Sunday, May 22, 2011

"I probably shouldn't tell you...."

No. 2 son's check-in call at the beginning of his Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge archaeology adventure began with, "I probably shouldn't tell you this...."

And here is where I began thinking, "Seriously? Are we really going to have ANOTHER one of these conversations that were not included in the Mom Handbook*?" (*This would be that Motherhood How-To book no one shared with me, as addressed in my previous blog entry.)

"I probably shouldn't tell you that the swamp is home to the largest concentration of black bears on the East Coast," he continued. "But don't worry. We've been given a lot of safety instructions."

I struggled to remain calm and offer my standard response in stressful situations (the ones where I am screaming inside): "That's nice, dear."

But the screams in my head were getting louder, so I added, "Such as?"

He then read this: "If you hear loud noises in the underbrush, be prepared to make loud noises in response."

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Then he offered: "And I probably shouldn't tell you this either, but I may be trained in using a machete."

My response was stunned silence, but Husband No. 1 cheerfully noted from the extension phone that No. 2's brother-the-cop wasn't even trained in machetes. "Maybe they'll even give you a certificate, too," my spouse said in his best fatherly voice.

Seriously? The screams were now in danger of escaping into the atmosphere. There was no hope of restraining myself now. "Will you be able to use the machete against the three types of poisonous snakes that inhabit the swamp? Because I'm really worried about the snakes."

"Ah, I'm not sure. But don't worry, Mom. We've had lots of safety instructions," he repeated.

Don't worry? Are you kidding me? I didn't scream this out loud, although I wanted to but I believe that elusive Mom Handbook probably advises against showing too much fear (I'm not sure because I don't own the book). Instead, I offered this desperate response:

"Maybe you should ask your brother if you can borrow one of his guns."

Now it was Husband No. 1 and No. 2 son who were stunned. And this was truly the moment when I realized I'd gone over the edge. Here I was, a woman who hates guns and wouldn't allow her children to play with the toy versions, suggesting that one son get a firearm from the other.

"I don't think they'll allow that, Mom. This is a university course," No. 2 son said, enunciating each word carefully as though he clearly recognized his mother had become a crazy woman again.

Fortunately, there was an open bottle of red wine nearby. Once I'd finished that and calmed down somewhat, I developed a new fear: He has to hike 45 minutes from the park entrance in his insecticide-soaked clothing and new expensive wader boots through the swamp to the island site of the archaeological dig. What if he's too tired by the time he gets there to make noise in the underbrush or swing a machete against the wildlife?

I probably shouldn't tell you this.... but I'm ordering No. 1 son to get his gun and climb on that motorcycle I didn't want him to buy -- and travel the 3 1/2 hours south from Washington, DC, to retrieve his brother immediately.

And you better believe I'm demanding someone give me a copy of that Mom Handbook for my birthday next month.

1 comment:

Sheila P. said...

This one might be my favorite so far. The elusive handbook probably was left in the garden of Eden once poor Eve was banished - no male angel was going to let her go back for a book.
My kids opening line was "Hey mom, don't worry but..." then they would inject whatever life threatening circumstance they were in at the moment.
The real question is how do we survive our ridiculously vivid maternal imagination?