January 5, 2011

Role Reversal

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , at 11:54 am by autismmommytherapist

We’re going on seventy-two hours of unprepared “imprisonment” (our forecaster said three to six inches of snow, not thirty-six inches of snow), and the natives are beginning to get restless. We’ve run through every new Christmas toy in the house, every old, abandoned plaything in the realm, and Zach has filled-in the pages of at least two dozen coloring books in his increasing boredom. Jeff and I spent half an hour getting them into snow gear for the ten minutes they played outside (Justin rejected his boots and gloves for sneakers and bare hands and I conceded, another Mother-of-the-Year moment brought to you by the makers of Cabin Fever), and after icicles began to form on both of my sons’ faces we returned to the relative warmth of our home. I’ve organized three closets and repaired four photo albums that Justin dismantled in March (spring cleaning and OCD-forced chores not being my forte), and I’ve been eying the Tupperware drawer for a day now.

I really, really, really need to get out.

We went through something similar last Christmas, but the circumstances were decidedly worse then. Last year mother nature deposited enough snow that we lost the last three school days before vacation was supposed to begin, which meant that Justin was home, with no camp or school to attend, for seventeen consecutive days (but who was counting?). That first week he had no new surprises with which to entertain him, and my days were punctuated by him dragging me frequently to the front door with shoes in hand, and his subsequent whine and tantrum when told “no, mean mommy can’t take you out during a blizzard, Justin”. I saw such maturity in him during the course of this particular storm, was thrilled to see him simply drop his shoes on the ground when I showed him the snow banks he could see through the sliver of unfrosted glass at our front door. He really “got it” this year, understood his parents weren’t torturing him on purpose, and found ways to amuse himself that didn’t require the constant pull of one of my body parts.

How’s that for looking at the bright side?

Eventually however, even Zach tired of his holiday loot and forays into imaginative play (and grateful as I am for it, mommy was tired too), and I could see him searching for something, anything new, to occupy his mind. After a few dozen stories (and even more pretzels) he finally sidled up to me, looked me in the eye, and made his latest demand.

“Mommy, you be Zachary, and I’ll be Mommy-Kim”.

I thought to myself, this should be interesting. Guess I’ll find out if he hears those frequently muttered curse words after all.

“Okay Mommy”, I answer in my approximation of a little-boy voice, “Nemo just told me he’s REALLY thirsty, and I need to go potty NOW!” (when your potty-trained pre-schooler starts to backslide on his bathroom regime, is it really so bad to tell him his favorite fish will die of thirst if he doesn’t pee in the proper receptacle?  I think not).

Zach responds by grabbing my hand and whisking me to the living room coffee table (?!). Within seconds I gloriously save his finned friend and half of the Atlantic Ocean with my pretend stream while my son yells encouragements of “Yippee!  Bravo!”, and my favorite, “Zachy, you saved Nemo’s LIFE!”.

Yes, I’ll do anything to stop buying diapers.

Over the next twenty minutes I learned I’m a nicer mother than I thought, although my terms of endearment are rather nauseating (I’ve got to come up with something better than “sweetpea” or “honeypie” sometime soon). I made my almost-four-year-old feed, bathe and dress me, tasks he undertook with unbridled joy in a sing-song falsetto voice (I really need to take a look at that too). I repeatedly commanded him to “HUG ME!”, to the point I swear I saw the flash of an eye roll as he wrapped his arms around me and said in a slightly exasperated tone “Zachy, you’re alright, no more crying”. An attempt to solicit two “Grandma brownies” post fake-lunch was met with a fairly patronizing remonstration of “no sweetie, your belly can only hold one at a time”, and I was flatly denied the right to see The Polar Express in its entirety. I worked that little bugger to the bone until the “real” bath/book/bed hour approached, at which time it was clear that role reversal was over, and sleep was an undesirable future activity.

Well, to clarify, just for him.

As Jeff and I slipped him into the crib he will soon outgrow, we slid briefly back into character as we said our goodnights. Zachy reminded me “mommies don’t let monsters into the house”, and I told him to “sleep tight and avoid those bedbugs”, an issue that’s taken on a whole new meaning to anyone living in the tri-state area. Play-acting was over, it turns out I don’t yell as much as I think I do, and apparently my son is pretty happy with his lot in life. I need to remind myself sometimes, perhaps many times, that perfect isn’t required here, not even close. Justin’s happy. Zach is happy. Here, within the comfort of our close-knit, and this week slightly claustrophobic world, everyone is doing their best. It will have to be good enough.

And at least for today, it is.


  1. misifusa said,

    Sounds like you made it…love that you were playacting w/Z! I could have told you that you’re a great Mommy.

  2. profmother said,

    Oh man- snowbound is NO FUN! We were snowbound two years ago, and I was ready to dig out the highways myself. Good luck… and I learned that “snow ice cream”- snow with sweetened condensed milk makes a GREAT reward for “please leave Mommy alone for 20 minutes”.

    • Yum, sounds delicious- is there a GF/CF version of that (hah!)? We’re gearing up for another one here, hope it won’t be as bad… Loved your post today!

      • profmother said,

        🙂 Thx!

  3. I guess we all think we don’t do as well as we really do. Great job on the mommy front!

    • I highly recommend playing this game, it’s a nice ego-boost, I have a feeling you’d enjoy it too!

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