I’d Take a Bullet For You

Oh, the interesting conversations I have with my kids.

Conversation #1

A few weeks ago my daughter called me to thank me for raising her to be a strong, independent woman. Apparently a bunch of people she knows have chosen to return home instead of remaining at college. The reason cited for the return? Homesickness.

She went on to say that in almost every single case the person returning home didn’t get involved at school. That was my moment to jump in and take credit. “What did I tell you?” She agreed that I had indeed begged her to get involved, to go out and participate in everything she possibly could at least that first week. As I wisely pontificated, “ Please give it a chance. Take advantage of every outing, every get together, every event planned for the first week. After that first week if you decide you just want to hang out in your room and watch Netflix, fine. But get out there that first week.”

She decided to go through recruitment (what was once known as “rush”) and has never once looked back since.

Conversation #2

I have come to the conclusion that I am a very bad driver. I didn’t used to think this but it is becoming more and more apparent.

I picked up Picasso from one of his after school events. There are a lot of stop signs with cross streets that don’t stop. I was at one such stop sign and began crossing when halfway across the road I realized there was a car coming towards me. I put the pedal to the metal and made it across.

Now, keep in mind the driver didn’t have to slam on their brakes. The driver didn’t have to swerve to miss me. I cut it close but we were in no danger of almost crashing. Even so the driver was not pleased and laid on the horn.

As we continue down these narrow streets, stopping every block for the stop signs I’m pointing out to my son how all of these houses look newly refurbished, which is something I was talking about with him recently. I was almost at the end of the block and ready to turn and, of course, coming upon another stop sign when I hear a car honking furiously behind me. I’m thinking there’s no way I have taken too long so what the hell is wrong?

That’s when the driver of the car from earlier pulls up beside me! She’s yelling and gesturing to me to roll down my window. I’m thinking, “No.” I’m not getting into it with some stranger that is obviously crazy enough that she’s willing to chase me down on a residential street.

I pull on up to the next stop sign and she’s still behind me, honking. I think it was at this point Picasso told me I should have a gun. I told him I had mace and he told me that wasn’t going to help if she pulled a gun. “Well, no, but if she doesn’t have a gun then my mace will be just fine,” I replied.

I turn right with the crazy bitch behind me. She begins to pass me on the right, trying to come up alongside me.

Again, I remind you, she did not have to slam on her brakes. She did not have to swerve to miss me. It wasn’t like we almost crashed and died.

As she’s pulling up beside me I decided I had had enough. I punched it once again and she was either going to have to slow down or run up onto the sidewalk or into the cars. I really didn’t care which one she chose. I did blow through a stop sign after I sped up.

Maybe she figured I was crazy at that point, or she felt she had completed her mission. At any rate she gave up the chase.

Once home Picasso told me that’s why I needed a gun. Eh. Probably not the best idea under the circumstances. Nonetheless, he told me he was getting into a defensive posture in case she did pull a weapon. “I was ready to take a bullet for you, Mom.”

I was touched. I also let him know that it was my job as the parent to take a bullet for him, not the other way around.

It’s sad, though. He can’t stand his father, refers to him by name, and wants nothing to do with him. He’d take a bullet for me, though. And he wasn’t just spewing shit. He really thought it was possible the situation could escalate to that point and he was getting prepared.

CF doesn’t have that with his kids. I tell myself all the time I am the real winner in all of this, no matter what, because my kids love me; they think the world of me. Yet, I also realize CF doesn’t care about stuff like that. Those are my values. That’s what is important to me. Harley and money is what is important to him.

Conversation #3

Picasso spends a lot of time in his room playing games on the XBox with his friends. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing him because I don’t drag him out of his room. There have been times when I’ve asked him if he wants to go get something to eat and he’ll reply, “Nah, I don’t really want to go anywhere.” There have been times when I’ve asked him if he wants to go see a movie and he’ll tell me there’s nothing out he really wants to see.

I know he’s much more of an introvert than his sister so I don’t push. Plus, it gives me a chance to decompress as well. But I do end up feeling guilty some days.

We had a rare day when he was out at the table and we were talking so I asked him how he felt I was doing as a parent. He’s a very literal kid so I find him very funny most of the time.

“On what kind of a scale?”

“What kind of a grade would you give me? A, B, C, D, or F?”

“Oh. Well, an A. You’ve kept me alive.”

“I would think the standards would be a little higher than just simply, ‘I kept you alive.’ Do you feel like I’m around enough? Give you enough attention? Am I engaged enough with you?”

Everyone should be pleased to know that I passed with flying colors. He feels I’m doing a bang up job of parenting him. I’m around plenty and he knows he can talk to me. He also assured me that he’s not barricading himself into his room and being a hermit. He’s playing with friends. He’s laughing and having a good time, which makes me feel a lot better.

We’ve been to two movies since that conversation and get this! He’s agreed to go see “Gone With the Wind” with me!

My Mamaw loved that movie. My mom used to say she believed she was Scarlett O’Hara. Close to twenty years ago she was visiting me down in Olive Branch. The local theater was playing “Gone With the Wind” on the big screen so I took her, knowing how much she loved the movie. It was the first time I ever saw it at the theater.

I never thought I would be carrying on the tradition with my son but hot damn, I’ll take it!

Conversation #4

The day Rock Star returned to school after winter break was rapidly turning into a disaster. She was picking on her brother and he was almost in tears. I was upset because we were out to breakfast before heading to take her back. All I wanted was a nice meal with my two children.

I barely said a word for the first 2 1/2 hours of our 2 hour and 45 minute trip. After I pulled over at the rest area to go to the bathroom and came back to the car I decided to break the ice.

She immediately burst into tears. “I miss you! I miss you so much! It’s not fair. I only get you for this one day and he gets you for the next two years!”

I was gobsmacked. She is loving college life. She loves her sorority. She loves the girls she’s met through AOPi. She is beaming and thriving. I reminded her of all of this.

“I know. And I do love it. But I still miss you!”

Maybe I shouldn’t be pleased that she misses me still. Perhaps it is a very bad sign that she will never launch because I have created such a dependence in her on me.

I don’t care, though. I know she’s having an amazing time at college. I’m still pleased to hear she loves me and misses me and wishes I were around more. When you hear all the negative stories going around about kids who can’t stand their parents I’m glad mine adore me.

Conversation #5

You may find this one a little sad. It is another conversation between me and Picasso involving his father.

I know I have written about not forcing a relationship on your kids and to not try to smooth things over between them and the other parent. It’s not your job to spackle. I don’t but I also don’t want my kids to feel like they will be betraying me by having a relationship with their dad.

On yet another chatty night we were talking about CF. Picasso was holding a small box and he remarked that the only thing CF had taught him was how to fold a box. At that moment I decided it needed to be said. I would suck it up if either of my kids wanted to see their father and there are times I worry that they feel I’ll be angry if they ever did choose to have a relationship with him. I very seriously told Picasso: You know, I won’t be upset if you want to have a relationship with him. You don’t have to worry that I will feel like you are betraying me.

“Oh, I wouldn’t feel like I was betraying you. I would feel like I was betraying myself,” he replied. “I abhor him.”

He went on to explain that he once felt sorry for his dad because he seemed so sad and so broken. He bought into the PTSD explanation his dad was selling the last few months before DDay. But, once he realized his dad was faking he became very angry. He said it was sick to do something like that, to pretend you have a very serious mental health diagnosis and to use that to justify your behavior. He also said he didn’t appreciate his dad cheating on me or him leaving the state and not saying a word to them. He ended his explanation by saying, “It all culminated in a perfect maelstrom.”

I was as impressed with his explanation as I was with his vocabulary.

“Wow, nice use of the word maelstrom.”

“You like that? I like that word but it’s hard to find an occasion to use it in a sentence. I’m surprised you didn’t say anything about me using abhor.”

“Eh. Not that big of a word. Maelstrom impressed me, though.”

Like I said, I have some interesting conversations with my kids.

2 thoughts on “I’d Take a Bullet For You

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