When I tell people that Alex, who is now three, wouldn’t let me out of his sight for the first year of his life, they normally give me That Look. The one that sort of implies that I’m a helicopter parent, you know, like I hover around him, so that Ickle Alex doesn’t DARE get a boo-boo wifout his Momma RIGHT THERE to cuddle him up and protect him from the big, bad world!!!
Considering I informed Twitter I was shopping for a bag of glass and new gun to give him for his birthday, I don’t think anything could be farther from the truth. I love my kid to chunky pieces, I could have done without the suffocation of the first year. Bumps, bruises, those are part of childhood. And shit, one look at my legs would tell you those are part of my adulthood too.
After his sister was born, I was fortunate enough to secure him a spot in an in-home daycare for three hours a day. It was probably the smartest thing I’ve done–even smarter than the time I tried to whittle a model of the Parthenon out of a marshmallow–because for three hours a day, the kid is with other kids the same age. He’s had to LEARN to adapt to a life outside of his mother.
Of course, he HATED. LOATHED it, even. The lady is fantastic, the other kids are all under five and she does stuff with them that’s full of the awesome like going to the fire station to see the trucks! Story-time at the library! They went to Costco to make cupcakes! I mean, life is good for Alex.
Now, my slow-to-warm-up son loves it. On the weekends he asks to go to her house.
Alex is just a particular brand of finicky that reminds me of both my father and brother, both of whom are so set in their ways that they can hardly stand it when things do not go according to plan. It appears that not only does my son resemble my brother in appearance, he’s taken after the Sherrick side of the family in temperament as well as sense of humor.
(Pithy aside: He told his first joke last week, which he found UPROARIOUSLY funny, “P is for POOPY! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” And Alex, he has the best laugh of any of my children, so we all laughed along, first out of shock that he’d told a joke and then because he was in hysterics.
My child, all right.)
St. Charles is a Soccer Town, you see, and we’re all practically expelled from the womb clutching a wee soccer ball. So it was merely a matter of time before Alex was handed his, and as he’s spent the better part of two years kicking soccer balls, I figured this would be like heaven for him.
What I DIDN’T realize is that Alex would have a problem with being on his own to do it.
But we don’t give up in my family, at least not on my fucking watch, so I’ll be dipped in pigshit before I let my kid leave soccer early because he’s unhappy about it being DIFFERENT. He’s slow-to-warm-up, which means that in a couple of weeks months I’ll have to pry him off the field, but for that moment, I was stuck, sweating my balls off, and holding my son, wondering what to do.
The other parents were all sitting in their lawn chairs watching their kids play soccer, looking at me, bemused.
Dave was wrestling with Amelia, who was trying like hell to wander into a Ebola-ridden puddle and shrugged at me.
I looked at Alex, still happily nestled in my arms.
Then I did the only thing I could think to do.
I put him down, grabbed his hand and marched my sandal-clad feet down to the soccer field and said, “Let’s play some soccer, kiddo.”
There I was, the World’s Most overgrown three-year old, playing a mean game of Red Light, Green Light on the field with the kids like a damn asshole, while the other parents looked on, laughing. I was Billy Madison, except in soccer.
You know what? It fucking worked. I mean, I looked like a bigger moron than normal, jogging around the field like an overgrown toddler, but still, the kid stayed, he’s happy about going back next week, and soccer is going to be just fine.
Thank Baby Jesus, Ben can play his violin (he has perfect pitch!) without me up there playing alongside him. Because I’d hate to upstage some little kid when I busted out my version of “Enter Sandman” on the heavy metal cello.