This morning we got up and decided to go to a kid’s museum twenty miles north of here, because the one in town was for older kids. The place was a mob scene, what with so many summer camp groups moving through it. There appeared to be two lines moving to two separate ticket desks when we arrived. We got in one of them behind a group of a bunch of day camp kids and the people who had gone in right before us. Within minutes, the day camp kids had gone in, and a lady in the right-hand line started snarling at us, “the line is over here.” She was one of those entitled, self-important, Daddy’s sorority sister-types who had clearly just recently been burdened with the housewife life, and was having trouble adjusting to the thought of any people getting something in life before her. I made some remark rather loudly about how where I come from people are smart enough to form two lines to ensure smoother traffic flow, but hey, I’m sorry that I didn’t know that doing things smart wasn’t the way they did things down here. She just huffed and sniffed and did her best to ignore me. I was almost tempted to make a scene and yell in her face and get kicked out, but I decided to keep my composure and just give her the evil eye from a distance.
Our son led us from exhibit to exhibit (or, mob scene to mob scene, as it were), not finding much to his interest until we finally came upon a semi-large car jacked up with somewhat realistic tires (rather heavy for him) that had to go on the posts/pegs and have plastic lug nuts screwed in to keep them on. After that, our son was hooked and wanted nothing else to do with anything else. He figured out how to fit the tire onto the pegs and that made him very proud and obsessed with the activity. Soon, he was preventing other kids from joining in the fun, and even dropped a tire on a little girl’s foot–she politely left the scene of my disruptive hooligan, but I wasn’t going to allow this to continue to go on. The young man, if anything, needs to learn some manners in public so he doesn’t end up like his dad. After repeatedly asking then begging him to do something else other than change tires, he refused to budge and so I picked him up to carry him to something else. He ferociously kicked me in the nuts, and that was it. Between the many overly made up young housewives snooting about and the mobs of children careening everywhere, I was already reaching my limit, and now I had a disobedient son on my hands. In our lovely modern culture, I know we are supposed to all be raising free range, affluenza kids who will hopefully find a way to adjust to having had no discipline in their lives before entering sports teams and bands where their coaches and band directors will be endlessly humiliating them and shaping them into becoming somewhat healthy members of society. However, I can’t see myself working with an affluenza, free-range child for the next twelve years or so until we can ship him off to endless band and sports camps, so I yelled at him, he yelled at me, and I made snide remarks to any parent who dared cast their eyes in my direction. A lot of them looked very smug and self-satisfied that it wasn’t their child making a scene, and a few of them got into that act where they pretended that their own children were all perfect angels and had never had one single toddler meltdown, which is the most egregiously-disgusting act of them all.
I said things like “he’s a toddler, have you never seen a toddler before?” and when we got outside made remarks to the entering groups who were staring at us like we were zoo creatures: “yeah, it’s really going to be that much fun.”
Fortunately, for us, my wife’s grandfather had a toy excavator when we got to his apartment, complete with wheels that could be removed using a little plastic power tool that actually worked to take off the plastic nut or reverse direction and put it back on. My son couldn’t have been more thrilled, and there couldn’t possibly have been a more perfect gift waiting for the young man.
My wife’s grandfather’s lady friend had gotten it into her head that we needed a picture of my son with his great-grandfather getting soft serve ice cream down in the assisted living cafe together, and so we all worked mightily to stage this production. All the way there from the kid’s museum, we kept telling our son that he would be getting soft serve ice cream and he kept saying he was already full of it. I told him he was certainly full of something…
Then, upon seeing the little bowl full of ice cream, our son changed gears completely, and was mostly happy thereafter.
Last night, yet another dream about finding some great deal of discomfort and uncertainty around leaving seminary for the private sector to go back to doing what I was doing before. In this dream, we were having our final exam (again) this week, and I was suddenly realizing just how busy I was going to be with moving my family out over the next couple of weeks. I called up my brand new employer, told them I had changed my mind, and called up the dean’s office to let them know as well. The reason for me changing my mind again? So I could have an extra three weeks off to do nothing that I wasn’t going to be getting if I had to get my family moved into a new apartment and prepare for a new job.
The dream, I think, may have been saying how some of my reasons for dropping out are just as absurd as my reason (in the dream) for making the switch to stay. That, a desire to get fat and lay around and cash out on all the dreams of making something of myself was what was driving my recent decision, rather than any deep sort of discernment. There may be truth to this, but I probably won’t know just how much or how little truth until a few years from now…