Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Donovan's Christmas list

Over the last few months, Donovan has asked me to cuddle with him before he goes to sleep. This isn't so much cuddling, as it is me lying next to him, listening to him talk and occasionally answering questions. Here, I have heard about who he likes at school, what he enjoys learning about, and things that make him sad or worried. Here, I have also given him advice, reassured him, and explained things, like what is a menstrual cycle. Whenever he asks if I will cuddle with him, despite how tired I am or how many other things I think I need to finish before I go to sleep, I try to remember that there will come a time in the not-too-distant future that this won't even be an option. And if I pass it by tonight, will he ask tomorrow. But sometimes he's already getting to bed late. And sometimes he has been a pill, and I don't feel like cuddling a pill.

Yesterday, Dono wasn't his usual easy-going self as he plowed through his math homework. I use the word "plowed" deliberately, as that really is the only way to describe how his pencil flies around the paper, nearly illegible until I make him fix it, barreling through problems, often skipping the instructions to "estimate" and just figuring it out. "Who cares about estimating when I can know the exact answer?" he asks, derisively. As I warned him that his attitude and tone wasn't setting himself up for cuddling before bed, he shot back as he marched up to the solitude of his bedroom, "I don't care - it's not like you're going to cuddle with me anyway. It's been like three weeks. You're NEVER going to cuddle me." *slamming door*

Now, it doesn't take a degree in psychology (good, because I don't have one) to understand that this kid was asking for my attention. It hadn't been even a full week, but if this kid wanted to spend a few minutes with me, then what else was I doing with my time. I flashed back to dropping him off in kindergarten and observing another mom dropping off her 6th grader, demanding he hug her goodbye. After he sullenly did so and then walked off, I asked her at what age they stop letting their moms kiss them goodbye. "Last year," she said, sadly. Then I flashed back to being a teenager at my aunt and uncle's home for family dinners. They had four boys and I watched how they treated their mom, with teasing and affection, and I had thought, "I want that someday." So I knew I needed to make these evening sessions ritual once more.

Last night, I laid down and said, "You've got five minutes - go." That's his cue to start talking. (I'd told him in the past he needed to come up with conversation or I was leaving.) So of course Christmas was the main topic and pretty soon I was saying that it was better to ask for a bunch of things because you're more likely to get a couple that you want, then if you were to ask for one impossible thing.

"Oh yes," he said. "I made a list."

Now, other people might think this a bit presumptive or selfish, but I actually encourage my kids to make lists. Of course we talk about what they can give others, but I love what they write down since it is often fueled by imagination. It's like a peek into their brains. A mini journal entry. (Except that now I'm making it an actual journal entry.)

He pulled out his list and handed it to me. First, I love that he titled it. Excellent.

"Should I turn on my desk light?" he asked.
"No, the Christmas lights are fine," I reassured him. (I always put up a string in their room during the Christmas season.)
"Ok. I don't want all of these things," he said. "Just like maybe three. But I was just writing stuff down."
"I love a good brainstorm," I said. "Let's see: remote control ferrari. Hoverboard...hmm."
"Yeah I just think they're cool," he said, laughing.
"A bike," I said. "Well maybe in the spring since there's snow out." (I had to throw him off the scent.)
I read on: a new rock or gem, yeah that sounds about right. And then this:
"A drone?" I asked. "What are you going to do with a drone?"
"Well, you know, take video from above," he said, smiling. "Like when we're sliding down the stairs or whatever."
"Hmm...ok that's probably not going to happen," I said. Except that I had actually already looked at some.
"Yeah, I know," he agreed. "I just thought of it, so I wrote it down."
I read on. Electric toothbrush? What kid asks for an electric toothbrush? Mental note: buy those this year. I was beginning to giggle at these.
"Instagram?" I asked, a little incredulously. "Nope."
"It would work on my iPad!" He reassured me, as if that was the issue.
"Not going to happen."
"Rats," he whispered, then added, "And I don't actually want a 3DS. I should erase that."
I am 100% sure if he got a 3DS, he'd love it. BUT, he recently saw how much they cost and since he also takes into consideration how much soccer costs, he decided he didn't want it. I'm ok with that.

But then this:
"A robotic squirrel? What's that?"
"I don't know - I was just thinking a robotic squirrel could be cool." Cue both of us giggling.
When I read dart board, he started to explain to me what a dart board actually was.
"Yeah, dude. I know what a dart board is."
"Oh. Ok." 
I had told him we could read by the Christmas lights, but when I read #16, I thought it said Rob.

"Rob? What's Rob?" I asked.
He burst out laughing. Then, gasping for breath, he said, "Rob! Not Rob! Rolo!" Cue more laughter as I told him I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get him a kid named Rob or one Rolo, and I wasn't sure which was a worse gift. One Rolo? If you don't pluralize that, you're getting just one. And I'll make it a mini.

And then the list got even better. When I read "Fixed Skateboard," my first thought was that it meant fixed-wheel or it was a type of skateboard. He clarified that he just wanted his existing skateboard fixed (which means new wheels/bearings since he washed his over the summer, not realizing that ruins the wheels). All right, that sounds reasonable.

Then, cardboard for pillowboarding, a sport they've invented which involves putting giant pieces of cardboard on the stairs and then sliding down on their pillows. They were doing it on our short stairs until yours truly pulled out an enormous piece and challenged them to go down the big section of stair and land in a folded-up memory foam mattress topper. I'm a bit of a genius that way. Over time, the cardboard wears down, so he wants more. More cardboard.

And then, the piece de resistance, number 20: 

"New pillow," I read, a little confused at first. My eyes jumped ahead of my voice and I remembered that his current pillow, the one our heads were resting on, had a rip along one of the edges. And then the ridiculousness of the request hit me. And I couldn't even talk as the hysterical laughter washed over me. I sounded like I was crying as I gasped out, "Not...ripped!" And then fell back into the uncontrollable giggles.

Donovan was giggling right with me and after about a minute of this he said, "I'll admit, I don't even know what you're laughing about, but I'm laughing at you because you're laughing so hard."

That made me laugh harder - he was being serious about the pillow. Tears were streaming from my eyes into my ears. I haven't laugh-cried like that in a long time. It felt more cleansing than a good sneeze.

"First of all," I explained, "That you're asking for something as practical as a pillow. Like, your parents won't just give you a pillow - you have to ask for it to be gifted to you. That's funny to me. Second, that you've specified 'not ripped.' As if someone was going to give you a pillow and then they took a second look at your list and then thought, 'Oh wait, he said NOT ripped.' Shoot. Now what?! Guess I'll give him a Rolo instead."

And then I couldn't stop giggling. This wonderful, thoughtful, hilarious, creative, loving boy of mine wants a pillow for Christmas. Part of me wanted to go get him a pillow from the linen closet right then because WE HAVE LIKE FIVE IN THERE, and part of me thought I should wait until Christmas to give him a glorious un-ripped pillow. Through the tears I tried to read the next one but my vision was blurry so I only read "pooper scooper (for me)" and the laughter washed back over me. Dono quickly pointed out he had written, "Jk - for Albus." 

As I left his room and walked down the hall, I could still hear him giggling in his room - that giggle of pride knowing you've scored a major comedic win by making your parent laugh so hard they cried, or their voice went super high, or they were gasping for breath. I still view that as the holy grail of conversations with my parents. 

The kid has asked for some legit things, knowing full-well he may only get one. But he has also asked for things like a new rock, an electric toothbrush, a fixed skateboard and a new pillow. Nothing will make me happier than to grant him these things. 

But not the Robotic Squirrel. Apparently the government funded one a couple years ago and it cost $325,000. I'm not really sure who had that idea, but I'm sure Donovan would like to take a meeting with that guy.


laura said...

Well, he only wants three things, so: Cardboard, Instagram, and a single Rolo. Cheapest Christmas ever! Throw in the pillow and he'll feel like a king.

Or just get him a hoverboard so I can play with it next time I visit!

Wanda said...

So now I am laughing out loud sitting at my computer.... not quite the high pitched, tears down the face laugh, but if I had been there in person I would have totally been doing that!