My youngest superhero thinks it’s his duty to annoy the stars out of me. Every chore has become a passionate fight for attention. My favorite attention ploy of his, running close with his excitement for using a sparkling clean toilet, is when he “helps” by folding laundry after roasting himself in the still-hot-from-the-dryer clothes pile on the floor. It never fails that as he reaches to “fold” something, he kicks over a pile of folded towels, withdrawing large sums from my dwindling bank account of patience.
One day, just after the laundry chore had been completed (and I use that term loosely), he was jumping from couch to couch faster than a speeding bullet, making gun noises and bawling, “Pow!” and “Eat that, Bad Guy!” with the formless, ripped up, fire-engine red cape from the dollar store tied around his neck (yes, literally tied. It’s cheap and it’s been worn for two years. And “Superman” used to be written in pen along the back). I realized, while practicing the inconsequential deep breathing that never seems to keep my blood pressure down when he’s in this particular state of superhero frenzy, that he just needed some attention of the positive variety . . . or Kryptonite, but I was fresh out. Inciting the responsible mom in me, I quickly attempted to change the subject from killing bad guys to exercising his brain.
“Let’s say the ABC’s. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K . . .”
“M-M-M-O-Pee!” He jumped off the couch and rolled across the floor on the ear-piercing last syllable.
“Dude, you’re four. It’s elemeno.”
“Q-Ow-S-V-Ooh-Bee,“ he punched his reflection in the glass of the fireplace with every letter.
“W-S-Y-and-Zeeeee!” He blasted off racing around the couch, the ABC’s trailing behind.
“Yep, good job!” Man, based on that, I can conclude that the ABC Elmo app we downloaded months ago sure wasn’t worth the money . . . and he may need to see a speech therapist in the near future. “What country do we live in?” I asked, erroneously expecting him to answer correctly.
“Transylvania!” he yelled authoritatively, pride aglow. If he had been asked what town we live in, he’d be half correct. That counts, right?
“No,” I started, “we live in the United States of America.” I enunciated slowly and watched him for a flicker of recognition. “What country do we live in?” I asked again. Repetition is a little boy’s best friend.
His face remained blank but his eyes locked on mine, a sure sign that he had absorbed what I taught him and was about to shoot it back at me. “The United Captain America?”
I nearly snorted with hysterical laughing. He shot me a questioning look as if he didn’t know that what he said was funny, which made me laugh harder and forget all about his noise pollution.
I’d say my attempt at positive attention worked to keep both Superman and Mom busy. No small feat for a mere mortal.