Monday, November 15, 2010

His Beautiful Mind?

[Walking to school.]

Mom, you forgot to put the Vaseline on my lips, and they were really hurting last night.

Did you tell me?


Well, then how was I supposed to know. Do I live inside your head?

[Laughs.] No, but that would be really cool if you did.

[We have a conversation about why that might or might not be cool, having me be able to control him from inside his head. Then...]

Does anyone have someone that lives inside their head?

Well, that's a difficult question to answer, because there are some people who kind of feel like there are people in their heads in one a way where they know those people aren't real. Like, writers can sometimes hear the characters speaking. I can do that sometimes when I'm writing. It helps me know what someone would or should say in a story. I may 'hear' someone talking to me, but I know that they're not real. They're not talking to me the way you're talking to me. And I can make them stop any time I want.

What about other people?

Well, there are other people who sometimes hear voices or think that there are people inside their heads who are telling them what to do, who they can't stop, and they can't do anything about. But most of the rest of the people in the world think that people like that might have something wrong in their brain, something that makes it difficult for them to stop those voices or realize they're not real. People think of that as a kind of mental illness.

But what is that called?

That's called schizophrenia.

And what do they do for that?

There are medications, and doctors will give those people different medications until the people say they can't hear the voices any more.

[No comment; he looks unhappy, agitated, waves his hand at his head.]

I don't want to talk about this anymore.

[Because by this time we'd gotten to the school and were surrounded by a large group of kids, I waited until we got to the top of the stairs to say anything more. Then I turned him around to face me, and got close to him.]

I'm wondering if the reason you look so upset about this is because of your imaginary friends.

[He nods slightly.]

Your imaginary friends are imaginary. You don't think that they're real. That's one of the reasons nobody's worried about your imaginary friends. Another reason nobody's worried about your imaginary friends is because, while sometimes they talk to you a lot, whenever you need to, you can make them stop. And they're not telling you to do bad things. And if they did, you'd still have a choice about whether you do them or not. So that's not what I was talking about. OK?

[Another slight nod.]

I'm door monitor today for my class, Mom. Bye!

[Did he buy what I was selling? I hope so. I can't swear, though.]

[And also? Really, Monday Morning? Really? THIS is what you hit me with, out of nowhere, from a kid with whom normal conversations go no deeper than how many police cars he saw that afternoon? You're mean, Monday Morning. Cruel. I don't like you very much today.]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Letter to the Soldiers

(Taken directly from an email I sent my friend S this morning. Sometimes these entries just write themselves, don't they?)

We had Mitzvah Day at the temple yesterday; one of the mitzvot--in this case, it means good deeds--we do is create care packages for soldiers overseas.

The kids write holiday cards to the soldiers to include in the packages; lots of "we love you" and "come home soon" and hearts and flowers ... 

... except for N's, which read, "Dear Soldier, Hope you win the war. Beet the bad guys with your guns. Love, N."

The woman in charge of that table and I laughed until we cried. Well, after we fixed the handwriting so it didn't look so much like it said "Beet the bad GAYS with your guns."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Swear, the Smart*ss Gene Came From Her Father

We were having a family meeting last night about Em's computer usage. She received a laptop for her Bat Mitzvah (thanks, Mom!) and while it's literally been the Best Present Ever, it's also brought up some issues that I hadn't really considered.

I've always been very anti-computer-in-the-kids'-rooms, and I still am. Except that there are actually lots of reasons for her to have to use her computer in her room: The fact that our house just isn't large or nook-y enough for her to have a quiet place to do her homework, for instance, and often she needs her computer for homework. Or the fact that she likes to listen to music while she writes, and I don't want N distracted by the noise when he's doing his homework. Or that she likes to shoot and create videos, and that noise is a problem. Or that she likes to video Skype with friends instead of talking on the phone, and that can get loud, too. You get the idea.

So the meeting last night was about addressing her needs for privacy and our needs for less chaos, and balancing them with my concerns about how much time she spends on the computer in general, about not being able to keep an eye on her online activities, and -- perhaps most importantly to me -- my need for her not to be spending all of her time at home in her room with the door closed.

It was a long and productive conversation, and we came to some decisions we all can live with. At the end, it was just Em and I at the table, and I was reiterating the main points of the agreement -- as I often, and no doubt maddeningly, like to do to be sure we're all agreeing to the same thing.

Finally, she asked, "OK. Are we done?"

And I said, "Yes, we're done. But please, do keep in mind, I really mean it about not spending all your time in your room. I need you to at least be out with the rest of us often enough that you can remember what we look like."

She was passing my chair as she came around the table to leave the kitchen, and she dropped a kiss on the top of my head.

"Of course I won't forget what you look like," she said, breezily. "I have lots of pictures of you on my computer."