Monday, August 11, 2008

Anatomy of a Sunday

I nearly went crazy on Sunday. No, I know, that’s not much different from normal, but this was indeed a new level of crazy.

Now, I debate how detailed to get into the background to set the scene. Too little, and I’ll be filling in the gaps in the comments as people ask questions. Too much, and I’m just boring you to tears. It is a tough call on how much is central to the story and how much is extraneous detail.

Now some things are obvious, like telling you that BJ and I awoke around 6:30 a.m. for a little lovin’ before I got up for church. See? That’s just TMI so I won’t be including it in the story. On the other hand, is it or is it not essential to explain how I ended up heading to W’s apartment with a clean pair of underwear? This one’s not as clear cut. It may have some bearing in what happened later, but maybe not. So I wonder on several other details – too much, just enough, too little?

Basically, what you’ll get here (as you almost always do) is the long version, with many and varied extraneous details because that’s just how I roll through my deepest and darkest thoughts.

Sunday timeline:
Sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. – Get up, shower, dress and all that start of day stuff
Around 8:15 a.m. – Stumble downstairs, feed dog, start coffee, sit down to read blogs
8:24 a.m. – Phone rings; I answer; it’s N. He has no clean underwear at W’s place, but he has showered and needs clean underwear. I ask doesn’t he have any in his backpack only to learn from him that he left his backpack (with clean underwear and clothes for the weekend) in the back of my car. I tell him I’ll be right over with clean underwear.
8:30 a.m. – I brush my hair, pour coffee into a travel mug, and head out the door. I check the back of my car and, yes, the backpack is indeed there. I head off to W’s.
8:40 a.m. – I arrive and am greeted heartily by my naked son wrapped in a blanket. He dresses while I drink coffee and listen to N and W argue with one another. We also watch the Olympics – handball, a sport about which I am clueless, but it fascinated N.
9:15 a.m. or so – We all leave for church, N and me in my car, W in his. I enjoy the service, in spite of the interruption when N got gluestick all over his fingers on both hands (don’t ask), and I had to take him to the restroom to help him unglue himself.
10:30 a.m. – After church, N asks if he can go home with me. The answer would normally have been yes. However, I had a meeting to attend, and he would have to sit quietly and entertain himself for an hour or so before we could head home. He chose to go home with W instead.
11:25 a.m. – After the meeting, I head towards W’s to get N so we can go to TV3 for the baseball game. I call from my cell phone to let them know I’m on my way. W tells me that N has gone out to play, and he doesn’t know where he is. WTF?!? The kid’s nine, and you don’t know where he is? Excuse me?!? All W knew was the general neighborhood, but no he didn’t know exactly where N was or with whom.
12:15 p.m. – I have changed clothes and am waiting for N so we can go to the baseball game. I call W to see if N has shown up yet or at least called. Nope. W hasn’t heard from him. Great.
12:20 p.m. – I get in my car and drive slowly (sorry drivers behind me) through the streets of the neighborhood where N supposedly is. He isn’t outside anywhere, at least not where I can see him.
12:40 p.m. – I call W again and ask if he told N a certain time to be home. No, he hadn’t. Hadn’t he reminded him about the baseball game that I wanted to attend when he left? No, he hadn’t. W said he would get in his car and go look for N too. W could tell I was starting to melt down.
12:45 p.m. – Called BJ and told him we wouldn’t be meeting him at the ball game as planned and why. BJ felt the steam coming out of my ears right through the phone.
1:00 p.m. – I gave up looking for N. I was wasting gas, had circled through the neighborhood twice, and I really did believe he was okay wherever he was.
1:15 p.m. – W arrives at the house. He too has driven to all the places he knows to look for N and can’t find him. He senses my displeasure with his part in all this (he must be psychic, or maybe it was the steam coming out of my ears) and leaves.
1:38 p.m. – N casually saunters in and calls out from the hallway, “Hi Mom! Can my friend and I have something to drink?” N seems startled as I call him into the family room, and particularly when he sees the steam rolling out of my ears.

So that’s how my Sunday went. N and I, after I had N send his friend home, had a serious discussion, a mighty serious discussion. I did not cry. I did not scream. I very even handedly (thanks to my watching untold Super Nanny episodes and taking her lessons to heart) told him that it was not appropriate for him to disappear without giving either me or his dad a heads up as to his whereabouts. I explained to him that parents worry when they don’t know where their children are or how to find them. (No it isn’t the first time I’ve told him this, and it probably won’t be the last.) I laid down the law in a quiet but forceful manner. I told him that he will no longer go play without taking his cell phone with him so that his dad or I can stay in touch with him.

He complained that he doesn’t have a real cell phone because his is the kind that is parent protected so he can only make and receive calls from phone numbers that the parent has stored in the phone. He has my numbers (work, home, cell), W’s numbers (home and cell) and his grandparents’ number. That’s it. That’s it because those are the calls we feel are important to a kid who is nine. They are not the calls that N feels are important to a kid who is nine. So for that reason he has refused to carry the cell phone. The rule has now been established that if he doesn’t take the cell phone he will not be allowed to go out into the neighborhood on his own. I also made it very clear that we will not even consider a “real” cell phone for him unless/until he proves himself trustworthy with the phone he has now, meaning he needs to take it with him when he goes forth into the world, answers it when it rings rather than letting it go to voicemail, and doesn’t set it down and leave it behind somewhere.

While we were talking I also explained to him that the reason W and I give him so much freedom to roam is that we have been so impressed by his maturity and the way he handles himself so well with others. I explained to him that I don’t have to worry that when he is out playing that I will hear from other parents that he’s done something terrible. On the contrary, I always get good reports from parents and am told that he is very nice to have around. I explained that I told him all these things because I wanted him to understand that I do trust him a great deal, and that it is not a lack of trust in him that causes me to want to know exactly where he is, but a lack of trust in the world around him. I want him to be safe, and I want to be able to know that he is safe.

While N was not happy with the new rules laid down, and he certainly wasn’t happy that he wasn’t going back out to play yesterday, he wasn’t the angry out of control little boy I’ve seen in the past. Once I got past his initial resistance and got him to listen to me he reacted in a much more mature manner than I’ve seen before. Life is so different without W in the home. At no time was a voice raised yet if you were to ask N, I’m quite sure he would tell you he had indeed been disciplined yesterday afternoon. Without yelling coming from me, there was far less yelling from him than what I’ve seen in the past. Without W there to throw in his occasional sarcastic comment N maintained a fairly even keel in spite of being called on the carpet for his behavior and losing some privileges.

Without a doubt, I am not even close to a perfect parent. I definitely make mistakes and screw things up, but I do think I’m doing a better job now than before. I do think that life is getting onto a smoother road.

If you ever want to borrow a nine-year-old boy for a day, or two, or ten, I’d be happy to send him your way for a bit. Sometimes this being a good mom stuff gets tiring, y’know?


Fusion said...

Hey, you're a good mom TS! And sure we can trade sons for a day, you can listen to my 25 year old son bitch and moan about his life, and ask you for a loan of 2500 bucks ;)

Sounds like you handled everything quite well.

Val said...

Heh heh [laughing WITH YOU here, OK?] - but MY 10 yr old seems to have LOST his "real" cell ph (a gift on his 9th B/D); of course it is possible that it's still zipped in the side pocket of his school backpack which never made it back from dad's for some odd reason... so I haven't completely given up hope!

Trueself said...

Fuse - Sounds like a decent trade. I can say "NO!" with the best of 'em.

Val - I knew you'd understand oh-long-lost-twin-separated-at-birth!