Oedipus at Our House

Last night Alden said, “I’m going to take Daddy’s ring.” He explained that would make him married to me. He’s a sort of Gollum/Oedipus combo these days.

Poor Alden can’t understand how his only girl, his mom, can have three dudes in her immediate orbit. It’s so unfair. Poor Damon can’t understand why his eldest son can be such a turkey sometimes.

While we’ve always tilted a little bit in the “Mommy do it!” direction, things got pretty pronounced there for a while. Even on the hallowed ground of Disney World, there was no peace to be made. I called my mom to break the news that only one of them was coming back and she just said, “Oh, he’s Oedipal right on schedule.” Which was some much needed perspective, and also kind of rhymes.

Understanding the why always helps with the what, and tensions decreased almost immediately. Damon and Alden are buddies again, dedicating afternoons to the monster truck dinosaur ball game. The whole bad business actually left a charming afterglow. Now Alden likes to end his days by telling me the various ways he loves me — “a million”, “to the moon” — and that I am “the sweetest girl” and “so kind.” He puts his hand on my cheek and tells me we will stay together forever. And I say, “Yes. We will.”  Every once in a while he will wake me up in the middle of the night to say, “Mommy, can you turn so I can see you? I love to look at your face.” Gah! I cannot resist! When he asks if we can get married, I tell him we can. By the time he is old enough to call my bluff I suspect these days of uncritical adoration will be long over. From his side, anyway.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Julianne on December 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks for the post. I know what you mean. I love my boy! Brach also refuses to accept that Daddy’s place is “primary.” Still, he is not exactly Oedipal. Our latest twist is he told me I was his mommy last time and many times before and that when the world burns and is new again, I will be his mommy again. So apparently our bind is stronger than marriage. Strange kid, but I love him.


  2. Posted by Rachel on December 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    In our house, with the addition of another girl in our orbit (the miraculous big sister Harper)…we have a tremendous amount of weddings and role-changing. Harper marries Daddy a lot. And she also marries her brothers. And sometimes even me. And recently, Elijah has been telling me that he is mommy, and Harper is daddy. The nice thing is, it is all pretty even and everyone gets loved on equally. And ‘steamrolled’ equally. (Def: to steamroll: Felix’s patented technique of coming over to you while you are lying down, sitting on your head and rolling back and forth, trapping you.)


    • Alden gets frustrated that when he and his cousin Audrey play Mommy and Daddy she will never let him be Mommy. So he and I play Mommy and Mommy (I’m not allowed to be Daddy).


  3. OMFG, the waking up to ask you to move for the purpose of facial visibility? AMAZING! I also went through that phase. If my mom ran an errand, I would immediately start to do a minute-by-minute report of where she was, sometimes calling my maternal grandmother to ask what time she had left to head back to our house, or sometimes by asking my Dad if she may be making stops on the way home. It’s totally cute and a boy thing; flash forward twelve years and things are WAY different. Or maybe not; perhaps that is just because I was a super sucky teenage and early-twentysomething-son. PS – your hair in that photo? LOVE. #textmessagetofollow


  4. Posted by Karen on December 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I love it… and who could say no to a marriage proposal from Alden? V. and N. both went through a stage of wanting to be married to each other and I used a great line stolen from my sister in law: After agreeing how wonderful it would be if they could always be together and validating their affection for one another, I would remind them, “BUT… the rule about marriage is: you have to add a brand new person to the family. It doesn’t count if they are already in your family…you have to find somebody new.” Kids seem to understand and accept this rule at face value. It covers almost any crazy Oedipal or otherwise incestuous match-up they could devise, and is almost foolproof as a rule of thumb, except for cases where two brothers marry two sisters or second cousins once removed don’t have any actual legal barriers to tying the knot…. But by the time he starts questioning you about those exceptions he’ll be out of the Oedipal phase and asking you to drop him off a block away from school in the mornings or to pretend that you’re not related if you cross paths at the science fair. Enjoy it while it lasts!


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