Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ups and Downs...

Last week, The Kid performed in his school's spring performance. 21st Century Grandma and I took the morning off to attend. Grandman drove The Kid to school that morning so she could treat him to breakfast along the way.

I could not have been more glad to see them go.

That morning, The Kid drove me insane. He was overexcited about his upcoming performance, and thus overreacted to everything I said and did. When I tried to get him to take his shower (I didn't want a dirty Kid getting up in front of the entire school and their parents!), he shrieked and cried like a baby. Furious, I picked him up and put him bodily in the shower.

By the time I got to his school, I was in a toxic mood. The early morning whining, the rude parents, the nearly impossible parking lot, I was in no mood for anything. I grudingly traipsed into the school to the auditorium, and shuffled my way in among the ritsy, snooty stay-at-home moms, armed with their video cameras.

I arrived just as the program began, but The Kid and his class, as the first performers, were already on stage, poised to perform. As the introductory speech was made, I could see The Kid's big bright eyes zipping around the crowd, looking for signs of Grandma and me. Suddenly our eyes met and he grinned sheepishly. He turned his attention to the teachers, and began to perform.

An irresistable smile crept across my face, and before I knew what was happening, tears had filled my eyes and began to run silently down my face.

I couldn't remember ever being that proud in my life.

The Kid is typically struck with terror at the idea of being the center of attention, and that is often portrayed in inappropriate, energetic outbursts. Yet, here he was, on the eve of his sixth birthday, calm and cool, well-behaved and quiet, running through the class routine almost flawlessly. It was like an entirely different Kid was suddenly before me.

I tried my best to snap photos of him through the film of tears, but I am fairly certain the photos will be just as blurry as my vision was.

He's a hell of a Kid, and I am truly blessed.

...

Someone remind me of that when I try to make him clean his room this afternoon...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Happily confused...

Until today, I hadn't spoken to Bassman since Saturday night.

I was afraid that, despite my optimism, our friendship was ruined.

Today while at work, my cell phone rang, and I answered without glancing at the caller ID, assuming naturally that it was a message I had left minutes early being returned.

"Hello?"

"You weren't supposed to pick up -- you're at work! I was just going to leave you a message."

"I can hang up and you can call back if you'd like."

And from there, ten minutes of casual conversation, updating one another on our week so far, commensed. It was like our conversations have always been all these years -- easy, full of laughter and comfort.

Since we were constrained for time, I called him back after work and we chatted through my commute home. Twenty more minutes of the most unawkward conversation.

I've always had breakups where you pretend for yourselves and each other that you can remain friends, but after a few awkward, painful phone calls you give it up and retreat back into your own separate lives. There is none of that with Bassman. I don't know what that means, but I know it's good. I didn't cry. I didn't want to. There was no uncomfortable silence. There were no references to Saturday night, trying to play nonchalant all while attempting to secretly guage the other's response. I closed my cell phone...and I smiled.

I hope this is a positive sign, not only for our future (in whatever capacity), but also for my life and my own maturity. Finally something has not fallen completely apart. Something has not imploded in my face. An experiment failed. And I'm not burned. Not even singed. Not remotely.

It's a good feeling. I hope it lasts...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Alone...

I am surrounded by my family. They are smiling -- The Kid is enjoying his Easter spoils, and the Grandparents are enjoying his smiles. I sit nearby and I watch the scene...but I am not a part of it.

My eyes are swollen and dead. I feel nothing.

Sound swirls about me -- the beginnings of the Easter feast being prepared, the television blaring, laughter, chatter. But I take in none of it. I absorb nothing.

I know something so heartbreaking about another human being, and he knows something equally as heartbreaking about me. I know he sits alone on his couch at home, eyes lifeless, absorbing nothing at this moment, just as I am here.

It's a lonely and naked place -- truly understanding the darkest depths of the souls of man. Two souls have been exposed and stand unclothed before one another, yet shrouded from the rest of the world.

I want to sit with him. Collective solitude. Unfeeling. Without a sound. But together. Sharing the silence and the pain and the understanding.

Perhaps this evening I can escape to him for a bit, to look him dead eye to dead eye, and to understand.

Meanwhile, I must put on a happy face and enjoy my son's rapture at this day. I must participate. I must at least make an attempt to put it behind me for a few hours.

But it all screams and echoes in an endless din in my skull. And I don't know how to make it stop.

Stunned...

I am in complete and utter shock.

Bassman and I are no longer visiting the realm of coupledom. I am completely in love with him, and he loves me too, but our lives are just not right to devote to each other. Not now. Maybe not ever. We discussed it tonight, and as desperately as we wanted it to work, it just can't.

And yet, despite the puffy, itchy eyes -- clearly evidence that I sobbed uncontrollably for parts of the conversation -- I feel a sense of calm.

Bassman and I had a night of confessions. He confessed something to me that he has never spoken to another soul, something no other living being may again hear. And I opened up stories that have ached to burst from my chest for years, exhausting me as I strained to keep them buried.

Bassman and I have already known each other better than any other people on this Earth ever could. That was expanded tenfold tonight.

As much as I looked into his stunningly perfect eyes this evening and wanted nothing more than to kiss him, and as much as my heart tore again with each pass of that thought, our friendship is actually stronger tonight than ever. We now understand truly where each other's disturbing personality quirks come from. The little unsettling details we had always observed in each other but never understood have clunked into place, and the puzzles have revealed themselves. For once, we each have a true and clear understanding of one another. No one else holds the clues we now have, and without those tidbits, we remain mysteries to outsiders.

It feels good to have a complete and utter picture of his soul and to know that he has one of mine.

I wish that that understanding coincided with a relationship, because I know we enjoy each other's company more than that of anyone else. But sadly, while we are meant to be the best and most important friends in each other's life, I don't think we are meant to be a couple. It's a shame -- we work so well together.

But our friendship will persevere and, as evidenced by tonight, it can survive anything.

Still, without Bassman as my significant other, already another fear has crept into my brain. Techie and I fought constantly during our relationship, and Bassman was often the subject of the fights, as Techie feared Bassman was trying to steal me away.

Having Bassman as close to me as he is, that will be threatening to other men, as I would be to potential dates for him as well.

Not that I'm out there looking for men already!

But I can't help but wonder if Bassman and I will be destined to be asexual life partners, or if we will have to let the most important and best friend each of us has ever had go in order to move on with others.

Oh, who am I kidding...I'm a mess.

Friday, March 31, 2006

They're coming to take me away, ha-ha...

I've started to think I'm going crazy.

First, I actually enjoyed Britney Spears on Will and Grace last night. I can't stop having a soft spot for the girl, and I'm not entirely sure why. She's a trainwreck, but I love her regardless.

Then I discovered that my Egg McMuffin addiction as reached epic proportions. The disadvantage of having a McD's a stone's throw from my office. If I'm running late in the morning, instead of preparing a healthy morning snack, I breeze through the drive-thru.

Well, that's how it used to work. Now I find myself "breezing" through the drive-thru on the weekends or in spite of my healthy snack.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step. I admit it. I like Britney and McDonalds...

There must be a support group for women like me...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Socked in the chopper by life...

Yesterday, I had begun a long post of ramblings, some serious, some not, arising out of the end of my exhaustion and at the prospect of things looking up, with the intent of finishing it when I had time tonight.

Today shot that all to hell. In about 20 minutes.

I picked up The Kid this evening only to discover his eye was purple and swollen after colliding face-first with another child on the playground. He seems ok with it, but for a mother to find the child who was spotless this morning turning another color when next she sees him, it is a nasty shock.

We got home and checked the mail, and lo and behold my latest financial aid offer for the 2006-2007 school year is already in my mailbox. I held my breath, closed my eyes and tore open the envelope.

After last year's fiasco (losing my financial aid for defaulting on my contract by dropping a class), I was not eligible for any federal loans, and the grants they offered (IF I'm fulltime which I can't be because of work issues) were laughable.

I held my composure as best I could, ushering The Kid inside so that I could make him some dinner (and dig out an icepack for that eye). He went upstairs to stow his things while I went to the kitchen to survey the fridge for something to eat. By the sound of it, he'd just reached the top of the stairs when I heard several successive thuds. The Kid emerged in a crumpled heap at the base of the stairs. In his haste, his slippery stocking feet skidded on the stair treads and he'd tumbled down the stairs. I rushed to him and grabbed him off the floor, clutching him as he cried on my shoulder, trying desperately to assure him that he was ok, while assuring myself taking a silent assessment of his appendages for broken or disjointed fingers or toes. Everything appeared to be in order, and slowly the tears dried. Once he'd declared himself hungry, I knew he was alright, because The Kid is always hungry (growing like a weed, he is) unless some other urge is strong enough to overtake his stomach.

I scrounged up a meal pieced together from leftovers and he dove into it while playing a reading game by himself, lost in his own happy little caccoon. I stared at his full, smiling pink cheeks for a moment and sank into a kitchen chair. And I sobbed. Big warm tears splashed my shirt and the table. The Kid could not ignore my anguish, and abandoned his food. He slid slowly out of his seat, walked over, and threw a tiny arm of support around me. He asked me what was the matter, and I quickly cobbled together an answer that seemed simple enough to be understood without giving The Kid any information that he could then pass on which would make it seem as though his mommy was poor (not that I care how much money we have, but other kids can be so cruel, and I am constantly fighting an uphill battle to avoid as many stigmas for him as possible). He leaned on my shoulder and what he said next nearly cracked my heart into a thousand pieces.

"When I'm grown up," he began, "I'll help you pay for your school."

"Oh, honey, you don't have to do that."

"Yes I do. I didn't know your school was expensive. I'll help you pay."

This, of course, made me sob even harder for a few moments, but not wanting to dump my problems on my child, I tried desperately to stop the tears and force a smile.

"I'm glad you're not crying any more," he said. "That was sad."

I hugged him and gave him a special dessert before excusing him from his writing practice for a night to watch a movie instead. He plopped down happily in front of the TV and I sneaked quietly away to the other room to cry as silently as possible.

I have cried enough tears lately. I don't understand why I have to keep crying more of them. I work so hard to try and overcome what life throws at me, and believe me, it throws me a lot. Everytime things are finally going right, something crashes in to ruin it all.

If I go to school parttime, I'll be paying out of pocket for the rest of my educational career. If I go fulltime, I'll have to quit this job and find one that is parttime to accommodate my schedule while paying about half of what I make now.

I can't win for losing. And I feel like, for once, I deserve to win. I deserve for something to go right. It's times like this that I wonder what the universe is playing at -- cold, dispicable people constantly trounce over their fellow man and they succeed at whatever they try, but people like me struggle and struggle and do nothing but good and we are shat upon by life.

I just want to be happy. Is that really so much to ask?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Lunchtime havoc...

Office Husband and I purposely picked a locale for our weekly lunch that had TVs so we could catch the Davidson/Ohio St. game. It's sad, I know.

What's sadder is that one TV had Days of Our Lives on it, and I got distracted. I grew up watching it with my mother, and while I only catch it now when I'm home sick, I still like to check in from time to time.

Office Husband had no idea I had started watching the soaps until I exclaimed, "What's Carrie doing in the hospital?!" He glanced around in confusion until he spotted the source of my angst.

He merely shook his head in disgust.

(Thankfully, it was a close game when we tuned in, so I was quickly brought back to basketball-related reality!)

***

The lunch was made awkward when we ran into two men from the office building who have asked me out (one of whom I politely turned down and the other of whom I'd given my phone number out of politeness but who lost his nerve, mainly, I suspect, since most of the office building thinks Office Husband and I are shagging). I exchanged niceties with the latter, and blatantly ignored the former, as he has shown himself to be the overzealous stalker type and I did not want to encourage him.

Thankfully, Office Husband is a big hugger, and was happy to put on a huggy show for the former. He kept his distance. I felt kinda crappy afterward, but what can I say? *fluffs hair* I just have that kind of effect on men. *blatant sarcasm*

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Medical hell...

Four hours, two shots, and two prescriptions later, The Kid and I emerged from the urgent care clinic near tears.

As it turns out, he has two infections in one eye -- conjunctivitis as well as a separate and dangerous infection in the tissues surrounding his eye. Had we not made it to the doctor, he would have ended up in the hospital hooked up to IV antibiotics in a couple days.

We caught it early, which is good. Still, he needed two particularly nasty and painful shots of antibiotics to jump-start the recovery.

Poor dear.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The best days of our lives...

I'd like to preface this post by saying I had intended on putting down these memories tonight from the comforts of my bed, with the windows open and the warm spring breeze blowing around me, perhaps sipping a drink as I unwound.

I'm typing from bed alright. From the AeroBed on the living room floor.

You see, 21st Century Grandparents took The Kid out to dinner tonight...and brought him back to me gooey, puffy and pink.

Conjunctivitis. Whee.

The Kid decided that he didn't want to sleep on his bed tonight as it made his eye "hurt worse," although I suspect it has something to do with wanting to watch the TV at bedtime. So here we are, camped out on the couch and AeroBed. Thank goodness for wireless, or else my laptop would be tied down to my bedroom all by its lonesome. And I would be going stir-crazy, sleeping on the floor, dreading the impending trip to the urgent care clinic in the morning. I swear, I feel like I can actually see the germs vibrating all over that place. *shudder*

It's a shame this is how I have to open this post. I'd had such beautiful recollections planned for this evening...

For you see, this afternoon, while The Kid was out with the Grandparents, I went out and bought a bike. I had conferred with Office Husband about it yesterday over lunch, and suggested a bicycle with shocks and all the assorted bike-related goodies. But in typical fashion, I chose form over function, and chose a beautiful eggplant-colored bike which was conveniently just $50.
I brought the bike home and, upon discovering I had a good hour and a half left until The Kid would return, I took the bike out for a ride.

Of course, the irony is that I had to drive the bike to another neighborhood to ride, as the local roads are a dangerous mix of narrow, curvy streets and moronic drivers.

This was my first new bike since I was 11, and it was my first time out on a bike since I was 15.

It's true what they say -- you never do forget how to ride. You just lose all your nerve.

I remembered being so steady and speedy in my youth. Instead, I crept at a snail's pace all wobbly down the street for a bit. Once I got my bearings, however, it was magical.

Suddenly, I was 14 again. We had just moved from a Blue State to Red State and both my parents were working outside the home for the first time, thus giving me my first taste of freedom. After school, I'd rush home from the bus stop, deposit my things in the empty house, and hop on my bike to find my friends or else just explore, the wind whipping through my dancing hair, the breeze on my face. Those days were so free.

After an hour, however, the breeze was no longer enough to counteract the sweat and humidity that clung to me. My lungs were on fire, and my legs felt like Jell-O. I rode back to my car, stowed the bike, and drove off with the windows down, marvelling at how effortless this breeze was to attain.

Who knew just how in shape we all were when we were kids?

My aerobic prowess will likely return as I ride with The Kid. That freedom though...it slips through my fingers like the wind through my hair...

Terror at 2 1/2 feet...

It is shortly after 1 am, and I cannot rest until the adrenaline, or the "go-juice," if you will, stops coursing through me.

I was awakened a few minutes ago by one of the moronic neighbors peeling out down the street. (The house across the street is sort of the equivalent of a clown car -- people just keep spilling out of it...and none of them know how to drive normally!) I couldn't fall immediately back to sleep, so I decided to catch up on all the mindnumbing late night TV I regularly miss out on. Suddenly, I heard the dull thud of something approximately the weight of a five year old from the next room. My body seized up for a moment before the adrenaline made me fly out of bed in an impressive leap to run next door.

I would have gone tearing to his side regardless, but I fear him falling out of bed above most else.

When I was in high school, an acquaintance of mine died after falling out of bed in the middle of the night. His mother discovered him in the morning when she went in to wake him up. It was a freak accident but every once in a while it comes back to haunt me.

When I got into his room, I found The Kid in bed, appearing to be asleep. I stood in shock, staring at him for a moment as my brain reeled, searching desperately for the source of the sound.

"I fell out of bed," The Kid suddenly muttered.

I sat down at the edge of his bed and stroked his hair. He didn't open his eyes. I stared for a moment, hoping that his lack of eye-opening was merely a product of exhaustion. I realized I'd been holding my breath since I'd heard the thud, and I breathed at last.

"Does anything hurt?"

He shook his little head. "Good night, Mommy."

I clutched him to me for a moment, thanking every deity I could think of for his safety.

"Good night, my angel."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Little bits of history repeating...

When I was a kid, I was always upset that we didn't have sit-down family dinners. 21st Century Grandpa ran his own business and often only came home to catch a quick nap and shower in the middle of the night before heading back to the office. 21st Century Grandma had gotten sick of preparing a dinner that often sat untouched. Eventually I was so wrapped up in dance and gymnastics that my dinner consisted nightly of the Arby's drive-thru. The occasions I ate dinner at a friend's house at the table with their families were magical, and I envied them silently, not daring to admit my family did not adhere to the traditional family routine. (As an aside, this was in the days before the coining of the phrase "soccer mom," so I had no idea there were other families out there who lived off fast food from the comforts of their station wagons and, eventually, minivans.)

I vowed at a young age not to repeat it with my own kids.

It worked out well when The Kid was young. While completing my undergrad, I worked parttime, a few hours here, a few hours there, so that I made it home in time to make a good healthy family dinner. My George Foreman Grill and I were an unstoppable tag-team, creating all sorts of delectible dishes together.

Now, between work and school, The Kid and I stumble in together around 6 and are so hungry that he has already snacked in the car and the most I have the patience to do is peel the plastic off a Lean Cuisine and wait 2 min 45 sec for it to heat. (The Kid tends to stick with granola bars in the car and mac and cheese fresh from the microwave.) No one eats one cohesive meal, and no one eats it in conversation with another human. The Kid is usually engrossed in Reader Rabbit, I have the newspaper or my computer, and 21st Century Grandparents, if they are even home, are wrapped up in their own activities as well.

I attempt desperately to make up for it on the weekends, but it usually ends up being some gooey, rich Italian dish -- by week's end, I'm in need of comfort food: carbs, cheese, and more carbs.

21st Century Grandma tends to make me feel guilty for my lack of "tradition" in The Kid's and my routine. Obviously, she has forgotten what our 'tradition' was -- they say history repeats itself, and they were damn right...

I miss my George Foreman.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Spring break...

This week is spring break for my university. Of course, I work fulltime and have a child, so there is no wild beachside revelry for me. But I decided to rebel, even if only for a couple of hours.

I left work early as though I had classes, keeping mum about the break so as to grasp four or so hours of blissful nothingness. I changed out of my usual workday uniform of loafers, khakis and a conservatively shaped sweater into clingy indigo jeans, a low-cut t-shirt and a bright green sweatshirt. I put on my evening makeup, tossed my hair and headed out into the daytime world like a normal 20-something. 21st Century Grandma had offered to pick up The Kid for me, and while I still had to be home at a reasonable hour, I didn't have to rush.

I hauled out (at a mildly elevated rate of speed -- oops) to Bassman's house where he greeted me with open arms. I collapsed into them and time stood still right there in his driveway -- sound died away, stress ran like melting snow off of me, and all I could do was feel the warmth of his arms shut out the snap of the breeze as the smell of his neck chased away the scent of damp earth. I could have stood there forever on that spot.

We had originally planned to spend the afternoon in his canoe down at the lake, but the nip in the air and the grey clouds threatening to open up again at any moment made us rethink our plan. Instead, we went for a short hike down the trail behind his house to an old abandoned dam and sat and talked and listened to the running water. It was peaceful and isolated and everything I could have asked for. I didn't want the moment to end. I wanted the world to just fade away and leave us there on those rocks, a peaceful oasis emerging from the chaos.

* * * * *

It was there that I realized what I admitted weakly to Second Self ("A friend is, as it were, a second self." - Cicero) this afternoon. I have fallen for Bassman, and I have fallen HARD.

Second Self has long held fast to the belief that deep down, I was head-over-heels for Bassman, a proclamation I vehemently denied. I swore to her (and to myself) that he was no more than a friend and brother (an attractive brother, but a brother nonetheless). I'd done such a good job of repressing my feelings that I truly believed I felt nothing. The only inklings I had felt were whenever I hugged him goodbye -- something about our hugs was so awkward that I suspected that one or both of us felt something. But I dismissed it and went about my merry way. (As it turns out, he now confesses that he made each hug purposely as awkward as possible to conceal his own feelings and throw me off the track.)

But now it's like the feelings I had bottled up have erupted in an avalanche of grins and joy and laughs.

Self has spent a year or more trying to convince me that Bassman and I wanted each other. Thus, I assumed my confession would be not only expected but welcomed. I was wrong.

"[Self,] I lurve him."

"Uh oh."

"What?"

"[21], that's not good."

And she's right. We are too busy to see each other often, and it is about to get worse, as he is taking a second job which will eat up weekend evenings, the time I traditionally get to spend with him. He needs the money and I understand that, and we are fully aware that, even without that job, we are not going to be one of those couples who are a fixture in each other's lives every minute of every day. But I feel like now, the moment I admitted to myself how I've felt all these years, it is starting to look impossible.

"Do not get attached" has basically been my mantra the last couple months. I had to remind myself every few days. Now it's an hourly chant.

At this rate, it will become my own personal rain dance.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

*tap tap* Is this thing on?

Alright, smalltowndiva, I'm back. Now it's just a matter of sitting back, waiting for someone to notice...

I was actually inspired to come back after reading the latest posts by one of my two favorite bloggers, Petite. (Smalltowndiva being my other!) I have followed now for months the highs and lows of Petite's life...leaving her daughter Tadpole's father for another man, Lover, and now being left by Lover after many months of what appeared to be a blissful coupling. I have never met Petite, nor will I ever (as she lives in France, for one!), but my heart breaks for her all the same, as I felt a tie with her, being a single mother and all. I couldn't related to leaving The Kid's father for another man (I left him to save our lives, but that's another story), but I understood the struggle to carve out both an adult existence for one's own mental health while balancing motherhood and one's child's mental and emotional health as well. It's truly a fine line to walk, and one slip feels like it could have the most dire of consequences.

Petite posted that she feared she'd get a lot of "told you so"-type responses from readers, having abandoned Tadpole's father, Mr. Frog, following an illicit affair with Lover. I certainly never condoned Petite's choice to carry out an affair (if you want to leave, leave) but I always hoped beyond hope that she and Lover would indeed live out the blissful future she had planned for them.

Something always seemed mildly awry to me, though. I could never put my finger on it, but it always seemed too good to be true in some way. I still don't know precisely what made me doubt them (besides my usual belief that jumping from one relationship directly into another automatically dooms relationship #2), but I did. And it made me sad.

What had upset me most of all through all of this, though, is what it will do to Tadpole.

Mr. Frog, bless his heart, moved across the street after Petite and he split, so that he was still easily accessible to Tadpole. That little detail always melted my heart. I'm sure that at her young age, Tadpole probably, for the most part, merely thought it was neat to now have two bedrooms in two houses.

With Lover, though, I am more concerned.

She is older now, and Petite and Lover had worked to blend their families and collective children into one future family. Lover would stay with Petite, Petite and Tadpole would travel to Lover's home to spend vacations with his family, and so on. So the removal of Lover from Petite's life was equally a removal of Lover from Tadpole's life. That bothers me. It's bothered me since day one. That nagging inclination I had of Lover's impending departure made me extremely concerned for Tadpole. I stand fast by the philosophy that children should not be involved with a parent's significant other unless marriage is impending. They may play the role of a family friend, but romantic inklings should be repressed. Granted, Petite and Lover had planned on marriage, but I'd always felt like it was too soon and too intense.

I was reminded of this in my own life Friday night.

Allow me to digress for a moment. Early in January, I started casually seeing a man I shall call Bassman, simply for the fact that I already nicknamed one of my musical exes MusicMan. Things with Bassman are a bit messy, for the fact that he has been one of my very closest friends for several years, and is in fact MusicMan's best friend and favorite jamming partner. (Bassman also used to be involved with a former close friend of mine, making the whole thing sort of a love quadrangle, if you will.)

Bassman, as a close friend, has been involved in my family's life for a while. He has come on outings with The Kid and me, he is studying music with my father, and my mother is quite fond of him, just for the fact that she finds his shyness, kindness and mutton chops endearing.

Things have not changed in his relationship with anyone in the family yet. The Kid has no inclination that things are happening with Bassman and me. (Nor do my parents, at this point, because before I rock the boat there I'd like to see if things are going anywhere first.)

But it's amazing how the changing dynamic between us has caused the dynamics to change, if only in my mind, regarding the rest of the family.

I had lunch with Office Husband a few weeks ago as my father and Bassman met to jam, and I proceeded to panic all through lunch that things would suddenly be uncomfortable (Bassman tends to be a bit skittish, and I was afraid he'd panic in my father's somewhat intimidating presence knowing that he had touched his little girl -- for the record, it worked out fine).

My fears were assuaged somewhat until Friday night, when, while on my cell phone with Bassman, he asked if he could borrow The Kid to play frisbee one afternoon. I never would have given it a second thought weeks ago, as Bassman has attended movies, picnics and even a carnival with us before. And it's not like Bassman is suddenly trying to be The Kid's father. He's just been a great male presence in The Kid's life and he needed someone to throw a frisbee around with. The Kid is a sports-fiend, so it seemed like a simple solution to Bassman.

I, however, nearly fell over.

I agreed, but I have not stopped worrying since.

What if The Kid falls in love with Bassman? What if Bassman leaves and no longer can be a buddy to The Kid? What if The Kid sees the look I will inevitably and uncontrollably get across my face watching them play, that look of misty delight at seeing a scene I would love to see regularly in the future? Or worse, what if Bassman does?

I think the more important thing at the moment is: Why the hell can't I stop 'What if'-ing?

It's been two months. I hardly get to see him as he lives fairly far away and our time is consumed in unrelated activities -- our jobs and classes, his bands, my Kid.

Unfortunately, the only thing I can do for the time being is to continually remind myself to lighten up. Easier said than done.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The showdown...

21st Century Grandparents are out of town for the weekend, so swim class duty for the Kid fell to me this week. I certainly was not looking forward to it, since he's a tough sell on getting in the water, but I decided (perhaps against my better judgment) to go to class rather than let him get used to the idea of skipping a week.

In a nutshell, he dragged his feet getting ready so we were late, and he stood on the side of the pool the entire half an hour, not once getting so much as a toe wet. Now, had I done that as a child, I would have been brought immediately home and sent to my room. 21stCGPs, however, always treat him to breakfast and the playground afterward. (It seems Mom was right when she told me people want to skip having children and go right to having grandchildren.) They bribe him with a minute on the playground for each minute spent in the pool, so he usually gets in for the last five minutes and then weasels his way into a longer stay. So when he looked at me expectantly and proclaimed it time for the playground and the grill, I told him in no uncertain terms was he allowed to do those things. We were going to go home and he was going to go to his room. I explained that he had been fibbing to me (he swore he'd go in the pool, he's also been lying about his behavior at school, as I learned a parent-teacher conference -- another story for another day -- etc.) and that I was not going to reward bad behavior. He threw a fit. He cried in the car the whole way home, begging for mercy.

"I will go swimming next time! I promise!"
"I hear you, but I won't believe you until you show me that that's the truth."
"But I am proving it. I promised!"
"Kid, you promise a lot of things, but you fib about most of them. When you show me I can trust you, I will believe you."
"I hate you!"
"Fine."
"I'm not your son anymore!"
"Fine."
"You can't come to the beach with us!"
"Fine."
"I won't never be your son anymore!"
"Fine."

We got home and he said he was hungry. I said he was absolutely allowed to eat first, because I wasn't going to starve him. We walked in the door, and he started calling for the Grandparents to help him. He realized he had no allies today, no one to snatch him from the grips of punishment with something fun to do. He started screaming at me, and it took me aback, as it was the passionate, red-faced screaming of teenage hatred, which I had not anticipated seeing for another 10 years. I sent him up to his room, where he mumbled teary things about me, occasionally poking his head out to yell downstairs that he was taking back everything he'd ever given me because I wasn't his mommy anymore.

Most parents I think would have gone bounding up the steps the moment the words "I don't love you" escaped their children's lips, but I knew better. They were just words. Just angry words. He didn't mean it. And for once, someone had to show him that he didn't hold the power. I'm his mommy, and he needs to respect that it's my duty to do what's best, even if it doesn't feel that way.

I let him stew up there for about 15 minutes or so, waiting until he calmed down. Once the yelling, mumbling, and couple of thrown toys had subsided, I walked upstairs and knocked on the door jamb. The Kid sat quietly at the head of his bed, hands folded in his lap, gazing out the window. I asked if I could come in, and he nodded. I sat down next to him and held out my hand. He took it, turned to me, big blue eyes shining, and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I've been lying to you. I'm sorry I said those things, and I'm sorry I didn't swim. I will do better. I promise." He let go of my hand and wrapped his little arms around me. I rested my chin on his head, and a tear crept into my eye.

I kissed him gently on top of the head. "I accept your apology."

He's been a jewel ever since.

It was nice for him to finally understand what consequences are and that he has to accept them for his behavior. No Grandpa to play on the computer with or Grandma to escape to the garden with when he's in trouble. So as much as it saddened me to do it, as the Kid ate his lunch, I unearthed from the bottom of my purse the phone number of a local realtor with a house for rent nearby so I can call while he naps. It'll break his heart when we leave (and the Grandparents' as well) but I've got to do it. It's the only way he'll learn.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Prepare to be awed...

It's November 12nd, and today I completed my Christmas shopping. Sometimes I'm so efficient I scare myself.

It really helps that I took the Kid shopping last week and he pointed out everything he wants from Santa this year. The grandparents and I split up the list, and my half is done. I'm very proud of myself. My only concern is where the heck I'm going to hide his loot from him. It's ok though -- the grandparents have it worse -- they chose the bike off his list, and lord only knows where they'll hide that.

If I only I were so efficient in other aspects of my life. Three loads of clean laundry loom nearby, waiting patiently for folding. My presentation for Monday is only about half complete. The Netflix DVD which was delivered almost three weeks ago is still waiting unopened for me.

My only consolation is that, with my shopping out of the way, time is freed up for me now post-Thanksgiving to take care of that laundry...