Monday, March 28, 2011

Make Good Choices

The oldest boy's pretty well settled on the University of Miami. It meets the dual criteria of having a highly ranked physical therapy program and being far away from the rest of the family. He's been offered a nice scholarship too, so I can neither blame him nor complain.

That still leaves the question of how he's going to get there in August. I suggested the family take him down, make a vacation out of it.

"That sounds awful," he said. "Do you know how many miles it is?"

"You'll make us look at buildings!" howled his youngest brother. "You always make us look at buildings!"

"It'll be fun," I said. "We'll go to the beach. See a Marlins game."

"I think it's a great idea," said the middle boy.

"Why?" I asked suspiciously. He hasn't agreed to anything since he became a teenager.

"Because I'll get to stay home alone."

"No you won't," I told him. "We'd all go."

"That's stupid," he said. "I'd just irritate you."

"Good point," I conceded. "But you're not staying home by yourself for ten days."

"Why not? You could just leave me $300 and I'd be fine."

"$300? Where did you come up with that number? Never mind, it doesn't matter. You're not staying home."

A couple of weeks ago I went away for a long weekend with a friend. Coming out of a show, I turned on my cell phone to find a text message from the middle boy.

"Coach says he thinks I broke my hand."

As the Lovely Bride was at work and unreachable, I ended up coordinating a trip to the emergency room from 1,500 miles away. My friend and neighbor E. brought him in, after trying to liven things up by offering to take him to the county hospital downtown instead of the nearby suburban hospital. "Come on," he said when I objected. "There's all kinds of interesting things happening there at 1:30 on a Saturday morning."

"That was an accident," said the middle kid when I finished reminding him.

"First, contrary to your claims, the coach tells me he doesn't think it broke when you got slide tackled. He thinks it broke because you were playing goalie without gloves and you punched the ground when you let one get by."

"That couldn't do it."

"Really? Punching turf laid down on a concrete floor couldn't break your hand? Good to know, Dr. Science."

"I didn't punch it that hard," he muttered.

"Second," I continued, "we have a high deductible insurance plan."

"What does that mean?"

"It means your cast is made out of my money."

"You have lots of money," he said.

"Are you trying to kill me?" I asked. He offered a noncommittal look and shrugged.

"Besides, it doesn't matter. If we go, you go."

"It's going to suck," he said.

"Probably. Most things do. If it does, it'll be good practice for the rest of your life. Besides, it should help you start thinking about where you want to go to college."

"I don't want to go to college."

"Of course not," I said. "It's much easier to wait for money to fall from the sky."

"You always say it's not all about money."

"That's true," I acknowledged. "But it is about choices and you want to have as many as possible. Right now you're making the choice to aggravate me. In a couple of years you might want to make the choice to go to college."

"I won't get as many scholarships as my brother," he said.

"Maybe. If you work as hard in school as he has, you can do just as well."

"I wish I'd been born first. Then I could have set the bar lower."

"Wow," I said. "I've really done a horrible job of raising you, haven't I?"

"Pretty much," he said. "So can I stay home alone?"


"Then I really don't have choices, do I?"

"You never stop, do you?" I asked him.

"Nope," he said proudly.

"It's going to be a long drive," I said.

"It's your choice," he said.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Joy Of Children

"I need a loaf of bread," my youngest demanded. "And some butter."

"It's 9:30 on a Wednesday night," I replied. "Go to bed."

"I need them," he repeated. "Jelly too, if we have any."

"Are you on crack?" I asked him.

"See, you don't care how I do in school," he said.

In the old days, I would have poured myself a drink. Now that the cardiologist has tightened the screws, I have to navigate life on my own. It's not pretty.

"What is he talking about?" I asked the Lovely Bride. She shrugged without looking up from her magazine.

"Do you know?" I asked the dog, who responded by gnawing on my hand.

"I need it for class," said the boy.


"For class. Tomorrow. I need to bring bread and butter. And maybe jelly, I don't have to bring that, but I can if we have some."

"What the hell kind of class is this?" I asked. "Are they teaching you how to make toast?"

He rolled his eyes. "It's called 'Investigations.'"

"Somebody should investigate what the school's doing with my tax dollars," I said. The Lovely Bride concentrated harder on the magazine. She knows how I get.

"So can I have some bread?" said the boy.

"What if we don't have any?"

"Then you'll have to go to the store."

"It's 9:30 at night! Why didn't you ask before?"

"I just thought of it. I was busy."

"You were watching a basketball game on TV."

"I know. I said I was busy."

"For the love of God," I muttered.

"I thought you didn't believe in God," the middle boy interjected.

"I believe in shutting my piehole if I don't have anything useful to say," I explained. "Maybe you should try that."

"Mom, Dad's being rude again," the middle kid yelled. The Lovely Bride continued to read.

Opening the freezer, I found three-quarters of a loaf. "Will this work?" I asked.

"I guess," said the youngest.

I handed him some butter too. And a jar of preserves.

"This isn't jelly," he said, looking at the preserves.

"Close enough, Julia Child," I said.

"Who's that?" he asked.

"A nice lady who would have baked you into gingerbread."

He curled his lip at me. "Good night, Mom," he said.

"Good night," said the Lovely Bride, looking up and smiling at him.

Friday, March 4, 2011