Monday, November 14, 2011

Things I've Learned From Jabba the Sutt

Tomorrow my youngest child (and the only one conceived on purpose) turns six. Holy fuck, where did the time go? I've always thought that it was bullshit, what parents say about time flying by when the kids are little, and frankly, usually it is, but in this case HOLY HELL. Sutt is growing up.

I think what really bothers me about this milestone isn't that he's turning six at all. It's not that he's in kindergarten or can finally pronounce most (but not all) of his r's and l's, or that he has a "big kid" haircut and just had a (very sweet) 10-year-old friend come over for a sleepover. All of that I can handle. What I CAN'T seem to wrap my head around is that the last time my Daddy saw Sutt, he was barely three years old. He had not yet started preschool, he still had sweet baby chub and sweet baby curls, and he didn't even understand that his Papaw passed away that awful January. Daddy knew a baby, but he doesn't know this little boy I have now-- this little creature who smells like lavender, thinks he has to open all the doors for Mommy, and has an imagination that rivals anything I have ever seen. He's amazing.

Dad would be so proud of him.

It kills me that Sutt doesn't have his Papaw. Literally, I get sick sometimes thinking about how Sutt is deprived of all the cool things that my Dad wanted so badly to do with him. Take him fishing, teach him about animals and cars and airplanes. Tell him stories about HIS Dad, my Grandpa Glenn, who was also a pilot and a character if there ever was one. When Dad died, he took so much with him, and that's something I often cannot reconcile with my reality.


1. Life is Weird~ One morning when Sutt was three, I was driving him to preschool and we were singing along to the music (AC/DC was his favorite at the time). All of a sudden, he yelled for me to turn the music down. I flipped the power off and said, "Yeah, buddy? What's up?" He looked at me in the rearview mirror, completely serious, and said, "You know what's weird, Mommy? Toast. Toast is weird." Um. Yeah. Does my kid even EAT toast, or does anyone ever OFFER him toast? No. We are pretty much a toast-free zone at Casa McPhail. So where in the hell did that even COME from? Who the fuck knows. But he has a point-- if you think about it, toast IS kind of weird. Much like lots of other things.

2. Be True To Yourself~ Yoda was the Ultimate Jedi Master, according to my now-extensive (after having a kid OBSESSED with Star Wars for going on three years now) Star Wars knowledge. Dudes are OBSESSED with their junk, and all seem to think it is the Ultimate Man's Best Friend. Sutton, absolutely by himself, chose to name his junk "Yoda" when he was four. At first, I thought, "What the fuck?" But once I considered it, I realized that Sutt was actually probably ahead of his game. He already KNEW that his bits were the bomb, so he might as well name them accordingly. Everyone he told laughed themselves senseless, but he didn't care. Yoda it was, and to this day, Yoda it is.

3. It's Better When Somebody's Got Your Back~ Sutt REFUSES to sleep alone (let's hope that this changes before he hits puberty). Every single night after he is tucked safely into HIS bed in HIS room, he creeps out of bed and down the hall and crawl in bed with Belly. She's used to it, and doesn't care anymore (most of the time). This has gone on since we moved here in '08 and took down his crib so that he was able to roam free. Lately, though, he's taken to getting up in the very early morning and creeping out of bed with his sister and into bed next to me-- I feel him very gently, very slowly crawling in and snuggling up against my back or belly before softly starting to snore within minutes. This morning, I awoke before he did and lay there, watching him sleep (and listening to him snore like a truck driver) for a few minutes before he opened his eyes and gave me a big smile. I gave him a kiss and then asked him, for the first time, why he was always sneaking into my bed and invading my personal space. He said, "Because I WUV you. And I WIKE to feel you next to me." I'm not a cuddler, and I don't WIKE feeling people next to me. But I realized after I thought about it for a minute that I kind of DID like having him there. It felt primal and maternal and, well, what I thought mother/child love would feel like, if I was capable of such a thing with my icy, granite heart and all. This was a revelation.

4. It's All About Perspective~ A few days ago, Sutt came in from playing outside to tell me that he had just seen a GIGANTIC alligator in the woods. It looked at him, came towards him, then saw how big and strong he was (all 36 pounds of him) and ran away. I considered this. I figured it was somewhat unlikely that Sutt had seen an alligator, and even more unlikely that if he had he had scared it away with his wanton manliness, but still, why burst his bubble? My Dad used to have this killer story about an epically large snapping turtle that nearly conquered the town before he sent it back into the lake with an ax in its back. Was it true? I'm sure the STORY was true. Just like I'm sure Sutt was gazing into the woods at some point and saw some underbrush move around. Was there a turtle the size of Rhode Island? Well, it was likely more the size of a breadbox. Just like the "alligator" was more likely a squirrel or a rabbit. Was I going to be the one to squelch those visions of grandeur? Oh, hell no. In their heads, I'm sure the story was absolutely 100% true. And being a great encourager or imagination, and a true visionary regarding storytelling, I would much rather have heard their "truth" than any other. Because their truth was the one worth telling.

5. If You Are Hungry, Keep Eating~ My Dad was known for having the ability to sit down and eat 4 or 5 sandwiches, or 8 or 9 hotdogs, followed by an entire half-gallon of ice cream or a whole pie or every bite of a new cake. That man could eat like you WOULD NOT FUCKING BELIEVE. He was never overweight, he had a metabolism that was incredible and he worked his ass off, but GODDAMN, he could eat. It was insane. On the flipside, if it was lunch time or supper time and he wasn't hungry, he did not want to eat anything. He ate when he wanted, as much as he wanted, and he was happy. Sutt is the same way. Jabba wakes up STARVING every day. His favorite food on the planet has always been, and likely, it seems, will always be, oatmeal. It doesn't matter what you offer him for breakfast--pancakes, donuts, pastry, eggs--he refuses. All he wants is oatmeal, and LOTS OF IT. Most mornings I feed him two of the little individual packets of Quaker Oats Maple and Brown Sugar, mixed with an entire CUP of regular from-the-canister oatmeal, made with 2% milk. He eats EVERY DAMN BITE and often wants a second helping. Now, keep in mind that Sutt is TINY. He is not even on the growth chart at the pediatrician for height or weight. He's skinny and short and still wears clothes from the toddler department, shoes too. But that kid will eat like there is no tomorrow when he's hungry. But if he's not? You can offer him anything-- cake, candy, ANYTHING, and he won't take it. Being a girl who will never say no to cheese or frosting-covered goodness, this boggles my mind. It's like he has his own little inner nutritionist. Likewise, sometimes I'll be starving but if it is not mealtime, I won't eat (I DO NOT snack--unless I'm drunk, in which case I don't know if I snack or not). I realize this is stupid. Sutt is way more advanced than I.

There's so much more. There is. But I'm tired. And I'm hungry. And, to be honest, I want to go hug my kid.

You know, Sutt is still very young. Hell, people say I am still very young too, although I doubt that more every single day. But I'm learning from him, he's learning from me-- we have that special Mommy-Son thing going on that I never wanted or expected to have. But I'm so glad I do. I'm a lucky girl. Lucky to have my happy, healthy Jabba the Sutt.

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