So then…he takes a bite of a fresh-baked cookie and says with a sigh, “I’m probably so tired today because I’m an insomniac.”
I stop scooping dough onto the cookie sheet and look at him with furrowed brow.
“You’re an insomniac? When did that happen?” I ask.
He plops on the kitchen chair and says in a world-weary voice, “Oh, I’ve been an insomniac for years.”
Again, he’s 11.
“Really, Tucker? Because I check on you kids every night before I go to bed – and whenever I go into your room – you’re dead asleep. Even at midnight or 1 or 2 in the morning.”
“Oh, I’m awake when you check on me,” he assures me.
“You’re eyes are closed and you’re snoring.”
“So? I can snore when I’m awake. Listen – shjrooor shjrooor.”
“Tucker,” I say. “You are not an insomniac! You sleep fine. What makes you think you are?”
“Well, I was talking to this kid in band class and he was telling me that he has insomnia because he can’t sleep at night and I realized that I have that too.”
OK, I see.
Several months later…
So then…we’re saying Grace before dinner but Tucker doesn’t join in. I ask him, “What’s up?”
He says, “Oh, I don’t say Grace anymore because I’m an atheist.”
He calmly eats his corn. I seethe.
I want to say, “Really Tucker? You’re an atheist? Even though you had a Baptism and Reconciliation and First Holy Communion AND you go to Catholic school? We may not attend Mass on Sundays – and we may not be super religious — but this is a God-loving, Commandments-abiding, Bible-believing family for Christ’s sake, you insufferable little heathen!”
But I realize that may not be the best speech to bring him back to the Lord.
So I casually ask when this new development occurred.
“There’s this girl in class who told us that she’s atheist and I realized I am too.”
OK, I see.
“So you think we’re all just here randomly? There’s no God or higher power?” I ask.
“Oh, I believe in God. I just don’t believe in religion,” he says.
“So maybe you’re agnostic?”
He scoops up the rest of his corn with his fork and thumb. “Yeah, OK.”
OK, at least I’ve upgraded him from atheist to agnostic for now. I’ll tackle religion next.
About a year later…
So then…he comes in the kitchen, puts his script on the table, sits down, and says, “I’m pretty sure that I’m bisexual.”
I keep cleaning the counters and ask, “Really? What makes you think that?”
“Well, you know the play this summer at acting class is Cabaret, right? Well, some of the characters are bisexual – and some of the teenagers in the cast were saying at lunch that they’re bisexual. And I realized that I am too.”
OK, I see.
I sit down with him. “Tucker, you know I’ll love you and accept you, no matter what — so if you’re bisexual, then you’re bisexual. But let’s talk about this for a minute. First of all, you haven’t had any sexual experiences yet, so let’s not be so quick to label yourself bisexual, mono-sexual, tri-sexual or multi-sexual, ok? Secondly, do you have romantic feelings for any boys?”
“Oh yeah, lots of boys.”
“Really, like who?” I ask.
“I can’t think of anyone right now,” he says in that same tone of voice he uses to say that he could hit a homerun if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t feel like it right now.
So I say, “Well, you’ve been pretty open about everyone you’ve ever had a crush on since kindergarten all the way until now — and it’s always been girls.”
So we have a long talk about peer pressure, fitting in with the crowd, making rash pronouncements about identity, etc. It’s a great talk, but I don’t push. I know that this new alleged identity trait will eventually go the same way as his other announcements.
BUT MEANWHILE, I’m thinking to myself, Good Lord, do I have THE most easily-influenced child in the world?
At the future frat party, when someone says, “Hey, who wants to down 4 Tequila shots, then ride this skateboard off the roof into that pool of hot coeds?” – will my son be the kid who thinks, “That sounds like a splendid idea!”?
Yes. Yes, he will.
I can’t believe he is so impressionable.
“I just watched a great episode of Psych – by the way, I’m psychic.”
“This German Chocolate Cake is delicious! Those Germans really know how to bake. I’m joining the Nazi Party!”
“I saw that Twilight movie. Great news, Mom, I am IMMORTAL. Also — can we have blood for dinner?”
Let’s hope not — but with my kid…I wouldn’t be surprised!
— Darcy Perdu
Insomnia Illustration by Erika LeBarre; Vampire Illustration by Eric Allie
(Please let me know I’m not the ONLY one with a highly impressionable child! Any examples to share from your kids – or from when YOU were a kid? Share them in the Comments Section!)