Sunday, September 23, 2007

The God of Monsters

My boys are really into monsters and all things creepy crawly. Henry probably gets this from Luke, who has always had a natural fascination with the dramatic and macabre. I used to be concerned about this (something about my three year old Luke yelling, "I'm going to chop your finger off and the bathtub will fill with blood!" didn't sit right with me) but after talking to a lot of mamas, I came to the conclusion that many little boys are into "scary stuff." But, in true Luke style, he forgoes "interest" and goes straight for "obsession."

I experienced something very reassuring just a couple of weeks ago. I was volunteering at the face painting booth at Luke's school during the back to school party with another mom. Most of the boys Luke's age requested something superhero-related, and most of the boys about age 8 or older requested something sports-related. One ten year old, however, who seemed very nice, asked for a vampire mouth on one cheek. Later, he came back and asked for a scorpion and "You bug me!" on the other cheek. As he left, he said, "Bye Mom" to the woman I was working with.

"Oh, he's your son!" I commented. "I was just thinking that my Luke will be like that when he is older. Luke is really into scary things," I added.

"Yes, my son has always been like that. They just come out that way," she said.

Whew. That is strangely reassuring, although I was beginning to suspect as much. I'm not into scary stuff. In fact, I despise scary movies and had to be taken, screaming, out of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves ride at Disneyland as a child. And we never exposed Luke to any monster/villain/bloody stuff as a young child. But he has always been drawn to it.

When watching the BBC version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I had to turn it off when Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who has been turned into a dragon, begins to turn back into a little boy. As he scraped the scales away from his body--a good thing, since he can become a little boy again--Luke began to scream. It was a scream that I recognized, because it was the same scream that issued from my mouth when, at age eight, the whole haunted house at a school carnival had to be dismantled in order to startle me from my hysteria.

"Luke, this is good. It doesn't hurt Eustace. Now he can become a little boy again. He isn't a real dragon," I said in my best reassuring mommy voice. But Luke would have none of it.

Luke had this same reaction when the beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast turned back into prince Eric. Every time Luke watched that movie, I had to turn it off before the transformation occurred.

Clearly, Luke is a little boy with great sympathy for these oft-understood creatures. Creatures that I have always associated with evil, but that Luke believes have a place beside God.

When I turned out the light at bed time the other night, Henry began to whine. "I scared!" he cried. "Scared of monsters!"

Poor Henry. He has been exposed to too much scary stuff for such a little guy.

So, trying to reassure him, I said, "There is no one in our house except Mom, Dad, Luke and Henry. Mom and Dad will keep you safe. And your Guardian Angel is here to protect you, and God is here to protect you."

"Where God? What God look like? God is monster?" asked Henry.

Oh boy.

"No, God isn't a monster. God is Jesus and also like a big daddy who loves you," I said, sleepy and trying to pull a good answer out of my dream-tinged thoughts.

"God is everywhere," Luke added. "In church, and also in our house and in monsters, too."

Oh, yes. God is in monsters, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Like An Ugly Mama Ape

Yesterday, I was braiding my dirty hair into two braids. Luke helped me afix the ponytail holder, and said, "Mom, you look beautiful!" I began filing the moment in my precious memories file. After all, the sun was streaming in the window and Luke and I were spending time playing games of his design as I ignored the filthy house around me. Henry slept in the next room.

"I'm glad you don't look like an ugly ape this time. You know, an ugly mama ape," he added.

I really can't think of where this comment is coming from. Perhaps this is worth delving into with him, though. It is always nice to avoid looking like an ugly mama ape if one is able.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ISO Friend

ISO friend. Single or married. Must have kids. 4-6 year old boy ideal.

I love walking laps around the playground, putting out fires, PBJ and goldfish picnics, and issuing warnings that sticks cannot hit bodies.

No unsolicited advice, reliance on benadryl in parenting, or girl-only households.

Must laugh at threats to life, potty language, and ninja kicks.

* * *

So I'm looking for new friends here in my new town. And I must say, it is a little hard negotiating this process with two kids in tow. When I was first making friends in Chicago, Luke was a baby. He didn't care who I hung around with. He just liked to get out of the house and stare at a face other than mine.

But now I have these two little stick-wielding, ninja-kicking, poop-talkin' boys with me. And it is so complicated.

I must like the mom. But also, she must be nice to my kids. And my kids must get along with her kids. And not, you know, like, gang up on them and beat them into submission with sticks.

The other day, we met a potential new friend at the park. I liked her. The playdate went well, but ended with Luke screaming, repeatedly, "I never want to play with you again! I don't like you!" at the 5 year old.

We all left in a hurry.

A few days later, I ran into the woman, and tried to make light of the situation.

"Yah, Luke is a pretty intense guy. But we are making progress. He used to hit other kids at the park. Then he started using his words and yelling things like, 'I'm going to kill you!' Now, finally, he is saying things that are more socially acceptable, although still not very friendly," I offered, adding a little laugh.

She laughed tensely.

The search continues.