My older son and I are close, yet there is a love/hate aspect to our relationship: I love the way he takes care of the possessions he values the most, especially the ones he pays for with his birthday and holiday money, while he hates the way I accidentally manage to wreck them.
My first hint at our destructive relationship involved a close encounter between the back of my car and the front of his. To be fair, and to alleviate a small portion of guilt on my part, when my son is home from school, he squeezes his car in the garage or parks it in front of our house.
The one time he decided to park his car in the middle of the driveway—he was going to dash inside the house briefly—was the same day I had minutes to reach the bank before it closed. I slid behind the wheel of my SUV, clicked the garage door opener and as I backed out, I heard a loud crunching sound that caused me to question why I had opted for a backup camera for my car instead of a triple thick, double-wide, industrial-strength rubber bumper.
The duct tape we used on the front bumper was tacky (no pun intended), but effective. A few days later he took his car in for repair and I switched to online banking.
My next damaging moment occurred over winter break when my son brought home a body-sized bag filled with laundry and I offered to wash it for him. As he heaved the overstuffed bag on top of the washer, he thanked me and reminded me to check his pockets, which I assured him several times I would do. When was he going to forget about the time I washed his five-day-old phone? Or his glasses? Or a slip of paper with the unique code to a game he had just purchased, that was reduced to pulp within seconds of hitting the water?
My neighbor came by for a few minutes and after she left I remembered to stuff my son’s clothes into the washer. Hours later as I turned on the light in the laundry room, I realized I hadn’t searched his pockets for rogue items. As I reluctantly lifted the lid on the washer, I was greeted with a Jackson Pollock-like painting, yet instead of witnessing a masterpiece on a canvas, I was facing a disaster on a t-shirt. Actually, six t-shirts. There wasn’t enough stain remover in the world to erase the multi-colored ink stains from the three pens I (later) found in his pockets.
I no longer offer to wash his clothes and he no longer wears white shirts.
My latest mom mishap transpired after my son spent an entire weekend building a computer with a friend.
“Mom, the lights above the table don’t work,” he said as he tapped on the keyboard.
“No problem,” I said as I opened the breaker box and flipped a few switches.
“Mom, wait!” he yelled at the same time I realized I hadn’t given him enough time to turn off his computer.
I rushed to the dining room and saw a screen as black as our kitten, Natty, who scurried under the sofa as I yelled, “Noooooo!” Inadvertently I had sent a massive power surge through his computer. The two-day-old computer restarted a few times, shut off, and then finally came on again. Crisis averted. Or, so I thought.
Three hours later, my son revealed that his computer had shut down and restarted three more times. My heart sank. It was my fault. My failed light-fix had fried the motherboard deeper than a batch of onion rings. I paid to replace the damaged part and his computer has worked perfectly ever since.
My son recognizes I don’t consciously plan secret search and destroy missions that target his property. I’m not that devious, and who has the time? I have always taught him to value and take care of what he owns. Unfortunately, protecting his property from his mom wasn’t one of of those lessons.
Lately, I’ve noticed he’s been a bit more cautious about what he brings home. I heard him speaking with a friend on the phone about what to buy for the house they were sharing at school and whether or not they should split the cost. When I walked into the family room, he quickly said goodbye and shot me an I’m not up to anything look I recognized from when he was a toddler.
He no doubt plans to keep whatever he is buying as far away from me as possible, which is a good strategy. Considering his flawless memory and my past record, I wouldn’t want to wreck our relationship.