Friday, February 5, 2010

Bull Riding is Easier than Parenting

Yesterday was frantic. Late for school. Forgot to pack my son's lunch. Racing, racing. When I get rushed I can't think. It's funny because in an emergency, I can think. I remain calm. One time my son started choking on a piece of food in an airport. He was really little but we'd taken the CPR course and I remembered the finger swipe. Just like that, swipe, he was okay again.

But something about being frazzled while say driving to school really throws me for a loop. My son was talking and talking. So I turned off the radio thinking that would help. More talking. Reading street signs. "Enterprise Rent-a-Car," he said. "We'll pick you up." Apparently he's memorized their slogan or working on a new campaign.

Then he said, "Mom, do you know Enterprise Rent-a-Car is a bull riding sponsor?"


"You don't even care, do you?"


"Well they are."

"Could you please stop talking Will? You talk all the time and I can't think."

Then he gave me that look. That look that says, "That's really wasn't called for."

I run into Dunkin' Donuts to get a small light and sweet and 3 munchkins (for him) that Will insisted he needed. Again, even though we were late.

I got back in the car and apologized. "I'm sorry for what I said. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings." Really a chicken shit way out because of course I hurt his feelings.

"That's okay," he said. "I know I talk a lot."

"Why do you talk so much? Are you trying to give people information?"

"Yeah I guess so."

When we got to school I went in with him to deposit a check in his lunch account that was sitting at a zero balance. I said goodbye. Usually he gives me a kiss but we were inside the building now with witnesses so he started to walk away. Then he turned around to give me a kiss, I think because the coast was clear.

On the way out of school, I ran into his guidance counselor. We nodded hello and then she turned and called my name.

"Will's here today, right? I mean he's in school today?"

"Yes I was just dropping something off for him. He's here."

"Okay because he's won this big award. They're giving it to him today."

"What award? Does he know anything about this? He didn't say anything."

"No. It's a surprise. Only one boy and one girl in each grade gets it for being a good citizen. His teachers are so proud of how hard he's working and how much progress he's made."

His guidance counselor starts tearing up and then I start tearing up, standing there in front of school.

As if she hadn't noticed, I said, "I'm sorry I'm tearing up."

"Me too. It's a really big deal."

I drove away feeling like crap that on the day my son was being honored as a model student, I was giving him a hard time. You parents know what I mean. It's those times when you punish a child, only to find out they were making something for you when they made that mess.

The floor is covered in macaroni bits and paper but they hand you a little necklace just for you.

NB: Bull riding is my son's latest. He wants to know where we can find a bull riding school. Anyone?


  1. The old Apaloosa bar in South Norwalk had a mechanical bull. Grateful to this day that I never got on it. Would not have ended well.

    From my unscientific observation, even the best bull riders get thrown 5-6 times for every 10 rides. 8 seconds can be an eternity.

    I bet even on your worse day of parenting that you do better than that. I myself hit around a .677 on my worst days. Perfection is a pretty tough benchmark when it comes to humans. Or bulls.

  2. Be kind to yourself. Kids don't win awards all on their own. There's a great parent somewhere.

  3. My daughter is almost 15. She hasn't had a conversation with me since she was 8. As a parent, I have the need to know about her friends and every time I ask it turns into a fight.

    I never once in her life told her I wasn't interested. I've always tried to engage her intellectually and socially, yet allow her the distance she needs. And still, she won't talk to me. She doesn't even say hello to me after I get home from work unless I say it first.

    I _wish_ I had a relationship with my daughter where adversarial wasn't the default position. The next time you feel the temptation to tell him to stop talking, just thing about the parent whose 15 year old walks in the front door and they have no fucking idea who she is.