Active Listening

“M-ito,” I said to my son this morning, ” Mom-ita and I have been fighting a lot lately, have you noticed?” We were sitting at the table eating breakfast. Mom-ita was off to work at my office, teaching. I was staying at home with M-ito, who was on winter break.

“No,” he said, chewing on a piece of humus and toast.

“Oh,” I said. “Well, we have and it’s because I haven’t been listening well to Mom-ita and doesn’t have anything to do with you. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think you’d done anything wrong.”

“Okay,” he said. “What do you mean you haven’t been listening well?”

“Just like you don’t listen to us very well-  to Mom-ita and me –”

“I do too.”

“M-ito… ”

“Well,” he said, “you don’t say much other than eat your breakfast and things like that… ”

“And that’s not too important,” I finished for him.

M-ito nodded.

“I see,” I said. “But you know when Mom-ita speaks we both need to listen because she says things that are important, right?

He nodded.

“And that’s all I’m saying. I need to focus more and listen better to Mom-ita. But that’s me, not you. You understand?”

“Yup,” he said and picked up another piece of toast. “Can I watch another episode of Dino Squad when I’m finished?

And so it goes…

God Will Hunting

Mom-ita accused M-ito of saying, “God willing,” when he was talking to her earlier this week in the car. We were sitting at our table, Mom-ita’s burritos just about finished off when she asked him where he’d heard that saying from. She made the accusation in a teasing manner. M-ito said, “No!” Swearing he never said those words. They went back and forth a few times the way they do over these things, a familiar pattern, before Mom-ita gave up and let M-ito win. “Okay, you didn’t say it,” she said. My guess was that M-ito did say it and Mom-ita was simply giving in. These kinds of things weren’t worth getting worked up about.

Then in typical fashion, M-ito came up close to Mom-ita and said, “What did you think I said again? God’s Willie?”

Mom-ita and I both looked at each other and after one moment’s hesitation, started laughing.

“What?” M-ito asked, not understanding what was so funny. Mom-ita explained what a Willie was then M-ito laughed with us too.

God’s Willie, indeed.


My son has started to use the word, duh. It’s both funny and unnerving at the same time. Here’s how the word is defined in Websters online dictionary:

Pronunciation: \ˈdə, usually with prolonged ə\
Function: interjection
Date: 1966

1 —used to express actual or feigned ignorance or stupidity
2 —used derisively to indicate that something just stated is all too obvious or self-evident

The problem is he uses the word a lot with me.

“Dad-dito, duh, that’s what I said.”

“Dad-dito, that’s why the Wii remote doesn’t work, duh.”

“Dad-dito, the sky is blue, duh.”

“Well, duh.”

Oh for the simpler days when sarcasm was parental territory only. I wish I had some snappy way to work, duh, into a closing line but I don’t. Well, duh, I think I just did.

Recipe for a Bad Dad-dito

  1. Take a week of little sleep.
  2. Toss in a pinch of sick child with stomach and lower back pains, lots of throw-up, and little movement from his bed.
  3. Add a tremendous amount of worry over said sick child.
  4. Throw in a sprig of racing heart one afternoon as I dash home from work worried I’ll have to take my son to the hospital because he still hasn’t moved from his bed.
  5. Twist in a doctor’s visit and a small dose of relief over the diagnosis of a “bad stomach flu” that’s going around.
  6. Add in a grant proposal and two overdue budgets at work.
  7. Mix together with a similarly grouchy Mom-ita who has been home five days in a row taking care of our sick child with very little break.
  8. Pour in an unexpected cup of dying laptop computer (and the need to purchase a new one).
  9. Measure out a teaspoon of M-ito, this evening unable to close his eyes because his upper lip is so sore from a running running nose.
  10. Plotz one large Dad-dito on the bed next to M-ito, his eyes closing (Dad-ditos not M-itos), yet struggling not to go to sleep because he has Mom-ita’s computer to back up before it finds its final resting place, and work of his own to do before he goes to bed.

Mix all in a large mixing bowl. Cook at 350 degrees for half an hour. What do you get? Dad-dito in the kitchen heating up Mom-ita’s left over chicken soup while M-ito struggles to go to sleep, tears in his eyes because his father has yelled at him, “Will you close your eyes!” just one time too many.

Fortunately, Mom-ita has more patience and helps our son to sleep with a hug, a kiss, and another twenty minutes of Moon Moon Moon. It’s a much better recipe.

I’m singing in the rain …

Okay, I’m not singing – mostly groaning. Why me? Why me? Giving my son a shower is not my favorite thing to do. I’m just putting that out there so you know where I’m coming from. It never really has been. Back when he took baths it wasn’t my favorite thing to do either – mostly because my son doesn’t like to take either a shower or a bath. But… these days it’s showers he takes and in the last couple of months I’ve noticed some changes. It’s not like it used to be.

Old days for a bath: I chase my son around the apartment and try to get him to take a bath. He won’t do it. I plead. I insist. He eventually goes in, complaining the whole time, sometimes kicking and screaming. “The water’s too hot. The water’s too cold. I don’t want to get my head wet. You’re pulling my hair. Ouch.” Then, I can’t get him out. He plays and plays and plays. I get splashed. It’s exhausting.

Old days for a shower: The same thing for starters. Arguments, and explaining why a shower is important (smelling bad is bad, smelling good is good) begins things, then half an hour later entrance into the bathroom. I shower him and he complains the whole way through. “The water’s too cold. The water’s too hot. Don’t splash me. I don’t like it when you splash me. I’m cacacacacacooold. I’m hahahahot.” Then it’s time to get out and he wants to stay in. The water is like rain and he’s singing. He laughs. I cry. It’s exhausting.

New days for a shower: Mom-ita says, “Shower night,” and both M-ito and I sigh and say, “NO!” at the same time. Mom-ita laughs. It takes a half an hour to get him into the bathroom – another ten minutes to get him undressed. I sit on the toilet seat (seat down) because there’s no where else to sit and watch as he slowly, slowly, slowly washes himself. To do his feet he puts the washcloth on the floor, steps on it and moves his feet back and forth – a big smile on his face. It’s genius. He doesn’t actually step under the water until he has finished dabbing and touching each of the areas he’s supposed to wash with a washcloth that has just a little bit of soap on it. Then I wash his hair and he laughs through most of it. Every once in a while he complains about the water being too hot or cold. Then I tell him to wash his face. This whole procedure from beginning to end can take another twenty minutes with me constantly prodding, “Come on M-ito. Wash yourself.”

I don’t get as wet as I used to so that’s something. I’m still just as tired when he finishes. He cleans himself more often than not. And he does laugh a lot. He likes to wash himself, even if he doesn’t do the best of jobs. I’m trying to let it go at that. Because when he’s finished, he smells good and that’s what Mom-ita checks for when he comes out.