Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leave ME Alone! i can take care of myself . . .

I was an accident-prone kid. If there was anything within a mile radius that could pose as a danger to me--we were destined to meet.

Rest stop. A half dozen kids piling out of an old van, making their way through the grass, over the hills and down a ditch to try and get to the rest room first. I was first. Barefoot. Shirtless (we won't discuss that right now) and making sure I beat every single kid.

Glass. In foot. My mom and a couple of the kids ran to me. I screamed for them to LEAVE ME ALONE. I held my foot and sucked back the tears. My mom stood a safe distance away, watching me tend to my wounds as I pursed my lips and glared at her.

A dozen stitches later I was fine. And now, looking back, what was I thinking? What was my mother thinking? Barefoot. Public restroom? Shivers surge up my spine. Ew.

Bed jumping. A few years later I was with my cousin. We were jumping back and forth from his bed to his brother's. Then, we had an idea. What if we jumped from the bed, to the dresser, to the other bed? BRILLIANT.

Less than a few minutes later, I sat on the bed holding my head. My cousin pulled my hands from my head and fell back. I leaned down and told him it was OK. He turned his head from me, peering from the corner of his eye as he told me to go to the mirror. I did. Blood streamed down my face, framing my eyes, cheeks and dripping off my chin. My aunt and uncle ran into the room after hearing the screams. Not mine. My wussie cousin's. They approached me.

I screamed at them to LEAVE ME ALONE and held my hands in front of me, closing my eyes and willing the gash on my head to close up.

A dozen or so stitches later, I was fine.

Track meet. I was racing across the field to make the final call of my race. POW. Very large shot putter nailed me. I fell flat. On a row of hurdles. Coaches and athletes gathered around me. The coach motioning for the trainer.

I'M FINE. I screamed at them (by this time I was older and felt screaming "I'M FINE" was a lot nicer than "LEAVE ME ALONE!"). I rubbed the blood off my knee. Gash. Great. My side hurt and I couldn't move the fingers on my left (or was it right?) hand. I had a race to get to.

I jumped up. Ran my race. Lost. But boy did I look great doing it. Limping over the finish line, clutching my side and gritting my teeth so hard I couldn't feel my jaw.

I was an idiot. Cracked rib. Sprained fingers. And a knee that STILL is in desperate need of an overhaul.

And, as my coach greeted me as I crossed the line, I stammered through my gritted teeth, "I'M FINE!"

Since then, I have had unfortunate encounters with knives, a car trunk hood, dogs (I like them, they didn't like me), other people (black eye, he looked worse when it was over), cement walls (I swear, I didn't see it), steps (I saw them, they just decided to move at the last minute).

Regardless, I dealt with them all the same way. LEAVE ME ALONE. That goes for when I'm sick, too. LET ME TAKE CARE OF IT. I hated people babying me (I won't lie, labor was a slightly different story).

This all brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday evening we headed to a local city park (not much of a city and really, not much of a park--but that is for a different post). There were kids crawling all over the playground equipment. They were slide SURFING, swinging from the polls, jumping on one another and tackling each other to the ground, racing around as if they were the only ones on the playground (new walkers beware!). My nerves were screaming in agony. Chaos would never, ever describe the scene on the playground. Mass casualty waiting to happen would be more appropriate.

JR loved it. Of course . . .

Earlier in the day a friend and I had been talking about how trips to the park were now ridden with anxiety. The way JR and his little friend played on the equipment was enough to have me reaching for blood pressure pills I do not own. He had no fear. While I was happy to see he had a bravery gene, it didn't stop me sucking in breath and biting my lips while readying myself to catch him as he free fell from the top of the jungle gym.

But later. It was like we had entered a war zone. The only thing missing, firearms (I think . . . ).

Puny JR (and just about every other toddler) was nothing but a potential casualty. Time to get his tough on.

After watching him precariously navigate the jungle gym (AKA DEATH TRAP), he went over to the little maze of tiny houses, doors and windows that was perfect for a little guy his size.

It was peaceful over there amongst the soft wood chips and weather-stained plastic pieces. The big kids stayed swaying, swinging, and performing other gymnastic routines on the other side of the playground. Save for a few other toddlers, we were it. I was cool with it, but JR's gaze kept shifting to the chaos to our right.

And then, they came. In droves. Kids bigger than me (minus my awesome swelling belly, of course) came rushing through the tiny maze. Toddlers stood frozen as they were rocked and shocked from the intrusion. Parents rushed to the maze, searching for their toddlers.

JR stood in the middle of it all.

And then, it happened. He was flattened, on his belly, face buried in wood chips. I rushed to him, my heart falling to my feet. The big kids stopped as a linebacker father cursed at them to FREEZE! Several parents started toward JR who was already making his way back to his feet.

"NO!" he screamed at me as I bent down in front of him. I took a step back, evaluating. Another mom stepped toward him (I'm thinking she was ready to swoop him in her arms--I knew better, he's never been one for kissy, kissy my boo boo).

"NO!" he shouted at her as he held both of his hands up. By this time the crowd was dispersing and the big kids ran off to parts unknown.

"JR, can mommy help you?" I asked as I made an attempt to brush the dirt and wood chips from his cheeks. I swear that he spit dirt and chips from the side of his mouth, sorta like Clint Eastwood did, cringe and squint, in one of his early westerns. It was . . . odd. Tough, though. I liked it.

"NO!" he shouted once more. And with that, he ran. And ran. And ran.

No hugs. No tears. (No bumps, bruises, cuts or breaks . . . ).

All I got was a defiant "NO!" from that sweet face, those angelic little bowed lips. "NO!"

Geesh. I wonder where he gets that from?

No idea . . .


I am desperate to rant about the "parents" who didn't bother watching their kids. I became that mom yesterday, the one who is pulling a kid off of another kid, the mom who is telling kids to stop climbing ON TOP of the tunnel that is suspended in the AIR. The mom who is asking kids not to KICK other kids in the face even when they tell me "WE'RE JUST HAVING FUN, LADY" accompanied by the EYE ROLL. The mom who catches some other person's kid as he hangs from the poll, his grip threatening to fail him. The one who glares around at the parents lounging on the benches, enjoying a cigarette and a chatting with friends.

Yeah, I became that mom. And you know what, I don't even care if they label me the "crazy, freak mom." Sticks and stones, ya know . . .

I know many of you have been there . . . and now, I totally get it.

EDITED: I have to give a shout out to Tranny at Tranny Head Rawks. She wrote a post about coddling kids and playgrounds that'll have you laughing, nodding and sayin' "Hell, yeah" when you're through .


Anonymous said...

This is the part of the story I read, without reading...even though he said No, he still knew you were there. You were there. You shouldn't have been left alone, even though you kept shouting it.

David got all daddy/teacher/crazy on a group of really rowdy disrespectful kids on the subway the other day. He said it was like an outer body experience. He was sitting and suddenly he found himself standing over them and lecturing while their parents just looked on with disgust.

We've all been that crazy mom. It's called love.

Anonymous said...

My name is ADHDmomma and I am a "crazy, freak mom." I am known in these parts for constantly uttering the phrase "where is that child's mother?!" Thanks for starting the support group. Kuddos on your strength by the way!

painted maypole said...

oh yeah, i've been there. ;)

one time at the park when MQ was a toddler it was suddenly overrun by several classes on a field trip. MQ freaked as all the big kids climbed over and past her. One sweet girl, maybe 7?, took her hand and walked her down the play structure and to me.

Anonymous said...

I can so relate hon. I am now that crazy mom as well. When my two are at the playground, or even just playing out in front of the apartment complex, I'm there - with a watchful eye, waiting for ANY of them to mess up and give me a chance to bellow. I refuse to allow any injured children on my watch. If that makes me crazy, so be it. I'll wear that badge with honor. I'm already "mad" crazy...might as well go all the way!

Unknown said...

Yeah, but Sumo would be a threat to most teenagers anyway. that said - we've ALL been there, at one time or another.

And it's ALWAYS been that way. Teenagers in the '50's were exactly the same way.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm the mom that goes over to that group of moms and tells them to get with it. That's not really popular either.

I love a tough little guy!

Unknown said...

I don't know if it fully applies here but we have a saying around here (having boys and all). "If you wanna be a roughie you gotta be a toughie!" Your stories just made me think of that. I think you AND your little guy are "rougies" and "tougies" (in the nicest way of course!) ; )

Kori said...

You go; makes me feel a lot less alone in my freakiness.

Woman in a Window said...

ohmygod, you are so funny in this! Funny! The brilliant after the bed jumping had me laughing so freaken hard! And it just got funnier! See! Look at all these exclamation marks! That's a whole lot of funny!

Loved this. That's right. (!)

Tara R. said...

I can still hear my once toddlers yelling "I dood it mysef!"

Crazy moms unite! I've been there, done that, and darn proud of it!

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

Now that is one tough little guy! A chip right off the Mommy block :)

Us parents of older kids are lazy no?


I have been there too, and it is ANNOYING to have to discipline other people's kids.

CC said...

My kids are soooo unlike this. They scream for me the instant anyone approaches them.

And my years as a teacher and lifeguard have made me super-hyper-vigilant-police-woman on the playground. Sometimes I have to literally cover my eyes so that I calm down. said...

I am the same way. Shoot, I didn't even want to tell my dad that we were out of work for fear that he'd try to coddle me!

But for me? Childbirth was the same. I remember while delivering Corinne, right around transition, I thrashed and whimpered, "Mommmmyyyyy" (Yes. I did. I admit it.) and my mom scurried to my side, held my hand and tried to say something. I then, very sweetly, I'm sure, shoved her away and said "No! I'm FINE!" and toughed it out while she had to stand in the corner, cheering me on...

I don't like too much sympathy...

Karen said...

I'll take that kid any day over those wimpy pansies that think life just ended because they got dirt under their finger nails. You raised him right, girl.

Pregnantly Plump said...

Recently, I've been whining that Little Elvis has a death wish. People keep saying he's a boy and he's a 2-year old, but I don't care. He likes to climb on my parents' coffee table (maybe a foot off the ground.) He's fallen a few times, and by the time I get to his side (tenth of a second) he's back on top of the table, showing it who the real boss is.
Thanks for the hair advice by the way. I'll look for jojoba.

Kat said...

That is AWESOME! I just love a little toughie. So cool. ;)

I am definitely that type of parent to correct another child if they are doing something dangerous or are hurting another child. If their mom and dad won't watch them, I sure will!

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I waffle between wanting to stand back and see what my kids will do and wanting to punch the big kids in the face. I've found myself becoming "that mom" reminding the 13 year-olds who're playing on an obvious toddler playground... not to hit the little kids. They hate me. I care not.

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