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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Community Service.

I'm a civic minded sort of person and I do a lot of volunteer work. One job I do, on my own time with no thanks or compensation from those I serve, is to act as public birth control for young people. Yesterday, I donated hours of my time and some of my dignity, just to help the young people avoid becoming parents too soon.

My friends A and A, recent transplants from the low country, are camped out in an apartment with their two daughters while they search for the perfect house. If you know of anything in Shandon, Rose Hill, Wales Garden or the surrounding areas, please Email Me. They're getting pretty desperate, but not desperate enough to overpay, so don't get any ideas. But I digress, big time.

Their apartment complex has a pool. Pools are nice. They make the apartment feel more like a hotel, so A and A's kids think they're on a fabulous vacation. We went to the pool with them the other day and I only brought one extra kid, a very well behaved kid at that. Their apartment complex is right near the Sonic (they really need a house, y'all) so we stopped by on the way to pick up styrofoam cups full of something that is more or less liquid crack artificially flavored with watermelon syrup some delightful treats for our darling children. After sucking down the sugary drinks, half listening to my motherly warnings "nodiving...blahblahblah...no horseplay...blahblah...no peeing in the pool...blahblahblah...," they jumped in.

There are young people living in these apartments - young, fertile people. I know what you're thinking - what a great crowd of babysitters. You would be right, of course, but keep in mind they have now seen my children in action. As if my stretch marks and saggy bottom weren't birth control enough, they were treated to a constant, repetitive stream of instructions. Believe it or not, nobody really listened to my speeches during snack time, or the in the car, or at the house before we even left. And they wonder why I yell. BECAUSE NOBODY LISTENS WHEN I SAY IT NICELY TWELVE FLIPPING TIMES IN A ROW! DAMMIT!

In a valiant effort to prevent these fine young people from wasting their potential on early parenthood, I made sure that Baby J had at least one poop at the pool. Have you ever changed a poopy swim diaper? I don't know how, but they suck all the moisture out of the poop and you practically need a brillo pad to scrub off what's left on your child. None of it gets in the pool, which is a very good thing, but I think they should make special, re-moisturizing wipes to clean that mess. And for some reason the swim diaper makes it smell like cheese popcorn,the kind I used to like. It's probably chock-full of MSG anyway, so who cares. I could see the young people gagging into their Diet Cokes as they lounged and tried to relax. They had pretty much given up on checking each other out. Wonder why. Huh.

In spite of the way it might sound (or look, to a nubile young thing laying out by the pool), we were having a pretty great time. No one was fighting. No one was puking. And no one was bleeding. Of course, it was too good to be true...

After having been warned no less than fifty-two times to do racing dives only in the deepest area of the pool, O came up from the bottom, screaming. Seeing your child rise to the water's surface with blood on his head is a horrible, horrible feeling. His life flashes before your eyes and, if you're a paranoid freak like me, you'll be 75% sure he's paralyzed before you even get to him. A good parent feels nothing but love and deep concern at a moment like that. So why did I feel angry?

I love my son with every ounce of my being/from the bottom of my heart/[insert whatever cliche you like here]. I would love him if he had three heads and each one was uglier than the next*. I would love him if I had to change his diapers for the rest of his life. But you don't want anything to happen to the people you love the most, if it can be prevented. I want to be tolerant and loving, but I get so damn mad when people I love act stupid. Maybe some day I'll grow up.

I did the right thing, of course. I called the pediatrician's office for the list of things to watch out for when your child has a head injury. Why do I always forget that list, by the way? I sat with him and held an ice pack to his head. Well, it wasn't exactly an ice pack. It was a bunch of ice wrapped in a spare bathing suit of Baby J's. I soothed Baby J when he freaked out, "MY BATHING SUIT! MY SUIT! MINE!" I mostly contained my anger. Once I realized it was nothing more than a bump and a missing chunk of skin and hair, I managed to feel that kind of love that's wrapped in fear (at what could have happened), relief (at what didn't) and guilt (for letting them get hurt).

In fact, maybe we made it look too easy. I was there performing community service, after all. Throughout the entire ordeal, my friend A and I kept chatting about our fascinating, glamorous lives. What if I made all those Fertile Myrtles think children are sweet? Or fun? I knew I should have given the gang more sugar. Then the X-Man would have puked for sure.

Namasté, y'all!

* For the record, he is one of the top three best looking kids I've ever seen - the other two being his brothers, of course.

2 comments:

superflippy said...

Glad to hear O is all right.

You know, I lived in Columbia for 7 years and never heard of Rose Hill or Wales Garden. Now I feel compelled to find out where those neighborhoods are.

Jessica said...

Last summer I au paired (see-took a gaggle of 6 to 12 year olds to the pool every day) for my wonderful (see-ritalin deprived) cousins in Alabama. One of the only days we left early was when one tag-along friend (whose Mother SWORE he was an excellent swimmer) got a face full of pool water and he puked all up in the diving well. The best part was when we were making our hasty leave, the lifeguards were shutting down the place to clean up, and the unphased kid was screaming triumphantly "I puked in the pool! I puked in the pool!"

That certainly added at least ten years to my kid-rearing desires.

I hope O's head is okay though!