By Shannon Ralph
I am a nag. I don’t want to be a nag, but I can’t seem to help myself. When Lucas was younger, I thought he could do no wrong. Of course, he had his naughty moments like all children. But for the most part, I thought everything he did and said was perfection incarnate right here on Earth. Right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
But now he is a tween. I mean, I didn’t google it or anything but I think four weeks shy of ten years old qualifies as a tween. And I find myself nagging him. Constantly. I ride him like a mechanical bull. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to be one of those moms. I really don’t like it when I nag him. I don’t like the message it sends him. But…Jesus freaking Christ, son. How do you manage to function in this world? How do you breathe and walk at the same time?
Case in point:
Recently, Lucas had a busy day. He performed a Christmas show at the Mall of America with the Metropolitan Boys Choir, followed by a second performance the same day at the Holidazzle Parade downtown. He was with the choir for eight hours straight. So it was certainly a busy day.
I dropped him off at 12:30. He had lost the buttons to his tuxedo jacket, so rather than just dropping him off, I went in with him so I could try to locate some buttons I could quickly sew on for him. The harried choir director waived me toward the wardrobe closet and said, “Just try to find him another jacket in the same size.” The tuxedo jackets did not appear to have sizes on them, so I shuffled through a sea of red jackets until I found one that looked relatively close in size to the jacket with the missing buttons. The other boys were dressing, so I asked Lucas to put on his tuxedo shirt so we could try on the jacket. I walked away for a moment to fill out Lucas’s wardrobe card showing that we had exchanged jackets.
When I turned back toward Lucas, I saw him struggling to get his tuxedo shirt on. He was trying to insert his enormous noggin into the neck of the tuxedo shirt while it remained fully buttoned. Fully. Buttoned. And he was still wearing the sweatshirt he walked in wearing. Not to mention a t-shirt underneath the sweatshirt (he had dressed in layers for the cold parade later that evening). I stood for a moment just watching him struggle. Studying him. Like one would study an endangered species in the wild. How could he possibly have thought that was going to work? Eventually I said, “Lucas…what in the world are you doing??” He responded with a confused, “Huh?”
That pretty much sums up Lucas these days.
Today, he came home from school and announced that his teacher said he has to bring his tennis shoes to school tomorrow. (For those of you from climates somewhat milder than the frozen tundra I live in, kids wear snow boots to school and change into their tennis shoes when they arrive. Every hallway in the school is lined with snow boots from November through April most years.) “Lucas,” I responded. “Your tennis shoes were in your backpack the entire day. You watched Mom put them in there this morning.”
And by the way, who in their right mind puts an opened and mostly full pudding cup back into their lunch box?? Every square inch of the inside of his lunch box was coated with vanilla pudding this evening. Seriously, Lucas?
He puts on clean underwear on top of his dirty underwear because he forgets to take them off. He puts school clothes on over his pajamas if we are not watching him. He throws our silverware in the garbage can when he cleans his plate. We own a whopping three butter knives now. He brings his homework home a crumpled mess shoved into the bottom of his backpack. That is, when he remembers to bring his homework home. His snow boots are never laced up. When he eats, he leaves a circle of crumbs on the floor. Everything I ask him to do must be repeated multiple times. And then again.
Maybe it’s just a tween thing. Maybe his little body is changing so rapidly that his intellect cannot keep up. His mind cannot focus. It brings me a tiny bit of comfort to tell myself that it is a phase and my son is not doomed to idiocy.
And I try not to nag him. I really do. I try to pick my battles. I try to let things slide. I swallow my sarcasm when I see him wandering around in a fog of confusion when he is supposed to be brushing his teeth. I literally bite my tongue when I see his crumpled school work. Ever fiber of my being wants to scream, “Do you have no pride in your work?!” I have made a conscious effort to stop counting how many times in a single day the monosyllabic “Huh?” comes out of his mouth.
I am really trying not to be a nagging mother. Honestly. I am trying hard.
But come on…the boy is killing me here.