REALTY VS FANTASY
So my energy was at an all time low today because my husband and I decided to sit up way past our bedtimes last night talking everything from the current bank bail-outs (I wish someone would give me free money to pay my bills!), to living in the South and all it's neurosis these days. I am suffering mild hangover since drinking a glass a wine. Boy, your liver is just not what it use to be once you pass that 35 year mark. One glass of Pinot Noir and I got a lampshade on my head, dancing on the patio table. It's really rather embarrassing and.... well, let's just get pass this point.
Now Nia's energy level is usually on par with that of a grey squirrel jacked up on a triple-shot Cafe' Latte. But today she has chosen the perfect time to have a "quiet day". Are our bio-rythms in sync today or what! So I decide to spend the morning sifting through some items to toss in our upcoming annual yard sale. Six people in a family accumulate a lot of crap in one year. But at least it's not as much as last year. With the state of the economy and our finances these days, we not only downsized our material goods, but size of our yard sale as well. Call it that trickle down affect you hear so much about, just middle-class style.
Nia is standing beside me as I rummage through half-torn moving boxes, and is singing to the top of her lungs her favorite Christmas song. We have been blessed with hearing this song for two months now, three, four, five times a day..... over and over and over again.
"Glooo-wo-wo-wo.... wo-wo-wo...wo-wo-wo-reeeah. In excess it's daaay-glo!"
If you haven't recognized it's unique, yet wildly popular chorus yet; it's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". She does with style. And she does it all-day-long! She's standing on the ottoman now bellowing her lungs out. Where's that parenting book on the art of diversion? I know I bought that book and it's somewhere around here! Well Snap! I guess I'm on my own here.
"Nia - how about a video?" I asked searching through a rather large box filled half-way with children's VCR tapes that have been collecting since the twins were 6 months old. Talk about old! These were actually made before the 21st Century! Oh God - the shame!!! Hey, are there any collectibles in there?
"YEAAAH!" she squeals. "Let me see, let me see, LET ME SEEE!"
She dives pretty much head first into the box and proceeds to head for every squashed Disney VCR case she can grab with her two little pudgy hands.
"This one, this one!" she chants. "I want this one mom!"
And The Winner IS!: Disney's Tarzan, which she hasn't seen in quite a while. "Oh, THIS is a good one sweetie. It has your Uncle Lance in it." I quip. Her Uncle Lance is the actor Lance Henriksen. Think Frank Black on "Millennium", or Bishop the android on the movie "Aliens". But this time he lent his deep voice to the mighty gorilla king known as Kerchak in the movie Tarzan. For once, a movie of his that I can actually show my daughter at her impressionable young age. In others words.... it's rate G, for absolutely acceptable to any parents for any reason. Her singing/screeching is a good reason for me right now.
Since I feeling so absolutely lovely right now (I can feel my head beginning to call for a Motrin), I decide to forgo scavenging for yard sale possibilities and instead, mildew on the sofa for an hour or so with my daughter. It's called quality time, and it does not sustain or condone the use of bon-bon's. We have Cheetos instead! A big honking bag of organic, all-natural Cheetos!
The movie is playing and Nia's eyes are completely fixed and zoned onto our 42", state-of-the-art movie and sound system. Okay, it's just a freaking TV in our living room, but SHE thinks its aaaawesome! That's all that matters at this point; she's happy, and I'm re-cooperating.
The scene comes on with the great Kerchak, shoulders spread broad and fists pounding through the forest, announcing his supreme dominance over the herd (are gorillas called herds????), and his home.
"There's Uncle Lance", I whisper over to Nia, so as not to disturb her glazed-eyed concentration.
"That's Uncle Lance", she whispers in amazement to me.
"Yeeees", I reply.
"Mom, why is he so hairy", she says with a puzzled look on her face.
"Because he's a gorilla Nia", I say back thinking that she could actually be learning something from a glorified animated Disney cartoon.
"Uncle Lance is a gorilla" she zips back with a more intense puzzled look on her face.
"Yep, Uncle Lance is a gorilla." There is somewhat a very long, uncomfortable pause after this reply. I look over at Nia and she is staring far more intensely at the TV screen than before.
"Mom", Nia finally chimes. "Why isn't daddy hairy like Uncle Lance?"
Very long pause from my end. "Well Nia, daddy isn't hairy like Uncle Lance because daddy isn't a gorilla." I just realized that my explanation is not going to make her understand. In fact, it sounded down right stupid; even to a three year old.
"But moooommmeee! Daddy is suppose to be hairy like Uncle Lance cause their brooooothers!" her voice replies while in the beginnings stages of complete confusion.
So the conversation ensues with me trying to explain in words that her brain can relate to at this age. God knows, we can't use those handy-dandy, colorful comparisons and metaphors with a three year old to cleverly whip through this explanation in about 10 seconds flat; that would be just too easy. We have to break it down to a "Sesame Street" level of communication; therefore, I'm gonna be explaining this to her until, let's say...... my brain cells are fried, or either I have none left, whichever comes first!
"Honey, Uncle Lance is not really a gorilla, he just plays one on the movie (this was worded all wrong; try again MOM!). See it's not really him, it's just his voice. So you see, neither Uncle Lance or daddy are really hairy (literally, LOL), or gorillas. They are humans and gorillas are an-i-mals (must emphasize this point). Do you understand now Nia?" Please God let her understand because we're about to get to the point of the movie where Kerchak actually dies and then this WHOLE conversation would have been for nothing. Must get her to understand before her Uncle, I mean Kerchak dies.
"So mom. Uncle Lance sounds like a gorilla?" she quizzes me.
"What do you mean Nia?" I carefully asked as panic starts to fill my gut.
"Daddy doesn't sound like a gorilla; why does Uncle Lance sound like a gorilla?" her voice beginning to tire from the inquisition she has started. But I had to laugh, because she had a good point.
"Well honey, I guess the people at Disney thought Uncle Lance sounded like a good match for the voice of a gorilla. That's why he's doing the voice. Do you understand?" my voice now sounding tired too, but hopeful that there is an end to this.
"No!", she blurts.
"What?", I say.
"No! I don't understand. He looks like a gorilla and he sounds like; then he is one? Why is he a gorilla and daddy isn't." she presses me.
"Uhhhh." I say trying to stumble for some explanation. And then she digs deeper where I really do not want to go right now.
"Did they have the same mommy?" she asks.
"Yes, Uncle Lance and daddy have the same mommy, but they had different daddies", knowing full well I've possible opened a can of worms without meaning to.
"Ohhh. I get it! Uncle Lance's daddy was a gorilla, but daddy had the human one!" she gleefully shouts as if she has just discovered that candy really does grow on trees! Okay, I am really feeling my brain cells popping to their death now.
This is not getting any better and I can't seem to get to some kind of middle ground in this interrogation. She is more focused on the ancestral and biological evolution of her Uncle Lance than she is in his movie! My head is beginning to pound. I excuse myself for a moment to ingest a Motrin and to take a moment to assess the situation from a private, more quieter place; the closet in my bathroom. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, then leave the pleasant confines of sanity to go and explain to this budding "Grand Inquisitor".
I walk back into the living room and shut the TV off. "Okay Nia, this is it in a nutshell. Now listen carefully because...... ". I am suddenly cut off before I start.
"Heeeeeeey!" she screeches. "Don't turn my movie off!" she continues. Well, she was paying attention to the movie afterall.
Note to self: NEVER turn TV off on a child until you warn them first. Could be hazardous to one's health and/or eardrums.
I explain to Nia that what I have to say is really important and that we are only going to pause - not turn off - the movie. I reassure her that it will take only a couple of minutes. Her nose is morphing into an ugly wrinkle and veins in her head are beginning to protrude. This is not good; I feel a meltdown coming in about 10 seconds or less. Quickly switch to a compromise: "Nia, let me tell you this and I'll give you more Cheetos". I quickly say to head off the tantrum. The veins subside, but the nose wrinkle stays. I take this as a sign of Nia thinking, "yeah, but be quick about it".
"As I was saying, Uncle Lance is not a gorilla. Nor is his father. Daddy and Uncle Lance have the same mother, and she is human like you and me. But they have different fathers, but their fathers are also human like you and me. Do you understand that", looking for vast reassurance in her eyes; she nods her head up and down. The nose wrinkle is starting to diminish. Good sign.
"Uncle Lance is only the voice of the pretend gorilla on the movie. The movie is not real; it's fan-ta-sy (breaking words into syllables seems to help her focus on the concept here). Therefore, the gorilla is not real; it's fan-ta-sy too. Uncle Lance is a real person like you and me and daddy. If we are not gorillas, then Uncle Lance is not a gorilla", I say real slow so that she can grasp every word I'm trying to push into that little noggin of hers. "Do you still understand Nia?" praying that she says yes. Noticing the perplexed look in her eyes, I run over and grab the picture of Lance and his family.
"See, look Nia. This is Uncle Lance (pointing to his picture), and this Aunt Jane and your cousin Sage. Now does he look like a gorilla in this picture? Do you think Uncle Lance is a gorilla now?" I say feeling pretty damn smart for grabbing this visual aid. Nia finally nods her head no.
YES!! A breakthrough; no more gorilla issues. I walk back over to the TV to return it to play mode. I turn to Nia to tell her I'm going to start our lunch. After all, that worked up an appetite fit for a..... no, I am not going to say it. Another note to self: make sure Tarzan movie makes it into yard sale. No, just hide it for another year until she can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I reach over and give her a big hug for being so smart and understanding. She's gotta give me a few of those butterfly kisses before she let's go, and then it's back to finishing her movie.
As I am walking back to the kitchen, Nia pops a new question at me:
"Mom." she says.
"Yes Isaboo." I reply
"Why does Uncle Lance live in the forest?"