As we were leaving my parents’ house the other day, I noticed the storm had blown a huge piece of paper around my tire. I picked it up and started walking towards the community garbage can, across the street and down the alley, passed two houses. The boys were playing in the front yard with my parents were keeping an eye on them as well as pulling weeds. I dumped the trash and started walking back. I noticed the boys were playing on the corner, on the curb that flowed into the street. Not a place I wanted my children.
Then I watched as Tornado A saw me and started into the street, only to be sidetracked by the giant puddle in the middle of the street.
“NO! NO! THE BABY! THE BABY! GET HIM!” I screamed.
I ran as fast as I could, but I was slowed down by my flip-flops and the soft mud. A cold and sickening thought occurred to me as I ran. I could see through the chain link fence on my left, through the school yard to the end of the street, but I couldn’t see to my right because of concrete backyard walls to see the other end of the street. And I knew if a car came from that direction, I would be too late. I pushed harder.
I watched my father stand up, take in the situation, walk into the street, and pick up Tornado A, carrying him back to safety. All with a slowness that made me growl.
I ran across the street, glancing to make sure I wasn’t going to be hit by a car.
I opened my mouth as I stormed onto the sidewalk.
My dad (still holding Tornado A): Look at your Mommy! I bet she hasn’t run like that since high school. (He chuckled. He f-ing chuckled.) She was so worried. There weren’t any cars coming, Fae. I had it under control.
Me: YOU had it under control?!!! If YOU had it under control, my child would not have been in the street!!! (I grabbed Tornado A out of his arms.) What is wrong with you?! Haven’t you learned anything after three children?! You are not going to watch my children again!
Do you know how hard it is to yell at someone who is taller, bigger, and more imposing than you? He might be retired, but my Dad still has the aura of Cop hanging on him. Do you know how hard it is to yell at someone who was the imposing authority in your life for your childhood, one that held the balance of justice and law in the house?
I must have sounded like I was five years old, in pig tails and a pink dress, scolding my daddy for letting my Teddy get wet.
Because my Dad chuckled again.
My Dad: You don’t mean that.
I did what any sane parent would do in this situation.
I called in the higher authority.
My Mom: T, keep a better eye on the boys. Fae, your father knew what he was doing.
Yeah, knew what he was doing. Right. Three kids and he still acts sometimes like the stories of my babyhood. Come to think of it, sometimes so does she.
My parents acted like they didn’t know a damn thing when it came to raising a baby. When my Mom was pregnant with me, they went skiing. The doctor told them no, but since he originally said yes, they went any ways. Thank God, it rained. She refurnished a dresser for me, using paint stripper and white paint, while she was pregnant. She used chemical oven cleaner while she was pregnant with me. My dad insisted on doing my first diaper change and then proceeded to get poop all over every item on the cart, the cart, and me. My Mom stuck to a strict four-hour feeding cycle, which would have been fine if I didn’t sleep through the night, and she ignored doctor’s orders to wake me up to feed me in the middle of the night. (Now we all hate to wake sleeping babies, but I was nearly failure to thrive.) No one will admit who held the door and who held me when a hotel door slammed on my head, causing “the most interesting shades of purple and red,” and then no one took me to the hospital. My Dad was on watch when I did my first roll . . . off of the couch and into the corner of the coffee table. Sure, I could swim before I could walk, but I also received my first sun burn before my first birthday. I swallowed a tack.
Yup, my parents were child-raising geniuses. I’d forgive them if they were teenagers. They weren’t. They got better though. The only crazy thing my mom did while pregnant with my little brother was lie about her pregnancy to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland.
Maybe I should start looking for another sitter. . . .