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11:23 a.m. - 2010-05-23
Big Fun (?) at The Fair.

We went to the Hudson Valley Fair last night. It was across the river at the local minor league baseball team's stadium. None of us are avid baseball fans, but being reminded how close-by the stadium is and local promotions (2-fer tix, free hot dog night, etc) would certainly make going to a game an inexpensive treat, we decided we'll be going up for a game or two later this season. Something different and certainly fun even if baseball isn't our 'thing'. Too easy to take a miss on activities like this and get stuck in a rut. Plus there's just something cozy about taking your kid to a baseball game, you know?

Anyway, the fair was a larger and nicer than average parking lot carnival affair. Several substantial rides, a bunch of games, lots of craft vendors, some corporate sponsored booths for things as varied as kitchen remodeling and joining the National Guard, and a very nice assortment of fair food. How cool is it that I can get souvlaki on a stick at a carnival? Bought Wolf a bracelet that let him go on all the rides as often as he wanted, can't see the point of messing around buying tickets, especially when those bracelets are such a good deal.

My son, Mr Speed and Thrills, had a blast. Still can't get over what an adrenalin junkie he is. Alex was very leery of rides, hated them actually. Scared him to pieces. And now I've got a kid who's the exact opposite- the faster, the whirlier, the more upside-down and vomit inducing the better. Aside from them both being boys and wearing my face, my sons could NOT be more different from each other. I wonder though if they'd been born closer together whether they'd have influenced each other more. Perhaps Alex's example would get Wolf to do more with his music and Wolf's enthusiasm helping Alex to give up his reticence and live it up a bit more. As it is, I have two 'only' children who were born in different generations, barely know each other and share nothing but some DNA and a last name. But maybe siblings are hardwired to be opposites no matter how close or far apart in age. Only 3 years between us and Gidget and I are nothing alike. My nephews, who were born on the same day exactly a year apart, are like Cain and Abel- the elder a flighty party boy with a sharp tongue and zero ambition beyond having a good time and the younger is a studious, polite, ambitious charmer who got a perfect 1600 on his SATs.

It's very difficult for me to figure out the right amount of freedom to give Wolf. I tell myself every day he's going to be 13 next month and do my best to cut him loose when the situation calls for it. How else can he learn any judgment if not given his head? I can't nitpick and nanny everything he does forever. Well, I could, but I'm not going to. I have a horror of being one of those parents whose kid hasn't ever been allowed to learn and think for himself because I've been there every second doing all the hard parts for him before he even knows they're there. I'm not about to raise some incompetent ninny who needs Mommy to tie his shoes for him when he's 25 and still living at home.

Yet this is Wolf we're talking about. The Boy Who Fell to Earth. I never know when this kid's plugged into the real world and when he's off in the autism clouds. A kid who could bang out Blind Lemon Jefferson tunes by ear on the piano at 2 yet wasn't able to grasp the mechanics of using the toilet until he was almost 5. Such a maddening mixture of able and clueless. And beautiful, no false modesty here, my son is a physically beautiful child. Too well do I understand the dangers of being a gorgeous pre-teen. How do I keep him safe? How do I make sure the sexual predations that I was hit with over and over and over don't happen to my child? The flashers, the gropers, the slimeballs with filthy mouths and leering faces. Not all the pervs who like messing with boys wear priests' collars.

Cell phones are a godsend. If they're used properly, of course. Last night I sent Wolf off to ride the rides with strict instructions to check in with me every 15 minutes. If he was on a ride at that time to then call immediately when he got off. It all went swimmingly for a while. The carnival was small enough that we ran across each other in person too. I was chill. My kid was having a grand adventure, running from vomit-tron to vomit-tron, stuffing his face with popcorn and cotton candy, and just being a kid at a country carnival. I wished for the millionth time he had a friend we could take along on jaunts like this, but Life hasn't been fair when doling out the available pals. A running buddy would ease my mind just that much more, even though two doofus 12 year olds together up the odds for idiot stunts of derring-do. Anyhow, it drew down dark and Wolf stopped calling. I called him, of course, but it went straight to voicemail.

GAAAAAAHHHH!

Straight to voicemail means his phone is OFF. Why would his phone be off? In rushed all the lurid and horrific possibilities. I tried my damnedest to stay sane. The phone had fallen out of his pocket and some opportunist had picked it up and shut it off to prevent it being claimed by its owner. (It's a very snazzy phone.) The phone was still in his pocket but had been accidentally shut off by some ride's safety bar pressing on it. Something, anything besides the gruesome scenario that refused to stop playing out in vista-vision and dolby on my mind's macabre movie screen. Wolf hauled away by some predator, his phone smashed under the boot of his kidnapper, my child at the mercy of some fiend with deviant intent.

Yeah, after a half hour of fruitless searching, Lamaze breathing (to steady myself), and choking back panicky tears I lost my shit and freaked out. Mick, needing to be my hero as always, made me stay put and went off to find my missing son. I called and called and called my kid's number and still got nothing but that hateful voicemail message. After an eternity (7 or 8 minutes) here came Mick and Wolf. Too relieved to be angry I snatched up my son in a ferocious mama bear clutch and dripped tears all over the top of his head while he struggled to breathe with his face smushed into my cleavage. Finally cried out I asked what happened and found out my dopey kid had shut off his phone because it kept dialing random numbers when stuffed into his pocket. HE had shut off his phone???? And didn't think to turn the fricken thing back on and call like he was supposed to????

Dumbfounded I let Mick rip our moronic child a new one while I stood there wondering when exactly all this good judgment and connection to reality was supposed to kick in, you know, because I'm doing my best to be a cool free-range mom and raise a non-idiot child.

The answer? Possibly never. Best case scenario Wolf will become a responsible, conscientious person only long after my hair's gone stark white, I've had 4 heart attacks and am permanently a jittering, stuttering, leaky boweled mess.


Parenting is NOT for sissies. ~LA

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