“You barely have cancer!” This has become my son Luca’s automatic response to me on the rare occasion that I tell him I can not do something because I’m feeling tired. The conversation goes something like this:
“MOOOOM, COME HERE!” – He screams demandingly from the kitchen table.
“What is it Luca?” I respond from my place on the couch, literally 10 feet away.
“JUST COME HERE! I NEED YOU TO HELP ME WITH MY HOMEWORK!” He shouts again, the demanding little son-of-a… wait – that’s me!
“Luca, just bring your homework over here to me and I’ll help you. I’m too tired to get off the couch right now.” I reply calmly, with my arse firmly situated on my cancer couch.
“CAN’T YOU JUST GET UP? WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT?! WHY ARE YOU SO TIRED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY?!” He shouts back incredulously, in full on 7-year-old after-school meltdown mode.
“Luca, I’m tired because the medicine I take to make the cancer go away makes me sleepy sometimes, but thats good because that’s how we know it’s working.” I say, while giving myself a mental pat on the back for spontaneously providing what I considered to be an extremely reasonable and reassuring answer. (What a great shrink I am! What a great mom I am!)
“WHAT?! PUH-LEASE! YOU BARELY EVEN HAVE CANCER! THAT WAS SO LONG AGO!”- Shouts Luca, completely unsympathetically. Oh no he didn’t. (What a F’d up mom and shrink I am! Who raised this kid?)
In response to this, I had the most powerful simultaneous emotional reaction I can recall in a long time. On the inside, I have to admit my initial response was bratty outrage that he was being so dismissive and minimizing about what I was going though. How dare he! However, I burst out hysterically laughing about so many aspects of this scenario. For starters, did my 7-year-old boy really just string out the word “please” into 2 syllables like a disgruntled teen-age girl? He did.
I almost immediately realized, that is the exact perception of the situation I’d want him to have after all. I have tried to schedule my treatments and doctor appointments during the time the kids are in school to minimize the impact and focus of cancer in their lives. As a result, although Bella at 10 understands what is happening – Luca is largely unaware that I truck off to radiation and numerous other doctor appointments every day. And, since I didn’t lose my hair, I don’t really look much different. Therefore, Luca equates “cancer” with the multiple surgeries and hospitalizations I had months ago, before chemo. Thus, in his mind, I of course “barely have cancer” anymore.
I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised by his skewed perception of reality. This is the boy who, up until very recently, honestly thought I was a “Sock Doctor” because I am, in his words, “a Sockologist.” There are a lot of misperceptions about what us “shrinks” do – but that was a new one. I’m still not sure what he envisioned happens in the office of a doctor with this particular patient demographic. Did he imagine me sitting at a desk mending socks with a needle and thread? Pairing socks together that had gone astray? A waiting room full of sock puppets? It boggles my mind but is so hysterical.
Oh, and not only does he not feel bad for me that I’m tired from cancer treatments, the other day he also had the nerve to tell me my butt was fat. Yup. That’s my son. I think he was absent for the Intro to How to Talk to Girls class. When Bella and I both instantaneously shot him looks of horror, he backpedaled to “Oh no, I didn’t mean fat, I meant chubby.” After once again receiving looks of shock and disgust from the two females in the room, he then says “No, I don’t mean chubby, I mean blubbery.” I. Can’t. Even. Kick me when I’m down Luca. And by the way. I’m pretty much down to my prime fighting weight these days so really, where does he get the nerve? 🙂
Needless to say, after all these transgressions, I made his stubborn little butt bring his homework to me. However, I have to admit I loved the fact that he did not have empathy for me in that moment because he really is unaware of so much of what this disease has done to me. Despite how changed and ravaged I feel – the fact that he still just sees me as his lazy old mom who won’t get her, apparently massive, arse off the sofa and walk 10 feet to help him – is kind of awesome :).
So, when reality gets you down, just shift your mental kaleidoscope to the 7-year-old boy setting and see it through their eyes. Trust me – it’s way more interesting, not to mention hysterically funny.
In Luca-world, I’m just a lay-about, fat-ass, sock doctor who had a mere “brush” with cancer like – forever ago. I’ll take that version of reality any day.
In fact, I like his version of me so much, I let him describe me for my LTYM bio!