Which means, of course, emotional chaos of some sort has ensued!
Welcome to the wonderful world of parenthood where dangers, mistakes, humbling moments abound. Who needs to go on safari when they are parenting? Really!
Once in a while I will sit down and watch those TV shows where people are seeking a “vacation home” in some exotic locale. They say things like “we want the kids to experience a different culture, a foreign land.” Our family gets that without having to travel far. Well, our family gets that without traveling anywhere. When we least expect it, it’s almost like the aliens have landed and taken over. Yeah, it’s been THAT kind of morning.
Take for instance J: our little self-contained human being is happy being who he is and it is our job to teach him that being a little more like the rest of us is to his advantage. Under the armor of boxing gloves, rugby helmet, Rasta hat, and such there is a very distinctive guy. He has his quirks and idiosyncratic behaviors that would make him interesting even if he didn’t pile things on himself. The Autism is just the icing on that particular “kid cake.” We face the same perils and booby traps as other parents: will he become sexually active (with anyone other than himself?;) will he be tempted to drink alcohol?; will he try drugs? Yeah, we think about those things.
Take the oldest one. (Please? Today I feel like raffling him off.) He’s an intelligent and handsome guy; he’s funny and hard-working. He is caring, considerate, well-mannered, loving. He is responsible and an excellent driver. He is an IDIOT! Any takers? He kinda looks like Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell had a baby together. He’s not too tall, not too short. He speaks English and has fairly good spelling. He knows ASL and is very capable in his work at the hospital. Any takers? No?
Last night he went to a party. We are realistic enough to know that, this being a college town and his friends all being college-age, there will be alcohol at this party. The rules are simple: have a cut-off time, don’t drink hard liquor, don’t drink on an empty stomach, call us once in a while and let us know how you are. The host was going to have everyone crash at his apartment, and we were ok with this because we were young once and fairly idiotic. My husband dropped the kid off at 7 PM and by 7:43 we got a call from his friend asking to pick our son up.
Of course, I imagined blood, sutures, bruising. I got skunk-drunkenness. The hard-liquor thing? Totally forgot that we had mentioned that (this condition is called Supposed-Maturity Induced Selective Amnesia and Hearing Concatenated With Poor Judgment and the Chronic Desire to Look Cool.) The symptoms and signs of this condition are: nausea, vomiting, impaired judgment, melodramatic statement of how much one loves one’s parents, the vocalization of how much of a loser we are and how no one likes us for who we are. It also brings on the confession that our favorite movie (in spite of protestations to the contrary and assiduous viewing of Scorsese films) is still Mortal Kombat.
After a bout of vomiting, saying “I love you, guys!” at least 135 times, some crying that was only controlled by mother saying “deep breath…and exhale” over and over, sitting in the shower under alternately cold and hot water for half an hour and J coming in and looking at his brother with an expression that neatly encapsulated the expression “what the f*ck is wrong with you, dude?” (eye-rolling included) the affected party fell asleep while his parents paced up and down the hallway checking on him.
I was very disappointed that, after drinking rum to excess, the young man woke up with nary a headache or stomach ache. I then proceeded to give him one…with gusto. Yes, he is almost 21, but he lives in our house. Last night we unplugged his computer to prevent him from drunken messaging or e-mailing, or posting on You Tube. His cell phone is safely hidden in my room…no use giving him the tool to text rambling, ridiculous apologies to a girl who liked him enough to call his parents but who will never forgive him for last night’s drunkenness.
So…the depths of despair a the rule of the day, and we all feel the worse for wear. In the middle of all this horror (I know I’m probably exaggerating) we are just glad that we got a call and we could take care of the kid who thinks he’s a grown-up. In all truth, he’s like a cake that looks done when one opens the oven, but has a little spot of not-quite-doneness in the middle. He’s repentant and sad, and we are understanding and forgiving, but he’s still grounded. Yeah, he’s 20…he lives in our house. Yeah, he’s an adult and old enough to “go to war, buy cigarettes, get married,” but last night he did something tremendously stupid that we have to subtract from the equation of his age…I’d rather trample on his rights as an adult than run to the ER to be told “there was nothing else we could do to save him.”
Kids will drink. I did it when I was younger, but never to the degree that he did it last night. My husband did it when he was younger, but never to the point that the kid did it last night. While sitting in the tub, naked and crying as the day he was born (but a lot bigger and hairier) our son saw J walking in to give him “that look” and said “don’t YOU ever get drunk!” And that’s when everyone in the bathroom rolled their eyes.
Having children is not for sissies…and when I started writing this I was up to here with motherhood, but now I know I am getting exactly what I signed on for: turning bawling babies into adults…by hook or crook and wherever we may be.