“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Friday, December 7, 2012

Impossible to Outsmart

I feel like everything happens all at once at my house. It's actually one those things where it's probably that way for everyone, but I think it only happens that way for me because, well, I'm just that kind of person. So, if your life is like that, too, well, I feel your pain.

Anyway, Noah has been impressively misbehaved lately. He'll do something really reprehensible--like yesterday when he didn't like that Joey was winning at a Wii game, and so he poked Joey in the chest with the Wii remote--and then be SOO sorry when he gets in trouble for it. But you know what? He's never sorry enough. To me, true contrition is a conscious choice to avoid repeating the hurtful behavior. Noah, on the other hand, seems to feel that the word "sorry" on its own is a magical blanket that covers all crimes. Wouldn't that just be a lovely world to live in?

Yesterday morning, I asked him several times to stop running through the house. Each time, he was genuinely shocked by the fact that I KNEW he was running. Apparently, HE doesn't hear the thunder beneath his feet, or notice the house shaking, or the dishes rattling in the China cabinets. Must be all that distracting fun he's having. Finally, I said, "Noah, you better stop running or you will be in MAJOR trouble."

"I wasn't running," he said, and had I been stupid, or even stupidER, or, even still, just not his mother, his innocent voice might have convinced me. But guess what? I am not stupid, and I am his mother. And, of course, I heard the noise.

"Noah..." I prompted in my most warning teacher voice.

"I'm not lying," he insisted.

"Okay," I said, deciding to play it down. "That's fine. If you're lying, if you're not lying, that's okay. Because God knows. And Santa knows. And Happy the elf knows. And on Christmas morning, if you don't have any presents, then I'll know, too."

Noah froze. He thought for a long, serious moment. Then he said, "Okay. I'm sorry for lying," and scampered off to play a nice, quiet, still game. (For about ten minutes.)

But THEN...

I caught him causing yet more trouble later on, and then today! I mean, this kid just doesn't take a hint. It was time to clean up the playroom (the New and Improved Playroom, score a million points for this Super Awesome Stay-at-Home Mom), and Joey was--gasp--working alone.

"Noah," I said, "it is NOT fair that Joey is doing all the work and you are coloring."

"No, it's okay," he assured me calmly, not looking up from his coloring book. "'Cause see, I don't want to clean. It makes me tired. And it could hurt my knees." Now he looked up. "It could. Really."

I rolled my eyes, and ordered, "Come with me. We're having a talk."

Noah knows what this means, and he dragged his feet and made thirty naughty faces at once as he followed me from the playroom.

Once out of earshot of Joey (the Tattle Tale King; the self-satisfied, self-righteous older child), I knelt down in front on Noah. Right away he started to complain. Loudly.

"Listen to me," I said. "I'd like to tell you a little story."

Noah quieted down instantly, deciding this might not be so bad.

"Once upon a time," I began, "Santa stood in his workshop all alone. It was the night before Christmas, and there was only one present left in the workshop. But on Santa's list, there were TWO little boys. Do you know what that means?"

Noah's eyes widened. "One boy doesn't get a present."

"That's right. So Santa thought about this for a long time. He checked his files on each boy. One of the little boys was a very good little boy, but he made lots of mistakes. He was always sorry later, but he just kept on making bad choices."

I waited for that to sink in, and then went on. "The other little boy on the list was also a very good boy, but do you know what?"

Noah was really hooked now. He barely moved as he said, "What?"

"That second little boy was really good ALL THE TIME. He thought about others before himself. He did what his mommy asked him the FIRST time she asked. He never, ever said mean things. He didn't NEED to say he was sorry."

Noah's face went from mesmerized to extremely, and let's face it, intelligently suspicious.

"So, Noah," I said, knowing my moment, "which boy did Santa choose to give the present?"

Noah was completely silent for about ten seconds. Then, as if in slow motion, his mouth fell open, and out of it came the longest, loudest wail of all time.

"I'm not getting ANY PRESENTS!!!!!!!" he cried.

"Well, Noah," I said, copying his innocent voice from earlier, "I didn't say that. This is just a story. Just a little story about Santa. I didn't say this was actually going to happen."

Noah's sobs choked him up for a moment. Then he swallowed, glared at me through big, fat tears, and shouted accusingly, "But I KNOW what you MEANT!"

 Too busy to help.

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