The following is a true story, written by me, from my son’s voice and point of view.
So I’m sitting at the dinner table and I’m in a bad mood. Because I was sorting my Pokémon cards when my mom started yelling, “Thunderstar! Do your homework!” “Thunderstar! Did you wash your hands?” “Thunderstar! Did you unpack your lunchbox?” “Why do I need to say this every day, Thunderstar?!” I just got home – for goodness’ sake! – after being in school since 7:40 this morning. And it’s now 5:25, P.M.!
Then I start my homework and before I’m even done my dad goes, “Thunderstar! Set the table! It’s dinner time!”
There is something really wacky about my family. Because my mom and dad get to tell me what to do, but I’m not supposed to tell them what to do. Like with the iPhone and iPad. They’re always dictating rules about that, even though I know sooooo much more about technology than they do. They say, no iPhone or iPad on school nights. No iPhone or iPad after 8 p.m. No iPhone or iPad if I talk back. Blah blah blah. But my dad is forever playing Bejeweled Blitz, even when my mom says, “Why don’t you read a book instead.” Yeah, Dad, why don’t you read a book instead? So I gave them my own rules, like “No Bejeweled Blitz while Thunderstar is awake.” and they said, “No, Thunderstar, it doesn’t work that way.”
I don’t care much for dinner time, unless it’s at McDonald’s or I’m eating mac and cheese from a box.
Because my mom is always staring at me too. She says things like, “Thunderstar, your hair is starting to look like a helmet. I need to cut your hair this weekend,” and then forgets all about it. Or she’s watching me to make sure my mouth is moving. If my mouth stops chewing for more than like 3 seconds, then she’s like, “Thunderstar! Eat!”
But today she probably saw my bad mood, because she suddenly tried to sound cheerful.
“Guess what!” she said. “This moms website wants to feature my blog post. Isn’t that great news?! I’m wondering which post I should send to them.”
I know my mom writes a blog. And I know she writes about me and Daddy. And I know she calls me Fred, which I hate. I asked her why she can’t use my real name, because my real name is so much cooler, but she said it’s not safe to show my real name on the internet. So I told her to change my name from Fred to Thunderstar. (Did she do it yet?)
She and my dad were talking, then suddenly I couldn’t believe it. She started giggling. She said – she actually said – “I’VE ALWAYS LIKED THAT POST ABOUT HOW THUNDERSTAR WOULDN’T WIPE HIMSELF. MAYBE I’LL USE THAT ONE!”
It was like all the sound in the room disappeared, and I shrunk to an inch tall, and I have no pants on, and I am surrounded by faces, just hundreds and thousands and an infinity and beyond of faces. They’re mean and everyone’s laughing and pointing their fingers at me. I can’t hear them but I see their mouths wide open with that deflated balloon thingee hanging and shaking from the back of their throats, and their eyes are shut so tightly from laughing, laughing at that big fat baby Fred who wouldn’t wipe himself.
I cried to my mom, “No! No! I don’t want you to use that post!”
“Oh Thunderstar, you were 4 or 5 years old at the time! All moms would understand! You don’t even know what it’s about – if I told you, you would think it’s so funny. It’s totally innocent and cute!”
She was not getting me at all! I have a blog too, in Mrs. Stevens’ class, where we write about the books we read. How would my mom like it if I wrote about her wiping herself and let the WHOLE class read it??
The tears were bursting out of my eyes and running down my face but I didn’t care. She really thought it would be cute to tell the WORLD – because she just finished showing off that there are almost a million people reading this website – that I couldn’t wipe myself after potty.
“No! It is NOT cute! You are NOT telling that story!! How would YOU like it if I wrote about YOU pooping?!”
I was really crying now. I couldn’t believe she was trying to sabotage me. How could I make her stop? How?? I can’t give my mom and dad rules. I can’t tell them what to do, not even when they’re wrong, SO wrong! I can’t believe I’m only 8 and they are like practically 50 and I know more than they do!!
“You are NOT using that story!!”
“Oh Thunderstar…okay. I won’t. I promise I won’t use that story. I will use another story.”
Did she really listen to me just now?
“It’s okay. Mommy won’t.” She put her hand over mine and looked at me. I couldn’t tell if she was trying not to cry or not to laugh.
“But it’s still on your blog,” I said. “You have to delete it.”
I’m 8, so that means I was literally not born yesterday.
“But, I – I mean, no one’s going to find it, Thunderstar. It’s 3 years old.”
“No! I want you to delete it, after dinner. And I want to SEE YOU DELETING IT.”
“Thunderstar. Don’t talk to me like that.”
“BUT I NEED TO SEE YOU DELETING IT. I need to know you are really doing it and not just saying it.”
“Not that many people even come to my blog. They’re not going to find it. It’s buried under a gazillion posts. But okay, I’ll take it down tomorrow.”
“How can I trust you?”
“Because I’m your mom, and I love you.”
“But moms lie.” This is a fact. I know from my friends that moms lie. I don’t even think there is a Tooth Fairy.
“Some moms may, but I swear that I don’t.”
“How do I know you’re not lying now?”
“Thunderstar, have I ever done anything to make you not trust me?”
I couldn’t think of anything.
“I will take it down because I am seeing how important this is to you. So I promise. I will take it down tomorrow. I don’t want to do anything that makes you so upset.”
I looked at my mom a little while longer, and then I went back to my dinner. Tomorrow, I’m going to check with her to make sure she really deleted it.
I took down the post the next day. And began thinking about what privacy and embarrassment mean to a child.
Thunderstar really says things like “for goodness’ sake!”, “infinity and beyond” and “sabotage.” And he really hates that he has little power, especially when sometimes he knows more than the adults.
An amazing thing happened as I was writing from my son’s point of view: I began to understand him in ways I didn’t before.
I apologize if Thunderstar has offended anyone named Fred. In kindergarten he asked me why, why we didn’t name him Fred. You know how kids are.
Many thanks to the writing prompt over at Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop (Mama’s Losin’ It) for inspiring this post.