Friday, September 9, 2011

Crooked Family Tree

Cael is my son.  Graham is my other son, Cael's brother.

Was that so hard?  I didn't think so, but Cael sure did.  Sitting in my sister's living room, we started a conversation about how we are all related.  In the moment, only the basics were covered, and even those connections proved difficult for Cael.

"Cael, who is your Mommy's sister?" asked my nephew Ethan. 


"No, Graham is your brother.  Who is your Mommy's sister?"


Sensing that this wasn't going anywhere, Ethan threw Cael a clue.

"A sister is a girl.  What girl here is your Mommy's sister?"

Only pointing this time, Cael randomly selected my other nephew Keaton, then Daddy and myself before landing on Amy.  With only two females in a room with five males, there weren't that many possibilities.  I wasn't sure why he was having so much trouble with this, since we'd discussed at length about how Sarah and Amy are his aunts, and he has four cousins: Ryan, Jared, Ethan and Keaton.  What I realized, however, is that he only knew people as they relate to him, rather than to one another.

 We got home and Cael was unusually quiet, which indicated that he was: 1) contemplating world domination (where to detonate his weapons of mass destruction dump out all of his toys), 2) pondering the meaning of life (the miracle of the human body working up a poop) or 3) so severely stumped by our earlier conversation that he was still trying to wrap his weasely little brain around it.  At that moment, option #1 had been addressed by Graham and option #2 was accomplished shortly after lunch in the most public fashion possible.

"MOMMY!  I did a POOP!  Where's Mommy?  Hey everyone!  I POOPED!  I need my Mommy to help me because I POOPED!  Here... here in the potty!  Do you want to see?  No?  That's okay, I'll show Mommy.  MOMMY.... POOP!"

Come to think of it, these unusually quiet moments are like little stocking stuffers from God; tiny consolation gifts for getting through moments like the one above without a narcotic addiction and the majority of my hair.  But as much as I do take refuge in the all too rare quiet pauses in my home, I have also come to realize that the best time to help him understand or learn something is in the split-second before his attention is diverted to a nearby toy or a piece of fuzz on the floor.  I decided to seize the opportunity.  Carpe what-the-heck.

"Cael, can you come here for a second?"  (If it were only that easy.)

Cael likes to ignore me completely as if he didn't hear me at all.  He's not quite old enough yet for me to chalk it up to typical male selective hearing, but the only other alternatives are actual hearing loss or just plain disobedience.  The investigation is pending.

"Cael, I'm giving you an instruction.  You can either follow it and talk to me, or you can ignore it and go to your room.  Your choice."

"What is it, Mommy?"

"You know how you have a Daddy?"

"Yep.  Daddy is my Daddy."

"That's right.  Who do you think is Mommy's Daddy?"

"I don't know."

"He doesn't live with us anymore because I'm all grown up, but he's still very important to us.  Who could that be?"


"That's right!  Papa is my Daddy."

"But why Papa doesn't tuck you into bed?"

"He used to.  But now I'm all grown up and I don't need him to tuck me in.  I get to tuck you in at night.  What about Amy?  Amy is my.....?"

"Daddy?  Your brother?  A teacher?"

"A teacher isn't a relative, honey.  Amy is my sister, and so is Sarah.  Can you remember what Ethan, Keaton, Ryan and Jared are called?"


"Well, yes, but what kind of relatives are they?" 

"Boy relatives?"

"They're not uncles, and they're not your brothers.  They're called c... cous...."


"Something like that.  They are your cousins." 

"Yeah.  They are my cousins and I am their monkey."

And with that, he was off to peel bananas with his feet and pick nits from Graham's hair or whatever mischief he manages to get into when I'm not looking.  But it's just fine, because he is the monkey swinging from our family tree.

I draw the line at flinging poo, however.  

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.