Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Charley Zone

On mornings when Charley is scheduled to work he comes out of his room (that is, when we can get him up), and sits on the couch. I’m usually sitting at the desk working on the computer. That’s okay as long as I don’t open my mouth, but oh buddy, if I do? It’s the kiss of death! Dad can talk all he wants to, but my verbiage is not allowed.

Like this morning. Brad said, “Honey, why don’t you ride with us? We’ll drop Charley off at the van (that’s where he catches his ride to Athens where he works at the sheltered workshop), and then we’ll go to breakfast.”

I stopped typing. "Did someone say breakfast?" As in French toast?

“You type Mom.” It was not a request. In other words, would I please butt out?

“We’ll need to take the green car,” I said.

“No not,” Charley said.

Did we really need to talk about this right that minute?
Perhaps we could have made our plans out of earshot, but no, we continued to make matters worse by opening our big mouths.

“How about Huddle House?” Brad said.

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

“You go to work!” Charley said.

“Don’t you want me to go with you?” I asked.

“No not Mommy head.” (He’s not allowed to call me a butt-head, so he calls me a Mommy head instead).

“I heard that,” I said.

He started to laugh.

“No not.”

“Dad and I are going out to breakfast, would you like to go? We could leave early,” I said knowing fully well he wouldn't take us up on that because he hates to eat in restaurants. Trust me; he didn’t get that from Brad and me.

“No Mommy, you go to work!” he said.

I can read between the lines; he didn't want Brad and I to be in the same car because if we were then that meant he didn't get to ride in the red car alone with Dad, just tooling down the road like two cool dudes.

I get it. I’m an interloper.

Likewise, it’s the same for me at nighttime. He wants me all to himself and tonight is no exception.

My son has a way of letting me know when he wants something. It goes something like this:

He comes to the door, peeks in and then backs up. He’s not ready to come in, he just wants to know that I’m there. He fades back into the shadow to formulate his plan. I can hear him in the hallway practicing what he is going to say, and just when he thinks he’s got it, he’ll step into the room. Now. You must understand that if he even gets a hint that his Dad is coming down the hall, he’ll retreat and wait until his Dad is no longer within earshot. Not that he doesn’t love his Dad, it’s quite the opposite. He adores Brad. It’s just that in his brain night time is reserved just for me. Also, I think he thinks he can only deal with one of us at a time. Go figure. So he hovers in the doorway for a moment to make sure the coast is clear.

I'm at the computer again.

The boy has entered the room.

He's going to say something.

He's standing over me.

Any minute now there will be some request spilling out of his mouth.

Silence. More hovering.

Maybe he needs a little encouragement. “Hi son,” I say.

“You’re my mom.” He says.

He usually says this when he’s buttering me up.

I stop typing and look up.

“Sherry honey,” he says.

Uh oh, here it comes, he’s repeating the sweet talk he’s heard Dad say and he sees no problem whatsoever with using it on me. I wonder what he wants.

I better answer him or he might stand there all night.

“Hi son, what’s up?”

“Shadow Zone.” He says.


“Shadow Zone.” He says again.

As in Vincent Price with fangs?

He’s wanting a video and thinks I can blink my eyes like I Dream of Genie and when the smoke dissipates he will have the movie.

“I don’t like Shadow Zone,” I say, “It’s scary.”

“I love it,” he says.

“How do you know?”

“I love it,” he says again.

“I don’t like it.”

Next he tries flattery. “Sherry darlin’...”

“Oh, now it’s Sherry darlin’ is it?”

“Mommy, you order Shadow Zone.” He points to the computer. He means do not pass go, do not collect $200, it’s a full fledged movie emergency.

He likes to see his videos arrive in the mailbox.

“Sorry son, the internet is down.”

“Huh?” he says.

“That means I can’t order it right now.” He knows I'm stalling because he's got his arms crossed and giving me that look as if to say prove it. "Come on, Sherry," he says.

"Sorry, no can do," I say.

“You got money,” he says. Oh really? Says who?

“Not for that,” I say, “you’re not getting that movie.”

“Yes I are,” he says.

“No son, it’s scary.”

“It no scare me mom.”

“It doesn’t?” I say.

“It no scare me, cause it don’t know me.”

"What's that again?"

He continues to explain. "I not scared Mom, it don't know me."

So that's the secret. If it doesn't know you it can't scare you. Well I guess that’s logical. Perhaps I should try that the next time I look in the mirror before my morning coffee.

“Son, I don’t think so,” I say.

Now he’s massaging my shoulders. That turns me to mush and he knows it.

“You know I like that,” I say.

“Now you order the Shadow Zone?”

So I pull up the Amazon website and search around until I find The Shadow Zone. I was right, he’s talking about Vincent Price.

“That’s it!” he squeals, pointing at the movie. “Order darn Shadow Zone!”

I tell him I will think about it.

Maybe he will go away now.

“Welp, I go my room now,” he says, and turns off the lights leaving me completely in the dark except for the light coming from the computer monitor. He’s heading towards his room.

Shut the door. Come on son, shut the door. Do it. The door shuts.

Whew, for a moment there I thought I might actually have to order that movie.

I turn my attention back to the keyboard. I may be sitting here in the dark, but hey, it don’t scare me cause it don’t know me.

Wait a minute, I just heard something creaking. Something’s opening. It’s his door. Something’s lurking in the hallway. Something’s just outside my door.

A face appears in the darkness. Yep, there's no question about it...I'm in the Charley zone.

“You order that movie yet?” he says.

“You go back to your room yet?”

“Stop bugging me,” he says.

“Then you stop bugging me,” I say.

He comes over and throws his arms around me.

“I love you mommy.”

“I love you too son.”

“Welp, I go my room now."

“Welp, I got an idea, why don’t you go to your room now?”

“Stop bugging me!” he says.

“Goodnight my love.”

He gets half way back down the hallway again and then wouldn’t you just know it, he’s lurking again.

This time he whispers in a scary tone of voice, “You got the Shadow Zone?”

Two can play at this game. I sneak to the door and whisper in my scariest voice, “Only the shadow knows…”

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