Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Minds Like Steel Traps

My boys have a unique talent. No, not one that is marketable, mind you. One of those totally useless, yet they thrive on developing it further, kind of talents. While I'd prefer almost anything to this, it seems I'm stuck with two boys who have minds like steel traps - as long as it is from a movie, music or commercial. Yes, you read that right. Show them a commercial, a movie trailer, a bit of music or a full length feature just once and they'll be able to quote to you, for months even, a few catch phrases. Show it to them twice and they can quote the sucker verbatim.

I'm sure you are thinking how lucky I am as a Mom to be raising boys with such active, impressionable minds. After all, if you can remember quotes from movies you saw two years ago, surely you can remember that it is Wednesday and the garbage needs to be taken out. Or perhaps you can remember the order of the books of the Bible quite easily, not to mention scripture verses along with their reference. Or even what year each State entered in to the Union, and its capitol city, right? Uh, no. That would be what we fondly call a tactical error on your part.

It is as if they pick and choose when to close their trap on items of interest - to them. Or perhaps it is that they can only remember the trivial, planning to major in the pursuit of the such things so they can bore their children's dates with their relatively useless, albeit mildly interesting knowledge about things the rest of us know nothing about. Or perhaps they just know that it will drive me nuts.

It is only with persistence and the talent of years, honed at the knees of my father, that I am able to deal with those who possess such knowledge for trivia. As the mother raising them to be productive adults, I've developed a talent of my own. I listen, not with the keen interest of knowing what is catching their attention, but with the interest of one who will be able to turn that knowledge back on them at the most opportune moments. You know, one of those key talents needed by parents raising teens.

Let's take their passion for quoting musical phrases for instance. It seems one of Matthew's current favorite 'singers' is KJ 52. One of his songs, "Can I Speak With A Manager", includes the lyrical phrase "ya bref stank" over and over again. They find tremendous joy in singing that at the top of their lungs, especially in the car, where Laura picks up everything they say. Soon all three of them are singing the song at the top of their lungs, making the car trip a less then comfortable one for those of us sane folk in the front. And then they decide to get comfortable, leaning back, taking off their shoes and settling in for a long drive, and I get to fling, er, sing right back at them "ya feet stank". See? Communication at a level they understand!

Another phrase they've adopted from a movie - I'm not sure which one as I don't watch them with the same mental gymnastics that they do. It seems that "hold the phone" is now adopted in to their daily language with themselves. Should one of them have a "Duh!" moment when the light bulb goes on, they say "Hold the phone" out loud, usually in a very poor imitation of the cockney lilt, and then modifies how they are doing something. As a parent, this one was an easy adaptation. When they are talking with us about something and the leap from where they are to where they need to be is very small, I'll say "Hold the phone!" and they get that they need to figure it out. Can't beat that! And no lecture needed.

My current favorite, however, adapted for The Great Wuss Weekend situation, has us all saying the same thing. Apparently in some song from one of the current favorites - I'm thinking KJ 52 or perhaps Toby Mac - there is the phrase "Step away from the Mt. Dew" or some such. Therefore "Step away from 'whatever'" is growing more and more common around here. You know, 'step away from the cookies' or perhaps 'step away from the video games' can be heard, and is even reaching the intended audience, much more effectively than the normal Captain Mommy order. In the past few days "Step Away From The Toe" seems to give them all a heads up that they have invaded, or are about to invade, my personal space, and I need them to protect my toe with all of the determination they can muster at that moment. Instead of making them fearful of hurting me, it has provided a funny way to remind them that they need to be careful.

Parenting. It's all about presentation, isn't it? :)

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