We had soup last night, taco soup. It had hamburger in it, with a verrrryyyy gourmet mix of canned options. Mack, my 8 year old, is sitting in the kitchen with me while I spoon it up and put it into bowls. He is thinking, “Mom, what do you think Zoom would say if I told him this is unicorn soup?” Zoom is his 5 year old brother.
Little background: Zoom is madly in love with unicorns right now. He loves them and feels they are the gateway to all things good and beautiful and their crap probably tastes like candy.
My response: “I don’t know.” Write that down. It’s a good one to remember. I made it up at my last parenting brainstorm session.
Zoom skips in stage left and asks what’s for dinner. I put on my poker mommy face. It’s the one I put on when I’m not sure if what I am about to be part of is okay or not. You remember junior high, right, when someone pulls out a cigarette, and you don’t really want to smoke. You don’t want to leave either because you want to see if your friend chokes or not. Is smoking really that bad, you ask yourself? If I stay, is it like smoking or more like being a really good person while other people smoke?
And so I just pretended I didn’t see my kids pick up the proverbial cigarettes, and I flinched, and waited to see what would happen, like a really good person.
“It is?!” Zoom responds. Recently he has started asking Mack all his questions about the workings of the universe. Mack always has an answer, even if it’s made up. It’s mostly made up.
I avert my eyes.
Mack says, “Yes, do you like it?” His face is bursting with anticipation! What will he do, will he cry, scream, run, start to twitch? Will I get his room, when he runs out the door?
And although I’m not sure what response my oldest was looking for, I am guessing these things are close to the truth.
“Yum! I love it!” With great pride I saw my little Zoom look into the tortilla soup, and without missing a beat, taste it, and find a way to love the idea that he is eating one of these dream inducing, masculine, nymph-like creatures. His eyes are twinkling.
My averted eyes scan his face for any invisible psychological scars. I chew a nail off, while I try to decide if I should say something. I decide against it. I am going to mark this down as a victory for Zoom. He didn’t rile. He looked happy. No scar inflicted.
And as for Mack, well, I listen very carefully to every word he says. He’s so full of it sometimes, and I don’t know where he came up with this or the battery fish that’s now Zoom’s favorite sea animal, who bites with battery acid. I don’t know how he’s convinced Zoom that he can talk “fish” whenever Zoom’s fish sends messages to his older brother, language-fishanese. He knows what satellites in the sky take pictures of, and that unicorns live in China, because it’s so pretty. Oy. It’s a complicated job being a big brother, isn’t it? You have great responsibility to tell another person about the world, and they soak in your every word. You have a great responsibility being a mom, making sure you give your kids room and keep your family mentally healthy. Yep, it’s a thin line between insanity and fun, too. That’s it. I already analyzed the hell out of it, so you’re getting the short version today. Here’s to imagination, white lies and total BS. What’s the difference again?