If you know anyone who has been in a 12-step program, you may have heard the term, “Play out the whole movie.” It means before you do something impulsive that you might enjoy, think of how it will have an impact on you and those around you – not just the next hour, but for the next day, the next year or even the rest of your life. It’s a pretty good rule to follow. If we could see that far down the road, just imagine all the things we would do differently.
Well, every once in a while, life plays a sneak preview for us, and I got a good one this weekend, when my kind, sweet seven-year-old rose up like a man and checked me like I was, well, his woman.
The day started just like any other with games, errands and the bi-monthly haircut. The boys had a big night in store — a Halloween party! I was running a little tight on time and decided to try a new barbershop closer to home.
Long story short – hair got cut, I got a glimpse inside the male mind, watched a little “SportsCenter,” and we were out the door and on to the next stop. Three hours later, after dropping the boys off, I headed home to inject some much-needed quality “me” time into my life. I could barely contain my excitement and was determined to do this rare quality thing right. Phones on silent! Blackberry? Check. iPhone? Nothing.
iPhone? Pause. Frantic search. Conclusion: The iPhone was MIA. And I had no clue where I could have left or lost it. What I needed was a Lo-jack for phones. Is there an app for that? iPhone-less, I was too sick to enjoy that quality “me” time, for sure. However, not too sick to devour a bag of potato chips as I contemplated where my phone was and who could possibly be fondling it at that very moment.
I was still in a stupor when I picked the boys up, and they too were mournfully silent when they discovered Mommy had lost the phone. No YouTube, no Flight Control, and no Scoops. What a sad end to what should have been a near-perfect evening.
You can imagine my relief when I got a text message at about 9 p.m. that night asking if I was looking for a phone. I’d left it at the barbershop. What did I want to do? Besides kiss the ground you walk on, I thought? I want my phone back!
I immediately called and profusely thanked the friendly neighborhood barber and was going to suggest phone exchange options when he offered to swing by my house and drop my baby off.
Say what? Slight hesitation. But this was an emergency! Certainly no time to worry about giving a near-stranger (who regularly uses sharp objects) my home address; if he was cool enough to return my iPhone, I would have to trust him. Besides, the boys were in bed, so leaving the house was not an option. And let’s face it, people – I wasn’t going to wait until the next day to be reunited with my beloved iPhone.
Now, based on our earlier conversation at the barbershop, I knew there may have been more to his offer – and even THAT didn’t have me concerned. Are you feeling the love that I have for my phone, yet? We’re extremely close.
But when the barber showed up with my phone in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other and a goofy grin on his face, things became clear – not only to me, but to my oldest son, who suddenly stood behind me like he was the Secret Service and I was Obama. Oops. President Obama.
There the three of us stood, the innocent (at this point) bystander, me, and Security — a perturbed little boy, arms folded and foot just a-tapping.
Awkward? Hell, yeah. And that was just the beginning.
My normally well-mannered, polite, greet-you-with-a-handshake-and-a-smile son had no love for the same guy he had been talking sports, cartoons and video games with just a few hours earlier. And, in that instant, I knew I had to make a decision. I had to play out the entire movie. Will it ever be worth whatever pleasure I may gain by dating for me to put my boys in the position they were in Saturday night?
The last thing I want is for either of them to feel the need to become the “man of the house.” They are not the men of anything. They are kids who need to be doing kid stuff. That’s their only job, and it’s my job to make that happen.
The sudden realization that my son was, in his mind, my caretaker was even more distressing than the loss of the phone that got us in this situation in the first place.
I’ve seen too many grown men raised by single moms have overly-intense relationships with their mothers, perhaps because they spent their childhoods literally taking care of these women. With no dad around, they sometimes were made to feel it was their duty to protect their moms from abuse, unwanted attention and heartache. That’s a tall order for any boy.
I won’t concede to becoming a nun, but I will make the sacrifices necessary to make sure the majority of my quality time is shared with me and my boys. And oh, yeah – my iPhone.
Now, when they get jobs and start paying some bills, we will revisit this conversation.