Jul 26, 2008

Single Parenting Isn't for Me

My husband and son just left this morning for a two-day, out-of-town soccer tournament. Having them depart was very difficult. And by that, I don't mean it was sad, I mean that it was literally difficult for them to leave because my son locked the car keys in the trunk just as he finished packing up the car. This occurred the night before departure, around 11:00 p.m., which is over two hours past my bedtime. I tried my spare key, only to find that it's a valet key that won't open the trunk. All the luggage, the tickets, his soccer uniform, everything important was trapped in the trunk! I was tired and cranky, but I had to find a way open that trunk.

The next logical step would be to find an all-night locksmith. I looked in my town's Yellow Pages under “all-night locksmiths,” and found that next to each listing is a drawing of the locksmith's face. Unfortunately, I recalled seeing many of those sketches at the post office on the "Most Wanted" wall. But at 11:30 p.m., I was so tired that the idea of having an ex-criminal help me open the car trunk suddenly seemed appealing. I called, and a couple hours later, he showed up -- apparently straight from the big house. No apologies for being late. He smelled bad and looked scary. He never made eye contact and spoke only a few words, but like a graceful ice dancer, he performed a magical, mesmerizing ballet that culminated in an open trunk. Thank you, nice criminal, ex-murderer guy. I had to admire him for turning a negative (committing crimes for a living) into a positive (capitalism!). By 2:00 a.m., we were asleep, and then my men woke up soon after dawn, leaving our house half empty. [Or half full, depending on how you look at it.]

I didn’t want to keep feeling sad, so I planned a fun-filled day with my other two sons. We went to buy school clothes, out to a fancy lunch, stopped in at the library, and then I surprised them by taking them to mass on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning. I may be a mom, but I still know how to get wild and change things up.

After church, I took my older son for driving lessons, with my youngest patiently waiting to get home in the back seat of the van. I’ll call him Victim #2. Let me tell you this: if you ever feel depressed or like you need some sense of purpose, take your teen – or any teen, really – for a driving lesson. In 45 seconds, your child will put life in perspective and make you appreciate being alive. I told my son to turn left at a yield sign. He approached the curve much faster than I wanted. My feet applied the air brakes, but that didn’t help. My son disregarded my warnings “turn, turn!” and “brake harder, brake harder!” Seconds later, we jumped the curb on the other side of the turn and the car came to a halt just short of a little evergreen tree. A set of tire marks on the street and curb were the only clues of the journey we just took. What’s that boy-scout saying? “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but skid marks.”

I continued the driving lesson for another 25 minutes since my heartbeat had already sped up. My physical trainer told me that I should engage in an activity that keeps my heart beat elevated for 30 minutes straight, and I knew that this must be what she meant. She said I should be sweating throughout the workout, and I can tell you that not only was I sweating, but so was Victim #2 in the back seat. When we got out of the car, we kissed the earth, like those British who survived the Mayflower's journey across the ocean to Plymouth Rock.

But, just like those Brits had no idea what they would face in the days ahead, we too had no idea of the adventure that lay ahead right in our own garage in the minutes to follow. As we shut the car doors, a beastly, humongous bird the size of a pterodactyl swooped into the garage and became entrapped by our barky little dog. I was screaming in fear as the bird’s mighty wings flapped overhead. It was obviously panicking too, looking for an escape. The son who had the driver’s lesson didn't see the bird and assumed that I had found yet another spider, so he ignored my shrieks and walked nonchalantly into the house, eager to play some computer game.

The victim son, more concerned about calming his hysterical mother, tried to shoo the pterodactyl out of the garage, but the creature was flailing about, unable to navigate the straight path out of the garage. (And they say animals are smart.) Flashbacks of me, a teenage girl, entrapped in the house with two large black birds that got in through the dryer vent and kept crashing into walls and windows, played over and over in my head. I took another look at the pterodactyl and decided that running away, abandoning the brave young child, and finding solace in a martini would be the right answer, but try as I may, I couldn’t find the vodka.

Luckily, that young son, as if he were a guardian angel sent by all the dead friends I ever knew when they were alive, was able to scare the bird out of the garage. “It was just a little robin, Mom. It flew away,” he said calmly as he walked into the house. Phew! Crisis averted! He saved the day. Or maybe I saved the day. Who remembers the minute details? Anyway, I’m just glad my husband and son are coming home tomorrow night. No more birds, driving lessons are over, and thanks to the teenage son, I am reminded of how happy I am to be alive. Now, seriously, where is that vodka? <>


Anonymous said...

Hey this is really cool! Maybe I should start one from the sight of a 10 something, compulsive gum chewer! Give me some tips!
I wish I lived in California, Ohio

Jane said...

Thank you so much for this blog. Reading this has the same mind-numbing effect on my brain as consuming two bottles of wine. Not having to purchase all that alcohol now allows me to instead invest all that money in lottery tickets. Jane Doe

Anonymous said...

Pure genius. This woman deserves a prize.

F. Strickland,
Madison, WI

Anonymous said...

This is a comment

Anonymous said...

I love your blogs and stay strong!

Carol liberty, MA