If God had a menu, you’d be exactly what I’d order… Wait. That sounds wrong, and I’m hungry. Ok. If you were a car, you’d be exactly what color, make, and model… No. You are just exactly the blessing that I prayed for. And you still are; even if I am an overbearing, helicopter mom who constantly worries about what you’re exposed to, how you’re feeling, or what your worries are (especially, now that you’re a teenager).
About two decades ago (Oh My Gosh) I was a young, naive, dream-filled 20-year-old. Fairy tales, invincibility, no cellulite. At that time, my top goals were:
- Any “make big money quick” (scheme) occupation
- Marry the perfect husband/future father of my children
- Pop out a big, strapping, handsome boy (okay, I didn’t want him big & strapping WHEN I popped him out, just later) #c-section
“If men knew how women pass the time when they are alone, they’d never marry.”O. Henry
When Jake was just a few years old, it was time for me to trade-in my Ford F-150 for something more practical; with more seats for all those bonus children that I was going to pop out. I found it. My red Ford Expedition. Deep red. My favorite color. Seats 8; for the additional 3 c-sections I was planning, and maybe someday even adoption (to add to the family, not to give them up).
Seats 8. For a while, Jake was the safest toddler on the planet; safely buckled in the second row, center spot, booster seat. The rest of the seats would never be filled. Plans changed, marriage changed, life changed. I’d have one-shot at this parenting “gig”.
Being an only-child… this kid can’t “win”.
On this particularly fateful evening, I picked up Jake from his Dad’s house. There he was, buckled up all safe & sound, second row, center seat. Just the two of us; my only child. We both loved to sing and laugh on our drives, and tonight wouldn’t be any different. He was a crack-up, and still is to this day. After a few giggles, I softly turned on the stereo and concentrated on my surroundings while driving at dusk.
Hmm? Did I hear him correctly? I turned down the stereo further.
Yes, I did hear that correctly; coming from the booster seat in the center row, center seat, and from the only other person in this gigantic, gas-guzzling SUV. EVOC was my forte’ in POST Academy, so you can only imagine the flawless maneuvering of this 5,500 pound sport-utility vehicle into the nearest parking lot (which was ironically, a church).
Car in ‘park’, seatbelt thrown off, head spinning like “The Exorcist”, I flung my upper-body into the backseat. “What did you just say? Where did you hear that? That’s a horrible word. I don’t ever want to hear that again!… Jake! Do you understand me?!?”
Now here is where I want you to envision the cutest blonde haired, blue eyed, toddler. Almost angelic. If he could have a glowing halo above his blonde-ness, he would. Buckled up perfectly in his booster seat; second row, center seat. He looked at me like a deer in the headlights, and now his lower lip was quivering.
Both of his arms were extended slightly in front of him; hands in a fist, elbows bent. The thumb on his left hand was extended upward (like a hitchhiker), and so was his right thumb. He pitifully looked down to his left extended thumb, and while twitching it ever so slightly, Jake softly finished singing, “… here I am, here I am.”
“Wait, what are you singing?”
The lip was still quivering, as this poor child had no clue why his mom completely lost her mind. “Where is func%’in? where is func%’in? Here I am. Here I am”. That toddler’s halo was brighter than ever, but his annunciation of “th” needed work. Thumbkin’s name can sure take a turn when coming out of a toddler’s mouth.
I can thankfully look back and say that Jake hasn’t given me nearly the amount of heartache that some of my other friends have endured with their teens; and I’m fairly confident that he won’t. Right now, every morning news show has a blurp on “teen vaping”. Black market THC pods, vapor-damaged lung tissue, kids in a coma. Jake comes home and tells me (daily) how students vape in every bathroom during every break, and several students will take a THC drag smack-dab in the middle of class (which makes one of my undiagnosed multiple personalities want to drag each one of these offenders to juvie… by their hair). I’m too hard on him.
“Be nice to your children, for they will choose your rest home”Phyllis Diller
He’s almost 16. I’m hard on him for common-sense life skills (which is probably my fault for not instilling certain things at an earlier stage). Time management, efficiency, communication. But this is the ONLY aspect of his being that I want him to work on. He’s never smoked, drank, or kissed. Calm down, Mom!
I came to the realization long ago, that we all want our children to turn out better than us. Time for me to be a little more lenient with this kid. Jake is already a better person than I’ll ever be. Let him mess up. Let him suffer without immediately consoling him. Time for me to up my game and be a better example. Hold myself to a higher standard. Accomplish some major goals. Learn some new life skills, myself, at the age of 40. Just be a better person.
Guess I wont be singing or hand-signaling “Where is Thumbkin” during my next road-rage incident.