“I don’t like it anymore,” my son said, right before he took an enormous bite out of an enormous apple.
He held up one finger to indicate that his mouth was full, a gesture he learned from me.
“This Monkey business. I’ve outgrown it.”
I’ve been waiting for this moment since my son started middle school.
But now that he is finishing his first semester of 7th grade, he has decided that Monkey is no longer a good fit for him.
Forget about the fact that he actually looks exactly like Curious George.
If Curious George had freckles.
Forget about the fact that after he gets a brush cut, his hairline looks exactly like a little baby monkey’s.
Forget about the fact that he is sproingy like a monkey.
The reality is that Monkey is done being Monkey.
“So can I just start calling you by your real name?”
“Noooooo!” my son shrieked in his high-pitched I’m-in-the-midst-of-puberty-and-my-voice-but-my-voice-hasn’t-changed-yet timbre.
“Well, get to thinking,” I told my boy. “I have to call you something.
After he completed three hours of homework — ten algebra problems, a Spanish worksheet on conjugating verbs, some science worksheet on density, mass and volume, a social studies worksheet on Chapter 2, Section 4, and an English thingy where he had to read something and write a response (note: he keeps me out of the English loop) — he went downstairs to practice piano and then returned upstairs to practice for his bar-mitzvah.
Around 6 pm, he put all his books away and wandered into the kitchen where I was making dinner.
“What about tech support?” I asked absently as I popped a black olive in my mouth while pouring marinade over that night’s chicken.
“That’s what you should call me.”
I looked at him blankly.
“You know, for your blog?” He picked up an olive and popped it into his mouth.
“That’s actually pretty good…”
“It’s good because it’s true,” he said.
Little bastard is right. He will always be my little Monkey, but over the last year, our conversations involve my screaming for his assistance because something has happened to my Excel Spread sheet formula, and I don’t know how to fix it. So he fixes it for me. Or I want to do a Power Point presentation, but I don’t know how to set it up. So he sets it up for me. Or I want to change the banner on blog but that involves Gimp and multiple layers, and I don’t know how to do that. So he does it for me. In 6.3 minutes. For years, he has been my IT guy: my fixer, my assistant.
I am starting to think I should pay him.
While I was thinking these things, my 12-year old son said aloud (to absolutely no one): “I will detach your head from your body!”
Looking around the room, I declared, “Wow, you are the King of the non-sequitor.”
“I know,” he smiled. “And yes, I know what a non-sequitor is.”
We both popped olives in our mouths and, as I finished the dinner prep, my son moved to the pantry in search of something that would be ready to eat sooner than the chicken.
Finding nothing, he moved to the freezer.
Which is empty.
Because it has been broken for one week now.
My son stuck his head deep inside the icemaker. From the depths of the freezer, I heard my son’s voice. It was deeper than usual. Distorted from being inside the freezer, he sounded like someone else: a man.
“I really want a frozen pretzel,” this man said, “When are we going to get our freezer fixed?”
“As soon as I get some.”
“Some what?” he turned to look at me, 12-years old again.
I smiled and popped another olive in my mouth, held up my finger and made him wait.
What nicknames did you call your children? Have they changed over the years? What little changes have signaled your child is growing up?