Month: May 2017


An Instinct Took Over.

I was driving down the road, with Dylan in the passenger seat, when a groundhog wandered right into the path of my car.

Seeing the animal barely in time, I slammed on the brakes, throwing my arm in front of Dylan to hold him back from the windshield. Yes, we have seatbelts. Yes, he was wearing one.

But an instinct took over – an instinct I didn’t even know I had.

I remember similar incidents in the car when I was younger, and my dad’s arm shoving me back into the seat when we made an abrupt stop.

I was always a bit grateful for that arm.

I watched a movie, The Blind Sidea true story about the young life of Michael Oher, a player in the NFL. In the movie, Michael is involved in a car accident while transporting a young boy. The boy, who was very small and sitting in the passenger seat, would have been crushed by the air bag, except that Michael Oher reached over with his arm and stopped the air bag as it deployed.

It turns out that Michael Oher tested in the 98th percentile for “protective instincts” – something that serves him quite well during football games.

I wasn’t so sure about my “protective instincts” until that groundhog crossed the road.

I remember once, long before the boys were born, I was standing outside with my cat in the evening. Kitty was wandering around in the backyard when she suddenly burst over the top of a hill and raced toward me – followed by a fox.

Without any conscious thought, I stepped between the cat and the fox, and the fox stopped cold two feet from me. It looked at me for a second – just a second – before I started screaming and running at it. Then it ran off.

Somewhere inside me, those protective instincts do lurk. But usually, they just lurk. Usually, I visualize what I would do … but then things happen, and I am never fast enough to do those things.

The boys get hurt, skin their knees, break their nails, bump their heads. So far, it hasn’t mattered that my protective instincts are based mostly in my imagination.

Then, when my arm flew out to stop Dylan from flying into the windshield, I thought, gee, maybe I can do some good after all.

Most interesting, of course, is that Dylan is eight inches taller than I am, and almost the same weight.

But I am still trying to keep him safe.

It Doesn’t Make Any Difference.

I told Shane about the synesthesia battery test, which would clarify much about his abilities to combine his senses in ways other people don’t.

“You should take it this weekend,” I said to him while he was playing a video game.

“I don’t understand,” Shane said, “what difference it makes if I have it or not.”

“It doesn’t make any difference,” I said. “I just would like you to take it so that I can better understand how you think. I like learning about how your brain works.”

“But it doesn’t matter if I have it or not, right?” he asked.

“Not really,” I said. “I just think it’s interesting. But you don’t have to take the test if you don’t want to.”

“Okay,” he said.

And I haven’t heard a word about it since. I haven’t brought it up, either.

This is working well for everyone, I think.

But This is How it Actually Went.

It was my day to relax. My entire schedule consisted of a trip to the library and a brief volunteer job at Dylan’s school.

But this is how it actually went:

Got up early. Dylan got up late. Did not make food for Dylan, as per our agreement for days when he gets downstairs late. (Got up early for no reason.)

Made breakfast and lunch for Shane, who was ready early. Somehow still dropped him off late.

Decided to eat “leisurely breakfast,” but wanted to fill outside bird feeders first. Tripped near the kitchen somehow splattering 200 dried mealworms across 300 feet of house.

Spent half an hour sweeping and picking up mealworms.

Decided to check email before “leisurely breakfast.” Discovered that Dylan was, again, failing several classes. Texted Dylan about this for 20 minutes.

Emailed Dylan’s teachers to determine extent of problem. Emailed Dylan’s case manager as well, since she handles everything so well.

Suddenly realized that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Shoved bowl of gluten-free cereal into my face. Decided to have “leisurely lunch” instead.

Put in a load of laundry. Promptly forgot about it.

Responded to teachers who had responded to me. Texted Dylan again. (This time he was at lunch.)

Browsed for wild bird seed online. Found it cheap at a tractor supply store near my favorite library.

Suddenly remembered that I needed to go the to library – which is 40 minutes from my house. And now I needed to go to the tractor supply store, too, and be back in time to volunteer at Dylan’s school. Packed up library books and raced out.

Realized I hadn’t eaten lunch. Grabbed a nut bar and a bottle of water for the ride.

Drove nearly an hour to tractor supply store. Ended up with $95 of bird seed.

Decided to treat myself to “leisurely lunch” of spicy Thai food. Unsuccessfully dialed Thai restaurant. “The call you have made did not go through. Please try again later.”

Drove eight miles back to library. Parking lot was empty. Walked to library door anyway. Sign read: “Library Closed for Professional Development Day.”

Called Thai place again, now an emergency. Picked up Thai food for “leisurely lunch.” Forgot to ask for “spicy.”

Got home with barely ten minutes to eat. Shoved bland Thai food into my face. Decided to have “leisurely dinner” instead.

Drove to Dylan’s school to volunteer. Stopped in office to get key. Office lady said, “Oh! There are three of you today!” There are only supposed to be two people. I was third, so I went home instead. (No library, no volunteer job. Daily schedule officially trashed.)

Welcomed Shane home from school.

Emailed Dylan’s teachers and case manager again. With their help, figured out how to solve all of Dylan’s problems. Got incredibly excited to tell Dylan all about it.

Drove back to Dylan’s school to pick him up after his homework club. Started to tell him about all the emails and solutions.

Tried to talk while Dylan argued with every word I said, wouldn’t let me finish a sentence, and screamed at me for trying to help him when he obviously has it all under control!

Never told Dylan about any of the emails or solutions.

Browsed the internet for hotel rooms in North Carolina. Found nothing good.

Decided to have leftover gluten-free pizza for dinner. Covered mushy cheese pizza with paper towel to microwave. Paper towel stuck to the cheese, ruining pizza.

So much for my “leisurely dinner.”

Rewashed load of laundry from morning. Went to bed.

Thank God, I have to work tomorrow.

I Took My Day For Granted.

Yesterday, Bill, Dylan, Shane and I went to a Southern Rock Festival at a local amphitheater.

Bill and I like the music. For the uninitiated, Southern Rock is just a lot of guitars with a fairly steady beat. Most of the Southern Rock groups got famous sometime during the 1970’s, and there haven’t been a ton of new Southern Rock bands born since. So the average age of the typical Southern Rock fan is about 58.

To make matters a bit more interesting, the culture was not one to which the kids had previously been exposed. It’s sort of a “God-bless-America-and-do-it-loud!” crowd.

We were at the concert for about ten minutes when Shane turned to me and said, “I feel like I am four years old and totally surrounded by old people!”

I looked around. The lawn was covered in long-haired and/or balding men with beer bellies and tattoos. Wrinkly women were sporting cowboy hats, cutoff jeans – and heels. The rebel flag had been transformed into an item of clothing on more than one occasion, and nearly everyone was smoking.

There wasn’t a single child in sight.

“Sorry, Shane,” I said. “I didn’t really think about that.” We spent half an hour buying ear plugs for him, as a sort of consolation prize.

A few hours went by. We had seats inside the pavilion (in case of rain) so we sat and watched a few bands. Because of the extremely loud music, Shane texted me to say: “Each band is playing for about an hour. We should be home by 5:00.”

I laughed. While Dylan likes all kinds of music, Shane wasn’t really enjoying it, so he was calculating his escape already.

“I’m not sure it works like that,” I texted back. “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Shane and I went off to lie in a remote patch of grass and stare at the sky. We spent lots of time just hanging out together.

“I’ve lost count of three things,” Shane said. “The number of shirtless people I’ve seen, the number of beers I’ve seen, and the number of profanities I’ve heard.”

He didn’t complain, but he did talk a lot about what time he might be able to go home. He calculated and re-calculated. He wondered aloud if he would have any time to watch a video when he got home. He obviously wasn’t a huge fan of Southern Rock, or the venue.

We even left before the final band (although Bill and Dylan stayed) so that Shane could have a little time to himself.

So it came as a huge surprise when Shane got home, took a shower, watched a video, and somehow reflected enough to come up with a bold, personal revelation.

“I think I took my day for granted,” Shane told me. “I wish I had enjoyed more of the time listening to music instead of thinking so much about when I would be going home.”

He’s pretty wise for such a young fellow.

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