Sunday, February 24, 2008

Whatever You Do, Don't Try To Come Between a Boy and His Bottle


It all started when we had the flu. My husband, innocently enough, purchased both my youngest son and me a liter of ginger ale to nurse our sensitive stomachs for the next couple days. I finished mine, and, of all the odd things, rinsed it out, pitched the cap and threw the bottle in the recycling bin.

My son, on the other hand, had grown some kind of attachment to his bottle. He rarely gets any kind of pop, and this was his first experience (he claims) with ginger ale. He was immediately smitten with its sweet-yet-spicy taste. He finished his, and upon rinsing it out in the sink, realized an amazing thing.

"MOM, this bottle will turn any liquid green!" he gasped, "Yet, I can see right through it!"

I knew what was coming next.

"No," I responded before he could ask.

"Can I keep it?"

"No."

"Why not?" He instantly regretted asking.

"Why not?" I asked, "Why not? I'll tell you why not...."

Then I proceeded to explain to him how we had no extra space in our house for an empty bottle, that it was really trash, and that I was already tired of picking up junk through out the house... the typical mom explosion.

Then I saw the puppy eyes.

Oh, I thought, It's only one bottle. And its so thrifty and creative of him to find entertainment in something most people think is trash. Plus, it's environmentally friendly to get as much use out of something as possible. Oh, what could it hurt....

"Okay," I said, "You can keep the bottle, but if I find it on the floor you owe me $5 as a trash collecting fee."

His cheers only served to confirm my suspicion that I would regret that decision. Already I was eyeing that bottle as the enemy of my efforts to get my son to pay attention to his work. Plus, as a Mom, I find it a bit unnerving that my son would form an attachment to an empty pop bottle.

We started our school work when the first problem surfaced.

"Why do you have the bottle with you?"

"Because I love it."

"It's...uh...an empty green bottle."

"I know, but it makes me happy. I can squeeze it."

So, he sat there, working on his handwriting, and occasionally squeezing the bottle. It wasn't long before I couldn't contain myself.

"Enough with squeezing the bottle."

"Okay."

Several minutes later he was at the sink, filling the bottle with water. He sat back down and went back to work. After a minute, he put his pencil down, opened the lid of his bottle and...

"GLUG, GLUG, GLUG...."

A minute of work. He then, again, opened the cap.

"GLUG, GLUG, GLUG...."

Then he repeated the cycle again.

I breathed deeply.

"*&%^$*#" (that's his name, not a cuss word), "You need to put the bottle away. Far away. Away where I can't see it."

"Okay." And it disappeared -- for the time being.

I started working with my daughter on her math. Several minutes into it, I heard him again.

"Ohhhh.... you're green and squishy with my uni-binoculars."

I couldn't even look up. I was certain that I would do something not very nice with the bottle if I saw it. Not to mention, this kid had been sitting there for close to an hour and had only completed half of his handwriting page which normally takes him about 5-10 minutes.

But, I'm brave, so I looked up. He was sitting there, his eyes bulging from his head and staring at me through his snazzy new 'binoculars'. If my camera wasn't missing, I would've taken a picture because words can never really describe what I saw.


"*&$*(#)@" (again, his name, not a cuss word). "I need this bottle out of my line of vision."

"Okay! I'll put my nice set of uni-binoculars away!"

And, they were gone until we were reading the Bible. Although it was still with him in spirit.

"I could make it into a boat that floats." He said, between lines 4 and 5 of his handwriting.

"It's better than my regular water bottle -- bigger." He mentioned as he started his grammar.

"It's like it's really two different shades of green when it's half full." He mentioned, after one line of grammar had been half completed.

"I could even write a face on it."

And, so his musings went. But the bottle itself never made an appearance. Of course, at this point, it had taken on demonic undertones to me, so I felt as though the room was possessed by "the green bottle". We do buy this kid toys! We do invest in fun activities like tae kwon do, drums, piano, swim lessons, 4H and he's even joining boy scouts. What, but the supernatural, could explain this obsessive connection to an empty green pop bottle?

We continued with our day. Me, 5 kids, 2 dogs and the empty green pop bottle.

As I began to read the Bible to the kids, I noticed that my son was leaning back on the couch, and yet not leaning all the way back. There appeared to be something up the back of his shirt.

"*&%($#, is there something in your shirt?" I queried, hesitantly, because I already had suspicions about it.

"Well...my back hurts. "

"Yes, but that doesn't answer my question. Are you hiding your pop bottle up your shirt right now?"

"Not, the pop bottle," he replied...."It's more than that.... I filled it with hot water, and now it's a HOT WATER BOTTLE for my sore back. This thing is just so amazing! It's so many things in one reusable bottle!"

At that point, I realized that I wasn't going to win. That stupid bottle was going to be the love and focus of his day. I keep telling myself that George Washington Carver probably had his own special jar he nurtured, that Albert Einstein probably discovered Tupperware's versatility when he was a child, and that Galileo probably fell in love with a uniquely shaped clay pot. I keep reassuring myself about how Edison's teachers called him "addled". It's okay. Really. These are the people that change the world. Really. It's because he's so creative and intelligent that he can find so much....something...in an empty green pop bottle.

At least I haven't had to pick it up off the floor.

6 comments:

Rob A. said...

I propose changin his name from "*&%^$*#" to "*****", or perhaps "------". It looks nicer.

sandra said...

ha ha! what a great story... you'll have to tell us what happens to the green bottle when its time for bed!

truthfinder said...

I really needed a good laugh today, and you gave me one, so I prayed God would send you an extra-special blessing or some extra Grace. This reminded me of some of the exchanges between our middle son and me when he was little. I was never quite sure where he was coming from.(Mars?) Bless you, Deb, for sharing the laughter!!!

Lisa Humason said...

i wish i knew which kid it was. i think i know which by the picture. cute. probably stressful, but cute.

Mati said...

i'm really enjoying the blog :) thanks!

i had some ideas about other ways to handle the bottle - this happens all the time with my daughter!

what kind of plastic is it? why is this plastic used for pop bottles? why is it green? what chemicals are used to make it green? what else could this bottle hold besides pop? would he like to write a new label for the bottle? (bingo! handwriting!) what happens when he fills the green bottle with different-colored solutions? what is the volume of the bottle? what other items in your house have the same volume? do any of them look larger or smaller than you would expect? if so, what shape are they? can he find a container that will have an inch of water in it when he empties the full pop bottle into it? how many square inches is this container? what scientific experiments can you do using the bottle? what other uses are there for a green plastic pop bottle? birdfeeder, rocket, see-through plant pot for examining bean roots...

and so on, LOL

Deb said...

Uhggg...Mati, you sound like my son!

Actually, back in the beginning days of homeschooling, that's about what I would've done... now 5 kids (well, 3 after him) later, I don't have the energy or creativity.

He did actually take the bottle outside to add to a sculpture he was making in his baby sisters wading pool. It's frozen, upside down, in what looks like a really bizarre grave yard.

Thanks for commenting!