The boys busted in the front door, one after the other, saying a variety of things from “Hi, Mrs. Dede” to, ‘Wassup,” to “insert unintelligible grunt.”
I closed the screened door behind them, not wanting the dog to get out. I saw a boy I’d never seen before still outside, so I asked the kids, “Who’s that?”
One child replied, “That’s Sven.”
I thought to myself, “Ooohh, Sven. Scandinavian. I like it.”
I wasn’t surprised he didn’t come in because he didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat and good on him for not going into a stranger’s house. We could be psychos for all he knows. I noticed he was sitting in a precarious position, like boys will do…on top of the Boogie board that I put across the arms of the beach chair to dry off.
The board could crack in two pieces any second, but this is the scene to which I’m accustomed – stuff about to break, a little trash strewn around, maybe a sock here or there, and nerf gun bullets on the ground. And loud noises.
And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I asked my son to take the recycling out, and I grabbed our full trash bag. We went out of the door and I saw the boy and said, “Hi, Sven!” with a giant, enthusiastic smile, which could come off creepy if you don’t know me.
He looked up, appropriately surly and teenagery and said, “Hi.”
Just then my son says, “MMMMOOOOMMMM. His name is Finn, not Sven!”
I stopped, and all I could do was laugh. Because it had really happened this time.
My transformation into my mother has been gradual and sudden all at the same time. But I had taken the quantum leap into being my grandmother in this moment. Here’s the back story…
A few years ago…who am I kidding, three and a half decades ago, I was the little sister to a handsome, yet wild and crazy boy named Dondi. This handsome boy also had handsome friends who would come in and out of the very same house that we live in today.
At the tender age of 15, I was the same goofball that I am today, and a complete basket case around boys. The irony that I am surrounded by boys on the daily is not lost on me!
One fine day in the mid-80’s, I was sitting by my grandmother in our living room, rocking a mullet and wearing my favorite paisley shirt, wishing that Merry Go Round made parachute pants big enough to fit my chubby frame.
In walks my brother Dondi, and his great looking friend, TL, short for Tony Lange. They were sun-tanned, and shirtless. They had come from surfing the giant waves of Isle of Palms. I was mortified. Because, well, my brother’s gorgeous friend was in the same room as me, actually breathing the same air that I was. And wasn’t it just so cool that I was home with my grandmother?
It was a pretty solid bet that they smoking a little somethin’ somethin’ because their eyes were red and glassy, and I don’t think it was from swimming in the ocean. Whatever they were talking about was really funny and they couldn’t stop laughing.
My Grammie, not the sweetest old lady you’ve ever met, roughly says, “Dondi, aren’t you gonna introduce me to your friend?” You had to know my Grammie. She thought she still had it with the fellas, even one 60 years her junior.
Dondi laughed and said, “Yeah Grammie, this is my friend, TL.”
She said, “What?”
Dondi said a little louder, “TL!”
“What’d you say?” shouted Grammie, which caused them both to laugh even harder. I wished I was dead.
This time, Dondi shouted, “TL!!”
And then she said, “Nice to meet you, Stanley.”
It was pure horror. Stanley. Where in the world did she come up with Stanley? For the love of all that’s holy. It was the kiss of death. TL would know I was a giant dork, it was affirmed by the utterance of those words, “Nice to meet you, Stanley.” He’d know I was a loser just like my Grammie, who couldn’t even get his name right.
Fast forward to yesterday, and I’m saying, “Hi, Sven!” to a boy named Finn. My son was there to see it all. Thankfully it wasn’t a girl, so maybe the trauma will be less for him! Hopefully a lot of things will be less traumatic for my kids.
My oldest is of the age that my brother began his horrible relationship with alcohol and drugs. I began my own wicked relationship with alcohol at the ripe old age of 17. Sadly, both of those gorgeous boys, Dondi and TL, met the end of their lives, way too soon. Both very tragic stories for another time.
My story is different – I got the joyful ending. I’ve married a wonderful man, and given birth to two sons. And in case you didn’t know it, been delivered from the beast of alcoholism by the grace of God.
I feel like I’ve been given a “do-over” with boys in a way.
This group hasn’t yet delved into the world of alcohol and drugs, not to my knowledge. Believe me, I ask them, much to their embarrassment at times. My goal is to open the door of communication about it. I most certainly don’t have all the answers and there is no “one size fits all” solution. Everyone is different. I love the wise words of my friend Dossie, “I know where I stand, and I know where I want you to stand.” If you want to know where I stand, just ask me. I’d love to tell you.
My prayer for each child that crosses over the threshold into my home is that they don’t go down a road of alcoholism and addiction; if they come into my home that prayer will be prayed over them.
And if I get their name wrong, so be it. I know that God won’t.