studying hurricanes in high school.  Maybe. If they study hurricanes in high school. Or, if I had had him when I was 20, he’d be 20 now himself, and studying hurricanes in college in between all the drinking at frat parties and chasing girls around campus.  Ahem…

But I didn’t.  I was 33 when my son was born.  He’ll be seven this fall.  He’ll be in first grade, studying hurricanes. 

And me?  I’ll be trying to cure this oily skin, skin that seems more fitting for a teenager, with Retin A.  And I’ll still be 40.  Whether I like it, or feel it, or look it or not.

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Filed under birthday, birthdays, identity, Kindergarten, life

Don’t Try This at Home

Snags has the imagination of a crazy person’s reality.  A schizophrenic’s perhaps.  I don’t know if he actually hears voices, but he certainly holds conversations with invisible people — people that aren’t exactly real, like Darth Vader and The Mystery Gang from Scooby Doo.   He once spent weeks, or maybe it was months, talking to Eric and Dr. Kaufman and the Phantom Virus, characters that were in Scooby Doo and The Cyber Chase.  Most recently, he’s been holding his hand to his ear as if it were a telephone and having conversations with Darth Vader and The Emperor.  And he’s been known to suddenly shout out in the middle of dinner for someone to “STOP FIGHTING OVER THERE WITH YOUR LIGHT SABERS!”  Then of course, there’s the fact that Snags has changed his identity many, many, many times over the past few years.  I’m not sure how it’s taken me this long to wonder why I haven’t ever hauled him off to the doctor to get this checked out.  A visit with a psychiatrist perhaps, to reassure myself that this is just his imagination at play and that he’s not actually CRAZY…

But anyway, given his imagination, I thought it would be fun to make up a story, something utterly impossible and fun, and share it with him.  After all, Snags usually likes my made up stories.  He often requests them.  “Mom,” he asks most nights before bed, “Can I have a telling story? Please? Just one short one before I go to sleep?” 

So one afternoon a few weeks ago, I found myself a little bit bored and dare I say sick and tired of listening to Snags having one sided conversations with Darth Vader and the Emperor on his hand phone, and I decided to tell him a story…

But before I tell you more, let me give you a little bit of background on my inspiration for the story, which I took from Pinocchio, my own mother, and Bill Cosby…  Pinocchio, you may recall, is the story of a wooden puppet that gets turned into a real live boy. My mother, well she used to tell my brother when he was a kid, that she got him from a shelf in a department store and that she could return him at any time… And that sort of reminded me of Bill Cosby, and that bit where he says something like “…I brought you into this world and I can take you out, make another one that looks just like you…” 

It was with those thoughts in mind that I came up with this story. This story that I made up on the spot and thought was a pretty ingenious idea: both brilliant AND funny.  So funny, in fact, that I was chuckling in my mind the entire time I was telling it.  But oh, the wrath I brought down upon myself!

See, I told  Snags that he was originally a baby doll and that I bought him at Toys R Us. Everyone, I told him, all of our family and friends, and even strangers, thought I was crazy for carrying a doll around.  So I started to pray to God to turn the doll into a real boy and when he was 7 ½ weeks old, God did!  But, the night before that happened, right before I went to bed, I had tossed Snags the doll into my toy box because, well, he was just a doll… But then in the middle of the night a noise woke me up.  I heard something crying and there was a bad smell in my room.  Our dog had started barking, so I turned on the light to see what all the commotion was about and saw the dog barking at the toy box.  I got out of bed, went over to see what was going on, and lo and behold, there was Snags, alive and waving his arms and crying.  And he’d pooped his diaper!

I went on to tell Snags that the scar over his eye, the one we’d always told him he got from throwing himself on the floor and hitting his face on a toy when he was a baby, was really from the dog taking him out of the toy box and playing fetch with him when he was still a doll.  That, you see, is where the dog’s teeth had scratched his doll head…  Now, I thought this was all very funny, but apparently I was wrong.

Snags totally freaked out and screamed and yelled at me.  He was so stinking mad I couldn’t believe it.  “No!”  He screamed.  “You’re lying!  That’s not true!  I was never a doll!  Why would you say that?  I’m not going to trust you anymore!”

I was taken aback at his outburst and suddenly I felt very defensive.  It was just a story, after all.  A story I kind of liked, you know, since I made it up (even if Pinocchio and my mother had sort of been the inspiration for it). But still…

In my defensiveness, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I turned into a bit of a child myself and kept insisting the story was true, and that Snags shouldn’t be so upset.  In fact, I told him, “You can ask your dad and Uncle Dan when they get here.  They’ll tell you this is all true!”

And of course Snags did.  He ran screaming to my husband and his Uncle the moment they walked in the front door.

“Dad!”  He yelled. “MomsaidIwasadollandGodturnedmeintoaboyandIknowsheslying!”

“What?!” my husband responded. “She said what?”

“MomsaidIwasadollandGodturnedmeintoaboyandIknowsheslying!” Snags repeated.

My husband looked at me, shook his head in disgust and said, “Now WHY would you tell him THAT?” and my brother, Snags’ Uncle, started laughing.

“It’s NOT FUNNY!” Snags cried.  “It’s not true, either, is it Uncle Dan?” he insisted.

But my brother, well, he’s a lot like me and can’t resist a good moment when he sees it.

“Well yeah it’s true!” he said, with a big smile spreading across his face.

To which, Snags got even angrier.  My husband had to calm him down, and I had to admit that it was just a story.  But I still maintained it wasn’t such a big deal and he shouldn’t have gotten so upset about the whole thing.

And my brother, he seemed a little deflated when the truth came out. But I think that’s because up until the point where I had to come clean and admit that the whole “Snags was once a doll” story wasn’t true, my brother was probably thinking that if my mom ever did return him to that department store, at least there was a chance his nephew might be sitting on the shelf next to him. 
 

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Filed under dog, God, humor, identity, insanity, parenting, Scooby Doo, Snags, Star Wars, telling stories

Use The Force, Luke!

My son, Snags, has been watching a lot of Star Wars lately.  He’s totally enthralled by it.  So much so, that he’s been sucked in, and he’s changed his own identity.  He calls himself Luke Skywalker now.  And if I want to get his attention, I have to call him that too. 

This is not the first time he’s changed his name.  Over his short life he’s been Eddie, Bob the Builder, Diego, Willy Wonka, Fred Jones, The Beast, and Peter Pan, to name just a few. 

The first time he changed his name publicly, Snags was three years old and we were out for a walk around our neighborhood.  Snags ran up to an elderly couple in their driveway.  “Hello!  What’s your name?” they asked him.  “Diego!” he lied. 

Diego?  Diego?  My husband and I just looked at each other.  Diego wasn’t his name.  What were we supposed to do?  But before we could do anything they pointed at our dog.  “And what’s your dog’s name?” they asked him.  “Kutchee!” he lied again.

My husband and I were shocked.  We didn’t know what to do.  And we didn’t know the elderly couple.  On one hand we didn’t think lying was appropriate, on the other hand, they were strangers.  So instead of telling them, “Oh, he’s just kidding!  His name isn’t Diego.  It’s Snags…” we simply gathered Snags up and wished the couple a nice evening.  Once we were a few blocks away we asked Snags why he had told the couple his name was Diego.  But he wouldn’t answer.

Not long after that he told the librarian that his name was Peter Pan.  I’m pretty sure she knew he was lying, but she was kind.  She helped him find the book he was looking for anyway. 

After a while, getting dressed in the mornings became difficult.  He needed a tool belt, or a field journal, a “W” brooch to wear on his collar, an entire outfit of the color green, or a white shirt with a blue collar and blue pants to look like Fred.  White shirts aren’t a good choice for young boys who seem to think “shirt” is another word for “napkin”.

Each time my son would change his identity he’d insist that everyone address him by his new name.  Even his teachers.  We’d walk into preschool and the director would say hello and he’d ignore her.  “That’s funny!” He’d whisper to me.  “She doesn’t know my new name, does she?” he’d ask with a sly smile playing on his lips.

On his school papers he’d write his new name: Willy Wonka, he’d print.  The letters would be large and shaky and ill-formed and often backwards.  The alphabet of a child just learning how to write.  Eventually his teachers would concede, and while I never knew if they actually called him by his new name, his cubby would be re-labeled.  “Snags” would be replaced with a plastic label on which “Willy Wonka” was neatly punched out.

Sometimes my son would change his identity after only a day.  Like he was changing his underwear.  Other times it would be weeks, or even months before he’d turn into someone new.  Eventually another television show or movie would catch his fancy and he’d trade the old identity in for another, and we’d start all over.

At various times he’d think about his future and map it all out.  “When I get married,” he’d tell me, “I’m going to have 10 children.  Their names will be: Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, John, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tinkerbell, and “Alltheotherpirates”.  And I’d listen to that and count them out on my fingers.  That’s only eight children,” I felt compelled to correct him.  But then I’d think how, maybe it was okay because if you actually had 10 children, you might forget a few of their names.

I imagine Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, and John would have it somewhat easy.  Peter could claim Pan as a middle name and simply go by Peter.   Wendy, Michael, and John are all nice, normal names.  Probably many of their friends and classmates will share the same first name.

But the others, I feel for.  I really do.  Captain Hook?  Even if the poor fellow uses Hook as his middle name, Captain as a first name sounds a little pretentious.  Or pet-like. “And this is my new cat, Captain.”  And how about Tinkerbell?.  Let’s hope he gives that name to one of his girls.  She’ll be teased enough with that name, but if Snags’ Luke Skywalker’s wife should bear only one female child, and they name her Wendy, then one of the seven boys is going to be beaten up at the playground on a daily basis.

And Mr. Smee?   That, to me, sounds like the lad is in some pretty big trouble.  Like when your mother or father calls you by your full name.  You just know you’re in for it.  You’ve gotten caught at something you’ve done and now, when your parents add Mister to your name you’re officially in trouble. 

The one I worry about the most is Alltheotherpirates.  Even I want to tease the child and he or she isn’t even born yet.

Then again, Snags’ Luke’s done this before, planned his future family out.  Only he had other children with other names.  When he thought he was Willy Wonka he decided his children would be named Charlie Bucket, Mike Teevee, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Violet Beauregarde.  This was brought up daily for months.

“But what if your wife doesn’t like those names?” I asked him. 

“Oh, she will!” he insisted.  “She won’t have a choice.”

And I don’t understand that.  Because in this household, things are more or less split 50/50.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t abide by a 1950’s traditional household where June Cleaver does all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and the man comes home after work and pours himself a drink and puts his feet up.  In my house, my husband often gets home from work before me and he unloads the dishwasher and starts dinner.  I admit I’d prefer that he have my Mojito all ready for me when I walk in the door, but he rarely does.  And that’s okay.  I understand he’s already got his hands full and he can’t take time out to make my drink because he’s busy with the Filet Mignon.  He knows I’d be mad if he let it burn…  So why Snags Luke Skywalker thinks he can dictate the number or names of the children he and his future wife will have, is beyond me.  He’s not learning that attitude here.
 
All I can think is he’s planning to use The Force upon his wife.  Perhaps then she’ll bend to his will.  Maybe with The Force he can mold her mind to not only agree with having ten children, but also with giving them the crazy names of his favorite movie characters. 

He demonstrated this to me just the other day.  I was at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast when Luke told me to close my eyes and “keep them closed until I tell you to open them.”  When I did open them, the kitchen light was on, where it had been off just a moment before.  It was also swinging on its chain. 

I was surprised.  I thought perhaps there was some kind of electrical surge, but Luke admitted that HE had actually turned on the light and set it swinging by using The Force!  When I feigned shock at his ability, he thought it uproariously funny and so he spent the next half hour flipping lights off and on and poking the hanging lamp with his plastic light saber, all the while insisting he was doing it with The Force.

When I told him to turn the lights and leave them out out so we could save some money on our electric bill, he obliged but moved the game along to transporting things, both needed and unneeded, to me.  Again, he used The Force to do this.  I had to close my eyes as he brought my book (needed), a jar of spaghetti sauce (unneeded), and a can of Diet Coke (morning caffeine fix, very much needed) to me where I was still sitting at the table.

Eventually I tired of the game and got what I thought was the greatest idea any mother ever had.  I suggested he use The Force to clean up his toys.  He looked at me.  Then he said, “I can’t.  The Force doesn’t work for that.  I’ve turned that program off.”  And he turned his back and walked away.  As I watched him retreat I thought, “Oh yeah, we’ll see what your wife thinks about that, Mr. Luke Skywalker!”

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Filed under children, identity, imagination, Luke Skywalker, Snags, Star Wars, The Force