Sunday, August 29, 2010

Great Escapades

Mrs. Peter has very graciously rescinded my self-imposed ban on writing here. It took countless thousands of field-tending mouse clicks (and uncharacteristic patience on my part) before she realized the untenability of her stance against it. Plus, she has a heart; she saw how anxious I got when I started itching to post more crap here.

Writing has historically been my most-neglected passion. I enjoy the crunching and contorting of my thoughts, and I take pride in producing something even marginally readable. It has always come down to a matter of time; nowadays especially I have so little to spare. I woke up this morning with an overload of sorts ("overload" is my favorite term for songs that get stuck in my head); it is a lovely poem by John Keats that I committed to memory when I was the same age he was when he wrote it. Considering what he subsequently managed to do in the very little bit of time he had left, I am a disgraceful slacker by comparison (and my "poetry" reeks).

When I was trying to make the case for continuing my "work" here, I asserted that this is a warm-up or practice for other, better, more important writing to come. Ever the realist (and my sharpest and most pointed critic), my wife let me know just how badly I will need an editor, should I ever follow through on that. She said something about problems with my style in my posts here; I did not mean to downplay the importance I attach to it, but I countered,"It's Corky's fucking log, who really gives a shit about style there?" Point made and taken. So here we go.

When my brother was about the same age my son is now, he and a friend (Danny Something?) disappeared one day while my mother was feeding my then baby sister. They wandered off in diapers and bare feet; they had gone unsupervised for all of five minutes. Mommy called the police immediately; luckily somebody good had already found them. When the police car rolled up to our house, the boys were sitting on the back seat, ice cream cones in hand and smiles from ear to ear. I vaguely recall the smiles not lasting very long.

When we named our son after our brothers, my wife and I were simply honoring their places in our hearts; we had no idea that we would be condemning him to a life parallelling theirs. Like her brother before him, my son had a taste for dog food when he was just starting to crawl; it took a good bit of effort to break him of that habit. My son's temper tantrums have been remarkably similar to my brother's. I've gone so far as to tell him that he's acting like a mad Cambodian, just as my father had told my brother in response to his loud, red-faced fits. [Please forgive me my inability to find a suitable video of Pol Pot (ie. one showing the outburst that inspired my father's saying).]

This past Friday was my birthday; I celebrated it by going to work, because I am very poor and broke. When I headed out of the house at quarter to seven in the morning, my son was awake. I left him in front of the TV in our living room, with an "Elmo bar" and a sippy-cup of Ovaltine. My nephew was asleep on the sofa; my wife and baby were asleep in the bedroom. I thought nothing about leaving my son there like that.

About a quarter to nine my wife called me and asked me to guess what my son had done. I drew a blank. He had opened the sliding glass door, played out in the yard for a while, then had climbed our five-foot-tall chain-link fence and wandered away! He had even managed to close the door behind him, which was a feat he could not accomplish three days earlier. He had decided that he wanted to go to his Bobbie's (his maternal grandmother's) house. He got over the fence, walked to the road, then took a left and another left, crossing one lightly-traveled road and another, busier street in the process. He made a right at the divided four-lane highway, and he was somewhere on the way to the next highway when some good lady stopped him and called the sheriff's office.

The officer learned from my son what his name and phone number were, then called my house. Nobody answered, so the officer left a message,"We have a Brendan ****** here. He was travelling westbound on Highway ###, on foot. If he's your son, please call me at ###-####." The phone's ringing had awakened my nephew. He let one of the dogs out, then followed her out when she started menacing the kitten. When the police car approached the house slowly, my nephew waved, as is customary around here when one isn't running from the law. The officer pulled into the driveway, called my nephew over and showed him his passenger.

My nephew woke up my wife, who ran outside to talk to the officer. After checking to be sure that my wife had no history of arrests for drug or child abuse, or any outstanding warrants, he released my son to her without so much as a lecture or stern warning. She proceeded to dress him down properly, then asked him what he was thinking.

He just wanted to go see Bobbie; he had gone so far as to ask the officer to take him the rest of the way there! The officer had told him," NO! I'm bringing you to your mother!" The officer had not asked him for his address; Brendan knows it. Instead, he guided the officer right to our house.

I am perplexed; I do not know how to feel about this. On the one hand, I am disappointed in myself for underestimating my son's ability and cunning and wanderlust; my failure to look out for his welfare appalls me. I am disappointed in him; he knows not to go outside alone, and he didn't even bring a dog. On the other hand, I am totally proud of my son. Just like me, he is fiercely independent. He was sharp enough to get out, over and away; then he was sharp enough to find his way back. He remembered his name and number, his manners (he had replied, "Yes, sir!" to a couple of the officer's questions) and his way home. May that always remain so...

Brendan will not soon repeat this incident; we have the place thoroughly secured (until he gets big and strong enough to open windows). We have repeatedly gone over the rules with him; we have painstakingly explained the dangers of wandering off like he did. We knew early on that my son might be difficult to raise; we had no idea we were in for a ride like this. Heaven help us.

2 comments:

furiousBall said...

Dog food is delicious, at least it must be based on the way my dog dances around when he hears me getting him some.

That was the best blog post with a Pol Pot reference I've read today.

Sly Stilla said...

^You might scientifically be on to something with the dog food tasting delicious and what not. Perhaps more research needs to go into it, and some of these here computers be used to help out.

The kid is an absolute freak of nature when it comes to mind. May God have mercy on anyone whom he begins to pick apart with psychosis here in the next couple of months.