2 Moms. 5 kids. 1 van. 3 weeks. 3000 miles. Are we amazing or are we crazy? You decide.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day 12 (part 2): My Godson, M, (who is perfect)

I’ve said often enough that my family is perfect. Not the immediate family, but my extended family, the assorted aunts, token uncle, in-laws and out-laws that make up my mother’s family. I told someone that once, and her reaction was of horror, that perfection was awfully hard to live up to. She had it wrong. Perfection was not the standard set for us to meet; we were the standard. Whatever we did was, by definition, perfect. That’s how it seemed, anyway, because we’re a diverse group of over 40 individuals. And I do mean individuals. We pretty much span the political/lifestyle/opinion spectrum. I mentioned the Army Major in Djibouti, and my grandmother was the one with the bumper sticker on the refrigerator. (She wouldn’t put it on the car and drive with it, though. Give the woman some credit.) (Told you to watch for it. Djibouti! Djibouti!)

The first great-grandchild was M. He’s 12-going-on-13 now, but in his glory years as the only one in his generation, his nickname was “El Diablo.” (No, we didn’t know that future children would meet and surpass him in demon-like behavior.) He earned it. Smart as anything else out there, he’d tie you up in knots until you forgot just who was supposed to be the adult and who was the child.

And he was the one who needed a “Come to Jesus” meeting on our first day touring Boston. He’s got the whole “WHAT?” eye-rolling, sullen “I can’t believe I’m stuck with these crazy folks” attitude down pat, which I guess means he’s normal. Or as normal as anyone from my family can be, because we’re all our own extremes. I don’t know what precipitated this particular display of teenaged angst, but we were all pretty wiped out from our sprint across the Charles River (visions of Rosie Ruiz ducked into my head close to the finish line, of course) and the really long day. We all wanted to go home. M hadn’t quite finished perusing the wares of the gift shop, however, and didn’t react appropriately when his mother told him it was time to leave.

And then? Things got worse.

I didn’t want my cousin to take him on either—I didn’t have bail money for either of them—so I told her to take the children who were behaving onto the ferry. M and I would have it out on the banks of the Charles.

When a 3-year old or 7-year old throws a tantrum, you get them under control and don’t let them hurt themselves or you; it's euphemistically called a therapeutic hug. I didn’t think I had it in me to take the 12-year old adolescent quite the same way as I had dragged the 7-year old through the streets of Philadelphia. (Now I’ll be singing Bruce for the next few hours.) He told me to go away, and I told him that I wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t make him talk. That he needed to get over being such a (insert appropriate curse word here), and when he did we would go back. That I couldn’t make him do anything. (I have done something to my left shoulder, and have been popping advil and using the hot/cold packs. I am feeling every one of my 39 years.) Being a teenager is tough. You think you need to know and be so many things, and you don’t have the experience for any of them. When he calmed down a little bit, I talked to him about the same things I talk to my 7-year old about after she gets out of control. Throwing a temper tantrum isn’t any more fun for the person on the inside of the tantrum than it is for the casual bystander. (Is that the voice of experience? Why ever would you ask?)

M is turning into an exceptional teenager, and I think he’ll continue our tradition of perfect people when he gets to be a Real Person. (We’ve had to remind him that he’s a serf still, which fits in a historical lesson quite nicely, thankyewverymuch.) As we sat on our bench and on the ferry (yes! another ferryboat!), we talked about everything. . .shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings, why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. I told him that I expected him to apologize to his mother, but that he didn’t need to make a huge production of it. He wanted to rehash the event, but I didn’t. So I told him that I didn’t doubt that his mom didn’t handle yanking him out of the gift shop in the best possible way, but that didn’t mean he had to be such a jerk. (Except, of course, since I’m the cool Godmommy, I didn’t say jerk. I used the profanity. Mommies can’t do that; Godmommies can.)

We’ve all taken turns this trip getting angry and getting over it. Some of us more often than others, but that’s all part of growing up. Maybe at some point I’ll be all grown up as well, but I wouldn’t bet anything on that. But the me that I was had a lot in common with the person that M is right now. So even if he's working on his sullen teenager face, he's worth it to hang out with.

1 comment:

Chicka said...

Ah yes. Puberty and angst. Ain't it grand?