Monday, April 6, 2009

It's the end of the world as we know it...(and I don't feel fine)

I want to apologize to my kids. I am sorry for the world that I will someday turn over to you. It's a sucky world, and you don't deserve it. Trust me, it didn't used to be that way. And I will tell you why.

Bill and I are fond of drinking wine, listening to music and pondering. We do it often, and because he is my best friend we talk about damn near everything under the sun. I especially like "remember when" conversations.

Bill: Remember when we were kids?

(Note - Bill and I met when I was 20 and he was 23, so we were not kids together, per se. We lived five miles apart but it might as well been a hundred, since we never crossed paths).

Kim: Yeah?

B: I used to play baseball all day long. I would leave the house after breakfast and play all morning (under the smokestack in Madison Heights that has since been shut down due to all the carcinogens it leached for a million years) then come home for lunch and ride back to the park and play until it was too dark to see.

K: (Whose dad worked on the road and mother was not nearly as liberal with boundaries) Oh man, I used to play in another kid's back yard. We actually spread across three yards and I was the youngest so I always had to play way-out-in-the-field-go-get-the-ball. It was the best.

Our conversation segued into confessions about petty theft: (me: Bonne Bell Lip Smackers; him: Penthouse), best candy: (me: straight up no nut Hershey Bar; him: Whatchamacallit), worst thing you ever did: (me: locking my brother out of the house in his underwear in February; him: starting a fire at Korvette's Department Store).

(You're wondering how he turned out so morally superior to me, aren't you? Shut up. )

Bill ate dinner with his family every night, at a table, with salad and a meat and vegetable. (My mom gave it a hell of a shot). We both went on family vacations and had amazing Christmases where we received over the top presents. (Him: a unicycle; me: record player and Aerosmith album - squee!). We both played any sport we wanted and had parents that carted us to practices and games and meets. We had an excellent childhood and no therapist will convince me otherwise.


I am afraid to let my eight year old play out in the front yard alone. I would not dream of letting her ride her bike around the block. Or walk home from school. Or be alone at the park.

My son, although an great athlete, spent way too much time in front of video games when he should have been outside running around like we did. (Although I am grateful that area fire departments did not have to respond to his handiwork). Why can't it be like it was?

Because people are crazy now. And they suck. And they could pluck my children off the grass and into a van and I would never be able to breathe again. Sleepovers? Not for her. There are scary Daddies and Uncles that I cannot bring myself to trust, no matter how nice they are on the surface. The Boy can only go on them now because he can punch someone out if the situation warrants. As an added bonus we can now hold our breath until he arrives home at night, scared shitless that someone decided to shoot him as he drives around with his mouthy friends.

Is this the same world we had thirty years ago? Were Bill and I just too naive to know it back then? Does every generation do this? I am terrified for my (someday) grandchildren, who will probably have to work until they are 90 and live in a box because we have screwed up everything for them.

Hurry up Obama. Put Humpty-USA-Dumpty back together again.

Oh, and I am sorry about the "we all sit down to dinner" thing, kids. Unfortunately, I inherited Mema's "I gave it a hell of a shot" gene. For the record, once a month and bank holidays is not the family dinner goal you are striving for when you grow up.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's a Boy.

There is a picture that I love. It's really simple, but it evokes so many emotions for me. It's a photo I took after my son finished his T-Ball season. He is six years old, and he is sitting on a concrete wall with four of his little friends. They are all eating some variation of ice cream - some have cones with sprinkles, some cones are dipped in heinous red hued stuff, one has a bomb pop. They are "all boy" as the saying goes - dirty, hats on crooked, scabby knees, and Dairy Boy ice cream all over their faces. It's beautiful.

I write about this picture because it's ten years later. My little boy is six foot one now, and he still loves baseball. He is a handsome, kind, decent young man. He is intelligent and funny and I am so incredibly blessed to have him. The world is open to him in a way that only teenagers can experience. Remember that? When you thought you grew up and automatically inherited a charmed life? Never mind, this post won't feature my typical acerbic bubble bursting, so we can stop on that thought and move on.

Last week Travis went for his first job interview and will (God willing) begin working at the ice cream shop he visited after his T-Ball season ended ten summers ago. Pardon my naivete', but how did this happen? I know I have been around for the last ten years, the Grand Canyon sized wrinkle between my eyebrows is sad proof. But when did my dirty faced baby get big enough to have a job? When did he speak to a store owner and make the impression that he is "just the kind of young man we are looking for"?

I know. I am not the exception. I am barely the rule. Moms all over the world lament their children growing up behind their backs. But this is me. This is my firstborn. He owns a huge chunk of my heart. He let me mess up and forgave me, many, many times. Bill and I worked hard to teach him respect, manners, compassion, and people believe me, it's not always easy or fun to parent that way. But it's so worth it. I listen to him laugh over his ridiculous Will Ferrell movies and yell at his fellow X-Box players while playing games I don't even want to know about. I will curse the girl(s) who break his heart. I hate the high school coaches who don't see his talent because of the cocky hotshots who preen in front of them. I want to scream "Look at my boy! I've taught him to be mature, to respect his sport, and you don't even notice!" Turd-ly coaches. It makes my heart hurt.

Conversely, when I am sitting in the bleachers, freezing or sweating (depending on the season), and my son drives in the winning run I could ask for nothing more in the world. To see the light in his smile makes tears well up in my eyes in a way that I would normally be mortified about. I thrive on comments from his teachers and other moms who tell me that Travis is the kind of son everyone wants to have. These are the people who matter, I tell myself, not some washed up dude trying to relive his glory days.

We have so much ahead of us. Road tests, proms, graduations, college decisions. Before I know it ten more years will pass and the Grand Canyon wrinkle will divide and conquer my face. I pray he will still be a kind, decent person. I may have moments where I wonder. If I do, I will walk downstairs (where he will probably still live) and see my Ice Cream Boys picture on the bookshelf. And I will smile.

I love you Travis.