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9:45 a.m. - 2010-02-20
A dinner convo and you know what that means!

Both my kids are good veggie eaters so I've never fussed too much about how limited their choices were/are otherwise. If spread in a 1" deep and 2" wide stripe I'm sure Wolf's eaten enough peanut butter to encircle the globe. It's his go-to food. However over the last few months he's been opting in on a lot of new (to him) foods. Especially meat. Wolf was never one for meat, the occasional chicken finger, but that was about it. His new thing is steak. I'd been hocking him to take in more protein, reminding him his bod is getting ready to do some explosive growing and he needs fuel, and my boy now believes if more than a couple days go by without his ingesting a pricy slab of cow that he'll be forever doomed to be a puny weakling. He's also ordering off the regular menu now and will cut the girl seating us at a restaurant a filthy look if she asks if we need a kid's menu. He limits himself to the dirty look, but I hear the, "Good gravy, woman! Do you not see I'm a man?!?" he bites back unsaid. It gives me the giggles. This 80lb scrawn in his hoodie and his affronted outrage over being insulted with crayons and a puzzle placemat. He hasn't gotten zapped with a lidded kiddie cup in a while, so there's that small balm to his manly dignity anyhow.

What a weird time we're both in. Floundering around through this transition from child to teen. He seems to understand when I've overstepped the boundary back into Wolf the little guy territory and accepts my apologies and explanation that while I do know he is NOT a baby anymore, he will always be MY baby and for this I must be forgiven my lapses into smushy-gushiness. We've had a ton of fun watching the trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you can see it HERE. I bust Wolf's chops with, "Have a great day, sweetie pie!" all the time. Which makes us both fall down laughing. We're looking forward to this flick a lot. Wolf and I have also discussed that sometimes he's going to want to sit on my lap and I'll be oblivious to that want, and there will be other times when I'll need him to sit in my lap and that'll be the last fricken place he wants to be. The lap sitting is both literal and metaphorical, of course, it's sort of our code for the entire herky-jerky way we're lurching through the transition. A transition that will be at least a decade in the making, one that so far we're doing okay with because we can laugh. And maybe because I'm pretty straightforward and honest with him.

Mick is amazed at how I don't flinch away from the tough questions. Questions about bodies and feelings and values. My boy has a wonderful heart, but thanks to his peculiar wiring the world is a tough place to understand, and if I don't step up and thoroughly explain things, things that are usually understood intuitively, who will? It's not Wolf's fault that he doesn't automatically 'get' things. If he's brave and curious enough to ask, the least I can do is not betray that trust. I must and do give him honest answers. Though I don't think Mick is ever going to get used to us discussing penises and body hair at the dinner table.

We had one of those brutally honest discussions last night. Not about penises, but as Wolf sawed his way through his steak he had some tough questions about his brother and his dad. He wanted to know why they were so cold. Why Alex was so mean. Not just to me, Wolf is noticing that his brother doesn't give a warm crap about him either. Never calls, can't be bothered to talk to him or even be polite when he and Mike go upstate for a visit. I didn't burn my elder son in effigy, but neither did I whitewash things. I explained some about Alex's emotional chilliness and general sour attitude toward life. I also made sure to remind Wolf there's not any 'us or them' here. He doesn't ever have to choose sides and was free to and should love everyone in his life. That was the wonderful thing about love- it stretches. Love is always big enough to include everybody in. I also said that sometimes you might not like the way someone else conducts himself, but it didn't mean you had to stop loving him. There was a lot more, but that's the gist of it. At least about his seemingly hardhearted brother and father.

One other thing we talked about was kindness. Wolf is starting to get a handle on what my early life was like. Without me ever getting too gruesome about it, my son now knows his old mom grew up in Hell. My past came up in the convo last night and I took the opportunity to tell him that while things had been plenty bad, there had also been good things. People outside my horrible family who were good to me and how it made all the difference. I told him to never, never ignore a chance to be kind, he might never know how big a deal it was, but it very well could be a HUGE deal to someone. Then I told him the story of Mrs Ferraro.

In the 5th grade a bunch of us from the neighborhood (and in Teensytown the whole town was essentially the neighborhood) had a club. A silly club that met once a week at the Ferraro's house. I liked the other club members well enough and was tickled to be included in. After coming off 5 moves in less than 18 months it was wonderful to not be the new kid anymore. Anyhow, we used to meet and do club things (what, I don't remember, probably it was just saying we were a club and then eating snacks). The thing I do remember so, so vividly was how glad Mrs Ferraro was to see me. She always greeted me by name and smiled and sometimes she even gave me a hug. Man, I lived for club days. A grown person, a mom!, who actually liked me? Holy crow. After a while I'm guessing Mrs Ferraro twigged to how starved I was for affection, but she was also just a genuinely nice person, and she'd always make time to speak with me a bit. Ask how my day was, compliment my latest goofy hairdo. At the end of the school year our sporadically collected 25 cent weekly dues had added up to a whole $6.00. Mrs Ferraro announced this was more than enough to buy us all a pizza dinner at the local swank (to us) pizza joint. So off we went in her ginormous land yacht station wagon singing the club song and being wicked proud of ourselves for pulling off such a grown-uppish thing as taking ourselves out for dinner. I, needy pup that I was, had wrangled a seat next to Mrs Ferraro. We all made merry and ate tons of pizza and guzzled pitchers of coke and when the check came (though she had tried to be discrete with it) I saw the tab was almost $20.00! My heart sank. The shame. How foolish we'd been! Boy oh boy, Mrs Ferraro was going to be furious at us! Our measly dues weren't even half. And there was a tip to leave too!

But you know what? She didn't say a thing. Well, she did. She thanked us for treating her to such a nice meal.

It was then I made up my mind that when I grew up I was going to be like Mrs Ferraro. Generous, gracious, and so very, very kind.

I haven't always followed through as well as I'd like. Money will always be a touchy thing for me. But the freely offered affection? Remembering the truly priceless gifts could be as simple as a smile and hug? Oh yeah. And this is what I told my son. I tried to make sure he knows how important those simple things are. How much they can mean to someone who's mostly done without them.

Wolf heard me. He understood my story and gave me a hug of his own.


He is such a good person. And I am a lucky mom. ~LA

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