2 going on 13…Oi

Admittedly I have been on a sort of hiatus from blogging, reading, and my new BFF Twitter because of the grand task of editing. Yeah, a lot of have been there, right? I have also been dealing, coping, puzzling over the behavior modification my son has undergone lately. By a show of hands who all has, or has had, a 2 year old child? I see… Let me ask you this, from one parent to another, did your child come equipped with the 2YO 2.0 chip as well?

If you’re not familiar with the 2YO 2.0 chip…let me explain the finer details. The 2YO 2.0 is an upgrade from the standard 2YO chip. The standard 2YO chip comes equipped with increased language skills that include such things as ‘pee pee on the potty,’ ‘I hungry,’ and the ever popular ‘lub you too.’ It also has fierce hugs, infectious giggles, goofy grins, and never-ending tickle buttons installed. The standard 2YO chip was what my son was running on until a couple months ago. That is what his upgrade was installed.
The problem is no one warned me, or DH for that matter, that there was in fact a 2YO upgrade and that this upgrade would override the existing operating system at random. The 2YO 2.0 chip comes with all that was available in the standard version, but with added bonus material. Included in the language package you will find ‘don’t want it,’ ‘no, Daddy do it,’ and the less popular ‘go away.’ The upgrade also includes random screaming to the point of exhaustion, Disney/Pixar movie obsessions that border OCD, tourette’s like behavior that parallels multiple personality disorders, extreme aversion to waking before the sun rises (which also includes turning on the light before he’s awake), and the ability to disintegrate all bones in their body at will when they do not wish to be held.
Let me give you an example. The following is a typical night in my house…
Get home with Boog about 6pm after picking him up from school (aka day care). The whole trip home, it’s three miles door to door, was met with announcing over and over that he “wants to watch Buzz Lightyear first!” In big people speak this is Toy Story.
Upon entering the house Boog takes off his coat, shoes, and IMS hat (he wears it every day) and immediately goes to Daddy’s laptop. It’s fascinating yet terrifying that my 2 year old can work a laptop with proficiency, but that’s another post. He pops in Toy Story and informs me “we wait” while Microsoft boots up the DVD player. Boog contentedly watches Buzz Lightyear while I get dinner ready and DH vegges out to Top Gear reruns.
Then it’s time for dinner…
Up until this point Boog was running on the standard software. When faced with leaving his blessed Buzz Lightyear the upgrade is triggered and 2YO 2.0 takes over the operating system of my child. After lots of “NO!”s and “DON’T WANT IT!”s, and even more falling limp-noodle style on the floor for good measure, DH and I look daggers at each other and ignore him. I try to rationalize that if he’s hungry he will eat.
Boog approaches the table repeatedly, but runs when you make eye contact yelling ‘no, don’t want it’ only to return looking longingly at his now cold plate of food. It reminds me of hyenas in the wild skirting the fresh kill still surrounded by lions. The constant darting in and out, testing the defenses. DH and I finish our plates and do our best to pretend Boog does not exist as he slinks his way back to the table now holding ‘Lubby’ (aka small blanket he likes to snuggle with). Avoiding eye contact, Boog slips in over at my side and says “Hold this a minute” referring to Lubby. Timidly, as you never know what will trigger the next 2.0 upgrade, I take Lubby and place it on my shoulder. “I want you,” says my son. “Sit in lap…peeeze.”
“You can sit in mama’s lap only if you eat your dinner,” I state with mild authority, still wary of the impending 2.0 upgrade.
I place Boog in my lap where he proceeds to devour his plate of food with the single minded obsession of a starved beast.
My point is…children should come with a warning label. Something that will inform parents that no matter how much you try to do right, you will constantly second guess yourself when it comes to their behavior. That your adorable little person, who still enjoys snuggle time before bed, will occasionally turn on you with the vehemence of a angst riddled 13 year old. That the little angel who takes your face in their hands with a declaration of “look at me” before kissing your face will undoubtedly tell you to “go away” if you’re not their favorite person right then.
Is the warning label necessary? Does its nonexistence make me second guess bringing a child into this crazy world? Absolutely not. It would just have been helpful to know what to look out for.
So for now I will grit my teeth when Boog doesn’t want me, or when the shirt I have chosen for him to wear is not the right one, or when he insists on Daddy taking him to bed (when it’s my job), or when he refuses to touch anything on his plate because he wants pizza for dinner and not the chicken and veggies I have provided. Why? Because he is my Boog, my Booger Butt, my Pumpkin, my Little Man, my Baby Boy and I know, without a doubt, that one day when he is grown with children of his own he will seek advice from me on this very same thing. But instead of hearing ‘no, don’t want it’ or ‘go away’ he will look at me and say, “Thanks, Mom.”

The fine art of pretend play

For anyone who does not know me, which is likely to be the vast majority of anyone reading this, I have a small son. He turned two this summer and he is the light of my life. I know what you’re thinking…mom’s always say that. You very well may be correct, but I also meant it. Ten years ago I was not even sure I could have a child so Boog is like my little miracle baby.

Yikes! Before I start the boo-hooing let me get to the point of this post: pretend play.

Boog has finally entered the stage of his young life where he interacts with pretend play. You know, the stage in a young man’s (or lass’) life where they pretend to make a cake or pretend to drive their matchbox car on the “superhighway” in the living room or even pretend to “fly.” It is an amazing stage of development.

The power of human imagination never ceases to amaze me. Now I see it happening with my son and I am so thrilled! This is where the fun begins… We will get to build forts out of chairs and blankets and defend our turf from the nasty, snarling pirates who threaten our booty! YAAARRRGGGGGG! We may even get to rescue a damsel in distress from an evil tyrant who set a ginormous, scaly, fire-breathing dragon to guard her door! Egads!! The times we will have…

See I am a huge kid at heart and I suppose that is why I like fiction so much. I never grew out of my pretend play phase of development. I would like to think that is true of most, if not all, writers. We unlock the part of our brain that houses the pretend play and set it free into the world for all to pretend play with us. Not everyone has this ability and I think it is a fantastic one. It might even classify as a superpower! Do I dare hope…?

My DH has lost his pretend play ability, which I suppose is normal for some folk. He had it at one time I am certain, but then the left side of his brain claimed dibs and locked his over-active imagination away. There is nothing wrong with this so please do not get the wrong idea here. DH is fantastic with the logic stuff, which seems to elude me at times, so we make an equal balanced pair. Some people just ‘grow up’ while others, those like me (and quit kidding yourself, you’re in this group too), just…..don’t.

Fiction, especially the speculative fiction genres, allows us writers to keep a firm grasp on that inner child who still lives for pretend play. We need pretend play to survive in this crazy world of ours! We need that place, even if it’s just in our heads, where happy endings are a must, where the heroes win, where the villains lose, where magic is fully alive and well, where our deepest desires all come true and where we get to….well, pretend.

Am I looking forward to sharing the wonders of the imagination with my son? Abso-freakin-lutely! One day he will get big (I dare not say ‘grow up’) and he will make the decision to either sway toward the world of logic, reality, non-fiction or hold on to his inner child and continue the pretend play. Which do I prefer, you ask? It doesn’t matter. Because for now I have my little prince who will join me while we slay dragons, save the princess, rob the rich and give to the poor, leap tall buildings in a single bound, and every other bit that makes pretend play so much darned fun.