Prince Harry Was Naked

by Jennifer Donnell

"Prince Harry was naked?" a voice calls from over my shoulder. I'm reading online news and my son has spotted the titillating caption. He famously spies on everyone in the house, it seems no where is safe. He's sheltered enough that he's fourteen going on ten, but wants to be eighteen going on forty-five- with a stint in rehab and two divorces under his belt. He wants to know everything, the darker the better.

"Oh, you know..." I buy time with a pause, "Famous people are followed by so many photographers that they probably took a photo of him in his house." It sounds plausible. Good job, mom-self.

"No, I don't think so... it says he was outside." he tries to peer at the screen for more details, but I've already minimized it. He continues, "Why would he do that? That's so weird." He wrinkles his nose as I start over and scroll to another news source. Perhaps I can find a decent story about the last Mars rover or an impressive chimpanzee. Unfortunately, the website I chose has a title story which includes the words "sex" and "booze". I close the page and sigh a little.

My son has already switched subjects. His mind travels faster than a train at night. It stops periodically on each subject, then speeds away. When he was younger the doctor thought it was merely A.D.D. 

"Can we go to the dollar store?" his voice is a little frantic, like it gets when he really wants something. He wants a lot of somethings. 

Ah, the dollar store- crux of my existence. I feel snobbish for saying it, but I hate the dollar store and he knows it. Right now, he wants their (probably) toxic rubberized Halloween supplies. His favorite are the ghoulish bloody brains and the rotting rubber liver. He already has yards of yellow caution tape he found in a box, when one of the neighbors moved. I know his plan. He wants to decorate the outside of our house with his finds and add creepy homemade signs, like, "Don't trip." to our staircase. It's August, not October. He thinks it's a revolutionary idea. I think it's a "no".

Sensing my lack of excitement about his plans, he switches gears. Did he tell me about the inflatable boat for $24.99? He can buy it! He has enough money, if I lend him five dollars. Can he get it? Now? What about Now? Or, Now? Or..... When? He notices I'm getting up from my computer chair and knows I must be headed to cook breakfast. I wish I could tell him it was okay, but I already know what will happen if he buys a boat. He'll want to use it immediately at the harbor, a lake, a river, somewhere. The wait will drive him up the wall and send his emotions crashing down like dominoes. He'll become hysterical or despondent. For the sake of everyone's mental health, including his own, he can't get the boat.

He picks up a book lying on a nearby table. I haven't read it, but it's big and heavy- a hardcover about a woman who moved to Egypt. I know he's thinking about throwing it.... perhaps at me, or the wall, or through a window. He stares at the sharp corners and hesitates. He puts it down again and switches to ranting about how life is over, if he doesn't have that damn inflatable boat. 

I'm relieved. It's progress. Before the latest medicine, he would have hurled it through the window, or slammed his booted foot into a door. I remember the sound of it- the shatter, the way he'd calm after the impact and begin to beg, in his still child-like voice, slowly regaining control, "Mom, do you still love me? You do, still love me, don't you?"