Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hobos

Jackson has been slightly obsessed with hobos lately. Not in a mean way. In a weird way. He tries to work it into the conversation however he can.

He spent 20 minutes one day trying to convince Sydney that a pebble he was holding was a hobo. I just let them be, trying not to control freak my way into their conversation. But finally I said "Jackson, how can a pebble be a hobo? Do you even know what a hobo is?"

"Yeah. Someone without a house or food."

"Oh." I said. "Well a hobo is a person. A pebble can't be a hobo."

"Yes it can."

"You can't just say anything is a hobo. Like I can't say a frog is a hobo."

"Mommy, a frog can't be a hobo" he said with a slight disgust in his voice.

"But a rock can???" I queried.

[pause] "Yes."

I told you it was weird.

Fast forward to the drive home from Sydney's sleepover. I had a certain 8 year old boy, a captive audience, in the backseat to lecture give some parental wisdom to.  If only I could say the right thing to make his straighten up and fly right.  Speak his language.

I made the unforgivable mistake earlier in the day of trying to watch Private Practice on a Friday after school. Sydney was on a play date. Jackson was on the computer on Club Penguin. I had spent the whole morning on a field trip with Sydney's class and the whole afternoon getting groceries, so I felt I was due a little down time.

Jackson came into the room toward the end of the show. I should have turned it off and put on some inappropriate teenager cartoon for him, but I didn't. He started asking who the characters were. I realized the moral depravity of the show as I am trying to explain why Addison, a doctor, is with one boyfriend, also a doctor, but peaking through the windows spying on Sam, another doctor, who she is really in love with and who lives next door and is with another doctor that he doesn't love either because he really loves Addison.

I was on high alert for sex scenes and I couldn't believe we have gone 10 minutes without one.

But if there is one thing I know, it's predictable plot lines. When Charlotte invited Sheldon in for a martini and 10 minutes later Cooper showed up. I knew what was about to happen. Cooper is Charlotte's ex boyfriend, who we know is still love with Charlotte. Obviously we're going to see Cooper walk in on some Charlotte/Sheldon nakedity. So I turned off the TV.

Jackson was not in favour of this plan.

I could understand his unhappiness. I would have understood a little yelling. A few tears. And a "why did you let me watch it for that long if it's so inappropriate". All would have been well deserved.

But the 2.5 hours of hostility, furniture upsetting, name calling and general display of disrespect was entirely not understandable. When we briefly had him contained upstairs, he made a centre where his displayed his dislike of us. Like he would a science project. He had signs made, moved a table into the hall where he made his "I don't like Mommy" display. It morphed into an "I don't like Mommy OR Daddy" display. He had a whole presentation he was prepared to make outlining his reasons for his state of unhappiness. The word "turd" figured prominently. As in "Mommy is a pile of turd" or "Daddy is a big fat turd."

He had turned the corner by 7:30 when we headed out the door to take Sydney to her sleepover. Husband and I still had to sort out the consequences for numerous infractions including calling me the "F word". (not the actual F word. He told me I was "a stupid F word".) It's kind of like the referees in a hockey game trying to sort out the penalties after a big brawl. Husband and I need to digest, dissect and bemoan the situation before coming up with penalties. I've tried doing it mid-incident but I end up coming up with unworkable consequences like "you can't have any fun until you're in grade 5".

Anyway, Husband and I mostly remained calm throughout the 2.5 hours of hostility. We told Jackson we did not want to hear him talking or read his signs and we waited for sanity to prevail which it eventually did. The consequances were to be determined later.  So now, as I said, captive audience in the van, I have some things to say.

"You know Jackson, I'm sorry I had to turn off the TV but I thought it wasn't appropriate. I'm sorry you were mad. But you can't treat people the way you treated Daddy and I. We love you. We're just trying to teach you to be a respectful human being. But trust me, you get out in the real world and treat people that way, you won't have friends. And if you treat your coworkers like that, you'll lose your job."

"And" I added, searching for words with impact, "you could become a hobo."

"I won't be a hobo. Hobo's don't have houses. I would still have a house"

"If you lose your job, you won't have money you might become a hobo." (I'll leave Canada's social safety net discussion for another time.)

"I wouldn't be a hobo. Hobo's don't have food because they don't have houses, which means they don't have fridges."

"IF YOU DON'T HAVE A JOB, YOU MAY NOT HAVE A HOUSE WITH A FRIDGE, SO YOU COULD BECOME A HOBO."

Silence.

I'm not entirely sure that was the way to go with this one. First, because threatening your kid with homelessness is not necessarily advcated in any parenting manual. Second, because I just realized that maybe he thinks hobos are kind of cool.

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