Saturday, October 17, 2009

You give me goosebumps

Things are a little more quiet than usual at the end of the hall. Ususally there’s a bunch of whooping and yeehaahing, laughing, and giggling, and “Oooo, bad word,” and “Oh, man, oh man!” going on. But not at the moment. It’s quiet. A little too quiet.

It all started last night at around 11:00 when number one son got some kind of energy burst from who knows where, and the next thing I know I see him carrying a garbage bag down the hallway. Then I heard him talking in his room.

“You a mess!” he said.

I had already gone to bed but could hear a bunch of stuff being shuffled and moved around.

“Mom said clean you.”

Sounds good to me, I thought, and went back to watching Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know why, but I can never seem to catch this movie from the beginning.

“Move outta da way.”

Uh oh, we’re barking orders now.

“I said move you’,” he said, and then crash, bang, clang.

It was a familiar sound – he’s kicked the garbage can again as if it’s going to empty itself.

At one point he came to my bedroom door and said, “Mom, I clean my room now.”

I said, “That’s nice.”

He said, “No lookin’”

I said, “Okay, I won’t,” and then turned up the volume on the TV.

“Hey!” he said and then stomped across the room and proceeded to turn my fan on. He knew I’d turned it off, and he stood looking at me with his hands on his hips. And after he went to all the trouble of turning it on.

“I helpin’ you fan on Mom.”

I was freezing. “Thanks son, goodnight now,” I said and pulled the covers up to my shoulders.

“No night again. I clean my room.”


“No look.”

Not a chance.

More shoving, pulling, pushing, whatever. The room was getting rearranged, that’s for sure.

“Mom, I done.”

“That’s great honey.”

“You come look now.”

As in…come out from under the covers?

But Pride and Prejudice…

“Here I come,” I said.

“Shut your eyes,” he said.

“Okay.” I squinted of course, just to make sure I didn’t run into the wall.

He took my hand, led me to his room and flung the door open.


“Oh wow…you’ve certainly done a job here,” I said.

And a remarkable one at that. He had managed to move the mess from one side of his room to the other. The path to his bed was completely blocked.

I guess this means no ambushing him with eye drops.

“See? I do good!”

“Yea boy,” I said and slapped him a high five.

“Whelp, I watch my movie now,” he said.

“Whelp, I go back to bed now,” I said.

He waited until he saw me get in bed and then he came into the room and covered me back up with the blanket and kissed me on the cheek. Was that BBQ sauce on his lips?

Satisfied with himself, he returned to his room and shut the door.

More moving, pushing, shoving.

What in the world was going on in there?

After who knows how long the door opened again.

“Mom, I clean my room.”

“I thought we already went through this.”

“More clean,” he said.

“Okay, goodnight sweetheart.”

“Mom, you look my room.”

Once again I went to the hallway and he said, “No peekin’” and flung the door open.

He swung his arm out as far as it would go with a crescendo, “TA DAH!”

Well knock me over because the room was totally picked up, with the exception of course of what I call the grunge-cleaning, and that requires Mom attacking the grime with a dust rag, some spray Oxyclean, a broom and a dust pan. And that wasn’t happening at 12:00 midnight, you could count on that.

Everything was in his closet except for the DVDs, videos, pile of batteries, cassette player, mirrors, and his little white portable DVD player that are on his bed. The other side of his bed is reserved for his body.

I said, “Son, you did a fantastic job, I’m so proud of you.”

He took a bow, hugged me, and said, “Now you love me?”

“I’ve always loved you son.”

“I love you too Mommy,” he said, and shut the door.

Once again I heard him talking to his toys. “I good boy.”

So I made my way down the hallway to turn off the light. On my way I remembered a new Goosebumps DVD I had stuck in my purse earlier.

I knocked on his door holding the white bag.

“Son, every time I look at you, you give me Goosebumps,” I said, trying to give him a hint. He doesn’t have school in the morning. He can’t go back to work until Monday, so what the heck, seize the moment and reward good behavior.

He jumped to his feet.

“What dat?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Thanks the Lord!” There’s nothing Charley loves more than a new movie.

He looked in the bag and gave me a what-in-the-heck-is-that look.

“It’s a Goosebumps movie, you’ll like it, I promise,” I said.

“Mom, no that again. I want good one.”

Hmm...Me thinks he is displeased.

“Son, you are not being very nice,” I said, “You could at least try being a little grateful.”

“Grapefruit, where?”

“I said grateful. That means thankful.”

He looks at the video. He looks at me. He looks at the room.

“I clean my room.”


“I clean room good,” he says.

“I know you did.”

“Now I get good movie?”

I stuck out my hand. “Give it back I said.”


“Come on, if you don’t like it you don’t have to keep it.”

“No way.”

“Then stop complaining about it.”

“Warry mom.”

“Affection, and I do mean a big dose of it.”

Another kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks Mom.”

“You’re welcome son.”

So I went and got back in bed just in time for more Pride and Prejudice.



“Mom, I cold.”

“Me too.”

“I cold here.”

This time I covered him up.

“Thanks Mom.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Nite Mom.”

“Good night Gorilla,” I said.

A day has passed since that little episode, and I just got home from work.

He says, “Mom, you got me a prize?”

“I’ve decided not to get you any more surprises,” I said.

Well that gets his undivided attention.

“Come onnnnn Sheeeeerry!”

“No, all you do is complain about the movies I’m getting you so you can just forget it buster.”

“Mom, I promise ever again,” he says.

“You sure about that?”


“Honest Injun?”


Darn it, he thinks I’ve gotten him The Indian in the Cupboard movie; nice going Sherry.

Son, that’s just an expression.


Now for the acid test.

I pull out another Goosebumps movie from my purse. Now I ask you, am I completely void of any sense? What do I expect, a different reaction? Who was it who said that doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results is the definition of insanity?

The movie has to be in a bag you know, or it isn’t considered an official surprise. I hand him the bag with the movie.

He peeks inside.

He sees the Goosebumps movie.

He thinks I’m playing a joke on him.

“Mom, you funny homan (he means woman)”

“I’m not being funny.”

He starts to laugh.

The problem is that I’m dead serious.

“Remember, you promised not to complain.”

And he hasn’t. Complained, that is. Come to think of it he hasn’t done much else either.

It’s quiet in his room. Creepy silence. Make some noise, will ya'?

The last I looked he was sitting in the middle of the bed with the movie on the floor. It’s not worthy of joining the ranks of Toy Story, the Lion King, the Fugitive, and Men in Black in their respective places on his bed. No, this movie lives on the floor, with the outer wrapper undisturbed.

“Aren’t you at least going to watch it? I say. “How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t watch it?”

No answer.

I have to give him credit. He doesn’t like this new movie choice of mine, but at least he’s not complaining.

I tell him I might be persuaded to sit down at the computer tomorrow and help him pick out a few movies that he will actually like.

“You got that Mask of Zorro?”

“No, but I do have Goosebumps,” I say.

Or not.

I can hear him from all the way down the hall.

“Hmmmmfffff! Hmmmmpppppfffff! RATS! No bumps, no. No goosebumps ever again!”


  1. Your blog should be required reading for all parents -- especially parents of "eternal children".
    It's the LOL prescription for sleep deprivation.
    I can't wait until your book is published.