…is not where you think it is. There are no friendly mice or glamorous princesses. Well, there might be ONE princess but she prefers neons and animal prints over pink and poufy any day. If you’re wondering about the prince, he’s there too. He loves legos and hex bugs and mine craft. The queen is a stunning zumba/barbell/step-aeorbics instructor who rules firmly but fairly in the magical kingdom of Newsouri.
(It should be noted that Newsouri is, in fact, Missouri in kid-speak.)
My son, Max, is nearly five years old and he makes sure to tell me daily that he plans to run away to Newsouri in order to escape my tyranny. I didn’t know it at first but it seems that I’m actually the evil queen in this situation. Ruling with an iron fist and unreasonable demands like:
“Please tidy up your bed.”
“Go put your shoes in your shoe basket”
“You need to flush the toilet EVERY time you use it.”
and the worst of them all… “No, you may not have cookies before breakfast.”
I know. You’re wondering what kind of monster I am or how I manage to live with myself issuing orders such as these. Quite frankly, I’m beginning to wonder too. Especially in light of his constant threats to move to his Auntie’s house…in Newsouri.
Moving to Newsouri is his solution to everything. Don’t want to eat what I cooked for dinner? Move to Newsouri! Get in trouble for hitting your brother? Run away! To Newsouri! Hate cleaning up after yourself? Max says that in Newsouri, you NEVER have to clean up your toys. So you should definitely go there. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion that these rules would be news to all the children who currently reside in the grand state of Newsouri.)
At first, I was sympathetic to these outbursts and threats. I know it’s a sort of phase. He’s testing, pushing our buttons, experimenting with threats and ultimatums. I remember doing this as a kid too. There was always somewhere that I was just certain wouldn’t have such awful rules about behaving and cleaning up after yourself. So I get it. I really do. But I’m also OVER IT. My kid has threatened to relocate to Newsouri so many times that I’ve barely stopped short of telling him to just fucking do it already. As it stands, I’ve started to talk him through the logistics of moving out-of-state. I tell him that Daddy and I would be heartbroken to see him go but if he really thinks it’s the best thing to do then he’d better prepare properly. I remind him that Newsouri is really far away and well, he can’t drive yet so he’s going to have to walk and it’s literally going to take him several days to get from our house to his Auntie’s. Also, those legos that he doesn’t want to clean up? Yeah, he can’t really take those with him because they won’t all fit in his backpack and I’m not entirely sure that he could carry them while walking that far. And I’m not really sure how he would eat while he was traveling because he doesn’t have much money to buy food with and I’m not sure that he knows where all the restaurants are. So many details! Who knew?! His solution, of course, is to have his Auntie and cousins come pick him up in their car. It’s a good solution. It would get him safely from point A to point B. Except I’m pretty sure his Auntie isn’t in the market for a cute but bitchy five-year old right now.
Sometimes I also like to remind him of the reality of how his Auntie rules her roost. She’s the one who taught him the phrase, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” So I’m not entirely sure where his idea of her as a permissive, lovey-dovey, everyday-is-a-party kind of Aunt came from. The most recent example would be this conversation:
(I walked into the kitchen at 7am one day to find that Max had eaten all but one of the sugar cookies we had planned to have for their afternoon snack that day. He was well aware that this was not ok. I called him into the kitchen to talk about it…)
Me: Well honey, sneaking cookies before breakfast is not ok. I hope you understand that this means you will not be having a cookie for snack this afternoon.
Max: What?! But I WANT a cookie for snack!!
Me: I know but you chose to sneak in here and eat cookies before breakfast. Now the only cookie left is the one I had saved for Mason. So he will still be able to eat his cookie later but you will just have to eat something different.
Max: NO!!!!! I want to eat a cookie!! Mason can just share his! It’s a big cookie!
Me: I will not make Mason share his cookie. You’ve already eaten more than your share of the cookies. You made a choice to be sneaky and eat them this morning. That choice has a consequence, which is that now there is no cookie for you to eat this afternoon.
Max: That’s IT! I’m leaving! I’m moving to Newsourri!! I can eat whatever cookies I want in Newsouri!
Me: (who is sick to death of hearing about Newsourri) Oh really?! You wanna know something about Newsouri? Your Auntie, who lives in Newsouri, DOESN’T BAKE COOKIES. THERE ARE NO COOKIES IN NEWSOURI. Your Auntie bakes cookies once year, at Christmas, and that’s it. Your Auntie doesn’t even eat potatoes so I can promise you she’s not baking cookies just for fun.
Max: (looks completely shell-shocked. I think his eyes might fall out of his head. He has never known an existence without baked goods.) Well…I still might go!
Le sigh. I’m at a loss. If he were older I might seriously consider seeing if my sister would take him for a couple weeks. A couple weeks where she just happened to need a lot of help doing projects in her house or yard. I feel like we would both win in that situation. Free labor for her, a little tarnishing of the Newsouri gleam for me. But he’s four, going on five. He’s young, if sassy, and I’m trying to get through this phase without losing my sanity. I know his version of life in Newsouri is complete fiction, made up in his clever little head but somehow it still stings to have it thrown in my face every damn day.
I’ve started fantasizing about a preschooler version of Scared Straight; no cookies, no iPads, lots of chores, early bedtimes and someone is always using your favorite action figure.
Until then, I’ll continue my mean mommy ways and finish each day with a visit to the bar cart. I have a feeling there are mom’s in The Kingdom of Newsouri who do the same.