Saturday, May 29, 2010

Punch Buggy

The kids introduced the family to a game when we were in the car. Whoever spotted a yellow car would try to shout out, "yellow car" first. It became quite the challenge for me to beat the kids at finding the yellow cars.

Keith recently changed up the game. Now whenever someone sees a Ford, BMW, VolksWagon or Lexus, they are supposed to call it out and punch the person closest in the arm. He has upped the stakes quite a bit.

This morning on the way to school, we saw many cars- especially Fords. Keith sat in the front seat next to me and tried his best to catch me off guard. I tried to explain to him that this was not one of his better ideas, as I was driving. So if he was punching me, it made it difficult for me to steer and work the gas/brake pedals properly.

He laughed and punched me again, shouting gleefully, "Ford!"

I have a bit of a competitive streak, and I hate for my parenting to be questioned when I am certain I am right. So, his reaction did not set well with me. I bit my lip and grimaced. Then I saw another Ford.

I knew I was the adult. I knew I should be setting an example. But sometimes, especially with thirteen year old boys who think they are too old to listen to their mommas, the best lesson is to show instead of tell.

I pulled my arm back and punched, screaming, "Ford!"

As he rubbed his arm and looked at me like I had just shot his dog, I said, "Hurts, doesn't it?"

"I can't believe you did that!" he yelped.

"I can't believe you won't listen to me," I retorted. "Look, Keith, you are way too big to be hitting me. And I most certainly don't want to see you punching your sisters."

"You hit me!" he stated the obvious, disbelief all over his face.

I clenched my teeth together. "I think this is a bad game. And I think we are done playing it now. What do you think?"

"Fine," he muttered. "I still can't believe you hit me so hard."

"Me? What about you? I'm going to have bruises up and down this arm from where you've hit me like six times."

"I can't help it that I see the cars before you do."

"Keith," I said, feeling my tone creep up to death-con four warning level, "We are done with this conversation."

Later that night we were in the car with hubby. Keith, being a thirteen year old boy, couldn't resist picking up the morning's game. 

"Ford!" he sang out as he whopped Emma's arm.

Emma is a wispy little thing and shot across the car, wailing and holding her arm.

Hubby was not pleased. "Keith?" he bellowed. "What are you doing?"

"Playing a game," Keith replied gleefully and without any idea how thin the ice was on which he was treading. "Whenever you see a Ford, BMW, VW or Lexus, you call it and you get to hit the person next to you."

"Son," hubby said in his best redneck authority voice. "I am only going to say this once: Don't."

"But-" Keith tried.



"Keith, I said no," hubby said sternly.

"Geez. Okay. Fine," Keith grumbled.

I, being mature and his mother, turned around and looked Keith in the eye while raising my eyebrows at him. When hubby stopped the car, got out and was no longer looking, I continued with my mature, maternal behavior- well, almost.

I put my arm around Keith and taunted into his ear, "Ha, ha. You were busted."

He turned and looked at me with really wide eyes. "What?"

I feigned innocence. Then I got back by his ear. "You got in trouble by Daddy," I sang in a teasing voice.

"Mom!" Keith fumed, shrugging off my arm around his shoulder.

"Keith, be respectful of your mother!" hubby demanded.

"Honey, it's okay," I soothed. I felt a little bad getting Keith in trouble again. But just a little.

So, maybe hubby spared my arm a few bruises by calling an official truce. But in reality, he probably just delayed the inevitable.

Teenage boys are looking for ways to be affectionate without looking weak. While Keith is very good about sharing hugs and holding my hand in the car, when there are no eyes to witness, in public, he is still groping with how to express "cool affection".

I imagine for the next couple of years, at least, I'll be wrestling, punching, getting noogies, and being body checked. All in the name of love.

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