My kids have this week off from school. My husband and Shaggy Hair Boy have left town; it's Shaggy Hair's turn for a father/son bonding trip. Daughter is at college. So while I am at work, Boy in Black is in charge of the household. Since he is the one person to whom all the younger kids listen, I figured that this would be a good arrangement.
Eveyone likes Boy in Black because he's such a nice kid. But his easy-going personality is a bit deceptive. He always gets what he wants. Always. He has these big brown eyes, and he knows how to use them. When he was little, I would pass the candy section in the grocery store, pushing him and his siblings in the grocery cart, muttering to myself, "Don't make eye contact. Don't make eye contact."
I came home from class today at 2 pm, expecting to do a little work at home. I have a nice home office right off the living area of the house, and I imagined this happy scenario in which I worked on the computer while all the kids played some kind of quiet board game in the living room.
But I could hear the drum beats as I walked up the driveway. Not a hopeful sign. And the singing. Have I mentioned that we have a microphone? Yes, a microphone is JUST what my household needs. Plus several amps. Skater Boy greeted me as I came in the door, and Boy in Black set down his guitar long enough to say, "Uh, Mom, don't go into your office."
"What?" I asked. Going into my office was exactly my plan.
"You can't," he said. "We are recording." He moved toward me -- and I tried to turn fast, but oh, no! Eye contact. Those big brown eyes. I was doomed.
"See, we need your computer," he gestured. Then he started talking rapidly, staring into my eyes the whole time.
"I know what you are thinking. But believe me, I don't feel entitled to use your office. No. Never. I realize that I am the beneficiary of male white privilege, and I would never kick a woman out of her space. I will always work to empower women."
Here there was a pause while he gave me a sincere look, the kind that a puppy will give when someone walks by with food that smells good.
"See, I also know that any quiet game we might play -- mindless computer games, for instance, are just passive forms of entertainment and will turn our brains to mush. And that will make you feel like a bad parent. So this is all about you feeling like a good parent. Look! Your kids using their math skills, their musical talents -- song lyrics that are really poetry, after all, we are here singing poetry -- working on our social skills. This is all about me making you feel good. It practically makes me a feminist."
Yes, really, that is how Boy in Black talks. He knows all my lectures my heart, and he takes a pre-emptive strike by throwing my pet phrases back at me. And of course, he is right. I do want him and his friends hanging out here, in my living room, where I can keep an eye on them.
So before I knew it, I had agreed to leave the whole downstairs to Boy in Black and his friends, since the room was not really my living room but the sound studio for the next up and coming boy band. And that means I'm up here in the boys' bedroom, using a computer that doesn't have any of my stuff on it. But at least I know where my teenagers are. I can hear them. Quite clearly, in fact. Radiohead. White Stripes. Weezer. REM. In case you were wondering.