My Son, “Mr. Perfect”
As I told you, Al and I knew Alfred was perfect from the start. One of the WORST moments in my life is when I came the the realization that I could actually physically HURT him.
It was a fairly normal weekend day. Al wasn't home for some reason. I'm at the kitchen sink. Alfred is about four years old. He came and asked me something and I told him – NO. He started to cry and I tried to explain why I said no. He threw an absolute tantrum. I can not even imagine where he might have seen anything like it. He stomped his feet, screamed and yelled. I just looked at him for a second, astounded. Then he started to hold his breath. I started to reach for him to shake him and before I touched him realized that IF I PUT MY HANDS ON HIM, I COULD PHYSICALLY DO THIS CHILD HARM.
I turned and walked into the bedroom, laid my head against the door, and as calmly as I could said WHEN YOU ARE DONE, I WILL COME OUT. To me it seemed forever, but was probably only a few seconds. I could hear him quiet, although he was sobbing. I went out and put my arms around him. To this day I can't remember what he wanted. The only thing I knew was that MY CHILD was back with me.
Alfred has always been an independent person. If he had a problem with a teacher's grade, he preferred I not talk to them. He wanted to handle it. As far as I know, he didn't have problems with other students. If he did, he handled it. That's for him to say if he writes his story.
Alfred was industrious. He took care of getting jobs to do, like picking strawberries and riding his moped to get there. He picked corn and worked at a drive -in restaurant. I've forgotten what else.
His babysitter told me how GALLANT he was when he came to her daughter's rescue when someone picked on her.
Here are some of the incidences from his life I will tell you from my perspective. He may have remembered them differently. That's for him to say. About the worst thing I can remember him getting into trouble for at school was constantly talking to Mark and having to be separated. I told you PERFECT!
Even when I could chase him and checked on him all the time (yeah, Al wasn't quite able to break me), he seemed to get away from me constantly. If I was in the back, he'd go out the front and vice versa. People never said it, but I always thought they must think I'm an awful mother letting him out alone.
We had been away, gotten home, parked the car in front on the parks communal driveway as usual. Alfred's about two years old. The window on the driver's side was down about a third of the way. We never engaged the emergency brake. We're in the yard. We see Alfred's back in the car at the steering wheel and the car starts to move. Al's fast, I'm standing there scared into immobility. Slow-Mo car, fast runner. Al catches and gets the door open, grabbing Alfred and slamming on the brakes just an inch before it would have hit the neighbor's car. I tell you, SOMEONE WATCHES OVER US.
Alfred's about three, I go to check on him and can't find him. I look inside, outside, check the neighbors, start going down the driveway calling, along with neighbor's who are checking the field out back. PANICING! I went in the house to check one more time before I called the cops. In his room I see this little foot sticking out from under the bed. AMEN! HYSTERIA AVERTED.
He was real easy to potty train, I just wasn't smart enough to know that. He never would do anything in the little potty. The most use it got was him taking it apart and wearing the pot on his head for a hat. We used cloth diapers, which you rinsed the poop out of in the toilet and then put in a diaper pail with water. I would catch Alfred doing this with his wet diapers. Finally one day it hit me. I took his diaper off and sat him on the toilet. VIOLA! POTTY TRAINED.
Alfred was like me in a smaller way. He liked food. He wasn't fussy and ate what you gave him. One day we were up early and I fed him. In a while, he asked to go across the driveway to Keith's house. I said OK, but if they don't want you to stay, you come home. I watched him cross, Linda opened the door, waved and he went in. It had been a while, so I went to see if they wanted him to go home. He wasn't there but Linda offered the fact that he probably wouldn't be hungry because he had breakfast with them. I then knocked on the neighbor's right next door, thinking he had gone to see their son Eric. Sure enough he was there. Ruthie said he was fine and she'd already feed him breakfast. THREE BREAKFASTS IN ONE MORNING!
When he was maybe eight, we had Kathy and Steve over for cards. Steve was always a loud person and quick to upset. He was having a loud dispute over something, we were mostly quiet waiting for him to settle down. There was never any use trying to say anything until he calmed a little. Who should walk into the room and say "DON'T YOU KNOW ANY BETTER THAN TO ACT LIKE THAT IN SOMEONE ELSE'S HOUSE?" I'm not sure I'm capable of grabbing Alfred before Steve kills him, but I didn't have too. Steve quieted right down. I sent Alfred to play. We resumed cards. The JUST RIGHT things that children say. Later you don't know whether to explain about respect for elders or shout YEAH. I chose to let it ride, enough said.
Alfred had been having puffy eyes and cold symptoms that he just could not get rid of. I took him to see an ENT doctor. He said he thought it was allergies and to have him tested. Alfred went through all the pin prick tests and found out he was allergic mainly to trees, grass, fowl feathers, wool and orris root (base in make-up). The orris root is probably the only thing that wouldn't affect his everyday life. So for years he had allergy shots and finally he asked if he could stop them. I said yes, and he's coped on his own since then.
At a young age he decided he didn't want to go to the babysitters any more. I started bringing him to work with me, he spent a little time there and then walked on to school and did the reverse in the afternoon. When summer came or off time from school, he stayed home by himself. He was a good boy when he was told, no one inside the house, but friends could come down if they played outside. When he was older and wanted to go to his friend's, he could in a certain area. If he went out of that area he had to call for permission. If he was not going to be home when I got there, he must leave a note where he was and be there. He could always reach me at the hospital. I told him to call if it was IMPORTANT. One day I got his call asking me if he could warm pizza up in the oven? I explained to him what to do. One co-worker was listening and she looked at me and I said he wanted to warm up pizza. It was IMPORTANT because he was hungry. She laughed.
Alfred tore the ligament's in his leg sliding downhill at a friends. He walked to our house, most definitely in some kind of pain. Now this would have been IMPORTANT but he waited until I got home to tell me. I took him to the emergency room and they put him in for next day surgery. I always worried (me and my worrying) about him when he went to ski club and he gets injured sledding.
It really doesn't pay to worry if you do the best you can. You can break your neck tripping over your own feet at home!
Neither Al or I ever spanked Alfred. He always accepted what ever 'take-away' punishment that was given him and didn't whine or asked to have it lifted early. The closest he got was a couple of slaps on his legs with the fly swatter one time. He was running down the driveway toward the road and wouldn't come back. Al caught him, gave him a couple of taps on his legs with the fly swatter and pointed him toward home. A man by the name of Mr. Goldsworthy came out, confronted Al, said he was calling the police. Al said to go ahead and he might give him a couple of whacks with the fly swatter too. Mr. Goldsworthy did not call the police. He became a good neighbor and continually commented on how well brought up Alfred had become.
We went to visit Al's sister in Canada when Alfred was about two. Early in the morning Al was given some WHITE LIGHTENING (homemade vodka). Alfred took the glass and put it to his lips. He screamed, because of course it burned. You never saw people shoving bread in a kids mouth so fast in your life. It worked. We didn't need to go to the emergency room. I understand, via Dan, that Alfred had this same experience at their house.
Some I know about Alfred after the fact. Which is probably better for me. Like the time he and school mates moved a teacher's car from one parking lot to another. The time he, Dan and Tim rode their bikes in the dead of night to Newark and almost stole watermelon at Wegman's until they spotted a cop.
He's backed the van into a telephone pole, without even being behind the wheel. Apparently the van wasn't in gear when he got out for the mail and it took itself for a spin. The time he got up in the morning and thought he'd lost his wallet after a night out with friend's and asked his dad to go back with him to the place someone got out to puke to see if it was there. They found it in the van.
Al and I always had a hard time when Alfred went away to camp. It seems we'd argue more and just be on edge. We got through it, just barely, until it was time for him to come home.
I can't say enough about how good Alfred was. Children all around were doing things like drinking perfume and lighter fluid, poking things in sockets not meant to be there, shoving nickels down their brother's throats to play slot machine and taking their brother's out and tying them to trees in the woods. These instances were all from different families. Parent's were letting their kids call them by their first names. That was how Al and I got into the habit of calling each other mother and father. We didn't want Alfred to call us by our first names.
When Alfred was small and I was sick he would sit by the couch and play never causing a problem. If I dozed off, he would be right there when I looked and he would smile at me. That was before THE LOOK.
I used to get 'OH MOTHER!' looks, but this was different. If looks could kill, this one would. Thankfully I didn't get it too often. Once I received it when I inadvertently called him PUMPKIN in front of his friends. Once I received it when he told me that once he got his license, I was never riding in the car with him again. Once I received it, through the rear view mirror, on a trip home from college after I nagged him about speed. He was only going with traffic, he said. I told him to find some slower traffic. I knew then I better shut up or this backseat driver was going to be riding in the trunk.
He will tell you if he wishes, about the time he came home from Lisk with a box of toilet paper and said it was 'back pay'. Or the time Sgt. LeRoy came out to question him about goings on at work.
When Al and I had to fly to Canada because of the accident, we left Alfred with a friend from work. She had three girls, one his age, a year younger and one two. When I got back, I asked him where he had slept and he said "with the girls". Elaine confirmed that they all wanted to sleep together so she gave them the big bed and they did. Like father, like son!
So maybe in reality Alfred was not quite perfect,but Al and I always thought he was.