Eight years and a handful of months ago, my son was a day old. As he lay on the bed while I changed his diaper, tiny fists flailing, he pissed DIRECTLY INTO HIS OWN FACE. He rocked his head from side to side attempting to escape the warm assault, completely unaware he was solely responsible.
“Ahhh! OH MY GOD!”
I threw a blanket over his lower half to block the flow, and grabbed another to wipe his face.
“Oh, little man. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know that could happen. Impressive.”
I grew up with a sister. I babysat almost exclusively for girls. While I had spent the previous decade trying to decipher boys from a romantic perspective, it wasn’t until having a son of my own that I became confused by them on so many other levels.
At ten and a half months, the kid started running. At some point not long before that, he learned to crawl. To be honest, I don’t remember him actually doing it though. He seemingly went from potted plant to Carl Lewis overnight. He didn’t stop moving. Ever. He still hasn’t. Within weeks of mastering his new skill we walked home across our neighborhood from a friend’s house. With the strength of a thousand horses and the stiffness of the Empire State Building, he straight up refused to get in the stroller. Fine. Suit yourself. Walk.
One block. How novel! He’s really moving!
Two blocks. Ok, buddy. Don’t be a hero. Get in the stroller.
Empire State Building.
Fine. Keep walking.
Three blocks. Holy shit. Relative to the size of him, this is like a 5k. Still NOT. GETTING. IN.
We round the corner to home and he’s still going strong. Halfway down the block he slows and four steps later he crouches down, nearly defeated.
Now it’s an Epic Quest.
“Come on!! Don’t quit now, chase me!”
We gain another 10 yards or so and arrive in our driveway.
He walked a half mile. AT LESS THAN 11 MONTHS. It was that day that he reached Golden Retriever status. Get him outside to run daily, or suffer the consequences. If I had had the resources at the time, I’d have opened a kid’s play space that was simply a long padded sound proofed room, with an adjacent coffee shop of course. People with daughters would be totally welcome, but I hear they’re having normal conversation at the local tea house while their little ones enjoy themselves quietly and don’t hang from the curtains like some sort of diapered Tarzan. What a load of crap.
At 15 months, my son met a sweet brand new baby, and when he leaned in to give her porcelain face a kiss we oohed and ahhed at the preciousness of it all. So as a misguided means to secure all attention for himself or because he DIDN’T want attention (see? I have NO IDEA HOW PENIS BRAINS WORK), he went back in for another and switched it up by BITING HER ON THE FACE. As I yanked him back, horrified, you could make out every little tooth he’d grown in his head so far on her perfect white cheek. Retrospectively, it’s perfectly normal behavior for that age. In the moment, however, I was sure little Hannibal Lechter was going to have mutilated squirrels under his bed by middle school.
It’s also come to my attention in the last 8 years that boys need to be reminded that the fabulous tools connected to the ends of their arms aren’t there just to look awesome. They are called hands and are quite useful when taking off shoes (“I. CAN’T GET. MY SHOOOOEEEESSSSS OFFFF.” “Uh, call me old fashioned, but what if you actually touched them instead of banging your heel against the floor?”),
and finding things you need (“Mooooom! Where is the orange juice?” “Last I checked? The refrigerator.” “But WHERE in the refrigerator?” “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sounds of my own brain leaking out my ear.”). I’d be worried my kid was a special case of lazy, but I’ve polled. This is a widespread epidemic.
Perhaps the biggest head scratcher of all came when he was about seven. One afternoon as he exited the bathroom he enlightened me with the gem, “Mom, you know how I know I did a good job wiping after I poop?”
“Oh, dear god. How?”
“Well, I wipe, then I close the toilet lid, SIT ON IT [I may have lost consciousness at this point, so the rest is up for debate] and check if the lid is clean.”
I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. The person snuggled up to you on the couch half asleep could be demonstrating his latest (completely non authentic) karate move the next. If you’re not ready, it’s stabbed cornea city. I could save rainforests with the carbon dioxide I’ve wasted exclaiming, “WHAT ON EARTH POSSESSED YOU TO DO THAT?” and “please calm your body.” (a phrase which I never uttered the likes of pre-child, ever).
If time travel were an option, I’d take a jaunt back to 2005 to point and laugh in the face of my new mom self who declared, “my son won’t play with guns”. Because I’m pretty sure Gandhi “pew, pew”‘d a stick or two in his day. You can refuse to purchase the mini heathens weapons all you want, however rest assured that toast will be artfully nibbled into a pistol, nunchucks fashioned out of tube socks, and every god damn stick from here to kingdom come makes the perfect sword/ER visit.
Yet for as much as I’ll never understand, (the Jackson Pollock urine masterpieces in the bathroom, inabilities to recognize the funk of ones own feet) I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity to try. And I’ll never again be as well stocked with Clorox wipes, emergency eye patches, and band aids as I am with an eight year old boy under my roof.