I love my Manchild. So, SO much! He’s funny, fierce, a problem solver, and full of love to give. Just last week I offered to let him blow out a candle on the kitchen table, an honor and joy of which there is nothing higher in this household. However, as Manchild gets closer and peered into the peach scented wax, he knew his sister would enjoy this honor just as much as he would. So he resisted the temptation, ran off to fetch Girlchild, and stood happily by as she blew out the coveted flame. The whole scene just made my mama heart sing.
But just like your average husky, poodle, or hound, Manchild gets destructive if he doesn’t have a job. Lots of times that job is just to play with his toys, and respect (ahem, not injure) those around him. But as the day wanes on, and dinner time is minutes away, the allure of the toys he’s been playing with all day vaporizes. Instead, the pull of desire to pick at one’s sister rears it’s ugly head, and can not be stopped. In these moments lately, I’ve been calling my nearly 5yr old Manchild away from LBS (Little Brother Syndrome), and up to my domain. The kitchen, where I make him set the table. It separates both kids, and gets a chore done at the same time, what’s not to like? Also, there seems to be minimal whining with this particular chore. Since at least it’s not emptying the silverware out of the dishwasher- the most hated child chore in all of Schenanigansland!
This would work out well, except that Manchild has zero situational awareness. None. Nada. Zilch. Case in point, from Wednesday of last week to Monday at breakfast, we have had company in varying numbers. Sometime’s is just 1-2 extra for dinner, other times it’s 3. Either way, we have been keeping 7 chairs at the kitchen table all week.
But our company left on Monday. And it was a beautiful departure. Manchild hugged his best friend’s grandma, told her he loved her and then said “Thank you for… being here!” I could have hugged him. I think I did. It was so sweet.
But all this is to say he was well aware that our family of 4 were the only ones left in the house on Monday night. Just us. Only us. But when dinner time rolled around, he sets a place at every seat- all 7 available chairs. “Manchild,” I remind him “It’s just us again, we don’t need 7 places”. He sheepishly puts several place settings away, and I help, and somehow we end up with a table set for 3. Try again, and now we’ve got it right.
That was last night. Now I hear boredom-based feuding in the basement, and once again call Manchild up to harness him to a task and put that bored mind to work. This time the table is set for 6. We’re working our way back to our nuclear unit, but not quite yet. Actually, about a dozen napkins are scattered across the table, as if a Martha Stewart drive-by just occurred and the victims were paperware.
I decide against bringing him back and simply correct the setting myself. I mean, who can’t use a couple extra napkins anyway? And getting this now snarling dragon (his imagination) to fixate on proper table setting (my reality) was just going to result in blowing my own hot air. Just not worth it tonight. Check back with me in a year or two.
How is it that a kid who doesn’t stop to think about how many people are eating dinner, before he sets the table, is able to remember every baby toy he has ever owned, and request them back right before I sneakily to give away? Despite not playing with them for years, the kid has an uncanny ability ask for that exact book/puzzle/Little Person I have bagged in my room, hours before they depart for new surroundings.
Somehow the child who can’t remember to lift the toilet seat, can tell you what his favorite girl in preschool was wearing the day he met her, on that first day of class. Right down to the blue spaghetti straps on her dress. Seriously?!? Of course, it would be another 2 months before he would remember her name. Naturally.
But if this is how God has packaged my last born, then this is how I will love him – mindless oblivion and all. So while he may be half-way through a car trip before he asks where we are going, or mid-way through summer before he realizes there isn’t Preschool that day, he also will think of ways to make his sister happy while she is at school. And randomly remember that his Grandmother likes to decorate with evergreen swags, and begin collecting them during a Sunday hike in November.
Just yesterday, I used Manchild’s gift of occasional thoughtfulness at the Dollar Store. My plan was to pick up Valentine’s Day decorations (Girlchild’s favorite holiday) and decorate the house before Girlchild got off the bus. I had Manchild pick out a red shiny heart garland, and some hearts on sticks, for Girlchild to get to decorate with when she got home. Girlchild loves to glam things up. Like the distractable trooper he is, Manchild complied in selecting decorations, and waiting until his sister got home to put them up. Waiting is easy, when you can’t remember that you are waiting for anything. But the two of them had fun making our house a Love-themed den of red. And the fact that Manchild hadn’t a clue that tomorrow wasn’t Valentine’s Day, each and every time he asked, made no difference. A joyful heart doesn’t always have to have a clue. Mine sure doesn’t! 🙂