Friday, May 5, 2017

Remembering Mom as I adventure into Hollywood with four pre-teens

     Mom was brave when we were with her. There was nowhere she wouldn't venture with us (well, except Monrovia, but I'll save that for another post). In her 1970 Split Pea Green Ford Station Wagon we would drive all over the Los Angeles basin. The car was her freedom and it became ours as well. Gasoline was still cheap, and the road called. I can remember driving down Hollywood Blvd. in the 70's, windows rolled down, (one of the few times that was allowed because we were "cruising", and it wouldn't, to quote mom, "blow my head off") driving past bikers and all assortment of L.A. weirdos. We loved it. Well, my oldest brother didn't, but Pete and I did.

1970'ish Ford Wagon similar to mom's
     However, mom had an overprotective streak as well. If she wasn't there, then I couldn't do it. I think since she had adopted us, and felt so much fear we would somehow be taken away, either by our birth parents, the courts or worse, by God. She alone could keep us safe. I get it now, being a mom, but it was suffocating as a child. I did have freedom on my block, and I lived in that glorious time of coming home "when the streetlights came on" or when we could hear Dad whistle. My best friend Susie and I spent hours in our back yards together, creating plays and dramas on our cassette tape recorder or making up games like hiding from Godzilla, or trying to prank people driving down our street by tying up an old purse to a string and pulling it when they stopped to pick it up. Even with my friends my mom was infamous for being overprotective. There was that one time during the summer and Susie and I were playing with water balloons. My mom never liked water balloons and felt they were dangerous... BUT, mom wasn't home that day, so we played with them anyway. Stupidly, in the front yard. I didn't see mom as she turned the corner onto our street driving towards us just as we were throwing water balloons at each other, but I heard her when she slammed on the breaks, full stop, in front of Susie's house. "Danielle Corine!!! Get your butt home right now", mom screamed. Susie was dumbfounded as to what I could have done to deserve that! You see, mom had heard a story about a boy who had his neck broken by the force of a water balloon. Ok, done laughing? Mom imagined my 9 year old friend Susie could throw that water balloon the speed of a major league pitcher I suppose.

     As I raise my boys, I have taken what mom would call unnecessary risks. Teaching T. when he was 4 years old how to use the stove, allowing A. to ride a razor scooter without a helmet, letting the boys cross the street at 8 & 9, alone, without mommy. Some of these things she was here to witness, others I hope she is witnessing with a front row seat in heaven. The amazing thing to me was while she was alive, she never criticized me (at least that I know of!) for my hands off parenting style, even though I know a lot of must have freaked her out.  I think she recognized what it was in response to. So I've adopted her style of embracing the road, the long drive, the adventures into unknown places by car (or train!) with the boys, and I've also embraced some of her protectiveness: no spending the night at other kids houses, don't leave the block. I've also allowed other things to occur that would never have happened at my house growing up: have your friends spend the night at our house, yes, you can have chocolate cake for breakfast, yes you can skip school today and hang with me, yes your friend can come inside the house to hang out, want to sit in my lap and steer as I back out the car?

    Which leads me to tonights adventure: going to Hollywood to see a show put on by the boys favorite YouTuber. I can hear mom right now, "no large concerts/crowds because there may be a stampede if there is a fire or some other emergency". I hear her thoughts, what I imagine her thoughts to be, but they are actually my own anxieties,  creeping into my head: "What if there is a terror attack? What if a drunk driver hits us on the freeway? If I take the train will we be accosted by homeless people? What if we are robbed in Hollywood? How will you protect 4 boys all by yourself?". My voice and my moms voice, all mixed up in my head and heart. All things that could happen, but probably won't. Of course, none of these thoughts entered my mind as I saw the tickets were going on sale, lucky for DanTDM, the youTuber I just handed over $200 to watch with the boys and two of their friends (note to self, bring earplugs). So as a result of momentary weakness I become "Mom of the Year", for at least a few hours to my kids. Hmmm, this being bold thing can be expensive. So I will go, and enjoy the boys having fun with their friends and try to remember this is their first big adventure in Hollywood. A future "hey, remember that time mom took us and two of our friends to Hollywood to see DanTDM" story. Maybe even something they will tell their own children. Something they might remember when they are mad at me. Something they will remember and maybe they will say "mom was so brave and she loved us so much she sat through a stupid DanTDM show (no offense to DanTDM). At least I hope so.

     Maybe one day Pete can guest blog the story of the time he killed the Ford Station Wagon.

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