Yesterday, Saturday, my little guy tickled my feet until I got up. He was relentless. After wriggling like mad and laughing and begging, I got up and took care of the things that needed to be taken care of, like feeding him, cleaning up after and feeding the cats, doing some laundry, etc., which was something of an accomplishment because I’ve been sick with a bad case of the flu. By the early afternoon, I had to get back into bed.
I truly thought we’d be done with this illness thing come spring, but there’s some nasty shit going around, so here is my advice: Whatever you do, don’t get sick. Just don’t. Follow that simple advice, and I promise you will be all right.
Something made me think this morning of the 1980 song “Kid” by The Pretenders, about a parent’s struggle with her child’s disappointment in her. Haven’t we all felt that way at one time or another?
Last Halloween, after a little party, I drove Jonah to a nearby neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. As we were leaving, I backed up and accidentally tapped the car behind us, setting off its alarm. I hesitated, looking around to see if its owner was nearby, but after a minute or two no one came, so I drove away. Jonah was furious.
“Aren’t you supposed to wait?” he wanted to know. “Shouldn’t you tell the police?”
Much of this fury was the result of our having been rear-ended by someone in a hit and run about a year before. Whenever we pass the spot where that happened, we both remember the sudden impact, the shock, and our astonishment that the other driver—a young woman in a blue pickup—veered out of the lane and raced away.
…And then there was the time that I accidentally rear-ended someone on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. We were heading into the city after a wedding in the East Bay and got stuck in massive traffic: the bridge was undergoing construction and that morning, a big rig had had an accident on the bridge and caught fire. We sat in that traffic for hours. I hadn’t slept well the night before and was exhausted and distracted when I smacked into the car in front of me. I had been moving at maybe three miles an hour.
The other driver was a kid in his late teens or early twenties and was driving his mother’s car. He claimed I’d damaged it, which was absurd—the car was in crap shape to begin with and was covered in dents and scratches. We were cordial to each other, but I couldn’t help but think that he was taking advantage of the situation. A police officer waved us over to a construction zone near the Angel Island exit, where the other driver showed him the “damage.”
The officer suggested we deal with it through our insurance agencies and, thinking I was covered through the rental car company, I didn’t insist on a police report. That was a mistake. The kid’s mom filed a claim and I had to deal with my insurance agency. A lot of hassle for a load of bullshit.
Back in New Haven, I reminded Jonah of what had happened on the Bay Bridge and told him I didn’t want to go through something like that again.
But I also told him he was right. “If I had hit the car hard enough to damage it, or if there had been someone in the car, I would have reported it.” And this was the truth.
And yet he was right. He was holding me to a higher standard than I was holding myself to. And that’s a hard thing.
“You think it’s wrong/I can tell you do/How can I explain/When you don’t want me to?”
It’s tough, raising a kid when you’re imperfect. Isn’t it?
Photos of the kid by Mommy.