Monday, May 3, 2010

It's my money and I want it now!

Charley loves riding the school bus because he loves his bus driver. (That's Crystal on the right, and Amy on the left - he likes Amy too). As far as he’s concerned, Crystal (Crystalt) as he calls her, belongs to him. She is to pay attention to him. She is to bring him a beer for the ride home (it’s really a root beer but he calls it a beer because he thinks it makes him look cool). So, Crystal being the good natured person she is, brings him his “beer” and brings him back up the mountain. There are those days, however, when things come up and she is unable to pick him up or bring him home. Charley just hates that. One of those days was today.

We received one of those letters in the mail from the Social Security office. I don’t know about the rest of the families with special needs kids, but whenever we get one of those letters it is a heart stopping moment.

“What do you think they want?” one of us says.

“I don’t know, but we better call right away,” says the other.

So we do a stampede to the phone and dial the number five hundred thousand times only to get a recording that says if we’ll leave our name and number someone will get back with us which we know is a big fat lie because no one ever calls us back, and the only way to find out what they want is to go directly to the office with the letter in hand and wait for what seems like forever to be seen by an interviewer.

And we do this because when you are summoned to the office you had better show your face because they state clearly in the letter that if you let the “appointment” date pass you by they will stop the SSI check, which is the kiss of death because the last thing you want is for your child not to have some form of income should anything happen to you.

So, once a year we turn ourselves in. We haven’t had to do that in a long time because we haven’t received SSI for Charley since we lived in New York and that was only for a 5 month period until I found part time work. We paid consequences for signing up for SSI back then because they sent us a nasty letter stating that they had “overpaid” us and that we owed them several thousands of dollars, so we didn’t want to get involved with that organization again. Still, you do what you have to do.

That was 15 years ago. Now that our son is an adult we thought we had better sign him up again so he can have some independence and let's face it, the five dollars he was earning monthly at the sheltered workshop might buy him one chicken nuggets meal, french fries, and a Doctor Pepper (with no ice of course). It would hardly be enough to sustain him.

So, sign up we did. That was last year, and like clock work we received the recertification letter. This morning we piled into the car and then headed down the mountain. But not before I officially made him mad. He likes to be the last one out of the house because that means he can monitor the door to make sure it doesn’t get locked. Charley doesn’t appreciate a locked door because that means he has to wait for us to get out of the car and unlock it for him when we return home. So this morning, in true Charley fashion, he stood in front of the door, blocking me so I could not get to the lock.

“You first,” he said.

“No, you first,” I said.

“Mommy, go.”

"No, YOU go," I said.

“You want the umbrella?” I said and handed it to him. As he opened it and bounded down the stairs I turned around and locked the door. He did not notice, of course, because he was busy playing with the umbrella. I proceeded to follow along behind him, running between the raindrops.

“Where goin’ Daddy Brad?” he said, as he handed the wet umbrella to me and slid across the car seat.

“Put your seatbelt on,” I said.

“Hmmmphhh!” he said.

“Daddy, where goin’?”

Brad said, “We’re going to an appointment.”

"No pointment, no," he said.

To Charley an appointment can mean many things; the doctor, the respite care office, the sheltered workshop coordinator, the school. In his brain this means someone is going to discuss his behavior, take notes about him while he is sitting there, make him take off his shirt, take his blood pressure, poke at his teeth, look in his ears, or something that makes him think he's a bug under a microscope. Come to think of it, the thought of an appointment doesn't sound so good to me either.

“No teef,” he said.

"Don't worry, there will be no teeth involved," I said, and proceeded to tell him it was not a dentist appointment and then explained to him we were going to the Social Security office.

“Why?” he said.

“Because they sent us a letter and we have to go meet with them,” Brad said.

“Those guys no know me,” he said.

“They will know you after you go meet them,” I said.

“Dindow up,” he said. (Meaning, “Roll the window up”).

I had the window cracked because the air in Brad’s car has only two settings – full blast, and off.

So I rolled the window up and we suffocated and drove on.

“Where goin'?” he asked again.

Explaining to him about the Social Security office meant absolutely nothing to him.

“We’re going to see about your money,” I told him.

“Money?” he said. Well that got his attention.



“Yes, for you,” I said.

So in to the Social Service office we went.

Brad went to sign us in, and I took a seat and drank my coffee. Charley sat on the floor. He does that sometimes when he is nervous. He’s afraid people are going to look at him. Of course, if he decides to look at them its perfectly all right. But buddy, they better not look at him.

So he sat on the floor, picking at his fingers.

The lady called his name, and up we went to the counter we went, and answered the questions, then they called us to an office in the back where we answered more questions.

A nice man interviewed us.

“Charley, are you married?” He asked.

“No!!!!!” Charley said, and started laughing.

“Has there been any change in address in the past year?”

“Yes,” he said.

“No,” Brad corrected him.

“Has there been any change in financial status?”


Brad corrected him again.

The questions continued and of course, every time he should have answered yes he said no, and every time he should have answered no he said yes. What a kid.

The interview ended and Brad and I stood up to leave.

Charley stayed in his seat.

“Come on Charley,” Brad said.

“I not leeeeeveeeeng,” he said.

Brad and I looked at him. The man behind the desk looked at us and asked, “Does he think he’s here to get money?” Like sure, can we have some?

I looked at my son. I looked at the man. I looked at my son again. I wasn’t sure but decided there might just be a stand off.

“Thank you for coming in,” said the man.

"I waiting," Charley said.

"Bye now," said the man.

“My money now!” Charley said. (Oh, I get it, he saw that commercial – the one where the guy says, “It’s my money and I want it now.”)

“See you next time,” said the man. Did he really think this was going to work?

“Come on son, stop fooling around,” Brad said.

He crossed his arms as if to say, “Who’s fooling?”

“We come here to fill out applications honey,” I said, “This isn’t a bank.”

"My money," he insisted.

"This office does not give cash," I said.

"Yes I are!" he said, “I not leeeeeeveeeng my money!”

So Brad pulled a dollar bill out of his pocket and slipped to the man behind the desk, who handed us a piece of paper and said, “This is for your review,” and then he handed the dollar bill to Charley and said, “And here is your money sir.”

“Thank you,” Charley said with a big grin on his face and then flapped the dollar bill back and forth in the air.

And then just like that, the interview was over. Charley stood up. “I go now.”

Off we went to deliver him to school, where he could eat what he calls "kiken bones," meaning, bone-in chicken, which is something he really likes but I don't let him have it at home because I'm afraid he'll choke on the bones. As we pulled up to the school he opened the door to hop out, and turned around and let his position be known, "And Daddy, no uppin' me again!" (This means Dad, you are not to pick me up at school because that means you are interloping on my Crystal time).

Now hear this…if you are headed to the Social Security office and think you are going to enter the building empty handed and come out with money, think again. It’s just not going to happen. Just forget it. You just keep dreaming.

Or…you could just borrow Charley.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The House With the Mouse

Return of the Bunny's Butt

1985 - Somewhere in Oklahoma -

It didn't take me long to realize that my new husband and I differed on the way things should be done...

One morning about 3 weeks after we were married, I woke to find that my husband's cat had brought me the rear end of a rabbit. Worse, he had placed it on my pillow while I was sleeping. Feeling something tickle my cheek, I opened one eye thinking it might be a spider. It was the cat, jumping from the pillow to the floor, leaving the bunny's buttocks behind. I sat up with my mouth hanging open, and screamed as loud as I could.


Brad came running.

I pointed at the offensive little fanny. "I'm not accustomed to having the buttocks of strange animals deposited on my bed," I explained. "Please get rid of it!"

Thinking that was the end of that, I tossed the pillowcase into the laundry basket and went about my daily routine when less than an hour later something caught my eye. It was the cat, tiptoeing across the carpet. Once again he brought me the bunny's you-know-what and placed it a little too close for comfort.

I went back to the doorway once again to find Brad who was in the process of fixing himself a mega-sized iced tea. Try being nice.

"Honey,” I said, this time with my voice a little more genteel. "The butt is back. I thought you got rid of it."

Once again, there came my husband to the rescue, charging forth with my brand new barbeque tongs in hand (yes, the ones I received as a wedding gift), and with a wide sweeping motion he snatched the little carcass from the couch.

"Where did you put it last time?" I asked with the sweetest tone of voice that I could muster.

"I threw it on the roof,” he said. Dad said we have to be nice to each other. I remind myself of that sometimes.

"Well, this time, could you pick a place a little less traveled by the cat? And make sure it's gone for good, PLEASE." It was not a request.

Now I figure it this way...once is an event, twice is a pattern. And as far as I could tell, there was a pattern developing here, because for a third time, the cat appeared in the doorway grinning from ear to ear, and looking rather smug. And why wouldn't he be? For the third time in the same day, he had hunted and captured the same rabbit’s rear, and had proceeded to sneak it into the house. This time he deposited the fluffy little fanny at my feet. I do believe my husband was playing a joke on me. He knew the cat would keep bringing it back to me. I was not amused.

"Bradley Ernest Pitt Palmer,” I all but screamed from the doorway, "your cat has returned with the rear. What did you do with it last time?”

"I tossed it into the bushes," he answered, smiling.

“Very funny! I want the thing gone,” I yelled. It was obvious that someone was not communicating.

So. That's the way you want to play it, huh? Okay, have it your way.

This time I was the one with the tongs. I took a deep breath, reminded myself not to look too closely, scooped up the pitiful posterior, and headed to the one place I knew my husband would be sure to look. Without the slightest hesitation, I opened up the mailbox, tossed the tail end in, slammed the lid, then poured myself a glass of ice-cold lemonade with real sugar and all, drew back the curtains of the living room, and waited at the window for my husband to retrieve his mail.

Just as I predicted, he opened the lid, reached in without looking, pulled out the bun, and started to run. This time I was the one who was smiling. Perhaps we could communicate after all.

That was 19 years, four dogs, three cats, about twelve lizards, and I don’t know how many mice ago.

Missy Cat

Charley loves Missy Cat. He loves it when she sits and waits for him outside his door although he refuses to let her into his room, for whatever reason, and he loves it when she sits with him before he gets on the school bus in the morning.

He loves it when I put pink blush on her snow white cheeks.

He loves it when she sits in his lap and look adoringly up into his face, and I do believe he’s right when he says, “OOk Mom, Missy Cat smi-o-wing!”

Charley’s job is to tell us when the cat’s bowl is empty. Brad’s job is to fill the bowl with food. My job is to let her sit between my computer keyboard and me or on top of my books, and we all have the job of making sure she doesn’t get out the door. It goes like this…

Someone opens the door.

Everyone else yells, “Shut the door.”

“Don’t let the cat out.”

“Watch it, the cat’s gonna get out.”

“Shut the door, will ya?”

Then we look around and notice that she is on her usual perch on the back of the couch sound asleep ignoring us all.

Missy Cat’s job is to catch the mice. And she does it well…

The House With The Mouse

“Mommy, Missy Cat eat da mouse.” Charley is standing in the doorway.

“That’s nice honey,” I say.

“Mommy, Missy Cat eat darn mouse,” he says again, this time with more oomph.

“I heard you the first time,” I say, and open one eye. It’s blurry but if I squint I can just make out the numbers on the clock. It’s about 2:15 am. “Honey, go back to bed, we’ll worry about it in the morning.

Charley gives up on me. He goes around the bed to his Dad.

“Daddy, da mouse mouse in da hallwee,” he says.

Brad is snoring. Or that’s a train. No, wait, there are no tracks around here.

“Charley, let Daddy sleep,” I say.

“Mom, get up!” he says.

“I’m sleeping,” I say, and somewhere I think I heard him say something about a mouse which isn’t a good thing because I don’t DO mice.

When I was in college I was studying for a final exam. It was about 3:00 in the morning and cold, so I got my robe out of the closet and put it on. All of a sudden I felt feet on my back, and before I knew it a mouse had gotten stuck in my hair. I had very long hair at the time, and I pulled my hair out in a sort of pony tail in front of my face and there was the mouse, just squealing.

So I started squealing. No, I started screaming. I ran to my roommate and yelled, “There’s a mouse in my hair!”

She was of no help whatsoever because she jumped up on her bed and grabbed a broom and started beating me over the head.

So I ran to the trailer next door. One of the guys opened the door and I said, “Help Tim, I’ve got a mouse in my hair.”

“Eewww,” he said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t do mice.”

So I ran back to my trailer and called the police. The officer answered and I yelled, “Help, there’s a mouse in my hair.”

He asked for my address and a couple of minutes later there were two patrol cars out in front of the trailer with the blue lights flashing. By this time the neighborhood was up and people were standing outside watching.

I answered the door and the officer said, “Is this the house with the mouse?” I could see he was smirking.

“I’m glad you think this is so funny,” I said, “But could you please help me get this mouse out of my hair?”

“Sure,” he said, “Where are your scissors?” I freaked as he cut my hair.

As I lay dreaming about that day back in 1976 I thought I was also dreaming that Charley had come to our room, when all of a sudden, yank! The covers are now on the floor. I guess I’m getting up.

“What were you saying?” I ask him.

“Missy Cat got da mouse. Cose you eyes,” he says. Not a problem, they are still shut.

He ushers me out into the hall and says, “Okay, eyes open.”

I peel my eyes open and sure enough, there’s the cat standing over her latest conquest.

I’m not surprised really; after all, we do live in the country and it’s freezing outside.

It seems I remembered the cat meowing and running after something earlier in the evening. I had said, “Brad, I think the cat is chasing a mouse.”

We looked at each other for a moment and immediately formulated a plan of action, and in our house that translates to if- you-don’t-look-at-it, it-will-go-away.

And now, here it was, laid out in lavender in the hallway.

“Mom, you get it?” Charley says.

“Not on your life,” I say and march into the bedroom. If that man thinks I’m going to get rid of a mouse while he pretends to be asleep he’s got another thing coming.

“Brad, the cat killed a mouse.” I say.

No response.

“Brad honey, there’s a mouse in the hallway.

No response.

How dumb does he think I am? When he’s not snoring, he’s not sleeping.

“Come on faker, get up.”

“I’m sleeping,” he says.

“Not anymore,” I say.

Charley runs into the room.

“Missy Cat stop,” he yells like it’s an emergency. I go back to the hall. The cat is flinging the mouse up in the air.

“We’re waiting,” I say to Brad, standing there with my hands on my hips.

“And I’m sleeping,” he says as he slides off the bed and makes his way out to the hall.

The three of us stand over the mouse.

“Is it dead?”

“It’s not moving.”

“Is it breathing?”

“Sure looks dead.”

“Yep, he’s a goner.”

“I hate darn mouse,” Charley says. That makes three of us.

“Stuart Little bites the dust,” Brad says.

“I got dat movie,” Charley says.

“At least it wasn’t in my hair,” I say.

Brad grabs the dust pan. “I can’t find the broom,” he says, and why not? He's only half asleep and I'm standing right in front of him holding it.

All of a sudden, I become brave. “Open the door and I’ll sweep it out,”

So the door opens.

“Don’t let the cat out.”


The mouse slides under the crack between the door and the floor.

“Mommy, you missed.” Charley says. Do ya think?

I never was very good at golf.


The mouse bounces off the door stopper.

“Miss again,” says Charley.

“Well then why don’t one of you birds take a whack at it if you think you can do so much better?” I say.

So Charley grabs the broom. “Batter up!”


“Charley, you missed,” I say.

“Stop it Mom,” he says and laughs out loud.

“Daddybrad, you up!” Charley says.

Brad reaches back with the broom and gives it a good whack.

The mouse sort of bounces off the metal doorstopper again and slides on the floor back towards us. Charley and I scream and I run out of the way nearly knocking each other down. Don’t ask me why we are running, the thing is dead.

There comes a time when you stop being afraid of the mouse and the only thing left to do is to sweep it into the dustpan, which is what Brad does. He scoops the little critter up and flings it into the bushes.

So there we stand, the three of us, peering into the dark of the night.

“Do you think we should say a few words?” Brad says. So we bow our heads.

“Rest in pieces,” I say.

“Amen,” says Brad.

“Men,” says Charley.

Well, glad that’s over, now we can go back to bed.

We can still sleep four hours.

The heads are fixin’ to hit the pillows.

The covers are fixin’ to get pulled back up over the bodies.

The cat is fixin’ to take a cat nap.

The lights get turned off.

The screaming starts.

The lights get turned back on.

“Mommy, Daddy tep on bug.”

Brad is jumping around in the middle of the floor, yelling “OWWWWWEEEE.”

The thing is fluttering its wings. I lean in for a closer look. It’s a wasp.

I jump on top of it, with shoes of course.

“It’s dead,” I say. “Flattened like a bug.”

“I hate darn bug,” says Charley.

“Better get the dust pan,” says Brad.

The wasp is swept up.

The family gathers in the doorway.

The wasp is tossed outside.

We peer out into the night.

Monday rolls around and you-know-who is refusing to get out of bed.

“The bus is on its way,” Brad says.

“Go way,” Charley says.

“It’ll be here any minute,” he says.

“Go way.”

He’s pretending to be asleep.

Time to play good cop, bad cop. Me being the bad cop, Brad being the good cop. We should have trained him better to get out of bed, that’s for sure.

I go to his room. “Charley, if you miss the bus you’re going to be in big time trouble,” I say and give his covers a yank.

He’s ignoring me.

“I’m going to let Missy Cat into your room.”

Ignoring continues.

“Get up or I’m going to take your TV out of your room.

More ignoring.

I take a string and tickle his ear. "Charley, there's a bug on you," I say.

"No not," he says as he swats at me and misses.

Brad goes to his room. “Charley, please get up.”

He yells, “No.”

“Please, get up for Daddy.”

“No kank-u,” he says.

I go to his room with the water bottle and spray him with it.

The covers are pulled over his head.

“Well do you think you could get out of bed so we can get the mouse out of your room?
Buddy, oh buddy, the covers are flung off the body.

The feet hit the floor.

And he’s off!

He’s running down the hall.

He’s sitting on the couch.

He’s putting on the shoes.

The door flings open.

He’s out the door.

He’s down the steps.

He’s running to the bus.

“Shut the door!” Brad yells.

The two of us stand peering out into the early morning light.

The cat is sleeping on her perch.

Who’d-a-thunk-it? The kid is mouse-trained.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sorry Charley

Charley has a new nickname. “Amy, I’m sorry Charley.”

He owes Amy an apology, and until he comes forth and does the right thing, that’s what his new nickname is. So don’t be afraid to use it! The next time you see Charley say, “Hi Amy I’m sorry Charley!”

Or, you could just leave that to me. Since it is between us, that is, and because he’ll probably get mad at you if you call him that.

What? You’re wondering what it was that the little buzzard did? Well let me put it this way; he did it to me before he did it to Amy.

We’re sitting on the couch Friday and waiting for the bus, just half asleep as always, when out of nowhere, Charley says to me, “Oose weet,” Mom.

“You sweet too,” I say.

“No, oose weet,” he says.

“And so are you,” I say.

So he peels himself off the couch and walks over to me, points at my stomach and says “No Mom, Ooose weet, and Daddy too.”

Oh I get it. He’s saying, “Lose weight.” Okay, let’s get this out of the way right this second. I’ve been struggling lately, not wanting to stay on my diet. Well, that’s not all together true. I want to stay on the diet but just put one teeny little thing in front of me as a deterrent, and as Brad says, "The flesh is weak," and could you please pass the Krispy Crème?

“I take back all the nice things I was thinking about you,” I say, and he starts to laugh.

And then, and then, and THEN, he just couldn’t leave it alone. He says, “Amy oose weet.”

Oh no. He didn’t. He couldn’t have. “Charley, did you tell Amy she needed to lose weight?”

He says, “Yeah.” Well just color us socially inappropriate next time.

I say, “Charley you can’t go around hurting people’s feelings like that.”

He says, “No not.”

“Son, you need to apologize,” I say,

“No not.”

So I say, “How would you like it if Amy called you That Downs Boy?”

“Not me,” he says.

And I say, “Well she could if she wanted to, you do have Down Syndrome, you know.”

“No not,” he says.

“And, while we are on the subject, you, my friend, are not exactly a skinny minnie.”

“Yes I are,” he says.

“Okay, repeat after me, Amy, I’m sorry,” Charley.


“Yes, say it.”


Okay, repeat after me, “Charley’s not getting any milkshakes or chicken nuggets until he apologizes to Amy.”

He puts his hand on his hip.

“You ARE going to apologize to Amy, aren’t you?”

He blinks at me.

“This school’s out,” he says.

“Fine, then you can apologize on Monday,” I say.

Another blink. (He does this when he’s thinking something he better not say).

So I grab the camera and tell him to strike a pose.


Voila, a picture of Charley’s stomach.

“See Charley? You’re no skinny minnie either.”

He says, “You take pitchur you!” pointing to my stomach.

Not on your life.

“I’m telling Ronald on you,” I say.

“No not, no Ronalt, no!” he says.

Charley doesn’t like it when I tell on him to Ronald because he knows Ronald will give him the business. Ronald understands all about Charley because his brother Tony had Downs. So when we get to church on Sunday I ask Ronald if he’ll help me play a joke on Charley, and he says “Sure!” and when Ronald gets up to lead the singing he calls on Charley and says that sometimes when we do something wrong we are need to apologize, and then asks Charley if he’s an “Amy I’m sorry Charley.”

Well let me tell you, Charley just hangs his head, and I do mean in shame. Ronalds starts leading the singing, and Charley turns to me and says, “Mommy!” as in, how could you?

So the weekend passes and at every opportunity I’m reminding him about the Amy-I’m-sorry-Charley thing, and Monday is finally here and he's gotten off the bus. I go walking down the steps to see if he did in fact apologize to Amy like he was supposed to, and here he comes down the sidewalk, with his head hung down, and walks right past me, stomps up the steps and plops his rear end down into the rocking chair on the porch. Uh oh, upset child alert.

“Hi son,” I say, just as cheerfully as I know how.

“Don’t talk me!”

“Why not?”

“I MAD!” he says, and I can see that he’s crying, and it melts me like butter.

“What happened?” I ask, “What’s wrong?”

“Crytalt tookin’ my beer!” (It’s really a root beer but he calls it “beer” because he thinks it makes him look cool, and of course, don’t forget the shock effect of those around who have no idea he’s really talking about root beer).

“She took your beer away?” I say.


More tears.

By then Crystal has gotten off the bus and is making her way down the sidewalk. I go walking toward her, and of course, you-know-who is on my heels because heaven forbid that I might actually have a conversation with someone without Mr. Nosey hearing every word.

So Crystal proceeds to tell me that she took Charley’s root beer away from him because he took Sammy’s pencils and then lied to her when she asked him about it.

Charley has caught up to us now and has his head buried in my chest, with big wet tears.

“Well what did you go and do that for?” I ask."Why did you take Sammy's pencils?"

"I play joke on Sammy," he says. Uh huh, I'm sure Sammy thought that was real funny.

And as if that wasn't bad enough,he had to go and lie to Crystal about it. Crystal is Charley’s bus driver and he just loves her. He would do just about anything for Crystal and doesn’t want to be out of favor with her, and now Crystal has gone and taken his beer for lying to him.

“You took my beer Crystalt!”

So the three of us stand out in the yard talking about the infraction, and Crystal says that she gets him a root beer every day for the bus ride home, which is mighty nice of her, but she cannot tolerate Charley lying to her about Sammy’s pencils.

I ask Charley if he’s given all the pencils back and he says yes, and he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a yellow eraser. Crystal opens her hand and he gives it to her. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is a 19-year-old boy with a beard.

So the three of us come to an agreement. Charley is to get on the bus “good” in the morning. He is to wear his jacket like he is supposed to, and he is to take his medicine so I won’t have to follow him out to the bus with it, and he is to have a good attitude, and he is NOT to take Sammy’s pencils again, and then Crystal says she will give back his beer.

Crystal says goodbye and hops back on the bus and drives away.

Charley and I turn and walk back to the house.

He’s still not in a very good mood, but I am usually able to needle him a little until he come out of his funk.

We walk off arm in arm heading toward the house.

“Repeat after me,” I say, “Tammy, I’m sorry,” Charley.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hello Mr. Chips

Some days you just can’t win. There comes a time in life when you want to know that you are smarter than your kid. It is particularly frustrating when such knowledge is not readily forthcoming.

My child is no different from the rest of us. He is a creature of habit. One of his habits is that he likes to sit in front of the TV with a bowl of chips and a big glass of chocolate milk. The problem is that he has gotten a bit sloppy in his chip chomping.

One morning I walked into the den and something crunched under my foot. I stood there frozen in my footsteps, hoping that I hadn’t just stepped on a big ugly bug. I looked down at the floor and found that it was not a furry ankle biter. It was a potato chip. That did it. I pointed to the chip. “Did you make that mess?”

“No Mom,” he said, his innocent blues eyes pleading with me to drop the subject. Well, he was partially right. He had dropped only one chip. So what was the big hairy deal? So what of it? So pick the chip up, and shut up already Sherry. And hey, who had the heavy foot any way? If I hadn’t stepped on it there would just be one chip to clean up instead of something that had been smashed to smithereens. But no. I had to become a human harp.

“There will be no more chips in the den,” I demanded, “until you are capable of keeping them off the floor.” Well, it sounded good to me. I was the mom. He was the kid.

It appeared that I was the only one impressed with this decision because the saga continued. Later the same day after putting the groceries away, I turned to find my son, arms outstretched, with a bowl in his hands.

“Chips Mom,” he said. Like I run a restaurant and he was putting in his order. I hate to tell you this, but this is NOT a drive through window, and he’s not that good a tipper.

I carefully explained that he could have some chips in the kitchen but that he was not, I repeated, NOT to take the chips into the den.

“But Mooooooom”, he whined.

“I have spoken,” I said, like sure, that was going to be that, just because I said so.

So he settled for chips at the kitchen table, and I’m thinking, don’t you dare eat the whole bag because later when you’re looking I am going to veg out in front of Dr. Phil who is going to have guests on the show who have lost tons of weight. I think that calls for a big bowl of chips, don’t you? And while you’re at it, make mine BBQ, thank you very much, and don't forget the dip.

“Leave some for me,” I said, and left him in the kitchen.

About fifteen minutes later when I walked into the den and saw him eating a chip, I just about came unglued.

“I thought I told you no chips in the den.” I stood there waiting for an explanation with my hands on my hips.

He held up a chip. The word here is chip, which is the singular form of chips. Did this mean that he thought one chip was playing by the rules? Or was he simply trying to outthink me, which doesn’t take that much to do any more. The longer I live, the less brain cells, and, well, if you are somewhere between 40 and death then you get what I mean.

“You march right back to that table,” I said. “The only way you are going to eat chips is if your body is in the kitchen.”

This was becoming a mind game, so I decided to sit in the den and keep guard. It sure beat pushing the broom. I flipped on the TV. I don’t know how long it was before I realized that I was not alone.

“Crunch.” I heard the smacking of lips and for once they weren’t mine.

There in the doorway, stretched out on his stomach was my son. He had half of his body in the den on the carpet, and half of his body was on the floor in the kitchen. In his hand was a stack of Pringles.

“I thought I told you to eat those in the kitchen,” I scolded. Where did he get those, anyway? Last I remembered he had a bag of chips, now he’s got a box. Well, who cares, he had chips and the crunching had commenced.

“I am, Mom.” He said. Uh huh, mind games it is then.

“You are in the den,” I said.

He looked back over his shoulder at his rear end and his legs. “Body kitzen.” (Meaning, kitchen).

I had to hand it to him. As far as he was concerned, he WAS in the kitchen. Only his elbows and his head were in the den. It’s like he was looking at me and saying, “Most of me is in the kitchen Mom, you do the math.”

I’ve never been very good at math, but I am pretty good at mind games. Sometimes. Okay, hardly ever. Well, basically never.

Perhaps I’m not the smartest bulb in the box. Or maybe he’s just smarter.

It occurred to me that I could continue to try and flex my Mommie Dearest muscles, or I could seize the moment and enjoy being with my son.

I looked over at him. “Well, are you going to keep all those chips to yourself?” I said.

This could only mean one thing; goodbye Mommy Dearest, Hello Mr. Chips.

I reached over as if he was to hand me the box of Pingles. “Can I have some?” I said.

“Here,” he said, and started to hand the box to me when wait-a-minute, he wasn’t letting go. No, this was more than not letting go. This was a death grip.

“Let go,” I said.

“Make me,” he said, and laughed.

Okay, that’s it. I sort of rolled off the couch and the two of us were in a full-blown tug of war.

“Release the chips, immediately,” I said.

“No, not,” he said.

“Hand over the little contraband,” I said.

“No, not.”

I started tickling him, and halleluia, he let go of the box.

Mine, all mine!

I reached into the box. I pulled out a chip and handed the box backto him. Oh, the anticipation of it all. I put the chip to the lip. He pointed to the kitchen.

“Mom, kitzen,” he said.

So I went over to the doorway, lay down beside him and now we both had our bodies in the kitzen. Sure hope there aren’t any bugs on this floor.

“So. You gonna share those, or what?” I said.

Let the chips fall where they may.