I’ve been writing and rewriting the topic-major of this entry over the past two days, and I realized it’s as good as it’s going to get. I wanted to convey more, but I couldn’t seem to get the words right… or maybe I don’t have the spirit or attention span to make it happen. Here goes anyway.
We’ll be taking Keaton on her first camping trip this weekend, hoping to infuse her with a love of the modern version of outdoor life. We’ll be packing it in and heading to the coast for a short overnight sleepover in the tent. We’re heading down with a close knot of folks we run with on a regular basis, including those ones with the twins (important, as we’ll not be the only folks with babies on the trip – potential relief from that “baby’s gonna ruin it” apprehension). Sharaun went out and bought a little bug-net cover thing for Keaton’s stroller, and got her some baby sunblock and a cute floppy camping hat. If we can pull it off without all three babies protesting the entire time, it stands to be an awesome adventure – I’ll let ya know how it goes.
The comments on my powderkeg entry this week really pleased me, especially the one from my own mom. I don’t know when I officially became a “grown up.” Maybe it was when I got my first job, or moved out of the house, or bagged my first vagina; maybe it was when I stopped smoking weed, or asked Sharaun to marry me; maybe when I bought a house or started my career – who knows. What I do know, though, is that, with the arrival of Keaton, I feel like I have passed that milestone for sure now. Regardless of how drawn-out and blurry the transition period may have been, I’m now comfortable saying I’m on the other side of it – crossed over. And, along with “adulthood” comes this feeling of wisdom-gained, not to mention shame of things done prior to the metamorphosis. My mom’s comment brought to mind one moment in time I remember from my youth that’s always given me that sense of shame, only more acutely now – now that I have my own child and am beginning to realize just how kids can effect parents. Read on…
I don’t remember how old I was but I’m guessing under 10. I do remember it was my family: mom, dad, me, and my brother all spending a week or weekend or whatever with my mom’s folks up at a cabin on a lake we frequented. I loved that place, they had those plastic paddle-wheel big-tired tricycle-looking contraptions you could take around the lake and a rustic hunting-lodge-esque building overlooking the lake where you could get three meals a day. The cabins were surely rentals, and were small if I remember, but nice. My story takes place with the entire family playing a game of Monopoly on a picnic table outside the cabin one evening. Multicolored money splayed across the table and little green and red plastic houses and hotels cluttering the gameboard – we were deep in the throes of a game and, I, I was losing. It was time to start mortgaging properties, and anyone who knows Monopoly knows that’s a player’s last raspy breaths before death.
Valuable information about me as kid you’ll need before proceeding: When I was a kid, I was a manipulative brat. I had well-formed methods by which I attempted to get my way, mainly through emotional plays and tantrums. These weren’t things which I did subconsciously, but things I’d thought through on a very conscious level, best-known-methods which I’d honed over time for maximum results. Despite how calculating and “grown up” this might sound, it was really nothing more than a bratty, stubborn kid trying cheap tactics to get his way – and breaking down into plain fits when they didn’t work. And folks, that was my endgame strategy – if I wasn’t getting my way, I’d scream, cry, kick, punch walls… whatever it took. I know all kids do this to some extent, but I’m pretty sure I was different, somehow more “extreme.” So much so that I remember my folks taking me to a “family therapist” about it, although my memories of our “sessions” are mostly of me sitting around trying to make the perfect paper airplane. But, that’s another story altogether… and you’re now properly setup for me to continue.
So here I am, something of eight or ten years, losing badly at Monopoly and not wanting to mortgage Mediterranean Ave. to stay afloat. So, I lost it; went completely berserk. I don’t remember all the details, just remember putting all I had into the effort. I’m not sure what my intended results were: the family declaring me winner by default, the banker cutting me a break and slipping me some yellow $100 bills under the table… I don’t know. I do remember, however, that the situation was such that I realized I mustn’t back down from the tantrum – in order to maintain the strategic advantage I perceived I’d built with such fits. So, I escalated, and things got out of hand. Now, the part that brings me shame, the one thing that sticks in my mind and makes me shy away from the memory… is something I overheard my grandmother say to my mom after we were all back in the cabin and things had died down:
“You don’t have control over that boy,” she said to my mom, “What are you doing with him that he thinks he can act like that?” Sure, I’m paraphrasing – but the gist was that I had caused my mother’s mother to question her child’s parenting skills. Even then, young as I was, I knew that must be a crushing blow. Now, as a self-conscious new parent – I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to hear my own mom question how I was raising my daughter.
Sorry mom (and dad), I didn’t really mean it…