My camera batteries are dead, so this will be a real post. With actual words and sentences and paragraphs. Maybe, I can’t promise I won’t get bored at some point and just wander off mid-thought. (Oh, look! Squirrel!)
It’s 106 degrees outside right now, and not surprisingly, my activity levels have lowered to somewhere near ‘sloth’ and ‘does she still have a heart beat?’ If it wasn’t for Boo, I would lay around the house naked all day, praying to major and minor deities for cooler weather. My skin feels two sizes too small, and I’m itching all the time, literally itching and scratching my back on the corner of a wall like a fucking bear, tearing at my flesh with blunt fingernails because it’s HOT muthafuckas, and the heat makes me break out. It’s HOT, and I’m bored and ITCHY. MAKE IT STOP. Forecasters keep promising that some time later this week we’ll only be in the mid-nineties. Practically wintery!
But lo, the end of summer is upon us, which means school is starting, which means it’s once again time for Red’s (my?) nephew to spend the night. Just one more thing for me to make a BIG FRICKING DEAL out of.
Let me explain.
Red’s older brother is really only his half brother. While Red turned out to be a decent, well-adjusted, functional adult, his brother [K] is a complete shit head. As in, don’t stand too close to him if you’d like to avoid the bullshit leaking out of his ears to end up on your good shoes. He’s constantly on the brink of being kicked out of the family, and is probably being actively hunted by persons of ill-repute whose crowbars desire a conversation with his kneecaps.
And K’s wife [L] is no better. Without being too specific, let’s just say that the Choctaw Indians are slowly reclaiming their land because of this woman.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t give two shits about their behaviour, but there’s a kid involved. And you know that means I have to stick my nose into places it doesn’t belong. I can’t help it. It’s a compulsion. Like feeding stray animals or giving change to bums or driving around after major disasters to look for damage.
It didn’t take much nosing around in this situation to find the disaster; it was [B], Red’s nephew. I almost feel sorry for the kid. He’s been ignored and resented as an inconvenience for most of his life by his parents, who like to foist their duties off on (willing) family members. As a result, he’s very needy and doesn’t like sharing the spot light with any one else.
Especially my son. While they’ve grown to tolerate one another, they aren’t friends. I doubt that they ever will be.
In spite of all of this–or maybe even because of all this–it has become a tradition to invite B over to spend the night at our house right before he goes back to school. He genuinely adores Red. It borders on hero worship most of the time. I guess Red taught B how to play video games, which in a ten year-old’s eyes, means that you are the coolest person alive. Right up there with Optimus Prime and Batman. And Ghandi, if we’re throwing names out.
I could be the bigger person. I could tell myself that it’s not really his fault that he’s an asshole in the making. But…
I can’t. Because of the way he acted last year, I can’t simply chalk it all up to his parents. He’s old enough to goddamn know better. Let me set the scene:
Last year, our living room on a rainy summer afternoon. Red and B are playing video games while Boo, six months old, scoots around in his walker.
3:05: I enter, arms full of groceries from my trip to Walmart and ask how everything is going. Red informs me that B is mad at him because he was beating him. B whines that Red was only beating him because Boo keeps getting in the way and he can’t concentrate because Boo is talking too much. Red tells B to man up and admit that he’s losing fair and square.
3:07: B kicks Boo’s walker across the room with his foot. Hard. Boo is nonplussed, but I am immediately furious, in full-on mother-bear-protecting-her-cub-search-and-destroy mode. I take Boo into his bedroom so I don’t rip B’s head from his shoulders.
4:11: B decides that getting beaten at Halo is no fun. He wants to show us how good he is at Guitar Hero. He tells me that he could easily beat me. Red just laughs and calls me back into the living room.
4:15: I win. By a lot. B throws his controller and retreats onto the corner of the couch to pout.
5:15: Red starts the grill for dinner. We’re having steak, twice-baked potatoes, baked beans, and grilled vegetables. A feast, by any account. B tells us he only wants steak. We are prepared for this. We tell him he must eat everything we put on his plate if he wants dessert.
6:15: I fix B’s plate. A small steak, half a baked potato, three little beans, and a lone broccoli floret. B tells me again that he only wants steak.
6:17: I feed Boo a bottle and a jar of bananas while the boys eat.
6:38: Boo is finished eating. I clean him up and get my own food. At this point, B has eaten about half of his steak. Everything else is still sitting on his plate. Red tells him he has to try his vegetables. B puts a single bean in his mouth and pretends to gag. Red whacks him on the back and tells him to eat.
7:00: B has stopped eating. He refuses to touch any of the vegetables because he doesn’t like them. GUYS, I DON’T LIKE BEANS. I WON’T DO IT. WON’T, WON’T WON’T!
7:15: I HATE YOU. BEANS ARE SO GROSS. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANS! THIS IS, LIKE, CHILD ABUSE YOU GUYS!
7:30: B starts crying. In between his pathetic fake sobs, Red informs him that he will sit at the table until his plate is clean.
7:39: Red starts turning, well, red. He crouches down eye-level to B and tells him he will eat it now, or eat it for breakfast the next morning. B throws his hands over his head and wails even louder.
7:41: OKAY, I’LL EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST, JUST LET ME GOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!
8:00: I put Boo to bed and tell B his crying better not wake up the baby. By this point, my temples are pounding and I’m starting to think about leaving this kid on the side of the road somewhere.
8:01: (sniffling) I WANNA GO HO-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME. THIS ISN’T FUN ANY MORE, GUYS.
8:02: Red gets up from the table, leaving B sobbing into his potato skin, and turns the 360 back on. B starts crying even harder.
8:45: B tells me he’s going to throw up. I tell him he’ll have to clean it up himself because I can tell he’s faking and this is just a stalling tactic. He straightens right up and asks me what it’s going to take to get down from the table. I tell him he still has to clean his plate. He tries bargaining with me. I shoot down his every request and hand him a baby spoon to eat from.
8:46: B picks up another bean with his fingers and puts it on the spoon. He gags again when he tried to swallow. I leave the room, because getting a belt out and beating some sense into B is starting to sound like a grand idea.
9:00: Red calls me back into the room. B is shivering and gulping back noises that sound like a puppy being kicked repeatedly. But his plate is clean, except for the potato skin.
I’m not even exaggerating. It took him three fucking hours to eat four mouthfuls of food. Maybe we were a little hard on him. Maybe we could have bent to his will like every other adult in his life. (We’re serious adults and not just your friends. You can’t treat us badly. We love you, but you will respect us, dammit.) Now, whenever B is in our presence, he cleans his plate without question. This summer, Red’s parents took him on a two week road trip across the country. When they got back, they told us how he ate whatever was put in front of him. Heh.
I hope it’s not going to be that bad this year. I don’t think I could fucking handle that mess again. This time I’m making spaghetti and by God, he WILL eat it.