Friday, December 18, 2009

My Oldest Son Should Have Been Named Pinocchio

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I must say it again: I really wish I had been given a practice boy to make all my stupid parenting errors on; say the wrong thing to and subject to poor judgement calls. You know like the little ‘droid in AI. To hone this point of how terrible my judgement is sometimes, I must confess, as “Mother Of The Year”, I took the boys to see AI a few short months after I left their father and became Disneyland Mommy. Let me refresh your memory about this Spielberg vehicle: a couple has a son who is injured and in a vegetative state; the bereft couple buy a robot boy and the robot boy bonds with them just about the time the real boy wakes up and returns home. Mommy doesn’t have enough room in her heart for both boys and takes the robot boy for a “ride” into the woods. The robot boy is dumped and must fend for himself against all manner of bad robots and bad humans until he drowns and is left to eternally mourn his lost mother. Real feel good stuff. Because my kids weren’t screwed up enough by having a depressed mother who left home; I had to take them to a movie which depicts parents getting rid of a child. WTF was I thinking? I deposited a theoretical ten grand into each of their theoretical Therapy Accounts on the way home from the movie. On top of a completely inappropriate plot line, the movie was terribly long and unforgivably dull. (Today when I reminded Wally of this movie, I got a sardonic “good job, mom!”)

I was reminded of my need for a droid kid the other day when I took Beav out for his first driving lesson. After the lesson, I picked up Wally and he asked me how it went with Beav. I sort of shrugged my shoulders and told him it was easy. “Yeah, it’ll be easier with the smart kid,“ was his heartbreaking response. Fortunately, Good Mother kicked in and I launched into my oft delivered lecture of how just because someone does well in school doesn’t assure they will do well in life or are really all that “smart.“ I wouldn’t be delivering the lecture if the Cybertronics people had given me my own little Davey.

I taught Wally how to drive a few years ago and if I say so myself, I did an excellent job. He’s a pretty good driver for an impulsive 19.5 year old man. But getting him to this point wasn’t easy. It was sort of similar to…I don’t know…The Eighth Circle Of Parenting Hell. To say sitting on the right side of a teenager when they are learning to drive is scarier than crap is an understatement. My outings with Wally would go something like this:

Me: ohmgawd ohmgawd ohmgawd…slowdown slowdown slowdown…don’t brake so hard…look both ways…LOOK BOTH WAYS…SHI---Jesus! Don’t do that again!

I’m surprised the Oh My God strap is still attached above the passenger door after being repetitively yanked and grasped for about a year of student driving. But just like breast feeding, potty training, and the seventh grade I got through teaching a kid to drive and I’ll get through it again. Only this time. . . Don’t you love getting to say that with your second child? (Don’t you wish you could say it after you fuck up the droid kid, as you are pulling away from the rest stop where you dump him?) Only this time, I’m going to be more patient and relaxed. In fact, I was so relaxed and smug as Beav pulled away from the curb for the first time with me riding shot gun I could have taken a nap, mixed some cocktails , paid bills or blogged. I was even laissez-faire when he told me he had never driven before. Relaxed but incredulous. Wha? His dad had never let him drive? His brother hadn’t let him drive? What is it with my kids? They are both so goody two-shoed they never snuck their dad’s old Jag out for a joy ride. If my dad had had a cool car, he would have needed new tires for it by the time I was sixteen. As it was my friend Melody’s dad had a sporty vintage Volvo which sat in their garage like a temptress, begging us to take her out for a spin. Which we did. And we got caught but it was worth it because when you’re fifteen the moment is always worth it. Ask Wally about this, you can see it in his eye when asked about the two unsanctioned parties he had at Ward's when his dad and step mom were out of town.

Anyhow, my self-congratulatory lassitude lasted about a minute (just long enough to get the checkbook and the cocktail shaker out) before the internal dialogue started:

Me: ohgawdmovetotheleft movetotheleft ohgawd ohgawd herewego please don’t hit the parked car. Oh crap, he’s going to take off a mirror…LOOOK BOTH WAYS. Slow down…stop…NOT SO HARD DON”T BRAKE SO HARD…SHI-- Jesus why do I have to do this again

I’m very proud this go round the dialogue was internal and I graduated from clinging to the Oh My God strap to putting a grip of death on the right arm rest thingie. I just hope it doesn’t fall off over the next few months of driving lessons.

image is from and is a shot from AI
As a PSA addendum to this very digressive and rambly piece I want everyone to know how extremely proud I am of my oldest son. Wally didn’t make it completely through his AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) this fall and while he was disappointed he has to start over in six months, he is taking it like a man and placed the blame squarely on his own shoulders. A first for him. I think I’m proudest of the way he is moving through a tough life lesson with grace and dignity. My son left home August 31st a boy but just like all that Army hooah literature said, he returned to me a confident capable young man. I can’t imagine what he would have been like if he had graduated. Probably 19 going on 40 like Beav is 15 going on 45.

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