Like Riding A Bike, You Never Forget… Your Kid

, , , , | Friendly | May 22, 2020

This happened when I was about thirteen, long before mobile phones were around. 

My parents were members of a motorcycle club affiliated with the military base where my dad worked. The base encouraged active-duty personnel to join the club in order to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths which tend to happen frequently when young service members get their hands on a motorcycle.

One of the ways the club did this was by organizing fun events, such as poker runs or weekend camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about two hours’ drive east of the base. 

The club had spent the holiday weekend at a National Park high in the Sierras, and the twenty or so motorcycles and two cars were heading back to the base. Once we finally hit a freeway, the club stopped at a highway rest area for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs a bit. I’d been riding as a passenger behind my dad, the club president, all the way down the mountains. When we stopped, I wandered around a bit until the line in the men’s room went away and then used the restroom myself.

I finished up, washed my hands, and walked back out to the parking area to find that the club had left without me.

I was ever-so-slightly freaked out — not quite in tears, but completely panic-stricken. A man and woman who rode bikes — but were not in any way affiliated with the club — saw me freaking out and managed to get a coherent explanation from me. I asked if they had a CB radio, because several club members had radios on their bikes and so did both chase cars. They did not have a CB, and there weren’t any eighteen-wheelers at the rest area at the time.

I was just about ready to try calling the police, but the two bikers said we’d probably be able to catch the club before they got too far ahead. I knew which way the club would be going — we’d used the same route every time we went camping — and most of the club members were wearing identical windbreakers with a distinctive color, which I was also wearing.

I still had my helmet, so I rode behind the woman while the man tore off down the freeway at a significant fraction of light speed. The woman followed at a much slower speed. We ended up riding for about thirty miles when I saw my dad on his bike and the male biker who was helping me running flat-out on the other side of the freeway, heading back toward the rest area.

I pointed them out to the woman rider, and she pulled off onto the shoulder to wait for them. My dad and the woman’s partner arrived a couple of minutes later. I thanked both of them profusely, and so did my dad, and we waved goodbye as they left. Dad drove us back to the base to catch up to the rest of the club, where I found out why I’d been left behind.

When I didn’t show up at my dad’s bike, he assumed I’d chosen to ride in one of the chase cars for the rest of the trip. Since I’d been riding with my dad before the rest area stop, the people in the chase cars assumed I was still doing that. It wasn’t until the other biker caught up to the club and flagged them down that anyone realized I was missing.

Because I was a fairly typical teenage male and more than a little freaked out at being abandoned, I’m now ashamed to say I never got the names of the two bikers who’d helped me. They’d gone considerably out of their way to help a freaked-out thirteen-year-old stranger. I can only hope they earned plenty of good karma for their trouble.

My parents were never allowed to live down the fact that they’d abandoned their oldest child at a California rest area, and the club imposed a new rule requiring the Road Captain — the rider in charge of the group when we were on the road, selecting the routes and deciding when and where to stop for gas or food, etc. — to double-verify everyone was accounted for before the club got on the road.

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Anyone Else’s Teeth Hurt?

, , , , , | Related | May 21, 2020

Dad: “What are these?”

Me: “Pistachios without the shell.”

Dad: “The shell is the best part!”

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Sending The Bully Crying To His Mom

, , , , , | Learning | May 19, 2020

My mom and I look very much alike, to the point that my family often jokes I’m her clone with my dad’s health problems thrown in. Think Reese Witherspoon and her daughter — that level of similarity.

My mom is a substitute teacher, and she sometimes subs at my school or even for my class. I’ve long since gotten over the awkwardness of calling her “Mom” in class, since it’s obvious anyway. I’m somewhat new at my school, and this is the first time my mom has subbed for my class at this school. When she’s about to turn on a projector, I happen to be sitting closest to the light switch.

One boy in the class, also a new student, badly wants to be the class clown but is actually just a bully.

Mom: “[My Name], can you hit the lights?”

Me: “Sure, Mom.”

Bully: *Pointing at me and laughing* “Haha! You called the sub ‘Mom’!”

There’s a moment of silence as the entire class contemplates how stupid his comment was. The bully seems upset that he hasn’t gotten the whole class jeering at me.

Classmate #1: “Dude… that is her mom.”

Bully: “What? How would you know that?”

Classmate #1: “Just look at them.”

Bully: “But I— I didn’t know that!”

Classmate #2: “And do you really think we have two [Extremely Uncommon Last Name]s in the same room by chance?”

Classmate #1: “Seriously, [Bully], just sit down and shut up.”

He did sit down and shut up. Within a few months, he realized his mean attempts at being funny weren’t getting anywhere, and he started acting a lot nicer. I’m glad I attended a school where the students didn’t put up with things like that.

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So Much For No Child Left Behind

, , , , , | Related | May 19, 2020

In the late 1990s, my dad and step-mom decide to take a vacation to Mexico and take me. I am about seven or eight at the time and I am excited. I have barely ever been out of the state, and many kids at my school have gone overseas or to fancy destinations. I don’t have a passport, so my single mom takes the time to get one and update me on vaccinations, and also to give me my own spending money.

Fast-forward to the night she drops me off. My step-sister, who is ten years older than me, her boyfriend, and her best friend are also coming. They are not at the house, which I think is weird. My step-mom has to work until eleven, so I knew she wouldn’t be there.

Dad: “Okay, let’s get your stuff in the car.”

He starts loading everything.

Me: “Is everyone else’s stuff already in the car?”

Dad: “Sure is. Let’s go. We have to go by your grandma’s to drop something off.”

We drive about twenty minutes to his mother’s house. When we get there, he starts unloading my stuff. This upsets me a bit because I didn’t know the “something” we were dropping off was me!

Dad: “Okay, here is all of her stuff. We will be back in ten days. Her mom is out of town, too. She told me that I couldn’t take her, but she didn’t tell me until we had paid for everything. I appreciate this. I know it’s a hassle.”

I should make it clear that I am the oldest grandchild, but between her and my other grandmother, they constantly argue over who will have me. This is never a hassle for her. In fact, my grandma is acting like she hit the lottery. I seldom stay with her because she still works full-time and my grandfather isn’t a great babysitter because he has no rules.

I spend ten days at her house, in an area with no other children and with the same toys that have always been at her house. I’m bored, so I decide to take out my disposable camera and take pictures outside because we are in a rural area.

Me: “Grandma, I can’t find my camera. Have you seen it?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, why would you need a camera to come to stay with me?”  

Me: “Uh, it was for the beach?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, your dad said he told you weeks ago you couldn’t go. Maybe your mom decided not to pack it.”

Me: “No, she definitely did. I didn’t know I wasn’t going until I go here.”

Grandma: “Maybe you just forgot. Well, we can call your mom and ask— Oh, wait, didn’t she go out of town?”

Me: “Yeah, she went with her sister somewhere.”

Cue my grandma calling my mom’s house, getting no answer, and then calling my aunt’s, where she also gets no answer. I never do find my camera, and strangely, when we go to the store, I notice my tiny wallet is empty of my seventy dollars worth of spending money. My ten days are boring and bleak.

Right on schedule, my dad retrieves me and takes me back to his house. I notice that the little girl my step-sister babysits and takes nearly everywhere is at his house and is sunburned. I find out they took her.

Dad: “Okay, your mom will be here tomorrow after dinner. I just talked to her. There’s some serious traffic in North Carolina. She will get back too late to pick you up tonight.”

I pout in my room, wondering what I did to be left out. When my mom picks me up the next day, I have a bad attitude and won’t tell anyone goodbye. My step-mom is confused, and my step-sister and her boyfriend seem somewhat concerned. My dad decides to lie to my mom on the spot.

Dad: “She’s mad because I won’t let her prance around here in her new swimsuit all day long and do whatever she wants.”

My mom accepts this, but I am not giving in. I won’t talk to her, thinking she is in on it. When we get home and unpack, I find that my camera film has been developed and is in an album. Most of the pictures are of the water and beach, not of anyone on the trip. I also find a hideous green bathing suit with tags attached that is not mine. None of my money is anywhere. I go running to my mom.

Me: “I didn’t take these. Daddy took them! And my money is missing!”

Mom: “Well, did you lose it? And you know he likes cameras. Maybe he was just trying to help.”

I am fed up. I am tired of being punished for no reason.

Me: “Mom, I didn’t go on the trip! He took me to Grandma’s as soon as you were out of sight! I’m not sunburned. I always sunburn no matter what. He took [Little Girl my step-sister babysits], not me!”

My mom calls and my dad is adamant that I went and I am lying. Curious, she calls my grandma, who says my dad told her that my mom refused to let me go that far. My dad then changes the story to say I was so sick he was afraid to take me.

My mom doesn’t buy it and calls my step-mom, who tells her that my dad fed her the same line about me not being allowed to go.

When the dust settles, my dad admits he was mad at me for not agreeing to come live with him so he wouldn’t have to pay child support anymore.

Mom: “I should have known that he would do this. If he had told the truth, you could have come with me. I went to Six Flags with your aunt and cousins because I thought you were going to have fun!”

Surprisingly, she still made me visit with him. After that, things were better, and I was never left behind again.

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Parenting May Make You Cry

, , , , , | Related | May 18, 2020

My niece takes a class in high school where you’re given a robotic baby that cries and records when you feed it, change it, turn it off, or whatever. For the most part, the baby is really easy. On the last night, however…

It’s around two in the morning. My mom and I are both night owls, so we go to the kitchen for a snack. My niece is still awake, and it’s a school night… and the robot baby has been crying for hours.

Niece: “This isn’t like a real baby! Real babies go to sleep!”

My mom and I start laughing.

Me: “You’ve never heard of colic?!”

Mom: “Your father didn’t stop crying or sleep through the night for two years! And I had to take your brother twice a week so your mom could get some sleep since he was making her sick with exhaustion!”

Four years later, my niece got married and had a baby. The baby is a year old and still hasn’t slept through the night. I guess real babies don’t stop crying, either!

He doesn’t cry all day and is super adorable. He just doesn’t sleep through the night.

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