I love The Kid.
She is the kind of kid who thinks a red velour skirt with a white bow, over blue jeans, topped with a short sleeved, purple striped, mock turtleneck, is a good look for school pictures. I am the kind of mom who lets her wear things like that. She has a need for fashion, all kinds of it at the same time.
She is the kind of kid who contracts E. coli because she likes dead animals, grabbing them by the scruffs of their necks so she can make them “walk” as she plays house with them. When you tell her she can’t do that anymore she uses the, “but they’re so cute and cuddly” argument.
She is the kind of kid who, after successfully sneaking into bed with you on a cold night, causing you to wake up and say sleepy things like, “Don’t look at me like that! I’m not a circus!” remarks to The Man in the morning that, “It’s no fair! You get to sleep with mom and have all the fun watching her be silly!”
She is the kind of kid who tiptoes around the house looking to pilfer Skittles The Man hides from her.
She is eleven and likes to remind me that she will be driving “soon.”
She is sarcastic and known to add, “Said the liar” to things you say to her.
She is the kind of kid that, when dressing for church, finds that it is ESSENTIAL to wear a full length black velour cape with gold lamé lining, OVER her sparkly, blue sequined skirt, and her leopard print tights.
She gets quiet when she’s plotting; she keeps her eyes innocent, but gives her plans away because the tops of her cheeks, the very tippy tops of them, smile in an evil way.
She is meticulous and hates “rounding.” Rounding numbers is the stupidest thing ever invented. It’s like showering more than once a week. It was conceived as a way to torture her.
She loves West Side Story, reading, Michael Jackson, cats, horses, brussels sprouts, asparagus, fish, and money.
She also loves games and winning.
That is who The Kid is.
The Kid and I have a game where we try to “top” how much we love each other. For example; If she says, “I love you times infinity” I’ll say, “I love you that, TIMES infinity, TIMES all the insects by WEIGHT!”
Bill Nye taught us the gross-out fact that there are more insects on earth, by weight, than all the mammals combined. By weight people, WEIGHT! Insects outweigh mammals.
It’s a fact.
Let that sink in.
If you take all the whales and elephants and put them on a scale they will still not weight as much as ants. Creepy, picnic ruining, tickly footed ants!
I try not to think about it too much.
(I don’t even think about what animals I would have to stack up in order to outweigh spiders.)
These “fights” usually happen as she’s leaving for school in the morning. It begins with cheek top conniving and progresses to sneaky eye twinkles. She tries desperately to hide this but she can’t help it. There is no hiding this kind of treachery. I can almost hear her brain working on what she’ll say to “out love” me. She gets down to the entryway, making a big deal out of putting on her backpack, streeetching her arms out as they meet up with the straps.
Sometimes she’ll pretend one of her shoes is untied.
This is a not effective as a duplicitous tactic when she’s wearing zip up boots, yet her staunch ability to stick with the same tactic that has so reliably worked before is admirable.
Her body gets taut while she preps it for battle, ready to spring like “Daniel-san” doing the crane in The Karate Kid.
Always, ALWAYS, there is a pause.
This pause is her undoing.
She hasn’t yet realized her pausing is a dead giveaway and alerts me to the challenge that lies ahead. I try to anticipate what she’ll say and start thinking of what I’ll say back that will “beat” her. After pausing six seconds or so, she’ll try to yell out the amount she loves me as quickly as she can, so I’ll have no time for a rebuttal that tops what she’s just said. Then she’ll turn around as fast as she can, her whole body pivoting on her big toe. She’ll slam the door and RUN, elbows flying as she’s propelled to H’s house, as fast as her sixth grade legs can take her!
She runs with a glee-filled brain, her synapse’s congratulating each other on another calculated victory!
Most days she can’t stop herself from screaming with excitement at having outsmarted me!
Oh! The joy of an unbeatable love fight!
I often run to the door or a window, fumbling as adrenaline shakes my hands, yank it open and yell out a bigger “number” like, “I love you THAT…PLUS all the triangles and LEEEEEAVES!!!”
(It’s a very mature game to be played by people who are above childish things and who only sometimes talk in English accents or pretend they are pirates. With our combined maturity we quickly realized this game couldn’t be restrained by the silly, traditional way of measuring things, i.e. “numbers.”)
She works diligently to overcome my advantage of yelling out the amount of love I have for her before she reaches the safety of H’s house. The trek to H’s, which is across the street and two houses down, leaves her vulnerable to another love attack. She often RUNS all the way to H’s like a crazed prison escapee; desperately trying to out run my words. Terrified they will catch up with her and I will love her more than she just loved me.
(We talked about that. She now understands she can’t outrun the speed of sound, making the act of running an invalid way to avoid hearing the words I am saying.)
Thus, Momdiggity 1, Kid 0.
She has tried to trick me by leaving for school, making a big show of that fact so I REALLY believe she is gone…and then waiting for a minute on the porch…stealthily biding her time until she RIPS open the door and screams “I love you that, times all the dinosaurs, all the shapes, everything you’ve ever said, AND ALL THE INSECTS BY WEIGHT!!” She SLAMS the front door and giggles maniacally because she knows there is no way I can top that before she reaches the safe haven of H’s porch.
I’ve seen her knock on H’s door like a demented person, sneaking terrified, anxious looks at our house to make sure I’m not trying to yell back something that will cause me to win this game. When someone in H’s opens the door she’ll shove her way in and slam their door too. I can practically see her heart beating ferociously, barely able to contain such tension in her chest, and the little stress signals her body is sending out as she anticipates the door opening or me yelling out my bigger love.
Who knows what my neighbors think, seeing The Kid running for the cover H’s house provides, and hearing us scream what must sound like obscenities every morning.
Sometimes, after she’s gotten in a particularly good one, I’ll call H’s and ask to speak to The Kid. I’ll quickly yell out my love number and hang up.
After doing this a few times The Kid stopped accepting morning phone calls.
Since I am not very competitive this has not bothered me.
***I remember when my beloved sister, M, and I fought over that thing at her Tupperware party. All the other ladies were placidly sitting around enjoying their hors d’oeuvres and catalogs of plastic food storage containers, when the Tupperware lady brought out the “five dollar box!”
I of course catapulted into action, but my sister, with her longer arms and freakish speed, almost beat me to the box! We both coveted the same item. There was some wrestling and hair pulling while the other ladies looked on with bewildered faces. I am proud to say that I was the victor; I won by licking it. After all, the rule is, “If you lick it, it’s yours.”
I think it freaked the Tupperware lady out.
She must not know about that rule.
Or have siblings.***
To combat the non-answering I have taken to calling B, H’s mother, asking her to tell The Kid something like, “Your mom wants you to know that she loves you everything you just said [sigh from B] times all the shapes and hydrogen.”
Hydrogen kicks butt.
I try not to bring B into it too often. This is cheating and I know it…but sometimes I just can’t resist.
Another way I “cheat” is by leaving love notes in her lunchbox. They usually say something like, “I love you everything you said this morning, TIMES what I said, TIMES all the insects by WEIGHT, TIMES all the porcupines and apples! HA! Love Momdiggity”
I pretty much rock the love numbers.
Sometimes I let her win. Cause I love her.
Which really just makes me win all over again, but I refrain from pointing that out.
That kind of selflessness makes me the DOUBLE winner!
I tell you all this so you’ll know the climate that exists in our house. It is rather competitive, filled with adrenaline, and most importantly, chock full of gallons of logic based, rational, thinking.
The Kid, being the logically minded kid she is and also sneaky and scientifical, has taken to walking to H’s house with her fingers in her ears.
She’s been doing this since second grade.
The finger-in-ear tactic effectively blocks out any ability for sound waves to permeate her outer ear, so it can never even think about arriving at her inner ear. This entirely ELIMINATES the miniscule possibility that it could EVER reach her cochlear nerve and be transmitted to her brain that I, the Momdiggity, have yelled out a number that could possibly conquer hers.
This has not deterred me in my efforts. Like a cat that suddenly jumps up to pounce on your sock, thoroughly killing it to death, even though you are actively wearing it; I too lay in wait for the perfect opportunity to triumph.
Such an opportunity happened last week.
The Kid has taken to riding her scooter to school.
This takes both hands.
I saw my chance and struck out, catching her in her weakened state.
The Kid was totally caught by surprise! I made sure she was halfway to H’s, giving her no time for retaliation, and I yelled out this unbeatable love amount, “I love you more than the insects, dinosaurs, whales, sharks, elephants, mammals, numbers, letters, gallons, and shapes…by WEIGHT…TIMES all that dad poops in Denny’s!! And I know you can hear me because I see that your fingers can’t stop the sound from reaching your ears because you are riding your scooter!!! HAHA!! I WIN! Your cochlear nerve is transmitting that fact, this very second, STRAIGHT to the knowledge center of your brain! I am the MOMDIGGIIITTYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!”
The Kid stopped in the middle of the street, looked back at me, her face as flat as the rolls I make, as she tried to take in the victory I was drunk with. Her head tilted in confusion, her nose wrinkled with it, probably because her brain was having a hard time processing how I could so totally win, coupled with her inability to block the ninjaesque love blows I sent her way. She weakly started to shout out her retort…but I had already shut the door. She could see my look of utter triumphant, having just achieved the greatest of jubilant victories, through the front window.
(Windows block out all sound, so do trash cans because sound can’t bend around them…because of the trash contained therein. Trash is powerful like that.)
The very next day, after much plotting on how to overcome the obstacle to winning that the scooter provided… she hit me with this zinger, “Good Bye Mom, I love you all the insects, cat poop, bacteria, food, plants, animals, mammals, whales, missing socks, and gravity by WEIGHT…times infinity, TIMES, CHUCK NORRIS!!!!” She took off on her scooter, her toes thrilled and grinning as they kicked the pavement.
Times Chuck Norris?!?
I could not beat Chuck Norris. No one can. He’ll punch your heart out if you even try.
As I opened the door to try to regain some sort of winning dignity, I was shocked to see she had found a way to combat the scooter hand-to-ear issue. She was gleefully, yet lackadaisically crying out, “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” So confident in her mad “love skills” that she wasn’t even in a hurry. She was just ambling along, no hint of terror in her voice, or her movements, as she made her way to H’s.
It was amazing to witness such undeniable greatness. I was awed.
How could that ever be topped?
The Kid asked me to come downstairs this morning. I knew something was up, but she wasn’t going to give me a clue, not a hint of stress or even a tiny cheek topping grin.
Nothing but flat. Businesslike. Serenity.
It was impressive.
As she was standing in the doorway, backpack over her shoulders, she looked at me very intently. She couldn’t hold in the eye sparkles any longer, they shot out like high pressure love zings. With a huge grin and in an official sounding voice she said, “Goodbye Mom.”
Then she handed me a note and tried to keep her cheeks down, stating in a voice as official sounding as a kid can muster when they are grinning so hard their lips can’t cover their teeth, “You can’t read that until I’m gone.”
Then she turned her head smartly and galloped off to H’s.
I had been served!
Unfortunately she had forgotten her scooter.
Two milliseconds later she ran in the house, terror on her flushed face, yelling, “You can’t read it yet! I forgot my scooter!” She kept screaming, “It doesn’t count yet!” over and over, blocking out any sounds I could have made while she grabbed her scooter, accidentally swinging it around and hitting it on both sides of the door frame and both of her legs in her terrified rush to get to “safety.”
Rarely have I seen her in such an excited, panicked state.
This anticipated victory would leave bruises on both of her shins.
Notice the way Chuck Norris is punching my heart out, and The Kid’s choice of note ending words. It was obvious she thought she had already established her massive love amount. Signing with the word “love” would be inexcusably redundant, and possibly cause my heart to blow into a KADRILLION pieces from its inability to hold all that love in.
She watches out for me that kid does.
When I opened the door to try to top her I was subjected to the sight of her riding her scooter across the driveway. All panic had dissolved with the first kick against the pavement. As soon as she saw my head she started giddily yelling out “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” like a broken record.
All the way to H’s.
The grasshopper had become the master.