Never Never Land

16 May

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is closed . . .for good. All of the exhibits are being dismantled, the artifacts sold. Michael Jackson’s glove? Elvis’ jukebox? Grace Slick’s fringy vest? Jim Morrison’s Cub Scout shirt? Bet you can find ‘em all on ebay. At least, that’s what my son thinks.

A little background is in order here. When I still thought I would find a full-time teaching job, we made plans for a family car trip from Illinois to Boston, where we’d check out the Berklee School of Music, our son’s dream college. Since Cleveland is sort of on the way, we figured we’d stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then, since Boston is closer to upstate New York than Illinois is, we thought we should check out the Eastman School of Music, our son’s dream-on college. Sure looked like Canada was pretty close, so we added a trek up to Toronto. By the end of our planning night, we were going to be on the road for about three weeks and our son was wondering if it was possible to drive to China.

Fast forward to today. I am still under-employed so the three-week driving trip to Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Beijing is out of the question. Still, my husband and I believe that our under-motivated son needs the kick in the pants that a meeting with an admissions counselor might provide. And, we reasoned, touching the actual college might make more real the idea that he has to work to get there. Sort of “See, Mom and Dad weren’t lying. There really is a place called college.” We decided that I would accompany our son on a trip to Boston. I was looking forward to it, thinking my son would, too. A couple of days with Mom—the fun parent—in a pretty cool city without his sister. What’s not to like?

“Son,” I said, “Dad and I decided that we can’t afford the big family trip. So, you and I are going to fly out to Boston to check out Berklee.”

“What?! We’re not going to Cleveland?”

“No, we can’t do Cleveland and Boston and the point behind this whole trip was for you to check out Boston and see Berklee. We’ll have fun, just us!”

“Oh, my god!” he yelled. “Now, I’ll never see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!”

It is a sign of my maturity as a parent that I simply rolled my eyes and walked away.

Never seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just one of the things that will never happen in my son’s family. For instance, we never have anything good to eat. Typically, we have a wide variety of foods, from fresh fruit, yogurt and gourmet cheeses to crackers, popcorn, cold cuts and, of course, bacon. There is enough food that my husband and I work at not eating too much. Still, there is nothing to eat, according to our son.

We never do anything fun, either. This Sunday evening, for instance, the four of us played poker together. Our son happens to be one of the funniest people I know and he was in very good form. He noticed our cat, Oliver, had crawled into a shopping bag. Now, you need to understand that Oliver is a terrible cat otherwise what I am about to say might make you think that we are cruel to our cat. Feel free to check out my post about our pets, then come back for the rest of the story.

So, we were all playing poker. Oliver was hanging out in the shopping bag. My son picked up the bag and Oliver settled down into the bottom, belly up and all four paws sticking up in the air. It was one of those permanent shopping bags, made out of recycled bottles, very sturdy. I, half joking but remembering all of the teapots Oliver has broken, said, “Hang it from a hook!” Just as my son was about to hang the shopping bag from a door handle, my daughter burst past me saying, “Wait, I’ll get my bungee cord!” Now, I don’t know about you, but I was thinking this was some fun stuff, in addition to wondering why my daughter has a bungee cord.

“Never” is not the only negative thrown around in our house. Its close cousin is “no one.” No one cares about my daughter. She makes a point of telling me this at least twice each week. No one cares about her when her best friend has gone home for the night and I am busy making dinner, forcing her to entertain herself. Frequently, no one cares about her when she is expected to clean up her messy room by herself since she’s the one who made the mess.

I’m convinced that my children’s catastrophic thinking comes from years of watching Dora, the Explorer.  I realize that Dora is beloved by generations of children around the world but, to me, she’s just a wimp with a head shaped like a football. Dora’s gotta know by now that Swiper is waiting around the corner just itching to screw up her plan to get the baby bird past the Grumpy Old Troll and over the bridge to Blueberry Hill. But every time Swiper throws a monkey wrench into Dora and Boots’ best-laid plans, Dora has the same reaction, “Now we’ll never. . .” Well, you get the picture.

Recently, my daughter was so convinced that no one cared about her that she decided she would leave.

“Where will you go?” I asked, watching her stuff one of my tote bags with her clothing.

“I’ll go live on the streets,” she said, turning back to stuffing the tote bag.

As she continued to pack, I remembered my own running away from home adventure. Convinced no one cared about me, I got on my bike to ride away, expecting my mother to run out of the house, begging me to stay. She didn’t. She merely said, “We’ll miss you if you go.” I didn’t go.

“I’d better take some sweaters,” my daughter said, mostly to herself, but loud enough for me to hear. “I might get cold.”

“Yes,” I said. “I wouldn’t want you to get cold. You know, we’ll miss you if you go.”

She snorted a little “Sure, Mom” snort and continued packing. But she didn’t go.

Life’s problems come in black and white for my children. “Never,” “no one,” “always,” “everything” are their constant companions. I envy them their certainty but don’t have the heart to disabuse them of it. Besides, I’ve got to go check out the auctions on eBay. I’m thinking Grace Slick’s fringy vest would look pretty stylish on me.

© 2011 by Janice Lindegard. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “Never Never Land”

  1. bob palmieri May 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Very good!

    I’d certainly be interested in meeting your son one of these days…

    Bob Palmieri

    • jmlindy422 May 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

      Well, what’s stopping you? I know he’d love to me you. He also wants to check DePaul out, which is a very easy college trip for us to do. Besides music, he also loves Chicago hot dogs, so we’d be happy to take you out to lunch!

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