The Scorecard

I know this is terrible, but I keep score. As a Mom, I’m pretty sure that I am not supposed to be doing this. I’m scoring my kid. Against himself. Sometimes he does things that make me add a tick mark to the genius column. Other times he gets a tick in the idiot column. There is a third column that I prefer not to discuss.

Three columns, all in a tidy row, in my head. Until, that is, I was compelled to do this a few minutes ago:

This is shameful.

I know I shouldn’t do this. But I really have no idea what the milestones and markers are supposed to be. Sure the Doctor has told me. But a different doctor told me something different. And every magazine, advice column and mother has a different set of material. So we’re winging it.

Some days, most really, we are sure that Quinn is brilliant. Conversationally, I have no doubt about that. He didn’t speak anything other than, “Hi,” for so long we began to despair over it. The doctors had us trying all sorts of  tricks to get him to speak.

Turns out, he just wasn’t interested. He didn’t start talking until after he hit a year, but he hasn’t stopped since. And his vocabulary is astonishing, by every measure. Sure, he writes his words from right to left, in perfect backwards order, but we’ll just wait that one out. He’s not even four, so I’m working under the premise that we have time.

Other days, like the day he decided to make a pizza out of the dog, covering her in tomato sauce, an entire jar of basil and most of a jar of oregano, we just don’t know.  He knew which ingredients went into a pizza, so score one for his observational skills – we never taught him that, he just picked it up from watching. But then again, he tried to make a St. Bernard pizza. So that one was a wash.

Then there are the other days. Days where the best toy he can lay his hands on is a wad of crumpled up toilet paper. We have toys. It’s just that on some days, well, the toilet paper is. . . better? These are the same days that he is likely to do things like pick up a cup of milk and turn it over.  No real purpose seems to go with that.  Just, here it is, right side up and full. And now here it is, upside down with a puddle of milk on the floor.

These days we hope he keeps the good arm so he has a future in baseball. And a tiny part of us hopes that we never lose our reliance on gasoline powered automobiles. Because if there’s gas, well, someone will need to pump it.

And then there’s that other column. Granted playing hide and seek with the Exorcist head was totally our fault. It started out with a regular mannequin head (just don’t even wonder about some of this stuff, okay? Please?), but we lost it. So we used the Linda Blair head as a placebo.

But it was a shocker to find him utterly enthralled by the shrieking Bloody Mary mirror at the Halloween store. Given the crawling corpses and the zombie babies, maybe we shouldn’t have brought him in there, sure. But we did. And he fell in love. So much so, that the next day when we took him back (yes, dumb) he was distraught to learn that they had sold them all, including the display unit. He actually cried (he rarely cries) and begged me to ask literally every employee if there was another one, anywhere. And he’s still asking for it.

My three and a half year old is begging for a giant, screaming mirror occupied by a bloody, wailing horror movie monster.

These things are, thankfully, relatively rare. But I can’t help but track that column. And when a tick gets placed there, I hum Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy.” I can’t help it.

So I keep score, although I am certain this is wrong of me. It’s like homework for Bad Parenting 101.

If I had time, I’d think on this post a bit longer. Maybe work out some mental kinks.  But I don’t.  Quinn is thirsty.

And he’s just poured himself a glass of parmesan cheese.



8 thoughts on “The Scorecard

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