This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
OK, so deathbed may be a little strong but I just feel like such crap. At least I’m back at work today but I’m only one step above zombie. But Will seems to be feeling good and that’s all that counts.
So while I was trying to shake the plague yesterday, I had a lot of time to think. And strangely, I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents. You know, stuff I did when I was a kid and how they reacted. I have a whole new perspective on things now because even though Will is only 7 weeks old, being a parent drastically changes the way you look at everything. For instance:
My first girlfriend was Kendra Sands in the sixth grade. She invited me to her 12th birthday party at the Attleboro YMCA and I was in my glory. You see, I was the only boy there and all the girls were in bathing suits. And some of them had…developed! I felt like a whole new world had opened up, and only to me. Like I had stumbled into a magical, bikini-clad oasis no other boy my age had seen. Kind of like being let behind the curtain to see the great and powerful Oz. Except with boobies. Anyways, long story short…Kendra lured me into a supply closet and kissed me. Only I had no idea tongues were involved in kissing, so imagine my surprise when she started a raucous game of tonsil hockey with me. I had no idea if I was doing it right (I wasn’t), but I didn’t back down and proceeded to give her a tongue bath she wouldn’t soon forget. And when my father picked me up an hour later, I was a changed man.
But I didn’t know how my father would react so I didn’t bring it up. But my dad — who was already apprehensive about me having a girlfriend at the age of 11 — pressed the issue as soon as we got in the car.
“So, did Kendra like her presents?” I answered yes. “Did you have a good time?” Again, affirmative. “Did you give her a birthday kiss?”
I stopped breathing. I didn’t know what to do because I’ve always been an open book. I hated lying and I wasn’t very good at it either. So I decided to be honest because after all, my Dad told me I could always tell him anything.
“Actually…yeah Dad. I did kiss her.”
I’ll never forget the panicked look on his face as turned to me. But before he could say anything, my then 9-year-old brother Nate piped up from the back seat.
“Did you give her the tongue?” he asked.
My father temporarily lost control of the car and had to pull over. I didn’t know who he was more upset with, me for having kissed a girl or my little brother for knowing about French kisses. He was a combination of flustered, surprised and angry. He started grilling me about what happened, and when he found out 1) there was tongue involved, and 2) it happened in a closet away from parental supervision, he became frantic. And when I told him not to worry, that I had it under control, I will never in my life forget the maniacal rant he went on.
“Oh, so you think you know everything now? You think you know everything about women because you kissed a girl? Well you don’t. Do you know what a girl’s menstrual cycle is? No? Then you don’t know everything about women.”
And for the record, my mom was cool about the whole thing and gave me a high-five.
The other memory I recalled was when I moved away for college. Like all high school seniors, I couldn’t wait for college. Dorms, independence, parties…the days couldn’t pass fast enough until I left. And sure I was only going three hours away but for my parents it was like I was headed to Alaska for four years. The reaction from my folks was mixed. My Dad wasn’t as much sad as jealous. He wasn’t able to attend college (certainly not due to a lack of intelligence), and if he could’ve I’m pretty sure he would’ve tagged along with me a la Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School.” My mother, however, was a little bit of a basketcase.
We hadn’t seen eye to eye my last year of high school because I was dating a girl from another town and was never around. Then it was off to college and I think she felt cheated, that my girlfriend at the time had stolen me away from her. So when it was time to drop me off at college she was really sad. I remember unpacking all my stuff, getting the computer set up and finally my parents couldn’t find another reason to stick around. So they gave me a tearful goodbye and then they were gone. Or so I thought…
I waited about 30 seconds after they left the room and immediately let out a “YESSSSS!!! FREEDOM!!!!!!” cry like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. But then I heard sobbing from down the hall. And when I poked my head out the door I realized my parents hadn’t quite left yet and now my mom was sobbing uncontrollably.
I felt bad at the time but I feel worse now. The day I realize Will doesn’t need me anymore will be an awful day. And if I caught him celebrating the fact that he’s officially free of me, I think I’d just shrivel up and die. So I can only imagine what my poor parents were thinking when I danced all over their feelings. I know it’s inevitable and all kids crave independence, but I’m already dreading that day Will asks me to drop him off a block away from the dance so I don’t humiliate him.