Yesterday, I had to take The Boy ™ to the eye doctor to check on some tracking issues that were making reading a struggle. The good news is that he doesn’t need glasses nor does he need any kind of therapy. The bad news is that the reason why he gets so physically exhausted when he reads is that his whole body is working to keep his eyes in alignment.
“Since he’s able to keep his eyes pointing parallel on his own,” the doctor said, “then he is doing exactly what he needs to be doing to train his muscles. Give him lots of praise when he reads, make sure he knows that he’s tired because his body has to work extra hard, but with daily practice he’ll get stronger and stronger, and opt for bigger type and books with pictures for now, and don’t be in such a hurry to put the kid in chapter books. Let him be a kid. With kids books.”
Then he paused and thought about that for a moment.
“Have you noticed,” he continued, “that there are some AMAZING children’s books out lately?”
Why yes, I said, a faint smile on my mouth. I may have noticed a thing or two about it. And I may know a few of the folks making those amazing stories, but that’s another post.
Anyway, Leo, after a long day of eye tests and exercises, performed admirably and with distinction. I was honestly bracing myself all day for the moment that he crawled into the duct work, or reduced a hundred-grand-pricetag bit of equipment to smithereens. Or called the therapist lady a poop-head. Or whatever. But no. He was a perfect gentleman – conversational, gentle, serious, with a couple well-placed jokes that were actually funny. It was as though someone took my child and replaced him with somebody else’s perfect child.
Anyway, we headed back to school in the middle of the day. I parked the car, took his hand and walked across the parking lot. A classroom window pushed open and a kid’s head popped out.
“LEO’S MOM!” the kid yelled.
“Yes?” I called back.
“ARE YOU BRINGING LEO BACK TO SCHOOL?”
I looked down at Leo, who shrugged back at me. “Well,” I called back. “That’s what it looks like.”
I could hear a teacher’s voice in the background saying step away from that window at once young man. But the kid persisted.
“LEO’S MOM LEO’S MOM! WHERE DID YOU TAKE HIM?”
And before I could say to the doctor the kid yells “LEO’S MOM ARE YOU GOING TO VISIT OUR CLASS.” And then two hands grabbed the kid’s shoulders and pulled him out of sight.
We went into the building and a group of first graders were walking down the stairs.
“HI LEO’S MOM!”
“LEO’S MOM, DID YOU SEE MY SHOES?”
“LEO’S MOM I HAD A CUPCAKE! LAST WEEK!”
I smiled at them and continued to the office. There was a kid sitting on a chair with a huge bandage on his knee.
“LEO’S MOM, I SKINNED MY KNEE.”
Another kid was leaving with her mom.
“LEO’S MOM NEXT WEEK IS MY BIRTHDAY.”
I signed Leo in and walked down the hall to his class. I saw a kid with a bathroom pass – one of my first graders on my Lego League team.
“HI LEGO LADY!” The kid said, running over and giving me a hug. “I MEAN LEO’S MOM!”
And a realized a few things.
1. My son has made me famous.
2. My son, being the loudest human in the world, has trained the kids in his school to be just as loud as he is.
3. The rest of the school, assuming that I must be quite deaf at this point, feel the need to shout at me to make sure I can hear them.
4. Because my son is fun, they assume that I am fun as well.
This last one, alas, is a fallacy. Just ask my kids. I am not fun at all. I am the enemy of fun. This was told to me last night – at bedtime – with great enthusiasm, with gusto and relish. “Mom,” my kids informed me. “You are the fun-killer.”
Still, to these kids at school, I bear the fun of my son on my forehead like a seal. I am the Fun-Bringer. I am LEO’S MOM.