Knowing Where Your Bread is Buttered

posted by Momo Fali on May 1, 2009

Yesterday at school, my son exhibited some peculiar behavior when he wouldn’t stop following the principal around. At one point, she came to the second grade classroom where I work to see if I could help, but once my son saw me coming, he turned and went straight to his class.

Later, during a school musical, he asked his teacher if he could sit with the principal and she obliged. As his class was being dismissed, I came out to the hall to see him tailing the poor woman once again. And to top it off, he was doing all of this in silence, like a mime, and we all know how much everybody loves a mime. Oh, wait…

All this? Is not because he has special needs. It is because he’s trying to be funny. When he first started playing the “Me and My Shadow” game, with my boss, I heard her laugh as he was silently standing before her and she asked, “What in the world are you doing?” That was all he needed. One little chuckle and that comic’s bread was slathered with butter.

I was trying to explain this to some parents at soccer practice last night. They both know my son, but neither of them had recognized that he does some strange stuff in an attempt to be funny.

A short time later we looked over to the field where my son was playing goalie during a scrimmage. There were 20 kids waiting for him to kick the ball out to the middle so play could resume. A typical kid would have seen an eager mob, jumping up and down and yelling, “Kick it! Kick the ball!” My son saw a captive audience.

Instead of kicking the ball to his teammates, he slowly walked around to the other side and kicked it into his own goal. The one he was supposed to be protecting.

I turned to the dad I had just been talking to and asked, “See? You see what I mean? He thinks he’s being funny.”

He replied, “Well…he kind of is.”

He might as well have pulled a butter knife out of his pocket.

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A Day in the Life

posted by Momo Fali on April 29, 2009

Yesterday morning, I tested my level of parenting endurance when the school where I work said they needed me to leave my second grade class for the day and go on my son’s field trip. Thirty kindergartners, a city bus, a downtown transfer and an imminent rainstorm, all at the ripe hour of 8:00 AM.

First, we missed our bus. Then as we stood waiting for the next one to arrive, my son tugged on my arm to tell me he had to poop. Of course.

I did what any self-respecting mother would do and said, “I don’t know what to tell you. You’re going to have to just shove it back up in there.”

On the bus, we met lots of colorful characters. At one point, I mentioned to my son that our new puppy would likely pee in her cage because we would be gone so long, to which he replied, “I bet she will. I can kind of smell her pee right now.” No sweetie, that’s the guy standing next to me.

After the field trip, we waited an eternity for the bus to take us back downtown. We were in a lovely area of Columbus, affectionately referred to as “The Bottoms”. There was lots of trash for the kids to play with and some delightful graffiti for our emerging readers. Something about someone’s mom and a particular body part.

On the bus trip home, I can’t decide if it was more fun to stand for half the ride, or whether it was watching my son’s “buddy” touch the bottom of his shoes and then hold my son’s hand as we walked back to school in the rain. When we finally got back to our car, I just went ahead and had my boy drink some hand-sanitizer.

After arriving home, I spent over an hour on the phone (45 minutes of that on hold) trying to find a baker who can make a Mario cake for my son’s birthday party this weekend. Sorry kid, you’re getting Matchbox cars.

Then, I cleaned pee out of the puppy’s cage. Not from when we were gone for four hours in the morning, but from when I put her in there for 15 minutes so I could do some laundry. Which, makes perfect sense. Oh, and she learned how to climb the steps, so now I have two levels of house on which to chase her.

And, for the icing on the cake? I found my son had etched a self-portrait into our mahogany dining room table.

Some days, there just isn’t enough wine.

Taking Chances

posted by Momo Fali on April 27, 2009

Roughly 14 years ago I went paraplaning with some co-workers, one of whom would become my future husband.

If you have never seen a paraplane, it is a glorified go-cart with an enormous fan on the back. As you drive the go-cart across a field, the fan fills a parachute which acts as your wings. Before you know it, you’re alone, 700 feet in the air with steel strapped to your rear end and nothing connecting you to your friends on the ground but a walkie talkie.

Photo courtesy

Because of a technical malfunction, my husband had no radio contact. He flew around, without flight instruction, for almost a half an hour and absolutely loved the experience. I, however, spoke clearly with the people on the ground, and was so terrified that I made only one loop around the farm because I feared I might buy it.

I had always thought I would be more of a daredevil, but the paraplane set me straight. A few years later, I was conveniently pregnant when my husband went white-water rafting and sky-diving without me.

I am fine with that. I own the fact that I don’t take chances.

About a month ago, I put word out that we were looking for a puppy. I also, half-heartedly, asked someone to stop me.

Our 11 year old dog has been a great big pain. She is finally at a point where she’s calm and controllable, so why would we think about starting from scratch?

A few folks tried to talk some sense into me, including my best friend who knows me all too well. She knows how busy my life is, and how having a dog throws a wrench into just about everything you do.

But then, a childhood friend sent me a message that simply said, “Go for it — life is short.”

And that? Was all it took.

Life is tough enough thanks to the worrying we do over whether we’re raising our kids the right way, if they’re doing well socially and academically, if they’re going to get hurt playing sports, or get plucked off the street by a stranger. Having kids is a pinch of love and a whole lot of stress. It’s all about taking chances.

Add to that, the fact that my six year old son walks around at risk of a stroke every day, or that he needs open heart surgery, or that his life has been one, big, uphill battle.

Life is short for all of us, but for some people, life can be risky without ever intentionally taking a risk. Some people don’t have to fly a go-cart through the air or jump out of a plane. My son is one of them. His life is risky because he exists. All I needed was a reminder.

That is the reason my fingers have become chew toys and why we are going through paper towels like they’re going out of style. My little boy wants to run and romp and play with a puppy and he deserves the chance to do so.

Life is short and we went for it. And, I am so glad we did.

To Infinity and Beyond

posted by Momo Fali on April 23, 2009

Although it has never been diagnosed, my son suffers from some OCD tendencies. I have no idea where he gets it. Hold on, I have to go straighten my underwear drawer.

One aspect of this is that he gets fixated on shapes and numbers. For a while, his favorite number was 109. He would use it to measure time and count toys, and when he would eye the clock shortly after lunch to see it reading 1:09, it gave him quite a thrill.

Luckily for us, last year he took to the number 10. This made it easier when we had to take 10 steps from the house to the garage, or give him 10 kisses each night. After 109 kisses on a kid’s forehead, your lips start to get numb.

But recently, the digits have been taken to a much higher level. His new favorite? Infinity. And, although I know infinity isn’t a number to which you can count, I will never tire of hearing him say, “Mom, I love you to infinity.”