Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I think Portishead said it best

"Nobody loves me, it's true..."
(from "Sour Times," their biggest hit)

Don't get me wrong: Angela and I are doing wonderfully. (The love is still there -- and she received that erotic romance novel writing guide, which I'm checking to see if it requires home research.) No, I'm talking about my little darling boy who, as I hinted a bit yesterday, has been for the past week or so... there's no other way to say it...

...a mama's boy.

This weekend, when I wake up to an already stirring Angela and Xan and say a jovial, "Hello!" my son looks up, then goes back to playing with a car without even acknowledging my presence.

A few minutes later, he brings a book to Angela: "Read! Read!"

"I'm making breakfast, Xan. But Dada can read to you."

A scowl. "MAMA read!"


Perhaps this can be traced back to the now-infamous Concert Situation just over a week ago, already chronicled by KC. To offer my perspective, some background is necessary: Angela's orchestra holds a great kids' concert every year, complete with an Instrument Petting Zoo before the show. The concert itself usually has its fair share of antsy kids running around, drawing on programs or commenting to each other loudly about what-not. This year, the orchestra held the concert in their new location, the Atlas Theatre on H Street NE. Because A Raisin in the Sun was performing in another theatre in the complex that afternoon, orchestra members were encouraged to come early; that meant that our whole family showed up early. Xan proved to be quite a trooper early on, becoming the plaything of two nine-year-olds who were also there early and generally having a fine time exploring and politely running around the lobby. When the petting zoo started, Angela brought us to the third row on the left side where we could see her well, and then we went to check out all the instruments (Of note, other than the drum and mama's violin, his favorite instrument was... the bass! Which he has not stopped talking about to this day. We have since learned that some guy named Yo-Yo Ma picked up the cello because he was too little to handle the bass. I could live with that, you know.) The lights then dimmed and we went to our seats.

Which turned out to be a huge mistake.

If we had thought about it, we would have never picked those seats, precisely for the reason we chose them: because we could see Mama. Indeed, the concert was set to begin and Xan got off my lap and made a beeline for the stage, saying "Mama, up!" And, of course, she couldn't. Indeed, she had to ignore him as I tried to pry his little hands from the stage.

Thus begins my most tense experience with music ever, whereupon my child suddenly turns from being the sweet, well-disposed marvel that he is into That Child.

The howling was such that I immediately made way for the exit (from the third row, mind you), where I tried to calm him down in the lobby. Nothing. It is at this point that I notice that Jolie and her parents have just arrived -- late, thank God. (Jolie, it should be mentioned, is probably Xan's 2nd best friend after his tiger.) I find this to be some miracle of God and put him down, whereupon he is mesmerized to find that, indeed, Jolie is here, too. He calms down, we go inside. We find that three of the only free seats in the theatre happen to be in front of where my coat is, in the front row. (Wait, wasn't I in the third row? Someone moved me! As you will soon see, this didn't matter.) JP, Kathy and Jolie head down to the seats (while the orchestra is finishing their first number, and I head down with Xan, thinking things will be OK.

The howling was such that I immediately made way (again) for the exit, having thwarted him from getting on stage. The usher and I try to calm him down between the doors, to no avail. Kathy brings Joles out, and this makes it somewhat better. Joles and Xan then go back inside and Jolie wants to go down the steps to her Dada, JP, who is still in the front row. Xan, of course, wants to follow Jolie. Kathy and I duckwalk down the stairs in pursuit, all the while the orchestra is continuing. At some point around here, I realize that all the other kids in the theatre are actually being attentive, polite and quiet. To my horror, it is only my child who is causing any sort of commotion.

The kids then spent the rest of the concert racing back and forth in the front row from one side of the theater to the other, bouncing seats up and down and trying to talk to the aforementioned bass. Kathy, JP and I served as stopping posts between them, catching both of them briefly before they would escape from our arms, as we then positioned ourselves cramped in front of the stage by the floor. I have not been more thankful that the front row was empty, nor when the concert finally ended. "How was it?" a musician asked after it was over and Xan was finally reunited with his mother. "I have absolutely no idea," I said.

(That day, I turned with sincerity to JP and Kathy and said, "I don't think I will ever thank you enough for just being here today." Kathy, JP: I don't think I will ever thank you enough.)

Since then, chopped liver has been more popular than me among the under-ten set in the household. I'm used to this kind of treatment from our cat, but I hadn't expected her to have taught our son so quickly that Mama was the Better Human. For almost a week now, Mama could barely get a break of any sort from the obsessed boy and I could barely keep his attention -- even on the two days last week when I had him the whole day. Consciously, I knew this as cliche: boys have a special thing with their mothers, and the trade-off of having a boy is the knowledge that I would always be second fiddle to Mama. I get this. It doesn't make me love him any less. Rejection, nonetheless, still smarts.

Usually, I have him one full day, but his day-care provider had a dentist's appointment on Tuesday and her son's graduation on Friday, meaning I had him on both of my days off last week. The trade-off was to start today, when I would have lots of free time to get some good, quality writing done. I even finished grading the exams that I administered yesterday before I went to bed, just so that I could get up, get Xan out the door and get crackin'. I was really looking forward to this -- and besides, he hasn't really wanted to spend any time with me anyway.

And then Xan woke up this morning a little earlier than usual. I went over, half groggy, and picked him up.

At which point he threw up on me. (This has never happened before.)

After which he collapsed on me in a huge hug.

It's rare that I've had such conflicting feelings of eeewww and oh my gosh! he really does love me! And even though this meant that I stayed home today, losing one of my very precious writing days to make sure he was OK, that spew-covered hug just sent me over the moon. And today, I got plenty of hugs. Around noontime, he even asked me for a hug. From me. Twice.

With that, all is well in the world.

"Nobody loves me, it's true --
not like you do."


Katherine said...

Jeff, you're very welcome. And we take cash.

Kim said...

I was googling my 17 year old daughter's name - Xanning Tyler - and came across your blog. Do you truly have a daughter named Xanning????? We pronounce mine Shanning. She is adopted from Taiwan and is Chinese. We came up with her name on our own. How did you come up with this unusual name??? We've NEVER met anyone with this name. Do you pronounce it as we do? Is your daughter asian?? Sorry to be so personal, but it surprised me to find another Xanning!!!