My son is in a stage where he wants to be Just. Like. Me. Everything I like, he insists that he likes. Everything I do not like, he also does not like (and vehemently insists he has never liked). He agrees with everything I say and mimics everything I do and it might, it was pointed out, behoove me to speak and act in a way that I would want him to mimic.
This has been harder than anticipated.
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Dear my four-year-old son!
Hi, I am your mother whom you totally idolize and constantly imitate at this point in your childhood, and if there’s one thing you need to know about me it’s that I love cauliflower and not having a complete emotional breakdown when I am asked to take a bath.
What was that thing someone just said about how I don’t normally like mushrooms?? Of COURSE I love mushrooms. That person must be misremembering. Everyone knows how much I love mushrooms and how I totally eat them all the time without dramatically spitting them machine-gun style into my napkin when I can feel one in my mouth. Another thing I totally love and eat all the time is tofu because I just love things with weird, slightly slimy textures that make you feel like maybe you’re eating a phlegm-covered sheep’s eyeball.
Mushrooms are the greatest, but you know what else is great are large, fast-moving insects. Something I’m definitely not afraid of are those giant cockroach-looking palmetto bugs that are sometimes huddled around a puddle in our basement like African megafauna at a riverbank. I love those! The reason I let out that very big gasp when I saw them was because I was SO excited to see some and the reason I didn’t want to go near them was because what if I stepped on them? What I love even more are spiders, which is why I trap them under those giant Pyrex bowls. If there’s one thing spiders love, it is being trapped in a potato-salad scented, makeshift Bio-Dome, and if there are two things spiders love, it is the Bio-Dome thing followed by being flushed down a toilet.
Also, not hitting people is totally my favorite. I really loved not hitting that businessman who let the door slam in my face while I tried to walk into the drugstore to buy allergy medication this morning. I was so happy I didn’t hit him and I’m even more glad I didn’t cover him in dead palmetto bugs and sneeze the mushrooms I had just eaten right onto his Ralph Lauren tortoiseshell sunglasses. Because I love being nice.
Oh, you too? Wow, four-year-old son, we are like TWINS.
I love listening to advice from people who are sure they know what’s best for me. Sometimes grandma has lots of good advice like this and goes, “Here’s what you should do!” and I love listening because if there’s one person who knows what I should do it’s a mildly anxious woman in her late 60’s who spends half her time telling me to iron my shirts, and the other half eating boxes of Good ‘n’ Plenty while looking at headshots of young Gregory Peck on Google Images.
(I am kidding! I don’t think my mom knows how to use Google Images. I assume she goes to the library and looks at Gregory Peck photos on microfiche.)
I love not looking at an iPhone or iPad all the time. And you know what else I love? Flash cards. Some people like the mindless distraction of iPhones or iPads, but I’d rather cultivate a type of “deep focus,” sitting alone in the living room with my alphabet flashcards and my deepest fears while listening to the beat of my own heart. H is for Help!
Not that I have any fears to think about, because in addition to not being afraid of spiders and palmetto bugs I’m also totally not scared of rejection or abandonment or the state of the world into which I haphazardly brought you and I’m also definitely not afraid of cicadas, especially in those years when millions of them hatch and they’re all crawling like a plague through the parking lot of a Staples.
I love peeing before I leave the house even if I don’t really feel like I have to go. So often I am just so sure that I don’t have to go to the bathroom, but I love love love going to the bathroom anyway so that I don’t wind up crying and asking if I’m allowed to pee on the train platform in the 34th street subway station.
I love you. Because you are fantastic, four-year-old. Please love yourself as much as I love you even though there is literally no way you could ever understand how much that is.
I love going to bed early without making a huge fuss. Sometimes as early as 7:30 PM. Even in two years when you realize that most of these are lies, please know that these last two are painfully, painfully true.
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Cicada Photo Credit: Robert Engberg
Thanks for reading. If you need a Mother’s Day Gift because you’re the type of person who remembers to buy gifts, I wrote a book that’s about as expensive as a dozen tulips but won’t shed limp petals onto your table after four days. If you buy it through the Chronicle website (HERE) using the code GIVEBACK, they are donating a percentage of the sales to the Ronald McDonald House Charities to help out parents whose children are hospitalized.
You can also buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indiebound. You can follow The Ugly Volvo on Facebook or Twitter or you can just write me long letters, fold them into paper airplanes and throw them at my window.