I feel like I just closed my eyes by the time my son starts to throw toys from his room, over his gate, and onto the hard wood floor of the hallway. Each crash is a reminder that he is up and – like it or not – the day is about to get started.
I check my phone, which had just been plugged in to charge as I went to bed for the night. For a brief moment, I think (and hope) that I am still dreaming.
Like the big reveal at the end of a Twilight Zone episode, this less-than-full-charge is verification that it wasn’t my imagination. I had very recently closed my eyes when the crashing started. It’s not even five in the morning yet. Let the games begin.
And there he is. My non-verbal cheering section is awake and crowing with the roosters for my arrival. I ponder the irony of the phrase “non-verbal” as it implies silence. There is no silence when it comes to Lucas. He may not have a voice like you and I, but he makes himself heard in so many more imagination ways.
The racket from his room will often resemble a family of geese being murdered. Imagine that sound. Now imagine hearing it at 4:45 in the morning from the dead of asleep, accompanied by the din of a giant wooden bead toy being slammed against solid wood below. That’s what I experience to begin my day. It’s like being on a prank reality show every morning for your entire life.
I step past his threshold and repeat things like “you’re lucky you’re cute” and “Lucas, it’s so early”, but that’s all just for me to stretch my vocal chords. He doesn’t care. He’s just happy that I’m here and, if I’m being honest, it’s rather sweet. I mean it when I say that he’s lucky he’s cute. Without his adorable face, he would surely face the same fate as that family of geese on many a morning.
I stumble in and fumble about with the remote to put on an episode of Sesame Street. With each slight pause I take to readjust my misfiring brain synapses, he lets out a small baby-elephant-sounding whine of impatience that cuts through me like jigsaw. Each time he does, I stop and give him a deadpanned look of annoyance. Of course, that just leads to more whines, so I’m the first of us to stop. I become his morning servant. I find the exact episode his highness wants and try to return to bed.
Nice try, sucker. He’s still up and there are more flying toys to follow. As the show goes through the ebbs and flows of segments he enjoys, he returns to throw heavy objects into the hallway.
Cookie Monster singing his way through the opening? Happy Lucas clapping along in his room.
An orange Muppet taking him to Magic School for a demonstration? Screams and beads on the floor.
He’s a movie critic who, instead of thumbs up, uses projectiles to express displeasure. The more I tune him out, the more he finds to chuck in my direction. My son is the nine year old boy equivalent of the crazy woman in Fatal Attraction. If he had words, in this moment, they would be, “I won’t just be ignored.”
And he won’t. Eventually, he wins the fight, I give up the ghost, and I’m back in his room picking out a T-Shirt that says “Awesome” on it or something. He, as usual, is being adorable and grinning ear to ear while occasionally tapping me on the arm. When I look down, he puts his lips on my cheek and I melt. I told you he’s lucky that he’s cute.
Keep in mind, the sun is barely up and I haven’t had any coffee yet. Once he’s dressed and his gate swings open, he pushes past me and runs into the kitchen with more energy than I have by midday. He darts around in circles, waiting for me to take his signature French toast sticks from the freezer and, when I do, he taps the box twice with the back of his hand to signal his approval. Then, like Kaiser Soze – poof – he’s gone.
My boy dashes back to his room as I’m left standing there trying to will the energy to pour a glass of water for my morning pills and then another for the coffee maker. Two cups of liquid seems like such a rough task. I can barely move from the spot I’m standing in. My feet don’t seem to work.
His do. In fact, he’s back in my personal space within seconds, dancing around my lifeless body like the Voodoo Priest at a goose family sacrifice. If he had a cauldron of burning incense, the ceremony would be complete. He claps, marches in circles, and stands on his tip toes to check that the toaster is still toasting his food. The second it pops out, he stares at me like, “Well…we’re all waiting!”
So I feed him. Then we proceed to do nothing for two hours because the freakin’ bus comes at like 8:45 and we could have been asleep this whole time.
Eventually it does come and he rides off to school. Once he’s gone, I immediately miss him. I wait all day for his triumphant return and, when it comes, he’s just as amped up as he was when he left. If this was a friend of mine, I would be convinced he had a speed problem. He’s like a human energy drink without an off switch.
I bring him inside and open his backpack to read the note from his teacher about the day that I sent him off to. There is usually a familiar statement:
Lucas had a good day. Although, he did seem rather tired when it came time to do work.
Yeah, I bet he did, lady. I can relate. I watch him screaming in the den as he clutches his iPad and think, “You little actor. You’re lucky you’re so cute.”