When our youngest, Mr. Cool, was four, he told me in no uncertain terms, (in a bizarre toddleresque/Bronx-sounding accent I only WISH I could imitate) "You're the meanest mudder in the weeold. Every day you're doing somepzing wrong." Holy cow. Okay–I'll take that one straight to my therapist. Thanks.Scariest part? Is I probably DO do something wrong every day.
Example: Last night he called for permission to have a "late night" at his friend A's house. I said, "Okay, but only till 9:30 or 10." So a couple of hours rolled by. We went to a lovely wedding reception, came home, got in our jammies, and at 10:24 we were headed downstairs to watch an old Hitchcock movie when it dawned on me: We forgot to pick up Mr. Cool. Completely forgot.
I slip on the nearest pair of shoes (which DO NOT MATCH my pink-cotton cropped pajamas!) and grab my car keys, trying fruitlessly to convince hubby to go in my stead. (Please? I'm in my jammies. And look at my shoes.... Never mind -- don't.) And I get in the car. I drive to the friend's house. Fast. (But not fast enough to get pulled over, because that would be WAY too embarrassing.)
I pull up in front of the house. The lights are out. My heart sinks. Then I see a light come on in the front window, and Mr. Cool's silhouette -- holding a phone to his ear -- moves into the light. I am feeling so, so low at this point. I'm relieved that Mr. Cool sees me and comes out before I have to ring the doorbell. We say our thank yous and goodbyes and are just about to leave when he reminds me he rode his bike. "Come with me to the back of the house to get it," he pleads. I take one look at the dark driveway to the dark back yard and envision prancing across their lawn in my pink pajamas and navy blue slip-on shoes. "Just leave it there, Honey. We'll come back and get it in the morning." (I'm laughing at myself even as I'm writing this.)
So we get in the car, and he seems a bit shaken. Says he got scared. I'm thinking it's my fault. Then the REAL story comes out. Just a few minutes before I got there, they were downstairs watching a movie and all of the sudden they hear this infernal pounding. It scared the Dickens out of them, including the oldest sister, who was babysitting. Apparently another friend came over for the "late night" and forgot to tell his parents where he was going. This kid's dad came and knocked on the door, then started pounding harder and harder when no one answered, and came barging into the house, yelling at the top of his lungs. He was (understandably) furious at his kid for taking off. But reduced him to tears in front of his friends, and gave him such a high-volume tongue lashing that it frightened the other kids too.
Mr. Cool couldn't stop talking about it: "That was really scary, Mom. You should have heard how loud that pounding was. I don't think that was really right for M's dad to just barge into A's house like that. And he shouldn't have yelled at everybody like that. He was really mad. I wonder what he's going to do to M when they get home." I paused, stunned. "Do you think he's going to hurt him?" "No...(I can almost hear the wheels turning inside his 9-year-old head)...but he might give him a hard spank." Sigh.
Then he continued: "I mean, you might get mad if I took off without asking, but you don't ever do stuff like that. You might call up on the phone and be a little bit stern. And you would take me into another room to talk so I don't get in trouble in front of all my friends. But you would do it in a calm voice."
Okay, so never mind the late pick-up, the mis-matched shoes and the pink pajamas. According to Mr. Cool, in spite of it all, I'm actually doing something right. And that's a huge parental paycheck.