I'm not going to point anyone in any specific direction tonight with respect to topics being discussed here and there among my blog favorites. Too doggone many really great posts there and you're just going to have to weed through the maze to find them for yourself. But trust me, they are there, really and truly, they are there - from criticism of our illustrious "leader" to questions about language and political correctness with lots of stuff in between.
Why am I doing this? Simply because today is a very important day in my life and in my son's. It's his birthday! Yep, "Sonny Boy" -who gets called a whole lot of other things by me, by his sisters too and by many of his friends as well (some are not always nice, polite; some are really funny if you know his "history") - but tonight, I'll be nice and just call him Clate then, since that is his real nickname.
When I was growing up, like most every young girl across the world I'd bet, I used to dream about someday I would marry, have children and what I would like to name a son or daughter then. For many years, I always particularly liked the name David and said if ever I had a boy, I would want to name him that. However, producing a child does take two people - usually a husband (but certainly not always) and ok, when my son was born, I was married to his father and we had gone round and round over boy's names. He was adamant though about not wanting to name this child David though since he had a cousin named David who died when he was I believe about 13 or 14 years old and my ex felt it might be too painful to have another child in his family with that first name.
I read the "Baby Name" upteen thousands I think there were of 'em too - over and over, calling attention to different ones I kind of liked, hoping sooner or later (hopefully sooner) we could strike a happy medium. One day, I happened on the name Clayton and suggested it. My ex thought about it a bit and then popped out with this, "Well if we name him Clayton, we can then call him Clate, (after a top stock car racer in this region) can't we?" Sure we can! I happened to be a big fan of that particular driver too so it was a done deal. If this baby turned out to be a boy, Clayton he would be! And so it was.
My ex's occupation was auto mechanic and he was then, still is, a very good mechanic too. Like many others in that trade, he kind of ate, breathed and slept "cars." Still does that too. And, our son -well he is definitely his father's child in that he is extremely interested in cars too. His main interest though is in Volkswagons though, followed quite rapidly by being a devotee of most anything produced by General Motors with heavy emphasis there on Chevrolet. Anyone who knows him know he dearly loves to talk cars, motors and the like. He likes racing but isn't a mega fan of it though like his father has always been. But if there is an analogy needed, odds are too that Clate will somehow figure out a way to use Volkswagons in it somehow or other.
I won't sit her and write this and tell you that my son is the absolute best kid every to come down the pike, that he was an excellent student always polite and nice, never ever got into trouble at all -all that kind of malarky. Nope, I wouldn't do that and besides, again if anyone reading this knows him, they'd sit up and yell at the top of their lungs that I'd be lying to you.
He was anything BUT innocent in many of the things he got into growing up -and to this day too. Sometimes, he drives me absolutely wild with some of his shenanigans - just a little boy who is taking his good, sweet time about growing up or so it seems at times.
He is however very outgoing - has been that way forever, even when he was just a toddler. I remember one day we went out to a sandwich shop for supper and his actions totally embarrassed his dad. The kid was sitting in the high chair and as anyone would go past him, he would reach out, grab at the person passing by and holler "Hi, Hi, Hi!" over and over again! Didn't bother me but it sure did annoy his dad.
We learned early on that the kid also seemed to have a penchant for destroying toys too and thought for a time maybe we could farm him out to Tonka to be a tester of durability factors in their toys. One year for Christmas, we decided to get him a Tonka wrecker truck because he liked cars and trucks so much and also, because after checking it over closely, it appeared to be really solid thus the kid wouldn't be able to destroy it -or at least not all that quickly. However, within a short period of time, he proved us wrong on that as I noticed he had managed to break out the windshield in this tow truck. I asked him why he'd done that and he informed me it was so that one of his "people" (alias the little Weebles characters) could sit in the cab and drive it. Can't argue with that logic can you?
Then there was the day I was leaving the house for work and he was busy playing in the front yard with his cars and trucks and such and I noticed he had dug up a good patch of the lawn in front of the house and every so often, he had big mounds of dirt piled up and was making a big production of driving these cars and trucks over these mounds. I asked him why he had dug up the lawn and built these piles of dirt up and he told me "Mom, they're rumble strips." (Needless to say, the Interstate Highway that cuts through fairly near to where we live had tons and tons of construction on the Interstate 80 that year so we encountered a lot of rumble strips every time we went any place - or so it seemed.
At about age eight, he broke his right wrist. Big deal you say, broken bones, cuts, stitches, lots and lots of bruises and such are all often a part of all kids growing up, especially little boys. However, how many of them break their arm by jumping off a refrigerator? It was an old refrigerator that had once served us as the holder for a keg of beer but now was about to be hauled away and was sitting almost but not quite under the deck of our old house, next door to where we were living (where I live today) and his explanation about what he was doing up on that old refrigerator and jumping off it was that he was "practicing his broad jump."
In junior and senior high school, he refused to do very much in the line of studying and definitely didn't want to do this stuff called homework either. The "no homework" attitude got him on the really bad side of a certain math teacher who refused to pass kids if they didn't regularly turn in homework so as a result, the boy failed Math I not one year but three years running! Give him an English class though or Art and he shined! Same with music although he never took any instructions on a musical instrument but he loved being part of the school's chorus -even had a solo performance from time to time.
But he had some strange ideas about the English class requirements and such too as I found out. Seems one English teacher had the kids all compose some type of poem and then, they also had to read it or the teacher read it aloud - not quite sure now how that worked -but anyway, the kid had written a very nice - also very sentimental poem for me, I think in honor of Mother's Day or something like that. After it was read to the class, the teacher had made a remark to the effect "Leave it to a dreamer to come up with a beautiful piece of work." When he came home from school that day, the boy was really highly incensed over the teacher calling him a "dreamer." That to him was an insult to end all. And it took me the longest time to show him that it was actually a compliment of the highest order as the teacher was comparing his work to that of literary greats, most of whom all were "dreamers" too.
In his teens, he got in trouble with me and his sister because one day when she was working the same shift as I was, and had ridden to work with me thus leaving her car here at home, he took her car for a ride! I think he was about 15 years old when he pulled that stunt. He's really lucky he's still alive as his sister was ready to kill him! When he was 17, he took the car he had bought with his earnings as a dishwasher at the truckstop where I was assistant manager - said car which hadn't yet been transferred over to us, had no inspection sticker, obviously no license plates and he had no license to drive even, and drove it up the road, not once but twice. And, of course, the next door neighbor, who was a state trooper, had seen him but had just waved to the kid on both occasions which made him believe hey, this was ok. However, on the second time around, the trooper had called the local John Law and had him arrested on a "citizen's arrest" type report. I was livid! Some of the state troopers I knew from where I worked told me I should request a hearing because if I did that, then whoever had reported him would have to appear and I would then at least know who had turned him in. Well, I already knew, deep down inside who had called the local cop on the kid - just KNEW it was this state cop. And I really didn't believe the kid should just get off scot free either if the person who reported him didn't show up for the hearing either. But, I was really angry because that party didn't come to me the first time he observed the kid doing this nor had he given him a citation then and there, which I felt he should have done if he was so concerned over his actions.
But, eventually, I did request a hearing mainly because I figured if I was going to have to take time out of my busy schedule then to go pay on whatever fine the kid got, that person was going to have to come forward too and attend the hearing. And, at said hearing, I explained what really had me very upset over the way this had all been handled to which the state trooper made a comment that he had frequently come over to my house to try to talk to me about Clate but that I would never answer the door. Whoa Bessie! Me, not answer someone's knock on the door? No way! And I stated that, emphasizing then too there was only one person I would go to all lengths to avoid if I knew it was him at my door and that was the Fuller Brush Man. As soon as I said that, I thought to myself, boy, talk about a case of open mouth, insert foot, girl you really did it there. Why? Because the district magistrate hearing the case was the son of the local Fuller Brush Man, that's why! Yeah, call me an idiot, for sure. HOwever the magistrate was very nice in the way he handled the case as he told me later he saw that there were issues he felt that went beneath the surface of the state trooper's motives -and by the way, there were. So, the magistrate fined the kid $395 for his various offenses and then, advised me to allow him to get his driver's license as soon as possible. Well, that had been our initial intent but my ground rules were that no kid of mine got their license unless they had a job, could pay for the purchase of the car, could pay for the insurance coverage of said car although I allowed it to be placed on my policy to lessen that cost, and the kid would also have to be responsible for every bit of upkeep and gas/oil for the vehicle too - along with being a relatively safe driver. Or at least I would cross my fingers a lot on the "safe driver" issue. And that fine really put the kid in a bind then towards getting the car road worthy - knocked him behind about 6 months it did!
In the spring of 1991, almost the end of my first year as a student at Penn State, the boy managed to set the house on fire too. Oh yeah! Totally torched his bedroom, caused severe smoke and water-and fire too- damage to the other two bedrooms as well. So much so that he, his sister and I spent over three months living in one motel room! YUCK! I was not a happy camper as we stood out on the street in a steady cold spring drizzle, watching the next door neighbor try to break a window to insert a garden hose to try to get a little water into the kid's room till the fire company arrived. Yes, I was grateful that the kids, the pets and I had managed to get out -no problems there. Yes I was also very upset at seeing that this could possibly, if not brought under control, totally destroy our home too. And I questioned him about what the heck he'd been doing in his room to catch the damned place on fire as I'd had lots of re-wiring done to the old homestead and it was in good shape in that respect. He began to sob to me then how sorry he was but he'd been smoking in his bedroom and that's how it had started. As my neighbor and good friend asked me a while later, "So how exactly did you learn that Clate was smoking anyway?" And I'd told her "When he caught the damned house on fire!"
Yeah, he's pulled some stunts in his day. Some that are comical to his sisters and to me now when we get to talking about things that happened over the years. Some are still scary, still a bit irritating to me too -like the episode this past Christmas when he managed to total my car.
We've all been very fortunate overall thus far though in that for him growing up in a single parent home - a parent who worked long, strange hours at times, who also was a student in college when both my younger kids were in high school, kids that frequently had to fend for themselves a lot too because of those circumstances - that nothing worse happened to him, to all of us for that matter.
I've been very fortunate too that I have this kid I call my son as well. Under all his actions that at times were really dense, really dumb, there lies a young man with a heart of gold too. In many instances where other guys in his age range have a very callous attitude about people, especially women and the issues that often make the road women have to hoe just a bit harder, my son is a true feminist through and through. He also is adamant about issues like racism, prejudices of all types and won't hesitate to call another person on their attitude when he sees things going on that he believes to be wrong, unethical, prejudical and such.
And yes, I am very very proud then of this young man. He's also very, very funny too - has a wonderful, sometimes quirky though, sense of humor. He can do imitations of me, of his sisters, his dad, lots of friends and neighbors along with some of certain celebritites too. He's an excellent artist - has talent there that he's never even thought of tapping in to. Although he prefers -most of the time - to talk cars, engines, and the like, he can carry on a very rational conversation on many, many subjects.
Trust me, for all his doings that weren't quite right, he also does know and understands fully the difference between right and wrong. Although there have been times when I have wondered a lot about that aspect!
But anyway, that's my boy! My sweet, tall, scrawny, good-looking, goofy son, my baby, Clayton!
Wish you all could meet him too as I'm betting within short order you'd love him almost as much as his sisters and I do!
Happy 34th Birthday, Tapwater! (Alias, Clayton) I may not always like some of the things you do, but kid, I'll always love you!