The Roller Coaster of Parenting (Not For The Faint of Heart)

I know now what I’m going to tell people if asked why I don’t like roller coasters. It’s because riding on one would be redundant. I’m already on one that has bigger drops, tighter turns, and makes me scream and cry just as much, if not more, than anything at Six Flags or Disneyland. So who needs another?

Case in point:

Last Thursday night (the coaster goes down) Andy, Allison and I have tickets to the evening production of “A Chorus Line” at Dallas’ Fair Park Music Hall.  When it’s time to leave for the show, Allison’s not ready and makes us wait, as usual. Andy is highly upset that we might be late.  Finally ready, she cops a major attitude with both of us and is full of sass on and off all evening.

Friday afternoon (the coaster goes up): I drive to get Emmie from Scout camp on my own. The minivan does great, and I have a great afternoon listening to the radio and stopping at my favorite antique store (DeRidder’s) in Forney, Texas. Emmie is so happy to see me and is full of wonderful things to say about camp. We stop in a small town to get pizza and afterwards, she falls asleep in the car while we listen to a beautiful folk CD and watch the sun set.

Friday night, late (the coaster takes a surprise plunge down):  After I tuck Emmie (and Andy) into bed, I really want to go to bed, too, after being tired from driving all afternoon, but I am the “designated driver” tonight– that is, the parent who has to stay up to pick up Allison from a scrapbooking/pizza party. Upon returning home, she goes “ballistic” when she sees the wooden butler/waiter statue I bought at the antique store, which is standing in our front hall, resplendent in his carved red jacket and real glass spectacles.  She yells at me at the top of her lungs, on and on, about how she hates it so much, and how embarrassed she is by it, and freaked out by it, and what bad taste I have, and how she’s going to break its arms and put it out with the trash, after I go to bed.  I tell her that if she so much as touches it, I will not be signing her up for fall dance classes. Andy and Emmie sleep through it all. I cry myself to sleep.

Saturday  (the coaster goes up):
The wooden butler remains unscathed.  Allison agrees to go to Dallas’ Farmers Market with me. It is a beautiful day, and we have one of the best times we’ve had in ages, laughing, talking, sampling and buying a bunch of fruit, trying elote’ cups for the first time (fabulous!) and eating sausage on a stick.

Monday (a nasty hairpin turn):
Allison gets her braces tightened, and in the evening, the pain kicks in.  She yells at me on the way to Target for not taking her there at the exact time she wanted to go, and after being derided by her all the way there, I turn around and leave after barely setting foot in the store.  I just couldn’t take it any more.  Back in the car, she curses at me for the first time ever, calling me a bitch and telling me she’s been wanting to do that for a long time.  I tell her she needs to find another person to take her shopping from now on because it won’t be me.  She’s now grounded for over a month and her phone will be taken away as well.

Tuesday (the coaster goes down):
Since Emmie did laundry and made commendable progress towards packing for our upcoming family reunion trip, I agree to drive her to the neighborhood pool to meet a friend for an hour. A few minutes before I was to leave the house to pick her up from the pool, I receive a phone call from the friend’s mother, telling me that Emmie has hit her head on the diving board while doing a back flip, and has a gash that will probably require stitches.  I cancel all my errands and rush to the pool. You know how head wounds always look worse than they are? Luckily, she couldn’t see it and was very calm an collected, dutifully pressing a wad of quilted paper towels on the top of her head, her long hair streaked pink in some places from the blood. The lifeguards let me take a look– my own blood literally ran cold and and I almost started crying (hey, would somebody slow this ride down?) but had to hold back so she wouldn’t do the same. But then she saw the blood-soaked paper towel, and she did start crying.
I made a couple phone calls and luckily found a close-by emergency room that didn’t have a long wait.  She ended up getting two staples in the top of her head, without anesthesia. The thought made my stomach lurch, and seeing the staples? Now I know where the phrase, “getting the heebie-jeebies” comes from.  I get to help maintain the wound and apply Neosporin every night!  

In the movie, “Parenthood”, starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, and the great Tom Hulce, I remember Steenburgen’s character saying something at the end about those who choose not to be parents are like those who play it safe and opt for the Merry Go Round instead of the Roller Coaster, and she’s glad she chose the coaster.  I used to think that was a great line, but frankly, I could use some Merry Go Round time right now.  Or a drink.  No, make that two, straight up–  one for me and I’ll drink another one for Emmie, since she now can’t swim for five days. 

Aw, who am I kidding?  I’m not much of a drinking person, and besides– that butler keeps forgetting my order…

4 thoughts on “The Roller Coaster of Parenting (Not For The Faint of Heart)”

  1. Wow, what a crazy ride!! I really appreciate your absolutely candid replay of the events. Weston has cursed at me and it’s very startling. The hardest part is not to respond in kind to such remarks! When things like that happen I put myself in timeout and scream into a pillow. No one tells you how many tears you are going to shed as a parent. Just know that you are not alone my friend! Keep up the good work!

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