Sunday, July 18, 2010


Apparently, I need to be reminded that I don't know it all. Because every time I hit a peak like Friday, I bowl headlong into a valley.

Like yesterday evening.

The boys and I enjoyed a mellow day at the library and to see Toy Story 3 again, and I told them we needed to stop off at the store. I didn't expect that such a routine run to our local supermarket was going to turn into dinner and a show, but Nic had something else in mind.

It would have been fine if he hadn't waited until we were in the supermarket to tell me he had to go to the bathroom. I reminded him that we had a very short list and we would be home in literally five minutes.

The show began at checkout. As I was paying for and bagging our order, Nic backed up into the area in front of check out and announced he REALLY REALLY had to go!! The cashier had helpfully told us the location of the restroom. And Nic continued to stand there shouting that he couldn't go without an ADULT.

Under ordinary circumstances, I just would have finished the transaction and walked out, forcing Nic to follow. However, G had already followed the cashier's directions to the bathroom--which was at the back of the store.

So, I leave my cart at the front, follow G to the back, with Nic trailing and howling all the way to the bathroom. If this were as bad as it got, that would have been fine.

But the bathroom had a hand dryer. Ergo, Nic, already wound too tight to function, refused to go. I thought we had conquered the fear of the hand dryer anyway, but Nic schooled me to the contrary.

I hissed that we could have been home by now, using our own bathroom, if he hadn't pulled this stunt (and if I hadn't had to retrieve G, who had dutifully followed the cashier's directions). And I ordered him to keep quiet about not using the bathroom, because he had caused enough of a ruckus.

But no. Nic had to announce loudly to a fresh audience of shoppers (plus the repeat audience of staff) that he COULDN'T use the bathroom because of the HAND-DRYER, and he is TERRIFIED of hand dryers!


In the post mortem and hailstorm of tears that followed, Nic correctly identified my primary emotion and corrected me when we spoke of it later.

"Do you understand why I was upset?"

"You weren't upset--you were angry," Nic pointed out.

I can't argue. This is the kid I brag on, yet he is capable of Oscar-caliber work when he has made up his mind that he's done performing for my--and everyone else's--benefit. He works hard to keep himself together all week, and he has fashioned a beautifully sculpted face to show the world. But introduce hunger, exhaustion, or (as I found out the hard way) urinary urgency, the fault-lines open to chasms.

If that didn't provide us with enough excitement, G spent a good chunk of the night wailing over the porcelain god with stomach upset and a fever. Dinner did not stay down, and he wailed that the upper inside of his cheek was killing him (although I couldn't see anything for looking, although a dose of Anbesol made it feel better).

Getting back to Nic, he knows I expect great things of him. But I do think on some level that he needs to pushback. And what happened last night served as an important reminder to me that ultimately, he owns his own actions and behavior, for better or for worse.

He is beginning to understand that, but he doesn't fully understand what the ownership of his own actions means. And I expect he'll find that out over the next few years the hard way.

I can't make him care about what other people think of his escapades. I sometimes fear he never will.

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