When Scott was younger and we were out and about, he would often draw the attention of those around him. He was the kid who took someone else's toy, or threw a fit in music class, or perhaps tackled someone. He stood out. It wasn't intentional, he just didn't fit in easily and was quirky, noticeable. The boy who always wore a baseball hat and ran around in circles at My Gym.
There was this day, when he was just over 3 and Jane was an infant, that I always think of as indicative of his life, our life, at least at the time. We had a birthday party to go to and then an event at a preschool, the one he was supposed to attend for summer camp and then in the fall. It was a busy, frantic day, rushing from one event to the other that included missed lunch, rushed nursing and a skipped nap.
Over and over, things went wrong. Scott was scolded (and me too) at the birthday party because he was putting a handheld fan in a kid's hair. When we arrived at the carnival, he saw a kid he knew and raced after them, only to push the girl into the pavement. He was afraid of the bouncy rides and didn't want to take off his shoes. At one point he was playing in a big sandbox with some other kids. The children built a large sand pile using dump trucks, working hard for 10 minutes or so, while Scott stood off to the side watching. Once the boys were finished, Scott took a flying leap right onto the top of their sand structure, flattening it.
An older woman, probably a grandma, who was next too me, cried out, "That's awful! The kids worked so hard on that! Who's kid is that, anyway?" I sheepishly looked down at the stroller with Jane in it and muttered, "That kid is my son. He wasn't trying to be mean, he was just playing." And I quickly gathered up Scott and made a beeline out of there. I have to put in a side note here that one of my friends later said, I should have looked around puzzled and said, "I don't know, the little bastard," pretending he wasn't my kid (I wish I had thought of that!).
I can't help but think about these events, even though this kind of thing rarely happens now. I do still hold me breath when Scott is in a group of kids, wondering if he will be too rough, or too emotional. And I am beginning to think I will be That Mom, not the one that Her Bad Mother wrote about so hysterically (I just searched for the post and could not find it, it was hilarious, so you'll have to take my word on it), but the one that, at his high school graduation says something like, "Back when he was four and loved the color yellow and couldn't poop during the day, we never thought he'd graduate from preschool, let alone high school!" You know That Mom, the one who tells embarrassing things about their kids because she just can't come to terms with the fact that the kids have grown up, are not babies anymore.
But, what I've realized lately, is that he is still getting noticed as That Kid. But instead of hearing, "There's the kid who hit me on the playground", I hear, "That kid is really fast, look at him play!" And dads will say to me, "He's quite an athlete." And moms will say to me, "He's so cute with that curly hair."
And Matt and I will worry if things aren't going well, knowing how intense he can be. We are concerned about the fallout from a game lost or an event that doesn't go his way. But we still hope for the moments when he is noticed for his talents.
Like when Matt took him to the baseball evaluations last week and he threw perfect pitches. Every one right over the base, as hard and as fast as any kid his age could possibly throw. Going all out, of course. The other dads smiling and looking at Matt, "That kid has quite an arm," they remarked, enviously.
Or today, when the basketball game was tied, and went into the second overtime. Scott taking the ball up and going for the shot, over and over again. So intense, so determined. The other team scoring with less than 10 seconds to play. Scott, the point guard, dribbled the ball around the side and went for it. Sinking a basket in the last second. He wasn't going to let that other team win. He was completely in the moment. The play maker. The game winner. That Kid.
Two men next to me, who had entered the gym for the next game, yelled out, "Wow, what a shot! That was unbelievable!" And I couldn't help but exclaim proudly, "That's my kid!"
Yep, I'm That Mom.