Monday, September 24, 2012

The Quest For Banana Coffeecake

We had to get up early to get the replacement retainer fitted because he had lost the last one so long ago and had either forgotten to tell me or been too afraid to tell me and we were both in denial about it.   Now he needed to be fitted with a replacement retainer because it had been months since he had actually worn it and his teeth were slipping.  You might want to console me and say it's not my fault, but it is.  Everything is my fault.  Not a pity party.  Just stating facts.

I drag him out of bed at the usual time ("But Mom, it's a late day!") to get the new retainer fitted.  I have to miss work to do stuff like this.  Before, I could always just drop everything and make it happen.    But now I have to take half-days off and miss meetings and deadlines and let my work-team down because my family-team's needs come first.  I resent them for needing me.  And then I feel guilty for resenting them.

We slam our doors shut and I start the car.  He looks at me sideways with a sleepy eyeroll.  I can tell he hasn't bathed or changed his clothes, but I don't say anything.  I'm a horrible mom.   But not always.  Sometimes I'm a mean mom.  Sometimes I insist on chores and homework and personal hygiene.  A mean mom and a good parent.  Sometimes I'm a nice mom and a horrible parent.  Really what I am is a tired mom who is kind of nice and kind of mean and kind of horrible and kind of not.

We get to the orthodontist. The Gamer signs in at the little desk and waits on the bench to be called.  I sit down in the waiting room, mentally slapping my forehead, as I always do, that I didn't bring something to do with me while I wait.  Nothing to do but flip through the ridiculous magazines, which I loathe, except classy ones like The Atlantic and Harpers.  Sitting with nothing to do makes me feel antsy and wasteful.  I should relish this kind of moment, but I never do.  I resolve to sit quietly and try to empty my mind.  Pffft.

The ortho comes out and says that they took the molds for the retainer but it won't be ready right away. Can we come back tomorrow and pick it up?  They don't seem to understand that I'm working now.  I can't just show up whenever the way I used to do.  No.  I took the morning off so let's do this thing.  Fine.  Come back in an hour and it will be ready.

Yes!  Mental fist pump.  I turn to The Gamer.  Just enough time to go out to breakfast.  We head to the car.

"Have you ever been to Mitch's Cafe?"  I say.  "No? You've never had the banana coffeecake?  Let's go remedy that right now."   I look at my watch.  Mitch's is all the way across town.   If we are efficient, we can get breakfast, return for the retainer and then get to school before the late day beginning bell at 9:30.  Challenge accepted.

But snags began conspiring against us.  I get stuck on a narrow street behind a garbage truck that wouldn't yield for several blocks.  I miss three lights in a row that were supposed to be timed together.  I forget where the turn for Mitch's was and have to double back, missing another light.  And so on.  Finally, one last light stands between us and the restaurant.  At the train tracks.  Dun dun.  Dun dun.  Did that sound like Law and Order?

The light turns yellow just as we approach it and then the clanging starts and the red lights flash and the gates start coming down to prevent dumbshits from getting stuck on the tracks and having to be rescued by Hancock which was a stupid movie but it's always fun to see Will Smith.

And guess what?  Little Miss Goodytwoshoes who won't allow herself to break the rules no matter how ridiculous because I. Always. Get. Caught. Always. pushes the pedal to the floor and races across the train tracks and crosses the double yellow line to slide into Mitch's Cafe's parking lot.  And immediately hear the siren of the cop car that was OF COURSE parked there lying in wait for dumb fucks like me to fuck up because they are TRYING to have a nice moment with their son who they have really not been there for because they started back to work just as seventh grade was beginning and without warning the kid had to suck it up and deal with life for himself so for the love of god could I just please take him to breakfast to have delicious banana coffeecake before we have to go back to retainers and school and work and just everything PLEASE?

Blinking back tears (surprise!), I roll down the window and wait for the officer to make his way up to our car.  I get the necessary papers together.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see The Gamer mentally rubbing his hands together with a sly smile on his face.   Even as the adrenaline-soaked thoughts tumble through my brain (I think I can do traffic school when's the last time I did that now show The Gamer how it's done if there's any chance I'll just get a warning no one ever just gets a warning only in the movies), I see him predicting what is going to happen next.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"  The officer peers into the car, sizing up what kind of reckless scofflaws he might be dealing with.  "Yes, I do, officer."  I take a deep breath.  "I sped up through the intersection at the train tracks which I have never done in the twenty years I have lived in this town because it is horribly dangerous but I'm taking my son to breakfast because we are waiting for his retainer to be made from the molds they took at the orthodontist's so that I can get him to school before the late day bell at 9:30."  I figure I'd better cover all the bases.  The right to remain silent be damned.  I have never invoked my right to remain silent in my almost half-century on the planet and I wasn't about to start now.

The officer stands back. "Surprised" is probably too strong a word.  "Non-plussed," maybe?  "License and registration," he growls.  I hand them over like the dutiful child I become in situations like this.  "I think you know what you did was not only illegal but dangerous.   I appreciate that you told me so right away.  It shows that you know you made a dumb mistake and you are pretty unlikely ever to do it again."  I am amazed at what it is beginning to sound like here. "I'm going to let you off with a warning."  (LET ME OFF WITH A WARNING DID YOU HEAR THAT THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING I scream inside my head).

"Thank you, officer," I hear my self saying in a calm and business-like manner.  "I really appreciate you not giving me a ticket.  I promise it will never happen again.  A stupid mistake and I really won't ever try that again."  I can practically *hear* my son's eyes rolling around in his head but I don't look at him, I won't look at him, not until the officer is gone and we are finally safe.

"Well," I finally say to him. "I think we have just had what is known as a 'teachable moment.'  What do you think the point was of what just happened?"

"That you can break the rules and get away with it," he says.

(Terrific, I think. Fantastic.)

"Well, I think the point was that the authorities look favorably on you if you acknowledge your mistakes.  Getting out in front of it is really important."

"Yeah, mom.  It's also called 'kissing ass' and you rocked that pretty hard."

I swing my head towards him in a kind of pleasant shock.  "You think I handled that well?"

"Hell's bells, Mom," he says.  They have such a delicious sense of irony, my kids.   "You talked your way out of a ticket.  No one ever really does that. Only in the movies.  It was awesome."

We head into the cafe for some delicious amazing motherfucking banana coffeecake.  We'll get the retainer and carry on with the day's routine but we had a moment.  This sometimes mean and sometimes nice and sometimes horrible but always tired and definitely well-intentioned mom and her grubby and vulnerable and hilarious son.   Had a moment.  For serious.  Hell's bells.


  1. That moment when your kids respect you for something you don't want them to respect you for but then you realize its kind of okay because sometimes you just need it and will take it anyway they're willing to give it? I love this. And now I want some freakin banana coffee cake...

  2. I love it, as usual. I'm sure you're a fine mom. We're all just humans, trying to make it day-to-day. No instruction manuals, no coaches. Just us and life. I say you're doing your best, and I'm betting your son thinks so, too.
    That coffee cake sounds amazing. Love and light to you. xoxo

  3. I thought I was going to find a recipe for delicious Banana Coffeecake and instead I read this. Hell's Bells is right. You are a super hero. I love reading stories about your moments with your kids.

  4. Thanks for the laughs- I needed that!! I think I've done most of those things but not on the same day-not in the same year even...It's been so many years since I took my son to the Orthodontist. Now I've been reminding him to go to the Dentist for years; I hate to think how many cavities he'll have when he finally goes. I forgot to mention that he's out on his own now and needs to FIND a Dentist. No matter how old they get, I still worry about them.

  5. Doctor visits, parenting, cops and coffeecake. Talk about having it all in a post. Hell's Bells. So great.

  6. Hell's Bells. Your son rocks it pretty hard. And so do you.

  7. I am that good/bad mean/nice parent/mom/dad/friend everyday. It's so confusing and hard. Gah!! SO HARD!! harder and harder the older they get, too. Cracking up that you slithered away without a ticket ;)

  8. That sounds like it turned out to be a PHENOMENAL morning. Hooray for you. And your son :) (And hooray for banana coffee cake - sounds delish)

  9. #truthalwayscomesout #yourockedit #congrats #nicework