Thursday, August 26, 2010

Like Father, Like Son

Mr. Lucky likes to watch Netflix movies on his computer, whereas I prefer to watch them on the TV in the family room. I sometimes watch Netflix while he works in the evening. Thanks to its “Recently Viewed” feature that allows us to check up on each other, several days later he’ll remark, “I see you watched (insert movie title here). How’d it look?”

“It looked fine,” I usually say, but what’s fine to me may not be acceptable to him. For as long as we’ve been married, he’s waxed obsessive over widescreen ratios and more recently, high definition. Unless it’s so extremely letterboxed as to resemble the view through Gort’s visor, and so high in definition that it’s 3-D without the kooky glasses, it is unacceptable to him.

So you’d think he’d be more particular than I am about what movies to watch. Not so. Judging from the Netflix viewing history, not only will that man watch just about anything, but I wonder where he finds the time to watch it all.

“Most of those movies I don’t watch all the way through,” he explains. “I only watch them long enough just to see how they look.”

Enter the Bear.

One Saturday while I was at a
TARA meeting, Mr. Lucky introduced Baby Bear to the Netflix streaming disc that works off the PS3. He may as well have opened an institutional sized can of Extra Fancy Gourmet Worms in Heavy Syrup.

In terms of quantity, that boy has a viewing history to match his father’s. It’s mostly from the family/children category, but he has a few movies favored for an excess of stuff boys love. He goes nuts over the first third of The Fugitive (as did his older brother before him, who calls the movie, “Bus Train”). In addition to the bus and the train, there are police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, helicopters, and sirens galore. And let’s not forget the thousands and thousands of gallons of lovely water gushing in torrents over a dam, with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones running and yelling and slipping and splashing through ankle deep water while threatening to shoot somebody—
just like Mom and Dad once did!

I’ve also seen him play the first few minutes of Die Hard over and over, just to watch the landing of the jet airliner.

One day recently, while I was in my office, Mr. Lucky set up the Netflix in the PS3 to play the movie Up on the TV. Shortly afterward, I heard a ruckus between him and Baby Bear, and I went out to investigate.

“He wants the Playstation controller and the remote, but I hid them,” Mr. Lucky explained. Funny, I used to do that myself—only I wasn’t hiding them from Baby Bear. “He wants to quit the movie and find something else.”

“Are you yourself watching it?” I asked. When he said no, I went on, “Then let him change movies if that’s what he wants.”

Mr. Lucky proceeded to steal my lines. “But that’s all he does. He doesn’t watch anything for more than a few minutes. He’s constantly changing out movies.”

“Oh, you mean sort of like you always do? And how about all your channel surfing? How many times have I had to sit there while you endlessly click-click-click and say, ‘I know I’m driving you crazy, Karen, but I can’t help it, I’m a man and men like to hunt’? Well, guess what? Our little boy is becoming a man—AND HE WANTS TO HUNT!”

I myself may not be a hunter, but my shot hit the mark. Grumbling under his breath, Mr. Lucky surrendered the PS3 controller and remote to Baby Bear, and then returned to the computer in his man-cave.

And thence resumed his own feverish hunting through Netflix.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bear Hugs and Grumpy Old Men

Yesterday we availed ourselves of our veterans’ benefits with a trip to MacDill Air Force Base, where we shopped for groceries at the commissary. We charged Baby Bear with pushing the grocery cart, but we still have to keep a close eye on him, especially when we get to the end of an aisle, for it is here that he often attempts to make an escape by pushing the cart in one direction, only to let go of it and dash off in the other.

I tend to keep in close physical contact with him at the end of aisles, usually by putting my arm around him. Occasionally he’ll respond by looping his own arm around my waist.

We were thus entwined at the entrance to a very crowded aisle, from which we needed only one item. Mr. Lucky volunteered to plunge into the mob and retrieve it while Baby Bear and I waited for him with the grocery cart.

Mr. Lucky was about to step away just as an old man shuffled by and mumbled something I couldn’t hear, but apparently Mr. Lucky did, for he only rolled his eyes at the old man, then grinned at me and Baby Bear before disappearing into the crowded aisle.

Baby Bear and I waited behind our cart, arms hooked around each other as he swayed from side to side, taking me with him. No doubt we looked like a pair of human windshield wipers. The old man continued glowering and muttering inaudibly before vanishing in the crowd of shoppers.

We’re used to disapproving scowls and inaudible grumbles from strangers.

Mr. Lucky soon returned, still shaking his head. “You didn’t hear what that old guy said, did you?”

No, I hadn’t. The commissary is a noisy place. Apparently we’d inadvertently blocked the old man’s path by stopping the cart while I put an arm around my son and he returned the gesture. Indignant, the old man had growled, “Why don’t you two find someplace else to fall in love?”

I must admit, that wasn’t as harsh as being barked at to “get a room.”

So the old guy thought my son, only a couple of inches taller than yours truly, was my boyfriend. He’s just turned thirteen and because of his height, he does look older. But as for me, “Do I really look that young?” I asked Mr. Lucky.

Talk about your missed opportunities. If only he’d said something like, “Well, of course, Karen! You look younger than everyone! Why, people mistake you for my daughter all the time!” I would have baked him a chocolate cake.

But no, instead he scoffed and said, “Oh, that guy is old and probably half-blind. All he saw were two people in his way. He was grumpy because he had to go around you.”

So much for a detour into the chocolate cake aisle.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Baby Bear's Adventures Through the Breaking Glass

An alternate subject line considered was, “What took him so long to break a window?”

I always feared it would be the sliding glass door to the patio (into which he does the occasional body slam), or his bedroom window (where I once caught him perched on the window sill as if he were about to use it as a diving board), or the glass doors on the curio cabinet (he likes to sit in front of it and peer past the knickknacks to his reflection in the back mirror).

But no, it was the living room window he broke and since there were no witnesses and he doesn’t/can’t talk, I have no idea how he did it. As always when these things happen, Mr. Lucky was at work, but when he came home later that night and surveyed the damage, he surmised that Baby Bear must have banged his head against the glass hard enough to shatter it. The kid does enjoy headbanging and our walls have numerous dents to prove it.

Those dents are getting higher every year, and I could probably go through every room of the house and assign an approximate date to each dent based on how high it is from the floor. Who needs fancy growth charts?

But I digress.

It was shortly before 8 pm the other night and I’d just taken dinner out of the oven when I heard the ominous crash from the living room. I rushed in to find a jagged hole in the upper window pane, and a bewildered looking Bear just standing there. He never made a sound and he looked all right, so I led him to his room for safety’s sake while I cleaned up the broken glass from the floor.

Then I went back to his room where he sat quietly on the edge of his bed. He was covered with blood.

To my horror, the worst of it was streaming down the inside corner of his eye along his nose, striking fear in my heart that he’d gotten glass in his eye. But I soon ascertained that the blood was coming from a cut on his forehead. He also had a cut on his lower arm. The poor thing had smeared blood all over himself, so he only looked worse than he really was until he was properly cleaned up and bandaged.

All the while, he never let out a peep. He went back to playing his keyboard and making his usual crooning noises while rocking on the loveseat in the family room, as if nothing had happened.

I also found broken glass in the front yard; big shards that flew up to ten feet from the house. I retrieved his ball that he likes to carry around, but there’s no way it could’ve broken the window. It’s a baseball sized “sensory” ball that weighs no more than two ounces.

Perhaps Mr. Lucky is right. It must’ve been that boy’s big hard head that did it.

As for replacing the broken window, I had the usual worst case visions of window repair specialists who wouldn’t be able to come out until two weeks from next Tuesday and bills in the hundreds of dollars; but Mr. Lucky replaced the pane himself the very next day, and it only cost him $24.00.

I like being wrong.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mom and Apple Pie (and Ice Cream and Chocolates)

One of Mrs. Smith’s frozen, ready-to-bake apple pies has been taking up valuable real estate in our freezer since the holidays. I meant to bake it for New Year’s, but Mr. Lucky and the Crown Prince went up to Georgia to spend that holiday with the in-laws---leaving me to deal with Baby Bear and two dogs scared out of their wits by the next door neighbor's fireworks. At the time, I didn’t think it was right to bake that pie and eat it all by myself, so it remained in the freezer alongside a carton of vanilla ice cream.

Eventually Mr. Lucky couldn’t resist digging into the ice cream, leaving only the pie. Occasionally he’d ask, “So when are we going to have that pie, Karen?” and I’d mumble something about pie being “a weekend thing.”

Trouble is, Mr. Lucky works most weekends, and his overall schedule is such that, believe it or not, there’s never been an ideal time to take it out of the freezer and throw it into the oven.

I finally found the time this last week . . . when he and the Crown Prince returned to Georgia for another visit with his kinfolk. I remained at home for four days with two barking dogs and a roaring, rampaging Bear.

On the first evening with his dad out of town, Baby Bear emerged from his room in a deceptively cheery mood, bounced up to me in the middle of the kitchen, and with his trademark yell he pushed all five feet, eleven inches of me flat to the floor! I was barefooted on ceramic tile, so I had no traction to keep me on my feet, and because I happened to be in a part of the kitchen where there was nothing nearby to break my fall, down to the floor I crashed like the Colossus of Rhodes.

That hurt. But at least I came out of it better than old Colossus did. I think he broke into pieces at the bottom of the Aegean. I only got banged up (nice big bruise on the outer thigh), and was in a bit of pain for the next few days.

Since there’s no liquor in the house, I did the only other thing I could to maintain my sanity. I baked that apple pie and ate it with French vanilla ice cream.

I enjoyed a slice for every day Mr. Lucky and our firstborn were gone. That’s a quarter of a pie every day, covered with at least three scoops of the ice cream. I ate it all.

And I did not allow myself to feel so much as a scintilla of guilt.

Oh, and I consumed a whole bag of chocolates, too.

No guilt. Still no sanity, either, and certainly no weight lost, but NO GUILT!