Short Mommy Blues

by gillis

Sometime last week we were in the car together, and I hadn’t said a word to Gus when he erupted into tears and exclaimed that “Short mommies are bad,” that he no longer wanted a short mommy, he needed a tall mommy.Ā  He was very upset. I was caught completely off guard by this statement. On a good day, with clogs on my feet and blow-dried hair, I might pass for five foot two. So of course I howled with laughter and could not stop laughing. I laughed so hard that I had to pull the car to the side of the road to dry my tears so I could see clearly. There was snorting involved. My laughter greatly disturbed Gus and he cried harder and harder until I was able to gain my composure and very gently explain to him that he was pretty well trapped in this terrible life with a short mommy, that I was unable to grow taller, but that I would still be an okay mommy for him just so long as no one took our step stool away. He began asking me about eating more protein as a way to grow so I could be “taller than Blake’s mommy” someday. I tried my best to explain that I would never be taller than Blake’s mommy and eventually he gave up trying to convince me that if I just wanted to be bigger, I could be. (It sort of reminded me of conversations well meaning adults have with kids where we try to motivate them to do better by telling them if they were just motivated they could do better. Maybe if we gave them more protein..?)

Today Gus told me that when he is older, he will be bigger, have a bigger penis, and be a tow truck man. This is old news, he has been talking about his magical growing penis and driving a tow truck as a future vocation for several months now. What he added to today’s chat as we drove home from the pediatrician’s office is that when he is a man, we will then have two daddies in the family. I asked a few probing questions about this fascinating and Oedipal future scenario and again, I nearly drove off the side of the road when he explained to me how he, his father, and I will all share one bedroom and there will be lots of night lights in it so no one gets scared. I confess- it scared the crap outta me. Until I remembered the phase his older sister went through when she told me for months that she was going to marry me when she grew up and no amount of telling her that I was already married – to her father – would convince her otherwise. Because I tend to see the glass as neither half full nor half empty but perhaps in need of cleaning, I find these preschool imaginings troubling before I can find them funny. I have to work through my adult horror at ideas that are actually quite lovely when taken in the spirit from whence they came. The idea that children try to picture their future selves in the present world, and they find ways to fit these adult selves in that make sense to them but not to us, is quite sweet. Unfortunately, I can’t sleep with a lot of night lights on, so for that reason, and a few other minor considerations, we won’t all share a room together in twenty years’ time.

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