Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Direction

seventeen NOLS Alaska

My son was an early walker, and would lunge like a two foot tall Frankenstein's monster at any dog, arms outstretched bellowing 'Daw! Daw!'. Leaning forward, the weight of his giant ginger baby head nearly toppling him, gaining speed, he lurched forward until he was face to face with the Daw. 

 Dogs loved this. He was clearly their new chew toy. He also had an uncanny talent for impaling his forehead on all coffee table corners. In hindsight, nicknaming him Danger Boy was a bad omen.

A logical adult knows it takes at least couple months before any real respect for your parents grips the conscious mind of a child. Screeching 'No!' as my lumbering infant went on Daw patrol was not effective. I had read in one of my useless baby behavior books, that I needed to redirect his impulses, so that 'No!' would not become another meaningless mom noise, like 'Wear a Helmet!' This was months before he gave up on crawling and started running with the dogs.

I nursed him in the beautiful oak rocker I'd bought long before I was pregnant, so beautiful it needed several cushions and a blanket to be comfortable. It was because of his teensy crab claw infant fingernails that I first wanted to yell at my gorgeous sweet baby. They grew as he slept, Nosferatu style, and as he nursed into a milk orgy he would take a miniscule bit of tortured breast and pinch the bejesus out of me. I would take his fat dough baby hand and nibble off the nails with tears of pain in my eyes and he would pass out like a drunk frat boy, milk running down his chin.

Throughout his school years it was much the same. He lurched forward towards the most exciting thing, skirting disaster, right on the razor's edge. Direction Danger, full steam ahead. My attempts at redirection have been mostly about health and safety, and largely ignored. From sunscreen, helmets, drugs, condoms, hitchhiking to the latest tattoo, I say my piece and hope for the best. Sometimes I tell him to call his aunt or Gramma, and miraculously he does.

This morning I texted him for the forth day in a row, Check in please, with no response. Because we're on the same phone plan I can see that he read the message. So I know he's alive. I have sketchy second hand knowledge that he's headed to New Orleans via Mexico, hitchhiking with two other young men. I am doing my Lamaze Breathing and hoping the universe has a plan for Danger Boy.
nineteen    photo by one of his tribe

He called while I was writing this. I had turned my phone off and he left a voice message. 'I'm in Reno. I'm fine. Well Reno isn't, this place is bad. My phone got wet but it's working now. We're hitchhiking to Salt Lake City today. Bye.' His Direction, for today, is East. That's all I've got, but for today it's enough.

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  1. Great photos!

    I'm glad he called you.

    1. thank you! yeah, me too. there's silver lining in a returned call/text.

  2. As a mom that's got to be tough. I 've got to have all my little ducks in a visible row or I start to have a panic attack.

    1. my ducks tend to be rather free range. panic attacks are fairly normal for mothers of teens. sigh.

  3. whew, Alison! Fresh from my weekend writing retreat and having not yet gotten my mommy-legs, back, I'm thinking "Wow, the tension here is spectacular!" but as a mommy--whew.

  4. Yeah, he's never been a low key kid. Lots of deep breaths!