Do you remember that iconic 1950s show depicting a white bread slice of mid-century Americana: “Leave it to Beaver”? In every episode, June frets to her husband, “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver…” Well, let me tell you, in my own little microcosm of familial life, I say daily, “Anth, I’m worried about the Hecksters.” And I am.
I know my boys must be smart…right? I refuse to believe that I birthed and raised two imbeciles. (I’m not counting my daughter. She’s smarter than me). It’s not possible they’re dummies, is it? But, there are days when I wonder if together they can muster enough brain cell activity to rise from their beds, get dressed and get to the correct school. On time. Most days, it’s a crap shoot.
My older son is (book)smart…I know this because I see his grades and his SAT scores were impressive. He was accepted to all eight universities to which he applied, including an intensive Physicians Assistant Program. And yet…
He makes such idiotic mistakes! The Heck Boys, like the song says, just want to have fun. Screw the consequences. They laugh their way through life. Outcomes don’t matter.
My 18-year-old is fond of telling us that he’s accomplished just as much, just as well as his older sister, but with half the effort. He brags about tht on a daily basis. He says it like he just walked out of a lab at the Center for Disease Control and announced, “I found the cure for brain cancer, people!” Sigh. Half the effort.
I love books. I’ve adored reading since I was able to string sentences together. I used to walk daily to the very library where I am now employed, crouch down in the children’s section and read every book I could get my grubby, sticky, Laffy-Taffy hands on. When my friends were playing Jailbreak, I was reading. Sure, they made fun of me, but I was asthmatic and used that as my catch-all excuse for not wanting to run through the streets of West Pittston trying to find someone I didn’t particularly care to find. Usually a gross male. I finally found him. And married him. Jailbreak!
My boys don’t even pretend to enjoy reading and I blame my husband for this. The only book I’ve ever seen him read was the owner’s manual to his car because he couldn’t open the trunk. And, even during the most catastrophic time in America, the man still read the newspaper’s sports page first. It’s his fault my boys hate books. And don’t pick up their socks and dirty underwear. And leave their ice cream encrusted bowls in the sink. All negative attributes come from him. That’s the way it’s written in my head.
Additionally, I worry about their spelling skills. Or lack thereof. Spellcheck has caused the ruination of an entire generation of electronically-charged children. They are literacy-bankrupt. We’ve created a village of idiots and my boys may very well be the mayor and Indian Chief of that village.
Last night at dinner, my younger son was talking about a boy whom his brother doesn’t care for and was ruminating about a G-rated word to describe him. He said to Patrck: “I don’t like that kid he’s a t-o-l-l. It took a second, but we figured out the word and misspelling and sadly, laughed uproariously. Is it possible he can’t even spell nasty words? So, if Nicholas calls you a toll…he really means you are a …you know.
Later, my younger son asked if I knew where Cambodia was located. He didn’t believe it was actually in Asia, which was incredulous to me. It gets worse. He was trying to prove me wrong and attempted to investigate. He had no luck. And do you know why? Because he spelled Cambodia: KAMBODIA. Do you understand the genesis of my cavernous frown line now?
This child will spend the most minimum effort on anything having to do with reading and studying, but I’ve seen him eat a one-pound bag of Starburst with his eyes closed and guess which flavor is in his mouth. Score if he gets them all correct. I asked him why he wasn’t working on his research paper but had time to plow through a bag of sugar squares and his response was, “I’m testing my flavor skill.” That talent will make him popular at the juvenile facility, I guess..
Nicholas is heading to college shortly. Did I give him the skills he needs to succeed on his own? He knows how to do his own laundry, sew a button and iron. He can cook an egg and he does dishes. But is that enough? I worry every day that he will make huge, epic mistakes come September. It literally keeps me awake at night. I had a dream last week that he and his friends stole my car and spent the night “huffing.” (Google that). When I awoke, I was so upset, I texted him at school (I know, Mr. Quaglia, a huge no-no). His response was not to reassure me that this would never enter his mind. His response was, “Oh, Mom. No one huffs anymore!” I didn’t feel better.
The boy can have a brilliant future; through my cup half-full kaleidoscope, it all appears bright and assured. I shouldn’t worry, should I? He’ll be fine. Tell me he’ll be fine.
And yet, not 20 minutes ago, he called me into the kitchen to show me what he learned at school today. I was so excited. Maybe a chemistry experiment? Biology? Anything pre-med-related?
No. Instead, he turned on a YouTube video and demonstrate how he can take a sharp knife and, along with music, stab in-between each finger efficiently and to the beat of the music for three solid minutes - with no cuts or abrasions. Amazing! Did I want to see it again?
No. I did not. What I do want to see is the DNA test. Just to be sure.
I’m worried about the Hecksters.