We are at Dalton's football game last night. I am cheering. Nothing fancy..just your average "Go Dalton!" Gavin walks up to me after Dalton has come out for a rest and he's talked with him. "Dalton says your embarrassing him." That's interesting, because I don't feel like I have done anything embarrassing. No flashing the ref, no taking out my dentures and waving them around. No showing people my secret tattoos of Glen Beck. But, OK.
Later I ask him why he was embarrassed. "Because you were cheering and yelling my name." That's interesting because I distinctly remember telling Gavin as he was yelling Dalton's name repeatedly, that he was hurting my ear, and could he please knock it off. He was miffed. But I am the one getting in trouble for cheering, and Gav gets no reprimand? Whatever. OK, so next time, just stand there..no cheering, and definitely NO name yelling. Got it.
So today I am at Dalton's school. It's lunch time, and I walk in to the cafeteria. I spot Dalton's friend in line. He asks me, "Can I play with Dalton?" Just then Dalton spots me. Quickly intervenes in whatever illegal activity is taking place and whispers "You're embarrassing me."....Cause I'm alive? Will doesn't pick up on the fact that Dalton is dying from embarrassment, and proceeds to quiz me about when he is getting a playdate. Dalton meanwhile has his head buried in the BBQ sauce container, hoping that I have disappeared...no, disintegrated. No such luck. Well, then I do the most gosh awful thing a mother can do. No, not hug him..not kiss him..not whip out his naked baby pictures that I carry in my wallet...no, I ask him where his vegetables are. His VEGETABLES. And OH MY GOSH...you would have thought that I'd asked him where his sparkly unicorn purse and his baby binky were, because he honest to heck almost started crying at that moment. He rushed to the table where his friends were sitting muttering something like "My Mom is so stupid," where by at that point I stopped finding this behavior cute and was feeling more along the lines of devastated slash pissed off.
OK, I do not have head lice. I do not have a giant deformity growing out of my face. I am not morbidly obese and getting around in a Jazzy Scooter. No, I am a flippin Mom. His flippin Mom whom he hugs every morning, without being begged. Whom he kisses goodnight. Whom he cuddles...yes, you heard me...CUDDLES. And I am pretty much getting the finger from him in front of his whole school. So I told him I wanted to talk with him out in the hall. I know. Now I am getting mean. But it's better than laying him out on the cafeteria table and spanking him in front of his friends, which is what I really wanted to do.
So, we are out in the hall, and his eyes explode with tears. This is his gift. They don't fall down his cheeks, they shoot out like projectile missiles at you. He is like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, where she grows too big from drinking (or eating- I can't remember) the stuff that says EAT ME, and she gets humongous, and she floods the whole room and they all float out on her tears. Yes, that is Dalton.
So I say to him, "Dalton, I have not done anything to embarrass you. What is going on?" And he manages to mumble something about how horrid this is that I am there. And I am about to feel sorry for him...but then I start to feel sorry for myself. And I tell him, "Look, you have really hurt my feelings. I did nothing to you, and you have made me feel bad. I am not a freak, so stop treating me like one. It is not a big deal for me to ask you if you are having vegetables. We eat those at every meal at home." It sucked. But why was it that there were ten other Mothers in the school at that very moment, and none of their kids were vomiting up bile at the thought of them being on school property? It didn't end great. He walked back in to the cafeteria bummed, and I walked away broken hearted.
When had I turned in to the Mayor from Looserville? No, the President. Was this it? Was my kid over me? I was officially on the outs with him? It could happen. I know men who began loathing their Mothers at the age of eight, and it never really improved. But I was not those kind of Mothers. Those kind of Mothers wore mom jeans, and sang really loudly in front of strangers, and said cheesy things.
I let them listen to Black Eyed Peas, and say words like "crap" and "suck" and stay up late on weekends having sleepovers, and buy them Hurley sweatshirts, and I am not a looser for crying out loud. But isn't that what every looser says?
So now I am crying. I am driving away from the school bawling. I have to pull over because I can not see. And while I cry, I talk. It's just what I do. And I go over every mistake I have made with him, and why he very rightly deserves to hate me. I had him when I was 23, check. I was an idiot, check. I have been too strict with him, check. After I have beaten myself to a bloody pulp, I have to talk myself down. So, I try to see it from his point of view. That I am ruining his cool guy image that he has been working really hard to perfect. And he might love me, because he acts like it at home. But in public, I guess I need to play it cool, and take my cues from him. If he is shrinking in the corner to avoid being seen, I could probably deduct that he doesn't really want to hang out with me. And maybe I could have enough self esteem to give him that space, and not need him to want to hang with me.
I talked with a girlfriend on the phone, and poured out my heart to her. She is a "cool Mom" who wears t-shirts that glitter, and has big hair, and the kids are always running up to her, and giving her hugs. And I just look at her like she is Tinkerbell, and I am a troll. And she tells me that she'll subtly start telling Dalton how cool I am, so that maybe he will believe it. She tells me that she just can't believe this, because he's always hugging her at school. And I tell her that I am heartbroken. And she knows this because I am choking up again. And then I wonder whether I should go back to the school with a big candy bar and beg his forgiveness. But that would probably be a zillion times more embarrassing.
When he comes home at 3:00 PM he tells me he is sorry, and gives me a hug. I tell him that I am sorry too. I tell him that I will give him more space at school. He tells me that he didn't want his friends to make fun of him. Then I give him his special candy bar, and I tell him I love him.
And I do. It is a love that is accompanied with angst, because of all the shouldas and wouldas that go along with raising my first child. All the things I wish I'd done differently. All of the learning, done at their expense. So, tonight, in bed...we snuggled. And there are no words to tell you how I loved it. If I could bottle it, I would...to save for other days.