My second child, known as Corn to the world, had a week that can only be described as hellish. After warning my son for weeks that he would ride the bus if he did not appreciate me picking him up from school, I pulled the plug on my chauffeuring duties and had him to ride MTA on Monday. Not bad by any means, but if you have gone your entire seventeen years of life and never been on the bus, you are in for a rude awakening.
Living in Tennessee, the MTA is not that of New York and Chicago. It is cruel by those standards. Since the nearest bus stop is several miles away, I dropped him off at a satellite stop with NO ONE but the wind waiting. He and I looked at each other at 5:21a.m. and I suddenly regretted my decision to go hard on him and teach him a life lesson. I tried to sound stern when I said, “Get out, this is it,” but inside I was dying. I waited a few minutes because I was too fearful to leave him.
He nor I knew what I was doing. For the next several days, he got off at the wrong stop, he left schoolwork twice, and there were calls from me to the school to make sure he made it. He got home from football practice and the long bus ride looking as if his mom was a monster from his bad dreams. I had to accept that I had stopped nursing him some years ago and this was needed I told my reflection in the mirror. This was hard for both us because he was my kid without attitudes and a mouth. He was rewarded by being allowed to play sports, any and all the time. Those rewards turned into torture for me because as he got older, he took advantage of his “practice schedule.”
His practice time was also his way of socializing and flirting with the cheerleaders who called out his name on and off the field. He was always late when I came to pick him up. With traffic and other stops along the way, it was starting to look like I was in a prison called “Waiting on Corn.” I had said over and over that I was going to make him ride the bus but each time I was at the school sitting and waiting. After a month into this new school year, I said enough is enough.
Why he does not drive? you are thinking. Because of his practice schedule, most things were done for him. He is not the most responsible one I raised. He had less chores than the other children, but then again he was never in trouble. This slight form of favoritism had a downside. He would lose anything and everything: cell phones, keys, book bags, money, cleats, you name it. The thought of him driving a vehicle that was insured through my business was a no-no. He plays sports, studies his schoolwork, and works part time. Mom feed him and takes care the details of life. He is not creative and independent like Hurricane Alexis, nor is he focused on deep psychological conversations about the molecular structure of matter like Dr. Franz. He is consumed with football and any other sports that have a ball, as well as statistical analysis of the preseason predictions. From infancy, I noticed he was interested in feeding time and needing a ball for comfort. I provided both readily.
Once he became a teen, things did not change, except girls came with his love of sports and the need to feed. The girls are all friends, I am told often. I nod my head as if I am from Mars, of course. He now plays football at Hillsboro. He wants to be a sports journalist.
Last night, the game against MBA was one for the record books. I stood in the stands the entire last quarter. I could see the frustration the team was feeling. Miscues, fumbles, and interceptions galore dogged Hillsboro throughout the night. My eyes were focused on jersey number 28. His pacing was killing me. When he got in the game, it was not for long because MBA would get the ball back within a play or two. Corn plays offense and defense. With 4:26 on the clock, the ball was turned over to Hillsboro and there was a cry from the stands that maybe we had a chance. The Boros got to the ten-yard line, but MBA’s “wall of steel” would not let them in the end zone. An interception in the last minute of the game sealed the deal. MBA 19, Hillsboro 14.
I walked out on the field like I have done hundreds of times in the past and gave him a pat on the butt. (I was forbidden to hug him many seasons ago.) I gave him an encouraging spill about how the game was hard fought. He told me he felt he could have done better. We walked silently to the truck and I can feel his thoughts. My baby boy had a baaaad week! I wondered quietly if I had helped contribute to Hillsboro’s lost by deciding he had to ride the bus.
This morning, he came into my home office at 6:00 a.m. and asked for a ride to the school. He wanted to review the film of the previous night’s game and practice for an hour. The bus does not have a Saturday schedule, he informed me. He told me that he wanted to do better and he needed to get in some extra practice time. Because he usually works most Saturdays, this was the first week he was able to review film. His normal eight-hour Saturday has now been stretched to twelve and he seemed eager to get started. Baby boy is growing up. I got up right away to feed him!
What? I am his mom and some things are hard to change in one week.