So when I heard the screams three minutes later, I knew exactly what had happened, And considering that the screams were coming from everyone BUT Max, I knew that he knew that I knew. Or maybe he was unconscious. Which was what I had said would happen if he went down that hill without a helmet on.
Becky looked out the window. "Uh oh," she muttered under her breath. "That doesn't look good."
"I am not going down there," I announced, my hands covered in that night's meat entree. "I told him not to do it."
To her credit, Becky did not give it a second thought. She put down her glass of wine, dusted off her hands and opened the door. "I'll do it," she said bravely.
"Good. You do that." Since her kids were the ones clearly traumatized by Max's injury based on the yelling coming from the street, it was probably best that she go down there. I had dinner to cook.
"It's Father's Day," Sam shouted from the back deck. "I'M NOT INVOLVED."
I stuck my head out the window. "Um, pretty sure being a father means dealing with this kind of thing."
"Not today, it doesn't."
While his parents were steadfastly refusing to come to his aid, Max was gimping his way back to the house. He had left a good 30% of his face in the cul de sac, plus half of the skin on his knees and elbows. And judging by that limp, he had probably taken one to the groin. But he gave me a sheepish grin, and all of his teeth appeared to be in place. I threw him a roll of paper towels and went back to cooking.
This was a few years ago. Since then Max has doubled in size, but that just means he does dumb stuff on a bigger scale. I think almost every mother of a 13 year old will agree with that statement. And you know what, live and learn. I can't protect them from everything, least of all themselves. As my dear pants-less friend Matthew McConaughey says, "Just Keep Living". He may not use it in terms of parenting, but it fits nicely doesn't it?
Some people are all fired up about RIE parenting but my parenting style sits squarely in the Darwinism category. Do something stupid after being advised of the possible outcome, and you will suffer the consequences. If you just crushed your chances at reproducing, I'll consider that your contribution to thinning the herd, and thank you very much for saving everyone else the trouble.
So here we are years later, and Max, despite being warned of the consequences, continues to tempt the fates. This week he is recovering from an unspeakably gross surgical procedure to open his nasal paasages. I will spare you the details. The recovery time was remarkably brief and straightforward.
"You will feel stuffy," his doctor advised, 'but do not blow your nose. That is just the swelling from the surgery."
It was great fun to watch Max under the effects of anesthesia. He spent the entire time in pre-op grinning like a loon. Just before they rolled him away, the anesthesiologist added something to his IV as she crooned in her sweet Filipino lilt "Are you feeeeeling druuuunk, Maxie?" To which Max replied "I don't know. Am I?" He spent several minutes twirling his fingers in the air and giggling to himself. As they rolled him away, he wiggled his fingers weakly overhead one last time. "Bye bye, mommy."
"You have fun with that." I advised the entire surgical team, and went out to find a cup of coffee.
When we got home from the surgical center, Max was still a little woozy.
I went out to run some errands, and when I got back, Max had a large dark stain of blood on the gauze under his nose. "What the hell happened?" I asked, looking at both Sam and Max for an answer.
Apparently, Sam went to change the gauze from under his nose as he had been instructed to do, and Max said he needed a tissue. "Now, don't blow your nose," Sam reminded him. "It only feels stuffy."
"Uh huh." Max said agreeably. Then he grabbed a tissue and blew like hell.
"JESUS H." Sam screamed. Max stood, stunned, holding a tissue full of blood and possibly part of his brain matter. (By all accounts, it was hard to tell.)
"Huh" Max said.
"It's your own fault," I told both of them later when they recounted the story. "It is NOT my fault." Sam said flatly. "It's all my fault," Max agreed.
Accountability. That is what I call success in parenting.