pop tarts

Me: Good night, dear one! I love you!

Son: Good night. (Translation: I adore you, my sainted mother, but my acute self-consciousness requires that I conceal my sentiments.)


Me: Would you mind having Pop-Tarts for dinner?

Son: That’s exactly what I want to have! (Translation: I will never reproach you for your utter inability to cook and thereby provide me with a culturally and physiologically appropriate diet. And when I am an adult, I will wait a full five years before I tell my therapist about all those Pop-Tarts.)


Me: Are you enjoying day camp?

Son: Yeah, the kids are a lot of fun. (Translation: But I secretly wish that I could stay home all day with you and get a jump-start on sixth-grade math. Note, however, that you should not feel guilty about all those math workbooks you purchased that we’ve never used.)


Me: Would you like to go out and do something, or would you rather just stay home today?

Son: I’d rather just stay home. (Translation: I don’t mind that even though we live in a vast city of immeasurably rich resources, I am familiar only with the ten-block radius surrounding our apartment building. I may have lost all hope of ever engaging with the wider world around me, but I feel really good about that. I am also at peace with the slow atrophy of my leg muscles.)


Me: I’m going to change the channel and watch a news show about the presidential election.

Son: Great. (Translation: Great. Also, despite my tone, please know that I am incapable of sarcasm.)


Me: Do you think you’d ever want to have kids of your own?

Son: Are you serious? Of course not! Kids are a complete pain! They’re loud, they’re dumb – I’m never having kids! (Translation: I’m just messing with you. Even though I spend hours every day lazing about, my true dream is to become a caring and attentive father who doesn’t have a moment to himself.)


Me: When I’m old and have dementia, will you come visit me in the nursing home?

Son: Hahaha! Yeah, right! That’s a good one, Mom! I think I’ll be a little busy hanging around my mansion, playing video games. (Translation: You will never live in a nursing home. Instead, I will cradle you in my arms and feed you Pop-Tarts for every meal and never let you go outside. And I will love you, even though I won’t admit it to anyone except my therapist.)

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Susan M. Gelles

Susan M. Gelles is a writer who lives in the Bronx with her husband and twin sons. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Twins Magazine, and other publications.