As a young girl, I used to look forward to days of being able to watch reruns of Designing Women. I particularly liked the character, Julia Sugarbaker, played by Dixie Carter. Maybe it has something to do with the awful rumour that I am somewhat talkative, but I admired her tenacity. She wasn't easily intimidated and never backed down from an argument and she was highly opinionated. I used to love to watch as she would launch into one of her tirades, rendering anyone who opposed her into a pile of disintegrated debris. Perhaps its because I was never able to do that myself. Oh I talk a good talk, but when it comes to standing up for myself, I get the shakes, my eyes water with tears and the right words never come out. I hate it. Over the years I've grown stronger, but I still can never say exactly what I want to say when I need to. Julia Sugarbaker suffered no such fate.
Now, it is no secret that my son, Shakir, has been blessed with the gift of gab. At the moment, he has absolutely no problem challenging me when he thinks I am being unfair. I spoke to him one time about raising his voice to me and he asked me how I could accuse him of raising his voice when his father in the next room couldn't hear him. Now that's brass. Growing up, I would have gotten floored for something like that. Anyway, it was this morning that his father made the comment that if Shakir were a real super hero, he would certainly wear his enemies down by talking them to death. I got one of those big stupid grins on my face and I told him thanks. It makes sense to me and so I am going to breathe this to life in my little fantasy super hero world.
Most animated hero shows have repeatedly portrayed chatty villains who, before carrying out their heinous plan, would capture the hero and proceed to give length dialogue about their intentions, thereby buying the hero time to escape and defeat them. What if, my super hero son were to turn up and begin his own length dialogue about sporadic and mundane things like the sun being hot and fun facts like the fact that some animals are born blind at first? I think the villain would be thrown off and would actually begin to underestimate the super hero, who would be quite casually boring him to death, or at the very least, distracting him long enough for me to swoop in. I bet the criminal mastermind would beg me to place in prison or in an asylum in solitary confinement. This is worth considering. I really ought to capitalise on this child's expertise.
For the last couple of months, I've been telling you that my husband is a super villain. I've been keeping a secret journal which I plan to take to the oracle to see if there is anything that can be done to redeem him so it with a heavy heart that I must tell you that I fear his villainous ways may have rubbed off on Jaheim.
Like the one who came before him, Jaheim has a quick wit that at best leaves you shell-shocked and dumbfounded and at worst, puts him in trouble for rudeness. I've been watching him closely and it hasn't escaped my notice how easily he is able to put his brother in trouble. You'd think by now that Shakir would learn too, but Shakir is a super hero and like my brother says, super heroes are always hopeful that they can spark a reformation... or something like that, anyway. A fine example would be me giving them my consent to take a shower together, despite those warning bells that gonged loudly in my head. I gave them explicit instructions that there was to be no horsing around, no bickering, no jumping up and down in muddy puddles (to the geniuses behind Peppa Pig, take note that active boys in search of adventure need no further influence other than their minds) and they were to bathe properly, without soaking down the entire bathroom. It took less than five minutes for the bickering to start. The water, from the sound of things, was on full mast and from the snippets of arguments I picked up, neither of them were actually in the shower. Jaheim was in the toilet area, screaming that he needed to pee and Shakir held him at the middle, bossily telling him that he didn't know that all the time. Jaheim's feet were about two inches off the floor and they made a comical sight - Shakir trying desperately to carry Jaheim back to the shower and Jaheim thrashing about. Did I mention that the shower was on, at full mast? I gave Jaheim the first lash. He wailed loudly and scurried into the shower. Trying to give Shakir the lash could be likened to trying to dance with a left-footed partner - a lot of hard work. He got an extra lash for the extra effort. He scurried into the shower wailing. In true mother fashion, I yelled as loudly as I could, in my angst, "shut up!" Jaheim buttoned his lips, which wobbled for about a second or two, before he got himself under control. Shakir quietened but he kept wailing and moaning for another few minutes before he finally stopped. The funny thing about it is that Shakir could have easily saved himself the spanking if he had just complained for Jaheim. That's a lesson it feels like its taking him a lifetime to learn.
Also this week, I think it was Monday, Shakir asked me if it would be possible to grow up and become a real super hero. I asked him to explain, after all, I consider myself to be a real super hero. But when kids ask these questions, especially Shakir, I've leaned its best to ensure that we're both on the same page. Well, although I would rather not have heard it, I listened while he eloquently detailed what he was asking and I realised that he was actually speaking of catching real life criminals like real world iron man or green arrow. I was forced to tamp down the glowing pride that swelled inside me and explain that society would view him as a villain and refer to him as a vigilante. His work would not be appreciated. Then, later, I happened to see my super villain husband lift my two year old into his arms while saying, with a grin that spread from ear to ear, "come here, my super villain." It is imperative that speak with the oracle soon to find out what must be done to turn my husband away from his evil ways before he corrupts my young son.
Its been a crazy week. I've been battling with exhaustion and now, I'm battling a cold. I've also spent most of the minutes that I've been on line recently, searching for a means of publishing the book I've been writing for the last few years. I finally got serious about it and completed it last year and now, I'm to the editing stages. I admit that I haven't been juggling well and I kinda neglected the blog for a spell, but I assure you that I'm back. The world needs this working supermom, even if it doesn't know it yet!
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Shakir's school for a class level meeting. While most parents would be interested to hear from their child's teachers about how their progress and what challenges they face, I was more interested in hearing about his behaviour. I relaxed in my seat when she kindly informed me that he behaved well. She did mention a bit of rough play that the boys engage in at lunch time and he, along with a few others, had to be spoken to. No big deal there as far as I was concerned. She went on to discuss school work and like me, she is aware that the level of work he is doing isn't challenging to him. His main difficulty is his handwriting. So far so good.
She told me that Shakir likes to draw and will sometimes hurry down his work so he can ask for a piece of paper to draw. She went on to advise that he would doodle in his book beneath his desk when he thinks she isn't looking and that if something needs to be drawn on the board, he always volunteers to do it. By now, I admit that I was laughing heartily at the idea that my son's biggest transgression is that he draws. Then it all went downhill.
She mentioned that he told her he is learning to play the steel pan and the drums and sometime during that conversation, Shakir passed by to add that he was also interested in learning to play the piano and flute. That statement alone almost took my life. She began to talk about the cost of the lessons and the price of the instruments and all I could hear in my head was the loud mess it would sound like while he is at home practicing. I must have had at least dozen massive heart attacks while she engaged the boy in discussion about remembering her once he became a famous musician. In fact, the more I think about it, I'm fairly certain that I'm giving you this recount from the so-called 'other side'. "He like a piece of drumming," I recovered long enough to hear her say to me and that's when I remembered that there is another miniature musician living at my house.
That miniature musician, who is appropriately named Jaheim, can drum right along with Shakir to most beats. When Shakir is at steel pan rehearsal and Jaheim and I are waiting for it to be over, often times, Jaheim will tell me that the microphone needs to be plugged in so that he can sing. At home, he likes to strum the little toy guitar he owns and most recently, I noticed that he had it perched on his shoulder like a violin and he had a stick to play it with. At this point, I began to wonder where precisely I went wrong. I had planned to churn out artists and writers, not musicians. Let the musicians raise the musicians. Right now, my musician siblings are likely nodding their heads and smiling their pleasure at this small victory.
I have to go back to the drawing board and rethink how best to proceed with this situation, otherwise, heaven help me.
People are often shocked when they learn that Jaheim is only two. It isn't that he's big for his age, but rather, due to his vocabulary and apparent intellect. It was the same with Shakir. It seemed like Shakir took his time learning to speak and when he felt confident that he wouldn't stumble over his words, he started to talk. He shocked people by using words they never expected a child his age to know and it took ages for me to get some people to realise he was a whole year younger than they thought. He hasn't shut up yet either. Now Jaheim is more of the silent type who conveys his messages with just a raised eyebrow or a pout, etc. Don't be confused into thinking that he has any sort of difficulty expressing himself verbally though, because he doesn't.
The thing about Jaheim is that once he's interested in something, he'll sit quietly or for the length of its duration. Once, he sat in a pew at church during Shakir's steelpan lesson, never moving as he watched the instructor working with the children. On the other hand, Shakir is a little busybody, who needs to be constantly occupied or prepare yourself to talk a lot - either by disciplining him or by answering a lifetime of questions. Anyway, on Saturday, I, along with my cousin-in-law, took them to Chefette along with their cousin, who is also male and close to their age. That little boy is very intelligent and the three of them together are a triple threat. Those boys had the time of their lives running around Chefette's little playground and climbing the thing - I apologise, but I really don't know what they call it. It looks like a little obstacle course for lack of a better description and it has three levels. There is a sign that indicates that the upper level is for big kids. I dare them to tell that to my two year old. He sees the other children climbing to the highest level and he will try it. The first time I saw him do it, I was with my brother, who calmly shrugged his shoulders and asked me what my problem was. He told me his daughter was a little thing like Jaheim when she started climbing to that third level too, so I suppose there is a bit of monkey or acrobat in the family genes.
It was while we were on our way back home that we cut across the street to take a shortcut and halfway through the gap, we met a woman having car trouble. She asked if we knew any mechanics in the area. As luck would have it, there are two mechanics who work right in front of me, so I called my husband and asked him if he could get one of them to come over. While he tried to get it organised, I stayed with the lady. We were standing in a big open lot that looked like it was a vacant house spot. There were three large garbage cans turned on their sides on the pasture and someone had dumped an old tree on the property but there was plenty of space for them to run around. My cousin-in-law supervised while I talked to the woman and waited until my husband - the honorary mechanic of the day - came. Well, the boys had a good run around and then Jaheim decided that the twigs from the tree would make brilliant drumsticks and the cans could pass for steelpans. Soon, he was banging happily on a can and making what he considered to be music. This gave Shakir and Caleb the wonderful idea to do the same thing and soon the whole area was flooded with their loud melody. So there I was thinking that boys will be boys when my cousin-in-law started to sing. I hadn't thought things could get much worse before then. Deep in my heart, I said a prayer that my husband would come soon and that no one would call the police to have our little band removed from the area.
Allison is mother to two active boys who challenge her on a day to day basis with their escapades. In her other life, Allison juggles a regular day job as a marketing executive in a health food organization. At night, when everyone is asleep, she dreams of being a fulltime writer and super hero.