Wednesday, May 05, 2010

the rule follower

My son is a rule follower. The boy was born with his very own caution meter.

He stops dead at corners and driveways. Passersby often watch in horror as my boy races ahead of me along the sidewalk, and just when they are about to move their gaping jaws to rip me anew one about my slack parenting, he puts on the brakes and screeches to a dead stop, averting danger. “Electric collar works every time,” I'm fond of saying to the would-be accusers while grinning a satisfied grin.

On the fateful day we went to register for track, we had been to the beach before stopping into the city recreation office. Both of us barefoot, I shoot a lazy gaze into the back seat. “You don't want your shoes on, do you?” I ask hopefully. “Nah.”

As we disembark from the Mazda, I make the mistake of noting to Isaac that we were “rebels” today – going in barefoot.
“What do you mean 'rebels'?” Isaac wants to know.

“Well, usually, we should have shoes on to go in the building.”

We are half-way up the walk, then, “Actually, mommy, I want my shoes.”

“Oh, Isaac, I was only kidding about the shoes,” I lie, still resolute in my laziness.

On our flight home from the vacation that wasn't, we had a rather bumpy ride skirting thunderstorms. At one point, the seat belt sign still lit but the current air smooth, Isaac announces he has to pee. We wait a while to see if the sign will turn off. It doesn't, and his subsequent reminders of pee necessity grow always more urgent.

“Let's go, then,” I suggest.

“But the light!!” comes my son's reply.

“Better than a puddle in your seat!”

I had to practically drag him down the aisle. I mean, we were in the back of the plane, as per freaking usual, and he's a boy for godssake - how long can it take? As long as it takes to push-pull 40 pounds of upstanding citizen into that two-square-foot space and jam closed the accordion door.

Then there's the 24-minute parking thing. Every city has its parking quirks, I guess. (If yours doesn't, just humor me here and make me feel better.) Touring comedians have chucked the entirety of their planned material to crack impromptu joke after impromptu joke razzing us about our green-painted spots where you are allowed to park for, yes, 24 minutes. How they ever decided on this amount of time, I couldn't tell you.

So yesterday, in trying to both get to the farmer's market and get home to meet Mike before he had to dash off to an evening meeting, we were short of time and not falling into the favor of the parking gods. Finally, I decide to settle for the dreaded green space, reasoning that we shouldn't dawdle anyway.

“Nooooo!” Isaac whines.

“Dude. What?”

“What if we don't make it back in time??”

He's five. What could be in that wild imagination of his? That the women in the stupid golf cart parking patrol cars, armed with their long sticks of chalk to mark tires will haul us away to be roasted by dragon fire should we arrive back to our vehicle 25 minutes after parking?

“Then mama gets a ticket.”

“And then what??”

The flames lick our chins and the spiky tail whips about with vengeance. Oh why??? WHY???? didn't we just drive around the block 30 more times? Or take the bus????

I like that he is attentive to law and order. And maybe it's just that a parent needs things to worry about. But, I worry.


bobbie said...

I think maybe he gets his worry gene from you. Look out! He will later decide it's more fun to break the rules. Like his mama.

I knew you had more pictures than I had seen. I'm glad you're posting them.

Dianne said...

push pull 40 pounds of an outstanding citizen is going to make me laugh for days - thanks!!

I think it's endearing that he respects rules and perhaps it comes from how thoughtful he is
as he grows older and is able to sort the really important rights and wrongs of humanity from the absurdity of 24 minute parking he'll be just fine

I love the pic of you carrying him
Actually I love all the photos but I don't see you that often
You're beautiful :)

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