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.