My buddy Buckwheat told me that life is like a roller coaster, you go up, you go down, and neither lasts very long. That was his encouragement to me that when things get rough, it won’t last long, but you know, I could handle a little more hang-time on the extreme high and happiness train.
Regardless of how wonderful my Mother’s Day was, it was preceded by a visit to my own mother on Saturday. The woman who knows exactly which buttons to push to infuriate me. My mother missed something in the school yard. It was, how to get along well with others. After a fairly uneventful day, given the fact my brother and his spawns of Satan were there (following after Nate like he was the Pied Piper), my mother chooses to inform me that I am too protective over Nate and NATE NEEDS TO LEARN THAT LIFE ISN’T PERFECT.
“Are you honest with him about his father’s drinking problem?”
“Yes, I am. He knows, more than anyone, that his father is an abusive alcoholic but he loves him anyway.”
“Well, you try to protect him too much. He needs to learn that life isn’t perfect.”
My mouth. fell. open.
I said, “Oh, really! Name me an example, Mother.”
“I can’t think of one right now. I thought of it the other day.”
“Well, let me tell you something right now, you’re damn right I’m protective and I also don’t think he needs to learn all of life’s lessons before he turns 13. He’s my only one and he’s the only I’ll ever have and I will protect him.”
I turned and walked out on her. I know why she does it. It’s because her angel of a son, her favorite child, her words, not mine, doesn’t have the sense the Lord and Lady gave a goose to discipline his children or to teach them any type of manners. And to make herself feel better about this heinous situation, she has to break me down as a parent. You know, I get enough of that from Nate’s abusive, alcoholic father.
Speaking of, let’s go over the ways Nate has had this picture perfect life.
1. An abusive, alcoholic father who at one point, before I put the fear of God and the court system into him, spanked him so hard he left the perfect imprint of his hand bruised on Nate’s ass. I won’t get into the screaming, cussing, threatening bullshit that Nate has overheard when I stand up to the sorry SOB. Sounds ideal to me.
2. 15? or is it 17 doctors in his lifetime? I lost count. Stitches twice in his head, EEGs, MRIs, poked and prodded with needles, seizures, ADHD, dyslexia, a blood disorder, and most recently, a nasty second degree burn on his leg from the exhaust pipe of a motorcycle, because, as you know, I’m too protective and don’t let him do anything to learn any lessons.
3. Near constant ridicule and bullying in his first five years of school, and that was just his teachers. A child smart enough to know he is different from the age of four. Rejection from his peers and due to complications from his seizures, not comfortable sleeping over a buddy’s house even though he just wants to be a normal kid. Yep, that’s the high life.
4. Not only has he endured the loss of loved ones, but has also watched me endure the loss of loved ones. Three of my grandparents, one suddenly and without warning. Yep, he was there when Holland walked out on us, he missed him just like I did, and he wanted him back a lot more than I did too. For a year, he asked about him and why couldn’t we see him, why couldn’t we just visit. And that persisted until I found out Holland was in prison and he had to learn the lesson that no matter how much you loved someone, and no matter how well they treated you, they’re still capable of doing bad things that they shouldn’t, and they end up in prison for the next 70 years.
5. He’s had to watch how profound loss has affected me. Most recently, before the fire, when my friend Kevin killed himself. Explain suicide to your 10 year old and make it a lesson worth learning and do it while you’re stumbling around numb with shock and grief and anger.
6. Then, take everything left, his home, his sense of security, and the unconditional love of his pets, and wipe it out by fire, uprooting him from everything he’s ever known. Then stick him with his grieving mother who is so busy with trying to keep their life “normal” that she passes her ass on her way to work the next day. And as I’m trying to stay strong, he’s the one who rubs my back and says, “It’s okay to cry, Momma.”
He carries on with his life without an ounce of self-pity. He’s loving, compassionate, empathetic, witty, and way too smart for his own good. Not to mention, he’s a good dancer. Gets it from his Momma. And I was thankful today that he did not question why I picked him up from school, because I probably would have said, “Well, your dad called at one o’clock today and was already drunk, talking out of his head, giving me unsolicited advice, and making absurdly lame passes at me, so I thought it might be a good idea if I picked you up. How was school, dude?”
Forgive me for believing that Nate has learned a lot of valuable lessons in his first decade of life. In his father’s drunken ramblings today, he said, “You know, you shouldn’t have to go through this alone.” I said, “Well, life ain’t fuckin’ fair, now is it?”
Nate knows that and a pox on my mother for what she said. A POX ON HER. And let it be known to all who care to listen and heed my warning, as I yet draw breath in my body, I will strive to protect my son so that he may continue his loving, compassionate, empathetic, witty ways, even though he already knows, life ain’t fuckin’ fair.