Iron Boy


It Shouldn't, But Twelve Seems Like a Lifetime

Posted by Mary Webb on March 11, 2015 at 9:00 AM

The night before I was going in to deliver Quentin, I was consumed by this insane obsession (aren't they all?) to have my toes polished. Obviously, I couldn't reach or see to do it myself. So, I'd been bugging Christine since she stepped off the plane from Dallas to be my delivery coach to do it for me. I remember telling her that it was part of the job duty. I may have even threatened to renege on the cord-cutting if she didn't. It was that serious, to me anyway.

She eventually did it. Something about the way I appeared to be on the verge of sitting in the middle of a room and beginning to cry (wait! That actually might have happened.) made her respond to my despondency. You'd think I'd remember what color she painted them after all that, but I don't.

I think about that episode from time to time and wonder why on the eve of such a life-changing event that trivial little thing mattered so much. What I've come to is, simply, first impressions. Quentin would see my feet first, and crazy as this might sound, I didn't want him to judge me on that. I wanted him to find me worthy. I wanted him to love me.

Twelve years later, Quentin (and Jory) are the center of this maddening perfection. Not perfect as in 100 percent, but as in the very best whatever percentage that might total up as. It's why today on his birthday, I sent him to school in his Polo khakis instead of the hopelessly stained school ones that I hate sending him to school with on a regular Wednesday, much less this particular Wednesday. But, it's also why I had to admit, however grudgingly, to something that my mother told me last week in relation to an exchange I had with someone about my child.

"Mary, you have to stop protecting Quentin so much," she commented.

It was a conclusion that I had arrived at several times myself and then quickly dismissed. By reasonable assessment, I have cut many apron strings as it relates to my first-born. Oh, so you can pop the top on the Coke can? You must not want to drink that Coke then, son.

Oh, so you grabbed the school bag full of toys you took to your dad's this weekend, instead of the your real book bag. Should have unpacked it like I told you to several times. Good luck getting a pencil today.

Oh, so you don't have your wallet even though I've tried to impress upon you the need to get into the habit of wearing it. Well, you're going to catch your lick at the concession stand today, my friend.

So, I was doing good, right? In those regards, yes. But, it's hard to deny the lump that squeezes up in my throat the moment I feel like someone's going to mess over him or even that he's going to be hurt. When he fell three basketball games ago and hit his head on the floor, I was on my feet instantly and almost on the court before I remembered myself. He popped up without tears, sat out a second with some ice, and then went back in like nothing had happened. Meanwhile, my knuckles were metaphorically white as I clutched the sides of my seat in anguish. Three little boys torment him on a daily basis at school, and I want to trip them down a couple flights of stairs every time I see them. (Don't judge me.) He's struggling with vertigo now after everything, and I want to take a quick descent to hell and tie the devil's horns into knots and say, "Enough already!"

What I really want is to sit the world down and tell them what he's been through and request that they just lay off of him.

I need to be less Mother Bear and more Mother Duck.

But, how do you forget you once had very good reasons to feel this way? How do you get over the fact that your child's very life depended on this type of ferocious guarding? How do you lose consciousness of the fact that a life-or-death matter wasn't a figure of speech but an precise measure of existence or not?

Certainly, living with the knowledge that were it not for Quentin's transplant he would not still be living today is better than the actual event of his demise. I wouldn't think of disrespecting the thoughts and feelings of mothers, fathers and siblings who grieve in unslept-in rooms and are haunted by the absence of roaring laughter. But, it's still painful at the end of great days, like Soulfest at the zoo this weekend or movie nights under blankets with bowls of popcorn on top, to think that he might have missed those beautiful memories. That I might look over and hug Jory tighter but still long for him, too.

There should be some support group or HPA, Helicopter Parents Anonymous. I want to lay down this burden and be de-clawed. I appreciate that he's made it to 12 and that he'll make it to 13, 14, 15, 16 and beyond. I have to realize that the 11, 10, 9, 8 and before and all the experiences that went with them will give him the strength and expertise to navigate what I'm believing will be a lengthy life without the necessity of me coming to his defense.

I'm overjoyed that he is 12 and in relatively great health. It will do me well to focus solely on that.



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